Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Red Flag

I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned this element of the Proceso piece on the Pentagon's plans to send a SEAL team for Chapo, and I'll have more on it later, but this can't be emphasized enough: there is evidently only a single, anonymous person willing to be quoted for the piece. They say American and Mexican sources confirmed it, and maybe that's true, but as far as we can tell from the quotes and paraphrases, we have one person, about whose job functions we are given no detail (they only say that he is from the "alta jerarquía"), who is behind this piece. No direct confirmation nor context is ever offered from a Pentagon official, nor even from other Mexican officials. I'm not saying the reporters are wrong, but that should raise alarm bells.


Mexfiles said...

The existence of a Pentagon contingency plan to "get Chapo" has never been the issue, only whether Felipe Calderón has, as alleged, urged the U.S. to do so. Not that skepticism isn't a good quality in a journalist ("If you mom tell you 'I love you' you need a second source"), but you know how hard it is to get "on-the-record" comments on anything here (or NoB) on sensitive matters like this, and it's only been a week.

gtodon said...

@Mexfiles: You say that "the existence of a Pentagon contingency plan to 'get Chapo' has never been the issue." Well, yes, it IS an issue. We don't know that such a plan exists, and as Patrick says, the Proceso article cites only one source, and an anonymous one at that.

But let's assume that the Pentagon does indeed have such a plan. So bloody what? The Pentagon has a contingency plan for just about EVERYTHING. They probably have a plan for the rescue of the assistant deputy prime minister of Lichtenstein in case he is kidnapped by Canadian ninjas mounted on unicorns.

Plan, schman. The only thing that would be shocking is if the Pentagon didn't have a plan to take out El Chapo.

Mexfiles said...

It appears you're missing the point, gtoden. The existence of a Pentagon plan is not even a question. That Felipe Calderón has, or is alleged to have, suggested the U.S. implement such a plan, however, is important. The lack of comment (even if it takes the form of some government spokesperson dismissing the story as false) is what is noteworthy.

pc said...

I actually agree with Gtodon, that's a point I made in the longer piece coming out later this week. We don't KNOW they have a plan, but let's concede that. The existence of a plan without any context regarding it tells us nothing. Like he said, there is a Pentagon plan for everything, big and small. Just because there is probably explaining the ideal invasion of Pakistan doesn't make it true. That's why you need more than one person to offer some analysis, and one of those people needed to be from the Pentagon.

And point taken about the lack of commentary Richard, but that actually isn't the only thing that is newsworthy, that's just a (small) element. (I'm also not certain it's entirely true, I just don't remember seeing any comment on it.) The story itself, of course, was shocking well before Calderón or Obama had any chance to comment.

gtodon said...

No, Mexfiles, I'm not missing the point. But you're certainly missing mine. You've now said twice that the existence of the Pentagon plan is not in doubt. Repeating that does not make it true.

But the more important point, again, is: So what if the Pentagon has a plan? It has a plan for damn near everything. That's their job, or so they think.

Mexfiles said...

Uh... "gtodon"... I was agreeing with you that the existence of a plan doesn't mean much of anything... though they are drawn up for plausible contingencies, your reducto ad absurdum examples here and elsewhere notwithstanding. What is important is that a respectable publication like Proceso finds it credible that the President of Mexico supported a foreign intervention — even if only theoretically — and the President's office did not have a response. If Proceso was able to find out about it, even from unnamed sources (not unusual in Mexican journalism) I'd expect the Executive Office to have some kind of response, even "no comment" before the story hit the newsstands.