AP Headlines Non-News, Skips the Big Stuff

September 6th, 2006 4:02 PM

The President of the United States addressed the nation, the media and the world today (well, most of the world - the mainstream networks felt it unnecessary to break from their soaps to carry the speech) from the White House. He spoke for 37 minutes, and addressed the current state of the War On Terror. He talked about the attacks on September 11th. He talked about the terrorists who have been caught, and how the information from them led to the capture of other terrorists. He talked about multiple attacks on the United States that had been thwarted by the capture and interrogation of these terrorists. He spoke about the need to continue to gather information. He spoke about the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision, and the bill that he has sent to Congress to authorize military tribunals. He talked about the transfer to Guantanamo of certain high-profile terrorists, and the treatment that everyone at Guantanamo has received. He talked about trying the men responsible for 9/11, the USS Cole, the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

So how does the AP treat this as a news story? "US War On Terror Prevents Attacks?" "US Ready To Try 911 Planners?" No. The AP has decided that the headline from this speech was "Bush Acknowledges Secret CIA Prisons."

The article, by AP writer Nedra Pickler, is focused, as is so often the case with the AP, not on the speech, but on information that can be used as a weapon against the President.

President Bush on Wednesday acknowledged previously secret CIA prisons around the world and said 14 high-value terrorism suspects — including the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks — have been transferred from the system to Guantanamo Bay for trials.

He said a small number of detainees have been kept in CIA custody including people responsible for the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 in Yemen and the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in addition to the 2001 attacks.

To the extent that the CIA prisons were "secret," they remain secret today. The fact that the President had never officially announced that prisoners were being held by CIA operatives in undisclosed locations is not remotely the same as stating that anyone was unaware of the fact that prisoners were being held in undisclosed locations by CIA operatives. I'd bet that a Lexis/Nexis search would reveal that the AP itself has run stories with that information.

In any event, there was a lot of news in the President's speech. The transfer of the prisoners, the readiness to try the 911, USS Cole and embassy bombing planners when a plan is approved by Congress for so doing, the number of attacks thwarted, and the information that the prisoners have provided are all big stories. But they all reflect well on the President, his administration, and their administration of the War on Terror. Obviously, the AP can't lead with anything that might be positive for this President...

I've said it before, I'll say it again - the AP is very good at what it does. It's just a shame that unbiased news reporting isn't it...