Journalists Stoop To Deliberately Misleading Their Readers In Order To Keep The Abu Ghraib Story Going

Abu Ghraib would never have been a front page story in the first place without the sickening, S&M style photos that the press got their hands on. But now, since it has been awhile and there appear to be no new photos forthcoming, the story is starting to peter out.

So in an effort to keep the story alive, we’re starting to see desperate attempts by the press the “sex things up” a little.

Take left-wing hack, Seymour Hersh’s latest, oft quoted, column that attempts to tie Donald Rumsfeld directly to what happened at Abu Ghraib. Hersh’s piece is almost entirely based on the comments of a large variety of anonymous sources. That alone should be enough to make anyone question the veracity of what they’re reading given how spectacularly wrong Hersh’s “anonymous sources” have been in the past. That’s assuming that all those “anonymous sources” actually exist in the first place. Personally, I find it very suspicious that Seymour Hersh’s biggest, headline grabbing, pieces always seem to rely heavily on unverifiable “anonymous sources”. How does we know he’s not pulling a “Jayson Blair” and just making them up? To be honest, I have suspected as much before reading some of Hersh’s pieces, but how can we ever know? Truth be told, we can’t.

In any case, after lining up “anonymous source” after “anonymous source” who tries to tie Donald Rumsfeld to Abu Ghraib, Hersh starts to hedge his bets. As Joel Mowbray points out in his excellent column on this subject,

“Buried 3,300 words inside a roughly 4,500-word article is the following exoneration: “Rumsfeld may not be personally culpable.” And further down near the end was another: “The former intelligence official made it clear that he was not alleging that Rumsfeld or General Myers knew that atrocities were committed.

…Maybe Hersh’s piece has quite a bit of truth in it. Even so, the worst that the article actually alleges (meaning with facts) is that Rumsfeld expanded a program that, unbeknownst to him, spiraled out of control.”

In short, Hersh’s column was all sizzle and no steak.

Then we move on to this flashy headline at ABC “‘Definitely a Cover-Up’ – Former Abu Ghraib Intel Staffer Says Army Concealed Involvement in Abuse Scandal.”

Wow, that’s big news huh? But again, once you dig into the piece, you find out there’s not much behind it.

For example, it’s very apparent after reading the article that Sgt. Samuel Provance, the man making the accusations, has absolutely no evidence that would indicate there’s any sort of actual “cover-up” in progress. Here’s what Provance has to say about the “cover-up”…

“There’s definitely a cover-up. People are either telling themselves or being told to be quiet…What I was surprised at was the silence. The collective silence by so many people that had to be involved, that had to have seen something or heard something.”

What is this, “The X-Files”? If you allege there’s a cover-up, who’s doing it? The investigators? Donald Rumsfeld? The Pentagon brass? Maybe it’s so quiet because a lot of people, LIKE PROVANCE HIMSELF, didn’t actually see any abuse take place…

“(Provance) said that while he did not see the actual abuse take place, the interrogators with whom he worked freely admitted they directed the MPs’ rough treatment of prisoners.”

So while Provance didn’t see any abuse, he heard about abuse from the Mps. Well, what happened when he reported it to investigators? Did they warn him to be quiet and to participate in the “cover-up”? Far from it…

“Maj. Gen. George Fay, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence, was assigned by the Pentagon to investigate the role of military intelligence in the abuse at the Iraq prison.

Fay started his probe on April 23, but Provance said when Fay interviewed him, the general seemed interested only in the military police, not the interrogators, and seemed to discourage him from testifying.

Provance said Fay threatened to take action against him for failing to report what he saw sooner, and the sergeant fears he will be ostracized for speaking out.

“I feel like I’m being punished for being honest,” Provance told ABCNEWS. “You know, it was almost as if I actually felt if all my statements were shredded and I said, like most everybody else, ‘I didn’t hear anything, I didn’t see anything. I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ then my life would be just fine right now.”

In response, Army officials said it is “routine procedure to advise military personnel under investigative review” not to comment.”

So now you see what this is all about. Provance at long last reported what happened and he got in trouble for not letting anybody know prisoners were being mistreated. That’s about as far from a cover-up as it gets.

But titling a story “Army investigator believes Abu Ghraib abuse should have been reported earlier” doesn’t sell papers, make the front page, or hurt the Bush administration. So the obviously silly “cover-up” allegation gets the headline and ABC’s journalistic integrity takes a holiday. ABC and the rest of the media for that matter, should know better…

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