What newspapers do #575: They sneak in their points with pointed coverage, as in today's Chi Trib, where editors give a huge ride to Kim Barker's story on an aged Gitmo detainee never charged after three-plus years detainment. There’s a huge 9x7 color headshot of the man, back home in Afghanistan. The story takes up pretty much all of page 8 with a "What is my crime?" head. It doesn't take an advanced degree in anti-Bushism to see that something went wrong in this case. It's the sort of miscue or evildoing that, like shit, happens and newspapers hop on -- justice system gone awry, etc.
But 1400-plus words? Really, on what happened to one man in the war on Islamic fascists? Or on terror if you want the going terminology? Newspapers go for human interest, of course. But why this one, this way? (Web site buried it, by the way.) As a paradigm of what's bad about our detainee policy, that’s why. But this is not argued, and even if it were, it would be less argued than cried out by the Passionate Observer Who Hates Injustice. Oh the chicanery of it all. Why not just engage in a blogger's rant? What's the difference, apart from a sort of reasonable tone meant to mask bias?
While the details of [the aged detainee] Khan's Guantanamo experience are hard to verify, his complaints raise questions about who has been sent to the detention facility and how thoroughly the charges against them are investigated, just as a law approved by Congress late last month sets up military tribunals to try some of the detainees. President Bush is scheduled to sign the bill into law Tuesday. [Italics added]
Details hard to verify? Details, shmails, if you have a good story that fits editors’ bias and passes as more or less conventional wisdom. Raise questions? Why, if details are not only hard to verify but impossible, else why wouldn’t Trib smoke them out? Here’s some digging, however:
Sam Zarifi, Asia research director for Human Rights Watch [where anti-Bushite extraordinaire George Soros is much involved, FYI], said Khan's case appears familiar. He said reviews of unclassified transcripts from tribunals and review board hearings for many of the detainees indicate that some were arrested because the U.S. military does not understand Afghan political rivalries.
"This really fits a pattern of problematic allegations and process at Guantanamo," he said. "It seemed to be arbitrary who was picked up and who wasn't."
It seemed to this fellow anyhow. The problem here is that a boy (girl) was sent to do a man’s (woman’s) job. That is, the tools that your working reporter brings to such stories are not adequate, nor maybe is the medium. Kim (he? she?) worked diligently, talking to lot of people having decided, it seems to me, that she smelled a rat. A kink in the armor of our people who run Gitmo and prosecute badly.
It’s daily newspaper-itis here, which is not fatal except when someone uses it to get free of the bee in one’s bonnet. Barker and Trib’s credibility is at stake here, because they are not disinterested observers.