- Post-9/11, The New York Times became the lead misreporting
source about Guantanamo detainees, largely characterizing them as dangerous
terrorists threatening US security.
- For example, on July 25, 2007, (like its many other reports)
William Glaberson headlined, "New US study calls Guantanamo captives
- A new Pentagon study "argues that large numbers
of detainees were a direct threat to United States forces, including Al
Qaeda fighters, terrorism-training camp veterans and men who had experience
with explosives, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades."
- "It paints a chilling portrait of the Guantanamo
detainees, (saying) 95 percent were at the least a 'potential threat,'
including detainees who had played a supporting role in terrorist groups
or had expressed a commitment to pursuing violent jihadist goals."
- More on The Times' reassessment below.
- Under Professor Mark Denbeaux's direction, Seton Hall
University School of Law's Center for Policy & Research (CP&R)
published 17 "GTMO Reports," including profiles of detainees
held, allegations against them, and discrepancies in government (and media)
accounts, characterizing innocent men as dangerous.
- An earlier report analyzed unclassified government data
(obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests) based on evidentiary
summaries of 2004 military hearings on whether 517 detainees held at the
time were "enemy combatants."
- Most were non-belligerents. In fact, a shocking 95% were
seized randomly by bounty hunters, then sold to US forces for $5,000 per
claimed Taliban and $25,000 for supposed Al Qaeda members. At least 20
were children, some as young as 13.
- In his first February 2006 report, profiling 517 detainees
through analysis of Defense Department (DOD) data, Denbeaux found:
- -- only 8% "were characterized as al Qaeda fighters;"
- -- 55% committed no hostile act against US or coalition
- -- of the remaining 37%, most had no connection to either
Al Qaeda or Taliban forces, based on the Pentagon's assessment.
- In his latest March 2011 report, Denbeaux headlined,
"Rumsfeld Knew: DoD's 'Worst of the Worst' and Recidivism Claims Refuted
by Recently Declassified Memo," explaining that:
- Rumsfeld's memo showed he lied, calling into question
whether anything he, or other Pentagon officials, said was true. In fact,
Denbeaux's reports refute virtually everything from official and major
media sources, exposing their deception in detail. They show the vast majority
(perhaps all) Guantanamo prisoners were and still are innocent or "low-value"
detainees, posing no terrorist threat to America or other nations.
- In other words, even the DOD knew they incarcerated innocent
men and children, America's media going along with the ruse, notably The
New York Times, the lead source of US propaganda.
- On April 24, New York writers Charlie Savage, William
Glaberson and Andrew Lehren headlined, "Classified Files Offer New
Insights Into Detainees," saying:
- Released files on about 750 detainees, including 172
still held, "lay(s) bare the patchwork and contradictory evidence
that in many cases would never have stood up in criminal court or a military
- However, continuing their willful deception, the writers
- "(M)ost of the 172 remaining prisoners have been
rated as a 'high risk' of posing a threat to the United States and its
allies if released without adequate rehabilitation and supervision, (besides)
about a third of the 600 already transferred to other countries....also
designated 'high risk' before they were freed or passed to the custody
of other governments."
- A same day editorial headlined, "The Guantanamo
- Despite documents revealing administration "chaos,
lawlessness and incompetence....(t)here are seriously dangerous prisoners
at Guantanamo who cannot be released," despite no corroborating evidence
- Moreover, falsely claiming torture and abuse have stopped,
it continued saying the "trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five
other alleged Sept. 11 plotters should be pursued," even though no
incriminating evidence proves culpability, except from perhaps torture-extracted
confessions The Times apparently believes are credible, despite international
law and two Supreme Court decisions calling them inadmissible in criminal
proceedings (Fisher v. State, November 1926 and Brown v. Mississippi, February
- The Center for Constitutional Rights' (CCR) Assessment/Critique
- Since Guantanamo detentions began in 2002, CCR has done
heroic work representing unlawfully held detainees. It enlisted hundreds
of pro bono attorneys on their behalf to provide what Bush and Obama administration
officials denied, a detainee's Sixth Amendment right to counsel of his
or her choice.
- Earlier, CCR said:
- "The government has illegally detained thousands
of people, the most notorious example being the men at Guantanamo."
Its attorneys filed many cases on their behalf, as well as others falsely
accused in the "war on terror." In fact, for years, their lawyers
"challenged immigration sweeps, ghost detentions, extraordinary renditions,
and every other illegal program the government devised to lock people up
and thrown away the key."
- On April 25, CCR headlined, "Rights Group Critical
of Poor Reporting by New York Times," saying:
- Executive Director Vince Warren said the following in
response to The Times and other news stories on released documents for
around 750 Guantanamo detainees, saying:
- They "shed light" on "innocent men....many
of whom remained and remain there long after the government knew they were
innocent." Of course, it was known all along. Still, however, misinformation
is being reported about alleged detainees still held, notably from The
New York Times.
- It keeps recycling "unfiltered....out of date and
long-discredited DOD claims and its sensationalizing of inflated risk assessments
over revelations of abuses committed by the US. For example, (it calls)
five Russian men....recidivists, contradicting DOD's characterization.
- CCR client Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu is
also falsely called a recidivist, "when in fact he was jailed on his
return to Libya and is now fighting with the US-supported rebels...."
- Other examples also show irresponsible misreporting,
including "scare stories that abet those forces seeking to legitimate
the continued existence of Guantanamo and the scheme of detention without
charge that the place was created to facilitate."
- Moreover, besides scandalous ongoing levels of torture
and abuse, Times reports refused even to mention, let alone explain, their
lawlessness and effect on innocent victims. In addition, Times, Washington
Post, and other major media coverage ignore the fact that most of the remaining
172 detainees, "had been cleared for release by the Interagency Task
Force set up in 2009." Instead, as quoted above, The Times called
at least most of them "high risk....posing a threat to the United
States and its allies."
- In fact, their risk assessments "are based on patently
unreliable information, much of it the product of other interrogations
at Guantanamo," producing torture-extracted confessions or other bogus
information. In addition, the files "are years out of date and repeat
inaccurate Bush administration allegations long since put to rest."
- Yet innocent men will be held indefinitely, either uncharged
or tried illegally in military commissions using spurious "evidence"
to convict them, including the 9/11 suspects. In fact, their alleged guilt
is very much open to question, including the so-called mastermind, Khalid
Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), brutally tortured for months in several locations
before sent to Guananamo for even more.
- Overall, the released documents reveal a sordid story
of "government attempting to justify its mistakes and detaining, interrogating
and abusing men - as well as teenage boys and men old enough to be suffering
from dementia - for years based on bad (or bogus) evidence, hearsay (or)
- They disclose a scandalous lack of accountability, transparency
and respect for international and US law. They also reveal that Washington
withheld "information the public sorely needs in order to be able
to make informed decisions about vital government policies. In addition,
they show that the" media, including The New York Times repeatedly,
disgraced themselves by misreporting.
- Unlike official Washington and America's media, CCR (for
almost 15 years) has advanced and protected constitutionally guaranteed
rights and those stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- the same ones Seton Hall's Mark Denbeaux and his dedicated team respect,
teach and support.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
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