White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during the daily White House briefing on February 2. Anna Moneymaker/Getty
In the United States, you can question or criticize your government and its claims, even when your views overlap with those of foreign opponents. The First Amendment, as the saying goes, protects assholes.
But some people could use a refresher course. On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki accused Senator Josh Hawley, who had questioned the administration's insistence on leaving the door open for Ukraine to one day join NATO, of "repeating the points of the Russian conversation." “. For this comment, Psaki was rewarded with a handful of criticism, but a lot of reinforcement in the press and on social media.
Hawley, a Missouri Republican who appeared to encourage insurgents on Capitol Hill last January 6 and then voted against confirming President Joe Biden's election victory, can easily be described as anti-American. And Russia's belligerent behavior towards Ukraine makes it easy enough to rule out serious consideration of the Kremlin's concerns about NATO expansion.
But Psaki didn't stop there. On Thursday, she and State Department spokesman Ned Price appeared to be implying that people who refuse to accept the government's claims as gospel trust America's opponents more than their own government, the Washington Post's Felcia Sonmez pointed out.
At a State Department briefing on Thursday, reporters urged Price for evidence to support claims that Russia was planning an attack on its own forces as a pretext for invading Ukraine. Price insisted that the need to protect intelligence sources and methods prevented him from sharing more details. Because of me. But he also told veteran AP diplomatic reporter Matt Lee, "If you question the credibility of the American government, the British government, other governments, and you want to comfort yourself with the information the Russians are putting out, that's your job."
Psaki appeared to be following a similar logic when reporters aboard Air Force One called for evidence to support Wednesday's account of the US special operation that killed the alleged leader of Islamic State. In particular, NPR White House correspondent Ayesha Rascoe sought more details to support President Biden's claim that it was a suicide bomb detonated by ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, and not US munitions that killed al-Qurayshi's wife and two children. .
"There may be people who are skeptical about the events and what has happened to civilians," Rascoe explained. Psaki partially responded by asking Rascoe if these people believe the military is "not providing accurate information...and ISIS is providing accurate information."
Psaki also noted that the Department of Defense has a civilian death review process underway and that the White House will release any details possible. But that doesn't upset her. The military has routinely lied to the public about its track record, which goes back well before the war in Vietnam and the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, as Eric Schlosser revealed in his 2013 book Command and Control, how the Air Force outrageously lied to cover up nuclear failures that put innocent civilians, including Americans, in terrible danger. In Afghanistan and Syria, the military has killed civilians and misrepresented events in just the last few years.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin recently directed the Pentagon to increase efforts to prevent civilian deaths and improve investigations into civilian casualties. The move came in response to investigative news reports, including a New York Times series that linked hundreds of civilian deaths in Syria to a US special forces unit that appeared to have lied to circumvent Pentagon restrictions designed to protect civilians , the innocents of the bombings.