Fox's Angle distorted Durbin's Guantánamo comments


Fox News chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle cited an unnamed "knowledgeable official" to wrongly dispute Sen. Richard J. Durbin's (D-IL) statement that FBI emails concerning apparent detainee abuse at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, describe the treatment as "torture." In fact, though Angle insisted that his source was "familiar" with the emails Durbin cited, the emails themselves are publicly available, and one such email does use the term "torture techniques" to describe interrogation techniques used at Guantánamo.

Angle's statement came on the June 16 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, during a report on the controversy surrounding Durbin's June 14 statement on the Senate floor:

ANGLE: Late today, in an interview with Fox, Senator Durbin stuck by his comments and insisted the FBI memo alleged the actual torture of a prisoner.

DURBIN: It isn't just the denial of simple creature comforts. What was involved here is nothing short of torture.

ANGLE: But a knowledgeable official familiar with this and other memos said the FBI agent made no such allegation, that his memo only described someone chained to the floor, and that anything beyond that is simply interpretation. And several Republican senators took to the floor late today to say there is no evidence of torture and that Durbin's comparisons to the Soviets, Pol Pot and the Nazis have no basis in fact or history.

But the FBI memos are public, so the analysis of an anonymous "knowledgeable official" is unnecessary. They are available online as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in October 2003. While the particular memo that describes "someone chained to the floor" does not include the term "torture," Durbin did not refer exclusively to a single email; a separate FBI email that Durbin cited specifically referred to "torture techniques" by Department of Defense (DOD) interrogators who allegedly impersonated "Supervisory Special Agents of the FBI" while questioning a detainee at Guantánamo:

If this detainee is ever released or his story made public in any way, DOD officials will not be held accountable because these torture techniques were done by "FBI" interrogators. The FBI will be left holding the bag before the public.

Durbin explicitly cited this email in his June 14 Senate floor statement, which was the primary subject of Angle's report. From Durbin's statement:

Numerous FBI agents who observed interrogations at Guantánamo Bay complained to their supervisors. In one email that has been made public, an FBI agent complained that interrogators were using "torture techniques." That phrase did not come from a reporter or politician. It came from an FBI agent describing what Americans were doing to these prisoners.

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