Thursday, May 05, 2011

Brain at Half-Mast

Antony Loewenstein's headline:
Jews fearful of other Jews not saluting Zionist flag nightly
The Zionists have a flag now? What does it look like?

He continues to complain:
Here’s yet another tale of dissenting Jewish opinion being quashed by a Zionist establishment that simply won’t tolerate any criticism of glorious Israel
Unlike, say, criticism of Antony's work, such as a comment to his blog.

We all know where they end up, don't we Antony?

Elsehwere, Loewenstein boasts:
Back in November I broke a story that detailed covert Australian missions across the Middle East, mostly off the books and often skirting legality.
I suppose it's easy to "break" a story if you don't mind breaking the truth as well. Accusing Australian soldiers of acting illegally is a big call. One I doubt our brave blogger would make to any digger's face.

His claims then, drew a savage response from people who actually knew what they were talking about. Naturally Loewenstein never responded to his critics. He never does. They're just big bad meanies or members of the eeeevil Zionist opiniony crushy machine.

I'll repost it here in full. Unlike Loewenstein, when I cut and paste a huge extract of text, I can actually add something to it, other than a sneering headline. Maybe I can be a best-selling author one day?
Neil James, Executive Director, Australia Defence Association, writes: Re. “Elite Oz soldiers in covert operations for top-secret Alliance Base” (yesterday, item 1). As the independent, non-partisan, national public-interest watchdog for defence and wider national security issues, can we point out that the article by Antony Loewenstein in yesterday’s Crikey suffered two substantial and serious flaws that surely should have been challenged and corrected during the Crikey editorial process. Or else the whole article should have been spiked as crap, not journalism, or even as reasonable comment in public debate.

First, the article was merely a mixture of undergraduate-level urban rumours, historical myth (especially about the Phoenix Program during the Vietnam War) and left-wing conspiracy theory, flavoured by numerous factual mistakes, misrepresentations and misunderstandings about our defence force, its compliance with international law and, indeed, the way Australia actually works as a democracy ruled by law.

Even the two Australian sources cited, such as an equally fact-free, six-year old, long-discredited Brian Toohey article in the Australian Financial Review, and a more recent but also unbalanced and quite factually erroneous article by Sally Neighbour in The Monthly, provided no actual basis for the specific and general claims made. Journalists quoting other mistaken journalists is not substantiation.

Second, everyone is free to write such tripe but it was plainly very irresponsible of Crikey to publish it. Our soldiers are deployed in Afghanistan fighting a UN-endorsed war at the lawful direction of our elected government, and on our behalf. It is unfair at best for any Australian to make their job harder or more dangerous by writing or publishing biased nonsense that can be so easily misused in Al Qa’eda propaganda. There is no excuse to betray the men and women of our defence force by such stupid, thoughtless and irresponsible claims. If you disagree with the war in Afghanistan, argue with our government (using facts), not endanger our troops (by wild claims).

Let us also be clear here about what Crikey has boldly stated. “Crikey understands Australia has been engaged in such behaviour [alleged assassinations contrary to the Laws of Armed Conflict] in the past decade in the Middle East, leaving Canberra and its officials open to potential charges of war crimes and prosecution in an [sic] international criminal court”.

Previous Ministers for Defence and the current Chief of Defence Force have pointed out on several previous occasions — when journalists have made incorrect claims about “assassinations” — that the ADF, including its Special Forces, have not and do not ever assassinate anybody. They do not even deliberately kill anyone, except in battle, and where authorised by Australian rules-of-engagement grounded in the Laws of Armed Conflict and the ethics of a professional defence force made up of fellow Australians.

Similar denials have been made by Ministers responsible for ASIS. No journalist, or polemicist, has ever been able to back up such a claim with a single substantiated fact. Furthermore, as in this case, every journalist’s sole defence when challenged to prove it has been merely to cite older unsubstantiated claims by other unprofessional journalists or ideologues.

Then there is the determined lack of balance that permeated the article. The numerous denials by the Ministers and CDF are not even mentioned. No military or intelligence historian was cited either. The only two academic experts consulted, a defence finance expert and a lawyer who does not specialise in LOAC, naturally commented on a hypothetical basis only (and I suspect were not quoted accurately anyway). Both made the unsurprising qualified observation that, if true, such acts would be illegal.

Neither, however, offered any confirmation of the wild claims made or that they considered such claims might or could be true. Moreover, neither the ADA as the relevant public-interest watchdog, or the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers as the relevant professional body, were asked for an opinion. Antony has consulted us before so the omission this time is puzzling if one assumes he approached the topic objectively.

And just in case someone claims that the ADA is somehow biased, may I point out our extensive record of condemning the use of torture, rendition and assassination in the UN-endorsed international campaign against Islamist terrorism (usually referred to incorrectly by polemicists as the supposed “war on terror”).
And more...
Professor Douglas Kirsner, School of International & Political Studies, Deakin University, writes:

Antony Loewenstein suspects that Australian SAS soldiers are committing war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. His evidence: a six year old article by Brian Toohey claiming that Australian soldiers are being clandestinely trained in assassination preparations, and, Loewenstein says with no evidence, that it’s gone beyond that. He makes allusions to US Phoenix operation during Vietnam and to such operations being carried out currently by the US, through Wikileaks. So what has this to do with Australia?

The evidence is nothing but the usual Loewenstein conspiracy theory innuendo. “Unspoken and unasked”, Australian soldiers are involved in “preparations for assassinations”. When Crikey (i.e., Loewenstein) contacted national security reporters, they knew nothing about it. Sounds sinister? Sally Neighbour’s Monthly cover story mentioned little about illegal activities. (Still more sinister — what are they hiding?). Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Mark Thomson knew nothing about it and thought it a silly idea anyway. (It must be true then). Ben Saul from the University of Sydney knew nothing of any such activities of Alliance Base. (Therefore true) If it were true, then that would be bad, etc., etc.

There is a credibility gap here, but it lies with Loewenstein and Crikey. This appalling investigative journalism is not even fit for your rumour bin. Israel-obsessed Loewenstein has crossed the line with outrageous allegations about our defence forces, based only upon innuendo and far-left conspiracy theories.
Ordinarily, getting caught-out inventing facts and making the most basic errors on a regular basis, would be the end of a journalist's career. Loewenstein's career never really started.

Antony would be able to produce his next (ahem) bestseller simply by compiling all his errors to date. Nobody should take him seriously.

But he's good enough for Our ABC...

Labels: ,


Blogger Minicapt said...

One thing Ant need never fear is "character assassination".


3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds a bit like the story Ant broke about Paul Howes being sponsored by filthy Zionist dollars to travel to Israel:

Or the story Ant broke about Yossi Berger and Zionist advocacy:

Or the story Ant broke about NSW Greens MP Jamie Parker and "these Jews:

5:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

He certainly breaks stories, doesn't he?

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had to laugh at this quote from Loewenstein's latest offering on the Drum:

"It’s grimly ironic that the Australian media obsesses over every word of supposed terrorism expert Australian David Kilcullen ... without asking whether his skills have actually succeeded and at what cost."

A quick compare and contrast of their respective CVs should put matters in perspective.

Kilcullen - former soldier and spook with oodles of front-line experience, now consulting to the top US brass.

Loewenstein - former Fairfax trainee who didn't make it to first base, now blogging from his Sydney home in between writers' festival appearances.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Dan Lewis said...

Yes, but Kilcullen isn't a bestselling author, who has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Guardian, Juan Cole, Mondoweiss, Washington Post, New Statesman, Huffington Post, The Daily Star, The National, Dawn, Haaretz, The Nation, BBC World Service, Adbusters, Al Masry Alyoum, Tehelka, Sydney’s Sun-Herald, New Zealand Herald, Sydney Ideas Quarterly, The Australian Financial Review, Melbourne’s Age, Brisbane’s Courier Mail, Canberra Times, Online Opinion, ABC Unleashed/The Drum, Amnesty International Australia, Green Left Weekly, Eureka Street, Kill Your Darlings, Tikkun, Adelaide’s Advertiser, The Bulletin, Znet, Overland, Sydney PEN, The Big Issue, Counterpunch and many others.

Is he?

9:44 PM  
Anonymous TBBS said...

Two points - he admists Israel is glorious! Woo boo!

he, and so many others are living proof that the real world, contrary to stern warnings in high school, not only tolerates but amply rewards deliberate chicanery, second- and third-rate work and lies. See? You DON"T have to be good at what you do, don't have to try hard, and don't have to make an effort. And it's not just the ABC that will reward you.
Ain't life grand?

11:53 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home