"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

A Proud Exile From the Reality-Based Community 

New York Magazine has a fascinating article about Keith Idema, the clown who got busted and locked away for running his own private prison/torture chamber in Afghanistan. It turns out that our Mr. Idema has had a long and storied career as a loose cannon and serial liar. But the best part of the story is the article's opening shot: Remember all that scary footage of al Qaeda trainees preparing for commando missions that was discovered in Afghanistan after the invasion? Well, forget about it; the tape was a Keith Idema production:
Special Forces soldiers, other journalists, and Army Intelligence immediately questioned the tapes’ authenticity. Tracy-Paul Warrington, formerly a chief warrant officer with U.S. Special Forces who now advises American police forces on counterterrorism, says the tapes are not an intimate look at anything—except clumsy military playacting. “Eighty-five percent of terrorists’ attacks in the last decade have been bombings,” Warrington says. “In this film we see raids. This was a method that went out in the seventies, when Idema was in the Army. I was looking at seven hours of tape of something that Al Qaeda doesn’t do.” Another retired Special Forces soldier, and a longtime acquaintance of Keith Idema’s, contacted CIA sources and learned the agency had similar concerns about the tapes’ authenticity. “The CIA ran voice analysis on the tapes and concluded they were staged,” he says, adding that the agency didn’t publicize its findings because it “didn’t want to waste its time on someone it considered harmless.” Contacted about this claim, CBS spokeswoman Kelli Edwards said the network “showed the tape to three former British Special Forces officers, who verified the tactics being practiced in the video were consistent with those of Al Qaeda, and to a top U.S. military official in Aghanistan, who told us that, in his opinion, the video was authentic.” In the terror-charged atmosphere of early 2002, in any event, there was no public outcry over the piece’s authenticity.

Oh, and who was it who got punk'd by the intrepid Mr. Idema? Why, none other than Dan Rather and his producer, Mary Mapes:
Mary Mapes, who famously vouched for the documents purporting to show that George W. Bush was given preferential treatment by the Texas Air National Guard, was the producer of the segment. CBS News arranged for Dan Rather to fly to Kabul for an interview with Idema. 60 Minutes II touted its footage with the promise that it was “the most intimate look yet at how the world’s deadliest terrorist organization trains its recruits and what it wants them to do to the West.”

You should absolutely go read the entire article - it's long, but worth it. The lessons yet to be learned in this matter have a huge bearing on the way that America is outsourcing operations around the world to nutbars like Idema and the dodgy Soldier of Fortune community running our "private security firms." It would be funny, if it wasn't so damned pathetic.




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