I mean, why would the corporate press care that CIA is torturing black people?

Leading American investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill recently uncovered a secret CIA prison in Somalia. Big news? What a silly question, as he explained to ABC Radio PM last night:

MARK COLVIN: Now you have reported this story in America and you’ve been interviewed about it in public on the media in America.

Has there been much push back? Has there been much denial of what you’ve reported?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well I mean the interviews that I’ve done in terms of large media outlets in the United States, there’s only one of the big corporate networks that has interviewed me. It’s msnbc.

I was on Al Jazeera and then on Russian television and that’s – that’s about it. And then you know Australian media now and Canada…

MARK COLVIN: But so the big American media – the New York Times, the Washington Post, the big – CBS, NBC and so on have left you alone?

JEREMY SCAHILL: They haven’t touched this story at all. In fact you know what happened, my story went up New York time about 1pm on a day last week.

And at 5pm New York time CNN was running a story and it was just attributing the information to a US official and made no mention of my story or the context and just said that the CIA is helping Somalis to – in their counter-terrorism efforts and at times is assisting them in the interviewing of terrorism suspects.

And so you know what that was is a sort of classic CIA spin operation. They know the story’s going to come out. They know that the Nation magazine which I work for is a relatively small, not very powerful entity.

And so they go to CNN and say, hey here’s a good story for you. And CNN just prints it as though you know, as though their job is to print press releases for the CIA and not give any context.

MARK COLVIN: But there’s been no official denial?

JEREMY SCAHILL: No. What they – in fact they didn’t – I have to be careful about this – when I contacted the CIA a US government official was made available to me to comment on this. And they won’t allow me to name that official or to reveal the entity that they work for but only that they’re familiar with the program.

So having said that when I talked to them they were just trying to do damage control and trying to spin me saying, you know we’re not running that prison, the Somalis are running it. We’re not interrogating prisoners, we’re just debriefing them. You know, we’re not doing the interrogations ourself, we only do them jointly with the Somalis.

You know, they were trying to rely on semantics when the reality is I was told point blank in Somalia that the CIA is paying the salaries of the people that run that prison and the US official that was made available to me by the American government would not deny that and in fact confirmed it when I pressed him pretty hard on it.

No, they haven’t denied any aspect of it. They’ve only denied that they are running the prison.

I did not report that they were running the prison. I reported that the Somalis were officially running it but that the Americans were paying the personnel and interrogating prisoners which at the end of the day is very similar to running it. It’s just a semantic game.

And unfortunately my colleagues in the big media in the United States have allowed themselves to be used as conveyor belts for the propaganda of a US intelligence agency, and very effectively I would say.

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