Finding the May 21 New York Times article on unconvicted (often even uncharged) former Guantanamo prisoners supposedly “rejoining” terrorist groups “especially troubling” in that “it turns the truth upside-down,” Dan Kennedy (UTV, 6/9/09) explains how reporter Elisabeth “Bumiller’s story played into the darkest fears promoted by Cheney and his fellow conservatives by making it appear that terrorists captured on the battlefield and sent to Guantanamo would resume their jihadist ways upon being released.” In reality, “the far more disturbing truth, borne out by the Pentagon’s own figures, is that we are creating terrorists at Guantanamo.”
Yet it has to be said that Bumiller herself is something of a recidivist. In a March 2004 presidential debate among the Democratic contenders, Bumiller asked what may have been the dumbest question ever uttered in such a forum: “Really quick, is God on America’s side?”
At the time, Bumiller’s question seemed like a faint echo of the insanity that had fallen over much of the American media following the terrorist attacks of 9/11–insanity that was practically defined by Bumiller’s former colleague Judith Miller, whose credulous reporting on Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction and terrorist ties helped set the stage for war and disaster.
Kennedy notes that “this time, at least, it didn’t take years for the Times to come to terms with how it had been manipulated”–not that the Times‘ eventual “mea sorta culpa” for staggeringly deceptive and damaging WMD coverage exactly came to terms with much. See the FAIR Activism Update: “NY Times Ombud Agrees with Activists: Paper Failed to Question Pentagon Propaganda on Gitmo Prisoners” (6/8/09).