As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Media's War On America Continues

I was on this phone call today with Tom Malinowski from Human Rights Watch and others discussing the Obama executive orders on torture, and everyone is guardedly optimistic about what this means for the rule of law. If the gray areas on "other dispositions" besides trying or releasing Gitmo detainees and the wiggle room on extra-legal torture techniques are cleared up, we have a blueprint for restoring the rule of law. We need to be vigilant, however, to close whatever loopholes there may be.

This didn't seem to matter to one reporter on the call, who up front ADMITTED HE HASN'T BEEN FOLLOWING THE ISSUE and asked what would happen if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had to be set free because we waterboarded him. This is someone who has confessed to practically every terrorist act of the last 40 years, wants to be a martyr, and for whom there is enough evidence untainted by torture to progress to trial.

The question was certainly colored, if not outright prompted, by a false report from the Pentagon in the waning days of the Bush tenure, claiming that 61 freed detainees from the prison camp have "returned to the batlefield." Expect to hear a lot about this in the coming days, like from this Kyra Phillips bobblehead report:

Kyra Phillips: It's one of the biggest fears about releasing terror suspects from Gitmo, that they'll go back to their alleged old ways.

New Pentagon figures actually say 61 released detainees have been linked to some kind of terror activity, up from 37 as of March, 2008. About 520 Gitmo prisoners have been freed or transferred to other prisons around the world.

Let's be clear: the Pentagon report itself only cited 18 "confirmed" cases of former detainees returning to the battlefield, and offered NO EVIDENCE on that beyond an assertion. The other 43 are "suspected of participating in terrorist activities." Moazzam Begg is a writer who has led activist efforts to close Guantanamo. I'm willing to bet that he's included in the 61. The three detainees featured in the movie "The Road To Guantanamo" are ALSO included in the 61. In short, anyone who has criticized the United States is part of that number.

But Mark Denbeaux of Seton Hall University Law School has represented some of the detainees and says the Pentagon has failed to produce evidence of early claims that former detainees have returned to the battlefield.

"The numbers are wrong about who has returned to the fight; their numbers and names are wrong about who has been in Guantanamo. And, of course, the characterization of 'returned to the fight' is far broader than they would like to admit," said Denbeaux. "What they would like is to be understood to mean as 'return to the battlefield,' but, of course, that hasn't happened. So what they mean by 'return to the fight' is engaging in propaganda battles and criticisms of the United States at home and abroad."

This is a propagandistic lie designed to ensure that those loopholes stay open. And the media is totally complicit in aiding and abetting this. I heard on the radio coming in this morning some talking head yammering about how some detainees are "too dangerous to release, but they haven't committed a crime yet so we can't prosecute them." What is this, Minority Report? All of this nonsense designed to preserve the status quo has to be coming from somewhere. The media is just a conduit.

Given all this, it's a wonder how people have enough information to reject torture and indefinite detention. Maybe it's because, unlike the Christopher Hitchenses and media sycophants of the world, they have a value system.

The media's war on America continues.

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