Good News

Newsweek has a story on the CIA Station Chief in Algeria who is accused of rape.  When this story broke last week, many people, including myself, worried that it would seriously undermine President Obama’s efforts to restore the US image in the Middle East.  Fortunately, (as far as I know)  it hasn’t gotten much play in the media. Why?  Arab regimes don’t want to avoid any domestic focus on their security cooperation with Western intelligence agencies whatever the case,  even more so  when one of those Western intel officers is accused of raping local nationals.   So my guess is that the local Middle Eastern papers are practicing self-censorship, not wanting to piss of State Security by printing a story that might sell some extra papers but probably isn’t critical enough to rock the boat.

14 Responses

  1. Why is that “Good News”?

  2. i would say its good news because something that could damage US interests is not getting much attention in the media

  3. So lying is in US interest? I think human interest should be put above nationalist interest. Maybe I am an idealist.

  4. who is lying here? noone’s lying about anything.

  5. OK. Let me rephrase that: Is covering up the truth in our best interest?

  6. in general its good to be as transparent as possible but in some cases no. I think this is one of those cases where its critical for US interests that this story not get aired. Not just US interests but the interests of all the Arab regimes that cooperate with the US. They would only be embarrssed and face strong criticism as well.

    So , in this case, what I’m saying is that the story is no negative, and so potentially explosive, that I think its a good thing for US interests that it be ignored. What good could come out of this specific story being covered in the arabic media? how would that benefit US foreign policy?

  7. Rob,

    I too was wondering why this story hadn’t splashed across al-Jazeera’s webpage, and George Packer had a post on this titled “America’s next Abu Ghraib?” or something like that. I wonder if, in addition to your point that Arab regimes don’t want to raise the subject of U.S. cooperation, Arab regimes don’t want to raise the issue of improper behavior by security service personnel, regardless of the country. There’s certainly enough of that going around: covering the Andrew Warren story as a big deal could provoke people in, say, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia to start asking questions about the behavior of their own guardians.

    John, I don’t understand who is lying or not being transparent here. The State Department has publicly recalled this guy. The affadavit is online for all with internet access, Adobe Reader and working knowledge of English to see. It’s not the U.S.’s problem that Arab media isn’t running the story.

    Regarding your point about human interest, what this guy allegedly did is despicable, and not even the CIA’s lawyers are defending him.

  8. Hi Greg,

    I am just going by the info I got from Rob. If he has been recalled that can be considered a step. Now, if he could be put on trial and, thus, proven innocent or guilty, that would be the right thing to do.

    Finally, he should have a lawyer.

  9. The Algerian media has run the story, quite a lot. What is interesting is that the women in question are frequently described as European nationals (German, Spanish) and not Algerians (at least one of them had dual Algerian-EU citizenship) and give the narration of events leading up to their rapes. They also emphasize that the rapist speaks Arabic, is African American and prays. The result? Algerians dismiss the women as whores or sluts and have little or no sympathy for them for having “put themselves in the situation.” At the time time, the papers, knowing that readers often have little sympathy for rape victims, direct attention to the fact that this is the first time most Algerians even knew that the CIA had a station in Algiers and that officials actually recognize or mention it publicly. Then come complaints about the government’s typical secrecy and the presence of American spies as an offense to national sovereignty and honor. That’s where the government’s lost face. I’ve only come across a few Algerians who were surprised or angered by the news. Most believe that intel services are full of rapists and killers anyhow (there are many stories about officers of the Algerian secret service — the DRS — raping women or using threats or blackmail to force female university students to have sex with them). If anything, it has led some to believe that the CIA trains its agents in raping women by means of drink. The view of the US government is pretty dim in Algeria as it is.

  10. I will also add that the lack of interest might also have something to do with the fact that the pan-Arab media often ignores North Africa. There was ethnic violence over the weekend and the Middle Eastern Arab media is characteristically quiet on it.

  11. Bingo! Every Arab country probably has a CIA office in it and the govt’s don’t want to alert the public. That’s why the story was swept under the rug.

  12. let’s remember that one year passed between the initial publication of the Danish cartoons and the start of the huge public backlash in the Muslim world.

    Sometimes it takes time for these things to filter across, or for the right combination of circumstances where someone feels they would gain by making an issue of it. If there’s a trial this story could be in the news for a long time…

  13. Will,
    You are absolutely correct. We’re not out of the woods yet. Unfortunately, but I think its good news we’ve gone almost two weeks with no major coverage.

    Kal,
    Thanks for letting us know whats going on in the Algerian media. Thats very interesting to me that its getting play there but not in other places.

    ” What is interesting is that the women in question are frequently described as European nationals (German, Spanish) and not Algerians (at least one of them had dual Algerian-EU citizenship) and give the narration of events leading up to their rapes.”

    Yeah this doesnt surprise me one bit. Good native women don’t do stuff like that!!! Right? Only bad, immoral Europeans drink and have sex outside of marriage. Or at least thats the narrative in Arabic film. Watch any Egyptian film, for example, and when there’s a “loose” woman she is almost always “American” or if she’s Arab she comes from Lebanon.

  14. “Watch any Egyptian film, for example, and when there’s a “loose” woman she is almost always “American” or if she’s Arab she comes from Lebanon.”

    Well, you know what is said of the Lebanese….

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