For some in the MSM, this must be "return to Abu Ghraib" week, something to help fill a couple of news cycles between Dick Cheney's hunting accident, and the start of Scooter Libby's trial.
Australia's Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) kicked things off with supposedly "new" images from the Abu Ghraib scandal. These images are "new" in the sense that they haven't appeared in print or broadcast before. Both U.S. and Iraqi officials say the photos were taken two years ago, by military personnel originally linked to the prisoner abuse scandal. Former Army Specialist Charles Graner, now serving a 10-year prison sentence for abusing detainees, appears in several of the photos, as does his former girlfriend (PFC Lynndie England); she is spending three years behind bars for her role in abuse at Abu Ghraib. SBS also says that many of the images show Graner and England having sex at the prison, so the photos are clearly from the period when Graner, England and other low-ranking reservists abused prisoners, largely for their own amusement.
While the AP notes that the images are dated (in paragraph #2), readers don't learn about the Graner-England connection until the end of the story. In between, there's lots of speculation about whether these images will further inflame anti-western sentiment, and assurances from U.S., Australian and Iraqi officials that the issue has been dealt with, and the abusers punished. But mentioning the involvment of Graner and England would place the story in an entirely different context, something the AP writer (Robert Reid) clearly wants to avoid.
Mr. Reid also doesn't say much about SBS, the Australian channel that aired the "fresh" photos. But if you read its mission statement, you'll see that SBS is all about multi-culturalism, and politically, I'm guessing that the network is somewhere to the left of PBS (if that is actually possible). Check out these excerpts from the SBS network's "mission statement:"
"SBS was established to give voice and exposure to multicultural Australia; to define, foster and celebrate Australia's cultural diversity in accordance with our Charter obligation to "provide multilingual and multicultural radio and television services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians and, in doing so, reflect Australia's multicultural society."
"SBS celebrates difference and promotes understanding. It gives Australians access to other cultures and languages, and targets prejudice, racism and discrimination through creative and quality programming that is inclusive and diverse."
Of course, the AP won't tell you about the SBS's left-wing ideology; readers outside Australia might assume--incorrectly--that the network is similar to an American cable news network or broadcast news division, and offering at least a measure of balance and fairness in its reporting. But SBS's ultra-liberal leanings puts the Abu Ghraib puts the program in an entirely different light; the network is clearly no fan of the U.S. military, the Bush Administration, or Australian Prime Minister John Howard. And it's no surprise that the network with that type of ideology would air a documentary designed to fan the flames of Abu Ghraib--but you won't learn that reading the AP story.
Sadly, the "Return to Abu Ghraib" item is a model of balance and fairness in comparison to AP's coverage of the UN Report on the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. On Thursday, a UN-appointed panel said the U.S. "must close the facility immediately," because it is effectively a torture camp where prisoners have no access to justice."
The AP article (by UN correspondent Edith Lederer) spares no critical comment from the report, or from statements by Kofi Annan supporting its findings. While she notes that the White House has rejected the panel's report, Ms. Lederer buries one critical fact from her story that (again) casts the findings in an entirely different light.
The UN panel that issued the report on conditions at Guantanamo Bay never--repeat, never--visited the facility (emphasis mine).
From yesterday's White House press briefing:
MR. McCLELLAN: "Well, I'd point out a couple of things. First of all, the U.N. team that was looking into this issue did not even visit Guantanamo Bay. They did not go down and see the facilities. They were offered the same kind of access that congressional leaders, who are responsible for oversight of these matters, have been provided. Yet, they declined to go down there."
Ms. Lederer puts a different slant on that damning fact. She reports that the U.S. offered to let three members of the UN group tour Guantanamo Bay last year, but they declined the offer, since they would not be allowed to interview detainees. Her insinuation is clear: the U.S. insisted on "conditions" that made the visit impossible. But she fails to mention that Congressional delegations touring Guantanamo operate under the same restrictions. If those rules are good enough for members of Congress, they should be acceptable for U.N.-hired "experts."
Lederer also notes that the U.N. findings were based on a variety of accounts, including interviews with former detainees, lawyers, media accounts and questions answered by the U.S. government--without any caveats on potential reliability problems among those sources. Let's see...former detainees wouldn't have an axe to grind with the U.S. military, would they? How about their ACLU lawyers? And we cab certainly trust the western media to "play it straight" with reporting on the detention of terror suspects.
The articles by Reid and Lederer are merely the latest examples of ournalistic fraud, perpetuated by the AP on a daily basis.