Per a chirpy article in today’s Huffington Post, we learn that the major media have no reporters dedicated to covering the nitty-gritty of our drone wars. The Obama information considers their strikes secrets (though obviously the people getting hit by the Hellfire missiles know, so the ‘secret’ is being held from the American People picking up the tab). So major media like USA Today and the New York Times are now turning to a source called The Long War Journal. The small staff of people there have been keeping track of drone strikes for the last few years, and nobody in ‘conventional’ media is doing it. So when you read a report in the Grey Lady about a drone strike and the ‘terrorists’ killed, it usually comes from The Long War Journal. And the Journal Managing Editor is Bill Roggio. Roggio is an Army vet out of the Signal Corps who blogged about the war and got an ’embed’ assignment with the Marines. Roggio is also a blogger for the US Department of Defense (no conflict of interest there). This is the individual responsible for much of the US reporting on drone strikes. The article goes on to talk about his small operation, his limited resources, etc.
What the article doesn’t talk about nearly as much is the organization funding Roggio. It’s the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Per the lovely people at Sourcewatch.org, we find out that FDD is a Neoconservative group founded in the days after 9/11. A couple years ago, Media Matters journalist Eli Clifton had obtained documents listing some of the organizations’ donors and combined it with their press releases. He reported:
“While FDD has a 10-year history of engaging in alarmist rhetoric and fear mongering — e.g. in 2002 FDD aired a series of ads conflating Osama bin Laden, Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein — and helped promote the “Bush doctrine” which led to the invasion of Iraq, its donors have, for the most part, hidden behind their anonymous contributions to the organization. The new documents should permit for greater scrutiny of the interests and individuals behind FDD’s hawkish presence in the Washington think tank world.”
Here’s what we DO know: FDD was a cheerleader for the war on Iraq and is supporting the cause for attacking Iran.
Now, if your local news source isn’t relying on Bill Roggio for information about the drone attacks, it’s probably relying on these guys from the New America Foundation. New America Foundation receives its funding from Peter G. Peterson, a ‘controversial’ Wall Street billionaire who has also been funding the PR campaign to limit ‘entitlements'(especially Medicare). While NAF also funds some left-of-center groups, their funding source raises some questions about their objectivity, since the Foundation that gives them money also gives money to other people with an interest in continuing the drone program. And the only other organization doing serious reporting on actual US drone strikes, the Bureau For Investigative Journalism, is coming up with civilian casualty figures more than three times those cited by the New America Foundation. BFIJ is funded by a nonprofit organization in England, and has also done serious reportage about the Iraq war based on documents obtained through Wikileaks.
We should be having a genuine discussion about the drone strikes. But it’s hard to do that when two of the three organizations doing all the real grunt work on the mechanics of those covert actions have serious ties to entities promoting specific causes. Really–can’t NBC or Arianna Huffington pull someone off the Kardashian beat to try and figure out what Americans are doing with drones? It’s no secret to our enemies–or the hapless people we call ‘collateral damage’.