Monday, November 21, 2011

Clichés 101: "a tense time in the region"

The opening graph of an AP story in WaPo headlined "Hezbollah unravels CIA spy network in Lebanon as agency contains damage":
Hezbollah has partially unraveled the CIA’s spy network in Lebanon, severely damaging the intelligence agency’s ability to gather vital information on the terrorist organization at a tense time in the region, former and current U.S. officials said.
Two questions:
(1) When is it not "a tense time" in that region?
(2) What "vital information"? Well, of course we don't know because the article's sources, "former and current U.S. officials," no doubt wouldn't say. The result is an article about a putative intelligence disaster that never really explains why it's a disaster -- except insofar as some people working with the CIA may have gotten killed. But the article doesn't even confirm that since, as someone quoted toward the end mentions, Hezbollah treats different captured spies differently: some it "disappears," some it apparently doesn't.

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