May 21, 2011

"Geronimo" = codename for step "G"?

A blogger has tried to deny that the US gave Osama bin Laden the codename "Geronimo." He writes:

Fox News:  Osama's Code Name Not Geronimo

By R. Cort KirkwoodIt looks like the Indians upset about the military's using the code-word Geronimo during the operation to kill Osama bin Laden can settle down and smoke the peace pipe.

According to Fox News, the name of the famous Chiracahua Apache was not the code name for Osama. The news emerges in a long, dramatic story that details the raid. The mission to kill the world's most wanted man, Fox reports, nearly failed.

But more importantly for Indians, the memory of Geronimo was not besmirched.
The "Fox News account actually is an Associated Press account posted on the Fox News site. In any case, here's the key paragraph:

Sources:  Navy SEALs Knew Bin Laden Mission Was One-Shot DealBack at the White House Situation Room, word was relayed that bin Laden had been found, signaled by the code word "Geronimo." That was not bin Laden's code name, but rather a representation of the letter "G." Each step of the mission was labeled alphabetically, and "Geronimo" meant that the raiders had reached step "G," the killing or capture of bin Laden, two officials said.And Kirkwood's response:In other words, the Indians upset about code name Geronimo went scalp-hunting for no reason.Wow, that "scalp-hunting" crack wasn't too racist or offensive. Let's ignore it for now and dissect Kirkwood's claim.

Why Kirkwood is wrong

  • We have quotes from President Obama, CIA director Leon Panetta, and two others referring to "Geronimo" as a particular person, bin Laden. Why should we believe two unnamed officials over Obama and the others? Kirkwood doesn't say.

  • Who are these unnamed officials and what's their agenda? If they were responding to the "Geronimo" controversy, they probably wanted to portray the mission in the best possible light. They may have exaggerated or misstated the facts to protect the president.

  • This claim doesn't square with the other theories floated by the White House: that the name referred to the mission (not the target or step "G"). Or that the name was chosen at random. Is there any reason to think the officials aren't floating another false questionable theory?

  • The officials claimed "Geronimo" was a representation of the letter "G." But it's not clear if they also claimed "Geronimo" wasn't bin Laden's codename. That may be an interpretation by the Associated Press, not a claim by the officials. Maybe "Geronimo" represented the letter "G" and the target bin Laden. There's no reason it couldn't be both.

  • Naming the step "Geronimo" has the same problems as naming the mission "Geronimo." It's still an intentional choice, not some sort of unfortunate coincidence. It still associates Geronimo with modern history's most reviled terrorist. If the "step G" claim isn't a fabrication, most people won't hear about it or get it. All they'll remember is bin Laden = "Geronimo."

  • A commenter adds:Very strange explanation since the phonetic code for "G" is "golf," not "Geronimo." Not sure I'm buying that spin.Indeed.

    Kirkwood's racist language

    Speaking of agendas, Kirkwood is probably another conservative using the language of savagery to smear Indians. Check out the verbiage in his blog:

  • "Drums Along The Potowmack"

  • "In using Geronimo's name, Indians claimed, the White House went way off the PC reservation."

  • "Thus did the war dance begin."

  • "Such was the war cry...."

  • "Time For A Peace Treaty"

  • "Geronimo was not, contrary to smoke signals clouding up the Internet, the name for Osama."

  • "Depp, whose appearance suggests a man one arrow short of a full quiver...."

  • And the aforementioned:

  • "[T]he Indians upset about code name Geronimo went scalp-hunting for no reason."

  • Wow again. Every reference of Kirkwood's paints Indians as warlike. They beat their tom-toms, go off the reservation, do a war dance and war cry, send up smoke signals to rally others to war, and finally go hunting scalps. And they need a peace treaty to pacify them. Could it be any clearer that Kirkwood thinks Indians are savages?

    For more on the subject, see Advocates Criticize Codename at Hearing and Apaches Demand Apology for Codename.


    Anonymous said...

    Wouldn't G be golf, if I recall the NATO phonetic alphabet correctly? Good grief, the media goose steps, at the risk of Godwin. Good gods, I go on. Get on with it! You may call me G.

    Rob said...

    Yes, or "George." But the White House could claim it invented its own code letters. And again, just chose "Geronimo" at random. Because when you're in a hurry, you want a difficult four-syllable word rather than an easy one-syllable word.

    Anonymous said...

    Kirkwood is racist and anti womens lib. He's on his way out of the newspaper business . Most folks simpley just don't like him. Whats amusing is his wife of many yrars is leaving him after catching him having sex with another man.