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FOX News Provides PR For The Pentagon

Reported by Ellen - March 13, 2005

Two days after the New York Times reported that the Pentagon is working to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay - where they are subject to US laws - to other countries that are not and that practice torture, FOXNews.com published an article attempting to justify the whole thing.

The article begins by making it look as if the detainee transfer is simply a matter of prison overcrowding. "The Defense Department is trying to lighten the detainee load at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay."

The next paragraph implies that the aim of the transfer is to return prisoners to their rightful home. "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is apparently pushing the State Department to increase pressure on some unresponsive foreign capitals to take custody of some of their nationals who are held at the base. Pentagon officials confirmed to FOX News that the Pentagon's objective is to move some prisoners back to their countries of origin, so far as the transfers are in line with U.S. policy and procedures."

There's no mention by "Real Journalism, Fair and Balanced" FOX News of the view that, as the Guardian Unlimited put it,

The plans are widely seen as a reaction to court judgments which have made it increasingly untenable for the US to continue to use the base on Cuba for its original purpose: a vast holding pen in which prisoners in the war on terror could be held indefinitely beyond the scrutiny of the US courts.

Recent revelations from freed British inmates about torture and sexual humiliation at Guantanamo have also made it increasingly awkward for the Bush administration to maintain the detention facility in its present form.

Human rights organisations believe the Pentagon is anxious to rid itself of the burden of housing hundreds of prisoners who are no longer believed to hold any intelligence value in the war on terror. Some of the prisoners at Guantanamo have been held without recourse to the courts since autumn 2001.

Instead, FOX News would have us believe that the Pentagon is looking out for the prisoners' rights. "In making these transfers, the U.S. government negotiates conditions. Sometimes this means requiring that the detainee be held by their home country, and, in some cases, seeking protections regarding his treatment while imprisoned there."

Today, an editorial in the Washington Post states,

Decisions by Mr. Rumsfeld and the Justice Department to permit coercive interrogation techniques previously considered unacceptable for U.S. personnel influenced practices at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (my emphasis), and later spread to Afghanistan and Iraq. Methods such as hooding, enforced nudity, sensory deprivation and the use of dogs to terrorize -- all originally approved by the defense secretary -- were widely employed, even though they violate the Geneva Conventions.

But FOXNews.com has either forgotten that or neglected to report it, despite the fact that Roger Ailes said, in a December 19, 2004 interview on C-Span, he requires his reporters to "present the news, if there is more than one side, make sure you have it. If you think there's something else you don't agree with make sure it's in the story."

Instead, FOX reported, "The Guantanamo Bay operation was recently credited in a Defense Department report for strong leadership and oversight that resulted in very few cases of relatively minor abuse."

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