Spot the missing President in this BBC report about the latest violent attacks by Guantanamo Bay inmates on their guards. We hear about the military not being able to decide what to do, as well as Congressional “restrictions” (translation: Congressmen simply don’t want to deal with the ensuing political mess if any of the POWTs are given a civil trial in their constituency), and we hear about how the hunger strike and violence is in protest of the fact that all these people are being held without charge or trial indefinitely. We even learn that one of the reasons the prisoners aren’t being released all over the place is concerns that they might be harmed if they go back home. Isn’t that nice? The other worry, of course, is that many of them go right back to the battlefield, which is the reason POW camps exist in the first place.
But no mention at all of the President of the United States. It’s a glaring omission, not only because He authorized military tribunals to start up again two years ago. After, of course, the fairly messy result of the civilian attempt the year before. Does He bear no responsibility? Another reason this is an unacceptable omission on the BBC’s part is that the President can simply release them all without sending them back to a dangerous homeland (if that is in fact even a real concern for many of them). There is precedent (e.g. the Uighurs, and everyone’s favorite “Briton”, Binyam Mohammed, who was later, after the BBC received complaints from both sides, demoted to “UK/British resident”) and it’s not impossible for someone capable of diplomacy and deal-making.
George Bush actually released, or transferred to custody in other countries, about 500 detainees during the six years he was in office after the establishment of the prison. Human Rights Watch, a trusted source for the BBC, puts the figure at 532. According to this New York Times interactive feature, there were 242 being held when Bush left office. There are currently 166 detainees, which means that the Nobel Peace Laureate-in-Chief, on the other hand, has released or transferred a mere 76 people in five years. His track record is not good, yet the BBC doesn’t even mention Him in the report about them protesting at what is essentially His failure.
Are there serious obstacles to releasing or transferring all of them? Sure. So why can’t the BBC mention that in His defense? It wouldn’t be biased, so long as they didn’t attempt to shift blame away entirely. The article as it stands does that.
Of course, the BBC is well aware of the President’s failure on this issue, which is why they casually put a link in the sidebar to Andrew Marr’s gently critical special report from before the last election. But is that good enough? It is for the BBC.
Barack Obama’s presidency: Why hope shrivelled
Marr covered a lot of ground in his report, but I’ll keep to a couple relevant and timely points. First, the failure on Guantanamo.
Marr did mention that the President’s early promises to shut down the prison failed.
But Obama’s early promises to close Guantanamo Bay and bring about a new era of trust between the US and the Muslim world have turned to dust. He over-promised.
That’s a fair assessment in its own way. Of course, all politicians over-promise on a regular basis, so that’s hardly a scathing critique. Matt Frei (ex-BBC, former Washington correspondent and anchor of BBC World News America) was still hopeful and positive even a few months after He was elected and it was clear that not everything was going according to plan:
With a flick of a pen he declared the intention to close down Guantanamo Bay. He reached out to staunch enemies like Iran without sounding craven. He began to talk to the Muslim world rather than at it.
Frei and the rest of the BBC just ran with His promise, never questioning whether or not it was possible or wise. Justin Webb even enthused after that video kiss He blew to Iran early on:
The point is that Mr Obama understands that case himself – the case that says: “Come off it, America IS better, and has a decent case to put before the court of world opinion.”
But he also understands that there may be advantages to not making it, indeed to making the opposite case (to the extent that he did in that al Arabiya interview).
In fact, I wonder whether he really disagrees with the Krauthammer position.
George W Bush said what he thought. The new man is capable of sophistry in the matter of confusing his enemies…
(A cynic might ask who really are His enemies….)
At the time, Frei and Webb were the two top Beeboids in the US, the two highly experienced, world-class journalists the BBC expected you to trust. And they got it wrong. But the BBC is aware now. It’s just not really His fault, you see. Which brings me to the timely points which aren’t strictly relevant to the Guantanamo story.
Marr wheels out a couple of major falsehoods in his attempts to shift blame for the President’s failure to achieve absolutely all our dreams. One of them is a canard we hear a lot from the BBC:
It is quite true that in Congress, the Republicans waged a brutal and remorseless campaign to frustrate him.
In actual fact, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress for the first two years of His reign. They rammed through ObamaCare and spending bills without governing by consensus, without reaching across the aisle. The Republicans could do nothing to stop it. Mark Mardell even once referred to that as a “Golden Age”. So it’s absolutely false to claim that Republicans have blocked Him the entire time.Yet it’s so entrenched in the BBC mindset that even the US-born ex-Guardianista Daniel Nasaw peddles the Narrative. No need for a conspiracy or memos or editorial directives for this kind of Corporation-wide groupthink if they all think the same way anyway. The bias occurs naturally. They don’t even realize they’re doing it.
The very next sentence takes it further.
The level of vituperation and abuse Obama took at the hands of insurgent Tea Party activists went far beyond civilised disagreement.
And civilians protesting stopped Him how, exactly? But never mind the how: consider what Marr’s said there. “Far beyond” civilized disagreement? Really? We all know the BBC and the Left-wing media loved to tar the entire movement, millions of people, with the actions of a few. It was all part of the Narrative that there is no legitimate opposition to the President’s policies. In stark contrast, the BBC praised the Occupy Wall St. movement. At no time did they ever focus on the violence and criminal activity, or declare that the movement itself was tainted because of all the vandalism, rapes, deaths (here’s just a small sample, all of which the BBC refused to cover), or even when Occupiers were arrested for trying to blow up a bridge. In fact, the BBC censored the news of the plotters’ Occupy bona fides. None of this even remotely happened with any Tea Party groups or protests. But that clearly hasn’t stopped the BBC from their smear job. Actually, they were doing it from day one. I challenge anyone to demonstrate how the BBC treated the Occupy movement with similar negativity.
In the very first BBC report, Kevin Connolly insulted all of them with a sexual innuendo. Is this civilized, BBC? It hasn’t gotten any better since.
But let’s focus on “civilized disagreement”. Several BBC programmes in fact relish in over-the top stuff. The first incident which comes to mind is Eddie Mair calling Boris Johnson “a nasty piece of work”. Far beyond civilized disagreement, or merely a robust interview? Question Time is usually a good source of ugly statements which go far beyond civilized disagreement. We recently saw a Labour activist call a UKIP candidate a “disgusting” woman. Far worse is the week-long celebration over Margaret Thatcher’s death. Andrew Marr and Mark Mardell and all the rest of the Beeboids can frown and scold and defame the Tea Party movement and its participants, but they have refused to similarly cast the harsh light on opposition to Thatcher. Will the BBC similarly condemn the unions and Labour and apparently the vast majority of Northern England for going far beyond civilized disagreement in their opposition to the Iron Lady? Or is only The Obamessiah deserving of such special protection?
Is making “Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead” a chart-topper out of hatred for someone far beyond civilized disagreement? How about if a BBC Digital Media Executive tweets that he’s put it on his playlist? What about burning poppies? What about the violence and vandalism during those “student” protests? What about all the BBC employees who tweeted vicious and vulgar things about Mitt Romney or Republicans or Sarah Palin (see the “In Their Own Tweets” page on this site)? All just the isolated acts of a few, no reason to tar the entire BBC, or all opponents of Thatcher’s policies, or all opponents of UKIP, or all opponents of tuition fees or all opponents of budget cuts? Okay, but then we must also condemn Marr and the rest of the BBC for smearing millions over the acts of a few.
The reason I bring that up is because it’s clear that Marr was trying to shift blame away from the President. While he realized that it was never possible to fulfill all those promises, he doesn’t really blame Him for any of the failures. It’s always someone else’s fault. So even when the BBC links to his report as a subtle way to admit the President has failed on Guantanamo, there’s plenty of blame-shifting to be found both in the Guantanamo article and Marr’s feature.
They just can’t help themselves. But the double standards are clear.
David, after 5 years or so, I still can’t understand the mentality of the bbc with regard to Mr Obama. Is it just because he’s semi-black? Is it because he’s a socialist? Is it because he’s a crypto-muslim? Do you have any clear insight into their thought processes?
It is because he is a Democrat.
No, they mentioned super duper fluffy Democrat Clinton in good and bad news. This is worse, I know the BBC has worsened in the last decade but I am leaning towards ‘it’s coz he’s black’.
Bush hatred/fatigue and hope that they could stop hating the US, combined with the belief that a racist nation would be somehow redeemed by electing a black man as President, topped off by the seductive preacher cadences and platitudes of His speechifying. They all bought into the hype, they all worshiped at His feet, they were all sure the world would change for the better. Pure emotion, based on nothing as He had no accomplishments on which to base such an assumption.
But don’t take my word for it. Marr reveals a bit of the mentality in his piece, and Mark Mardell has revealed quite a bit himself here and here. There were especially revealing moments of both his and the BBC’s general political mentality in that appearance at the BBC College of Journalism (an hour-long journey down the rabbit hole which I recommend to anyone interested in the inner workings of the BBC’s coverage of the US). They also convinced themselves and tried to convince everyone else that He would govern as a moderate, which has obviously turned out to be horribly wrong.
Read and watch all of these and judge for yourself.
Thanks, David. I believe that we whites are actually less racist than any other race on this earth. Anyone who spends some time with blacks and asians will know that they hold some beliefs against their own (castes and tribes) and other races that should be shocking to us normal people. The bbc over the years must have come across these people and their cultures and be fully aware of them. For the bbc to ascribe to us whites attributes that are clearly not there is an abomination. If I’m wrong, then would someone please enlighten me.
I do wonder if it is not bias per se but an unwillingness to admit that the man that they bigged up during the 2008 election could possibly be as flawed as any other politician. They really don’t like being shown to be wrong.
It’s a bit of both, no?
Exactement Ralph, they are in denial, it’s what the Left do, it’s in their DNA. As for Guantanamo, there should be no-one there at all. They should all have been shot or blown to smithereens on the battlefield, it’s what they want, to die for Allah, the yanks should have obliged them and saved millions of tax dollars. Best thing really would been to have handed them over to the Northern Alliance, they would do the deed.
Got to admit there is nothing sadder to see then a failed martyr ! bit like a repeat offender kamikaze pilot !
Incredible but had to check: Obama comes up 4 times on the whole page: 2 are references to the Marr “Why hope shriveled” and 2 are under the story in an unrelated link re Sandy hook.
It is very very difficult to justify a story about Gitmo without mentioning Obama, especially as it was a major issue when he was elected. David is right to highlight another gross omission.
If there was ever a US president equipped to deal with this problem it was former professor of constitutional law, Obama. Yet somehow it escaped his attention and with it the chance to really make a contribution to history.
The issue is this. The law recognises two categories of prisoner. The first is criminals, accused of a specific crime; arrested according to rules and convicted after a proper trial. Their time behind bars is limited to the time sentenced. The second is uniformed prisoners-of-war, who are not accused of a crime and remain until end of hostilities or a prisoner swap how ever long that takes. There are rules as to their treatment quite different to the rules for convicted criminals.
The Guantanamo Bay inmates fall under neither category and the no attempt has been made to create a legal category for them. If Obama’s 2nd presidency continues like the first no attempt will be made. The smartest man in the room has it filed under the too hard category.
Yeah. I presume by POWTs, DP means ‘POW Terrorists’? Personally, I’ve always gone with TPOWs, the same difference if I’ve got DPs gist right.
Bush defined them as ‘unlawful enemy combatants’ under the Geneva Convention.
If the above definition was given at the get-go of this counter-terrorist war, how much easier it would have made things. The malign left would still have continued with their faux moral outrage that US Servicemen weren’t mirandising on the battle field and calling in the paddy wagon to take the rag heads into questioning, but it would of being even more stark obvious to anyone with half a brain what enemy abetting moral obscenities they are.
There’s nothing that speaks more loudly of the moral imbecility our society is reduced to that the likes of Mo’ Begg and Binyamin are treated like victims instead of being left to dig potatoes on some distant Orkney Island which is the most humane thing one can do with such monsters.
Private Frasier was right. We’re doomed!
Prisoners Of the War on Terror
Everywhere the Left get their man in by smearing the opposition.
US: Bush=idiot, you get Obama
France: Sarkozy = idiot, you get Francoise Holland
Soon – all the rest
Problem is the Left man is completely useless.
The owners of the left wing press NYT Huffpo Wapo (Sorros funding?) Guardian media Group, everywhere, are smearing the “right-wing press” to hide themselves.
I hate to say it, but your comment brings to mind what somebody said on the last Question Time: Margaret Thatcher’s greatest legacy was New Labour. So on my side of the pond, the Community Organizer-in-Chief is Bush’s legacy. There’s something to that, I think.
No, New Labour stole Maggie’s clothes. They started courting hitherto Maggie supporting businessmen.
Obama has appointed left wing loonies, and there’s no way Bush would have appointed the likes of Chuck Hagel and John Kerry!!
No, the States, imho, got Obama because it has a One Party Media.
I hugely admire Bush, but he just didn’t have the leadership skills to mount the full on attack necessary against the seditious role of the media and actions of some (many!) Democrat politicians in the Iraq War.
But he stepped up to the plate, and did what was within him.
I thought you would enjoy these – multiple Obama promises on Guantanamo :
Obama promise on the war in Iraq :
thanks David and the other commentators here for an interesting post followed by a good discussion. It is what makes this an excellent site and keeps us well informed. Now where are Dez, Colditz and the other fools?
They are recovering from drinking all that sherry and ginger beer at the ‘start of the revolution’ in that London they will be along when they have sorted out with the other 200 or so warriors of the cause who pays for the bus fare home !