It’s Not Torture When the President Does It

Read Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane in today’s New York Times and be enlightened [emphasis mine]:

For two years on the presidential campaign trail, Barack Obama rallied crowds with strongly worded critiques of the Bush administration’s most controversial counterterrorism programs, from hiding terrorism suspects in secret Central Intelligence Agency jails to questioning them with methods he denounced as torture.

Now Mr. Obama must take charge of the C.I.A., in what is already proving to be one of the more treacherous patches of his transition to the White House.

You might think that the treacherousness comes from the seriousness of the offenses sanctioned and committed by the Bush administration… But you’d be wrong:

Last week, John O. Brennan, a C.I.A. veteran who was widely seen as Mr. Obama’s likeliest choice to head the intelligence agency, withdrew his name from consideration after liberal critics attacked his alleged role in the agency’s detention and interrogation program. Mr. Brennan protested that he had been a “strong opponent” within the agency of harsh interrogation tactics, yet Mr. Obama evidently decided that nominating Mr. Brennan was not worth a battle with some of his most ardent supporters on the left.

There you go: Obama is being forced to navigate this treacherous patch because the wild-eyed lefties who worked their butts off to help get him elected are now turning the screws on him (apt metaphor intended) to appoint a head of C.I.A. who does not support torture.

Oh, excuse me — “harsh interrogation techniques.” You know, like the suffocation by drowning “harsh technique” known as waterboarding [emphasis mine]:

One of the retired generals meeting with the Obama team on Wednesday, Paul D. Eaton, who oversaw the training of Iraqi forces for the Army in 2003 and 2004, said in an interview Tuesday that it was crucial for leaders to send the right message on the treatment of prisoners.

General Eaton pointed out that Vice President Dick Cheney once dismissed waterboarding, the near-drowning tactic considered by many legal authorities to be torture, as a “dunk in the water” and said such statements influenced rank-and-file soldiers to believe that brutality was not really prohibited.

This is not journalistic objectivity. This is a lie [itals are Andrew’s; bolds are mine]:

… Like many in the MSM, the NYT cannot bring itself to describe the techniques that the CIA has used as “torture.” And yet we know that the CIA has tortured prisoners under the plain legal definition of torture, and we know that this was the whole point of giving the CIA explicit legislative permission for this in 2006. No doubt some of the techniques only rise to the level of abuse and not the “severe” mental or physical pain and suffering standard for torture. But we know that many go and have consistently gone beyond this under Bush and Cheney – and that that line was deliberately blurred or rendered meaningless by a hired gun like John Yoo. …


In fact, the only time the word “torture” is used in the NYT piece is to describe techniques practised by other countries. This is an important point because it shows how the NYT is now actively deceiving its readers about this matter.

Andrew challenges the Times “to cite one legal authority (John Yoo does not count) that says waterboarding is not torture[.]”

Of course, the Paper of Record will not do that — and Mark Mazzetti in particular certainly won’t, as he has a history of distorted reporting on the subject of the Bush administration’s use of torture [all emphasis in original]:

Yesterday [Tuesday, November 25], The New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti, in reporting on John Brennan’s withdrawal from consideration for a top intelligence post, wrote:

The opposition to Mr. Brennan had been largely confined to liberal blogs, and there was not an expectation he would face a particularly difficult confirmation process. Still, the episode shows that the C.I.A.’s secret detention program remains a particularly incendiary issue for the Democratic base, making it difficult for Mr. Obama to select someone for a top intelligence post who has played any role in the agency’s campaign against Al Qaeda since the Sept. 11 attacks.

I quoted that paragraph yesterday to show how the establishment media is acknowledging the role blogs played in this episode, prompting Billmon to materialize in the comment section and make this point:

Glenn should have noted the sly way that asshole Mazzetti slides from “the CIA’s secret detention program remains a particularly incendiary issue for the Democratic base” — because, of course, only those wacko lefties worry about war crimes — to the completely bogus assertion that said concerns have made it “difficult for Mr. Obama to select someone . . . who has played any role in the agency’s campaign against Al Qaeda since 9/11″ (emphasis mine).

So, according to the New Pravda (sometimes known as the New York Times) to criticize crimes against humanity is to oppose the entire campaign against the people responsible for 9/11. Dick Cheney couldn’t have put it better.

Now THAT’S some sleazy journalism we can believe in.

Note that Mazzetti reinforces Billmon’s point by using that same sleazy, dishonest tactic in today’s piece:

Mark M. Lowenthal, an intelligence veteran who left a senior post at the C.I.A. in 2005, said Mr. Obama’s decision to exclude Mr. Brennan from contention for the top job had sent a message that “if you worked in the C.I.A. during the war on terror, you are now tainted,” and had created anxiety in the ranks of the agency’s clandestine service.

Thanks to Memeorandum for most of the above links.

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One Comment on “It’s Not Torture When the President Does It”

  1. I heard that Ann Coulter had a fall, broke her jaw, and it is now WIRED SHUT!!

    All we need now if for Dick Cheney to hit a fire hydrant with his car, be trapped in the wreckage with the water spraying on his face (a la “waterboarding”) and we will KNOW there is a God with a sense of humor!

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