Gibbs Slams British Press and Denies Telegraph Story
By Garance Franke-Ruta
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs this afternoon denied a report in British newspaper the Daily Telegraph that photos showing detainees in Iraq being sexually abused were among those President Obama recently decided not to release.
"I think the Pentagon has been very clear in a statement saying that the story's not true," said Gibbs. Earlier a Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Daily Telegraph had shown "an inability to get the facts right," according to a Reuters report.
"That news organization has completely mischaracterized the images," Whitman had said. "None of the photos in question depict the images that are described in that article."
Gibbs also cautioned reporters against the reliability of the British press. "I want to speak generally about some of reports I've witnessed over the past few years in the British media and in some ways I'm surprised it filtered down," Gibbs said.
"Let's just say that if I wanted to look up, if I wanted to read a writeup today of how Manchester United fared last night in the Champions League Cup, I might open up a British newspaper," he continued.
"If I was looking for something that bordered on truthful news, I'm not sure that would be the first stack of clips I picked up."
In the Telegraph story, Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who conducted an investigation of the treatment of detainees at Iraq's American-run Abu Ghraib prison, is quoted as saying, "These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency" and supporting the president's decision not to release them.
"I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan," Teguba is quoted as having said. "The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it."
Posted at 4:30 PM ET on May 28, 2009
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