ABC on Sunday night jumped to beat the other networks with the news that a judge in Spain may issue arrest warrants charging several former Bush administration officials with violating the Convention Against Torture. World News Sunday anchor Dan Harris announced: “Six former high level officials of the Bush administration are being targeted tonight by a court in, of all places, Spain. This court is considering whether to open a criminal investigation into allegations that the six officials gave legal cover for the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.”
Narrating off-camera from London, reporter Hilary Brown began with how “the six officials named in the case include Alberto Gonzales, the former Attorney General who famously described parts of the Geneva Convention as 'quaint' and 'obsolete.'” She outlined the case: “The Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzon, says he has the right to prosecute American officials because four Spanish citizens formerly held at Guantanamo say they were tortured there. And Garzon says the U.S. officials broke international law, specifically, the 1984 Convention Against Torture, which the U.S. signed.”
Brown conceded it's unlikely any arrest warrant would be enforced by the U.S., but she saw a benefit, nonetheless, as she suggested “this case may end up putting pressure on the Obama administration to open its own investigation, something it has resisted so far.”
All three morning shows on Monday skipped a rather serious charge made by former Vice President Dick Cheney that Barack Obama, through his actions as president, has made America less safe and more susceptible to terrorist attack. Speaking to CNN host John King on Sunday's "State of the Union," Cheney criticized some of Obama's actions, including giving the order to close Guantanamo Bay.
The ex-vice president asserted, "And now he [Obama] is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack." And yet, ABC's "Good Morning America," NBC's "Today" and CBS's "Early Show," all completely ignored Cheney's attack on President Obama. Considering that over the last eight years, members of the media often referred to Cheney as Darth Vader and insinuated that he was actually pulling the strings in the Bush White House, shouldn't such a serious charges, leveled by such an influential person, at least have warranted a mention?
It’s not even April 1 yet, and Keith Olbermann is already expressing fears that President Obama "is acting disturbingly like President Bush," because of a number of recent decisions by the Obama administration to continue policies similar to those of President Bush, which Olbermann recounted on Monday's Countdown while the words "Four More Years?" displayed at the bottom of the screen. The MSNBC host then introduced his guest for further discussion: "Here to help us tell the two men apart, Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post."
Responding to Huffington’s hope that Obama’s decisions would only be temporary, Olbermann queried that if, "after one of these six-month reviews – renditioning, for instance – continues on or other detentions without legal rights? What happens then?" prompting Huffington to convey her willingness to oppose Obama: "Well, everybody who cares about what are the fundamental American values of fairness and justice and due process needs to vociferously and unambiguously oppose the Obama administration. I don`t think there is any alternative to that."
Former Guantanamo prison guard Brandon Neely's account of his experiences is "remarkable," Rachel Maddow told viewers of her MSNBC cable show Tuesday night before introducing Neely.
"And tonight, for the first time, in any broadcast interview, he is here, exclusively, to describe what he witnessed and what he personally took part in," Maddow said.
But after listening to Neely's claims, and seeing how Maddow conducted the interview, I wondered if others watching felt the same letdown -- this is an example of all the sturm and drang over Gitmo?
Let's start with the first of two incidents of alleged abuse described by Neely, who enlisted in the Army in June 2000 and was assigned guard duty at Guantanamo in January 2002 as detainees first arrived. Neely now heads the Houston chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Offering a defense of President Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo Bay within the year, on Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent David Martin argued: "During his final years in office, President Bush said repeatedly he wanted to close the prison at Guantanamo, where suspected terrorists were being held indefinitely without trial. Turns out it was his own vice president who stood in the way."
Martin worked to discredit Dick Cheney’s concerns about closing the detention facility: "According to Cheney, 61 of the 530 prisoners released from Guantanamo during the Bush administration have already gone back to terrorism. According to the Defense Intelligence Agency, there are 61 suspected cases of former detainees rejoining the fight, but so far only 18 have been confirmed." Martin then admitted: "Most have subsequently been killed or captured; but some, like this suicide bomber in Iraq, lived long enough to kill again."
CNN commentator Jack Cafferty, who had bashed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for “starting to sound a little like Chairman Mao” the previous day, labeled Rush Limbaugh “that corpulent Oxycontin aficionado of right-wing talk radio” during his usual “Cafferty File” segment on Tuesday’s Situation Room. The slam came during as Cafferty launched a mild criticism of President Obama’s first week in office on issues like his reluctance to answer questions from the press, the closing of Guantanamo Bay, and making an exception on his ban on lobbyists from his administration.
Cafferty began his commentary, which aired nine minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, by acclaiming the apparent success of President Obama’s first week in the White House: “It’s been exactly one week since Barack Obama became our 44th president -- what a week it’s been: signing executive orders; meeting with his teams of advisers on the economy, national security, Iraq, the Middle East.” He continued by focusing on how the new president has also been “learning some things along the way,” and began his critique of some of the actions by the Democratic executive, which included his smear of the conservative talk show host.
If we are to believe Keith Olbermann’s latest wild theory, an innocent, mild mannered furniture salesman and humanitarian from Riyadh may have been inspired to become an al-Qaeda leader because he was falsely imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, courtesy of Olbermann’s favorite target, the Bush administration, who "created [his] reason for hating us."
Even for Keith Olbermann, this takes the cake, and makes you wonder if the rumors are true that the MSNBC host doesn’t really believe half of what he says, but only recites his rants and conspiracy theories for ratings. In light of reports that a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Said Ali al-Shihri, who was released in 2007 and has now become an al-Qaeda leader in Yemen believed responsible for a September embassy bombing, Olbermann seemed to seriously suggest that al-Shihri may have been an innocent man when he was first jailed at Gitmo, and then became a terrorist leader as a result of his imprisonment. The Countdown host plugged the story before a commercial break: "But perhaps the real question is: Since we never tried him, never found him guilty, and the Bush administration set him free, what if he wasn’t a terrorist in the first place but we turned him into one by sending him to Gitmo?"
On Monday’s Newsroom program, anchor Rick Sanchez trumpeted a United Nations investigator’s apparent finding against Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld concerning torture: “...[W]e’re making news here, because I just heard you on the record say that there does seem to be enough evidence to be able to make a case against Donald Rumsfeld specifically.” He also asked why Rumsfeld had been “singled out [and] not Cheney [or] Alberto Gonzalez?”
Sanchez had Manfred Nowak, the United Nations special investigator on torture, as a guest beginning at the bottom half of the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. He introduced Nowak by reading a quote by the investigator himself: “The government of the United States is required to take all necessary steps to bring George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld before a court.” Sanchez highlighted how the statement “isn’t being said by just anyone. This is being said, again, by Mr. Nowak, who is the United Nations special investigator on torture -- specific enough and important enough for us to have him on to talk about this now.”
In a rare instance of critical coverage of the Obama administration on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman about Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo Bay: "I'm not sure if you've seen the New York Times this morning. On the front page there is an article that reveals that a terror suspect released from Guantanamo a few months ago...is now heading up Al Qaeda in Yemen. I'm wondering if this makes you less inclined Representative Harman, to support closing down the prison?"
Harman actually doubted the credibility of the usually left-wing newspaper: "Not at all. Obviously,if that allegation is true and if this fellow has now become a key Al Qaeda operative, that's shocking and disappointing." Harman went on to argue: "But there is really no justification, and there was no justification, for disappearing people in a place that was located offshore America so it was outside the reach of U.S. law. As President Obama said two days ago, there's a false choice between our safety and our values." Rodriguez then turned to Republican Congressman Peter Hoekstra: "It all sounds great, but Representative Hoekstra you said yesterday that's placing 'hope ahead of reality,' right?"
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann delivered his latest "Special Comment," in which he called on President-elect Barack Obama to prosecute President Bush and administration members on a charge of torturing prisoners, and invoked extreme examples such as slavery leading to the Civil War, and the handling of Germany after World War I leading to the rise of Nazism and World War II, to illustrate that "this country has never succeeded in moving forward without first cleansing itself of its mistaken past," and that Obama must try to prosecute Bush for the sake of the country’s future. After quoting Bush’s recent words about the interrogation techniques he authorized against 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and statements by Obama expressing reluctance to pursue prosecutions against the Bush administration, Olbermann began invoking extreme examples from history.
This country has never succeeded in moving forward without first cleansing itself of its mistaken past. ... We compromised with slavery in the Declaration of Independence, and, fourscore and nine years later, we had buried 600,000 of our sons and brothers in a civil war. After that war’s ending, we compromised with the social restructuring and protection of the rights of minorities in the South. And a century later, we had not only had not resolved anything, but black leaders were still being assassinated in the cities of the South. We compromised with Germany in the reconstruction of Europe after the First World War. Nobody even arrested the German kaiser, let alone conducted war crimes trials then. And 19 years later, there was an indescribably more evil Germany and a more heartrending Second World War.
Susan Crawford's recent assertions of torture simply do not add up, and your main stream media isn't going to investigate anytime soon. Had Crawford made an assertion that there was unequivocally no torture to speak of at Guantanamo, the media would be sifting meticulously through her statements with a fine-toothed comb, smearing her reputation at every turn. Instead, her arguments seemingly confirm what the leftist media has long assumed - that our government has condoned torture tactics - and because of that, everything is taken at face value.
Crawford recently told Bob Woodward of the Washington Post that:
"We tortured (Mohammed al-) Qahtani. His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case" for prosecution.
The basic premise of this story however, had apparently been completely refuted in retrospect, back in February of 2008. By whom? Why, the Washington Post.
On February 12th, 2008, the Post printed an article titled:
U.S. to Try 6 on Capital Charges Over 9/11 Attacks
New Evidence Gained Without Coercive Tactics
You read that correctly, the staff writers went out of their way to inform the public that the evidence against the 9/11 conspirators was ‘gained without coercive tactics.'
Former Philadelphia Inquirer editorial page editor Chris Satullo, who in a July 1, 2008 editorial suggested that “America doesn't deserve to celebrate its birthday” on Independence Day due to the “waterboarding, the snarling dogs, the theft of sleep” used on some enemy combatants since 9/11, has been hired to become the director of news operations for WHYY, the PBS affiliate in the Philadelphia area.
Inquirer television critic Jonathan Storm, who wrote about Satullo’s hiring on Thursday, mentioned how William J. Marrazzo, WHYY’s president and CEO, complimented the liberal columnist as an “an outstanding journalist with a track record in civic engagement who understands this community like the back of his hand.”
This same “outstanding journalist,” in his November 9, 2008 column in the Inquirer, referred to the ideology of Sarah Palin supporters as “a rump conservatism that is small-town, resentful, anti-intellectual, and lily white” and praised “smarter analysts” such as David Frum, Kathleen Parker, Christopher Buckley and David Brooks, all of whom criticized the Alaska governor and/or supported Obama.
You would be hard-pressed to find a "better" example of a walking, talking, typing Old Media double standard-bearer than New York Times columnist and International Herald Tribune (IHT) contributor Nicholas Kristof.
..... his legacy is not all bad ..... The emancipation of women and end of child marriages moved China from one of the worst places in the world to be a girl to one where women have more equality than in, say, Japan or Korea. ..... Mao’s ruthlessness was a catastrophe at the time ..... yet there’s more to the story: Mao also helped lay the groundwork for the rebirth and rise of China after five centuries of slumber.
Here is Kristof describing an example of what is currently happening in Zimbabwe in the June 29 IHT (bold after headline is mine):
One of the more astounding post-9/11 liberal media affectations has been the extraordinary concern press members have for how terrorists looking to kill innocent Americans are treated at detention centers.
A fine example of this occurred on Thursday's "Hannity & Colmes" when the left-leaning part of Fox News's successful duo debated former White House adviser Karl Rove about the recent Supreme Court decision granting habeas corpus rights to Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Readers are advised to get a big bag of popcorn for this barnburner (video embedded right):
You know, I was wondering when this was going to happen, when someone in the MSM would say Bush has ruined July Fourth? The Philadelphia Inquirer didn't disappoint by wallowing in the worst example of blame-America-above-all as well as the most extreme case of BDS that I've seen outside the kind of nutroot sites like Daily Kos and the Democratic Underground. A mainstream paper has now gone that extra mile to let us all know that America does not deserve a July Fourth celebration this year because of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, CIA secret prisons, and, lest you imagine otherwise, the fact that we have made George W. Bush our president. "Cancel the parade" because America is evil. It's all there in all it's anti-American splendor in A not-so-glorious Fourth, U.S. atrocities are unworthy of our heritage.
Inquirer columnist Chris Satullo thinks that America is fraught with sin and that we don't deserve a Fourth celebration. "This year, America doesn't deserve to celebrate its birthday," he whines. "This Fourth of July should be a day of quiet and atonement."
Remember the Boumediene decisions? The one where the Supreme Court ignored Congress' orders to strip them of jurisdiction? One of the major issues in this case was the fact that the Court trampled all over Congress' ability to determine the limits of judicial oversight. And virtually no mainstream 'news' organ picked up on that fact- nstead they universally trumpeted how the eeevil Bush Adminstraion had been forced to observe the law'. The LA Times, for example, wrote on their front page,
The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected for the third time President Bush's policy of holding foreign prisoners under exclusive control of the military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, ruling that the men have a right to seek their freedom before a federal judge. The justices said the Constitution from the beginning enshrined the "privilege of habeas corpus" -- or the right to go before a judge -- as one of the safeguards of liberty. And that right extends even to foreigners captured in the war on terrorism, the high court said, particularly when they have been held for as long as six years without charges.
. The article admits that Congress stripped jurisdiction from the judiciary in 2006, writing,
After that setback, the administration went to Congress, still under GOP control, and won a law authorizing trials through military commissions. The law also stripped all the foreign "enemy combatants" of their right to go to court via a writ of habeas corpus.
but clearly agreeing with the idea that foreign, unlawful combatants have more rights than lawful prisoners-of-war.
It would be hard to overstate the significance of Barack Obama's blunder. As a certain junior senator from New York said during the primary season, while John McCain has obviously passed the Commander-in-Chief threshold, it's not clear Obama has. If there is one fundamental challenge facing the Dem candidate in this campaign, it is to prove that he has the values and the toughness necessary to protect our country against the terrorists who seek to destroy us.
Yet now—in an interview with ABC's Jake Tapper—Obama has proposed a read-them-their-Miranda-rights approach to dealing with the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It's the policy equivalent of Dukakis-in-a-tank, and is likely, in this NewsBuster's opinion, to have an even more harmful impact on his campaign. The McCain camp has wasted no time in weighing in. In a conference call yesterday, former CIA director James Woolsey said Obama's advocacy of giving terrorists access to U.S. courts was an "extremely dangerous and an extremely naive approach to terrorism."
Discussion on Morning Joe today among, on the one hand, Barack fans Mika Brzezinski and WaPo's Jonathan Capehart, and on the other a Joe Scarborough preaching realpolitik, revealed just how vulnerable Obama is on the issue. I'd encourage readers to view the extended video clip here, but for present purposes will focus on one exchange:
It wasn't just Barack Obama's candidacy that John Edwards endorsed tonight. It was also the worldview that sees the United States as a "bully." Consider these lines from Edwards just-completed speech.
JOHN EDWARDS: There's also a wall that's divided our image in the world. The America as the beacon of hope is behind that wall. And all the world sees now is a bully. They see Iraq, Guantanamo, secret prison, and a government that argues that waterboarding is not torture [lusty booing from the crowd]. This is not OK. That wall has to come down. For the sake of our ideals and our security. We can change this. We can change it. Yes, we can.
Nicholas Kristof's Sunday column on Guantanamo prisoners, "A Prison of Shame, and It's Ours," makes the case, in typically arch prose, that his New York Times colleague Barry Bearak got off easy. The Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe imprisoned Bearak in disgusting conditions for four days, but Kristof thought it could have been worse: It could have been Guantanamo Bay.
My Times colleague Barry Bearak was imprisoned by the brutal regime in Zimbabwe last month. Barry was not beaten, but he was infected with scabies while in a bug-infested jail. He was finally brought before a court after four nights in jail and then released.
Alas, we don't treat our own inmates in Guantánamo with even that much respect for law. On Thursday, America released Sami al-Hajj, a cameraman for Al Jazeera who had been held without charges for more than six years. Mr. Hajj has credibly alleged that he was beaten, and that he was punished for a hunger strike by having feeding tubes forcibly inserted in his nose and throat without lubricant, so as to rub tissue raw.
Oh the outrage! The gift shop at Guantamo Bay sells a T-shirt that features a guard tower and barbed wire with wording that says: "The Taliban Towers at Guantanamo Bay, the Caribbean's Newest 5-star Resort." Another T-shirt from the same gift shop dares to praise, "the proud protectors of freedom". And yet another T-shirt shows an iguana with this "heartless" wording: "Greetings from paradise GTMO resort and spa fun in the Cuban sun." Does this even sound remotely like some cruel human rights abuse? Perhaps not to rational people but Daily Mail (UK) reporter, Angela Levin, works herself into a frenzy over these trinkets in her article, Greetings from Guantanamo Bay ... and the sickest souvenir shop in the world:
The sands are white, the sea laps gently and crowds of bronzed Americans laze in the Caribbean sunshine.
They have a cinema, a golf course and, naturally, a gift shop stocked with mugs, jaunty T-shirts and racks of postcards showing perfect sunsets and bright green iguanas.
In their post-Oscar coverage on Monday, Washington Post writers suggested that Hollywood's celebration of dark movies with dark characters has a political genesis, that it came from moviemakers depressed over the Bush re-election, Iraq, and global warming. In his front-page piece, reporter Hank Stuever theorized:
But these were dark movies -- the feel-bad films of the year -- conjured up in what movie people seem to collectively sense as grave times, hatched in producers' offices and on writers' laptops not long after the 2004 election and amid increasing setbacks in the Iraq war and gloomy environmental warnings. Some of the filmmakers and actors wore orange ribbons or rubber bracelets to protest alleged incidents of torture by the United States at its prison in Guantanamo Bay, and in Afghanistan and Iraq -- the subject of "Taxi to the Dark Side," which won Best Documentary Feature.
When not offering a surfeit of death and gloom, Academy nominees this year focused, in at least some metaphorical way, on all the looming issues:
There is an update on the ongoing saga of the New York Times using an outspoken critic of Guantanamo to help write an article regarding prisoners held there. Andy Worthington, the writer, defends himself here.
It seems Mr. Worthington does not see his profound activism regarding Guantanamo as "outspoken." Writing a book about it called "The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison," doesn't promote a distinct outspoken point of view? Please.
The Daily Kos defends Worthington in the idea that it is so mainstream to believe the way Worthington does about Guantanamo, that is silly to expect the New York Times to have to point out Worthington's bias.
The New York Times ran a front-page story Tuesday critical of Guantanamo. The article described the case of an Afghan man who died in Guantanamo after five years' detention, allegedly on false charges of being a Taliban commander.
It turns out the writer and co-author of the piece, Andy Worthington, was a well known critic of Guantanamo and of US policy. Now the paper's editors say they "were not aware" of the author's past writings on the subject.
"View" co-host Joy Behar offered her political expertise to explain the conservative opposition to John McCain: Conservatives support "torture" (a liberal propaganda term for CIA interrogation methods of actual terrorists). On the February 4 edition of "The View," Behar, who considers the term "fringe liberal" "name calling," explains why "very extreme right wing conservatives" oppose McCain.
BEHAR: Ann Coulter, she says, Coulter, who makes a living by being provocative, picked a predictably offensive reason to oppose McCain. Quote, from Ann, "he has led the fight against torture at Guantanamo." That’s why she doesn’t like him because he is against torture. I think that’s fascinating.
GOLDBERG: I think if she meets him, he would torture her.
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt got angry this week. Not at the Times' shoddy, statistically worthless slam of U.S. veterans that appeared on last Sunday's front page (next week, perhaps?), but at conservative blogger Ed Whelan, for having the temerity of bringing up a possible conflict of interest involving the Times' Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse.
Whelan, who is President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and writes the "Bench Memos" blog at National Review Online, unearthed the Supreme Court reporter's controversial tie last month.
In an effort to have a fair and balanced debate on the issue of the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes, "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer invited Democratic Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, and liberal Republican, Senator Chuck Hagel, on to Sunday’s broadcast. Hagel proved to be left of Rockefeller:
We are saying what to the world? That the Army Field Manual applies to our Army people, our armed services people, but the C.I.A. and all these Blackwater-type variations of militias and armies are unaccountable to what? That's not who we are as Americans, Bob. We're better than that. We don't need that. The world wants us to be better than that. We want to be better than that. We need to be smarter. Burning tapes, destroying evidence, I don't know how deep this goes. Could there be obstruction of justice? Yes. How far does this go up in the White House? I don't know.
That does not sound like an opinion from the mainstream of the Republican Party.
On Sunday’s "Face the Nation" on CBS, host Bob Schieffer aksed in his commentary at the end of the show: "Have we helped our cause with the rest of the world when they come to believe we have sunk to using the tactics of those who oppose us?" Speaking in reference to the recent news that the CIA destroyed videotapes of the interrogations of terrorists, which some believe may have involved water boarding, Schieffer began his rant by invoking the name of the great liberal icon, Edward R. Murrow (video available here):
Finally today, Edward R. Murrow was one of the first to understand the power of worldwide communications, but it was the message, not the power to reach so many people, that concerned him...I thought about that as we learn more about the C.I.A.'s use of what our own Army and the Geneva Conventions define as torture and how officials destroyed evidence when a federal judge demanded tapes of the interrogation episodes.