You might think that a news organization would focus on the well-documented and internationally infamous abuses of power by the US state security organs (as in the case of Manning), or on the extrajudicial attempts at silencing WikiLeaks and targeting its founder Assange for a sham prosecution under the US Espionage Act (even the Columbia School of Journalism has denounced the US effort).
Then again if you are NPR's Tom Gjelten - and your primary allegiance is to the security apparatus of the United States regardless of its aims or tactics - you cobble together a piece of misinformation aimed at covering up the abuses of Manning and promoting the case for prosecuting Assange. Gjelten's report aired on Thursday's ATC (1/27/11).
Regarding Manning, Gjelten never mentions the UN investigation and Amnesty International's condemnation of Manning's detention, instead describing it himself - telling listeners that Manning
"is held in what the military calls Prevention of Injury status, supposedly because he's a threat to himself. According to some reports, Manning has been depressed. He's held alone in his cell for 23 hours a day under constant surveillance. His lawyer last weekend filed a complaint objecting to Manning's treatment."
In contrast to this euphemistic gloss, Gjelten brings on Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, to give us the unchallenged Pentagon description of Manning's incarceration:
"He's being provided well-balanced, nutritious meals three times a day. He receives visitors and mail, and can write letters. He routinely meets with doctors, as well as his attorney. He's allowed to make telephone calls. And he is being treated just like every other detainee in the brig."
Done with Manning, Gjelten then turns his sights on Julian Assange. Noting that no direct connection has been found between Manning and Assange, Gjelten - friend of the CIA - states,
"If Assange were himself not a party to the theft of the classified U.S. files, he'd presumably have to be charged simply for publishing them. Difficult but not impossible, says Jeffrey Smith, a former CIA general counsel."
We then get CIA reinforcement, Smith to tell us,
"It would arguably be made easier if they could establish a link between the removal of the documents by Manning and the transmission of those documents to Assange, but I don't think the absence of that link is fatal to the prosecution of Assange."
And just in case any actual journalists might find Gjelten's "case" unsettling (and unseemly), Gjelten closes his report by turning to the New York Times to bolster his case:
"If government lawyers go after WikiLeaks, they'll probably say it's not a news organization. And they'll have the New York Times to back them up. In an article released on its website, Times editor Bill Keller writes that the newspaper has regarded Assange, quote, as a source, not as a partner or collaborator."
At least one can say that Gjelten is an expert on what is "not a news organization."