Behind the Boston arrest reports, and findings on U.S. torture

With all the media-bashing yesterday over published reports that a suspect had been arrested in the Boston Marathon bombing, it was quite interesting to watch a PBS Newshour segment on the issue last night.

JEFFREY BROWN: …And we’re joined from Boston once again tonight by David Boeri, a reporter for WBUR Public Radio. He’s been covering the turn of events all day.

Well, David, a very confusing day. What is the latest about whether anyone is now in custody or identified as a suspect? What can you tell us?

DAVID BOERI, WBUR Public Radio: Jeff, at this point, both the FBI and the U.S. attorney here in Boston insist there have been no arrests made. Nobody is in custody.

However, there is a lot of confusion regarding this and reports that we have had throughout the day.

JEFFREY BROWN: What about — some of these reports involve images that were caught of somebody with the bag that has now been identified.

DAVID BOERI: We started the day with news report that the detonation for those pressure cookers had been a timing device, that a circuit board had been found and it was a timing device. So far, so good.

Then we started to get reports independently that there had been images of a man seen putting a duffel bag close to one of the areas where the bombing took place, and also that there was an image, that there was great surveillance video from a Lord & Taylor shop that was near the area that had also shown activity.

Then that led to reports, again by a number of independent sources, that there had been an arrest made. So the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office came in, knocked the story down. However, I had gone over to the U.S. courthouse here, being told in fact that there was an arrest, and while I was there, I was told by two senior judges and two other senior officials that in fact they had been told to prepare for somebody being brought over in connection to the bombing.

A courthouse — a courtroom was being prepared, and they were even preparing an overflow courtroom at the time. That’s when we got a code red alert in the courthouse. An evacuation took place, an evacuation because a threat that had been — that had been made that was deemed credible and the building was evacuated at that point.

And, by the way, that building has the U.S. attorney’s office in it.

[emphasis added]

In other words, multiple sources at the federal court told this reporter, and presumably others as well, that they had been directed to prepare a courtroom because someone connected to the bombing was going to be brought in.

So despite later official denials, was it wrong to be reporting what was being confirmed by multiple sources which were likely known to at least the local reporters? When several people on your beat, in positions to know, disclose this kind of information, when is it reasonable to report it?

Maybe some local veteran reporters could take a swing at this question.

And it’s unfortunate that the Boston bombing diverted attention from an important report on the use of torture following the 9/11 attacks. A NY Times story on the report appeared on Tuesday, and included an online version of the document.

The PBS Newshour looked at the report the same day. From this segment, “Report Finds ‘Indisputable’ Proof That U.S. Tortured Detainees After 9/11“:

JEFFREY BROWN: But when you say in the report that the nation’s highest officials bear some responsibility for allowing and contributing to the spread of torture, what does that mean? What exactly are you calling for?

DAVID IRVINE: Well, in a couple of instances, number one, the decision to suspend the application of the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan was a critical decision that opened the door for all kinds of abuses, because there was nothing put in place thereafter that would tell soldiers, for example, what they could or could not do.

As a consequence, people became unusually creative and crossed the line from lawful to unlawful. The decision to give special permission to the CIA to use enhanced interrogation techniques was a flawed decision. It was based upon a methodology that had been developed by the North Koreans and Chinese in the Korean War as a means of obtaining confessions and false information from American prisoners in those conflicts.

JEFFREY BROWN: Let me just ask you briefly in the short amount of time here, what do you want to happen now? You have waded into some very controversial territory here.


JEFFREY BROWN: And many officials would simply flat-out disagree with your results.

JAMES JONES: Well, we’re not after a witch-hunt, but we do think the facts need to be laid out there, the American people need to understand it, the Congress needs to understand it, because what we want to do is to get back to the values that we had before those decisions were made, respect for law, respect for our international treaties and conventions.

And it can be achieved again. But I think until — before that can be done, they have to understand the depth of the activities we took in the name of our government.

The report, authored by The Constitution Project (TCP), is available at their website in a perhaps more accessible form.

One response to “Behind the Boston arrest reports, and findings on U.S. torture

  1. War crimes have been committed! Citizens are protesting at the opening of the Bush Library Opening!

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