Time Magazine Backtracks, Rumsfeld Probably Won’t Face Abuse Charges

In the past week, Time magazine has effectively demonstrated one of the methods of disseminating propaganda in this country. First, one makes a totally unsubstantiated claim about a high-ranking official that your media outlet doesn’t care for. Then, you backtrack, cover your bases, and much like Gilda Radner’s old character on “Saturday Night Live,” say, “Never mind.” The problem is that in many cases, the damage created by your first report is done, and can’t be rectified.

Such was the case this week as Time magazine first announced last Friday that charges were about to be filed in Germany against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as reported by NewsBusters, and then changed its story six days later with the following (emphasis mine throughout, hat tip to Hot Air):

The lawsuit filed in Germany this week against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior Administration officials for alleged war crimes in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo has little chance of making it into court. That's according to Andreas Zimmerman, a professor of international criminal law at Kiel University who helped negotiate the Rome Treaty that founded the International Criminal Court and who drafted the German law under which Rumsfeld has been charged. Under German law, the decision over whether to try the case will rest with the federal prosecutor rather than with a judge. Federal prosecutors, of course, are subject to the wishes of the government, and the government is unlikely to press a case that would antagonize its American allies. "In theory the prosecutor could find him guilty of torture and put him in custody if he visited," says Zimmermann. "But in reality nothing is going to happen."

If this is indeed the case, why did Time make such a big deal about this last week, publishing an exclusive that it would easily refute just six days later? Pretty ridiculous, don’t you think? Couldn’t they have done a bit more research on the subject, waited a few days, and reported the real facts? Regardless, the article continued:

A similar suit was brought in Germany in 2005 and dismissed after prosecutors ruled that the U.S. still had jurisdiction and was pursuing those responsible. The civil rights activists who brought the Rumsfeld suit claim that the basis for that decision is no longer valid, since only lower-level figures have been convicted in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. The German federal prosecutor Monika Harms will likely make her decision officially early in the new year. "At best it's an uphill struggle," said Zimmermann.

What a farce. Think Time’s editors will apologize to Rumsfeld for putting him and his family through this unnecessary stress and agony?  

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.