Breaking: Most Journalists Mis-Report Release of OLC Memos

President Obama has finally — after 2 years and 14 requests — agreed to let the intelligence committees see the Office of Legal Counsel Memos that authorize the lethal targeting of US citizens.

Kudos to Ron Wyden for having the tenacity to see that this, at least, happened.

But as big a story as this is, perhaps an equally significant story is the way it is being misreported.

First, even though quotes of Obama and direct statements from Dianne Feinstein and Ron Wyden refer to memos, plural, people persist in reporting that there is one memo.

Second, in spite of the fact that Obama has only acceded to letting the two Intelligence Committees have access to the memos, most media outlets are reporting that “Congress” will get the memos. Congress consists of 535 people elected by citizens. The Intelligence Committees consist of 35 people selected by party leaders. Among those 35 are Michelle Bachmann and Lynn Westmoreland.

And while on the Senate side, non-Intelligence Committee Senators can usually arrange to see such classified materials, it at least used to be that on the House side Members had to ask politely. And even still, the most responsible reporters are saying terms of this kind of access is still to be determined.

Ah well. At least 35 men and women can know what might get you and I killed. But you and I aren’t allowed to know yet.

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.

4 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    Yup. We the actual people of the US,the ones who elect officials and pay taxes toward their lifestyles, don’t get to know what we’re paying for.
    Because we might disapprove, and express our disapproval in ways that they won’t appreciate.

    I have a pitchfork.

  2. orionATL says:

    “make me do it” was obama’s initial challenge to progressives in 2009.

    take the man at his word!

    twist his ……

    less rhetorically, present him with evident power to deny his presidency what it seeks,

    and lo and behold

    obama becomes co-operative.

    there’s no mystery about this admin and obama is actually offering progressives a roadmap to force change.

    at the same time he is saying ” i’m not going to be anybody’s white knight – well, o.k., excepting the giant banks

    and our paramilitary! (cia)

  3. bloodypitchfork says:

    quote”I have a pitchfork.” Good. Call me when it’s been tempered with blood.

    In the meantime…

    IMPEACH OBOMINATION and Holder, or eat their shit. These psychopathic murderers should be hanged for war crimes, but knowing our scumbag Congress couldn’t get a clue if they were dipped in Clue musk and paraded in a field of Clues doing a fucking Clue mating dance, I’d settle for impeachment. Personally, I’d love to quench the temper of MY pitchfork.

  4. Ken Hardy says:

    I’m going to write Richard Burr, my state’s senator on the Intel Committee, and request that his staff change his web site so that under the Constituent Services tab, in addition to getting assistance on the Application for a Federal Pardon and receiving an Armed Forces Academy nomination, one might ask for notification by the good Senator’s office if one has been short-listed for a drone visit.

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