Monday, June 06, 2005

More misleading

In an article about Joe Biden's suggestion that Guantanamo should be shut down (more on which, later), the BBC yet again conveys a false impression of this whole Korangate business. After detailing Biden's comments, the BBC says:
The comments came two days after the Pentagon admitted that guards at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran.
This is misleading on two counts. First off, the Pentagon didn't "admit" anything. It reported it. Recall (as the BBC seems unwilling to do) that it was the Pentagon itself which instigated the investigation into the alleged incidents, and then issued its findings. Second, the Pentagon neither reported nor admitted to "desecration". It reported 5 incidents of confirmed "mishandling" of Korans by guards, by which it meant violations of its own very comprehensive policy on the treatment of prisoner's Korans. The word "desecration" does not appear anywhere in the report, and rightly so. Whether or not this "mishandling" represents a desecration depends entirely upon one's own beliefs. (To me, splashing water on a Koran...or a bible, or Torah scrolls, or a copy of Atlas Shrugged...hardly represents a "desecration".) Apparently the BBC has adopted the belief system of the terrorists in Guantanamo as its own.

The BBC also noted that:
Last month, Amnesty International called the detention centre for alleged terrorists "the gulag of our time", referring to the system of forced labour camps in the Soviet Union in which millions of prisoners died.

Of course, the BBC fails to tell its readers that the head of Amnesty International USA, William Schulz, has since acknowledged, in an interview with FOX News, that he "doesn't know for sure" what is actually happening in Guantanamo. Also notable from that interview, was this exchange:
Chris Wallace (FOX News): I'd like to finish, if I might, by quoting The Washington Post, which has hardly been a supporter of President Bush's and the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners. This is what they had to say in a recent editorial..."Turning a report on prisoner detention into another excuse for Bush-bashing or American-bashing undermines Amnesty's legitimate criticisms of US policies." Is it possible, sir, that you have hurt, not helped your cause?

Schulz: Chris, I don't think I'd be on this station, on this program today with you if Amnesty hadn't said what it said and President Bush and his colleagues haven't responded as they did. If I had come to you two weeks ago and said, "Chris, I'd like to go on Fox with you just to talk about US detention policies at Guantanamo and elsewhere", I suspect you wouldn't have given me an invitation.

So, there you have it. Amnesty made the "gulag" characterization not for informative purposes, but rather for it sensationalizing impact. And the BBC continues to oblige them by passing on the characterization as a serious claim rather than the publicity stunt that it was.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention....The BBC identified Biden as "a leading senator and member of the Foreign Relations committee." Its British audience might also have been interested to know of Biden's connections to the Labour party's own Neil Kinnock.


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