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Sunday, June 7, 2009
CNS Reports Claim NY Times Retracted

A June 5 article by Fred Lucas asserts that "one in seven" detainees released from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility "were confirmed as having re-engaged in terrorist activity" or "suspected of doing so."

Unfortunately for Lucas and CNS, the New York Times just retracted a significant portion of that very same claim.

In an editor's note appended to its original May 21 article on the report, the Times stated:

The article said that the Pentagon had found about one in seven of former Guantánamo prisoners had "returned to terrorism or other militant activity," or as the headline put it, had "rejoined jihad."

Those phrases accepted a premise of the report that all the former prisoners had been engaged in terrorism before their detention. Because that premise remains unproved, the day the article appeared in the newspaper, editors changed the headline and the first paragraph on the Times Web site to refer to prisoners the report said had engaged in terrorism or militant activity since their release.

The article and headline also conflated two categories of former prisoners. In the Pentagon report, 27 former Guantánamo prisoners were described as having been confirmed as engaging in terrorism, with another 47 suspected of doing so without substantiation. The article should have distinguished between the two categories, to say that about one in 20 of former Guantánamo prisoners described in the Pentagon report were now said to be engaging in terrorism. (The larger share — about one in seven —applies to the total number described in the report as confirmed or suspected of engaging in terrorism.)

While Lucas does specifically state that his "one in seven" number includes those both "confirmed" and "suspected" of engaging in terrorism, the headline on his article -- "DOD Report: One in Seven Released Gitmo Detainees Returns to Terrorism" -- does not. And Lucas accepts the Pentagon's unproven premise that the released Gitmo detainees engaged in "terrorist activity" prior to their detention. Without that knowledge, Lucas' statement the released detainees in question had "re-engaged" in "terrorist activity" is unproven as well.

Lucas also fails to state one important and obvious fact about those detainee releases: they occurred under the Bush administration. Indeed, President Bush is not mentioned anywhere in his article.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:25 AM EDT

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