Jun
15
2009

Battling 'Baseless, Worthless Grants of Anonymity'

Deeming "the battle against baseless, worthless grants of anonymity by journalists" to be "at this point, probably futile," Salon's Glenn Greenwald (6/15/09, ad-viewing required) is exasperated to see how "even many of the nation's best and most valuable reporters–such as the New Yorker's Jane Mayer–seem helplessly addicted to it." Greenwald points to "an otherwise solid and at times enlightening article on CIA Director Leon Panetta and his resistance to investigating past CIA abuses" in which Mayer includes this passage at the beginning of her article to explain how Panetta was chosen only after Obama's first choice, John Brennan, was rejected: […]

May
30
2009

The Results of 'Smothering Torture in Euphemism'

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 […]

May
27
2009

Media Still Crushing on Old Flame Colin Powell

Robert Parry (Consortium News, 5/25/09) thinks that "there is no one, it seems, that the U.S. mainstream news media loves more than Colin Powell," and as proof offers "Powell's disingenuous response" to Bob Schieffer's May 24 CBS Face the Nation "question about the ex-secretary of state's knowledge regarding 'enhanced interrogation techniques,' which the International Committee of the Red Cross and virtually all other objective observers say constituted torture": Powell–whom, Parry recalls, "was a member of President George W. Bush's Principals Committee, which oversaw the interrogation policies"–claimed to an unchallenging Schieffer, "to have been kept mostly out of the loop…. He […]

May
26
2009

'Self-Serving Propaganda'? No Problem on NPR

Wondering "why NPR decided it was appropriate to present Cheney's blatantly self-serving propaganda as anything remotely relevant to current policy," NPR Check contributor Brian (5/23/09) blogs about current president Barack Obama and former vice president Dick Cheney recently "attacking the policies of the other administration and defending their own positions in speeches." Even though each was given "in front of friendly audiences unable to challenge them," NPR's Morning Edition of May 22 "presented them as a face-to-face debate between the two men, alternating soundbites from each," and giving Cheney equal billing with the president in a piece titled "Obama, Cheney: […]

May
23
2009

Media Unconcerned with Real Torturers Still at Gitmo

Amy Goodman recently interviewed independent journalist Jeremy Scahill on her Democracy Now! show (5/19/09) regarding the fact that, in Scahill's words, "while much of the focus has been on the tactical use of torture at Guantánamo, almost no attention had been paid to a parallel force" known as the Immediate Reaction Force. Describing the methods of this "thug squad that is used to mercilessly punish prisoners"–"They go in, and they hogtie the prisoner… douse them with chemical agents…. They've squeezed their testicles…. They've taken the feces from one prisoner and smeared it in the face of another prisoner"–Scahill tells us […]

May
22
2009

CIA Tortured by Questions About Torturing

The independent website Raw Story (5/6/09) recently summarized the human toll of the U.S. government's torture program. Approximately 100 prisoners have died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to human rights investigators, with 34 of those deaths officially classified as homicides; at least eight individuals were tortured to death. Yet somehow, when corporate media report on the torture program's victims, they focus on the CIA, the agency that designed and helped implement the array of torture techniques known as "enhanced interrogation." A May 19 article by Walter Pincus, intelligence correspondent for the Washington Post, is a particularly gross […]

May
20
2009

You Don't Get 'Thoughtful Conversation' From an Advocate for War Crimes

Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed columnist Harold Jackson (5/20/09) writes that most of those who have criticized his paper for hiring of pro-torture lawyer John Yoo as his colleague "have their facts wrong." After making a gratuitous swipe at bloggers ("who never let the facts get in the way when they're trying to whip people into a frenzy to boost website hits"), Jackson gets down to specifics: "To set the record straight, no one tried to hide Yoo's becoming a regular columnist," he declares. If that's the case, why isn't Yoo listed on the Inquirer's website along with its other regular columnists? […]

May
17
2009

Media Silence on Pol 'Implicitly Endorsing' Inquisition

Quoting Sen. Lindsey Graham's statement at a May 13 Senate hearing that "one of the reasons these techniques have been used for about 500 years is that they work," Robert Parry (Consortium News, 5/16/09) explains that this is "implicitly endorsing the Spanish Inquisition's brutal treatment of Jews, Muslims, Protestants and other alleged heretics from the 15th to 17th centuries," and posits that "in a normal world, one might have expected national outrage over a prominent U.S. senator speaking favorably of the Spanish Inquisition, which pioneered innovations in torture… including the water torture now known as waterboarding": Beyond the inhumanity of […]

May
15
2009

Examining the Paper of Record's Torture Record

Giving us a glimpse at "a large part of what was left on the editor's floor" from his On the Media NPR interview, Harpers.org's Scott Horton (5/12/09) writes of "the New York Times and its history of dealing with the word 'torture'": I noted that in the pre-Bush era, the Times had absolutely no compunction about calling certain practices "torture," but when the Bush administration began to use them, the word was suddenly off-limits, or only used in the most circumspect way ("a practice which critics of the administration call 'torture,'" for instance). A good example can be found in […]

May
15
2009

Philly Paper Welcomes Home Native Torture Hero

Blogger and Philadelphia Inquirer writer Will Bunch has a review (Attytood, 5/11/09) of how, "by late last year, the world already knew a great deal about John Yoo, the Philadelphia native and conservative legal scholar whose tenure in the Bush administration as a top Justice Department lawyer lies at the root of the period of greatest peril to the U.S. Constitution in modern memory": It was widely known in 2008, for example, that Yoo had argued for presidential powers far beyond anything either real or implied in the Constitution–that the commander-in-chief could trample the powers of Congress or a free […]

May
15
2009

Impoverished Papers Can't Afford Truth

Hearing "the whining retreat of a whipped pup instead of the toothy growl of a watchdog," the Colorado Independent's John Tomasic (5/11/09) quotes Washington Post reporter Paul Kane answering an online question with a new excuse for refusing to "call waterboarding people and slamming them into walls torture"–"because [the Post] fears a lawsuit for libel": New York, N.Y.: What's the difference between the "harsh interrogations" I keep reading about in the Post and actual "torture"? If it's the same thing, then why not just call it "torture"? I don't get it. Aren't you guys continuing to catapult Bush-era propaganda when […]

May
12
2009

PBS's 'Washington Bubble' Invisible to Inhabitants

Noticing how PBS's Gwen Ifill has a penchant for "filling her Washington Week program with journalists who almost invariably agree with each other instead of actually debating the issues of the week," critic Charles Kaiser decided to contact her (CJR.org, 5/8/09) about a recent "discussion of torture in which the only issue the panelists identified was how the Obama administration should deal with the political fallout from the demands for a full-scale investigation and/or prosecution of the officials responsible for American torture." Kaiser's question of whether it would "ruin the discussion to have one person who believes that a full […]

May
09
2009

NYT Names 'Harsh Tactics' as 'Torture' — by Chinese

Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald gets the site's lead story today (5/8/09, ad-viewing required) with an excerpt from the New York Times obituary for U.S. fighter pilot Harold E. Fischer Jr., who, as the Times headline puts it, was "Tortured in a Chinese Prison." Greenwald deems such naming of Fischer's ordeal–"kept in a dark, damp cell with no bed and no opening except a slot in the door…handcuffed. Hour after hour, a high-frequency whistle pierced the air"–to be "a major editorial breach" for the paper that so agilely dances around the T-word when reporting on U.S. actions: So that's torture now?… […]