Roger L. Simon

The Big Filter

Does legacy media report the news or does it filter it? I know that’s a loaded question but an interesting case is a article from tomorrow’s New York Times – “Report Discredits F.B.I. Claims of Abuse at Guantanamo Bay” – by Neil A. Lewis. The story begins:

A high-level military investigation into complaints by F.B.I. agents about the abuse of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, concluded in a report released Wednesday that their treatment was sometimes degrading but did not qualify as inhumane or as torture.

The report was presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee by Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt of the Air Force, who conducted the investigation after e-mail messages between Federal Bureau of Investigation agents at Guant√°namo and their superiors in Washington were disclosed in a lawsuit.

In the messages, the agents complained that they had seen abusive, possibly illegal behavior by military interrogators. They spoke of “torture techniques” and described detainees forced into uncomfortable positions for 18 to 24 hours at a time or left to soil themselves.

General Schmidt told the committee that his investigation could not substantiate some of the F.B.I. accusations. His report said that some of the practices that evoked criticism among the F.B.I. agents were approved interrogation techniques, like stripping detainees, forcing one to wear women’s lingerie and wiping red ink on a detainee and telling him it was menstrual blood.

It then goes on to cite some Republicans who see the report as exonerating the military and some Democrats who see it as further indication of military malfeasance before concluding with at least the implication of a military cover-up:

“It is clear from the report that detainee mistreatment was not simply the product of a few rogue military police on a night shift,” said Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the committee’s senior Democrat. “Rather, this mistreatment arose from the use of aggressive interrogation techniques.”

General Schmidt had concluded that the special techniques used on Mr. Kahtani were not by themselves a problem. In addition to being segregated from other prisoners for nearly six months and interrogated for up to 20 hours a day, Mr. Kahtani was made to stand naked in front of female soldiers, forced to wear lingerie, forced to dance with a male interrogator and had his copy of a Koran squatted on by an interrogator.

General Schmidt had recommended that Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the commander of the Guantanamo prison in 2002 and 2003, be reprimanded for failing to exercise proper supervision over the Kahtani interrogation. But Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, the commander of the United States Southern Command, overruled that recommendation.

But wait… there’s something missing in all this — the report itself! We the readers of the New York Times are not offered access to the source material used by Mr. Lewis. We must rely on him (and his editors) as a filter for this material even though, during this Internet age, posting the report along with the article at the NYT website would be a relatively simple matter. As of this hour, I cannot find it.

Interestingly, the reviled Fox News is beginning to post source documents along with their online articles. Pajamas Media will make a habit of it.