The OLC interrogation memos have been released, and an avalanche of predictable commentary is rolling downhill. (See, for example, Jeffrey Toobin’s “I haven’t read them but Jay Bybee is a federal judge!”)
As the commentators show their feathers to each other, see if any of them cite a single vote by the Senate or the House to define waterboarding as torture throughout the years when the Congress was fully aware of the practice. The DOJ legal analysis was the best effort of front-line lawyers in the aftermath of a massive attack on the United States. Their Congressional critics of today who did not demand a defining vote on what constituted torture are the worst sort of hypocrites. They are the lawmakers, and chose –even when House and Senate were controlled by Democrats from January 2007 to the present– to avoid passing a law bringing clarity to the very gray areas of the law of interrogation.
UPDATE: Former Attorney General Mukasey and former CIA Director Hayden pen an important op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today. Read the whole thing, but clip and save thse paragraphs:
The terrorist Abu Zubaydah (sometimes derided as a low-level operative of questionable reliability, but who was in fact close to KSM and other senior al Qaeda leaders) disclosed some information voluntarily. But he was coerced into disclosing information that led to the capture of Ramzi bin al Shibh, another of the planners of Sept. 11, who in turn disclosed information which — when combined with what was learned from Abu Zubaydah — helped lead to the capture of KSM and other senior terrorists, and the disruption of follow-on plots aimed at both Europe and the U.S. Details of these successes, and the methods used to obtain them, were disclosed repeatedly in more than 30 congressional briefings and hearings beginning in 2002, and open to all members of the Intelligence Committees of both Houses of Congress beginning in September 2006. Any protestation of ignorance of those details, particularly by members of those committees, is pretense.
The techniques themselves were used selectively against only a small number of hard-core prisoners who successfully resisted other forms of interrogation, and then only with the explicit authorization of the director of the CIA. Of the thousands of unlawful combatants captured by the U.S., fewer than 100 were detained and questioned in the CIA program. Of those, fewer than one-third were subjected to any of the techniques discussed in these opinions. As already disclosed by Director Hayden, as late as 2006, even with the growing success of other intelligence tools, fully half of the government’s knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those interrogations.
You should recognize three of today’s guests, but I’ll also be talking with Mary Fitzpatick of WorldConcern.org, who is on the ground in Chad directing relief to refugees from Darfur.
Tens of thousands of Americans attended tea parties yesterday, and the vast trove of video, audio and print posts on the parties proves that they were indeed grassroots expressions of concern over the direction of the country and that the vast , vast majority of participants were mainstream Americans eager to communicate concern over the massive deficits proposed by President Obama, a spending spree which far, far exceeds even the significant amount of red ink spilled by President Bush. The large crowds in California especially, which just got hammered with massive tax hikes to pay for out-of-control spending in the Golden State, were animated by a desire to send a message to Sacramento that its ways are deeply unpopular and that the deeply deceptive six ballot measures scehduled for a vote in May are facing a huge opposition. Thousands of people showed up at scores of locations around the country, which made the gatherings big news deserving serious reporting.
As any fair reporting would have conveyed, the crowds were overwhelmingly middle class and the moods’ celebratory. Of course some extreme viewpoints glommed on at the fringes of the crowd and some unusual types showed up, but the massive numbers of ordinary, hard-working and tax-paying Americans deserved fair representation in the MSM, which of course they did not receive.
This biased coverage was nicely summed up by the hilarious and instantly archetypal “report” by CNN’s Susan Roesgen, which begins with Susan plucking from the hundreds of available tea party participants one guy with an Obama/Hitler sign, and then follows this superb bit of news gathering with a contentious, argumentative interview with a man with a baby who wants to talk about the principles of Lincoln. When Roesgen morphs into Robert Gibbs and begins to lecture the man about his eligibility for a tax refund and the amount of stimulus spending the state of Illinois is going to receive, Roesgen does more to end the media bias debate in this country than a dozen books by Bernard Goldberg. We can all rely on Roesgen and her producers to keep a close watch on the White House and the Democratic majorities in Congress, right?
It is indeed wrong and offensive to make comparisons of the president to Hitler, just as it was to do the same to President Bush, though I don’t recall ever seeing a CNN reporter object to those outrages or call out such a protester. By all means send me a link to such an exchange and I will post it as an update. Bush was in office for eight years, and Obama for three months, so I expect that there must be at least 32 instances of a CNN “reporter” challenging an anti-Bush demonstrator on the offensiveness of their displays.
It was extremely unprofessional for “reporter” Roesgen to attempt to brand the tea parties by reference to that particular guy, but it got worse when Roesgen interrupts and hectors the participant she called on to explain his views, and then, clearly flustered, to brand the tea parties as the product of the “right wing Fox News” or to seek sympathy from the audience by calling the assembly “anti-CNN” and “not fit for family viewing.” I played the audio a number of times on my show yesterday because it is at once so hilarious and also so damningly revealing about Roesgen’s politics and utter lack of professionalism. She’s an Obama-Pelosi apologist, and after yesterday’s fit, she’ll never be anything but that. Get her a show on MSNBC with the other Obama apologists, but how can CNN continue to treat her as a “reporter?” The veil dropped and the public got all the confirmation it will ever need: She’s a lefty pretending to be an “objective” journalist, Olberman in a skirt. CNN can’t unbake that cake.
That’s not even the most important revelation. Roesgen demonstrated that she would intervene in a story to twist it –that’s what made the few minutes so priceless. There are lots of lefty journalists. A few years back on my show Thomas Edsall, a very influential MSMer then at the Washington Post, candidly branded mainstream media as “overwhelmingly left” and put the ratio of liberal-to-conservative in the MSM at 15-to-25 to 1. Very few honest folks dispute Edsall, but the increasingly obvious problem is that the liberal reporters are becoming less talented and less learned, and much more willing to manipulate the news. Roesgen was just embarrassingly obvious about her limits and her “journalistic ethics,” but she’s hardly alone. Every day on CNN, Wolf Blitzer –a smart professional who along with Anderson Cooper are struggling to uphold the last bits of CNN’s reputation– has to make it through the Situation Room carrying the burden of Jack Cafferty’s sophomoric rants. Cafferty was supposed to be a sort of light-weight Andy Rooney, but he’s become a left-wing crank, an older male version of Roesgen. Add in Rick Sanchez shouting out his own inanities and CNN has suddenly got a Murderer’s Row of laughingstock “journalists.”
The old sort of bias at CNN –Christiane Amanpour being the most obvious of the leftwingers with mics at the network– was at least concealed behind the faux sophistication of far flung travel and apparent learning. Center-left and even pure left reporters are not the problem if they transparent about their politics and not tasked with objective reporting of the oppositions positions and platform. On Tuesday I spent an hour with the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof, a man of the left, but smart and experienced, and I suspect confident enough about his own talents to not feel obliged to disfigure the arguments of his opponents. Sending lightweights out to report important but complicated stories fairly invites them to manipulate the news because they simply don’t grasp what is being argued. In over their heads they panic and start punching below the belt. That doesn’t happen with talented lefties.
That’s a subset of reporters that certainly excludes Roesgen, Sanchez and Cafferty. These are, simply put, not very bright people for whom ever unscripted moment is a cliff; certainly not professional, and not of any use to a network trying hard to set the “standard” for straight news gathering.
Yesterday was a huge opportunity for CNN to demonstrate that it could be an objective news gathering organization through the years of Obama. It flunked the test, and lost millions of potential viewers to Fox on a more-or-less permanent basis. Ratings suicide by stupidity.
Isn’t there anyone in the executive suites of CNN watching the demise of the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, and soon the Los Angeles Times? Has the network given up and simply decided it needs to compete with MSNBC? No serious news organization can afford to drive away a third to half of its potential customers. By lurching so far to the left, CNN is risking not just the conservative cable watcher, but also the center-right and independent viewer, and even no doubt some Democrats who prefer their news straight.
But so deep is the bias that there doesn’t seem to be anything that CNN could do to remedy it, except perhaps make Blitzer and Cooper pull 12 hour shifts with only Candy Crowley and Ed Henry reporting from the field.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin discovers Susan Roesgen “reporting” on a Bush-Hitler demonstrator.