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The US Drone Program, Terrorism & the Debt Ceiling Talks

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Former US intelligence chief Dennis Blair, at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, suggested that it may be time for the US to stop employing drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. In the midst of ongoing political theater in Washington that is slowly but surely producing an agreement to address the budget & debt ceiling, Blair also addressed the cost of the "war on terrorism."

"I think it's time to take a look at it not because there's a pressure on the overall federal budget but it is a right thing," said Blair. He claimed that if one makes a generous estimate there might be around 4,000 al Qaeda that we continue to fight. And, he claimed the US spends roughly $80 billion a year, which means $20 billion on each thousand al Qaeda. [Blair excluded military expenditures in Pakistan and Afghanistan from his figure.]

Blair's statements directly drew attention to the exorbitant amount of funds and resources being appropriated for going after al Qaeda and pointed out that since the September 11th attacks only seventeen people inside the US have died from terrorism.

"[Fourteen] were killed in the Ft. Hood massacre, while car accidents and daily crime combined have killed some 1.5 million people during the same 10 years," noted Blair.

These statements are important. Since they are coming from a former intelligence chief, one might find it especially important for Americans to hear and read. If military, security and intelligence agencies could cut back on the funding and resources they use, one might imagine poor, working poor and middle class Americans it may be harder for those in power to justify cuts to the social safety net in a debt agreement (although libertarians, the right wing and corporate interests would still be pushing for those cuts).

Yet, it appears that Kimberly Dozier & the Associated Press had the above mentioned details scrubbed. The story has gone from this:

To this headline, which entirely flips the story from being constructively critical to being militant and gung-ho on drone strikes and wholly supportive of the way funding and resources for the "war on terror" are currently appropriated. (Note: The timestamp and date remains unchanged.):

The thrust of the of the Dozier's article shifts entirely. The first few paragraphs go from being about stopping a drone campaign and reconsidering spending on terrorism:

To quoting an entirely different person who has no qualms about US counterterrorist actions in Pakistan:

Lute participated in "The Wars Abroad and the Threat at Home" panel on Day Two of the forum. Blair participated in the "Threat vs. Response" panel on the first full day of the forum. And, interestingly, Dozier moderated the panel, which featured Lute.

At the very least, Dozier and the Associated Press  are being lazy by going back and revising this story instead of writing the stories as two separate stories that could each stand on their own. But, since this ACLU post, "Is the Debt Ceiling a Civil Liberties Issue?" links to the story and quotes the article ("with $80 billion devoted to finding an estimated 4,000 terrorists worldwide"), which has been altered, it is quite clearly deceitful journalism in the service of power.

Read the rest of this article at Firedoglake's The Dissenter


Kevin Gosztola is a writer and curator of Firedoglake's blog The Dissenter, a blog covering civil liberties in the age of technology. He is an editor for and a former intern and videographer for The Nation Magazine.And, he's the (more...)

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