May 29, 2009
Wow. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs is really embodying the idea
that when the message is devastating, you attack the messenger. Except
in this case, Gibbs is not even attacking the messenger, but rather the
newspaper that quoted the messenger.
In a major story today, London's Daily Telegraph quoted
Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba describing photos (that the Obama
administration is fighting to keep secret), which allegedly depict US
personnel raping prisoners, other sexual assaults on prisoners with
objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube. "These
pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency," Taguba said.
Put that statement against this one from the president: In defending
his decision to fight the ACLU in its efforts to have the photos
publicly released, Obama said on May 13, "I want to emphasize that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational."
At the White House press briefing [on Thursday], Gibbs lashed out-not at
Gen. Taguba, who made the allegation on the record, and not even
specifically at the paper that quoted Taguba. Instead, Gibbs went after
the entire British media, saying "I think if you do an even moderate
Google search (heh) you're not gonna find many of these newspapers and
'truth' within say 25 words of each other:"
"I want to speak generally about some of reports I've
witnessed over the past few years in the British media and in some ways
I'm surprised it filtered down," Gibbs said.
"Let's just say that if I wanted to look up, if I wanted to read a
writeup today of how Manchester United fared last night in the
Champions League Cup, I might open up a British newspaper... If I was
looking for something that bordered on truthful news, I'm not sure that
would be the first stack of clips I picked up."
No, instead perhaps Gibbs would pick up one of those stellar US
papers with spotless track records on "the truth." He could start with The New York Times,
which was basically a conveyor belt for the lies of the Bush
administration during the lead up to the Iraq war. Or he could turn to
any number of US lie factories masquerading as media outlets.
This is pathetic. Really. Hey, Gibbs, here's a suggestion: go after
Gen. Taguba, a 34 year, decorated military veteran whose career was
brought to an end for battling Rumsfeld and the torture machine at the
Pentagon. Go after the General who last year (when Bush was still in
power) called for prosecutions of the torturers. "There is no longer
any doubt that the current administration committed war crimes. The
only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to
account," Taguba wrote
in June 2008. Go after him, Gibbs. Call him a liar. Say he is a dirty
propagandist that wants to hurt US troops. Oh, right, you can't. Taguba
actually agrees with Obama on this issue, as he told the lying, evil
"I am not sure what purpose their release would serve
other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our
troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need
I'll wait to see if the Telegraph produces a tape of the
interview (they should) or for Gen. Taguba to say he was misquoted
before I would even mildly question the veracity of this story.
Everything about it rings true to everything Sy Hersh
has written, every torture document and photo we have seen thus far and
every testimonial we have heard from those former military/intelligence
and other government officials with the guts to speak out. As Raw Story
pointed out today, this allegation of rape of prisoners is not new:
"The American public needs to understand, we're talking about rape and murder here," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), telling reporters in 2004
why the Abu Ghraib photos should not be released as former Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld faced calls for his resignation. "We're not
just talking about giving people a humiliating experience. We're
talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges."
As for the Pentagon's statement [Thursday] (reiterated by Gibbs as the official US line on this story) that the Telegraph
"demonstrated an inability to get the facts right," here is what I say:
the Pentagon, whose personnel allegedly commited the torture described
by Gen. Taguba, is not an independent observer here to say the least.
In fact, the Pentagon has "demonstrated an inability to get the facts
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