ABC's Flawed CIA 'Black Site' Report [Guy Benson]
Yesterday, ABC News tried — and largely failed — to put a dent in the news cycle by breathlessly reporting a four-year-old scoop about secret CIA facilities in Eastern Europe. In short: After 9/11, the CIA converted an old Lithuanian horseback-riding academy into a so-called "black site" prison where high-value terrorists were detained and interrogated. The Lithuanian government reportedly agreed to the facility after a 2002 visit from President Bush, during which he pledged American support for Lithuania's inclusion in NATO. (Hey, a mutually beneficial, meaningful accord achieved by an American president on an overseas trip. Go figure.)
When the existence of a network of similar covert facilities became public in 2005, the Lithuanian prison was shut down. ABC played a significant role in breaking the story at the time, exposing three US allies that had agreed to host the CIA prisons: Lithuania, Romania, and Poland. Despite the fact that the controversial sites have been shuttered for years, ABC can't stop flogging the smoldering remains of the story. They're apparently determined to share every last, classified detail of the abandoned program. The CIA has called ABC's pursuit of the story "irresponsible." One might add "gratuitous" in describing yesterday's report.
Setting aside ABC's questionable news judgment (does their "new" information actually constitute news?), its biased selection and placement of quotes further taints the final product. In the online version of the story, correspondents Matthew Cole and Brian Ross quote 'human rights activist' John Sifton in the third paragraph—representing the very first quote of the entire piece. Sifton indignantly expresses outrageous outrage that a US intelligence service was, at one time, treating terrorists rudely. He laments the sleep deprivation and "forced standing" techniques that the hardened jihadists were forced to endure. And just in case Sifton's position was remotely unclear, Cole and Ross quote him again at the end of the story, giving him the last, agitated word:
"It obviously took a lot of effort to keep [the prison] secret," said John Sifton, whose firm One World Research investigates human rights abuses. "There's a reason this stuff gets kept secret."
"It's an embarrassment, and a crime."
Much to the reporters' disappointment, I doubt the story will elicit much more than shrugs from average Americans. Most citizens understand that keeping the country safe isn't always a pretty business, and a majority is willing to tolerate occasional unpleasantness if it means protecting American lives.
ABC's investigative unit sometimes does solid work, reporting stories that are ignored by other MSM outlets. Yesterday, however, they missed the mark.
11/20 05:41 PMShare