New York Times admits its Pentagon propaganda

This video is an interview, in English and Arabic, with former Guantánamo prisoner, cameraman Sami Al Haj.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

New York Times on Guantánamo: A willing conduit for the military-intelligence apparatus

9 June 2009

After more than two weeks of controversy, the New York Times has been forced to publicly backpedal on its May 21 story, headlined “1 in 7 Detainees Rejoined Jihad, Pentagon Finds.”

This began last Friday with a terse three-paragraph “Editor’s Note” published in the corrections column and was followed in the Sunday edition with a column by the paper’s public editor, Clark Hoyt, entitled “What Happened to Skepticism?

The original story, written by the Times Pentagon correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller, was based on a leaked (and subsequently released) Pentagon report, which claimed that 14 percent of the 534 detainees transferred out of the US prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba had, in Bumiller’s words, “returned to terrorism or militant activity.”

The report names only 30 of the 74 who allegedly “reengaged in terrorist activity” (one more than Bumiller reported seeing in the leaked document). Out of the total, 27 were described as “confirmed,” while 47 were only “suspected” of terrorist activity.

The editor’s note that appeared last Friday blandly acknowledged the substance of the widespread criticisms—without referring to them—provoked by Bumiller’s article. It noted that the “premise” of the Pentagon report was that “all the former prisoners had been engaged in terrorism before their detention,” which the note described as something that “remains unproved.” It also admits that the article “conflated two categories of former prisoners”—those that had been “confirmed as engaging in terrorism” and those who were “suspected of doing so.”

In reality, the entire premise of the Pentagon report and Bumiller’s piece had been thoroughly debunked before they ever appeared in print.

A December 2007 study prepared by Seton Hall University School of Law had demolished the credibility of an earlier Pentagon report making similar allegations about somewhat fewer ex-detainees returning to “terrorist activity.”

3 thoughts on “New York Times admits its Pentagon propaganda

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