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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

AP issues alarmist story on detainees

Put on your Fisking caps, kids. This AP dispatch is just plain goofy:
The United States has detained more than 83,000 foreigners in the four years of the war on terror, enough to nearly fill the NFL's largest stadium.
Split infinitive aside, what's with that comparison? Why use a football stadium? Why not say "laid end to end, they would reach from New York to Mecca" or "Ground into a fine paste, they could pave 450 acres of parking lots?"
The number has steadily grown since the first CIA paramilitary officers touched down in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, setting up more than 20 facilities including the "Salt Pit," an abandoned factory outside Kabul used for CIA detention and interrogation.
What's the matter, AP? You won't give us the freakin' address of the formerly-secret national security facility? And that's just the beginning of this story, which apparently seeks to prove the monkey/typewriter hypothesis.
Some 82,400 people have been detained by the military alone in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to figures from officials in Baghdad and Washington.
Earlier, the story attributes the increase to CIA involvement. Now the reporterette is saying that the CIA is only responsible for about 600 of the 83,000 detainees. It's likely that neither one of those explanations is correct, and they're both symptomatic of lazy reporting and unfamiliarity with arithmetic.
The detentions and interrogations have brought complaints from Congress and human-rights groups about how the detainees - often Arab and male - are treated.
Often male and Arab? Since when do AP writers stand up for the rights of the ruling majority?
Some 82,400 people have been detained by the military alone in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to figures from officials in Baghdad and Washington. Many are freed shortly after initial questioning.To put that in context, the capacity of the Washington Redskins' FedEx Field, the NFL's largest, is 91,704. The second largest, Giants Stadium, holds 80,242.
To put that in further context, these guys want to blow up EVERY NFL stadium.
In Iraq, the Defense Department says 5,569 detainees have been held for more than six months, and 3,801 have been held more than a year. Some 229 have been locked up for more than two years.
I have no idea why that passage was buried deeper in the story than the capacity of Giants Stadium.
Pentagon officials say those mistreated are relatively few when the sheer numbers are considered.
Last week, Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner, R-Va., said that more than 400 criminal investigations have been conducted and 95 military personnel have been charged with misconduct.
400 investigations out of 83,000 prisoners. That's not "relatively few." That's less than one-half of one percent.
Through the CIA, a much smaller prison population is maintained secretly by the agency and friendly governments.
Was. WAS maintained secretly. Thanks, AP!
The agency consistently declines to comment.
That's because it's the CIA. Unlike the AP, intelligence agencies are there to protect national secrets, not spray them all over the newspapers.
Among them, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, an alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.
That one isn't even a complete sentence.


At 11/17/2005 5:16 PM, Anonymous said...

I like your idea about grinding them into a fine paste.

We can mix it with flouride, put it in tubes, and give it to new detainees and to Saddam for toothpaste.


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