Saturday, May 30, 2009

Gibbs Childishly Attacks British Press; Inadvertently Attacks Decorated Military Veteran

White House Press Secretary Gibbs went way too far this time:

In a major story today, London’s Daily Telegraph quoted Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba describing photos (that the Obama administration is fighting to keep secret), which allegedly depict US personnel raping prisoners, other sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube. “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency,” Taguba said. Put that statement against this one from the president: In defending his decision to fight the ACLU in its efforts to have the photos publicly released, Obama said on May 13, “I want to emphasize that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational.”

At the White House press briefing today, Gibbs lashed out—not at Gen. Taguba, who made the allegation on the record, and not even specifically at the paper that quoted Taguba. Instead, Gibbs went after the entire British media, saying “I think if you do an even moderate Google search (heh) you’re not gonna find many of these newspapers and ‘truth’ within say 25 words of each other:”

“I want to speak generally about some of reports I’ve witnessed over the past few years in the British media and in some ways I’m surprised it filtered down,” Gibbs said. “Let’s just say that if I wanted to look up, if I wanted to read a writeup today of how Manchester United fared last night in the Champions League Cup, I might open up a British newspaper… If I was looking for something that bordered on truthful news, I’m not sure that would be the first stack of clips I picked up.”

Attacking the entire press of our closest ally is not only tasteless, it's stupid. The validity of their facts comes from a high-ranking, decorated military official: General Taguba. It has nothing to do with whether the press that's reporting it is British or not.

Gibbs was totally childish and out of line here. In the end, all he's doing is exactly what Obama and his Attorney General are doing, trying to distract us from the fact that there's still war crimes to punish -- something they're apparently willing to savage our own allies' free press to avoid doing.