Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mission: Whitewash #1

A reader noted in the Q Tips section below that the AP reported (and the NYT and the Voice of America and...) on the Senate Report on Torture which tied the US torture of detainees to Rumsfeld and other top Pentagon officials. The reader noted having searched NPR's site for coverage of the report, but come up empty handed!

Also, as I noted in a post on Wednesday, NPR relegated the damning testimony of a leading US interrogator to its Talk of the Nation program. In contrast, a spot on Friday's Morning Edition is given to US Army interrogator, Eric Maddox, who has co-authored a book (Mission: Blacklist #1) about his role in capturing Saddam Hussein. Maddox makes the US interrogations in Iraq from the summer through December of 2003 sound like they were being run by the Boy Scouts.
Inskeep: "Did you end up like those detectives on television with a bulletin board of some kind covered with photographs and names and lines connecting...?"

Maddox: "We did."
On a positive note, in the interview, Maddox advocates non-brutal interrogations ("...does me no good to be threatening or to be brutal...") - although he does use the threat of unending detention as pressure ("the situation of undetermined, long term detention" as he puts it.) But given the the disgusting and systematic US torture and abuse of detainees during that time period, any fool claiming to be a journalist would have a few questions for Good Cop Maddox.

Inskeep could have asked, "What did you know of the torture and abuse that was occurring in Iraq at the time you were stationed there?" If denied, a follow-up might be "You say you 'interrogated several hundred prisoners' and yet you never found evidence of abuse?" In fact what Jack Bauer Inkseep asks reveals a lot about his character:
"There must have been people who immediately cooperated with you and people who were extremely uncooperative - which makes me wonder if you ever did get close to a moment where you really wanted to hit the guy?"
Yep, nothing about rampant torture by US forces (noted by AI as early as June 2003), nothing about massive roundups of innocent Iraqis, nothing about the very tactics that were inflaming the insurgency - no consideration of the possibility that what made Maddox's prisoners so malleable was the knowledge of what awaited them during that "undetermined, long term detention" facing the uncooperative. Instead just Inskeep fantasizing about hitting detainees and a comic book portrayal of the good guys getting their man.


Kevan Smith said...

I don't think that NPR really believes yet that the U.S. tortured people. It's still in the realm of "allegations" to them.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of what NPR management think is and is not torture, NPR's silence on this report is damning.

NPR's failure to cover the latest Senate report on the torture issue is all the evidence Congress should require to cut ALL funding for NPR AND NPR member stations around the country.

This is simply unacceptable for an organization that calls itself a "news" organization -- especially for one that has the moniker "public".

Kevan Smith said...

I wasn't defending them. Rather, I thought I was damning their naivety.

However, I don't call for a cutoff of public funding. The organization is surely in need of reform, but not decapitation.

The problem is reform should be connected to oversight, and who would do that? NPR is run like a typical non-democratic nonprofit by a board of directors. That could change with a lot of work.

Who here would be committed to challenging NPR on systemic, procedural and legalistic terms?

Anonymous said...

I don't call for a cutoff of public funding. The organization is surely in need of reform, but not decapitation."

I disagree.

The organization has outlived its usefulness.

When people can get more accurate information and anlysis from the internet, there is no longer any need for NPR.

NPR started out as an "alternative" to the MS news media, but has morphed into an organization which is part and parcel of that mainstream and whose primary purpose has become perpetuating the cushy jobs of those who work for it.
Public radio still serves a purpose, primarily as entertainment and local information and community service.

But national/international news should not be part of that.

Unfortunately, NPR news has coopted the good parts of public radio.

It has become a cancer that has invaded the vital organs.

Anonymous said...

not incidentally, NPR has become an instrument of propaganda and there are laws on the books strictly forbidding the use of public monies for propaganda purposes, so until such time as NPR ceases abd desists from propagandizing, from a purely legal standpoint they should certainly have all their funding cut off.

And that includes funding to all NPR member stations that buy NPR programming.