Noted.

Noted.

Robert Gates admits that Blackwater is in Pakistan; Air America signs off.

Facebook
Twitter
Email
Flipboard
Pocket

Backtracking on Blackwater:

A month after The Nation‘s

Jeremy Scahill

reported on

Blackwater

‘s activities in Pakistan (“The Secret US War in Pakistan,” December 21), Defense Secretary

Robert Gates

confirmed that the company is operating there. In a January 21 interview on Pakistan’s

Express 24/7

TV-news channel, Gates said, “They [Blackwater and another private security firm,

DynCorp

] are operating as individual companies here in Pakistan,” according to an official DoD transcript. The following day, a Pakistani official acknowledged that Blackwater was operating in the country’s frontier areas with the “consent and permission” of the Pakistani government, saying he had discussed the issue with officials at the US Consulate in Peshawar, who told him that Blackwater was training Pakistani forces.

When Gates’s comments began to make huge news in Pakistan, US defense officials began backpedaling. As the

Wall Street Journal

reported, “Defense officials tried to clarify the comment…telling reporters that Mr. Gates had been speaking about contractor oversight more generally and that the Pentagon didn’t employ [Blackwater] in Pakistan.” Then, on January 23, the US Embassy in Islamabad issued a “correction,” saying, “At no time did Secretary Gates say that Blackwater is operating in Pakistan.” As the saying goes, never believe anything until it has been officially denied.

Signing Off: Air America

, the liberal radio network, announced it would file for bankruptcy two days after

Martha Coakley

lost the Massachusetts Senate race. The timing was coincidental, but both progressive setbacks were functions of a right-wing media machine that is thriving in the Obama era. The same conservative talk-radio that put tea parties in

Ted Kennedy’s

backyard–Coakley lost even Kennedy’s home precinct of Hyannis–has so dominated media markets in redder states that Air America’s programming was never able to crack local stations. With time and cash on its side, right-wing radio had the upper hand, while Air America always struggled to make a profit.

Still, in six years Air America catapulted an impressive roster of progressives into radio, TV, new media and even Congress.

Al Franken

, the comedian turned senator, burnished his policy credentials on Air America, while

Rachel Maddow

, the most popular liberal woman on TV, launched her career as a political commentator there. The network gave platforms to

Thom Hartmann

, who now reaches 2 million people a week via syndication, and

Cenk Uygur

, who draws half a million daily YouTube viewers to his hybrid web-radio program,

The Young Turks

. Air America’s demise narrows the spectrum of opinion on the radio. But it is to the network’s lasting credit that so many alumni have succeeded on several platforms, joining a bumper crop of progressive talkers like

Ed Schultz

,

Bill Press

and

Stephanie Miller,

who keep the radio fair, if not balanced.   ARI MELBER

Thank you for reading The Nation

We hope you enjoyed the story you just read, just one of the many incisive, deeply-reported articles we publish daily. Now more than ever, we need fearless journalism that shifts the needle on important issues, uncovers malfeasance and corruption, and uplifts voices and perspectives that often go unheard in mainstream media.

Throughout this critical election year and a time of media austerity and renewed campus activism and rising labor organizing, independent journalism that gets to the heart of the matter is more critical than ever before. Donate right now and help us hold the powerful accountable, shine a light on issues that would otherwise be swept under the rug, and build a more just and equitable future.

For nearly 160 years, The Nation has stood for truth, justice, and moral clarity. As a reader-supported publication, we are not beholden to the whims of advertisers or a corporate owner. But it does take financial resources to report on stories that may take weeks or months to properly investigate, thoroughly edit and fact-check articles, and get our stories into the hands of readers.

Donate today and stand with us for a better future. Thank you for being a supporter of independent journalism.

Ad Policy
x