Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Torture At The Times

That most left wing of rags, the NYT, runs an utterly bizzare lead article today on waterboarding, the purpose of which is to paint waterboarding as actual "torture" beyond the bounds of legitimate debate. They are setting the stage for the show trials against the members of the Office of Legal Counsel, discussed in the post below, who first opined that waterboarding was not "torture" within the legal definition of that term.

In Adopting Harsh Tactics, No Inquiry Into Their Past Use is possibly the most poorly written and poorly reasoned article I have read in a long time. In it, the NYT authors throw the kitchen sink at waterboarding in an effort to paint it as torture that should never have been approved. I won't bother to fisk this utterly bizzare piece beyond a few points.

One, the logic at the heart of this piece is more torturous that any act of waterboarding could possibly be. The main thesis of the authors is that forms of waterboarding have been used throughout history to actually torture people by evil or medieval regimes and that waterboarding would never have been approved if Bush, Tennent et. al had known of this history.

One, the authors are just incredibly sloppy in lumping all forms of this technique into a single heading. There is no comparison between many of the forms of "waterboarding" used by historic regimes that involve actual drowning or destruction of throat and lung tissue with the methods adopted by the U.S. See discussion here. Beyond that, what do the "gruesome origins" of this technique have to do with how a safe variant of it was used in the U.S.?

Two, the authors make a huge deal out of the fact that many believe that use of this technique would lead to false confessions. One, it was never used to extract confessions by our CIA, it was used to gather intelligence. Two, by all accounts, it succeeded wonderfully in that capacity. Use of the technique is explicitly credited with thwarting a 9-11 style attack in Los Angeles following information provided by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed under waterboarding. Everyone in the know, from George Tennent on down - and up - is vociferous in their indications that waterboarding KSM was a major key in stopping al Qaeda attacks on the U.S. that would have occurred otherwise. The NYT finally comes around to that fact, but only after mentioning multiple times that waterboarding is an ineffective method of coercive interrogation likely to result in false information. It is surreal.

By far my biggest chuckle from this ridiculous piece of agenda journalism came when I read of how the top Democrats and Republicans were briefed on waterboarding in 2002, with Nancy Pelosi being among that select group. That fact certainly muddles the ground for anyone to prosecute merely those who rendered a legal opinion on waterboarding. Ah but, as the NYT notes, she really was cluseless:

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who in 2002 was the ranking Democrat on the House committee, has said in public statements that she recalls being briefed on the methods, including waterboarding. She insists, however, that the lawmakers were told only that the C.I.A. believed the methods were legal — not that they were going to be used.

Of that doesn't bend you over in laughter you have no sense of humor. This is the Pelosi variant of Bill Clinton's famous "I didn't inhale." It is beyond any reasonable belief. Its the "I am really a clueless airhead" defense. Hmmmmm, that said, it might work for her.

Oh well, all good for a chuckle as the NYT tries to set the stage for political show trials against those in the Office of Legal Council who wrote the memos providing an opinion of legality for waterboarding. I would imagine the NYT will manufacture an article every day or so on this for the next month at least in order to keep it in the public eye. They just aren't loosing stock value fast enough.

1 comment:

Ex-Dissident said...

I believe that the NYT article is written on the behalf of the Administration. The logic in these releases is no different than the logic in the recent DHS memo release. If it were simply a matter of poorly reasoned essays, I would also consider it relatively harmless comedy, but I think there is another tactic exploited here. The goal of propaganda is to misdirect. I think all these releases are diversions, to keep our eyes off a bigger story. On the other hand, maybe this is a multi-pronged attack against 1/2 of Americans and each prong is designed to do significant damage. The goal of Democrats is to cement their hold on the political power and to increase their influence. What do the left voters believe they could gain here? Thoughtless herd.