I’m deeply troubled not only by the current enemy combatant hearings in Guantanamo, but by how they’re being reported by the media. Khaled Sheikh Mohammed has allegedly confessed to masterminding many of the most horrible terror plots of the past ten years. I use the term “allegedly” very deliberately for a number of important reasons. First, we don’t know what Mohammed really said. We only know what the Pentagon is telling us he said. They’ve released redacted transcripts which delete material which the agency doesn’t want known by the public. Like Mohammed’s torture while he was in a secret overseas prison. Warren Olney said today on his radio show that Mohammed was alleged to have survived the longest of any detainee during waterboarding: two and a half minutes. How in hell can anything this guy says be credited as reliable? You endure torture long enough you might say anything just to get it to end. Mohammed doesn’t have a lawyer, only a military “representative.” There are no journalists allowed in the actual hearing. So when it comes down to it–how do we know that any of this is real?
You may say that this is wild-eyed conspiracy theory stuff. But is it? I’m not saying that Mohammed isn’t a dangerous terrorist. But I am saying that the enemy combatant process is virtually guaranteeing that at some future point, when America comes to its senses, all of these “legal” proceedings might be thrown out as the equivalent of “poisoned fruit.” Every useful piece of information gotten from him during his interrogations which might incriminate him and guarantee him a life in prison might be invalidated by the Supreme Court. Bush is playing high stakes craps in these proceedings. And he’s proven to be an awful political gambler.
Finally, I want to return to my opening argument. The media should be extremely careful about how they report this story. There should NEVER be any definitive or declarative statements made that Mohammed (or any other defendant) has “confessed” or “admitted guilt.” Here are some examples of how NOT to report this story:
Confession at Guantánamo by 9/11 Mastermind May Aid Other Qaeda Defendants–NY Times
Al Qaeda Plotter Says He Was 9/11 Mastermind-MSNBC
Mohammed Confesses to Beheading Pearl–Boston Globe
Suspect Admits 31 Terror Plots–South London Press
Every statement made by or about the Guantanamo legal proceedings should be hedged with phrases like “alleged” and “supposed” or “the Pentagon claims…” If the media buys into the Pentagon’s rape of American justice and reports this as it would any other legal proceeding it may end up having egg on its face when it finds out what is behind the curtain of “confessions” like Mohammed’s. Remember Iraq WMD? Remember yellow cake uranium? Remember Iraq’s alleged involvement in 9/11? All turned out to be fictions. Much of what is happening now at Guantanamo MUST be taken with a heavy grain of salt until the Administration reverts to a more conventionally acceptable system of legal justice.
Dan Sniderman says
Not to mention – isn’t it logical if he WASN’T the mastermind of at least some (if not all) of the plots – and he wanted to COVER for the man who WAS – he would “confess”? This should all be taken with a grain of salt – but of course – the Repuglicans want to take maxiumum credit for this…
I’m with you guys. There is no way for the military let alone the media or us to estimate the veracity of what that man has said under most likely some of the worst torture ever meted out by the USA. One can only imagine how incredibly horrid waterboarding is if this guy holds the record at a measly 2 and a half minutes. And I’ll bet that wasnt the worst of what he faced. Don’t get me wrong, the man is likely a true enemy of the civilized world but some of America’s behaviour since 9-11 is also a true enemy of civilized society as we have learned to value and appreciate it. Oh did you hear, KSM also admitted to the murder of Jimmy Hoffa and told his torturers where the body could be found.
Steffi Schamess says
Daniel Schorr, commentator for NPR, pointed out today (Saturday) on Weekend Edition that most, if not all of Mohammed’s “confessions” are not new, and have been known to the government for quite a while. Schorr’s take on the press release was that it was a staged media event planned as a distraction from the previous days’ headlines about the flap about the firing of the Justice Department prosecutors, the growing calls to fire Gonzales, and the suggestion that Rove is implicated. Schorr also pointed out that it was successful: the Justice Dept. scandal was relegated to the inside pages, and Mohammed’s alleged confessions were all over the front pages and/or the featured news on TV news programs. Terrorists sure come in handy sometimes!
Spyros Yung says
We shouldnt torture or imprison KSM, we should negotiate with him. By imprisoning people like KSM and extrajucidically kidnapping him from Pakistan, ziocons have worsened relationships between the US, Europe, and the Muslim world. Sounds like a Ziocon perfect storm.
Richard Silverstein says
Steffi: That sounds about right. But fortunately, the U.S. attorneys story has legs & the Mohammed story doesn’t. It can’t bump that scandal forever.