World journalists write to the Government of Pakistan

Raza Rumi
Today, world editors have written to the government condemning the way a journalist, Matthew Rosenberg, has been maligned without evidence thereby making him vulnerable to being attacked extremists. True, the western media rarely reports without a slant. But unsubstantiated propaganda is plainly wrong and makes us all ashamed. We must practice what we preach. We hope that foreign correspondents are provided protection and better editorial discretion is introduced. As a writer I support freedom of expression but irresponsible allegations can be dangerous in these insecure times.
TO: Qamar Zaman Kaira,
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Government of Pakistan

4th Floor, Cabinet Block, Pakistan Secretariat, Islamabad (16 November 2009)

RE: Nation article about Wall Street Journal reporter

Respected Minister Kaira,
We are writing to register our strong concern at a recent development that has caused alarm among international media organizations working in Pakistan.
On November 5, The Nation newspaper published a front page article accusing Matthew Rosenberg, a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, of working for the C.I.A., Israeli intelligence and the U.S. military contractor Blackwater.
Mr. Rosenberg is a respected journalist of high standing. Not only was the article unsubstantiated, it critically compromised his security and raised questions about whether he can return to Pakistan to work safely in the future.
The article also has broader implications. These are difficult times for all journalists in
Pakistan. Our employees already face an array of threats, including violence and kidnapping,
as they strive to provide timely and accurate coverage. Now those risks have been needlessly
increased.
We strongly support press freedoms across the world. But this irresponsible article
endangered the life of one journalist and could imperil others. It is particularly upsetting that
this threat has come from among our own colleagues.
We recognize that courageous Pakistani journalists routinely face greater dangers than their
international counterparts. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, five Pakistani
journalists have been killed in the past 12 months alone. And we are heartened that several
Pakistani media organizations have denounced The Nation’s story.
But we are also concerned that an incident of this kind – tarring a foreign reporter as a spy –
could occur again. We ask the government of Pakistan to take note of this story and to take
all necessary steps to ensure the safety of all media personnel in future.
Yours Sincerely,

Chuck Lustig
Foreign Editor
Philippe Massonnet
Global News Director

34 Comments

Filed under Media, Pakistan, Urdu

34 responses to “World journalists write to the Government of Pakistan

  1. wajid

    Well I guess they realized soon enough that a letter to Mazari was no good.

  2. DCMediagirl

    Thanks Raza. Based on some of the comments posted in an earlier thread, you can’t hammer home the point enough that it is dangerous, irresponsible, unethical and just plain vicious to run inflammatory and unsubstantiated stories, particularly those that could endanger the life of the subject, and then make a whole range of excuses as to why publishing the story is in any way acceptable.

  3. Hossp

    Why don’t they go a get an apology from the CIA for hiring Journalists in the first place? Some news organizations..they want the government to bring pressure down on a newspaper. Lets see how they can repeat this “class act” in the US or any other western country. Freedom of press for these organizations even when they have CIA agents masquerading as journalists, but none for the poor third world country where they are asking the government to admonish the paper.

    They should ask CIA to release a statement and “substantiate” that this guy never worked for the CIA.

  4. vajra

    Quite right. Just like India could ask the ISI to certify that they never trained Kasab as part of their own macabre Ocean’s Ten. Just as likely to be taken seriously.

  5. Punjabi

    I can imagine the reaction to the objections from the foreign press:

    “These CIA agents are reacting like this because their truth has been exposed.”

    What can you say to people who will fabricate any fantasy that helps them preserve their delusions?

  6. Hossp

    Here is one good example of what the Journalists from US establishment papers do. Run planted or leaked stories

    The Washington Post’s 2002 “reporting” on Iran
    By Glenn Greenwald

    Anyone who believes the establishment media in the U.S. learned even a single lesson from what happened with Iraq should immediately read this featured Washington Post article by Joby Warrick, which gravely and frighteningly warns that Iran’s Qom nuclear facility “was intended explicitly for making highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.” It’s filled with one alarmist claim after the next (all anonymously provided, needless to say), such as this: “That number is too small to furnish fuel for a civilian power plant, but just big enough to supply Iran annually with up to three bombs’ worth of weapons-grade fuel, the former officials said” and “Qom could produce enough bomb-grade fuel for two to three bombs annually.”

    The issue isn’t whether you believe Iran desires to develop nuclear weapons; it’s obviously possible (even rational) that they do. The issue is the painfully reckless, transparently irresponsible, and Iraq-replicating “journalistic” methods for disseminating these war-fueling assertions. In perfect 2002 fashion, Warrwick does not have a single named source for these scary allegations; instead, this is who fed him these claims: “many U.S. and European intelligence officials” and “two former senior U.S. officials” and “intelligence officials from the United States and allied nations” and “a senior Middle East-based intelligence official” (one wonders, in vain, which “allied nation” and which “Middle-East based” country might have whispered these things?). And while Warwick provides a cursory paragraph devoted to denials by Iranian officials of these accusations, he does not include a single expert or named source to dispute these claims. It’s a purely one-sided, unquestioning and entirely anonymous series of dubious, unverified, fear-mongering assertions that can have no purpose other than to create the most sinister picture of the “Iranian threat” possible.

    In other words, it’s the exact pattern used to lead the country to attack Iraq. Beltway reporters like Warwick have learned nothing and establishment media institutions are just as devoted as ever to beating war drums on command. What else could possibly explain a shoddy, trashy article like this making it past a team of editors? And just imagine how much worse it would get if the U.S. government actually wanted to bomb Iran. All of this is happening while, at least from all appearances, the White House wants to avoid that outcome.

    Can read the article here
    washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/23/AR2009102303757.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2009102400101

  7. punjabi

    I don’t see anything in what you say that indicates that Matthew Rosenberg is a CIA agent or employed by Blackwater.

  8. Hossp

    Here is what John Cole listed as great examples of independent media in the US and how the US administrations control them.

    “-Paying Armstrong Williams, Michael McManus, and Maggie Gallagher and others for favorable opinions about WH policies or to attack opponents of the WH.

    -Planting Jeff Gannon to lob softball questions.

    -Used reporters to out a CIA agent, then sat by and watched reporters go to jail to protect their sources.

    -Fed reporters misinformation about WMD in Iraq, then used those reporters stories as corroborating evidence of the existence of WMD in Iraq.

    -treated Helen Thomas like a leper.

    -waged a coordinated campaign against NBC.

    -kicked all the NY Times reporters off of their planes.

    -the Pentagon Pundit program, which sold the war by planting former military officers on networks. Uncovering this story earned a journalist the fucking Pulitzer.

    -Staged mock press conferences with FEMA employees pretending to be reporters.

    -allowed Ari Fleischer to tell everyone (but directed at journalists) they needed to “watch what they say and what they do.”

  9. Hossp

    I am sorry, I am not trying to spam These are the facts of today’s media.
    “Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, denounced Mr. Maher, saying of news organizations, and all Americans, that in times like these “people have to watch what they say and watch what they do.”

    “A months-long review of documents and interviews with Pentagon personnel has revealed that the Bush Administration’s military analyst program—aimed at selling the Iraq war to the American people—operated through a secretive collaboration between the Defense Department’s press and community relations offices.
    Pentagon records show that the day after 14 marines died in Iraq on August 3, 2005, James T. Conway, then director of operations for the Joint Chiefs, instructed military analysts during a briefing to work to prevent the incident from weakening public support for the war. Conway reminded the military analysts assembled, “The strategic target remains our population.” [p. 102]”

  10. Hossp

    @punjabi
    He may or may not be a CIA agent. All I am saying is that the CIA has used US journalists as agent and this makes it difficult to believe that this guy was innocent.

    My second objective is to show that most in the US media take their cues from the different US admin branches and there are possibilities that many work for the agencies too.

  11. Milind Kher

    It is a good thing that the journalists have got together to condemn the paper for publishing the irresponsible statements of Shireen Mazari.

    It is also disheartening to know that the editor has no control over her. Given the vulnerability of reporters, Rosenberg must surely be feeling very threatened.

  12. punjabi

    I am not sure I follow what you’re trying to do. that governments and media have a love hate relationship in which they each compromize on the highest ideals of their calling is a commonly known fact.

    Your attempts to prove or demonstrate this are redundant.

    what is relevant here is the question of whether a part of the pakistani media is afflicted with dementia and paranoid delusions about the realities that pakistan faces, whether this part of the media isn’t rousing the rabble with half baked accusations that sound deeply plausible to a public looking for explanations that put the blame for troubles somewhere else.

    Your blatherings about the western media could be taken more seriously if you presented a holistic view of the interplay of government and media in both the west and in pakistan. but you say nothing about the mad, psychadelic Shireen Mazari.

    you could be taken seriously if you bothered to take the pakistani press to task with as much passion as you do the western press. but you haven’t. so you can’t.

    cheers.

  13. Hossp

    Okay, last post.

    “The final months of 1977 produced three significant pieces of journalism on the CIA and the media, just before the issue was abandoned altogether. The first, by Joe Trento and Dave Roman, reported the connections between Copley Press and the CIA. Owner James S. Copley cooperated with the CIA for three decades. A subsidiary, Copley News Service, was used as a CIA front in Latin America, while reporters at the Copley-owned San Diego Union and Evening News were instructed to spy on antiwar protesters for the FBI. No less than 23 news service employees were simultaneously working for the CIA. James Copley, who died in 1973, was also a leading figure behind the CIA-funded Inter-American Press Association.[13]

    The next article was by Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame. In a long piece in Rolling Stone, he came up with the figure of 400 American journalists over the past 25 years, based primarily on interviews with Church committee staffers. This figure included stringers and freelancers who had an understanding that they were expected to help the CIA, as well as a small number of full-time CIA employees using journalism as a cover. It did not include foreigners, nor did it include numerous Americans who traded favors with the CIA in the normal give-and-take between a journalist and his sources. In addition to some of the names already mentioned above, Bernstein supplied details on Stewart and Joseph Alsop, Henry Luce, Barry Bingham Sr. of the Louisville Courier-Journal, Hal Hendrix of the Miami News, columnist C.L. Sulzberger, Richard Salant of CBS, and Philip Graham and John Hayes of the Washington Post.

    Bernstein concentrated more on the owners, executives, and editors of news organizations than on individual reporters. “Lets’s not pick on some poor reporters, for God’s sake,” William Colby said at one point to the Church committee’s investigators. “Let’s go to the management. They were witting.” Bernstein noted that Colby had specific definitions for words such as “contract employee,” “agent,” “asset,” “accredited correspondent,” “editorial employee,” “freelance,” “stringer,” and even “reporter,” and through careful use of these words, the CIA “managed to obscure the most elemental fact about the relationships detailed in its files: i.e., that there was recognition by all parties involved that the cooperating journalists were working for the CIA — whether or not they were paid or had signed employment contracts.”[14]

    The reaction to Bernstein’s piece among mainstream media was to ignore it, or to suggest that it was sloppy and exaggerated. Then two months later, the New York Times published the results of their “three- month inquiry by a team of Times reporters and researchers.” This three-part series not only confirmed Bernstein, but added a wealth of far-ranging details and contained twice as many names. Now almost everyone pretended not to notice.

    The Times reported that over the last twenty years, the CIA owned or subsidized more than fifty newspapers, news services, radio stations, periodicals and other communications facilities, most of them overseas. These were used for propaganda efforts, or even as cover for operations. Another dozen foreign news organizations were infiltrated by paid CIA agents. At least 22 American news organizations had employed American journalists who were also working for the CIA, and nearly a dozen American publishing houses printed some of the more than 1,000 books that had been produced or subsidized by the CIA. When asked in a 1976 interview whether the CIA had ever told its media agents what to write, William Colby replied, “Oh, sure, all the time.”

    Since domestic propaganda was a violation of the their charter, the CIA defined the predictable effects of their foreign publications as “blowback” or “domestic fallout,” which they considered to be “inevitable and consequently permissible.” But former CIA employees told the Times that apart from this unintended blowback, “some CIA propaganda efforts, especially during the Vietnam War, had been carried out with a view toward their eventual impact in the United States.” The Times series concluded that at its peak, the CIA’s network “embraced more than 800 news and public information organizations and individuals.”[15]

    By the time the Times series appeared, Congress was looking for a way out of the issue. Obligingly, Stansfield Turner promised that the CIA would avoid journalists “accredited by any U.S. news service, newspaper, periodical, radio or television network or station.” There were at least three problems with this that most press coverage overlooked: many stringers and freelancers are not accredited; it didn’t cover any foreign-owned media; and as Gary Hart complained at the time, the new policy included a provision that allowed the CIA to unilaterally make exceptions whenever it wished.[16]

    Within several years of this alleged policy, the new Reagan administration ignored it in favor of a shooting war in Central America, one component of which was an illegal CIA-administered propaganda war at home. Edgar Chamorro, a contra sympathizer in Miami with a background in public relations, was recruited by the CIA in late 1982. After two years of following the CIA’s instructions regarding the manipulation of U.S. journalists and even members of Congress, Chamorro went public with his story.[17] By now Congress was clearly out-maneuvered, even though it alone held the purse strings that controlled funding for the war.

    The inability of Congress to address the CIA-media problem in the 1970s meant that more powerful forces were at work. In fact, while Congress was wringing its left hand over illegal CIA activities, its right hand was helping the CIA overhaul its Wurlitzer. Ever since 1967, when the Katzenbach committee was tasked by Lyndon Johnson to study the problem of the CIA’s use of domestic organizations, the agenda at the highest levels had been to remove such activities from the CIA’s payroll and continue them under a new umbrella. In the unclassified portion of their report, this committee recommended giving money openly through a “public-private mechanism.” “The CIA’s big mistake was not supplanting itself with private funds fast enough,” observed Gloria Steinem, who had been part of the CIA’s global network.[18]”

  14. AZW

    Are you for real Hossp?

    You referenced Washington Post story, made us read all of it to show that journalists quote unnamed sources when they say that Iran nuclear centrifuge plant in Qum is developing weapons grade uranium that will likely be used for its suspected nuclear program.

    If I have a cent for each time I read unnamed sources in intelligence agencies pointing out militant activities in Pakistan, or Pakistan’s nuclear program, or terrorism suspects being nabbed across the globe, I will be a rich man. I see this story in Washington Post no different than the ones reported in New York Times, or Wall Street Journal, or Boston Globe where unnamed sources are quoted in the story. NY Times, WSJ and BG did not become the newspapers they are today because of their reporters on payrolls of secret services; all of these newspapers carry much better journalistic standards than the third rate analysis spewed by Shireen Mazari and her likes.

    Yes you are right, Mathew Rosenberg may or may not be a CIA Agent. CIA may have small number of journalists on its payroll in US or Pakistan to plant the stories. But don’t chase shadows to justify witch hunts, or invoke every second unnamed source story to justify this outrage by Shireen Mazari and this newspaper to cause a possible life threatening situation for a journalist. The same situation happened in 2001, and the subsequent murder of Danial Pearl is a tragic consequence of unfounded aspersions.

    I saw you invoking an equally ridiculous argument in another thread where you said that Editor is not responsible for what the journalist wrote. No, the buck stops at the editor in chief. And if Mazari did not have a clue about the front page story about a Wall Street Journal reporter in Pakistan, this says enough about the shoddiness of this editor and the newspaper.

    Stop that please will you? You are making a fool out of yourself right now coming up with these excuses.

  15. Hossp

    @AZW
    Yes, I am for real…
    There is no excuse. All I am saying is that planted and leaked stories are common in the US media so why should only Shirin be responsible for that? Yes ideally, editors are responsible but has any US editor editor taken responsibility for the leaked stories and sometime fabrications they publish?

    This is a campaign against Shirin personally not against the editor of the Nation.
    Secondly, there is a history of US journalists working for the CIA so what if this guy was accused of doing that. All WSJ has to do is withdraw him. They have lodged there protest and anymore attention to this matter is just plain ridiculous.
    I most of the time don’t agree with Shirin but as an editor she has every right to publish what she finds worth printing. Wouldn’t you agree that there is an outside chance that she was satisfied with the sources presented to her before this story was published in the paper? And that is why the WSJ ass is on fire.

    Why it is assumed that since she is a third world newspaper editor, there was no due diligence?

  16. Vajra

    @Hossp

    Your last post is undeniably logical, but it is loaded logic, I think. Two points:

    1. In cases like the one you have cited, which permit of a complex and difficult solution and a simpler one, Occam’s Razor applies;
    2. We have situations in statistical estimation where the risk is double-sided. At these points, there is a choice between rejecting a true case in order not to run any risk whatsoever of accepting a single false case, or accepting a false case in order not to run any risk of rejecting even a single true case.

    Which would you rather do, reject all accusations which are flimsy to protect a single journalist who might be falsely accused?

    Or accept all such accusations so that not a single guilty person gets away?

  17. loudnclear

    … so what if this guy was accused of doing that. All WSJ has to do is withdraw him….

    Ignorance with arrogance is a rare thing to see. You have no idea of what you are saying. Take AZW’s advice, now.

  18. Gorki

    All I am saying is that planted and leaked stories are common in the US media so why should only Shirin be responsible for that? Yes ideally, editors are responsible but has any US editor editor taken responsibility for the leaked stories and sometime fabrications they publish?
    ………………………………………………….

    Hossp: You write well and make a compelling argument by providing extensive supportive data and references. The point you make is well taken; that the CIA has indeed used and manipulated the media to its advantage.
    Sadly such subversion of the media is not something surprising; neither is it a secret, as the extensive references you provide amply demonstrate. What is surprising however is the way you use this information to make your case; to accept the deplorable act of a journalist as ‘normal.’
    Like they say: Saab Chalta hai!!

    This is where I find your post incredibly depressing. I come to the PTH to read people who not only write well but also write with a purpose, a higher moral purpose; to try to lay the groundwork for a better society in Pakistan.
    It is this second; the sense of purpose that is so uplifting that makes it all worthwhile to read.

    I have read and admired your posts too in the past for both those reasons. Yet in this recent debate I see a glaring disconnect between those two things. Obviously you are a formidable debater so the style is still there and but where is the sense of purpose?

    Surely you can’t be serious while arguing that since there are reporters in the United States with questionable ethics, such people should be acceptable in Pakistan as well!

    Are you seriously making a plea for affirmative action for the ethically challenged?

    If so then you must be prepared to weigh the consequences of such arguments for your country as compared to the US. The US is not a shining city on the hill and has its share of crooks, (as YLH would say) but it is also a far more sophisticated system of checks and balances to deal with those crooks. The US no doubt has its Fox network but even at Fox no one makes the argument that just because everyone else does it, standards don’t matter.

    While a crook can, once in a while even make it into the US white house, the US can also produce men who can expose and then prosecute such men.
    Pakistan OTOH is still a fragile democracy with even more fragile institutions and traditions. Can it afford to have the same kind of irresponsible media? Does it have enough people of goodwill and integrity to dilute out those who have none?

    A simpler argument in response to your rhetorical question above would be a counter question; just because some editors in the US have shoddy standards, how do that make it OK to not expect better standards at home?

    But then that would be too easy.
    I leave you with the following proposal: Once South Asia too develops a good number of strong, independent and respected media sources that can produce men like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, we too can argue for an equal opportunity status for all the morally challenged ones in the media, perhaps for entertainment purposes, on par with their US counterparts.

    Till then, perhaps we can agree to stay away from the arguments that two wrongs can make a right.
    Regards.

  19. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear Hossp,

    Why this sudden love and affection for Nawai-Waqt Nationalism?🙂

    After all… it was you who – over a sumptuous steak dinner not long ago- branded me a nawai waqt nationalist and told me to cut the crap… and your logical persuasion convinced me to re-think my ways.

    Honestly I find it odd that you are championing Mazari. Methinks there is something else… an ex-flame perhaps🙂 when Mazari was still tolerable in proportions?

  20. DCMediagirl

    @ Hossp

    “There is no excuse. All I am saying is that planted and leaked stories are common in the US media so why should only Shirin be responsible for that? Yes ideally, editors are responsible but has any US editor editor taken responsibility for the leaked stories and sometime fabrications they publish? ”

    No, NOT ideally. They ARE responsible. That’s why they’re editors. As I have written ad nauseum in a previous thread, American editors HAVE taken responsibility for the fabrications they publish.

    Your use of the term “leaked stories” is, to put it kindly, misleading. Stories based on leaks are printed and reported every day by every newspaper around the world. Watergate was a leaked story. The Pentagon Papers were leaked. The question is not if a story is leaked, but if a story is TRUE. If media organizations stopped relying on leaks then they would be reduced to reading official press releases on the air.

    But ultimately all this talk of the US media has nothing whatsoever to do with the price of eggs. The subject of the original posts here at Pak Tea House are NOT the irresponsibility or shortcomings of the US media. The issue a story in the Nation. I don’t understand why you keep changing the subject and going off on tangents about the CIA and the failings of the American press, which contrary to your previous statement I make no excuses for.

    When Glenn Beck was a guest on “The View” not so long ago one of the ladies on the panel asked him “Do you check your facts?” He responded “No.” Are you actually saying that just because irresponsible commentary makes it on the air or false and damaging stories make it into print that courageous and ethical reporters in Pakistan should mimic this irresponsibility? If so then it looks like you’re in the minority.

  21. DCMediagirl

    @Hossp:

    “Secondly, there is a history of US journalists working for the CIA so what if this guy was accused of doing that. All WSJ has to do is withdraw him.”

    This is an excellent standard. Anyone with an agenda or an ax to grind or who stands to gain or lose from a story being published can say what they like, get their view aired or printed, potentially put someone’s life in danger and voila – the scales of justice and truth are balanced.

    Back here in the good ol’ US of A, Bill O’Reilly went on the air and repeatedly referred to Dr. George Tiller as a murderer. A lunatic killed the doctor. We have FOX’s right wing commentators hurling accusations around about Stalin and Mao and Hitler and Communism and radicalism and racism. We have armed people showing up at Obama rallies. Paranoid people are buying guns in droves. A census taker was found lynched with the world “FED” carved in his chest. I’m sure that if you talked to O’Reilly or Beck about the venom they spew they’d say their material is “sourced” and that they believe every world they say.

    By your standard, since FOX says Obama is a dangerous radical who is leading the country down the same path as Germany in 1933, should he be removed from office?

  22. Hayyer

    You chaps are being too harsh with Hossp. He did not support Mazari (ex friend or not). He discussed history and gave a scholarly exposition of why the charge need not be dismissed out of hand. Intelligence agencies do use jounalists.
    The ethical dimension comes in only over the probability that the story may be inaccurate and thus unfairly have put Rosenberg’s life at risk. To that a simple solution has been proposed, namely to withdraw him. Unfortunate for his career perhaps with damage to his credibility as a journalist at worst.
    But what if it is true? Is putting his life at risk ethical in that case. Surely not.
    Vajra’s poseur involving statistical risk and moral choices is one way of looking at the problem. But what if Pakistani agencies have already used Bayesian logic and determined that he probably is a spy and therefore best outed. The choice then is not for Hossp to make but for the agencies and they have made it. Mazari is only a tool for their purpose.
    The moral indignation is over done. If he is not an agent, his withdrawal, to save his life, carries no opprobrium. If he is, no harm is done because he should be withdrawn anyway.
    But why write to the Government? And why should the Pak Govt. take notice? Would writing to the State Deptt help in a reciprocal case should it occur? Is the Pakistan press not free?

  23. vajra

    @Hayyer

    I agree that Hossp did not actually support the controversial Mazarin.

    My personal response was sharp because he articulated a real position and point of view among the Pakistani elite, which is often suspected of existence, is alluded to but is never acknowledged.

    I understand him to be saying that spies exist everywhere; that counter-espionage teams similarly exist everywhere; that spies seek to gather intelligence, spy-catchers to gather up spies; that spies are frequently journalists; that this incident should be seen not as an outrage against the ethics of journalism, but as an act of counter-espionage implemented by the publication in question, with or without the known involvement of counter-espionage agencies.

    Usually, therefore, Indians tend to skirt this known reference point, unless they belong to a factious, belligerent set of digital drones who travel through the Internet seeking battle, very often with no clear motive or purpose but their vicious pleasure in derailing otherwise rational conversations.

    When an acknowledged stable and rational commenter such as Hossp then outlines and accepts this kind of extreme position, it is then the lodestone for a hurricane of pent-up feeling and emotion, and some rationality available on the fringes, if we squint and look into the full fury of the tempest.

    We all know that there are several other such harsh truths which govern relations among the two societies in these two countries. On another thread, he has metaphorically shrugged and stated another fact, the fact of a perpetual dogma of hostility towards the eastern neighbour adopted by the military, and the irrelevance of the military in any situation not determined in some way or the other by this dogma. For that too, he has been criticised.

    Perhaps it will help to point out that it has never been his blunt realism, but his advocacy of controversial measures for short -term gains, without considering the possibility of the tainting of the entire body of policy-making by these measures, and the attendant consequences, which commenters have became angry about.

  24. Bloody Civilian

    Hayyer

    thanks for pointing out the real double-standard.

    mazari/The Nation made an irresponsible use of freedom of expression with the insinuations. an abuse of the freedom of expression can be countered with no more than the responsible use of the same (unless the existing civil/criminal law is invoked/applies). ie we (responsible users of freedom of speech) condemn the abuse and show it to be condemnable.

    condemning the irresponsible behaviour is what many of the comments here are about. hossp sounded like he was saying two wrongs make a right (to use gorki’s formulation). people here disagreed with that, rather vehemently.

    it needed you to point out that the letter to the minister for information and broadcasting is actually not an equal and comparable wrong. it is much worse. it is not a misuse of freedom of speech, but is trying to ask a govt to interfere with and illegally curtail freedom of speech, instead.

    if the authors of the letter were simply concerned about the journalist’s safety, they should have written to the home minister… making it clear that their concern must only result in security measures and in no way should it be used to affect the rights of The Nation or freedom of media in Pakistan.

    Indeed, any self-respecting journalist wouldn’t stoop so low as to acknowledge the existence of a govt ministry called ‘info and broadcasting’ by formally addressing a letter to it.

    as far as hossp’s argument about double-standards is concerned, you’re right, the so-called champions of freedom of the media who authored the letter have, regrettably, provided the strongest evidence in support of the argument.

  25. hossp

    I will post a response this evening. blackberry is not fro long posts.

  26. hossp

    Gorki and YLH,

    Let me get down to the nuts and bolts of this story. Here are some fact and I have some comments on what you expect from the PTH posters.

    Both the WSJ and the Nation group are “rightwing” papers so ideologically both have the same leanings. WSJ might show some sophistication but that is just a thin covering.
    Both represent the war parties in the respective countries. We are well aware of what both support and I look at this as an issue between the two organizations that are known for their hypocrisy.
    The Nation or the Nawaiwaqt group’s link with the Pakistani establishment or more precisely with the army is well known. WSJ though not as explicit or brazen as the NW group, never hides where it stands on issues.
    WSJ group in the US sides with the groups which favors perpetual war and to some extent NW has the same role in Pakistan.

    I can go on cite many other similarities here but I think this is enough for you to get the drift.

    Where are liberals and the liberal media in this picture? No where. So, why a self professed liberal outlet wants to take a position which clearly favors WSJ?

    Liberals want to uphold an idealist position here but this position is elitist. Shades of Mencken-ism that is more in to black and white rather than the grey. There are many problems with that. Instead of just condemning the Nation or Shirin Personally, the right approach should have been to unearth or if not able to unearth, argue why the Nations group took upon itself to run the story. WSJ invoking of the Denial Pearl saga should not be enough for the liberals to place WSJ as the aggrieved party.

    As an aside, in Pakistan during the last ten years, only two journalists from the US or the west have been accused of having ties with the CIA. Coincidentally, both belonged to the WSJ. During that same period hundreds of Western journalists have visited Pakistan and many are still there. So what is this love and hate relationship that the rightwing in Pakistan has with the WSJ?

    Moving forward, such an important story was just not placed because Shirin wanted it placed and she has some huge axe to grind. The Nation group like many or pretty much all papers nowadays in the world and especially in the West is owner driven. The Editors don’t make policies their job is to follow the policy that owners make. So if at all this story was published it was not Shirin’s doing personally. Any editor for the Nation would have done that because that is what the owners wanted done. You may not be familiar with this background but the Nation or the Nawaiwaqt group is owned by a group that has strong and historical ties with the establishment in Pakistan.
    I have more to say on the background of this whole saga but I will save it for another day when I have more details. The reality is that the WSJ is vehemently opposed to Obama admin’s efforts in that area. I also believe that there are many factions in US admin that want the Pak army to end its efforts in FATA that the Obama admin has forced the Pak army to take. So it is very much possible that Rosenberg was sent there to find some dirt on the Pak army-like they really need more- and the Pak establishment reacted by outing this Rosenberg as CIA agent. They may be entirely wrong but that is how the games are played in the power corridors.

    My conclusion is that this story was passed on by some in Pakistan establishment/intelligence for not “so altruistic” reasons and based on the Nations’s links with the establishment; it was considered the most appropriate forum for the News item.

    Personally, I am not an ideologue, I am somewhat ideology driven but try not act like the wide eye liberals that we see around us as they fail to see the stories behind the story. I am not interested in grand ideals that you might have. My expectation with PTH is limited to just a site with some liberal bent where people show some decency and refrain from the one liners and ad hominem that I see on this thread.

    YLH, Old flame? Nay, that was another Shirin…I just like the name!

  27. hossp

    The power of BB finally grasped.

  28. yasserlatifhamdani

    ah but that just means you’ve not followed what happened with mazari, the US ambassador and the Jang group.

  29. AZW

    @ Hossp:

    Sorry for yesterday message. I did not mean to belittle you or your arguments. I have followed you long enough on PTH and I do appreciate your point of view. I am surprised at this uncharacteristic line of reasoning that you have adopted in the present controversy. It is very much unlike the previous Hossp, and really doesn’t cut across as a rational argument. But that’s my opinion and you are entitled to yours; and that’s the spirit of the debate.

    Regards,

    Adnann

  30. hossp

    Ylh,
    Only incident I know of when her rather harsh anti us article was yanked by the news couple of months ago. I doubt that she would be holding a grudge. Anyway this issue is more about the nation.

  31. bushra naqi

    mazari’s article against mathew rossenberg was apparently an attempt to malign not only the american journalist but also allege the CIA and the American establishment’s complicity in working with journalists to acheive their ulterior goals. Her primary fault lies in not substantiating her story with factual proofs and therefore the story degenerated into mere propaganda and allegations.

    This is to my mind is not surprising for it is happening all the time in Pakistan… politicians, army officials, bureaucrats etc are being defamed and their stories of alleged crimes of corruption and malpractices etc. are being circulated round the clock. Hardly ever are these allegations substantiated by any evidence and neither are they contradicted by the people who have been targeted

    However in this case of Mazari’s article the WSJ reacted strongly with an official
    protest and condemnation to the owner of the nation…and rightly so…the crime was libel if proved wrong. The reaction came because mazari did not expect it….she thought she could get away with it.

    We need to introspect here and see the dangers lurking in irresponsible journalism especially when it borders on libel. we are violating the rules of journalism daily..and this we cannot dismiss with a shrug…. somebody’s reputation is like the skin on his body

  32. Hayyer

    If Rosenberg were an agent it would not necessarily require knowledge or complicity of the WSJ management.

  33. Gorki

    Hossp:
    I must admit that your post has made me think, and think hard. I read the carefully laid out argument by you and must concede that there are a lot of grey areas in this world.
    The CIA is a spy agency that acts without scruples and perhaps uses journalists.
    The WSJ is indeed a conservative paper and maybe it has an agenda of its own to sabotage Obama and the moderates.
    Maybe it is even not above using its journalists as covert agents.

    But then again, somehow I an ill at ease buying that explanation and condoning journalism that is at the best irresponsible yellow journalism and at its worst is malicious propaganda.
    If unsubstantiated attacks are considered fair game today then how can one condemn the sordid McCarthy hearings of the fifties?
    What if the Rosenberg case encourages another paper to attack another journalist this way and he ends up being harmed? Where does it stop? When do people of good sense stand up and say; enough?
    What if some later day Ray Donovan came along and asked the question “which office do I go to get my reputation back?”

    You see, I am not trying to question your facts; only your condoning (or ambivalence) towards the use of unproven facts and innuendo and as a legitimate tool. If we do away with the principle of innocent until proven guilty then as Varja pointed out, how many innocents are we willing to sacrifice?

    Another thing; I am sure you have done your homework and understand the story behind the story but is this the only way to fight a wrong; by being more so?
    Why could not someone in the Nation’s office or the Pakistani government have picked up the phone and discreetly discussed the details with Rosenberg’s superior or the editors of WSJ?

    You imply that my position is that of a starry eyed liberal trying to see the world in black and white whereas it is grey.
    It is not so.
    I understand that in fact 99% of the world is indeed grey, but also that it becomes grey and not black all over because there is a lot of white it has to contend with; if it started from grey and mixed it with black then it would not be worth looking at for the difference.
    Regards.

  34. AZW


    (This is the repost of the comment that I made under the thread “Shame on you Mr. Hoti”. The Shirin Mazari controversy was discussed there, and I am not sure where further discussion will take place, in this thread or the other one).

    Hossp Ji:

    I think you have made up your mind regarding Mr. Rosenberg as a CIA agent. That’s completely your prerogative. I will point out that the brilliant outing of Mr. Rosenberg by Mr. Rauf Klasra was a rather rambling report that talked about Mr. Rosenberg, and quickly veered off towards (who else?) Blackwater, with a honourary mention of Mossad was made towards the end. To round things off, an informed opinion of General Mirza Aslam Beg, who was never shy of giving the most outrageously (may I call) insipid statements in the past, nicely squared our brilliant report off.

    Well, I am taking a liberty of reproducing the whole journalistic masterpiece below for those readers who may look at it and decide on the merits of this brilliant reporting.

    http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Politics/05-Nov-2009/Journalists-as-spies-in-FATA/1


    ISLAMABAD – Agents of notorious spy agencies are using journalistic cover to engage themselves in intelligence activities in NWFP and FATA, sources informed The Nation on Wednesday.

    To the surprise and shock of many, top bosses of Federally Administrated Tribal Area (FATA) Secretariat are allegedly feeding these journalists with secret reports and information regarding Pak Army and militant groups operating there.

    Matthew Rosenberg, South Asian correspondent of Wall Street Journal, has been spotted travelling frequently between Washington, Islamabad, Peshawar and New Delhi during the last couple of months. His frequent and secret meetings with Secretary Law and Order FATA Secretariat, Capt (Retd) Tariq Hayat Khan, and Additional Chief Secretary FATA, Habib Khan, have raised several questions.

    The sources alleged that both Tariq Hayat Khan and Habib Khan were equally responsible in facilitating and feeding Matthew about secret documents regarding Pak Army and sensitive information regarding ongoing operation against militants.

    Despite the fact that Foreign Office and Interior Ministry have warned foreign journalists and foreign workers of NGOs not to visit NWFP and FATA, Matthew in a clear violation of this warning recently held a detailed meeting with Habib Khan that lasted for two hours and 17 minutes.

    When contacted, Matthew Rosenberg confirmed to this scribe from New Delhi on phone that he had been meeting with Tariq Hayat Khan and Habib Khan since long, as he enjoyed good terms with them.

    “Yes I have been in Islamabad and Peshawar many times and Tariq Hayat Khan and Habib Khan are also close friends of mine. However, let me tell you that I am not working on any hidden agenda,” Matthew said.

    According to an official of law enforcement agency, who requested anonymity, Matthew was working as chief operative of CIA and Blackwater in Peshawar. The law enforcement agencies, he said, had also traced Matthew’s links with Israel’s intelligence agency Mosad as well.

    Matthew has also tried to hire some individuals from Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan and Mianwali, and on refusal threatened some of them of dire consequences.
    When contacted, Additional Chief Secretary FATA Habib Khan confirmed that he held meeting with Mathew in his office. Habib said Mathew was interested in getting details of militants, tribes and strategy of Pak Army operation against militants. “I refused to share details with him,” Habib said.

    Journalists around the world, especially in Pakistan, condemn intelligence agencies for using journalistic cover, which, they say, makes their job difficult.

    The CIA and other intelligence organisations around the world have in the past denied disguising intelligence operatives as journalists.

    According to some media reports, 202 persons affiliated with notorious private military contractor Blackwater, later renamed as Xe Services LLC, arrived Islamabad on Tuesday through a PIA flight.

    Former chief of army staff, Gen (Retd) Mirza Aslam Beig, has claimed that former president Pervez Musharraf had given Blackwater a green signal to carry out its “terrorist operations” in the cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Quetta.

    According to “IntelNews.Org” that quoted former NSA analyst and US navy intelligence officer Wayne Madsen as saying, “The CIA has deployed at least two operatives posing as journalists in several world hotspots after 9/11.” These two operatives, both US Special Forces veterans, were subcontracted to the CIA by private mercenary company Blackwater.

    However, the recent record shows that this is not so. Director of Belgium’s State Security Service (SV/SE) in last February said that his agents required expanded investigative powers to combat the increasing presence of foreign spies in the country, many of whom operate under journalistic cover around the EU’s headquarters.