Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, January 07, 2008

A New Prison Horror Story ... Not

The NYT has a new story based on confidential sources about War on Terror prisons today. Unable to dredge up anything new in Guantanamo, the doyen of the "all the bad news that's fit to print" bunch focuses instead on a prison operated by the U.S. (presumably for NATO) at the Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan.

Near the top of the story, NYT tries to hype up the hysteria:
The Red Cross said the prisoners were kept from its inspectors and sometimes subjected to cruel treatment in violation of the Geneva Conventions, one of the officials said.
Note the bizarre sentence structure. The first part, about prisoners being kept from inspectors, is attributed to the Red Cross. The latter part, about unspecified "cruel treatment" is attributed to an official. What does "of the" refer to? We're supposed to believe it's a Red Cross official, and it may well be, but it's not clear since the reporter attempted to jam it all into one sentence in the hope that we would automatically attribute it all to official Red Cross communications

The allegations of "cruel treatment," whatever that means to today's re-definers of torture, does not appear to be an official finding of the Red Cross, leaving the reporter (Tim Golden) with no choice but to stretch the grammar on a torture rack to cover up the fact.

So once again, we're the bad guys. But wait. Let's see what they've buried under the rug. Seven paragraphs down, we find this:
In a confidential diplomatic agreement in August 2005, a draft of which was obtained by The New York Times [how?], the Bush administration said it would transfer the detainees [from Bagram to a new Afghanistan prison] if the Kabul government gave written assurances that it would treat the detainees humanely and abide by elaborate security conditions. As part of the accord, the United States said it would finance the rebuilding of an Afghan prison block and help equip and train an Afghan guard force. (emphasis added)
Since the Afghan government hasn't been able to meet these requirements yet due to interdepartmental squabbling, the prison is not yet finished, leading to the overcrowding at Bagram, leading to the NYT story about the just awful overcrowded conditions that Taliban terror operatives are being kept in.

Of course, if we didn't require the Afghans to treat the prisoners humanely, things might be progressing more quickly. That would lead to this headline: US Demands for Humane Treatment Slow Afghan Prison, a headline we're not likely to see any time soon in the NYT.

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