Greg Sargent busts right-wing media pushing another lie about government spending:
Conservatives are hammering the House's new $410 billion spending bill because it contains $200,000 for what they're derisively referring to as "tattoo removal." Fox News' Sean Hannity, Drudge, and at least one GOP official on MSNBC, among others, have been all over this today.
But a little reporting reveals that that this "tattoo removal" program is an anti-crime program in the San Fernando Valley that re-integrates reformed gang members and makes it easier for them to find jobs. Two Los Angeles law enforcement officials I just spoke to - one who identified himself as a "conservative Republican" - swore by the program for reducing crime and saving lives.
Check out Sargent's post on his new(ish) blog, The Plum Line, for more details.
In an editorial, The Washington Times asserted that Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo "are completely unrelated," adding that "there have never been credible allegations of Abu Ghraib-like misconduct at Guantanamo." In fact, a 2008 Senate Armed Services Committee report concluded that military "interrogation policies were influenced by the Secretary of Defense's December 2, 2002 approval of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at GTMO," and that those "policies were a direct cause of detainee abuse and influenced interrogation policies at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq."
In its look at the increase in the number of women robbing banks, says Melissa McEwan at Shakesville:
The uptick in bank robbery committed by women correlates with the economic downtown, the head of the Nassau County police department's robbery squad says that women are primarily motivated by a need to "pay bills, get a little extra cash... They need diapers for the baby that kind of thing," and yet the framing story is all about a thrill-seeking thief and the accompanying article photos are of the "Barbie Bandits"—blonde, teenage strippers who robbed a bank to go on a shopping spree. There's a real story to be told about desperate women who have no resources and no opportunities, but it's buried beneath yet another "hot chicks doing boy things" story.
So, Media Research Center has a new "Free Speech Alliance" through which it is urging President Obama to "Oppose All Govt. Radio Censorship." MRC President Brent Bozell released a statement saying Obama "should state his opposition to the use of any FCC regulation with the intent of censoring talk radio. He should also guarantee a veto of any bill that will silence free speech on the airwaves."
That would be the same Brent Bozell who brought you the Parents Television Council, a group best known for urging the FCC to crack down on the broadcast of words Brent Bozell doesn't like.
So when Brent Bozell and MRC talk about opposing "censorship" and ensuring "free speech on the airwaves," keep in mind that what they really mean is that they want to protect speech they like, and censor speech they don't like.
Here's Stephen Colbert's take on the Parents Television Council. Brent, you may want to leave the room -- Colbert gets a little free-speechy.
In a recent article, The Washington Times falsely claimed that "[a]t least 61 ex-Guantanamo inmates have returned to terrorism, according to the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency." And CNN.com uncritically reported Rep. Lamar Smith's assertion that "at least 61" former Guantánamo detainees "have returned to terrorist activities against the U.S. and our allies." In fact, according to the Pentagon, the 61-detainee figure includes 43 former prisoners who are suspected of, but have not been confirmed as, having "return[ed] to the fight."
In his Washington Times column, Tony Blankley wrote: "After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration rolled back very few civil liberties. Aside from establishing a regime for handling captured foreign terrorists, the curtailments largely consisted of common-sense enhancements in the power of intelligence agencies to monitor terrorism suspects and access their personal records." Contrary to Blankley's suggestion, Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen, was held without charges for more than three years.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Texas state Rep. Kay Granger's claim that "intelligence indicates at least 61" Guantánamo detainees "have returned to terrorism," without noting that according to the Pentagon, the 61-detainee figure includes 43 former prisoners who are suspected of, but have not been confirmed as, having "return[ed] to the fight." Moreover, even the Pentagon's claim that it has confirmed that 18 former Guantánamo detainees have "return[ed] to the fight" has been questioned by analysts.
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In a February 7 article, The New York Times reported that Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell "put the number at 61" of former Guantánamo detainees who have "returned to the fight." But the article did not note that Morrell has previously stated that there are only 18 detainees confirmed to have "returned to the fight," with another 43 suspected of having done so. Nor did the Times indicate whether Morrell has stated that DOD has subsequently confirmed that more than 18 detainees have "returned to the fight."
A Washington Post article about Leon Panetta's Senate confirmation hearing as CIA director reported that "Panetta said he would oppose 'extraordinary rendition' " and that Sen. Kit Bond "noted that the Clinton administration had ordered dozens of renditions." However, the article did not note Panetta's response to Bond, in which Panetta differentiated between "extraordinary renditions" under the Bush administration "where we took a prisoner and sent him to another country for questioning ... that did not meet our test for human values" and renditions in which individuals were returned "to countries of jurisdiction" or "rendered back to this country for purposes of trial."
The Politico falsely reported: "The Pentagon said earlier this month that 61 former Guantanamo inmates, out of the more than 700 who had been held at the facility, have been found to have returned to terrorism." In fact, the Pentagon has acknowledged that its figure of 61 detainees includes 43 former prisoners who are only suspected of, but have not been confirmed as having "returned to terrorism." Moreover, even the Pentagon's claim that it has confirmed that 18 former Guantánamo detainees have "return[ed] to the fight" has been questioned by experts.
In recent days, several media figures, including MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski and CNN's Tom Foreman and Campbell Brown, have either uncritically reported or echoed Dick Cheney's assertion that the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies have kept the United States safe. These media figures did not note that a 2008 GAO report found that the U.S. "has not met its national security goals to destroy terrorist threats and close the safe haven" in Pakistan, or that many CIA analysts reportedly believe Al Qaeda leaders have declined to attack the U.S. again for strategic reasons, not due to the Bush administration's counterterrorism policies.
On CNN's State of the Union, John King cited a Los Angeles Times article that, according to King, stated that President Obama "has signed executive orders to continue the controversial CIA practice of rendition -- essentially scooping up suspected terrorists around the world, sometimes taking them to secret prisons." But King left out key facts from the Times article, including that the "secret prisons" to which he referred could be used "only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis," and that in his executive order, Obama created a task force to ensure that renditions "do not result in the transfer of individuals to other nations to face torture."
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The Wall Street Journal printed an op-ed that falsely claimed that the Army Field Manual "prohibits ... good-cop bad-cop routines" when interrogating detainees. The op-ed was criticizing President Barack Obama's executive order stating that a detainee in U.S. custody cannot be subjected to interrogation techniques not listed in the manual. In fact, the Army Field Manual explicitly permits good cop-bad cop interrogations under the name of "Mutt and Jeff" interrogations, which involve two interrogators "display[ing] opposing personalities and attitudes toward the source."