Times Reporters Cite WikiLeaks Files in Anti-Gitmo Screed

April 26th, 2011 4:21 PM

The New York Times offered a distorted glimpse into the prison at Guantanamo Bay and the Bush administration's treatment of suspected terrorists in a series of reports published on Sunday and Monday.

Scouring hundreds of leaked military documents, Times reporters used emotionally-charged phrases and cherry-picked anecdotes to paint an unflattering picture of the facility that has jailed hundreds of enemy combatants captured in the War on Terror.

In a story headlined "Judging Detainees' Risk, Often With Flawed Evidence," reporters Scott Shane and Benjamin Weiser accused the military of imprisoning "hundreds of men for years without a trial based on a difficult and strikingly subjective evaluation of who they were, what they had done in the past and what they might do in the future."

While it is factually correct to note that some jihadists have been locked up for years without a trial, it is hardly the place of ostensibly objective reporters to employ terms like "strikingly subjective" to describe the process of conducting risk assessments.

Shane and Weiser also opined that the U.S. detention camp is nothing more than a "lottery" where the "tiniest details" were "seized upon" by military analysts "as a potential litmus test for risk."

After revealing a number of cases in which the military "sometimes ignored serious flaws in the evidence," the intrepid reporters engaged in blatant political activism, calling for an independent investigation: "Such frustrating case studies seem to beg for an independent evaluation of the evidence, some way of shedding light on the quality of the Guantanamo analysts’ work."

In another piece, Charlie Savage, William Glaberson, and Andrew Lehren portrayed enemy combatants as victims who "fought back" against the Bush administration's harsh interrogation techniques:

Yet for all the limitations of the files, they still offer an extraordinary look inside a prison that has long been known for its secrecy and for a struggle between the military that runs it – using constant surveillance, forced removal from cells and other tools to exert control – and detainees who often fought back with the limited tools available to them: hunger strikes, threats of retribution and hoarded contraband ranging from a metal screw to leftover food.

The Times was eager to discuss "America's most controversial prison," but unwilling to describe the group that leaked the classified files, WikiLeaks, as anything more than an "anti-secrecy organization," even though critics accuse the organization of being overly secretive with its own finances.

Ending their stories on a somber note, Shane and Weiser lamented the "haunting conclusion" of the leaked files, while Savage, Glaberson, and Lehren decried "an American limbo."

--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.