CNN’s Christiane Amanpour can’t seem to help herself. Whatever the subject of the program, she’s inclined to inject mention of Israel and its alleged myriad faults. An interview with Tibet’s revered Dalai Lama prompted her to insert jarring comparisons of Tibet and the Palestinian “nakba.” (Though with no musings on the absence of Tibetan suicide bombers.)
It happened again on January 20, 2010 while she was engaged in a heated on-air exchange involving Marc Thiessen and Philippe Sands about American use of waterboarding in interrogating illegal combatants. Thiessen claimed waterboarding doesn’t constitute torture and that valuable information had been gained by the CIA through the use of enhanced interrogation techniques that prevented terror attacks. Sands countered that waterboarding does constitute torture and is ineffectual in eliciting information from prisoners.
Then, quoting directly from her statements in a previous CNN segment, Thiessen charged Amanpour with spreading false information in comparing American interrogation methods with those of the genocidal regime of the Khmer Rouge at its infamous S-21 camp where prisoners were handcuffed and submerged in water-filled metal boxes during interrogation, and where thousands died. Thiessen argued that U.S. methods caused no harm or pain to the prisoner. Hearing her own words quoted back at her and bluntly characterized as false, Amanpour became visibly agitated and uncomfortable. In the tense back and forth focused on American handling of interrogation, Amanpour abruptly and incongruously injected Israel into the debate. Here’s the clip, followed by an excerpt from the transcript:
THIESSEN: We did not submerge people in a box full of water. S-21…AMANPOUR: Excuse me a second. That is called waterboarding.THIESSEN: No, it’s not.AMANPOUR: You can say it which ever way you want.HIESSEN: Christiane — Christiane, you’re absolutely wrong.AMANPOUR: Philippe, this was Pol Pot and the genocidal regime…THIESSEN: Fourteen thousand people killed at S-21, seven survivors.AMANPOUR: Correct. Excuse me. You’re trying to obfuscate the debate here.THIESSEN: I’m not.AMANPOUR: That prison was full of images of water torture. You can call it whatever you like.THIESSEN: Which is nothing like what the CIA did. Do you have any…AMANPOUR: It is what the Israelis use, the waterboarding.
What the Israelis use?! Where did that come from?
What does it signify that when Amanpour was flustered by a guest strongly challenging her about the factual accuracy of dubious allegations regarding American conduct, her instinctive retort, under pressure, was to redirect the discussion towards Israel? Does she think that invoking Israeli misconduct will buttress her case? On what basis does she make the ludicrous charge that Israel engages in water torture akin to Pol Pot’s regime that killed thousands of prisoners?
Her extreme accusations against America were countered by a knowledgeable voice. Her gratuitous smear of Israel — though only a passing swipe — was unchallenged.
CNN has faced public outcry before regarding the journalist’s bias where Israel is concerned, especially in the wake of her error-filled “God’s Jewish Warriors” segment. While that program was an extended display of her hostility toward Israel, the January 20 episode is a revealing instance of her troubling impulses and distorted beliefs about the Jewish state.