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Missing The Story

Honor guard of the Afghan National Army during...

Honor guard of the Afghan National Army during the 2011 commemoration of Afghan Independence Day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once again, The New York Times buries the real news out of Afghanistan. In a story this morning that meanders pointlessly until the last several paragraphs, when the real news emerges, we learn that U.S. and NATO officials don’t have a clue as to why there has been an increase in so-called “green-on-blue” attacks. That ignorance — call it a known unknown, in RumsfeldSpeak — says a whole lot about our presence in the “graveyard of empires.”

But what does the Times do with it? That information is relegated to the end. And I wonder how many readers got there, because the first half of the story is so bland and poorly written.

Here’s how the story opens:

After months of military leaders’ attempts to tamp down worries over the killings of American and NATOtroops by the Afghan forces serving beside them, Gen. John R. Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, called an urgent meeting of his generals last Wednesday to address the escalating death toll. 

In journalism, this is what’s know as a topic lead. These leads, almost without exception, signal that the reporter doesn’t know his subject, doesn’t know the point of his own story. They are fatally dull. They get this universal response: So?

In this case, the reporters actually have a great, revealing story; but neither they nor their editors knew how to structure it. The last two paragraphs nail the real point:

But despite intensified efforts to thwart attacks, some officials say the military is realizing that it ultimately does not fully understand what is driving the attacks, said one American security official in Washington.

Everyone is a “bit desperate,” the official acknowledged. “It’s not that the problem is new — it’s been a problem, we know — it’s that idea of what is driving it that is right at the top of what people are looking at.”

Here’s the real headline: : Officials ‘desperate,’ befuddled over ‘insider attacks’

Of course that would require a whole new trajectory for the story, one that actually tells the truth. And some morons think the Times is liberal.