Sunday, November 27, 2005

Trusted Lieutenants Go Civilian! Say Hello To The "Executive Secretary"

After this recent addition to the "Trusted Lieutenant" Watch, I received a cordial email from Centcom assuring me that use of the phrase "al Qaeda in Iraq" eight times in a short press release represented nothing more than a concern for clarity. With that in mind, here's part of the latest dispatch out of Centcom (my bolds):


BAGHDAD, Iraq - A close family member as well as Coalition sources claimed earlier this week that a gatekeeper and confidant of Abu Mu'sab al-Zarqawi, Bilal Mahmud Awad Shebah, aka Abu Ubaydah, who reportedly met weekly with the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, is dead.

Abu Ubaydah was reportedly killed Oct. 14 when Coalition Forces raided several suspected terrorist hideouts in the Albu Ubayd neighborhood north of Ramadi. Although intelligence analysts assessed Abu Ubaydah was killed during the mid-October raids, they could not determine his death with certainty at that time.

In late November, Coalition Forces received information from knowledgeable sources and a close family member of Abu Ubaydah claiming independently that Zarqawi's confidant and gatekeeper was killed as a result of the Oct. 14 raids.

Detained members of al-Qaeda claim Abu Ubaydah served as an "executive secretary" for Zarqawi; met with Zarqawi frequently; served as a messenger and gatekeeper for Zarqawi; screened all messages and requests for meetings with Zarqawi; was one of Zarqawi's most trusted associates; provided Zarqawi with safe house locations; and used intimidation and death threats to gain the cooperation of the Iraqi people to support al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist activity.
Note the words and phrases used: gatekeeper, courier, confidant, messenger, trusted associate, executive secretary---and of course "al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist." All in one short press release about one man. It's almost as if the boys at Centcom got together and said, "You know TCR's Trusted Lieutenant Watch? Let's really give him something to chew on." The only term they left out is "Man Friday." I have little doubt we'll see that one soon.

The "Trusted Lieutenant" Watch is not meant solely as a dig at clumsy military spin. I post it because the way in which words are used---particularly by political and military leaders during wartime---often betrays underlying emotion and reality that the writer or speaker is trying to conceal: anger, concern, dishonesty, desperation. The Five O'Clock Follies during the Vietnam War were an example of this.

When our military punches out a constant stream of breathless ham-handed missives about "trusted lieutenants" and "executive secretaries" while our casualties mount and conditions on the ground deteriorate, what does that say about the gap between reality and spin, and what does it imply for our ultimate success or failure in Iraq? And when a Thesaurus determines the content of a short press release about a single individual no one's ever heard of, what does that betray about the military's own confidence in how things are going?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

you should be totally freaked out the Centcom are devoting resources to emailing people like you. Sin't there a war on?

seriously monitoring internal dissent is another sign you are being run by totalitarian religious nutters.

11/27/2005 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hadn't noticed this, nice catch.

That puts the running tally of captured or killed Zarqawi lieutenants at 35.

11/27/2005 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't mind them not getting Zarqawi. His methods hurt AQ's stature among muslims; there's something about the way he casually blows up his fellow muslims at weddings, shopping malls, etc. that seems to irk large swaths of the arab population.

It might not make them love us, but at least Zarqawi is removing the idea of AQ member as wonderful hero.

11/28/2005 8:57 AM  
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