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5/16/2005
IT’S ABU GHRAIB, STUPID
CATEGORY: Media

For a little more than a year now, the opponents of the war in Iraq have sought desperately to undermine our efforts there by using the Abu Ghraib prison scandal as a metaphor for the immorality of the conflict in general. Since they couldn’t attack the idea that deposing one of the truly bestial tyrants of the 20th century was the right thing to do, they’ve had to discredit the military and the Administration by attacking the way Americans see themselves and how they want the rest of the world to see us.

They’ve succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.

In the process of trying to discredit the war in the eyes of the American people, the media and their allies on the left have made common cause with some of the most despicable human beings on the planet – Islamic terrorists and their supporters around the world. Make no mistake. The constant barrage by the mainstream press of hair raising stories telling of widespread and systemic torture by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan are being used by people who, as I write this, are using these reports to recruit people into the insurgency to kill American soldiers.

And Newsweek is concerned that they caused a riot? When will they become concerned that there is a direct correlation between printing stories told by terrorists, their lawyers, and family members of terrorists about torture being the rule rather than the exception and getting American soldiers killed?

There’s no getting around this fact. And by taking Newsweek to task for one exaggerated, suspect story we’re all missing the point. Abu Ghraib, like the Watergate mess, has become a catchall phrase, media shorthand for the immorality of our efforts in the War on Terror. There’s been absolutely no effort to put these charges – both real and imagined – into any kind of context. How many stories in the New York times have you seen where an effort has been made to separate legitimate methods of coercive interrogation (so-called “stress techniques) from the gruesome hijinks and fraternity pranks of the apparently ill-disciplined and out of control rabble that ran Abu Ghraib? Even the legitimate complaints of actual, physical torture by the Red Cross are filled with uncertainty and qualifications.

The fact is that both the status of prisoners and the idea that we’re not treating these stateless murderers like we treat muggers or jewel thieves is what’s sticking in the craw of both the press and their leftist apologists. James Bennet inadvertently makes this point in his article in yesterday’s New York Times:

This surge in the killing of civilians reflects how mysterious the long-term strategy remains – and how the rebels’ seeming indifference to the past patterns of insurgency is not necessarily good news for anyone.

It is not surprising that reporters, and evidently American intelligence agents, have had great difficulty penetrating this insurgency. What is surprising is that the fighters have made so little effort to advertise unified goals

In other words, we can’t understand the insurgents because they’re not acting like the Viet Cong. This is nuts. The insurgents are not concerned with anything except making headlines in American newspapers in order to convince the American people that our stated goal of bringing stability to that country is failing. The only possible way they can win is if we leave. And the American press, whether they admit it or not, have become the terrorists willing partner in this endeavor.

Rather than trying to glorify the insurgents (and by extension, terrorists around the world) as “freedom fighters” or “agrarian reformers” as they did 35 years ago in Viet Nam, the press has taken to portraying them as victims of torture somehow worthy of our pity. And because there’s been so little perspective offered, the press has been able to get away with this.

Yes there has been torture. Is it any more widespread than the mistreatment of German or Japanese prisoners in World War II during their interrogations? My guess would be that our enemies back then were treated much more harshly and on a more systematic basis than the stateless beheaders who fall into our hands today. The goals are the same; to get as much information as quickly as possible. And given the success of our efforts at Guantanamo Bay using stress techniques that the media has dubbed “torture,” it seems logical to assume that the comparatively mild measures used by interrogators today compare favorably with the less scientific, more physically abusive techniques carried out during WWII.

The Newsweek imbroglio won’t last long. Already there’s a theme emerging in various press accounts of the magazine’s semi-retraction that while this one story may be false, don’t forget all the incidents that are true:

But while the Pentagon is disputing the Koran incident, U.S. officials have confirmed numerous reports by detainees, especially at Abu Ghraib, about guards attempting to humiliate them with tactics that violate religious taboos of the Muslim faith. A senior Pentagon official has confirmed reports that female interrogators rubbed their bodies against the men, wore skimpy clothes, touched them provocatively and pretended to spread menstrual blood on them. The Newsweek item that triggered the violence also said the forthcoming report would describe “one woman who took off her top, rubbed her finger through a detainee’s hair and sat on the detainee’s lap.”

This is “torture?” If you go by standards set in American prisons I guess you could say yes it is. But by the standards of a war against stateless thugs?

We’ve not seen the last of the Koran incident. Here’s our intrepid reporter Mr. Isikoff:

“Obviously we all feel horrible about what flowed from this, but it’s important to remember there was absolutely no lapse in journalistic standards here,” he said. “We relied on sources we had every reason to trust and gave the Pentagon ample opportunity to comment. . . . We’re going to continue to investigate what remains a very murky situation.”

Not content to leave well enough alone, Mr. Isikoff will not rest until he finds something – anything – that will show how American interrogators show disrespect to Muslims. And if he thinks this last round of riots were bad, just wait until he gets the real story. Or at least one that the Pentagon can’t deny so easily.

Abu Ghraib will continue to haunt our efforts in the War on Terror. The press will see to that. Is there any hope that this could change? Only a similar or, God forbid, more serious attack on American soil would convince the press that this is indeed a war of survival and that by coddling the enemy, they endanger each and every one of us.

UPDATE

I’ve got search engine bots all over my site this morning what with the Newsweek blogswarm and my updated info on Brooke Greenberg. So as a service to all my new visitors and to save you some time in your search for the best commentary on the Newsweek brouhaha, here’s some great links you can click on:

La Shawn Barber has a nice roundup of blogs big and small with her own take:

They’ll get what’s coming to them. The blogosphere has erupted in a righteously indigant swarm (The conservative side, of course. Liberal bloggers are busy defending the rag.), forcing mainstream media to pick up the story. I hope they lose advertisers, readers, and heads over this.

The Captain is incensed (aren’t we all…mostly):

Quite frankly, this is bullshit. They went to the Pentagon with a wild story about flushed Qu’rans and now they’re surprised when no one knew anything about it? Can you imagine what Newsweek would have written and published had the Pentagon told them to keep quiet about it? They would have turned it into another Abu Ghraib, complete with cover-ups and military censorship. It would have resulted in more silly Senate hearings, and even worse publicity than what Newsweek already generated, with more loss of life—and all for a story that sounded patently false from the very beginning.

Michelle Malkin has some thoughts on who Isikoff’s source may be with some links to the milblogs who are speculating about it.

You absolutely must go to Austin Bay’s blog and read his long, powerful diatribe against the press.

Mark Noonan has some words for Newsweek’s editor:

Mr. Whitaker, they weren’t victims of “violence”; they were victims of irresponsible reporting which always presumes the worst about the United States and it’s military forces. You’re correction is nice, but the correction wont carry as far as the initially broadcast lie…for a long time now, American soldiers will be contending with men who’s motivation to fight us stems from your magazine’s irresponsible report.

Wizbang has some contrary thoughts about Newsweek’s liability:

So, bring on the abuse, the sanctions, the penalties for Newsweek. Ban their reporters from covering events. Contact and boycott their advertisers. Pillory them in public. Blame them for the damage to our diplomatic efforts. Mock them. Deride them. Taunt them. Make them stand in the corner at press events while wearing silly hats. Use back issues as toilet paper.

But don’t hold them liable for the deaths. To do that is to excuse the real people to blame—the rioters themselves.

More great commentary at Powerline and good links as usual from Glenn Anderson. And more Instapundit here.

And for a little balance (and because the moonbat linked to a blog that links to me) here’s the one, the only Kos and his “All is well” meme.

Cross Posted at Blogger News Network

By: Rick Moran at 7:05 am
10 Responses to “IT’S ABU GHRAIB, STUPID”
  1. 1
    AHS MilBlogger Said:
    8:36 am 

    “The insurgents are not concerned with anything except making headlines in American newspapers in order to convince the American people that our stated goal of bringing stability to that country is failing. The only possible way they can win is if we leave.”

    Congratulations on noticing that. Most people think that they are fighting us simply because they are Islamist nutjobs who hate America. There is a method to their madness and you got it right.

  2. 2
    La Shawn Barber's Corner Trackbacked With:
    9:36 am 

    Newsweek Screws Up
    First hand accounts? Inside information? Send me your exclusive tips.——————————————————————————————————————————————
    This is what happens when I go to bed early. I miss the beginning of the swarm.

    Li…

  3. 3
    Blind Mind's Eye Trackbacked With:
    9:59 am 

    So much for media accountability…
    Accountability of the professionals, the alleged point of differentiation between bloggers and professional journalists. Well just how many heads are actually going to roll from this one:

    NEW YORK - In its issue dated May 9, Newsweek magazine report…

  4. 4
    The Pink Flamingo Bar Grill Trackbacked With:
    10:43 am 

    The Religion of Peace Falls for the antics of the
    I am sorry but it is sad to watch people make a fuss about the Newsweek fiasco. We all know those clowns couldn’t get a story right simply because getting the story right

  5. 5
    Denny Hix Said:
    11:12 am 

    Yeah, this Michael Isikoff fellow is the same left-leaning liberal who broke the whole story of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

    At least Newsweek is apologizing for getting things wrong. When’s President Bush going to do that over his WMD mistakes.

    Heck, he gave the “Isikoff” in that fiasco the “Medal of Freedom.”

  6. 6
    Joust The Facts Trackbacked With:
    11:20 am 

    They Don’t Have To Be Cheerleaders
    But could the Mainstream Media (MSM), in this case Newsweek, please not go out of their way to hinder American efforts in the Middle East?

  7. 7
    actus Said:
    12:05 pm 

    “The insurgents are not concerned with anything except making headlines in American newspapers in order to convince the American people that our stated goal of bringing stability to that country is failing.”

    They’re also looking to show to iraqis that the americans can’t protect them. If bennet really can’t think that up he should retire.

  8. 8
    Common Folk Using Common Sense Trackbacked With:
    12:34 pm 

    Journalistic Integrity: The Great Oxymoron
    But in this particular case there are people dead, people buried in the ground, because someone “could no longer be sure” of their facts. In this particular case MY SON’S LIFE IS IN JEOPARDY because someone “could no longer be sure” of their facts.

  9. 9
    Homocon Trackbacked With:
    4:18 pm 

    Revisions and History

    Spiegel Online has a terrific interview from back in February (I know—I’m late to the party and all the hors d’oeuvres are gone) with historian Frederick Taylor regarding his recently published book, Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945,...

  10. 10
    Not for sale Trackbacked With:
    11:22 pm 

    People are Stupid
    Share your stories here.

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