This is why the Media sucks, blows, bites and eats

Trying to dig up more details on the Khadr appeal ruling, and this is what the local newsrag has to say:

The U.S. Court of Military Commission Review ruled a judge at the U.S. naval detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, does have the jurisdiction to hear Khadr’s case.

“This decision does not change anything. Omar Khadr is still subjected to the same tainted process that is designed to make a finding of guilt,” Khadr’s Canadian lawyer Dennis Edney said last night.

The ruling, the first for the newly created appeals court, reversed the military judge’s decision that he did not have the authority to try Khadr because he had not been classified as an “unlawful enemy combatant.”

Well, fine.  Except the last time out, the media gave us the impression that the judge, Colonel Peter Brownback, ruled Khadr an “enemy combatant” versus an “unlawful enemy combatant”.  Which isn’t quite true.   Col. Brownback indicated that his court had jurisdiction to hear the cases of unlawful enemy combatants, and that the prosecution had not demonstrated that Khadr was an unlawful enemy combatant.  And the reason the prosecution failed to make its point is because the good colonel refused to hear the prosecution’s evidence regarding Khadr’s legal/illegal combatant status.  The judge didn’t think he had jurisdiction to hear it; the appellate court decided he was wrong.

Sort of puts a different spin on things, doesn’t it?  And do any of those nitty-gritty details get reported in most media accounts?  Toronto Star?  No.  CBC News?  No.  Reuters Canada?  No.  BBC News?  No.

Did anyone get it right?  Sort of.  The Star, Globe & Mail, Associated Press, Boston Globe and Washington Post all noted that the appellate court said Col. Brownback was in error when he ruled that his court did not have jurisdiction to decide the legal status of combatants brought to trial.  They left out the part where Col. Brownback refused to hear the prosecution’s evidence, and the appellate court’s labelling of that act as an abuse of judicial discretion.

Who got it right?

The Pentagon was “ready to present evidence to affirmatively establish the military commission’s jurisdiction over Mr. Khadr, but was summarily denied,” wrote Navy Capt. John W. Rolph, the deputy chief judge of the military appeals court.

— “Pentagon gets green light to prosecute Khadr“, Sheldon Alberts. 
CanWest News Service, September 24th, 2007.

Rolph wrote that the combatant status review was not necessary to determine Khadr’s status. The appeals court also ruled that the trial judge should have allowed the government to present the evidence that Khadr’s actions made him an unlawful combatant.

By dismissing the charges without giving prosecutors the chance to make the case that Khadr was an unlawful combatant, Rolph said, the trial judge “abused his discretion.”

— “Ruling paves way for terrorism trials“, Julian E. Barnes.  Los Angeles Times, September 25th, 2007.

Most Canadians are not going to hunt all the details down on the web, like I’ve done here.  So when they read the little blurb in the Star, or hear a 20-second blurb on CBC, BBC or elsewhere, they aren’t going to get the crucial context.

UPDATE:  Nicholas Russon of Quotulatiousness has a particularly relevant and apt quotation from a libertarian author and activist:

As I recall, we did manage to get some newspaper reporters to come up and talk to us, and I believe at least one TV channel from nearby Pensacola. But it was then that I first suffered an extremely strange and very frustrating experience. If you’ve ever been associated with anything that got the attention of the media, I’m sure that you’ll recognize it immediately. It was exactly as if the reporters and TV personalities had attended some gathering other than the one all of us had.

The simple truth is that, in all the forty-six years since, during which I’ve been pretty politically aware and active, there hasn’t been a single issue, event, or phenomenon — not one — that the mainstream media haven’t lied about, blatantly misrepresented or distorted, or overlooked, ignored, or suppressed, by accident or design. Even when they try, the fools never get it right. I have never been involved in anything I would have recognized afterward from their description of it.

Category: Amor Patriae, Media  Tags: ,
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.