Looking for evidence? Trust us, Biden administration says

The exchanges are also a sign of the Biden administration’s growing skepticism when it comes to military and intelligence matters, particularly after officials failed to anticipate the fall of the Afghan government. how quickly it got into the hands of the Taliban last year and initially defended a US missile attack in Kabul as a “just attack” before the Pentagon confirmed the action had killed several civilians but no terrorists.

“This administration has made claims in the past that have not been proven accurate,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Center for Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. “Kabul is not safe. The drone strike killed civilians. The press is doing its job when they ask, “How do you know that?”

The latest surveillance seems to have hit a nerve, leading to scathing interactions with White House press secretary Jen Psaki and State Department spokesman Ned Price that stand out even in a relationship that is often fraught controversy between the government and the press.

Jamieson described the responses, which included insinuations that reporters were being disloyal, as “totally inappropriate.”

“These are cases where the reporter’s role is more consequential because of the issues” – the US military’s use of lethal force and a potential war in Europe –“ she said. very important,” she said.

The first exchange took place Thursday aboard Air Force One en route to New York as Psaki questioned the US special forces raid in Syria that resulted in the death of Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi.

US officials say al-Qurayshi killed himself and his family with a suicide bomb, but NPR’s Ayesha Rascoe said “there may be people who have doubts about what happened and what happened. with the common people”.

Psaki asked if the reporter suggested that “ISIS is providing accurate information” as opposed to the US military.

“I mean, America isn’t always upfront about what happens to civilians,” Rascoe replied.

When asked about his remarks, Psaki said Friday that “we welcome tough questions and good faith consideration.”

She said officials had committed to providing as many details as possible about the airstrike in Syria and that she was relying on “direct reports from our elite servicemen” to describe the incident.

Similarly, Price countered with a reporter at a State Department briefing on Thursday after US officials said that Russia was preparing a “false flag” campaign as a prelude to a US invasion. Ukraine invasion. The alleged scheme included a staged explosion and used actors to portray people mourning the dead.

“Where is the declassified information?” Matthew Lee of the Associated Press asked.

“I just delivered it,” said Price.

“No, you made a series of accusations,” Lee replied.

Price said US officials need to protect “sources and methods”. After arguing back and forth, Price said that if reporters wanted to “seek solace in the information the Russians are giving out, that’s up to you.”

He later reverted to his comment.

Representative Jim Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said the administration hopes to prevent Russia from spying on the false flag plot by making the allegations public.

Himes, D-Conn, said: “It’s really not a matter of winning in public. “This is about changing Vladimir Putin’s behavior.”

Richard Stengel, a former Time magazine editor and once a senior State Department official, says the government often has to make difficult decisions about balancing sensitive information and the need to transparent.

“There is a cost benefit analysis,” he said. “It’s the judgment they make every day.”

But there have long been widespread concerns that the scales have leaned too far into secrecy. Even Biden’s director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, said the government classified too much information.

In a January 5 letter to Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. And Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Haines says that “defects in the current classification system undermine our national security, as well as important democratic goals, by impeding our ability to us to share information in a timely manner. ”

She added that this “undermines the fundamental trust our citizens have in their government”, especially as “the volume of classified documents produced continues to grow exponentially. “

Politicians often promise to restore trust in Washington, but it has remained a scarce commodity since the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. Soon after, President Jimmy Carter was elected when he told voters, “I will never lie.” He was voted down after one term.

The deceitful actions have tarnished subsequent administrations, from secretly funding the Contras in Nicaragua by selling weapons to Iran under President Ronald Reagan to President Bill Clinton’s cover-up of the relationship. having an affair with a White House intern.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush declared that the United States needed to invade Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, but no weapons were found and the army America has been grappling with a bloody insurgency for years.

President Donald Trump has frequently misrepresented basic facts about his administration throughout his term and continued to spread disinformation about the past election.

Biden promised to restore the truth in Washington after defeating Trump, but trust appeared to be in short supply a year after taking office. Not only has the chaotic retreat from Afghanistan undermined his administration’s credibility, Americans have become exasperated with changing public health guidance during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

According to a CNN/SSRS poll conducted in December, only 34% of Americans said Biden “is a leader you can trust”. Another 66% said they “have some doubts and reservations.”


Associated Press writer Nomaan Merchant contributed to this report. Looking for evidence? Trust us, Biden administration says


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