A reader who wishes to remain anonymous wrote the following email. I lost it for a bit, and seem to be unable to cut and paste the internal links he provided to the R4 programmes, although I can play them myself. Never mind. You go find them yourselves. Here’s the email:
Today (Feb 18th) I’ve witnessed one of the grossest examples of the BBC’s anti-American agitprop (or rather, anti-American-when-there’s-a-Republican-in-the-White-House agitprop).
On Radio Four’s “Any Questions”, the very first question put to the panel was this:
“What action should the British government take to bring about an end to the use of torture at Guantanamo Bay?”.
Hear the actual transmission here. [This is the first link I couldn’t seem to copy – NS]
The premise of the question assumes as fact that the U.S. authorities are indeed administering torture at Guantanamo Bay. But only two months ago the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a particularly full account of the U.S’s total rejection of torture, not only by the U.S. itself, but also the U.S.’s allies in the war against terror. As if that’s not bad enough, the BBC itself had actually reproduced Condi’s statement in full in a dedicated news report.
There have been all sorts of Guardian articles implying all sorts of maltreatment by the US authorities, but I’m not aware of any specific allegations that can be verified, or which, in any event, actually constitute torture.
Of course, when it came to Any Answers [another link I couldn’t copy here – NS] following transmission, all but one of the contributors on this topic were rabidly anti-American and anti-Bush administration. The one who wasn’t was a grandmother, no doubt chosen for that very reason (nevertheless she gave a good defence of the reasoning behind Camp X-Ray’s existence).
Is it any wonder, with the BBC being the planet’s most influential broadcaster, that America is becoming reviled in some parts of the world, and universally disparaged even among its allies?
Rottweiler Puppy has a (bleeding magnificent, actually) post about the same subject.
Because, here’s the thing: the United States has never been credibly accused of torturing its prisoners at Guantanamo. Not once. Indeed, the UN report Beeboids are swooning over is about as critical of the base as it’s possible to get, but even here there is no accusation that the U.S. engages in torture. The report, which you can read here [pdf], actually comes across as a protracted whine that the U.S. refused to grant investigators from the twin human rights capitals of Algeria and Pakistan, unmonitored access to its intelligence assets. The word ‘torture’ is used 89 times, though, in connection with the actual treatment Gitmo inmates receive (as opposed to attempts to define the term or explain its meaning), the closest the UN team get to the Any Questions position is to claim that force-feeding of hunger-striking inmates ‘amounts to torture’. (As, some people might say, do chemotherapy, lumber-punches and any other number of painful-but-lifesaving medical procedures.)
However, the point is that no one — not the UN, not Amnesty International, not the Guardian — has ever accused the U.S. of no ifs or buts torture in the way that Any Questions does here.