Saturday, March 12, 2005

Children held at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib Prison

CNN and Fox ran almost identical AP articles about documents the ACLU had received through the Freedom of Information Act about women and children held by the U.S. at Abu Ghraib prison. Because the articles both are attributed to the AP, most of the words are the same. However, there are two interesting differences which show CNN making the situation to appear a little worse than Fox’s version.

* In both articles it says that a boy being held said he was almost 12. The released transcript says that the former commander said he looked like he was 8. CNN’s article opens with mention of a boy “who appeared to be only about 8.” Fox says “a boy no older than 11” which was probably the more accurate given that is what the boy stated. Why did CNN choose to mention that he was very young looking? Are they trying to make the situation sound worse?

* Both articles have this paragraph:

The documents include statements from six witnesses who said three interrogators and a civilian interpreter at Abu Ghraib got drunk one night and took a 17-year-old female prisoner from her cell. The four men forced the girl to expose her breasts and kissed her, the reports said. The witnesses — whose names were blacked out of the documents given to the ACLU — said those responsible were not punished.

Fox follows that with this statement which is not in CNN’s article:

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman has said three soldiers were given "nonjudicial punishment" for making a female prisoner expose her breasts. Nonjudicial punishments are sanctions short of a court-martial, such as being fined or reduced in rank.

CNN’s version would leave the reader with the belief that the responsible people were never punished. Fox’s article has a Pentagon response that says otherwise. Was CNN purposely leaving that out or did they get a different AP write-up? Through a search on AP’s site, Fox’s version is the only one I found.

Links to today’s articles:,2933,150163,00.html

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