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Grapevine Whine - A Tortured Attempt to Excuse Torture

Reported by Nancy - January 25, 2006 -

Tuesday night (1/24) on Special Report, anchor Brit Hume kicked off his Grapevine segment with a "picking" that attempted to dismiss a European investigation into claims that the CIA operates a network of secret prisons in Europe. It was also revealing of the contempt in which FOX News holds its viewers, since anyone who listened carefully to what Hume actually said would have to conclude that the CIA does indeed operate secret prisons in Europe & does indeed outsource torture.

At 6:26pm (ET) Hume read a teaser: "a Europran inestigator blasts the US for outsourcing torture, but wait'll ya hear where he got his information."

Following an ad break & headlines, Hume read "picking" #1:

The man heading a European investigation into allegations that the CIA is operating secret prisons in Europe today accused the US of “outsourcing torture” & said that is “worse than torturing people yourself.” But in submitting his interim report to the Council of Europe today, Swiss Senator Dick Marty admits there is no proof or even hard evidence these secret facilities actually exist. Marty blamed the lack of solid evidence on the failure of European governments to support his investigation. The State Department dismissed the report, based in large part on newspaper reports, as nothing new.

Comments: The "report" (I use the term loosely) that followed the teaser hardly lived up to its billing, since Hume never did tell viewers "where he got his information" other than the utterly generic "newspaper reports." FOX News often indulges in this kind of bait-&-switch teasing (see, for example, Donna's ongoing reports on this practice on Studio B).

The last sentence is really the key to this whole "picking." Why isn't there a comment from the CIA? Who cares what the State Department says? The CIA is not part of the State Dept (at least not publicly), so why is the State Dept even commenting on this? Note too that the best the State Dept could come up with was "nothing new" -- which clearly does not deny the allegations, simply attempts to brush them off. The classic "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain" ploy.

Finally, Hume sneering (tone of voice, for those who are simply reading the words) that Marty's investigation is "based in large part on newspaper reports" is just another Foxian attack on the media, an attempt to sell viewers on the concept that they can't trust anyone but FNC. Unfortunately for Hume, & for those who would prefer not to think about what the CIA might be doing in our name, those "newspaper reports" aren't likely to go away any time soon.

For a more (dare I say it?) "balanced" look at how Marty's interim report was treated elsewhere, let's look at some other sources. For example, UPI's report quoted Marty more fully:

Washington outsourced torture and moved more than 100 terrorist suspects throughout Europe, with governments there likely knowing of the practice, a Council of Europe investigator said Tuesday. ... "There is a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of 'relocation' or 'outsourcing' of torture," Marty wrote in the report, and later added in a news conference he had reason to believe "European governments were aware of what's going on."

After noting that there was "no direct evidence" -- yet -- the report continued:

Marty wrote of "hundreds" of CIA-chartered flights for suspected terrorists that passed through numerous European countries, probably with the knowledge of national governments or at least their intelligence services. "It has been proved -- and in fact never denied -- that individuals have been abducted, deprived of their liberty and transported ... in Europe, to be handed over to countries in which they have suffered ... torture," he wrote.

The UPI article predicts how Hume will try to spin this:

Critics of Marty's report say it relies too heavily on newspaper articles already printed, and doesn't include many new details.

But the UPI article also goes into some detail about those "newspaper reports" that Hume dismisses:

The Washington Post broke the news of CIA abductions in early November, and Human Rights Watch later said CIA jails existed in Romania and Poland ...
as well as some of the new evidence obtained by Marty:
Marty said he had received detailed data from Eurocontrol, Europe's air traffic agency, as well as satellite images from the EU's Satellite Centre, including from sites located on Romanian territory.

The UPI article also mentions the role of intra-European politics in Marty's investigation:

Janis Emmanouilidis, EU expert at the Center for Applied Policy Research, a political think tank at Munich University, on Tuesday told United Press International via telephone that with the European Parliament taking on the case, the affair's clout inside Europe was rising. "For Romania, a country that wants to join the EU in 2007, pressure is mounting to answer claims and cooperate," he said. "If hard evidence indeed would be presented, then it might delay accession for them." He added the European Parliament likely welcomed the affair "to elevate its own profile."

There's also this little snippet, which I found ... er, interesting;

Journalists in the United States have repeatedly been pressured by the government not to publish information on the affair, Marty said, adding revelations by the media had played a key role in launching the inquiry.

The UPI article also refers to 2 other cases which have gotten very little air time on FNC:

... Marty said ... he would continue to follow a criminal investigation launched into the abduction of German national Khaled el-Masri, who was mistakenly seized by the CIA in Europe and moved to Afghanistan. ...

The case of a man abducted in Italy remains Marty's best-documented case of extraordinary rendition. Marty said he had received "unchallengeable evidence" from Italian prosecutors about CIA flights and the kidnapping of Muslim preacher Abu Omar, a terrorist suspect abducted in Milan in 2003. Via military airbases in Italy and Germany, Omar was flown to Egypt where he was tortured, according to Italian prosecutors, who have issued an arrest warrant for 22 CIA members accused of carrying out the abduction. "The Italian judicial investigation established, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the operation was carried out by the CIA (which has not issued any denials)," the report said.

For those interested in a non-partisan reaction to Marty's interim report, see Amnesty International's reaction to the Council of Europe’s report on renditions and black sites, which links to related documents such as a UK report that CIA rendition flights used UK airfields, & US-based reports on 800 secret CIA flights into & out of Europe as well as a new report that corroborates the existence of "black sites."

If you'd like to complain to Fox about this, email: special@foxnews.com

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (allegations of CIA black sites, rendition, torture; Marty's interim report; or this "picking"). O/T comments will be deleted. Thanks.