As in twists in the wind and twists the truth. Earlier this week I posted on Garrels' Heart of Darkness moment. Fortunately NPR must have been bombarded with complaints from listeners and I saw today that FAIR picked up the Garrels' report two days ago for an "Action Report."
This morning on the "letters" segment of NPR news, Inskeep (who was party to Garrels' torture-sourced reporting) questions her on the phone from Iraq. Garrels' response to listeners' complaints was essentially a four-pronged counter attack:
1) She claims that she made it clear in her original report that she was appalled by the treatment of the prisoners: "...and I think I made it clear that I was as appalled as listeners were by the torture that had clearly occurred." That's interesting, because her original report was rather matter-of-fact about the torture and focused on the extracted testimony of the victims not on their treatment or ultimate fate.
2) She claims that she and her team were not expecting torture and were scared and frightened by the situation: "...and quite frankly NPR was extremely uncomfortable with the situation; we were quite scared. When we got to the location our tape recorders were confiscated temporarily. We were clearly taken in a circuitous route..." Fair enough. I would have been scared too, but then once they were back to safety, why didn't the focus of the story become the brutal nature of militia factionalism and the barbarism resorted to by all combatants in Iraq. Instead the entire focus was on Garrels'/NPR's predetermined story - IRAN's culpability.
3) She claims that she independently verified all the information that the victims were compelled to give. "...the details that were given, seemed to me, to gel with other things that I had heard from people who had not been tortured...." and "The details that came from the questions were such that it lent credibility to the story. There were a great number of details about how they operated, who they operated through, why they did this - and we do know for a fact that they described posing as Sunnis...raping a Shiite girl...that incident did occur; we were able to confirm that - that was not made up." Inskeep (in all seriousness) says, "So you were working almost like a police officer in that sense and taking this information that might well be corrupted information, but trying to match it up with other facts that you knew from your long experience in Iraq."
4) She simply makes up the proposition that listeners don't want to hear about torture and atrocities. "When we saw what we believed to be torture victims we reported it, and in the end if you ignore the reality of what these groups are doing and do not say they tortured these people, then that's even worse." I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. Amazing! Garrels is claiming that she is being criticized for doing dangerous investigative journalism to expose human rights abuses, when in fact she has been caught red-handed using torture extracted testimony to make a case against Iran.
I hope that listeners will continue to contact NPR with demands that Garrels and Inskeep be held to account for their misinformation and unethical behavior.