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O'Reilly: CIA Prison Planes, Good - New York Times, Bad

Reported by Marie Therese - December 2, 2005

Bill O'Reilly, Talking Points Memo, 12-1-05: "Today the New York Times ran a story pinpointing countries in Europe that have allowed CIA planes to land on their soil in ongoing operations after 9/11. The story does two things. It gives America's enemies information and it could encourage Al Qaeda to attack the countries that have helped the USA." O'Reilly went on to claim that - because we are engaged in WWIII - we should have an "office of censorship" similar to the one that FDR established in WWII and that the media should willingly defer to the Bush administration's idea of what we should see and hear. Bill went on to say "Talking Points believes the enemy is probably interested in which countries allow CIA planes to land. ... Today we're fighting World War III, but every day the American press puts forth information the ENEMY might be interested in."

COMMENT: There's only one little teeny problem with Bill's statement. The names of most of the allegedly complicit countries were known BEFORE December 1st.

Compare the two lists below to see what I mean.

European countries identified both by the New York Times story on December 1st and earlier as well:

Cyprus
Czech Republic
Germany
Greece
Ireland
Italy
Macedonia
The Netherlands
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Spain
Switzerland
United Kingdom

European countries included in the Times list that were not published prior to December 1st:

Croatia
Estonia
France
Hungary
Sweden
Turkey

European countries not included in the Times list but had their names published prior to December 1st:

Norway

The fact that most of these countries had been identified prior to yesterday's Times piece obviates O'Reilly's claims that somehow the Times has put these countries at risk, since prior to December 1st, Al Qaeda certainly has the capability to do the same kind of low level Google search that I did. the Times was, in essence, expanding a bit on a long list of countries that was already out there. But O'Reilly never told his viewers that other media outlets revealed most of the names BEFORE the Times ever went to press.

Top Story
O'Reilly interviewed two professors of journalism on this subject - Bob Mann of the University of Texas and Napolean Byars of the University of North Carolina, a former Lt. Col. in the Air Force and former editor of the Pacific Stars and Stripes.

When O'Reilly compared the war in Iraq to WWII in order to justify his call for press censorship, Professor Byars and Professor Mann both steadfastly refused to go along. Mr. Byars noted: "I think we were a more effective fighting machine [in WWII] because our military was prepared and marshalled and the world was marshalled to take on the Axis power." Mr. Mann expanded on this by saying "This is an entirely different type of military action than we had in World War II. The credibility of this White House is so bad that, even when they ask for cooperation, it is suddenly suspect because there have been so many falsehoods, so much innuendo that has not proven to be true, even the former Secretary of State [Colin Powell] has said that the statement that he made that, in effect, put us into Iraq was his lowest point in his career."

O'Reilly then asked Mann if he believed we were fighting WWIII. When Mann answered in the negative, O'Reilly made yet another of his unfounded generalizations, claiming that most Americans believe we are fighting WWIII. Mann tried to answer, but his volume was turned down so low, it was hard to hear him. As I've noted in another post, this occurs a lot on The Factor and may be a way to diminish the effectiveness of an opposition guest who is making too strong a case. O'Reilly spoke over Prof. Mann, expostulating about how disgracefully the New York Times behaved when it published "landing sites of CIA aircraft in their newspaper," thus helping Al Qaeda. The Professor kept talking and then he disappeared, never to be seen again. Technical difficulties? Or an uppity guest?

O'Reilly then made a ridiculous comparison between the secret POW camps spread throughout the United States during World War II and the secret CIA detention camps in Europe today. How can this pompous blowhard compare POWS who were treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions to "ghost detainees" who do not have the protection of the self-same Geneva Conventions?

Axis POWs were housed here in the United States. These "ghost detainees" have been flown hither and yon, from detention camp to detention camp, for four years, most probably being beaten, starved, frozen, humiliated and even murdered. After four years they could not possibly have one iota of new information to give their captors. The only thing they have left is their personhood. Are we then to assume that it is the total destruction of their personhood that is the ultimate goal of the CIA's travelling torture show?

The rest of the segment was more of O'Reilly overpowering the soft-spoken Mr. Byars, who tried to make some good points but was clearly not at ease on camera.

Sources:

Human Rights Watch, 11/7/05

CBS News, 11/22/05

Political Gateway, 11/22/05

CBS News, 11/23/05

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