May
23
2009

NYT: Ex-Prisoners 'Return' to Terrorism Never Charged

Remembering all too well how the New York Times "helped sell the Iraq War with a bogus story about aluminum tubes for nuclear centrifuges and withheld evidence of illegal spying on Americans for more than a year," Consortium News editor Robert Parry (5/21/09) tells how the paper "is again mishandling a sensitive story in a way that panders to the right." Pointing to a May 21 Times headline and lead "reporting that a Pentagon study has concluded that 'about one in seven of the 534 prisoners' transferred out of the Guantánamo Bay prison 'returned to terrorism or militant activity,'" Parry writes that "that is not what the Pentagon can possibly know:"

Beyond the weaknesses in the Pentagon's evidence, which is only noted deep inside the Times article, there is the unsupported assertion by the Times that the detainees have "returned" to violent activity, thus assuming that the freed prisoners had previously been engaged in terrorism or other extremism.

Even assuming that the study is correct about one in seven engaging in militant activity after release, the evidence is lacking about the prisoners previous acts of terrorism because–if such evidence existed–the Bush administration presumably would not have released them.

In other words, the most that the Times should have reported is that the Pentagon study claimed that one in seven engaged in militant activities after leaving Guantánamo.

In fact, parry notes one scenario completely ignored by the Times' Elisabeth Bumiller: "it is entirely possible that some ex-prisoners became radicalized and joined with extremists because of their sometimes brutal treatment in U.S. custody at Guantánamo." Read FAIR's magazine Extra!: "Dangerous Revisionism Over Guantánamo: Citing Dirty Evidence to Defend Dubious Detentions" (2/09) by Andy Worthington