ABC's Jim Sciutto Blames Muslim Anger on Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo
ABC senior foreign correspondent Jim Sciutto appeared on Friday's "Good Morning America" to complain that places such as Abu Ghraib and the Guantanamo Bay detention center are fueling Muslim anger in the Middle East against the U.S. Sciutto, who was promoting his new book on America's enemies in that region, responded to co-host Robin Robert's question about what was causing such Islamic fury by opining, "It's a combination of things. The first one is a sense that their culture, their religion, their land is under assault, by America and that the most pointed examples of that are the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions."
He added that "things like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, we don't talk about them that much anymore. But people in that part of the world still remember them. And that's a blot on our record that's difficult to get rid of." During the interview, Sciutto seemed willing to simply attribute blame to the United States for such problems, rather than examine the influence radical Islam is having. Roberts contributed mostly bland cliches to the conversation. At one point, she enthused, "We have all gotta find a way to live together in this world." Then later, the ABC host proclaimed, "More time is needed for us all to have a better understanding on one another."
ABC viewers might remember that on the December 12, 2004 edition of "World News," Sciutto fretted about deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's lack of legal counsel:
"One year after his capture, Saddam Hussein’s trial for war crimes, considered the most important since Nuremberg, has yet to hear a single world of testimony....Critics point to several failures: that Saddam has not yet been allowed to meet with a lawyer; that the trial will permit testimony obtained under torture; and that much of the evidence from mass grave sites was not properly preserved or recorded....Saddam waits in his cell, without charge or legal counsel."
– ABC’s Jim Sciutto on the Dec. 12 World News Tonight.
A transcript of the September 12 segment, which aired at 8:42am, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: And now, seven years after 9/11, does the Muslim world see us any differently here in the U.S.? Our very own senior foreign correspondent Jim Sciutto, winner of two Emmys and the prestigious George Polk award, tackles this in his brand-new book. It's entitled "Against Us: The New Face of America's Enemies in the Muslim World." And I had a chance to talk to Jim, yesterday. Jim, it's a treat to have you here in the studio. Usually, you're via satellite somewhere in the world, because you've traveled extensively, of course. You've reported, it's like, 100 or more assignments from the Muslim world. And in summer of 2005, in your own neighborhood in London, terrorists. Did that help inspire this book?
JIM SCIUTTO: Absolutely. For most of the seven years since 9/11, I've been traveling to all of these countries. Baghdad, to Kabul, to Riyadh. And you're used to hearing in that part of the world this anger against America and particularly from certain people. You interview jihadis. You interview captured al Qaeda operatives, you know what they're going to say. But when I started hearing those kinds of sentiments from average men and women on the street, and even British-born, Muslim teenagers, living down the street from me in Notting Hill, I knew we had a problem. 'Cause I think we have a certain picture we imagine the people who distrust us in that part of the world. You think that they're very religious, that they're angry, that they're uneducated and poor. When, in reality, you hear those kinds of things from people who look just like us. And that's a -- that worried me, as an American traveling in that part of the world.
ROBERTS: And why do they feel that way still, seven years later?
SCIUTTO: It's a combination of things. The first one is a sense that their culture, their religion, their land is under assault, by America and that the most pointed examples of that are the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions. So, things like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, we don't talk about them that much anymore. But people in that part of the world still remember them. And that's a blot on our record that's difficult to get rid of.
ROBERTS: I was really taken by the story of the 15-year-old girl from Afghanistan, who, you know, before, in the Taliban regime. She couldn't go to school. Now, she can go to school. And she has big dreams right now.
SCIUTTO: Absolutely. And Afghanistan is the one place, in that part of the world where Americans are liked. The majority of the people like America and are in favor of the population. The trouble is that majority is dwindling. It used to be 80 percent Then it was 70 percent. And, I think it's in the 50s now, because people are disappointed. They expected seven years after the invasion, things to be better there. Now, this girl still has hope. I mean, she loves going to school. She's the smartest kid I've ever met in that part of the world. And her dream now, as you'd expect, is to go to college in America. So, she still looks to us for leadership and a place of hope. But she says, she says why am I still worried walking to school in the morning that something's going to blow up? And you can understand that. It was dangerous under the Taliban. She doesn't want the Taliban back. They kept her away from everything that she wanted. But she constantly says to me, when is it going to be better for me and safer, so that I can fulfill those dreams? And I think it's an understandable emotion from someone like that.
ROBERTS: We can't ignore this problem. We have all gotta find a way to live together in this world.
SCIUTTO: Absolutely. Well, seven years ago, it proved to us we, we can't ignore this feeling. And my worry traveling in this part of the world in the last seven years, because of the appeal of that sentiment, is no less today, and in my view, more widespread, that we aren't necessarily safer today. And that worries me because that's -- I want -- this is my city. This is my country. It's where my family lives. It's where I'm going to come home to. I want it to be safer.
ROBERTS: Your family's about to get a little big bigger.
SCIUTTO: It is.
ROBERTS: You are married to our ABC correspondent, Gloria Riviera. And you're expecting a child next month.
SCIUTTO: Due next month. So, this is a small production compared to the real production coming next month.
ROBERTS: That's the one --
SCIUTTO: If I thought I lost sleep on this, I'm going to be losing a heck of a lot more sleep in the next few months.
ROBERTS: I know you want your child to grow up in a world of peace and understanding.
ROBERTS: Jim, thank you.
SCIUTTO: Thank you.
ROBERTS: And we wish Jim and Gloria all the best. More time is needed for us all to have a better understanding on one another. And you can go to ABCNews.com to read an excerpt of Jim's book.