The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, May 08, 2004
 

Rumsfeld agrees no photo, no story


I discussed yesterday this troubling feature of news: the idea that photographs are not merely useful in selling a story, but that media and politicians will not accept that there is a story without them.

Reluctantly, I skim through the tedious transcript of Rumsfeld and Co's appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Senators are miffed at the fact - if it is one - that they had to find out about the scandal on TV [1].

Susan Collins asks him whether, instead of the January 16 Centcom press release - as discussed yesterday -
...it [would] have made a difference if it had been the Pentagon itself that had disclosed the full extent of this abuse...

Rumsfeld replies (emphasis mine):
The Department of Defense announced that their abuse was being charged, there were criminal investigations under way. No one had seen the photographs.

They were part of a criminal investigation. And they were in that Central Command -- I say no one in the Pentagon had seen them. And they were part of that investigative process.

It is the photographs that gives one the vivid realization of what actually took place. Words don't do it. The words that there were abuses, that it was cruel, that it was inhumane -- all of which is true -- that it was blatant, you read that and it's one thing. You see the photographs and you get a sense of it and you cannot help but be outraged.

That this is no aberrant reading by an eccentric operator is corroborated by another snippet.

Kevin Drum points to a suggested source for the Abu Ghraib photos: Ivan Frederick and William Lawson, respectively the father and uncle-by-marriage of one of the six accused (NY Times May 8).

The Times piece has this:
The irony, Mr. Lawson said, is that the public spectacle might have been avoided if the military and the federal government had been responsive to his claims that his nephew was simply following orders. Mr. Lawson said he sent letters to 17 members of Congress about the case earlier this year, with virtually no response...

If this is true, we have from both the executive and legislative branches endorsement of the no photo, no story principle.

Do I believe this? Or do we have a whole wagon-load of naked Emperors each complimenting the other on the magnificence of his attire?

  1. Lindsey Graham:
    ...most of us here found out about it on television.

MORE

Quick question: when Rudy Giuliani was told about Abner Louima, did he say he wasn't interested unless they showed him a photo of the toilet plunger in situ?

Somehow, I think not...


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