Investigating Juan Cole Rather than Ahmed Chalabi

James Risen reports that Glen Carle, a former CIA officer, says the Bush Administration was looking for dirt on Juan Cole in 2005. In one incident, Carle’s supervisor asked whether the CIA had anything on Cole.

Mr. Carle said that sometime that year, he was approached by his supervisor, David Low, about Professor Cole. Mr. Low and Mr. Carle have starkly different recollections of what happened. According to Mr. Carle, Mr. Low returned from a White House meeting one day and inquired who Juan Cole was, making clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to gather information on him. Mr. Carle recalled his boss saying, “The White House wants to get him.”

“ ‘What do you think we might know about him, or could find out that could discredit him?’ ” Mr. Low continued, according to Mr. Carle.

Mr. Carle said that he warned that it would be illegal to spy on Americans and refused to get involved, but that Mr. Low seemed to ignore him.

“But what might we know about him?” he said Mr. Low asked. “Does he drink? What are his views? Is he married?”

Then, several months later, a CIA analyst sought information about Cole again.

Several months after the initial incident, Mr. Carle said, a colleague on the National Intelligence Council asked him to look at an e-mail he had just received from a C.I.A. analyst. The analyst was seeking advice about an assignment from the executive assistant to the spy agency’s deputy director for intelligence, John A. Kringen, directing the analyst to collect information on Professor Cole.

Now, Risen connects these two incidents with successful right wing attempts to persuade Yale not to offer Cole a prestigious position.

Cole’s critics — in The New York Sun, National Review, The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, several of whom are now praising Yale for not hiring him — have maintained that they aren’t using political tests, but object to Cole’s career on a variety of grounds. They point to numerous quotes he has made (generally in his blog) that they say show a willingness to blame the United States and Israel inappropriately (Cole has said that some of the quotes are taken out of context and that others represent legitimate opinion). Several have also criticized his scholarship, saying that he is spending too much time on blogging and questioning his output of serious scholarship. (His supporters point to a long publication list.) Campus Watch, a pro-Israel group, maintains a long list of articles about Cole, most of which it endorses for their criticism of him.

But the timing also happens to coincide with Juan Cole’s correct predictions that Ahmed Chalabi would not win the 2005 Iraqi elections. We know from AJ Rossmiller that the intelligence community made great efforts to ignore Cole’s predictions.

Chalabi won just .5% of the vote. Iyad Allawi, in whom the Administration also invested their hopes, won just 8% of the vote. And the Shiite coalition dominated by SCIRI and the Sadrists got 41% of the votes. In his book, Still Broken, AJ describes that he saw this coming.

After Iraq’s winter elections, the results validated the predictions contained in the paper I’d written in the fall. It created something of a stir because the paper turned out to be remarkably accurate, far more so than the forecasts of other agencies and departments. Before the election occurred, a high-ranking official requested a follow-up evaluation of our assessments, and I wrote a memo that described our precision. The memo made its way up through the chain, and a few days later the office got a note from Stephen Cambone, the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, praising both the prediction and the self-evaluation.

Unfortunately, the bulk of the last half of AJ’s book describes how such accurate predictions are generally weeded out by higher-ranking analysts worried that their office’s work product might piss off the Administration.


When AJ was asked how he got the 2005 election right, one of the things he pointed to, half-seriously, was the open source work of Juan Cole.

I began to write the explanation of our methodology, and I tried to resist the temptation to criticize other agencies while explaining how and why we did things differently. State, in particular, was very sensitive about their screwup, and I didn’t want to piss anybody off.

“Sir, can’t I just say that I copied and pasted Juan Cole?”

Now, I’m not suggesting that the White House was digging dirt on Juan Cole because he correctly predicted Ahmed Chalabi would get smoked in a democratic election.

But it’s probably worth noting what opinions Cole expressed that generated this attention in the first place.


Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

81 replies
  1. PeasantParty says:

    Scoop de jour!

    I thought the CIA was only supposed to operate off shore! Okay, well I guess those secret laws that are in the Patriot Act keep the changes secret as well as the known unknowns. Sheesh!

    The more you uncover and the more I see about Chalabi, the more I think that the Bush crime family hired him to help cause the Middle East problems we have for oil/gas/corporate gains.

  2. orionATL says:

    at which citation some intemperate fool wrote this:

    “orionATL June 14th, 2011 at 4:02 pm 14

    can we stop over-thinking this issue.

    what the fbi has just finished codifying is phenomenally dangerous to individual political liberty.

    any, repeat, any power or authority given to a national police force such as the fbi under the control of a prez, PM, king

    will be, not might be, but WILL be used against that prez’, PM’s political opponents.

    a tiny recent non-fbi historical example: the use of the secret service to mug anti-bush protesters appearing with bush.

    do those of you here “thoughtfully” approaching this current unacceptable codification of prior fbi misconduct

    really understand why the language of the first ten amendments was so absolute?

    do we have to wait for the next gross abuse before we appreciate the severe erosion the fbi’s prospective “cover your ass” document represents?

    the vague, ephermeral justifications?

    threat of violence

    threat to property

    threat to national security “

    • Adam503 says:

      The whole mess in Japan has happened because the reactors were designed with 20 backup generators built in the basement of the plant protected against earthquakes, but ZERO back up generators built above ground protected again floods.

      Oh $%@# Fecal Matter.

      ….from the wikipedia text. Important reminder now about wiki-anything. We don’t know who wrote the text. Can’t be verified.

      Flooding risk

      A flood assessment performed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2010 indicated that the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Generating Station, “did not have adequate procedures to protect the intake structure and auxiliary building against external flooding events.”[6] The assessment also indicated that the facility was not adequately prepared for a “worst-case” flooding scenario. A number of potential flood water penetration points were discovered that could have impacted the raw feed water supply to the cooling system, the axilliary water supply and main switchgear (electrical) room. By early 2011, corrective measures had been implemented.[6]

  3. klynn says:

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention EW.

    Have a great time at NN 2011. Hope this story gets a great deal of attention there on the heels of Mueller.

    BTW, I would like to thank everyone here at EW’s and FDL for being a source of insight for discussions on issues that many have not even heard nor will ever learn. This has helped me to be a better parent and guide the little klynn’s in their critical thinking skills.

    On that note, two weeks ago, son-of-klynn, who has posted here a few times, graduated from high school with honors. Thanks to all who have been an encouragement to him.

  4. bmaz says:

    Hmmm, seems this might all be easier to do with a handpicked plant at the FBI under the “new rules”. Heck, it would be presumptively legitimate under the new DOJ guidelines and there would likely be little in the way of a written paper record preserved.

  5. SaltinWound says:

    Off topic, but the Weiner scandal (not to mention Viagra fueled rape in Libya) has led to many conversations about things men do that women would not. Wheel, if you get a chance, who was the female CIA supervisor (in Iraq or Afghanistan?) who kept ordering more torture even after she knew it would not lead to any information?

  6. Frank33 says:

    Oh Mr. COINTELPRO, it is so lovely to see you again. First they came for Juan Cole, then they will come for whoever they can. The US Government is run by criminal terrorists as proven by Wikileaks.

    OilBomber is the same as Bush. Risen is also a Targeted Individual as is Peter Lance as is anyone who questions 9-11. All Neoconservatives, including OilBomber, are traitors to the US Constitution.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Yep, it’s more important to silence political critics than to let their superior information, insight or values crowd out or even compete with the PTB.

    This is a corollary, a further step, to the DoD’s then policy of not hiring senior staff who spoke Arabic or knew anything about the ME, and might, in simply doing their jobs competently, expose the ignorance and malevolence of their political leaders. Not that the agencies Mr. Obama’s people run are any more “liberal” about appointing competent staff who might, on occasion, be a smidgeon off key. Perhaps that’s one reason Obama is so fond of appointing “bipartisan” Republicans instead of his own followers.

    • PeasantParty says:

      This is a corollary, a further step, to the DoD’s then policy of not hiring senior staff who spoke Arabic or knew anything about the ME, and might, in simply doing their jobs competently, expose the ignorance and malevolence of their political leaders.

      I still can’t get over that one issue about Arabic speakers. Also, the Sibel Edmonds stuff and was it Hyde or Hatch that is so involved with Turkey and that oil Pipeline with two destinations in Turkey?

      The fact that we actually have ex-military being used as contractors to spy on their own innocent countrymen is another blow you out of the water shock. This military code and promises to protect the country and it’s people from harm abroad and within is a joke when you look at what is going on. Is there nobody with enough integrity and patriotic loyalty to do or say anything?

      • lysias says:

        Also, the Sibel Edmonds stuff and was it Hyde or Hatch that is so involved with Turkey and that oil Pipeline with two destinations in Turkey?

        It was Speaker Hastert, I believe. Another “H”.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    These sorts of intimate, political “look and see” reviews, as awful as they are, beg the question of what’s being looked for and why, and what policies are therefore being advocated silently, without attribution.

    These sorts of “reviews” are not new. They were familiar to those who survived the McCarthy era witch hunts, which burnt imaginary witches across the American social landscape, not just in Hollywood or at federal agencies. American college campuses were frequent targets. As the players of this game would know, the mere fact of an “investigation” could derail a tenure-track career, let alone discovery of anything remotely adverse to the PTB.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Every large organization is full of appeasers, hosts quite a number of predators, who often make it to the top and control the selection process for those following them, and admits a few legitimate advocates for questioning and change. The latter rarely make it higher than assistant to the president, and then more often because they amplify predators’ goals than because they advocate change that would objectively improve how well an organization does its job.

      The point is this. The dominant response to knowledge of a government “investigation” into a candidate vying for higher position is similar to that evoked by the smell of rotting meat. Appeasers avert their eyes and sidle away. Predators lead them in that direction under the pretense of offering continuing support. True friends watch and weep and help the victim look for other work.

    • Knut says:

      I remember older students at my undergraduate college (Antioch) telling me how they could recognize the FBI agents when they came on campus by their size and walk. It was the same 30 years later with KGB types, whom one could spot by their almost cat-like walk. On Cole, he was approved by the History Department, and in the end turned down by Rick Levin. Someone put the screws to Levin, who is a sensible guy and basically on our side.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The capacity to inflict debilitating, presidency-ending harm on a large university, even one as nominally independent as Yale, is considerable: withdrawing hundreds of millions in government funding and research grants, sending them to Ivy League competitors, going slow on other items such as student loan processing, freezing out grads from choice jobs are a few examples.

        The feds more publicly threatened to end Harvard’s access to federal money over its refusal to allow DoD recruiters on campus. It was only one example of the fed’s willingness to take the gloves off over things that matter to it, regardless of how much doing so might harm thousands of innocents. In a strange way, we are all Egyptians now, eh.

        • dopeyo says:

          In a strange way, we are all Egyptians now, eh.

          We’re all working for the Pharoah. (IIRC, by richard thompson)

  9. Sinestar says:

    I have hungrily read everything Juan Cole has written that I could find on the Internet. He has always seemed spot on This guy just always sounded like he knew what he was talking about in the region. He’s been on the ground in the Middle East. He has been remarkably accurate.

    Of course we must discredit those who deviate from the Hive Mind.

      • Sinestar says:

        Well, Lybia isn’t the Middle East/Central Asia. His specialty is really Pakistan, I am pretty sure.

        But I think supporting the ‘no-fly’ zone may have been an emotional response recoiling in horror at the thought of Military Ground Attack aircraft targeting civilian demonstrators. I have to say I rather support that limited engagement except that my misgiving is that mission creep is inevitable.

    • Lonn says:

      Cole, Ritter, Jason Vest of the Nation, El Baradei (Niger documents forgeries in early March of 2003) many others out in front of the invasion questioning the validity of the intelligence.

      The Rehm show has had Juan Cole on 2 times . Don’t think they had him on before the invasion. I believe she had Scott Ritter on before the invasion
      link to
      link to

      Rachel Maddow had Cole on
      link to

      More interviews with Prof Cole
      link to

      Not many MSM outlets had Cole on before the invasion when he and so many others were putting out very substantive reasons for questioning the validity of the WMD intelligence..”pack of lies”

      Our MSM was busy having Wolfowitz, Perle, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, Feith, Ledeen, Reul Marc Gerect, Micheal Rubin, Chertoff…repeating all of the deadly false WMD intelligence on their programs. How often did you see or hear Cole, Hersh, Ritter, El Baradei on any of these news outlets?

        • Lonn says:

          And ever since the invasion we have heard the same unsubstantiated claims about Iran repeated on all of these outlets. Not only allow guest to repeat the claims about Iran, Terri Gross and Rachel Maddow repeat those claims themselves. Oh we have come along way baby.

          • Sinestar says:

            I just can’t wait to invade Iran. With the smashing success in Iraq and Afghanistan, they should be a piece of cock cake if past history is anything to go by.

      • Sinestar says:

        Yep, used to listen to Rehm a lot. Heard Ritter on a lot of places, before the child molestation smear. Remember that?

        And Diane seems far too malleable anymore, so I’m not so much into her as I was.

  10. pdaly says:

    Wonder if the effort to prevent a Yale professorship for Cole was mere interference with a war critic’s career or whether it was to prevent Cole from learning about some Yale think tank that the Bush Administration would have rather not had Cole meddling in. Or maybe the plan was to shake Cole loose from his Michigan job, too, if the WH could find any dirt on him.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Landru at least offered digital peace in between nights of emotional chaos. These MOTU offer continuing war for us, profits and power for themselves.

      • Sinestar says:

        I see a comparison of the ‘Red Hours’ and our ‘War on Terra’ just as long as we tow the line, we have our worlds safe and sound. Speak out against the group think and you are ‘Un-American’ and must be destroyed at all costs. “You’re not of The Body?!” Oh ma gosh! RUN AWAY! He’s not of The Body!

  11. tambershall says:

    What really bothers me, and truly troubles me to the core of my being, is that so many “just follow orders”.
    Don’t they have any understanding of the Constitution? Don’t they care that this country, by its actions, has become as pervasive and destructive as any dictatorship? Don’t they know that the violations of our rights is the first step towards a non-democratic state?
    I can’t understand how any FBI agent could do this? Do they, like the CIA, believe that to “save” us, they must destroy everything we believe in? How long can these excuses in their head last?
    This is sick.

  12. wendydavis says:

    Wasn’t predicting Chalabi’s loss a no-brainer? Even the Bush administration couldn’t figure out what to do with him. Arrests, FBI hauling away file cabinets, then accolades, in Iran, over to Iraq…crazy shit.

    My guess it was (gasp) questioning Israel.

  13. Lonn says:

    “investigating Juan Cole rather than Ahmed Chalabi” Micheal Ledeen, Wolfowitz, Micheal Rubin, Cheney, Feith

  14. Lonn says:

    Why would Risen feed this critical story through the bloody New York Times. You remember the very msm outlet that allowed Judy “I was fucking right” Miller to use false intelligen­ce about WMD’s in Iraq stories to fill their front pages. Is Risen trying to help the NYT redeem themselves­?

    Why not feed this story through blogs and individual­s who were questionin­g the validity of the WMD intelligen­ce? Why choose the NYT to release this story through. The NYT is drowning in the Iraqi people and American soldiers blood. Feed it to reliable blogs.

    The only way for the NYT to redeem itself if to dig deep into the situation with Iran, focus on the NIE’s on Iran. Tell the truth about the I/P conflict and stop repeating what Israel and the I lobby tell them to report. Their only way to redeem themselves for the false WMD reporting

  15. cwaltz says:

    And the absolute idiocy of this decision is Chalabi was already indicted for fraud in Jordan, one of our ally countries. That, of course, made his such a “reliable” source and meant he couldn’t possibly be lying. The idiocy in Washington really makes me question why we are paying the decision makers six figure incomes when they don’t bother to suss out facts before jumping to conclusions.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    In 2005, Mr. Cheney was still running things. His tolerance for competing sources of information and competence, let alone for credible critics, is nil. Torching them was one of his favorite hobbies and doing so was one outcome of his assuming control early on of the process for hiring at federal agencies, not just the political class but the bureaucratic class. The American right has long wanted to do the same at elite American universities, especially Yale, which coincidentally twice tossed out Mr. Cheney.

    The treatment of Mr. Cole at Yale is atrocious but well within the bounds of precedent. Luckily for us, the U of M wasn’t as easily maneuvered as Yale or as prized a target.

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mr. Cole continues to be a thorn in the side of an American govt that seems intent on waging permanent war in the ME, regardless of which party controls the White House, House or Senate. And, of course, for every critic targeted, a hundred more are silenced.

    The ME, Arabic-speaking and Muslim countries are the quintessential “other” as viewed from middle class, suburban, Catholic-Christian-Jewish America. They are more foreign seeming than China or Japan, at least since the advent of electronics, digital games and devices, and rampant outsourcing.

    Keeping Americans ignorant of the peoples, histories, cultures and politics of those countries is essential in paving the political way to waging continuing war on them so that we can safeguard “our” oil.

    • PeasantParty says:

      You know, the politicians and the Pretenderdent keep that line up about our “Strategic National Security” issues over there. Is anyone ever going to press them on what exactly those issues really are?

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    My earlier comment wrongly suggested Mr. Risen had failed to link to Mr. Cole’s blog. He linked to it at the beginning of his article, but not when mentioning it at the end of his article, which would be routine in a blog.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mr. Cole has a response up. His closing paragraph:

    What alarms me most of all in the nakedly illegal deployment of the CIA against an academic for the explicit purpose of destroying his reputation for political purposes is that I know I am a relatively small fish and it seems to me rather likely that I was not the only target of the baleful team at the White House. After the Valerie Plame affair, it seemed clear that there was nothing those people wouldn’t stoop to. You wonder how many critics were effectively “destroyed.” It is sad that a politics of personal destruction was the response by the Bush White House to an attempt of a citizen to reason in public about a matter of great public interest. They have brought great shame upon the traditions of the White House, which go back to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, who had hoped that checks and balances would forestall such abuses of power.

    • Sinestar says:

      Poor guy. He’s asking for a Senate investigation and accountability for the dubbya administration. I think he is so pissed he is delusional. With what our fine centrist Republican Democrat POTUS. Mr. “Looking Forward” and all.

      I’d like to see it happen, sure, but to even suggest that it will, well, I’d just play lotto with that hope.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I suspect Mr. Cole has realistic expectations of what will happen, despite knowing what ought to happen in a free society subject to the rule of law and its own Constitution.

          • Sinestar says:

            ooohhh, I remember, a constitution is that thing otherwise known as the PATRIOT Act. They finally had to replace that moldy old brown parchment with a shiny new Constitution.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Well, it’s the rule of law only when it binds the executive, the government’s other branches, and corporations, not just the hoi poloi.

            As for the Constitution, its continuing interest seems to be historical. The current government, whose metes and bounds the Constitution creates, treats it like a palimpsest, an old page from which the text has been erased and written over. It’s what happens when the document’s steward considers the medium more important than the message.

            • Sinestar says:

              We the People the Corporation of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union fuck the living shit out of anyone that gets in our way, establish Justice create Havoc, insuredomestic Tranquility the peons are Subdued, provide for the common defence of The Entire Globe, promote the general Welfare of the Corporation and fuck everyone else, and secure the Blessings of Liberty Chains of Tyranny to ourselves our Citizens and who may kiss our Posterity Posterior, do ordain and establish this Constitution the PATRIOT Act for the United Corporate States of America.

              There, a Palimpsest! BRILLIANT!

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                It’s more interesting than some of what the Church’s scholars replaced ancient Greek and Latin texts with. As for fictional historical parallels, I can think of more than one administration official who might be cast in the Name of the Rose.

  20. CharlesII says:

    Marcy, I was surprised to see that you missed a simple point: any attempt by the CIA to influence public opinion inside the US is a violation of law. Sure, it sounds like a dirty trick, also. Juan Cole, on his blog, focuses more on canceled speaking engagements than on the Yale appointment, so he suffered economic losses. But even if the CIA had been attempting to reward Cole or promote his work, it would have been illegal.

    • Sinestar says:

      touche! It won;t matter soon. The CIA will be merged into the DIA and MIC, so after they suspend Posse Comitatus they won’t need to influence anyone. They can simply be summarily executed or incarcerated in dungeons.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yes, it’s illegal and an important point, but it requires proof and a prosecutor willing to pursue it. That first Bush, and then Obama, with a systematizing vengeance, has denuded the DoJ of staff willing to do that is its own, parallel story.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The illegality was central to lawyer Scott Horton’s comments, here, which he delivers with his trademarked understatement – “Glenn Carle’s statements give us reason to question such assurances.”

      Horton is refering to the CIA’s straight-faced claim that its Watergate-era domestic activities have been halted and its prohibition on targeting US citizens is strictly policed. Another critic might observe that the CIA’s claim is hilarious or Clintonesque. Even if the CIA’s employees no longer do such things, its contractors or sister agencies seem to have taken up the slack.

      This case presents another challenge to internal and congressional oversight of the agency. The activities Carle describes crossed lines designed to keep the CIA out of domestic politics, and particularly to block agency conduct that might chill domestic political discourse. Yet it appears that the CIA was being used for just that purpose.

      That closing comment by Mr. Horton is so obliquely critical it’s hard to tell if he objects to the alleged illegal behavior. He does, of course, or he wouldn’t have written his comment. But his criticisms are so gentle, they make no mark on and, therefore, help enable the increasing lawlessness he objects to.

      • CharlesII says:

        Earl, Horton calls the actions “illegal.” The information Carle has provided amounts to a specific allegation of an unlawful action, which is the basic threshold to trigger a formal investigation.

        That is not a gentle criticism. Even if the Attorney General does not immediately impanel a grand jury, it’s likely that the Inspector General will look at it.

        Not everyone goes around screaming at the top of their lungs to get attention. In fact, the people who get listened to the most closely are often those who speak very quietly, but precisely and with expert knowledge.

        Word to the wise.

        • klynn says:

          Not everyone goes around screaming at the top of their lungs to get attention. In fact, the people who get listened to the most closely are often those who speak very quietly, but precisely and with expert knowledge.

          Word to the wise.

          Please take care to avoid being patronizing. Your comment would have “more weight” and greater import when reading, if you had not written the last two sentences noted above.

          • CharlesII says:

            K, calling Scott Horton–who single-handedly exposed a lot of the lawlessness– an enabler of official lawlessness is so far out of the bounds of fair comment that it is all I can do to restrain myself to the point of being merely patronizing. Such off-the-wall comments have no place on these boards.

            I am very disappointed in what I have seen on the boards in the last few days. FDL should be better than this.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              You’ll get over it. I hope you do.

              Mr. Horton is able to take care of himself; he understands where the foul lines for fair comment are without a rulebook in hand. He once highly recommended Michael Mukasey as Attorney General. How’d that turn out? He understood his error, apologized and publicly corrected it, a rarity among those with a national reputation and a bully pulpit. He deserves kudos for that. He also deserves them for pointing out that the actions here support a prima facie case for illegal conduct, which should be investigated.

              As an international corporate and military lawyer of repute, he understands that pointing out a blatant illegality would be sufficient if and only if the executive’s prior behavior suggests it would act on that information by credibly investigating it, and where sufficient evidence exists, prosecuting it. He was articulate in pointing out the prior administration’s failures to do that.

              Mr. Horton’s prize-winning report on the false claims of suicide at Gitmo makes clear that he knows that this administration ignores official misconduct at least as zealously as the prior one. It consistently kicks them under the rug as “distractions from its agenda”. That’s one of its defining characteristics. One of Mr. Obama’s first acts was to construct a newspeak phrase – “Look forward, not back” – to justify it.

              Mr. Horton knows that, in such circumstances, merely documenting that an illegality took place, while an essential step, is insufficient without further pointing out that the administration persistently fails to act on such reports.

              Mr. Horton needn’t be as direct or colorful as EW or Glenn Greenwald. He is not. He says latrine or lavatory, not bog or shit house. He is willing to say torture when that’s what he sees, unlike official Washington and its pet press. He ought to be willing to take the obvious second step, and say that he hopes the administration won’t also sweep this official misconduct, too, under the rug.

              Absent that, making the illegality notorious while letting pass the administration’s failure to act on it, helps normalize official misconduct. It aids a kind of political adverse possession that helps give good title to official lawbreaking. Obviously, what’s at issue is his total professional conduct, not just what he says at any one time in his public blog. About that I have no knowledge, but am confident he does the right thing.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I’ll drop that advice in the circular file.

          Citing the prima facie illegality of the actions here is insufficient. It is also necessary to point out that under Bush and Obama the government has repeatedly ignored or ratified executive-sanctioned or ordered illegal behavior. Just as it is not enough to write a letter to the editor about the cars speeding through the school zone stop sign without also mentioning at the town hall meeting that policeman after policeman waved them through, despite the stream of pedestrians in their paths.

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