Wednesday, November 02, 2005

AP Spreading Deceptive Story

CENTCOM is understandably aggravated by a misleading Associated Press story making the rounds today.

Here are the lead paragraphs of the Associated Press story:
KABUL, Afghanistan - Security has been tightened at the U.S. military prison in Afghanistan following the escape of a suspected al-Qaida leader, a U.S. official said Wednesday. Indonesian anti-terrorism officials accused Washington of failing to tell them of the breakout.

Omar al-Farouq, born in Kuwait to Iraqi parents, was considered one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants in Southeast Asia until Indonesian authorities captured him in 2002 and turned him over to the United States.
The problem is that the AP story is either deliberately or incompetently misworded (and, of course, has been reproduced without editing in hundreds of newspapers around the world) to indicate that this is a recent event, but this CENTCOM press release tells the true story:
KABUL , Afghanistan – Recent Associated Press reports cite one of “Usama bin Laden’s top lieutenants“ escaped from the detention facility at Bagram Airfield. These reports may lead their audience to believe the escape happened recently. The escape occurred July 10 and the information was released by Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan July 10.

“This information is being aired at the court-martial trial of Army Sgt. Alan J. Driver who is charged with counts of maltreatment of detainees under his charge,” said Army Col. Jim Yonts, CFC-A public affairs officer. “The reporting in these articles gives the audience the illusion that the escape and subsequent increased security precautions just happened. Security procedures were bolstered immediately after the escape.”

The search for the four escaped detainees continues with the cooperation and support from the Government of Afghanistan.”
Surprisingly, Reuters gets it right in their lead:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Omar al-Faruq, one of al Qaeda's most senior global operatives, escaped from an American military prison in Afghanistan this summer, a U.S. defense official said on Wednesday.