Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

11.15  The long read:  The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]

11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]

11.15 Trump administration to cut air pollution from heavy-duty trucks [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.14 Backed by Ocasio-Cortez, Youth Climate Activists Arrested in Pelosi's Office Demanding Democrats Embrace 'Green New Deal'

11.13 What would a smog-free city look like?

11.13 Global report highlights Australia’s renewables potential amid mixed signals for coal

11.13 Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

11.12  This Land is Your Land:  The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.12 Planned Parenthood's new president warns of 'state of emergency' for women's health

11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.09 Rainforest destruction from gold mining hits all-time high in Peru

11.09 A new way to make steel could cut 5% of CO2 emissions at a stroke

11.08 Medicaid’s stunning victory

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]

11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]

11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]

11.15 Big Oil v the planet is the fight of our lives. Democrats must choose a side

11.14 The Real Florida Recount Fraud

11.14 Telling NRA #ThisIsOurLane, Doctors' Photos Show Blood-Soaked Reality of America's Gun Madness

11.14 At Freshman Orientation, Young and Growing Progressive Caucus Makes Clear It Will 'Fight Like Hell' for Bold Democratic Agenda

11.13 'You Sound Nervous': Gillum Mocks Trump as President Demands End to Florida Recount

11.13 Kyrsten Sinema wins Arizona Senate race in breakthrough for Democrats

Justice Matters

11.09 Trump administration blocks asylum claims by those crossing border illegally [Making America Less Great Again...]

High Crimes?

11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]

11.10 US stops refuelling of Saudi-led coalition aircraft in Yemen war [But there are a few children still alive. It's too soon!]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]

11.14 Brexit: May tells her cabinet, this is the deal – now back me

11.11 Tax reform: down with the ‘stepped-up basis’

International & Futurism

11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]

11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]

11.14 Israel and Hamas launch hundreds of attacks in Gaza clash

11.14 Mueller seeking more details on Nigel Farage, key Russia inquiry target says

11.13 Austin's Fix for Homelessness: Tiny Houses, and Lots of Neighbors

11.13 Portugal Dared to Cast Aside Austerity. It’s Having a Major Revival.

11.13 Caravan marks one month on the road: ‘We keep on going, laughing or crying’

11.13 Letter Shows Einstein’s Prescient Concerns About ‘Dark Times’ in Germany

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  NYT Helps the Bushies, Again
Newspaper logo

COMMENTARY:

NYT Helps the Bushies, Again

by Robert Parry
Originally published on 21 May 2009

The New York Times, which 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, is again mishandling a sensitive story in a way that panders to the Right.

The Times lead story for its Washington Edition on May 21 was headlined, “1 in 7 Detainees Rejoined Jihad, Pentagon Finds,” and starts out by reporting that a Pentagon study has concluded that “about one in seven of the 534 prisoners” transferred out of the Guantanamo Bay prison “returned to terrorism or militant activity.”

But 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 Guantanamo. 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 Guantanamo.

The Washington Post was more careful in its report about the findings, stating that the Pentagon study “found that 27 Guantanamo detainees released to other countries since 2002 had been confirmed as subsequently engaging in terrorist activities and another 47 are strongly suspected of doing so.” The Post did not claim that the detainees had “returned” to militant activity.

The Times also appears to have backed away from the headline and opening paragraph of its Washington Edition. The version on the Times’ Web site later in the morning had a headline reading “Later Terror Link Cited for 1 in 7 Freed Detainees” and the lead paragraph was phrased differently, removing the “returned” language, though the word is still used deeper in the story.

Despite those changes, the version in the Times’ Washington edition resonated across the nation’s capital, becoming fodder for the cable political shows and talk radio. For instance, in previews before President Barack Obama’s speech on terrorism policies Thursday morning, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews repeated the phrasing about detainees “returning” to terrorism.

The distinction is important especially given how the issue of Guantanamo has been framed by Vice President Dick Cheney and other right-wing political leaders, as necessary to hold detainees even if their potential danger to Americans is vague and unproven. The argument seems to be that it is safer to hold six Muslims who aren’t a danger than to release one who might be.

The second paragraph of the May 21 Times story by Elisabeth Bumiller points out that “the conclusion [about the one in seven] could strengthen the arguments of critics [of Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo] who have warned against the transfer or release of any more detainees.”

‘Radioactive’

The Times article also claims that the Pentagon report’s release was delayed since its completion in December because it was considered “politically radioactive under Mr. Obama,” a claim that has further fueled the Right's anger and has added to the report's presumed credibility.

While the alleged cover-up is addressed high up in the article, you need to read almost to the end – the 17th paragraph – to learn how thin the Pentagon’s case is about the freed detainees engaging in any violence.

“Among the 74 former prisoners that the report says are again engaged in terrorism, 29 have been identified by name by the Pentagon, including 16 named for the first time in the report,” the Times said.

“The Pentagon has said that the remaining 45 could not be named because of national security and intelligence-gathering concerns. ...

“The Pentagon has provided no way of authenticating its 45 unnamed recidivists, and only a few of the 29 people identified by name can be independently verified as having engaged in terrorism since their release.

“Many of the 29 are simply described as associating with terrorists or training with terrorists, with almost no other details provided.”

Only five “have engaged in verifiable terrorist activity or have threatened terrorist acts,” the Times reported, including two who were identified as Said Ali al-Shihri, a leader of al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch, and Abdullah Ghulam Rasoul, an Afghan Taliban commander.

In other words, the Bush administration – as it was heading for the door – threw together a report that offered few details and made leaps of logic, including the assumption that the released detainees had actually been terrorists earlier.

That would beg the question why the Bush administration released them in the first place, a point not explained by the Times article. But the assumption must be that the Bush administration had little or no evidence linking the detainees to verifiable terrorist activities before their release.

Aiding Recruitment

The Times story also makes no reference to the judgment of some U.S. military commanders that the image of Guantanamo has aided al-Qaeda’s recruitment and cost American soldiers their lives.

As former Navy general counsel Alberto Mora told the Senate Armed Services Committee in June 2008, “there are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq – as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat – are, respectively the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.”

Nor does the Times article address the possibility that the released detainees turned to terrorism in reaction to their mistreatment at Guantanamo, that the prison may have served as its own recruitment center much the way regular prisons sometimes turn minor offenders into hardened criminals.

Despite the shortcomings of the Times article – and the Pentagon report – both were cited widely by Washington pundits, much as happened in 2002 when the Times fronted what turned out to be a false story about Iraq buying aluminum tubes for nuclear centrifuges.

The weaknesses in that case were buried deep inside the article, too, opening the door for Cheney and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to cite the Times article as proof of an Iraqi nuclear bomb program and thus justification for invading Iraq.

The Bush administration’s catch phrase became: “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”

Times executives also cooperated with President George W. Bush in withholding an article about his secret program of warrantless wiretaps targeting some Americans.

The article was ready before Election 2004, but the Times spiked it at Bush’s request and only published it in December 2005 because the author, James Risen, was set to release the information in a book the next month.

Now, the Times is feeding a new mini-hysteria on the danger of releasing Guantanamo detainees no matter how little evidence there is against them – if there is a possibility that one in seven might later join up with militants.


Robert ParryRobert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



Copyright © 2009 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on May 22, 2009.

 

Public Service Ads: