Daily Telegraph Abu Ghraib Story Further Debunked

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Salon’s Mark Benjamin, a former colleague who has been all over the Abu Ghraib story for years, gets a rather categorical denial from the Defense Department about the Daily Telegraph story last week, which alleged with minimal and apparently misconstrued evidence that the Pentagon has unreleased rape photos in its archives which President Obama will not release. From Benjamin’s story:

The [Defense Department] official told Salon that the Pentagon has compiled around 2,000 images of possible detainee abuse in response to the ACLU’s suit. Salon then asked, via e-mail, whether any of the 2,000 images “[show] a possible rape or sexual abuse” of the sort described in the media recently. The Daily Telegraph had reported that there were images of a male soldier forcing oral sex on a female detainee and a male translator anally raping a male detainee. “We don’t have anything that would comport to what they are reporting,” the official answered. (The official did not address whether any such images had ever existed.) Retired Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, whom the Telegraph had quoted as confirming that there were rape images among the unreleased material, told Salon on Friday that the Telegraph’s report was inaccurate because he was quoted in a way that suggested he had seen the unreleased material. He has not. . . . The official further clarified that the Defense Department is not withholding any additional images or video of apparent detainee abuse from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Daily Beast’s Scott Horton, whom the Telegraph quoted over the weekend to defend its increasingly discounted story, issues a correction to his recent story on the topic, nobly admitting error. Now the ball is in the Daily Telegraph’s court. The newspaper’s international reputation as a source of reliable journalism is on the line. But then this is not the first time.