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Commentary ::
Globe Attempts to Smear Councilor Turner
19 May 2004
With misquoting, misrepresenting and a high degree of sloppiness in reporting, the Globe seems intent on discrediting Councilor Turner and Sadiki Kambon, concerned community leaders that were seeking journalists to do their jobs and investigate rape photos. Councilor Turner's letter to his constituents is contained in full.
A local "scandal" is being reported on internationally with the world's attention gripped by the prison abuse issues, the alleged Berg beheading, and the apparent doom of the US plans of conquest in Iraq.

On May 11, Councilor Chuck Turner and Sadiki Kambon held a press conference to seek inquiry into the source of disturbing photos they had received. The following day, the Globe printed the photos along with an article in which they state that Turner had acknowledged in the press conference that the origin of the photos was unknown. The Globe later wrote an editor's note stating that the photos were unverified and that it should not have printed them.

When a city councilor and community leader called a press conference to have disturbing rape pictures that they have recieved investigated, they thought they were seeking help from the vast infrastructure and networks of the "fourth estate." But in a climate of growing corporate media consolidation and chilling of political dissent, only one thing is certain when activists reach out to the corporate media: they will be smeared.

Six other Boston City Councilors took time to draft a letter condemning Turner and saying they support "our" troops. Rush Limbaugh devoted a good amount of hot air to castigating Turner and the Globe. In times of trial for the status quo, as the these are due to the quite likely defeat in Iraq and the deep blow to morale that the Abu Ghraib prison scandal has given, there is always a need for scapegoats. There could hardly be a more attractive target than long time organizer Chuck Turner, who has always been steadfast in his condemnations of US agression and has always been a tireless and sincere advocate for the communities in his district.

May 17, 2004

Letter to My Constituents Regarding the 5/11/04 Press Conference On Iraq and Its Aftermath

Sadiki Kambon and I called a press conference on Tuesday, May 11th to ask the press to investigate the authenticity of photographs we had received through the Sons of Africa list serve showing women who looked Middle Eastern being sexually abused by men in camouflage uniforms.

Since Secretary Rumsfeld had said before the Senate Armed Services Committee that he had pictures of Iraqi women being sexually abused (I think he also used the word rape) by U.S. soldiers, we both thought the pictures we had might be part of the cache of pictures Secretary Rumsfeld said were yet to come.

Some have asked why didn't we check on the pictures' authenticity ourselves. Candidly, since I think that the American people have a right and responsibility to see the pictures Rumsfeld mentioned, I had hoped that Boston reporters calling the Pentagon might add to the pressure on the Pentagon to release the ones they have.

I clearly stated at the press conference that I did not know where the pictures were taken, who took them, or when they were taken. Since I could not vouch for their authenticity, I asked that the reporters who were interested in receiving them by email call the Pentagon to ascertain whether they were part of the pictures Rumsfeld mentioned.

I was shocked the next morning when the pictures appeared in the Globe. While I think that the American public has a right to see the photos mentioned by Rumsfeld, my view was and is that the only appropriate way to make them available to the public is on the internet, since pictures of sexual abuse are not appropriate for newspapers, magazines, or television. It was particularly surprising to me that the Globe ran the pictures since the accompanying story contained my statement regarding undocumented authenticity, a similar disclaimer from the Pentagon, and the reporter's comments questioning their authenticity.

I believe the Globe's purpose in running the pictures and the accompanying story was to discredit me. This is my belief since the sub headline said that I displayed pictures that purported to show U.S. soldiers raping Iraqi women. The first sentence said that I said that the pictures showed U.S. soldiers raping Iraqi women. At the end of the story, they quoted me saying that I didn't know whether they were authentic but asked the press to check. At no time did I say or purport that I knew that the pictures were real.

The photo of Mr. Kambon and I that the Globe printed gave the impression that we were posing with the pictures. However, the picture was taken before the press conference when we were trying to get the board on which the pictures were posted to stand so reporters could see if they were interested enough to receive the email.

On Friday, May 16th, two days after the pictures were published, there was a scathing denunciation of me on the editorial page of the Globe. I am not particularly concerned about the character assassination. The people in my community have a good idea of my character through my 38 years of service in the community. I am concerned, however, that the writer misused my quote "The American people have a right and a responsibility to see the pictures" from the Globe reporter's story that accompanied the pictures.

The problem with the editorial writer's use of the quote is that he says that I made that statement about the pictures we had given the Globe. However, he did not attend the press conference and the story that accompanied the pictures in Wednesday's Globe makes clear that the pictures I am referring to are those that were discussed at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. I am pleased to see that many of our Congress people who saw the pictures Rumsfeld mentioned at the Congressional hearing share my belief that the American people have a right to see the authentic pictures.

The Boston Globe online edition also ran the story. However, they inserted a statement that was not in the Wednesday story in the print edition or that I made at the press conference saying that I said that I was convinced the pictures were real. To me, this is more evidence that the Globe's objective was to discredit me. The irony is that the Globe has been discredited by their action.

I continue to be amazed that the desire of the editors of the Globe to discredit me is clouding their judgment to the extent that they ran the pictures despite the fact that they are inappropriate for display in a newspaper and their accompanying story indicated a doubtful authenticity. However, our history shows that when you fight back, the establishment will always try to take you down. I plan to continue to fight for what is right.

Chuck Turner

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