Here’s some good journalism from The Atlantic that shines light on a little-known massacre that occurred in Uzbekistan back in 2005. James Kirchik notes that Donald Rumsfeld’s memoir defends the actions of the authoritarian, U.S.-allied government:
Rumsfeld’s account of the tragedy at Andijon is jarringly different from what most international observers say happened. “It appeared that the goal of the assault was to release members of an Islamic extremist group accused of seeking to establish an Islamic state, a caliphate, in eastern Uzbekistan,” Rumsfeld writes of the prison break. And of the massacre: “This was not a simple case of soldiers slaughtering innocents, as had been widely alleged and misreported.” His version is at odds with that of seemingly everyone: human rights groups, international media, eyewitnesses, U.S. intelligence, even the State Department. Everyone, that is, except the Karimov regime.
Information provided by Rumsfeld himself contradicts his own narrative. According to a memo prepared by the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, helpfully posted on Rumsfeld’s website and even cited in the text of his memoir, “The popular perception was that these businessmen were upstanding community members — not Islamic extremists.” Unable to assess the regime’s “evidence” allegedly connecting the businessmen to insurrection, the memo’s author, DIA Director L.E. Jacoby, concluded that the thousands of protestors who had gathered to demand their release were provoked by legitimate grievances against a corrupt and abusive regime, not a desire to impose an Islamic caliphate.
Good research — finding the actual memo that disagrees with Rumseld’s narrative. Even better, the reporter links to the document itself. Linking to original sources is a great journalistic practice, what some call the “ethic of the link.” An embedded hyperlink essentially says to a reader — here are the facts, but you can click on this link and see it for yourself. This type of networked journalism helps build credibility with the audience.
Glad to see this type of reporting in The Atlantic and would like to see it embraced in more outlets.