President Barack Obama's address yesterday on U.S. terror strategies got a lot of attention for supposedly charting a new course in America's longest war. But some of the facts were mangled along the way.
Last night, MSNBC's Chris Matthews hosted a discussion on the Obama administration's recently disclosed "white paper" justifying its policy of using drones to strike at U.S. citizens. Matthews ultimately deciding that the policy was defensible–on the grounds that the CIA director Leon Panetta goes to church.
The New York Times and London Guardian both published stories yesterday (4/25/11) examining the WikiLeaks documents about the Guantanamo prison. While obviously just a snapshot, it is interesting to see how the papers have headlined their findings. The Guardian: The New York Times: And today the Times stresses the potential danger allegedly posed by those imprisoned there: This is not to suggest that the Times' pieces are particularly bad. But the difference in emphasis is striking–and reminiscent of how differently the papers treated previous WikiLeaks disclosures.
Today's New York Times report (4/25/11) on the WikiLeaks Guantanamo files provides an answer: The documents show that a major reason a Sudanese cameraman for Al Jazeera, Sami al-Hajj, was held at Guantanamo for six years was for questioning about the television network's "training program, telecommunications equipment and newsgathering operations in Chechnya, Kosovo and Afghanistan," including contacts with terrorist groups. The Times' piece is definitely worth reading, though I wish they didn't feel the need to add this type of equivocation: The Guantanamo assessments seem unlikely to end the long-running debate about America's most controversial prison. The documents can be […]
OnFebruary 5 theAssociated Press ran a story about a case in Cuba: Prosecutors are charging jailed U.S. contractor Alan Gross with "acts against the integrity and independence" of Cuba and requesting a 20-year prison term, state news media reported Friday, dimming hopes he would be allowed to go home soon. Further down, as one would expect, is a response from the United States: Gloria Berbena, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, which Washington maintains instead of an embassy, said his "imprisonment without charges for more than a year is contrary to all international human-rights obligations." Now that […]
As Steve Rendall noted here (1/22/10), Scott Horton's explosive Harper's report (3/10) on several ostensible suicides at Guantanamo has received very little mainstream media attention–despite the fact that Horton's account suggests that the prisoners were murdered by U.S. officials at a "black site" within the Guantanamo facility. But never fear–the story has finally broken through. And in the New York Times, no less! Sort of… it's on the letters page. To the Editor: Re "Editorial Shake-Up as Harper's Tries to Stabilize in a Downturn" (Business Day, February 1): I'd like to clarify your report of something I said at a […]
Brad Jacobson is resurrecting the "NYT Front|Back" feature of his Media Bloodhound blog (7/10/09)–spotlighting the New York Times' "penchant for placing a supremely unnewsworthy story on its cover while burying a vital one in its back pages"–only for "the most egregious and absurd examples." The current example being their July 7 front-page headliner, "In Sex Film Industry, Some Long for a Real Plot": No, this isn't satire. It's a cover story on our nation's paper of record…. The article opens: The actress known as Savanna Samson once relished preparing for a role. "I couldnÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬ÃƒÂ¢”Å¾Â¢t wait to get my next script," […]
Salon's Glenn Greenwald (7/9/09, ad-viewing required) is extolling "The Significance of McClatchy's Act of Journalism" when reporting that recently released six-year Guantanamo prisoner Haji Sahib Rohullah Wakil–one of many who supposedly "returned to or are suspected of returning to terrorism after their release"–"far from being in hiding, operates openly among officials of Afghanistan's U.S.-allied government." Labeling Nancy Youssef's piece "a consummate example of excellent journalism," Greenwald also wants us to note the central role the New York Times played–yet again–in spreading and given credence to pure government propaganda. And the method used to accomplish that is exactly what led them […]
Finding the May 21 New York Times article on unconvicted (often even uncharged) former Guantanamo prisoners supposedly "rejoining" terrorist groups "especially troubling" in that "it turns the truth upside-down," Dan Kennedy (UTV, 6/9/09) explains how reporter Elisabeth "Bumiller's story played into the darkest fears promoted by Cheney and his fellow conservatives by making it appear that terrorists captured on the battlefield and sent to Guantanamo would resume their jihadist ways upon being released." In reality, "the far more disturbing truth, borne out by the Pentagon's own figures, is that we are creating terrorists at Guantanamo." Yet it has to be […]
In a Smirking Chimp piece (5/29/09) averring that "Everyone Should See Torturing Democracy"–the delayed documentary that "recounts how the Bush White House and the Pentagon decided to make coercive detention and abusive interrogation the official U.S. policy" and "also credits the brave few who stood up to those in power"–PBS' Bill Moyers spells out the larger consequences of the fact that "in all the recent debate over torture, many of our Beltway pundits and politicians have twisted themselves into verbal contortions to avoid using the word at all": Smothering the reality of torture in euphemism of course has a political […]
FAIR's latest Action Alert asks media activists to ask New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt about a recent Elisabeth Bumiller article that reported on former Guantanamo prisoners "returning" to terrorism–even though it was not clear there was evidence that any of the released prisoners had ever been involved in "terrorism" of any sort. Please leave copies of your messages to Hoyt in the comment thread here.
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 GuantÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÂ¡namo Bay prison 'returned to terrorism or militant activity,'" Parry […]