Captured Al-Qaeda kingpin is case of mistaken identity - Sunday Times
The capture of a supposed Al-Qaeda kingpin by Pakistani agents last week was hailed by President George W Bush as “a critical victory in the war on terror”. According to European intelligence experts, however, Abu Faraj al-Libbi was not the terrorists’ third in command, as claimed, but a middle-ranker derided by one source as “among the flotsam and jetsam” of the organisation.
Al-Libbi’s arrest in Pakistan, announced last Wednesday, was described in the United States as “a major breakthrough” in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
Bush called him a “top general” and “a major facilitator and chief planner for the Al- Qaeda network”. Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, said he was “a very important figure”. Yet the backslapping in Washington and Islamabad has astonished European terrorism experts, who point out that the Libyan was neither on the FBI’s most wanted list, nor on that of the State Department “rewards for justice” programme.
Note to mainstream media: there's this concept called credibility. The way it works is that the extent to which you give credence to what someone tells you today is based upon the truth value of things they told you yesterday. Shall I repeat that for you? Use smaller words?
If you are willing to concede that this is the first time anyone has explained this concept to you, I might be willing to give you a pass for your complete failure to apply it to date. (Well, everyone but Judith Miller, who is apparently beyond redemption. And Bob Woodward, who knew this shit cold once upon a time.)
Once you have mastered that concept, you can try this: when evaluating the likelihood that someone is blowing smoke up your collective journalistic asses, ask yourselves: how does this story serve the interests of the source of the story? You know, context. Like the WMD schtick and the Bush team's obvious desire to control Iraq's oil. And, oh, let me go out on a limb here, the amazing confluence of the capture of this Al Qaeda dude and the British elections. Not that the adorable canine Blair himself has the power to bring even third-rate terrorists to heel, but consider the possibility that the way Bush gets his favorite pooch to sit and stay is with these kinds of Persian-flavored Beggin' Bits.
Oh, I can see by the looks on your faces that I have totally lost you. Let's start over...