Consider the Source: Tom Ricks

Late-night self-indulgence, because the usual suspects are busy in every comment thread yelling where’s yer blue-eyed whistle-blower naaoow, ya bums?

[July 2006]The problem is that Ricks’ reporting from Iraq (at least through early 2004, which is as far as I’ve gotten) not only quoted the generals and colonels and majors accurately, but reflected their views entirely and almost exclusively. Ricks is using his official sources as human shields now, but I think any fair reading of his dispatches shows he swallowed their optimistic, gung ho predictions (predictions which he now admits were flat wrong) hook, line and proverbial sinker. The tone is one of a mutual admiration society, in which Ricks felt privileged to be a junior member…

It’s also not as if there weren’t any alternative views for Ricks and his fellow miltary groupies to jot down on their steno pads — other voices who could have clued them into the fact that the military tactics Ricks found so “nimble” at the time were actually sowing the seeds of the insurgency. But those voices belonged to human rights workers or solidarity activists or war critics or, even worse, ordinary Iraqis — fringe types, in other words, people who didn’t come with stars or eagles stapled to their shoulders. Not the kind of “credible” sources a Washington Post military affairs correspondent would feel the need to pay heed to…

Notwithstanding Ricks’ complaint, this has nothing to do with making room for “dissent” — loyal or otherwise. Dissent is what thousands of peace activists, bloggers, Pentagon critics and alternative journalists were doing in the spring and summer of 2003 — back when Ricks was still slinging the official party line.

He might want to remember that fact the next time he invites himself to his own pity party.

Lots of people consider Tom Ricks to be Andrew Sullivan with a military fetish. Doesn’t mean he isn’t what passes for a good reporter, but before you pin your hopes on his conclusions, be aware that he’s got a history of letting his latest Very Important Source rewrite his emotional hard drive as the political fashions change.

37 replies
  1. 1
    Cervantes says:

    Nicely done.

  2. 2
    J.Ty says:

    Do you guys schedule these postings or something? Three minutes, that’s gotta be a record.

  3. 3
    J.Ty says:

    That being said, Christ, what an asshole. I might think Greenwald deserves Douche of the Year for the last n years running; I may even call him the journalistic equivalent of an ambulance-chaser; and I could go on, but: at the worst, his motives are Boosting Greenwald, and at the best his motives are Recently-Located Concern for the Bill of Rights for Americans and also Not Invading Other Countries.

    He’s certainly no fifth columnist living in a decadent enclave in… oh, wait, Brazil? Well, probably coastal at any rate.

  4. 4
    Anne Laurie says:

    @J.Ty: My fault, this time. I had this potted rant all set to go, Cole beat me to the front page, and I decided that Steve pics were of interest to a larger proportion of the BJ commentariat than Tom Ricks. I pre-dated my post so I wouldn’t stomp Cole, but would still get my stand on the record.

  5. 5
    J.Ty says:

    @Anne Laurie: Post-date to the morning? Heck, I dunno, I’ve never done a group blog.

    How’s stuff in Anne Laurie land?

  6. 6
    srv says:

    You can stand with GG, Snowman, Tim Berners-Lee and TED, or you can stand with Tom Ricks.

  7. 7
    Anton Sirius says:

    Is there an official list somewhere of people it’s OK to launch ad hominem attacks against?

  8. 8
    RandomMonster says:

    Tom Ricks is an idiot. This means Greenwald never exaggerated anything ever, right?

  9. 9
    Chyron HR says:

    @srv:

    Because the third option, assimilating information and independently forming your own opinions, is simply LAUGHABLE, amirite?

  10. 10
    Betty Cracker says:

    @J.Ty: Well said. Also, it’s odd that the Snowald detractors who criticize the ambiguously patriotic duo for cowardice for fleeing the US don’t attribute their silence on Putin to cowardice as well but rather to something more sinister.

  11. 11
    David Koch says:

    Consider The Source

    Yes, indeed, consider the source.

    Ricks is junk, absolute junk.

    But also consider the source when it comes from a BENGAAAHZ! conspiracy theorist.

    For a full week now, administration officials have categorically insisted that the prime, if not only, cause of the attack was spontaneous anger over the anti-Muhammad film, The Innocence of Muslims.

    ***

    To date, numerous people believe – as though there were no dispute about it – that Muslims attacked the consulate and killed the US ambassador “because they were angry about a film”.

    As it turns out, this claim is almost certainly false.

    ***

    To the contrary, most evidence from the start strongly suggested that the White House’s claims – that this attack was motivated by anger over a film – were false.

    ***

    The Obama White House’s interest in spreading this falsehood is multi-fold and obvious.

    ***

    If the killing of the ambassador were premeditated and unrelated to the film, then it vests credibility in the criticism that the consulate should have been much better-protected, particularly on 9/11.

    He adopted all the wingnut talking points about BENGHAZI. He repeatedly said the White House lied, that the WH had an obvious interest in spreading falsehoods (ie covering up), he even implicitly blamed Hillary Clinton over the security. He completely echoed Fox News.

    Really, is there any difference btwn Birthers, Truthers, and BENGHAZI-ers?

  12. 12
    Ben Cisco says:

    I read Billmon’s Waybackified posts – that’s some good stuff.

    Wish he was still writing.

  13. 13
    David Koch says:

  14. 14
    Ben Cisco says:

    @David Koch:

    Really, is there any difference btwn Birthers, Truthers, and BENGHAZI-ers?

    NO. SATSQ.

  15. 15
    A Humble Lurker says:

    Dead thread is dead, but geez. *deep sigh* So if Ricks said 2 + 2 = 4 we shouldn’t believe it? I guess if I ever need an example of ad hominem I’ll know where to find it.

    I don’t know about sinister motives, but at the very least it shows a severe lack of foresight on Greenwald’s part. You mean sending a guy off to Russia might impede my ability to criticize Russia without some poor bastard getting in trouble? Hoocoodanode? Not to mention, you’d think he’d be more wary of Russia since as bad as the US can be, it does not have the power to fuck a person up like Russia does.

    Least it would seem Greenwald has more regard for Snowden’s well-being than Assange had for Manning’s. Though that is a pretty low bar to clear.

  16. 16
    Betty Cracker says:

    @A Humble Lurker: You might want to check upstream for that thread about the CIA report: The US is plenty capable of fucking people up, not that I think Snowden or Greenwald were / are in any physical danger from it.

    I’m not convinced Snowald had a solid plan for Snowden’s grand escape. During the early phase of his stay in Moscow, Snowden was casting about for other asylums and coming up empty. If it was a plan, it was a crappy one.

    Shorter my point above: Be careful attributing to diabolical scheming that which can be more credibly explained by simple dumb-fuckery.

  17. 17
    Keith G says:

    @Betty Cracker: But some folks feel better if there is a diabolically scheming boogie person to focus their anxiety.

  18. 18
    Marc says:

    Yea, I don’t get why attacks on Ricks somehow evade his point. It’s a solid point: Russia has turned into an awful place with an atrocious civil liberties record. It’s also now in the business of annexing land from neighbors. Yet somehow it’s A-OK to say absolutely nothing about what Russia is doing – while making civil liberties your entire stock-in-trade. Oh, and shipping mountains of US intelligence data there is completely normal too…

  19. 19
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Also, it’s odd that the Snowald detractors who criticize the ambiguously patriotic duo for cowardice for fleeing the US don’t attribute their silence on Putin to cowardice as well but rather to something more sinister.

    I thought this was Greenwald was being accused of being a hack for Putin. Obviously Snowden is enjoying the freedom from the oppressive US government a libertarian patriot like him values to much in Russia for him to be concerned about Crimea, but Greenwald has no such excuse.

    Heck if anything I would think Snowden approves of Crimea; after all they just voted to succeed from an awful western government and join Russia.

  20. 20
    different-church-lady says:

    IT’S NOT ABOUT SNOWDEN GREENWALD RICKS!

  21. 21
    different-church-lady says:

    @Ben Cisco: Unfortunately now he’s tweeting. And Twitter was specifically invented as a tool for smart people to use when they want to appear dumb.

  22. 22
    different-church-lady says:

    @srv:

    You can stand with GG, Snowman, Tim Berners-Lee and TED, or you can stand with Tom Ricks.

    I’m just going to stand over here in the corner. Far, far away from any and all of those cats.

  23. 23
    different-church-lady says:

    @Anton Sirius:

    Is there an official list somewhere of people it’s OK to launch ad hominem attacks against?

    No, but Mel Brooks’ definitions of tragedy and comedy serve roughly the same function.

  24. 24
    Baud says:

    @different-church-lady:

    I wish I had a sorting hat.

  25. 25
    Cervantes says:

    Marc:

    Yea, I don’t get why attacks on Ricks somehow evade his point. It’s a solid point: [1] Russia has turned into an awful place with an atrocious civil liberties record. It’s also now in the business of annexing land from neighbors. [2] Yet somehow it’s A-OK to say absolutely nothing about what Russia is doing – while making civil liberties your entire stock-in-trade. [3] Oh, and shipping mountains of US intelligence data there is completely normal too…

    [1] When did the golden era of civil liberties in Russia begin and when did it end?

    [2] See here, and here.

    [3] See here.

  26. 26
    Feudalism Now! says:

    What a fuggaro. Snowden was right to release the information he found. How he released the information and his flight to China and Russia were stupid. Greenwald helped with the stupidity. Greenwald frequently aids in stupidity. The story was important and it is ignored because it was handled poorly.
    Tom Ricks is an idiot. He is going to add nothing to the conversation.
    Human beings are idiots and often self-aggrandizing idiots. Cut that chaff from the facts.

  27. 27
    Cervantes says:

    @A Humble Lurker:

    So if Ricks said 2 + 2 = 4 we shouldn’t believe it?

    If belief figures prominently in your evaluation of 2 + 2, you have bigger problems than the Ricks-Greenwald spat. And if Ricks were spouting only truisms, I’d advise you to read someone else.

    I don’t know about sinister motives, but at the very least it shows a severe lack of foresight on Greenwald’s part. You mean sending a guy off to Russia might impede my ability to criticize Russia without some poor bastard getting in trouble? Hoocoodanode?

    I had no idea (really) that Greenwald sent Snowden off to Russia. Could you tell me more? (Thanks.)

    Not to mention, you’d think he’d be more wary of Russia since as bad as the US can be, it does not have the power to fuck a person up like Russia does.

    Now you’re just pulling my leg (off). I’d prefer to be water-boarded, thanks.

    Least it would seem Greenwald has more regard for Snowden’s well-being than Assange had for Manning’s. Though that is a pretty low bar to clear.

    This may be true; I don’t know, but you could be right here.

  28. 28
    Cervantes says:

    @Feudalism Now!:

    Snowden was right to release the information he found. How he released the information and his flight to China and Russia were stupid.

    Don’t need you to defend the second statement here — but if you know of convincing arguments, I’d appreciate your citing them so I can take a look. (Thanks.)

  29. 29
    Cassidy says:

    I look forward to the day when the Snowden suck off brigade finds a new, shiny pure liberal to show their bellies too.

  30. 30
    chopper says:

    @RandomMonster:

    Nailed it.

  31. 31
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    Who the fuck is Tom Ricks?

  32. 32
    cmorenc says:

    @David Koch:

    the consulate should have been much better-protected, particularly on 9/11.

    This is the ONE criticism of Bengazi-ites that might actually have some validity. It was probably not the most prudent decision for our Libyan ambassador to visit such a lightly defended outpost on the anniversary of 9/11.

    The rest of it is pure monkeys throwing any dung they can get their hands on at Obama and Clinton.

  33. 33
    LAC says:

    @Marc: oh god, you are making sense – stop before all the flowers die in her garden die and Obama gets blamed for that too.

    Just when you think the wing nuts on the right cannot get more pathetic with their swooning over putin’s man boobs, you have the greenwaldians with their “first rule about snowden’s mother Russia is that you cannot discuss snowden’s mother Russia”

  34. 34
    EthylEster says:

    I have no expectation that Snowden is going to piss on Russia now. They gave him refuge. Even if he hates everything about Russia, he has limited choices and should keep his piehole shut. I would think Ricks could appreciate this.

    Also, too, this game of “you didn’t denounce X so you must be a poopy-head” is tiresome. And pointless.

  35. 35
    LAC says:

    @EthylEster: oh, please…that self promoting weasel face is doing his fire-side chats about everything under the sun, ie living in a world where there is no freedom, etc etc. what, he cannot speak out this time? What is the difference? Oppression is oppression (unless you are laying up under it while it motor boats you because it gave you shelter) maybe it is the cost of hiding there, but let’s not make his or that chinless fuckface’s silence noble. Especially after all the self righteous shit they spew.

  36. 36
    David Koch says:

    @cmorenc: How could anyone know some racist would post a sick disgusting video designed to incite and inflame Islamists on 9/11?

    Look at it a different way, was it Bill Clinton’s fault for not placing a ring of steel around the Oklahoma City federal building on the anniversary of the Waco disaster?

  37. 37
    David Koch says:

    @EthylEster: Why did he go to Russia in the first place? Why didn’t he go to Ecuador, or Venezuela, or Brazil, a country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty?

    As for Griftwald, he’s not in Russia. There’s nothing keeping him from speaking out against the crack down on gays, the media, and protesters, as well as Russia seizing Crimea. Can you imagine if France enacted anti-gay laws, he’d be all over it in a second. But when Russia does it he loses his keyboard. Funny, that.

Comments are closed.