It would appear that the 2005 Pulitzer prize winning Dana Priest story on the “secret prisons” was a rework of a 2002 story.
In 2002 the focus was on the torture and the story had several references with quotes about how productive the system had been in ferreting out al-Qaida operatives around the world. Actually, the story comes off looking rather pro-government as it prosecuted the war on terror. And forget sources, people were at least alluding to the program on the record with a wink and a nod.
Sadly, what has really changed is the climate. Some might argue Dana Priest and the Washington Post, to some extent, filled out and re-cycled an old story three years later to take advantage of the climate and given the Bush administration yet another black eye for no reason. One that it obviously didn’t need, especially over a program everyone seemed to be rather pleased with three years before.
Although that in itself raises questions about the prize and how it is awarded, there is something else about this story that I found even more interesting.
The 2002 story is not in the online archive of the Washington Post.
Why not? Was it there and then removed? Or was it never there? If it was there and has been removed, who removed it and why. If it was never there, why wasn’t it?
And does this mean that the Washington Post archives are not an accurate reflection of what was printed in the paper?
We all know that prizes like the Pulitzer, Nobel Peace Prize and the Oscars are being awarded in many cases in order to make a political point rather than any independent merit of whoever is receiving it. The Nobel committee admitted that Jimmy Carter’s prize was a way of taking a slap at George Bush and the Oscar for Fahrenheit 9/11 speaks for itself. And now was the Pulitzer awarded for political rather than journalistic reasons? Why else would a rewrite of a three year old story be awarded the prize?
And were the newspaper archives manipulated in order to conceal the story’s origins?