Sunday, March 29, 2009

Deceptive Headline about Abu Zubaida

The Washington Post has a story out with the title, "Detainee's Harsh Treatment Foiled No Plots." You'd think with such a definitive headline they might have some actual evidence to support it. They don't.  What they have is information from anonymous "former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations." But if you read the article, it is clear that there are other unnamed government officials who strongly disagree.
"It's simply wrong to suggest that Abu Zubaida wasn't intimately involved with al-Qaeda," said a U.S. counterterrorism official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because much about Abu Zubaida remains classified. "He was one of the terrorist organization's key facilitators, offered new insights into how the organization operated, provided critical information on senior al-Qaeda figures . . . and identified hundreds of al-Qaeda members. How anyone can minimize that information -- some of the best we had at the time on al-Qaeda -- is beyond me."

Here we have a major U.S. newspaper, taking the opinion of one set of unnamed officials and presenting it as fact, while effectively dismissing the opposite view of another group -- at least according to their headline. Based on the full report, the headline of the story could just as easily have read: Detainee Harsh Treatment Revealed Invaluable Intelligence. We will almost certainly never have a complete picture of exactly what happened as a result of secret, highly-classified operations against Al Qaeda. People believe what they want to believe because of their political outlook. But it would be nice if our news sources just reported the facts to the best of their knowledge, without such blatantly deceptive slants one way or the other.

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