New York Times ‘Foley Torture’ piece: more Establishment propaganda?

Callimachi3Before dolling out fulsome praise, we should look more closely at Rukmini Callimachi’s agenda

Rukmini Callimachi is a 43 year-old American woman of Romanian birth whose parents escaped from Communism via Switzerland when she was very small. She is also the author of the much-retweeted, TV-featured and widely reblogged New York Times article of last week describing in graphic detail the brutal treatment of prisoners such as James Foley before he was allegedly beheaded.

Yesterday, I watched her being interviewed on CBS News. She obviously signs up totally to the War on Terror thing, as she mentions it quite a lot. Ms Callimachi also thinks Obama should’ve negotiated. She made a big deal about Foley being waterboarded and tortured before his death. Much, indeed, as the Islamics held in Guantanamo Bay were. And we still don’t know the name of any of her sources.

Callimachi’s story was eventually syndicated – almost word for word in most cases – across all US media. It has also been widely quoted and re-run in the UK.

Rukmini writes a lot about Islam in Africa. In fact, she writes about almost nothing else. Working out of Associated Press, she was their West African bureau chief until earlier this year, when she moved to the New York Times.

She’s had several exclusives. Keep an eye out for the sources and documents pattern. These were the main stories she filed in 2013:

– Al Qa’ida breakaway by Khaled Abu Abbas. Source – Pentagon counter-terrorism, letters ‘found’ by AP. Describes Al Q’aida as tightly run professional organisation, May 2013: marks a key stage in the ‘rise’ of Al Q’aida breakaway ISIS/ISIL. Abbas went to Libya at that time.

– Al Q’aida has feared weapon. Shot of weaponry captured from Al Q’aida, manual for weapon ‘found’. We aren’t shown it. Sources – Mathieu Guidere, an expert on Islamic extremists at the University of Toulouse, Jarret Brachman, director of research at the Combating Terrorism Center, documents ‘found’ by AP. June 2013 – weapon turns out to be an old Soviet ground to air missile developed in the 1960s.

– Yemen terror boss left blueprint for waging jihad. Nassa al-Wahishi, who spent years as Osama bin Laden’s personal secretary, left behind blueprint for terrorism. Sources: documents ‘found’ by AP, Gregory Johnsen, a scholar at Princeton University studying rise of Al Q-aida, former U.S. ambassador to Yemen Stephen Seche. August 2013.

$0.60 for cake: Al-Qaida records every expense. A piece depicting Al Q’aida as well-organised corporation. Sources: papers ‘found’ by AP, William McCants, U.S. State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. December 2013.

It’s hard to read this stuff without spotting a trend in terms of unearthed papers, hearsay, toeing the Washington line, creating fear….and wondering whether Obama is ‘sound’. The New York Times hired Callimachi at the end of February this year. Her stories since then follow the old AP pattern:

Before Killing James Foley, ISIS Demanded Ransom From U.S. More about brutality and Obama’s negotiation policy. Source: Philip Balboni is the President and Chief Executive Officer of GlobalPost. See the Slogpost on this man from earlier this year, in which I reveal Balboni to be ‘a founder’ of [GlobalPost] with one Charles M. Sennott.. Mr Sennott is one of the ethereal creators of the ‘tightly organised global’ Al Q’aida myth. Long before the “war on terror” was part of the American lexicon, he specialised in the coverage of religious extremism and terrorism’. With a GOP-style syntax uncannily close to that of Rukmini Callimachi. Mr Sennott’s paper is partially funded by known CIA Front, the Ford Foundation. August 2014.

For James Foley’s Family, U.S. Policy Offered No Hope. Yet again, how the Obama administration let Foley’s family down. Sources: Foley family, senior lawmakers at the FBI, Gen. John R. Allen, formerly C-in-C, Afghanistan. Talk of an email to the Foley family. We are not shown it.

Sotloff Mother makes plea to ISIS: More on heartless US hostage policy. No mention at all of Sotloff’s Israeli/Mossad contacts. Source: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Director of the Center for the Study of Terrorist Radicalization at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Hmm.

And now of course, the latest Foley piece in the New York Times…that for some reason seems to have gone viral.

I’m afraid I have to observe that Rukmini Callimachi’s line on the rise of Islamism and the Middle East generally follows that of the US Establishment – and in particular, former Presidential candidate John McCain….also featured here in a connected Slogpost recently. And, like McCain, she seems to have been surprised by the sudden rise of ISIS.

There is an agenda, and it is not one the Democratic Party would sign up to….but I’d bet my bottom Dollar that it delights the Pentagon, the FBI and State…where Callimachi does seem to be blessed with a plethora of sources….and be pretty close to Balboni, with whom she shared a Columbia University panel debate on hostage-taking two weeks ago. Some Twitter clues:

Callimachi1Callimachi2So then: probably not a Democrat, I’d surmise.

In the post-Truth age of Spin, it is always necessary to check provenance. I don’t know Ms Callimachi, but as she’s been shortlisted twice for Pullitzers I have to assume she’s a damned good journalist. But the line she follows – and the company she keeps – are becoming very familiar to those of us who try to get even anywhere near to the truth of what’s really going on in the Middle East. As early as 2007, her Pullitzer nomination was for a story about Islamic schools exploiting kids as beggars. Read her full history, and that’s pretty typical of the output.

She arrived in the US from Switzerland, where somehow her parents had managed to arrive from Communist Romania. The family was upper class in Romania, and seems not to be short of money: Callimachi attended the prestigious private Thacher Boarding school (based on 425 acres of California) and her further education was pure Ivy League. So perhaps her politics shouldn’t surprise us.

As usual, this is probably a case of opportunism rather then concerted  conspiracy. But it does put a different complexion on her NYT torture piece.

Yesterday at The Slog: EBA stress test…thank God it wasn’t an honesty test