The New Duranty Times thinks that in publishing information about a secret program, the details of which were not known to those whom it was intended to monitor, it is doing something akin to the publishing of The Pentagon Papers.
But a moment’s thought shows us that that is incorrect. Whatever one thinks of the self-aggrandizing of some of the participants in that affair (toymaker Louis Marx’s daughter’s husband — what was his name again?), what was revealed were volumes of the records of American dealings with Vietnam, from the days of the French (“La petite Tonkinoise” tinkling couleur-locally in the background at the opium den, while a teenaged Marguerite Duras meets with her lover on Catinat Street), and Bao Dai in Dalat, and Dien Bien Phu, and General de Castres, all the way up to Marshal Ky, with his unfortunate remarks and flamboyant ways.
In other words, it was about the information, and assumptions, and in many cases the misinformation, and the wrong assumptions, that led to policy.
But that is not what happened when Bill Keller, who made his name by reporting from the Soviet Union (with his then-wife), at a time when everyone and his brother could, merely by latching onto the right intelligent Russian informants, seem to know far more about Russia than they did, decided that he would ignore not only what the Bush Administration officials, over many months, argued with him, pleaded with him, not to reveal, but that he would also ignore what Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, the co-chairmen of the 9/11 Commission, asked him to consider. They were not mere marionettes manipulated by Karl Rove; Lee Hamilton is a Democrat, and neither he nor Kean is known to be an ideologue.
Had Bill Keller, had The New Duranty Times, wished to produce something like the Pentagon Papers, he (and they) would have appointed two dozen reporters, specialists in investigative journalism, to work on the formation of American policy on oil, and on Islam, over the past 50 years. They would have investigated how it was, and who was responsible for, making Americans think of Islam as a “bulwark against Communism” and nothing more. They would have found out who — see the work of J. B. Kelly — managed to convince the American public, and what’s worse, American policymakers, that Saudi Arabia was, or ever could be, our “staunch ally” on whom we could rely to “moderate” oil prices and, furthermore, to use its vast, unmerited oil wealth for ends that would not endanger us.
Bill Keller might have wished to introduce to his readers the list of Western hirelings, of all those ex-ambassadors and ex-consuls, those former C.I.A. agents, those public-relations touts shilling for the Saudis, those businessmen who have contracts dangled before them and who, in order to “recycle petrodollars,” have done the work of the Saudis and other Muslims.
All this, and more, Bill Keller might have done. The New Duranty Times might have made household names out of such names as Raymond Close, James Akins, Andrew Kilgore, and Eugene Bird (whose name just appeared at the bottom of a full-page ad, an anti-Israel thing in the name — transparently — of something called the “Council for the National Interest”). Oh, and let’s not forget Mrs. Bird, while we at The New Duranty Times are finding out who’s who, or who tries to be who, in the making of policy toward Saudi Arabia as the champion of Islam. All these people have also contributed to preventing a sane energy policy from beginning, as it should have, at the latest by 1973.
These are the things that are fit to print. And these are not the only things. What have readers of The New Duranty Times learned about Islam? How many of those readers are acquainted with what the “Hadith” are? The “Sira”? How many understand what the word “Sunnah” means? How many know about Muhammad as the Perfect Man, the role model for all time for all Muslims, Muhammad, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil? How many know what Muhammad said and did? What have they learned about the attack on the farmers of the Khaybar Oasis, the decapitation of the bound prisoners of the Banu Qurayza, the “treaty” made with the Meccans at Hudaibiyyah, the reaction of Muhammad to the murders of Asma bint Marwan and Abu Afak, and of course the story of little Aisha? Not a single reader of The New Duranty Times, in the nearly five years since 9/11/2001, has learned a single one of these things.
Nor do they know what is in the Qur’an. They have no way of making sense of how that book is read, of whether the contradictions in it have been resolved (they have, long ago, through the doctrine of “naskh,” and that resolution makes the book still more harsh towards Infidels). They do not know the real significance of Qur’an 2:256 or 5:32, although those two verses have been endlessly quoted. They do not know that when everyone from CAIR collaborators to George Bush (an unwitting collaborator) quote a certain Qur’anic verse and then fail to add the next verse that clearly modifies it, that this is gives an impression completely opposite from that which Muslims come away with. The New Duranty Times fails to convey, completely, the sense of Islam as a Complete Regulation of Life. Why not inform readers of what is regulated, by giving them excerpts from Al-Qaradawi’s guide to what is halal and what haram? Why not? The New Duranty Times has failed utterly to explain that Muslims consider Islam as a Total Explanation of the Universe. Why not discuss the prohibition in Islam on all sculpture, and on most painting, on most music, on all sports that cannot be regarded as training for the “Jihad”?
None of this has been given so much as a sentence in The New Duranty Times.
And what about Ibn Warraq, and Ali Sina, and the hundreds of websites run by articulate defectors from Islam? Why do they get no mention? Why was Ayaan Hirsi Ali only mentioned because her fame as a public figure and connection to Theo van Gogh, and now the recent contretemps over her non-lie lie or lying truth, or whatever it is (and no person in his right mind should care; it is completely trivial) to the Dutch authorities when she applied for asylum? Why do the doubts of so many born into Islam never get a mention?
And why, save for one article by Alexander Stille four years ago, has there been no coverage at all of the exciting developments in Western scholarship on early Islam? Why, save in that article, no coverage of Wansbrough, or Patricia Crone? Why no mention of Hawting, or Christoph Luxenberg, or Nevo, or a few dozen others, all of them carefully collected by Ibn Warraq in his incomparable anthologies of recent (and older) scholarship: The Quest for the Historical Muhammad, What the Koran Really Says and The Origins of the Koran. Why is Ibn Warraq not by now a household name?
Why has The New Duranty Times failed so completely in its task of education about the most important matters, and yet it has the time, and the need, to reveal a secret program that many people of good will, not supporters of the administration, not admirers of the war in Iraq or a good deal else, believe has been useful? And in any case those people of good will would not presume to judge those of both parties or no party, who think that such a revelation was at least intolerably stupid and arrogant. Some believe it was, or would in a rightly ordered world be considered to be, an act amounting to treason.
Bill Keller did not reveal anything about how Islam, and Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and so much else, have been misunderstood. He did not reveal that the inability of the American government for more than the past thirty years to start taxing gasoline and oil, to start some kind of Manhattan Project, has funded the Jihad which before 1973 largely lacked the wherewithal to advance. Not only has this failure helped embolden the Jihad in all of its instruments (military, the money weapon, Da’wa, and demographic conquest — for mosques and madrasas all over the Lands of the Infidels are paid for with OPEC revenues); it has also helped to create a nightmare situation for the environment.
No, that was unimportant to Bill Keller and his self-righteous supporters. What he had time to do, and the space to do, was to reveal an ongoing plan in the middle of a war — even if that war has been misleadingly described as a “war on terror” — to make Americans safer. He decided that he knew better, knew better than the Administration officials, knew better than such Democrats as Lee Hamilton, knew better than everyone. And so too did those who preeningly backed him up.
It is possible to deplore the Iraq War for all kinds of reasons (for example, I do). It is possible to deplore the way that the war against the instruments of Jihad other than “terror” are being waged (for example, I do). It is possible to be opposed to the way the Administration articulates, as well as how it conducts, the war it thinks it is waging, and still be enraged and disgusted with The New Duranty Times for publishing information about the money-monitoring program that is intended only to save our lives, and which many intelligent people in Washington, outside the Bush Administration, wanted to be kept out of the pages of The New Duranty Times.
For example, I am.