Peace Action Claims Military Bias in 60 Minutes Predator Story

 In Afghanistan, air strikes, Iraq, Middle East, military, Peace, War

I usually enjoy 60 Minutes and expect some decently produced segments.  Who doesn’t love Andy Rooney? “America’s New Air Force” is the worst story by 60 Minutes that I have every seen. It’s more military propaganda and a commercial for the contractors of the Predator drone, than investigative journalism.  How did 60 Minutes get so hoodwinked?

How do you do 13-minute story interviewing the Pentagon, without interviewing one critic?  What about talking with NGOs on the ground in Afghanistan that can talk about the effects of civilian casualties caused by drone strikes?

Instead, there is zero facts on civilian deaths and suffering.  There are dozens of facts, and figures about the technical and cost specifications, but not one figure about how many lives cost or saved from these missions.  Lara Logan doesn’t seem to realize that she is no longer an “embedded journalist.”  While I’m sure it is exciting to get special access to secret technology, that does not make an investigative journalist.  Anyone can report statistics fed to him or her by the military or military contractors.  Isn’t it the job of 60 Minutes to rise above and think about the larger meta issues?

The military uses the secrecy frame to entice reporters to get the inside scoop.  Real reporting is questioning why are air strikes and Predator strikes classified in the first place.  Why do only a limited handful of members of congress and staff get briefed?  Where are the non-classified reports on the efficacy of air and drone strikes? Why hasn’t the Government Accountability Office looked into these missions?

A counterinsurgency expert and former advisor to Gen. David Petraeus, Dr. David Kilcullen, claimed

If we want to strengthen our friends and weaken our enemies in Pakistan, bombing Pakistani villages with unmanned drones is totally counterproductive.

Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson, a retired United States Army Colonel and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell went further by saying the U.S. should halt all Air and Predator drone strikes.  Of course, Afghanistan President Karzai, aid organizations and other military strategists have said this, but 60 Minutes isn’t doing the reporting.

I’m no journalist, but I can think of some interesting and important questions:

Why do you believe these tactics are worth the civilian deaths, trauma and loss of the hearts and minds of Afghans?  Are we really getting rid of more terrorists than we are creating?  What are the metrics that show the success of these missions and that they are making Americans safer?  What are the precautions the U.S. is taking to preserve innocent life as required by international law?  What about the rule of law and arresting and taking suspected terrorists to trial?

60 Minutes needs to provide balance with another 13-minute story partly ‘embedded’ with NGOs on the ground in Afghanistan, partly talking to some critical experts and partly finding out why congress is not playing it’s role of a check and balance to the Pentagon.

Please take a moment to call, write and post a comment to 60 Minutes and ask for better journalism.

Jeff Fager
Executive Producer
60 Minutes – CBS News Network
(212) 975-2006

Lara Logan
Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau on the CBS News Network
(202) 457-4321

You can watch and comment about the 60 Minutes segment here:

You can sign a petition for better Afghanistan policy here.

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