Friday, February 06, 2009

WashPost refers to all Gitmo detainees as "terrorists"

In today's paper, the Washington Post breaks with usual policy and refers to all Guantanamo detainees as "terrorists".

I have no reason to believe this was a malicious mistake; I think it was just a sloppy mistake.

The article is "Obama to Discuss Guantanamo With Victims of Terror Attacks, Their Relatives" by Michael Shear, Peter Finn and Dan Eggen.

On first reference to the Gitmo detainees, they use 'suspected'. That's in paragraph 4:
The afternoon meeting at the White House will give the new president a chance to explain his decision to close the controversial prison facility where the United States has placed many suspected terrorists since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

But on second reference, the 'suspected' is dropped. Paragraph 6:
Obama has been assailed by conservative critics who say the decision to close the facility within a year will lead to putting many of those terrorists back on the street.

The words "those terrorists" are in the voice of the Post, not the voice of the "conservative critics" mentioned earlier in that sentence.

The key word is "those". If the Post had left it out, it would be a different thing -- we'd have "conservative critics" alleging that all Gitmo detainees are terrorists, and the Washington Post quoting that allegation (without challenging it). That'd be unfortunate, but not technically incorrect.

Instead, with the words "those terrorists", the Post is referring, in its own voice, to the "suspected terrorists" it spoke of in paragraph 4. It should correct the error.


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