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Different Views of Guantanamo

The latest Wikileaks revelations relating to the Guantanamo prison tell one a great deal about the biases of the mainstream media covering the story.  Driving into the office this morning I heard NPR talk about recidivism, that 42 out of the more than 700 inmates who had been released had returned to some form of radicalism.  The Washington Post instead headlined [1] “New details on al-Qaeda’s moves after 9/11,” showing more interest in the travels of the al-Qaeda leaders immediately after the terrorist attack.  The New York Times had multiple headlines, one of which, interestingly cited Flawed Evidence for Assessing Risk [2] reporting that “Analysts sometimes released detainees wrongly judged a minimal threat and held others who were no threat.” The Guardian reported [3] “Guantánamo leaks lift lid on world’s most controversial prison” with sub-headings: “Innocent people interrogated for years on slimmest pretexts,” “Children, elderly and mentally ill among those wrongfully held,” and “172 prisoners remain, some with no prospect of trial or release.”

So what is the actual story?  Well, the NPR account admitted that “returning” could include any form of terrorist link, including visiting a website while the WashPost made no effort at all to explore the collateral damage caused by incarcerating hundreds of people without any due process and without any access to good information on their actual crimes.  The Times tried to be judicious, suggesting that the errors in procedure could go either way while the Guardian unflinchingly thinks the whole thing stinks.  As do I.

I would suggest that anyone interested in the banality of the evil that the Bush Administration unleashed on the world read the docs that are available on the Guardian website, describing how an uncaring government deals with the lives of real people who are being treated as if they were garbage.  That President Obama continues the reprehensible practices of Bush and his cronies because he fears facing some adverse political consequences if he seeks to try the terrorist suspects in civilian courts demonstrates clearly that we have now elected three presidents in a row whose highest instincts are limited to self preservation.  God help us all.



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#1 Comment By Jim Dooley On April 26, 2011 @ 7:52 am

“So what is the actual story?”
Well, the actual story is that FBI Agents had called their supervisors’ attention to the outrageous, barbaric, unprincipled, ineffective, illegal, unamerican and inhuman conditions at the DoD concentration camp at Guantanamo from the very beginning. The Agents provided the obvious context: what was going on was unacceptable and inconsistent with FBI practices and even civilized behavior. The FBI leadership didn’t do a damn thing about it and the useless Director who chose not to do a damn thing about it is the Director to this day.
There can be little doubt that a good bit of the actual story is fleshed out in much of its gory detail in the unredacted details of the Agents’ reporting that we will never see because the ridiculous GWOT has been prosecuted with no accountability whatsoever.

#2 Comment By kelley v On April 26, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

Great post Phil. I remember waking up to the news the other day with a comment from Peter Bergen, New America’s go-to counter-terror expert, on CNN basically saying, “nothing to see here. folks.”

I googled it up and here is what he said:

“I think overall, these WikiLeaks documents about Guantanamo remind me a little bit of the WikiLeaks documents we had about Afghanistan and Pakistan from the U.S. military. They don’t really add anything seismic to our general understanding of what happened. They’re filling in details. They will be very interesting for future historians.”

Surprising how quickly he combed the documents to come to this conclusion — just like the t-heads who said the same thing about the thousands of documents they never read when WikiLeaks made its last big drop over the holidays.

It’s all about framing the narrative. In that case, I will stick with the Guardian, and Andy Worthington, too.