A revealing comment from Jeremy Scahill on Democracy Now! last week that highlights the establishment fear of fearless reporters doing their job:
I wanted to also say, Amy, that after I did the story for The Nation in November 2009 talking about JSOC’s operations inside of Pakistan and the involvement of Blackwater, elite soldiers from a Blackwater unit called Blackwater Select, I couldn’t get the Pentagon or anyone else to comment. I receive a call, unprompted, from a Captain [John] Kirby, who was the spokesperson for Admiral Mike Mullen, calls me on my cell phone, wouldn’t tell me how he got my cell phone number, wouldn’t tell me who told him about the story—this is hours from publication—and told me that if we published the story in The Nation, that I would be, quote, “on thin ice.” That was a direct quote from Admiral Mullen’s spokesperson, Captain John Kirby. Called me up. And I said, “Well, I want to know how you heard about the story, and I want to know how you got my number.” And he said, “Let’s just say that I heard about it.”
And so, then what happened is that the military did a—went over—and I learned this from a member of Congress. The U.S. military orders an investigation on the ground inside of Pakistan. They apologize to General Kayani after my story came out. And they did a report essentially characterizing me and Sy Hersh as being crazy people who are making—
AMY GOODMAN: Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Seymour Hersh, right, who’s done a lot of reporting on the—and this is the first time that I’ve talked about this publicly. My understanding is that there’s a classified report that smears me and Sy Hersh, and it was distributed to members of Congress after my story came out—and Hersh had a story a little bit before it about Pakistan’s nukes—essentially accusing us of making things up and not actually having sources for these stories.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, since you had a spokesperson on the phone for Admiral Mullen, did you ask him to confirm the story?
JEREMY SCAHILL: And he wouldn’t. I mean, this is how it works in Washington. Juan, I’m sure you know this well. You know, you say to them, “OK, well, if it’s not true, if none of it’s true, let me just say, ‘Captain Kirby says this.'” No, he doesn’t want to put his name to it. And I said, “Well, can I have another official that’s willing to talk on the record.” I don’t want some background thing where somebody says it’s not true. I want a name to someone who’s going to say this story is not true, because that’s accountability. That’s what journalists should be demanding, not anonymous sources when it comes to officialdom. No, we want to know what person in the military is going to put their name on it. And they wouldn’t do it.
Geoff Morrell says, well, the State Department has put out a statement saying that this is—that the allegations in the story are totally false. That’s not true. When the State Department was asked about it that day, they said, “Oh, you’ll have to ask the U.S. embassy in Islamabad.” Then the U.S. embassy in Islamabad puts out a statement, unsigned, saying that the story was totally false. So now, all of a sudden, you have the U.S. embassy, not a named official, being somehow the spokesperson for the most clandestine unit of the U.S. military? I mean, you know, the first rule of journalism in these things is, you know, never believe any story until it’s officially denied. And it took a long time, but they officially denied it. And lo and behold, because of these cables, we find out, of course, it’s true. Of course it’s true.