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NYT Answers 9 Questions About Anonymous Op-Ed After Trump Demands DOJ Investigation

The NYT has published answers to questions from nine readers out of 23,000 who submitted questions about the anonymous op-ed.

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Via Zerohedge


After publishing a highly controversial anonymous Op-Ed Wednesday purportedly written by a senior White House official who claims to be part of an internal “resistance” that is actively undermining the President, the New York Times has taken heat from all sides.

The author has been generally deemed a coward – with the right knocking him or her for their pre-midterm “hit-job,” while many on the left have suggested that the author should have published the piece under their real name in order to attach more credibility to a series of anonymous complaints about the President that the New York Times just doesn’t have the journalistic credibility to pull off anymore.

Indeed, the piece appears to have backfired – while President Trump has demanded that the Justice Department launch an investigation into the article for the sake of national security.

Speaking at a Thursday night campaign rally in Billings, Montana, Trump said:

for the sake of our national security, the New York Times should publish his name at once. I think their reporters should go and investigate who it is. That would actually be a good scoop.

That would be a good scoop. Unelected deep state operatives who defy the voters to push their own secret agendas are truly a threat to democracy itself. And I was so heartened when I looked

And as The Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald points out: “The irony in the op-ed from the NYT’s anonymous WH coward is glaring and massive: s/he accuses Trump of being “anti-democratic” while boasting of membership in an unelected cabal that covertly imposes their own ideology with zero democratic accountability, mandate or transparency

Perhaps to try and win some points in the court of public opinion (and other possible courtrooms down the road), The Times has published answers to questions from nine readers out of 23,000 who submitted questions about the essay.

Via the New York Times

Why did you publish this piece?

Why publish this? What purpose does it serve, other than to enrage its target and assuage the guilt of a collaborator? We have a mad king and a shadow government. This is a coup, not a heroic attempt to save democracy.

— Henry Matthews, New York

Henry:

In our view, this Op-Ed offered a significant first-person perspective we haven’t presented to our readers before: that of a conservative explaining why they felt that even if working for the Trump administration meant compromising some principles, it ultimately served the country if they could achieve some of the president’s policy objectives while helping resist some of his worst impulses.

We’ve certainly read excellent news stories that quoted anonymous officials making similar points and criticizing the president’s temperament and chaotic style. What distinguished this essay from those news articles was that it conveyed this point of view in a fleshed-out, personal way, and we felt strongly that the public should have a chance to evaluate it for themselves.

The only way that could happen was for us to publish the essay without a byline. That was an extraordinary step for us, but the piece touched off what we believe to be an important national debate about whether the writer, and similarly situated Trump administration officials, are making the right choice (many of our readers clearly think they are not).

— Jim Dao

***

How did you find this writer?

Did The New York Times seek out the author of this piece, or did the author seek out The New York Times?

— Norma Buchanan, Billings, Mont.

Norma:

The writer was introduced to us by an intermediary whom we know and trust.

— Jim Dao

***

How do you vet a piece like this?

How are you certain of the author’s identity?

— Martin Trott, Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Through direct communication with the author, some background checking and the testimony of the trusted intermediary.

— Jim Dao

***

What does ‘senior administration official’ really mean?

Who qualifies as a “senior administration official” for The New York Times? How many individuals are there in the administration who fit the bill?

— Daniel Burns, Hyattsville, Md.

Daniel:

I understand readers’ frustration that we didn’t provide a more precise description of the official. But we felt strongly that a broader categorization was necessary to protect the author from reprisal, and that concern has been borne out by the president’s reaction to the essay. The term we chose, senior administration official, is used in Washington by both journalists and government officials to describe positions in the upper echelon of an administration, such as the one held by this writer.

— Jim Dao

***

Would you ever reveal your source?

Under what conditions would The New York Times be forced to disclose the source of the Op-Ed?

— Stephanie Genkin, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Stephanie:

It is difficult to imagine a situation where The Times could be forced to disclose the author’s identity. The First Amendment clearly protects the author’s right to publish an essay criticizing the president, and absolutely nothing in the Op-Ed involves criminal behavior. We intend to do everything in our power to protect the identity of the writer and have great confidence that the government cannot legally force us to reveal it.

— Jim Dao

***

Were the writer’s motives considered?

Were the motives of the author considered when deciding whether to publish the Op-Ed?

— Samantha Combs, Pensacola, Fla.

Samantha:

Our first step in evaluating any submission is to look at the background of the writer and the quality and significance of the piece itself. But we do also take into consideration a writer’s motives as part of the vetting process.

It can of course be difficult to discern what those motives are, and in this case a combination of motives were undoubtedly in play, including the writer’s desire to defend the integrity of the president’s internal critics.

But we concluded that the author’s principal motivation was to describe, as faithfully as possible, the internal workings of a chaotic and divided administration and to defend the choice to nevertheless work within it. The resulting essay, we believe, is an important piece of opinion journalism.

— Jim Dao

***

Why now?

Why did you publish it now? At a time when the country should be focused on the Kavanaugh hearings, the outcome of which will affect us for the next 30 years or more, you totally distracted everyone with a guessing game. This administration is placing our democracy in enough danger. Do you really need to play along?

— Paul Birkeland, Seattle

Paul:

The simple answer is that we published when we did because the piece was ready to go and we saw no reason to wait. It certainly was not our intention to start a guessing game or draw the nation’s attention away from the Kavanaugh hearings.

The Op-Ed section considers the Supreme Court nomination to be of the utmost importance and, for that reason, has published numerous Op-Eds and columns about Judge Kavanaugh since he was nominated (including several just this week).

It was always our expectation that even if the Op-Ed created a splash, that the Kavanaugh hearings would remain a focus of media attention. And indeed, though the Op-Ed was the big news on Wednesday and Thursday, the hearings remained front-page news in The Times throughout the week. I should also point out that the actual vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination could be more than a week away, leaving plenty of time for additional coverage.

— Jim Dao

***

Has this happened before?

You said publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay is a “rare step.” So does it mean that it was not unprecedented? Then what were other times when you made a call to run anonymous Op-Eds? What were your rationales back then?

— Dien Luong, Vietnam

Dien:

It has happened before. Earlier this year, we published an anonymous essay by an asylum seeker whose name we withheld because she was concerned about gang violence against her family in El Salvador. In 2016, we published this Op-Ed by a Syrian refugee in Greece, using her first name only because her family in Syria faced threats. We also published in 2016 an account of the Syrian civil war by a writer in Raqqa using a pen name to protect him from being targeted by the Islamic State.

— Jim Dao

Did you consider the effect this piece might have?

To what extent did The Times consider the effect that publication of the piece would have in bolstering conspiracy theories about the “deep state” or QAnon, etc.?

— James Apps, Berlin

James:

We did not take that into consideration. It is difficult to ever know what reportage might feed into a conspiracy theory. But the essay included a passage that indicates the author suspected the piece might be viewed as part of a “deep state” theory: “This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state.”

— Jim Dao

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john vieiraThraxiteT W HuningrogermorrisOld Uncle Dave Recent comment authors
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Anne felippe
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Anne felippe

Someone should have asked if the NY Slime wrote the piece. Good article from paul craig roberts convinced this s the case. Regardless who wrote it, since the NYSlime has zero credibility, the motives for publishing this are crystal clear. And all the accomplishments of the president were part of his campaign promises yet this egotistical unelected nobody thinks he is taking credit for accomplishing them. And as far as his absurd claims about syria this is all false flag and almost everyone realizes it and as far his claims about rx spy poisoning any person not dumbed down by… Read more »

john vieira
Guest

“They” are at wits end and will try ANYTHING…even going so far as to “invent” a traitor or group of traitors in the White House. The only traitors in America are the 5th Column/Shadow Government led by the “organizer” and their minions/eunuchs in the corrupt, sold out mainstream media…

Old Uncle Dave
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Old Uncle Dave

Do a search: Times op-ed USC plagiarism

rogermorris
Guest
rogermorris

This is not the first time NYT’s has been ‘ahead of the curve[ball]’ in the ‘manufacturing of public myth. It has been here before.Many many times. It builds the biggest and bestest of all myths. Including the big kahuna 17yrs ago just down the road :The ‘Lower’ Manhattan Project/Office Furnishings Fire Myth. NYT.
The worm in the big apple.
Mother mouth piece of the Wurlitzer .

T W Huning
Guest
T W Huning

…should have published the piece under his real name… (Of course the author didn’t publish the piece. The “Typhoid Mary of Journalism”* did.) *Gore Vidal

T W Huning
Guest
T W Huning

Another high Whitehorse souse.

Thraxite
Guest
Thraxite

“We did not take that into consideration. It is difficult to ever know what reportage might feed into a conspiracy theory” The guy/gal has admitted to belonging to a secret group and doing things they’re not supposed to be doing, that is no longer a conspiracy theory, that is actually called a CONSPIRACY!

john vieira
Guest

Considering from whence they are purportedly operating it is tantamount to TREASON!!!

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Claims of Khashoggi death by fistfight expose Saudi brutality

The brutality of both state claims and unproven allegations in Khashoggi’s death raise serious questions about American alliances.

Seraphim Hanisch

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On October 2, 2018, Muslim Brotherhood member and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey, never to be seen or heard from again.

This chilling report has been answered with some horrifying and grisly stories about what happened – that he was dismembered while still alive, that his body parts were dissolved completely in acid, leaving nothing left.

Now after two weeks, the Saudi official word on what happened came out: He died in an unexpected fistfight in the embassy.

Really. That is the Saudi’s explanation. A fistfight. In an embassy. With 18 people detained as suspects in the investigation.

And apparently the Saudi government expects the world to accept this explanation and just let it go.

This situation has just exposed the true nature of this “ally” of the United States. Even Rush Limbaugh, a staunch supporter of all conservative positions in America, has spoken from time to time about the amazing disconnect in American foreign policy with regards to Saudi Arabia. He continued that on his radio programs on both October 18th and 19th, 2018, as shown in this excerpted transcript, with emphasis added:

I’m simplifying this, folks, but generally that’s what happens. So, by the same token, you could say that this militant terrorist Islam that we’ve known since 9/11 and maybe 10, 15 years prior, that has been sponsored by Saudi Arabia, by the Saudi royal family. It’s why so many people have been upset with so many American presidents being buddy-buddy with the king, whoever he happens to be. The Saudis always fund former presidents’ libraries. I mean, the Saudis had a good thing going. They had relationships with every president, former president and so forth.

And while they were selling us oil, sometimes. Cooperative or uncooperative, depending on the time, with price. But during all of that, they were the primary thrust for Wahhabi Islam. Now, here comes MbS (Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia), and he wants to just reform the hell out of the country, get rid of Wahhabism, bring in petrodollars competitors such as Hollywood and Silicon Valley and basically bring Saudi Arabia into the twenty-first century instead of the seventh. And there’s some people that don’t want that to happen.

And from the 19th:

Wahhabi Islam is where the really radical clerics and Imams are who are welcoming anybody they can into their mosques and just literally converting them into suicide bombers, terrorists, and what have you, under the auspices of Islam. And the Saudi royal family stood by and let it all happen. Whether they were instrumental in advocating it, don’t know, but Saudi-funded charities all over the world promoted Wahhabism.

And that’s when I went back to Mr. Buckley and said, “I don’t see how the Saudi royal family, the Saudi government can be separated from these 19 hijackers.”

Now in the rest of these transcripts, which are very interesting, Rush explains that Khashoggi was a Muslim Brotherhood member, and as such, stood opposed to MbS’ reform plans and actions. However the brutality of the alleged murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the official “State version” account of his death are almost equally brutal. Death by fists? How is it that the United States considers such people allies?

President Trump is on record as saying that this explanation by the Saudi government is “credible.” However, this statement alone is out of context, so we bring you the entire statement:

This is not to be misunderstood as a Trump endorsement of belief. He points out that this is a first step, and that in his view it is a good one, but that is all.

Still, these events throw the real nature of the Saudi kingdom into sharp relief. They are the number one customer for US military equipment, now considered allies against Iran. In the complicated field of Middle East relations, the president’s caution is probably very wise for the moment. However, this is a nation which produced most of the 9/11 hijackers, which is said to be the last voice in what Islam is, and so promotes a very violent interpretation of an already violent faith.

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The news and information media got a great lesson in following something like “due process” with this matter, and while the President is doing that, this situation still invites some strong speculation. Allies that simultaneously seek an allied nation’s destruction do not seem like allies much at all. And embassies are usually held to be very safe places for people, not places where they meet their death in any way at all, let alone the cruel means alleged and later claimed.

This event may actually be very damaging to the Saudi Crown Prince’s effort to bring his nation out of Wahhabism and into some more kind interpretation of Islam, and indeed the West’s assessment of Khashoggi has taken to calling him a “teddy bear” when he is a Muslim Brotherhood member. Former US President Obama supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and these people were so violent, killing Christians and destroying homes and businesses, that the Muslim Brotherhood’s uprising was followed by a second uprising from the more reasonable people in Egypt (which Obama promptly dropped).

If reports are to be believed, Mohammed bin Salman wants to end Wahhabism. It would seem to logically make sense that his agencies were involved in what happened to Kashoggi, who is a known critic of bin Salman. But if it really is true that the Saudi royals were not involved, then whoever it was certainly succeeded in stopping bin Salman’s efforts to modernize his country, at least for now.

 

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The future of war: UAE hires U.S. mercenaries to assassinate political leaders (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 137.

Alex Christoforou

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An investigation by BuzzFeed News has revealed that Middle East Monarchy, United Arab Emirates, hired U.S. mercenaries to assassinate political leaders and religious clerical leaders in war torn Yemen.

The U.S. ex-military, elite soldiers were paid by to kill those designated as “terrorists” by the UAE.

The UAE worked with the U.S. based mercenary-for-hire Spear Operations Group, founded by Israeli-American Abraham Golan, who told BuzzFeed News…

“There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen. I was running it.”

Spear Operations Group’s first target in Yemen was Anssaf Ali Mayo, the local leader of the Islamist political party Al-Islah, a party whose members include Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Tawakkul Karman.

Is this the future of war?

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and International Affairs and Security Analyst via Moscow, Mark Sleboda discuss the stunning Buzzfeed News article that exposes the dangerous and dark assassination strategy of the United Arab Emirates, hiring American ex-soldiers to target and kill political enemies.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Authored by Aram Roston via BuzzFeed News…


The operation against Mayo — which was reported at the time but until now was not known to have been carried out by American mercenaries — marked a pivot point in the war in Yemen, a brutal conflict that has seen children starved, villages bombed, and epidemics of cholera roll through the civilian population. The bombing was the first salvo in a string of unsolved assassinations that killed more than two dozen of the group’s leaders.

The company that hired the soldiers and carried out the attack is Spear Operations Group, incorporated in Delaware and founded by Abraham Golan, a charismatic Hungarian Israeli security contractor who lives outside of Pittsburgh. He led the team’s strike against Mayo.

“There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen,” he told BuzzFeed News. “I was running it. We did it. It was sanctioned by the UAE within the coalition.”

The UAE and Saudi Arabia lead an alliance of nine countries in Yemen, fighting what is largely a proxy war against Iran. The US is helping the Saudi-UAE side by providing weapons, intelligence, and other support.

The press office of the UAE’s US Embassy, as well as its US public affairs company, Harbour Group, did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails.

The revelations that a Middle East monarchy hired Americans to carry out assassinations comes at a moment when the world is focused on the alleged murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia, an autocratic regime that has close ties to both the US and the UAE. (The Saudi Embassy in the US did not respond to a request for comment. Riyadh has denied it killed Khashoggi, though news reports suggest it is considering blaming his death on a botched interrogation.)

Golan said that during his company’s months-long engagement in Yemen, his team was responsible for a number of the war’s high-profile assassinations, though he declined to specify which ones. He argued that the US needs an assassination program similar to the model he deployed. “I just want there to be a debate,” he said. “Maybe I’m a monster. Maybe I should be in jail. Maybe I’m a bad guy. But I’m right.”

Spear Operations Group’s private assassination mission marks the confluence of three developments transforming the way war is conducted worldwide:

  • Modern counterterrorism combat has shifted away from traditional military objectives — such as destroying airfields, gun emplacements, or barracks — to killing specific individuals, largely reshaping war into organized assassinations.
  • War has become increasingly privatized, with many nations outsourcing most military support services to private contractors, leaving frontline combat as virtually the only function that the US and many other militaries have not contracted out to for-profit ventures.
  • The long US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have relied heavily on elite special forces, producing tens of thousands of highly trained American commandos who can demand high private-sector salaries for defense contracting or outright mercenary work.

With Spear Operations Group’s mission in Yemen, these trends converged into a new and incendiary business: militarized contract killing, carried out by skilled American fighters.

Experts said it is almost inconceivable that the United States would not have known that the UAE — whose military the US has trained and armed at virtually every level — had hired an American company staffed by American veterans to conduct an assassination program in a war it closely monitors.

One of the mercenaries, according to three sources familiar with the operation, used to work with the CIA’s “ground branch,” the agency’s equivalent of the military’s special forces. Another was a special forces sergeant in the Maryland Army National Guard. And yet another, according to four people who knew him, was still in the Navy Reserve as a SEAL and had a top-secret clearance. He was a veteran of SEAL Team 6, or DEVGRU, the sources told BuzzFeed News. The New York Times once described that elite unit, famous for killing Osama bin Laden, as a “global manhunting machine with limited outside oversight.”

The CIA said it had no information about the mercenary assassination program, and the Navy’s Special Warfare Command declined to comment. A former CIA official who has worked in the UAE initially told BuzzFeed News there was no way that Americans would be allowed to participate in such a program. But after checking, he called back: “There were guys that were basically doing what you said.” He was astonished, he said, by what he learned: “What vetting procedures are there to make sure the guy you just smoked is really a bad guy?” The mercenaries, he said, were “almost like a murder squad.”

Whether Spear’s mercenary operation violates US law is surprisingly unclear. On the one hand, US law makes it illegal to “conspire to kill, kidnap, maim” someone in another country. Companies that provide military services to foreign nations are supposed to be regulated by the State Department, which says it has never granted any company the authority to supply combat troops or mercenaries to another country.

Yet, as BuzzFeed News has previously reported, the US doesn’t ban mercenaries. And with some exceptions, it is perfectly legal to serve in foreign militaries, whether one is motivated by idealism or money. With no legal consequences, Americans have served in the Israel Defense Forces, the French Foreign Legion, and even a militia fighting ISIS in Syria. Spear Operations Group, according to three sources, arranged for the UAE to give military rank to the Americans involved in the mission, which might provide them legal cover.

Despite operating in a legal and political gray zone, Golan heralds his brand of targeted assassinations as a precision counterterrorism strategy with fewer civilian casualties. But the Mayo operation shows that this new form of warfare carries many of the same old problems. The commandos’ plans went awry, and the intelligence proved flawed. And their strike was far from surgical: The explosive they attached to the door was designed to kill not one person but everyone in the office.

Aside from moral objections, for-profit targeted assassinations add new dilemmas to modern warfare. Private mercenaries operate outside the US military’s chain of command, so if they make mistakes or commit war crimes, there is no clear system for holding them accountable. If the mercenaries had killed a civilian in the street, who would have even investigated?

The Mayo mission exposes an even more central problem: the choice of targets. Golan insists that he killed only terrorists identified by the government of the UAE, an ally of the US. But who is a terrorist and who is a politician? What is a new form of warfare and what is just old-fashioned murder for hire? Who has the right to choose who lives and who dies — not only in the wars of a secretive monarchy like the UAE, but also those of a democracy such as the US?

BuzzFeed News has pieced together the inside story of the company’s attack on Al-Islah’s headquarters, revealing what mercenary warfare looks like now — and what it could become.

Full Story at BuzzFeed News…

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Saudis Admit Khashoggi Killed At Consulate “In Fist-Fight”, King Salman Fires 5 Top Officials

Saudi Arabia confirmed tonight that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at its consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

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Democrat Congressman Adam Schiff has weighed in on the Khashoggi murder admission from KSA claiming “the Saudi report of Khashoggi is not credible.”

The White House issue a statement…

Via Zerohedge


Saudi Arabia confirmed tonight that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at its consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

In a statement put out on Saudi state television, citing an initial investigation by Saudi prosecutors, SPA said that:

“an argument erupted between him [Khashoggi] and others whom he met in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul leading to a fistfight which led to his death.”

Prosecutors said the investigation was still ongoing and that 18 people, all Saudi nationals, had so far been arrested, SPA reported.

“The Kingdom expresses its deep regret at the painful developments that have taken place and stresses the commitment of the authorities in the Kingdom to bring the facts to the public,” the statement said.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has removed a key royal adviser and a senior intelligence official..

King Salman issued an order to remove Saud al-Qahtani, an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to the state-run Ikhbariya television.

The monarch also relieved deputy intelligence chief Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri.

This follows the narrative reported by The New York Times on Thursday that Riyadh is looking to blame Assiri for the purported murder of Khashoggi in an effort to shield Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from the blame.

Saudi King Salman has also ordered the formation of ministerial committee led by crown prince Mohammad bin Salman to restructure the general intelligence agency.

As Ali Shihabi, Founder, The Arabia Foundation, tweets:

“The removal of two top officials, a cabinet ranking, very powerful and close advisor of MBS and the Deputy Head of Foreign intelligence + 4 other Generals in foreign intelligence (virtually its whole top leadership) cannot be written off as a cover up. This is unprecedented.”

This is not saying “rogue killers” but implicating virtually the whole top leadership of foreign intelligence. They carried out a mission that went sour very quickly and tried to cover it up initially. Bad news travels slowly to the top.”

We await President Trump’s “very severe consequences.”

 

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