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Reflections on a House Divided

Tortured Journalism
Part I

Recent writings by The Washington Post's Dan Froomkin on the alleged role of high-level officials of the Bush administration in the development and implementation of "harsh interrogation" methods - for use on suspected terrorists - provide an object lesson in the meaning of the term "media bias," as well as a unique window into the world-view of the liberal elite

In an article entitled "Torture's Bad Seeds" WP columnist Dan Froomkin piously echoes the testimony of a former US Navy general council

"[Alberto J.] Mora reminds us: "The United States was founded on the principle that every person -- not just each citizen -- possesses certain inalienable rights that no government, including our own, may violate."

This is subsequent to his - Froomkin's - proclamation that --

"...a Senate investigation is tracking the rot to its source."

Least we forget:

"If they really believe the time comes when the only way they can get a reliable piece of information is to beat it out of someone or put a drug in their body to talk it out of ‘em, then they can present it to the Foreign Intelligence Court, or some other court, just under the same circumstances we do with wiretaps. Post facto." --
 William Jefferson Clinton
(emphasis added)


"In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody.
Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. ...But on that day, no objections were raised.
...the CIA gave key legislative overseers about 30 private briefings, some of which included descriptions of that technique and other harsh interrogationn methods

...[Rep] Pelosi [who was present on those occasions] did not raise objections at the time."
Hill briefed on waterboarding in 2002
(emphases added)

Mr. Froomkin's interest in the subject at hand seems to be oddly limited in scope. In fact, quick searches under the headings "Froomkin Torture Clinton"  and "Froomkin Torture Pelosi" Yielded nothing at all on those topics.
Perhaps he is a specialist.

On the other hand one may well wonder just what Mr Froomkin might be saying on this topic now, if it were Mr Clinton - or someone akin to him in philosophy and world view - who was in the Oval Office and who was also the one whose immediate subordinates were developing and implementing  polices - such as those advanced by Mr Clinton himself and quoted above - which allowed officials to authorize operatives to "...beat it out of someone or put a drug in their body..."

One also may wonder what the good Mr Froomkin might have written if no harsh measures had ever received any explicit or tacit encouragement from anyone with authority greater than that held by company commanders or intel operatives AND (G-d forbid) terrorists were subsequently successful in undertaking another major attack against Americans here at home.  And, the success of said attack  could be - even remotely - connected to the fact that harsh interrogation methods had not been employed. I.e. that there were any reason whatsoever to believe that the use of harsh interrogation methods may have - if used at the right time and on the right suspects - prevented the tragedy or simply mitigated its effects. Can there be any doubt at all that many liberals and Democrats would take an occasion of that kind as a  opportunity to proclaim the "ineptitude" and/or "criminal malfeasance" of the administration - for "failing" to prevent the attack and to do so by "any means necessary" up to and including waterboarding or worse? In doing so they would merely be reprising the performances of individuals such as Nadine Strossen and media outlets such as the New York Times  in regards to  the use of "racial profiling" or failure thereof, by law enforcement agencies in the aftermath of 9/11 . In which case those named above and others managed to condemn the administration's "failure" to stop the 9/11 attacks through the use of the very method "racial profiling" concerning the use of which they - Nadine Strossen, NYTs, etc - had spent the previous year or more in a sustained effort to abolish and criminalize.

Would Mr Froomkin have be amongst the star players in a circus of that kind?
G-d willing, we will not have another occasion in which to find that out.

It would not be too surprising though if Mr Froomkin would or would have - in any of the circumstance posited above - simply followed the example provided by his liberal and Democratic elders during and after the run up to the air attack launched on Iraq by Pres Clinton in 1998. Then, stalwarts such as Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Bob Graham, John Kerry, etc were stumbling over each other in a competition to outdo their fellows in the fervour with which they affirmed the existence of Mr Hussein's
weapons of mass destruction and the vividness with which they described the horrors that would ensue if we failed to act promptly and forcefully to destroy them. Most of which same statesmen and women then proceeded from 2002 onwards to dig in their heals as much as politically feasible prior to the inception of Mr Bush's undertaking - one having the same rational as that launched by Mr Clinton, only done with the intent of actually ensuring that the stated objectives - of both campaigns - were obtained. Statesmen and women who then tuned on a dime to resume a relentless and vitriolic opposition to Mr Bush's effort as soon as there was a window of political opportunity sufficient for doing so. And who continued on that tack regardless of how those efforts affected military operations or endangered the lives of our serving men and women.

In all fairness I do not know whether Mr Froomkin joined with his mentors in  supporting the air camping undertaken by Mr Clinton in 1998 - search of the topic  "Froomkin Saddam Clinton" yielded no results either. Perhaps he was just too young then or simply as yet uninvolved in such matters. In any case though he seems to have absorbed the relevant lessons - i.e. partisanship above all other considerations - implicit in that episode, to have done so very thoroughly, and to apply them with happy and carefree abandon.

(C) David Aronin 2008