The View From 1776

Extraordinary Coincidence

The New York Times front-pages a story alleging systematic torturing of Iraqui prisoners.

Who could possibly have imagined that a story like this would come to light at just the moment when the Democrats believe that Hurricane Katrina has put President Bush on the ropes?

In a top-line, front page article in the Saturday, September 24, 2005, edition, New York Times reporter Eric Schmitt’s wrote, “3 in 82nd Airborne Say Beating Iraqi Prisoners Was Routine: Three former members of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division say soldiers in their battalion in Iraq routinely beat and abused prisoners in 2003 and 2004 to help gather intelligence on the insurgency and to amuse themselves.”

Needless to say, the Department of Defense must investigate this report and take appropriate punitive action if it proves to be true.

The point to be noted here, however, is that this is not breaking news.  The allegations concern actions allegedly taken many months ago.  Why then should the Times make this story a featured, front-page one?  Is this really news, or just one more instance of the Times editorializing via “news” stories?  Is it anything more than a political attack on the President?

Recall that the first set of such allegations about Abu Ghraib was leaked during Senator Kerry’s bid for the Presidency.  Note also that the news front had been so dead before the Hurricane Katrina problems that Cindy Sheehan’s “sainthood” vigil outside the President’s Texas ranch was featured news day after day.

Let’s stipulate that, in a Federal republic, the press should be free to attack any politician.  But let’s also stipulate that editors ought to exercise judgment and refrain from costing unnecessary lives of American military personnel in Iraq.  It’s fair game to go after President Bush, but stories such as Mr. Schmitt’s simply embolden Al Queda to redouble attacks on American military people, hoping to repeat the Vietnam War experience. 

The Times, by acting as a propaganda mouthpiece for Human Rights Watch, the issuer of the story, is doing for Al Queda what American media and self-aggrandizing people like John Kerry did for the North Vietnamese.  After the war ended, North Vietnamese officials told us that they had no hope of winning the war militarily, that the American media, by inflaming public opinion against our own troops, won the war for them.

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