AFP Recycles Old Story to Impugn Progress in War on Terror

February 4th, 2008 5:46 PM

Agence France-Presse (AFP) the oldest news agency in the world and the largest French news agency, has been caught recycling two-year-old Congressional subcommittee testimony as current news.

On Sunday, AFP released an article, "US Qaeda strategy fatally flawed; analysts," which opened:

In its ideological struggle against Al-Qaeda, American anti-terrorist strategy too often overlooks the basic tenets of the infamous Chinese warlord Sun Tzu, namely: know your enemy.

That is the fixed view of leading analysts, who conclude that through ignorance of the enemy it faces, ignorance of its nature, its goals, its strengths and its weaknesses, the United States is condemned to failure.

"The attention of the US military and intelligence community is directed almost uniformly towards hunting down militant leaders or protecting US forces, (and) not towards understanding the enemy we now face," said Bruce Hoffman, a professor at Georgetown University, Washington DC.

"This is a monumental failing not only because decapitation strategies have rarely worked in countering mass-mobilisation terrorist or insurgent campaigns, but also because Al-Qaeda's ability to continue this struggle is based absolutely on its capacity to attract new recruits and replenish its resources.

"Without knowing our enemy, we cannot fulfill the most basic requirements of an effective counter-terrorist strategy: pre-empting and preventing terrorist operations and deterring their attacks," Hoffman added.

What AFP neglected to mention is that the quotes from Professor Hoffman were issued in written testimony to The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities in February of 2006. The testimony can be found in a PDF document published at the RAND Corporation web site on page 5 and a "dowdified" quote from the bottom of page 5 and the top of page 6.

This written testimony was issued eleven months before President Bush proposed the "surge" of American troops into Iraq, almost eleven months before General David Petraeus was confirmed as the new Commanding General, Multi-National Force - Iraq, and a full year prior to the beginning of the buildup of American forces beginning in February of 2007 as part of the new Strategy for Iraq.

The AFP article, written in present tense, in no way indicated that it was citing obsolete information as current news.

The information is so obsolete as to render the article itself as fraudulent in nature. Agence France-Presse should immediately retract this article, and explain how such "journalism" ever made it to press.

Thanks to CY reader Cameron Gilchrist for the tip.

Update: I updated with the correct page numbers from the RAND PDF. I had originally pulled the page numbers 21 and 22 from this version of the testimony.

Cross-posted at Confederate Yankee.