AP vs. Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments

An Associated Press headline about the “Issue of Terrorists’ Rights to Test Obama’s Pledge” to close the Guantanamo Bay prison facility spurs Salon critic Glenn Greenwald (1/26/09, ad-viewing required) to put a basic journalistic tenet as simply as possible: “The fact that the U.S. Government accuses someone of X does not mean that they are actually guilty of X”:

It’s a good thing that there was no Associated Press around (let alone Wall Street Journals and John Yoos) during debates over the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments. AP would have run articles describing the proposed guarantees of Due Process and prohibitions on Cruel and Unusual Punishment as “murderers’ rights.” John Yoo would have written Op-Eds arguing that “Child Molesters Have No Rights” and the Journal would have run editorials accusing advocates of those safeguards as being “Soft on Crime” and “pro-Rapist.”

As today’s AP article demonstrates, these debates aren’t obsolete bygones of the Bush era. The Obama executive orders of last week left unresolved the question of what due process (if any) will be accorded Guantanamo detainees and, to a lesser extent, what interrogation techniques will be approved for them. The same people who cheered on the radical policies of the last eight years are now pressuring Obama to fill in those gaps by continuing the same policies, just in a different place and with a different name (something for which the media, virtually in unison, is openly yearning).

Greenwald closes with a warning that, “as the Yoo-mimicking headline from AP demonstrates, the same twisted Orwellian reasoning used to justify those policies–‘Terrorists’ Rights’–hasn’t gone anywhere.” Fortunately, neither has Greenwald.

Read the FAIR magazine Extra!: “The Media Ignore Their Core Duty: Arianna Huffington & Glenn Greenwald on Media Accountability” (9-10/08)