A Football Power in a Small Kansas Town
Between the size of its photo and accompanying text, this all-American, feel-good story about a beloved high school football team in Smith Center, Kansas, devoured two-thirds of above-the-fold real estate on Friday's New York Times cover.
It's the kind of story normally reserved for the final segment of a local or national news broadcast. Those confection pieces that make the hard news easier to digest and allow the anchor to sign off on a cheery avuncular note. A journalistic aperitif. (Never mind that adults shouldn't need such saccharine coddling, especially when much of that hard news is so watered down.)
Their photos are on the cards traded over at the elementary school, and their exploits are on the lips of the old men who gather at the Second Cup Cafe each morning. They are the sons and grandsons of this north Kansas town, and for 30 autumns now, the Smith Center Redmen have puffed up the chests of folks here.
They are a high school football team, a superb one that has won 51 games in a row and three consecutive state championships, and has outscored opponents this season, 704-0. They are more than that, however, to the 1,931 people here who all know one another’s names: The Redmen are proof that hard work and accountability still mean something.
Gee whiz! Really? Do you promise? This sounds ripped from the headli...TV scripts of The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. Has Times reporter Joe Drape, the author of this piece, ever viewed these two wildly popular satirical news programs? Does he not understand that Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and a parade of fake correspondents have, for good reason, mercilessly skewered this type of reporting for years?
Do Drape and his Times editors not realize that the greater the cognitive dissonance and contextual irony - i.e. America's current abysmal reputation as a rash, lazy and arrogant imperialistic nation that condones torture - the funnier the piece? In other words, how can they not see how unintentionally hilarious this story is, even more so because, in sync with George Bush's America, it embarrassingly and inanely bullied its way onto the front page of our nation's paper of record.
BACK (Page A23):
Decks Are Stacked in War Crimes Cases, Lawyers Say
Speaking of America's tarnished reputation in the eyes of the world...
Intro and excerpts:
The administration’s problem-plagued military commission system started up here again Thursday, but it began with contentious new claims that the war crimes cases are unfairly stacked against detainees.
Military defense lawyers said that on the eve of the hearing, military prosecutors told them for the first time of a government witness who might be able to help a detainee, Omar Ahmed Khadr, counter the war crimes charges on which he was arraigned Thursday.
Mr. Khadr, the only Canadian detainee at Guantánamo, has been held here since he was 16. He is now 21.
“It is an eyewitness the government has always known about,” said Lt. Cmdr. William C. Kuebler of the Navy, Mr. Khadr’s chief military lawyer, who questioned why the military was only now informing the defense. Mr. Khadr is charged with the murder of an American soldier, spying, material support for terrorism and other charges.
The controversy over the witness emerged after the hearing was completed. Defense lawyers said the new disclosures by prosecutors in closed-door meetings showed that the system was not intended to be fair.
Michael J. Berrigan, the deputy chief military defense lawyer for the Guantánamo cases, told reporters that defense lawyers had been told Tuesday night of the existence of a witness who could provide information that could help Mr. Khadr.
“How we can have newly discovered evidence is beyond me,” since prosecutors have been pursuing charges against Mr. Khadr for years, Mr. Berrigan said. The lawyers said they could not describe the witness because prosecutors told them the information was classified.
“Every time you all come down here you see the problems in this process,” Mr. Berrigan said. Spokesmen for the military said prosecutors turn over information that could help a defendant when they learn of it. The military prosecutors declined to answer questions from reporters.
In response to defense assertions that military commission participants are under pressure from superiors to get war crimes cases moving quickly, a spokeswoman for the Office of Military Commissions, Lt. Catheryne Pully, said, “Our interest is in making sure the process is done correctly, not quickly.”
Commander Kuebler used the courtroom session to mount a strenuous challenge to the military judge hearing the case, Col. Peter E. Brownback III of the Army.
Commander Kuebler noted that the judge had barred the defense from raising challenges at this stage of the case to the constitutionality of the military commission system. He added that the judge had told him in a closed-door meeting that he had “taken a lot of heat” after issuing one of the rulings in June that stalled the commission cases. Pentagon officials and a White House spokesman said they disagreed with the June rulings.
Colonel Brownback, clearly irritated, said he had not intended Commander Kuebler to disclose that conversation but said, “I never said anyone who had any influence over me said anything."
Well, that's convincing.
Nothing to see here. Move right along. Hey, how 'bout those Smith Center Redmen, huh?