Remember how two former Gitmo detainees helped plan that Detroit Christmas terror attack? To say the least, I was skeptical:
I am calling 100% bullshit on this piece of reporting.
I haven’t been around that long, but I can point out Pentagon propaganda when I see it.
So as you can imagined, I was stunned – absolutely stunned – to find out this morning that one of the supposed former detainees had actually surrendered to Saudi authorities in February – and therefore could not be anywhere near for the planning of the attack. As for the other one, there hasn’t been one solid piece of reporting to date that actually links him to the attack – just the word of anonymous military officials.
Of course, this is not the first time this has happened:
We’ve seen this pattern of an erroneous report making the rounds and turning out to be false. ABC also had to correct its report that alleged Fort Hood shooter Major Hasan attempted to make contact with “people associated with Al Qaeda.”
Before that, a New York Times front-pager on a startlingly high rate of “recidivism” among Gitmo detainees also got big pickup, before the story was revealed to be deeply flawed, leading to a lengthy correction.
All journalists make mistakes, so what’s a reader to do? Be skeptical of initial reports, particularly on intelligence stories, and keep a close eye on sourcing. And always keep in mind the record of the reporter who authored the story.
This is great advice from TPM – even though they’re one of the liberal blogs who fell hook, line, and sinker for the original story – it also was front page news on The Huffington Post.
So what happens now? The corrections will be in small print, leaving most people with the general impression that the whole attack was planned by people released from Guantanamo Bay. It’s the same thing they did with WMD in Iraq – every time they found a jar full of chemicals, the news media reported it in huge print, and then pulled the original story and corrected it in fine print – leaving most of the country with the impression that we had actually found Chemical weapons – which of course never happened.
Right-wingers will be parroting this story until kingdom come, retractions be damned. And Gitmo is staying open for another year. Does anyone think that the political capital (or bravery) actually exists for us to close it then? The behavior of the media will make it awfully difficult – and we’ve certainly seen no indication that that will change anytime soon.
Lovely country we live in, isn’t it?