Media Totally Ignore Al Qaeda Torture Manual
Critical Update and Correction at End of Post
A headline at NewsBusters Thursday asked, “Will Media Report Al Qaeda Torture Manual With Same Zeal as Abu Ghraib?”
The answer: No!
In fact, from what I can tell by looking at LexisNexis, Google News, and closed-captioning dumps, the only media outlet in the nation that covered this story was Fox News’ “Hannity & Colmes.”
This is despite the fact that the Drudge Report broke the story at 10:27AM eastern time Thursday.
What’s potentially even more shocking is that all three network evening news broadcasts began with reports out of Iraq. For instance, here’s how CBS’ Katie Couric began Thursday’s “Evening News” (from closed-captioning):
The American public has never been more pessimistic about the war in Iraq than it is tonight. A CBS News/New York Times poll is just out, and 76% of respondents believe the war is going badly. That's the highest number since we started asking the question four years ago.
Couric and chief political correspondent Jeff Greenfield even did a segment intended to debunk the President’s contention that leaving Iraq will exacerbate terrorism, and result in them coming here. One analyst was quoted as having said “such a scenario is doubtful,” and another declared, ”It is a preposterous argument.”
Even more stunning, during this same report, Greenfield stated (from closed-captioning), “While there is widespread agreement most of the violence in Iraq is homegrown, many of the same analysts do believe the al Qaeda presence there does pose a threat to other nations in the region.”
Might have been a great time to address the revelations concerning this al Qaeda torture manual, wouldn’t you agree? Unfortunately, that’s not the way CBS saw it.
The same can be said of ABC’s “World News Tonight,” which also began with news out of Iraq, and the President’s press conference. But, nary a word about the al Qaeda torture manual.
And, though NBC’s “Nightly News” also began with Iraq and the President’s press conference, the revelations concerning al Qaeda having safe houses for torture weren’t considered important.
For its part, although this news came out late Thursday morning, with over thirteen hours left of airtime, CNN didn’t mention one word about this subject.
As for the print media, Glenn Reynolds this morning pointed out that “Silence is complicity,” while leading the reader to Don Surber’s piece on the subject which went much further in condemning the media boycott (emphasis added):
And yet such false stories as the “flushed Koran” got widespread play in the newspapers and on television.
We are hearing those awful “Sounds of Silence” that Simon and Garfunkel warned us about.
Whether intentional or not, the message is clear: The United States must be above even false reports of torture, while the enemy is allowed to promote eye removal, blowtorching skin and horrors I won’t go into.
The handbook shows that the enemy really is perverted and that its “cause” has less to do with global politics or any religion; they are sickos who like to torture people.
As much as I admire and respect John McCain’s war service, he is wrong when he says our interrogation methods encourage the enemy to torture our people. The enemy was torturing and beheading people well before 9/11.
That this does not disturb so many newspaper editors is in itself disturbing.
Surber pointed out earlier in his piece that this story didn’t make the front-pages of the New York Times, USA Today, or the Washington Post this morning. From what I can tell, other than a brief blurb at USA Today’s blog “On Deadline,” these three outlets completely ignored the story.
In fact, according to a Google News search, no major American news outlet – apart from Fox News affiliated websites and "Hannity & Colmes" – bothered to report this story at all.
I guess we got our answer concerning whether this revelation would be covered with the same zeal as Abu Ghraib in 2004.
*****Critical Update and Correction: CNN's "The Situation Room" actually broke this story on Wednesday during the 4PM EST installment. Wolf Blitzer gave a little preview of what would follow in the coming hours:
Also, burning a clothing iron onto a victim's skin or squeezing a victim's head in a vise -- those graphic tactics are said to be among Al Qaeda's torture methods. We have some newly revealed information and images. We're going to share them with you.
More details were provided in the 5PM EST installment:
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: We begin with an exclusive report on torture training in Iraq. Horrific pictures discovered showing gruesome methods of torture. We have to warn you, these images you're about to see are extremely disturbing.
Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd.
He's joining us now -- Brian, where were these pictures found?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they were found in an Al Qaeda safe House during recent raids in and around Baghdad. U.S. military officials say these images they just declassified show the true nature of what the Iraqi people are facing and they reinforce in the minds of military commanders why U.S. forces are there.
MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: They made it in a cartoon manner so that no matter what your literacy rate or what nationality you are, all you've got to do is look at this picture to understand how to conduct tortures of innocent people.
TODD: Methods like taking a hot iron to the skin and others too grotesque to show.
TODD: U.S. military officials say information from this raid led them to other safe houses, where they freed dozens of Iraqi kidnap victims.
TODD: Pictures of scars on those victims tell only part of the story.
General William Caldwell says the boy suffered more gruesome injuries.
CALDWELL: This was Sunnis conducting it on Sunnis themselves, where they had brought in some of the population from that area.
Kelly McCann of Kroll Security Group, a former U.S. Special Forces officer, says it's mostly a matter of intimidation.
KELLY MCCANN, KROLL SECURITY GROUP: I think that people are afraid of physical pain to that degree. They're afraid of this being done to their husband, their uncle, their grandfather, their child. So, yes, not only to extract information but also to compel a local population to at least not help U.S. forces.
(END VIDEO TAPE) TODD: General Caldwell says Al Qaeda typically sends that message with the kidnap victims back to their families. He says some of the people that they freed told them they expected to be ransomed off back to their families -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You've been speaking, Brian, with U.S. officials and other experts.
Kelly McCann says, however, that he recognizes some of those techniques from Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime; other techniques from as far back as the Vietnam era. So there could be maybe some borrowing going on.
BLITZER: Brian Todd with some exclusive reporting for us.
Brian, a horrific story, but important.
A similar report was filed during the 7PM EST installment. A LexisNexis search identified no other CNN reports on this issue in the days prior or subsequent.
To a certain extent, the fact that this was reported by CNN on Wednesday, including a confirming interview with Gen. Caldwell, presents even greater questions as to why no other media outlets chose to share this information.