Someone at the Pentagon leaked a report about how many former Guantanamo detainees were released only to become active in terrorist activities. Citing the study, the New York Times warned front page readers on Tuesday that fully one-in-seven former detainee’s “reengaged” with al Quaeda, Taliban or other Jihadi groups after being released. That’s a scary 14%
Just one problem: It's not true.
Despite a constantly and wildly fluctuating number of passengers the DoD claims boarded the Gitmo-To-Terrorist express over the years, the Times’ breathless story not only takes the Pentagon at its word, it doesn’t do even basic fact checking. No critical assessment of the report appears in the original Times article:
• The Pentagon news release – and the original Times’ story – uses the term “reengaged” to indicate released detainees were terrorists before being captured. Yet none of the 530 released detainees were ever even hauled before a Gitmo kangaroo court so there’s no way of knowing whether they were “engaged” with terrorism before their arrest.
• The Pentagon report never mentions what any of the 74 alleged terrorists were doing before being disappeared into Bush’s gulag. In reality, many were butchers, bakers and candle stick makers who got sold to the US by bounty seekers, disgruntled lovers, angry relatives, business rivals, warlords extracting revenge for some real or imagined slight, criminal gangs and corrupt Pakistani police officers.
• While the DoD report includes in its survey men who are “suspected” of becoming terrorists, it gives no details on why they are suspected of becoming fighters, suicide bombers or plotters after their release.
• Former Colin Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson maintains that countless previously apolitical prisoners became radicalised while at Gitmo, having been swept up in Afghanistan and Pakistan, tortured and held on vague charges – often for years.
What happened to the once-irrefutable, indisputable and indispensable Times?
Starting with happily getting its knee tickled over WMDs during the run-up to the 2003 invasion and continuing through refusing to call the 2005-06 violence in Iraq either a “civil war” or “ethnic cleansing” involving Sunni’s and Shiites all the way to complicity in Cheney's plot to out Valerie Plame, not seriously reporting on what Wall St. was doing in the prelude to the global financial collapse and this week’s embarrassing revelation that former FBI director L. Patrick Gray gave a Times reporter the Watergate story long before Woodstein began unravelling the scandal but the newspaper didn’t think it worth covering, the paper became a disgrace.
The New York Times has become its nickname: The grey lady. Now withering, tottering and nearly senile, she still insists on being called Le Grande Dame of journalism. Perhaps this is what happens to une femme d’un certain age.
My apologies to The Nation’s ad slogan, but where is that liberal media bias that the right always accuses the Times of practicing?