Friday, March 11, 2005
SAEN Wrong On Rumsfeld
Church concluded that no civilian or uniformed leaders directed or encouraged abuse, and his report holds Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top defense leaders largely blameless on the narrow question of pressuring interrogators as well as the larger matter of interrogation policies.
"We found no evidence to support the notion that the office of the secretary of defense (or other military or White House staff) applied explicit pressure for intelligence or gave 'back channel' permission to forces in the field in Iraq or in Afghanistan" to exceed the bounds of authorized interrogation practices, the report said.
The SAEN addressed this issue in an editorial on May 16, 2004 and needless to say they owe the Secretary of Defense an apology; however, I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you. Here are a few excerpts of what the SAEN had to say:
The scandal at Abu Ghraib Prison, which may not be the only facility where abuse has taken place, is only part of the brief against Donald Rumsfeld.
His mistakes and misjudgments during the past three years have much to do with the mess in which we find ourselves. Abu Ghraib must be seen within that broader context.
If only the SAEN had stopped there, but they continue in the same editorial, asking that Rumsfeld resign because of Abu Ghraib:
A case can be made that Rumsfeld should resign for symbolic reasons, if nothing else. His resignation would assure the world that we are treating Abu Ghraib with the utmost seriousness and are determined to correct our mistakes.
And the SAEN editorial board had this to say on August 30, 2004:
But there were also failures of leadership and omissions of planning and responsibility that allowed the abusive conduct at Abu Ghraib to take root and grow. The report extends the circle of blame to include Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former theater commander, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.There they go again, blaming Rumsfeld even when the facts don't support the claim. Now comes the Church report, exonerating Rumsfeld for any culpability for Abu Ghraib, but the editorial board wasn't the only one erroneously piling on Rumsfeld for Abu Ghraib. Here is what SAEN Military Reporter Sig Christenson had to report on December 5, 2004:
The attorney for a soldier facing eight years in jail for abuses at Iraq's Abu Ghraib Prison blamed top Bush administration officials Saturday for creating the conditions that led to the scandal.
Paul Bergrin, a Newark, N.J., lawyer representing Sgt. Javal Davis, depicted his client as a pawn in the administration's quest for vital information from terrorists, a good soldier who tried to do his duty under tremendous stress.
"I'm not rationalizing," he told reporters following a hearing at Fort Hood. "What I'm telling you is that Sgt. Davis never intended to break the law."
Apparently, that Sgt. Davis' claims had no basis in fact did not matter to Mr. Christenson. He was willing to overlook this in his zeal to smear Rumsfeld. Note to the SAEN: we are waiting for your apology.
All of this means nothing if the SAEN does not learn something from it. Let me throw out a cliché here: look before you leap. In it's zeal to bring Rumsfeld down the SAEN seemed to forget that the facts didn't back up the assertions being made; namely that Rumsfeld was directly responsible for what occurred at Abu Ghraib. The SAEN called on him to resign without the facts to back it up. Now we have the facts and the Church report absolves Rumsfeld of direct blame. You would hope that the next time, and there will be a next time, the SAEN will let all the facts come out before going after someone. In fact, the next time is already here, and the SAEN is doing the exact same thing regarding Tom DeLay, condemning him without the facts in an obviously political vendetta. In an editorial on January 10, 2005 the SAEN said this:
The rules change was designed to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, who may become the subject of a grand jury investigation dealing with illegal fund-raising schemes in Texas.
I found the wording "...designed to protect Majority Leader Tom Delay..." fascinating because it implies he needs to be protected from something in the first place. If Delay broke the law he should be punished accordingly, but until his guilt is determined in a court of law the SAEN needs to also give him the benefit of the doubt. In an earlier editorial, dated November 18, 2004 the SAEN was even more brazen in it's indictment of Delay:
They may save DeLay, R-Sugar Land, at the expense of something far more significant than any single congressman's ethics.
Apparently it is better to lose their integrity, or whatever shred of integrity they have left, than to lose their leader, whose political machinations have given the party the clout it enjoys today.
The move to shield DeLay from the political fallout generated by an indictment represents the most outrageous form of cronyism imaginable. It may make the recent nasty Texas redistricting battle, which DeLay engineered, seem as harmless as a pajama party.
Again, nothing against DeLay has been proven, but the SAEN feels free to say that Congressional Republicans have lost "whatever shred of integrity they have left." You could not ask for a more glaring example of bias than this, against DeLay and Republicans in general, based not on the outcome of the case, but on the SAEN's own liberal bias. The vendetta against DeLay also extends to the SAEN's news pages. In a report by Guillermo Garcia on October 12, 2004 the SAEN made a point of tying two men indicted on violating state election law to Tom Delay:
Two men closely associated with U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay were quickly booked, fingerprinted and released from Travis County Jail on Monday as their attorneys appeared in district court upstairs.
That came from the first paragraph of the article, but Mr. Garcia finally points out in the eight paragraph of the article that DeLay hasn't been indicted for anything while still managing to point out the Travis County DA hasn't "ruled out" indicting him:
Neither DeLay nor Craddick were indicted, but Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has refused to rule them out as subjects of the ongoing grand jury investigation. Though DeLay was the star attraction of a number of TRMPAC fund-raisers and his daughter was on the staff, he has attempted to distance himself from its operations.
I could go on forever. Clearly the SAEN news staff and editorial board has once again fallen into the trap of unfounded prejudgement against a political enemy. And yesterday we learned in the Washington Post that some Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are under the same "ethical cloud" as Tom DeLay as relates to foreign travel:
Several other lawmakers and aides, including an adviser on Asian affairs to House
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), also accepted trips from the group as recently as last year, according to congressional disclosure forms. Pelosi spokeswoman Jennifer Crider said that "there was no reason to think this group was anything other than a charity."
What will the SAEN say about this new development; anything...nothing, or is the SAEN only interested in attacking Republicans? This isn't the type of behavior I expect from a fair and balanced newspaper.
Update: I was happy to see the SAEN report the conclusions of the Church report on page 6A of today's paper. If, after all I wrote above, you still don't believe that the SAEN has a vendetta against Rumsfeld, and that it colors the SAEN"s news coverage, then let me just share the headline of the story today: "Prison critics still roasting Rumsfeld." Yeah, and so are biased San Antonio "newspapers."