Friday, August 17, 2007

A truly excellent example of truly lousy news coverage

LA Times

I just encountered this tonight but it does provide an excellent example of how news coverage can totally distort a situation by insisting on he-said/she-said construction.

a verdict that follows a long legal battle that pitted the Bush administration against civil liberties groups over how terrorism suspects are detained and should be prosecuted.


The conviction of Padilla, 36, and two codefendants was a boost for an administration that had received sharp criticism for holding Padilla as an "enemy combatant" for 3 1/2 years without due process until the courts insisted he be charged with a crime or set free.

The government's success in the Padilla case could now encourage officials to bring other enemy combatants into federal courtrooms.

"This clearly shows that in some cases, yes, the process can handle it," Morford said. "You have to look at it on a case-by-case basis. And these particular charges did work in a regular criminal trial."

Donna Newman of New York, Padilla's initial attorney who fought for months just to get a lawyer-client meeting with him, agreed, saying the administration was wrong not to "trust the courts" for so long.

"I don't necessarily agree with the verdict," she said. But in the future, "the government should be hard-pressed to say the [criminal justice] system doesn't work. It shows you can bring forth the evidence and try someone in court."

But Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said the jury's decision was not a blanket approval of how the administration had dealt with terrorism defendants.

"This verdict, if it stands, cannot be seen as an endorsement of a regime of unreviewable executive detention," he said. "President Bush should not take today's ruling as permission to continue to hold Americans outside the law at his whim."

If, as has been argued, the guilty verdict proves that the Criminal justice sytem CAN deal with terrorist cases then how is the conviction a boost for the administration which has insisted all along that it cannot? The answer is of course that it isn't and this particular reporter is full of malarky.

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