Why Newspapers Are Failing on Apr15 2009

by Bill Bramer | Print the article |

ORMOND BEACH – Today, Easter Sunday, while I’m watching how Navy Seals got our Merchant Mariner back from Somali pirates, I look and my local waste of paper did this.  On the “Ideas” page, or the editorial page for traditional readers, the lead editorial is entitled “history” with a ragged hooded cloak labeled “torture” hanging over the “t”.  I’d have put the picture in here but I couldn’t find it on line.  Under the picture a box contains: “NEWS ITEM: George W. Bush cites history, saying time will vindicate his policies”.  Then a heading “EDITORIAL”.  Then a headline “Beyond America’s ’dark sites’”.  Then another sub head “Nation needs truth and responsibility after reign of torture”.  The volume of effort to establish where we are going in this piece seems surreal to start with but from the above here I go with where my mind went.I’m on the “editorial” page looking for opinions, and I guess they are going to give me some “history” on “torture” because W said something about “history” but not about “torture”.  Then I see that there is something about “dark sites” and the giveaway on what this is all about and that is the “reign of torture”.

Since I know there is no case, I start reading to see how they are going to “make something up”.  My method is to scan the article for sources and then look at the last paragraph or so to see where they end up.  In this case, my method was inadequate so I had to read the whole thing.  I should get a medal.

Here’s what they did.  First they set the International Red Cross up as responsible for “monitoring nations’ compliance with the Geneva Conventions, including treatment of prisoners of war”.  This is true.  Next was the “charge” that detainees were not allowed to see IRC personnel.  Stop a second and tell me if (1) we had prisoners of war and (2) that the Geneva Conventions apply.  Be careful with your answer.  I know there are lots of international law of war experts out there but you’d be surprised how many people act like they are and ARE NOT.  While we are talking about the IRC, how many prison sites around the world do they “monitor” regularly?  As an example, do they monitor prisoners in China and complain loudly about not getting access?  Oh no, I forgot, the Chinese don’t mistreat their prisoners.  Funny I never heard much about Siberia when the Soviets sent people up there to “settle the land” or something like that.  So what other nations are in violation of the Geneva Conventions?  Have you heard of any?  It is funny that WE are the only ones who EVER violate that sacred gathering which made Vietnam a total war crime before it happened.

The IRC did get access eventually and wrote a report.  They leaked it to the press and “concluded” in it that prisoners had been “tortured”.  But this report was not quite enough for my editor so he refers to a book “Dark Side” by Jane Mayer, “who cited unidentified sources familiar with the report (IRC report).  Mayer also wrote that the Red Cross document warned that the abuse constituted war crimes, placing the highest officials in the U.S. Government in jeopardy of being prosecuted.”  Notice that the author of the book uses the IRC “report” so I guess that qualifies as two sources.  Really?

To get to the point, they list the “torture” as solitary confinement, waterboarding, prolonged stress standing, beating by use of a collar (whatever that is), beating and kicking (I doubt this), confinement in a box (coffin but with air), prolonged nudity (could have been too much fun), sleep deprivation, loud music (these last two sound like college to me), exposure to cold temps and cold water (Navy SEALS do a lot of this in training), and prolonged use of hand cuffs and shackles (duh).

All the above techniques are labeled torture, deplored by the editor and any definition of torture is irrelevant since the IRC thinks the above was torture, no matter what you, and a lot of other people, think.  Therefore, investigations should begin so that the “punishing the perpetrators” can begin.  Bottom line: Mr. Editor is offended and he wants to punish those who have protected us for the last eight years to pay a price for something he conjures up while sitting at a keyboard.

This is just a small example of how the conventional wisdom that the internet is destroying the print newspapers is just NOT TRUE.  People like me don’t spend our money on this stuff.  We get it second hand.  The big boys are failing financially because they are intellectually bankrupt and print nothing but garbage on their pages.  People take their money to yard sales and do better.

-Bill Bramer

Retired Naval Officer

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