May 24, 2005

New news or old news?

We've noticed today a spate of blogs linking to a BBC story about the US military's plans for a court and death chamber at Guantanamo. [See here, for example.]

What none of the various posts we've read contains is the fact that this isn't a new story. In fact, a look to the top of the BBC story shows that it was reported on 10 June 2003, almost two years ago. To give some credit to the bloggers who missed this, so did we. The only reason we caught the date is because we thought we'd posted on something similar before — and a search of the archives at Magpie [our other blog] came up with this post from 25 May 2003:

Several other weblogs have been linking to this story from the Courier-Mail newspaper in Brisbane, Australia. The story claims that the US is planning to set up a 'death camp' at its Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba, with its own death row and execution chamber.

While Magpie is second to none in believing the worst about the current government in Washington, she hasn't posted a link to the death camp story until now, more than 24 hours after she first saw it. Magpie has been unable to track down the original story in the UK Mail on Sunday newspaper (cited in the Courier-Mail story), and the version of the story carried yesterday on has disappeared. In addition, there's nothing on the camp story on the website for Fair Trials Abroad — which is suspicious, given that the story quotes their director, Steven Jakobi.

While it's not impossible that the death camp story is true, Magpie finds the lack of independent corroboration (outside the Courier-Mail story) and coverage in other media outlets is more typical of a rumor...

It turned out that there was more to the story, as we acknowledged in this 10 June post, after we'd seen the BBC story being cited so often today. While that report gave more credence to the execution chamber story than we'd initially believed to be warranted, even the general spoken to by the AP [which was the source of the BBC story] said that the construction of an execution chamber was only one of a number of possibilities then under discussion. So while the story had moved out of rumor status, it hadn't (at least in our opinion now) done so by all that much.

But knowing the history of the story still leaves us with some questions:

  • Why is the story about the possible Guantanamo execution chamber showing up again now?
  • Has that chamber moved from the planning stages to being a brick-and-mortar chamber that's just waiting to claim its first victim?

Inquiring magpies want to know.

Posted by Magpie at May 24, 2005 03:40 PM | War on Terrorism | Technorati links |