If Condi Says “Nixon” Directly Rather than Through Anonymous Sources, Does the NYT Hear?

Okay, I was going to make this a fuller rant tomorrow, but the last thread got to be a drag, so here’s my half rant.

Best as I can tell, this was the NYT’s complete coverage of Condi channeling Nixon. An "Opinionator" piece on it–that sterilizes it so much that it feels like a sorority tea.

If the words “college dorm” and “video” uttered in the same sentence make you queasy, or you’ve recently written a tuition check, you might want to watch the wholesome, yet compelling footage of students in a Stanford dormitory engaged in an unenhanced interrogation of the former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. Refreshingly, there is not a beer bong in sight.

And this reference in the Mazetti/Shane article, with neither a link to the YouTube nor a hint of her shocking statements.

Just last week, bloggers seized upon a new video clip of Condoleezza Rice, a former secretary of state, sharply defending the program to a Stanford undergraduate and saying nothing about the bitter internal arguments that accompanied the demise of the program. 

And yet, the NYT devotes 1,400 words to a story that does not use one single on the record source. Here’s how they justify doing so:

This is the story of its unraveling, based on interviews with more than a dozen former Bush administration officials. They insisted on anonymity because they feared being enmeshed in future investigations or public controversy, but they shed new light on the battle about the C.I.A. methods that grew passionate in Mr. Bush’s second term.

Now, as I said, this story does offer some useful data points, once you wade beneath the thick ooze of spin. But that doesn’t forgive the NYT’s absurd news judgment here.

It’s bad enough that they say, "well, there wasn’t enough internal conflict in Condi’s directly stated YouTube comments," so rather than covering that, we’ll let a bunch of Condi’s allies anonymously fluff up the story into a heroic fight against Cheney.

But then look at why their 12 anonymous sources won’t go on the record: "they feared being enmeshed in future investigations or public controversy." Since they’re already enmeshed in public controversy (albeit taking their potshots at Cheney while hiding behind the Gray Lady’s skirts), I suspect the issue is more the second part, a fear of "being enmeshed in future investigations." These people fear legal consequences for saying, in their own names, the things they’ve told the NYT are true. They won’t say any of this stuff on the record for fear they’ll have to do so under oath. 

Yeah, those are some credible sources.

Given that the sources for this story are completely identifiable–at least by faction–why in god’s name did any reporter give them anonymity?

Which means, ultimately, the NYT has decided not to cover Condi saying something, in her own voice, that might well have huge legal consequences for her and the other Bushies. Instead, they’re going to let a dozen people say things they refuse to say on the record because they’re trying to game the legal system. The story, for the NYT, is not the clear evidence of the crime itself, but a kabuki piece performing "conflict" to distract from the crime itself.  

If Condi had said, "By definition, if it was authorized by the President, it did not violate our obligations in the Convention Against Torture," to the NYT via these same legally cowering anonymous sources, then would they consider it news?

107 replies
  1. bobschacht says:

    Condi’s manner in that interview was, I thought, hyper, dismissive, and defensive. Almost as good as the canard about if the Pres says it, its legal, was her assertion that she didn’t really authorize any torture, she was just conveying the message from the White House. Bizarre.

    Thanks for your work on this, EW, and for calling the NYT on its B.S. I think they are just as aristocratic as the Bushies. Their attitude: WE don’t have to work by YOUR rules, because WE are the elite, and WE have the right to break the rules, which are made for YOU unwashed masses.

    Bob in HI

    • Leen says:

      She is really “defensive” and really attempts to undermine that students questions “do your homework”

      condi “the policy of Abu Gharib was wrong”
      condi “we do not torture anyone”
      She does mention that many members of Al Queda came from Saudi Arabia

      Which is it?

      “the gloves came off” when Cambone went from Gitmo to Abu Gharib right?

      What was going on in Gitmo before this trip of Cambones ?

      • TheraP says:

        This little Condi-Incident has so many parts to it. One that has not gotten enough attention, in my view, however, is her behavior toward the student. I’m imagining some of these “helicopter parents” on the phone with the Dean of Students, chewing him out, asking if “this” is the kind of behavior the school allows toward students. I honestly think there must be a whole other level of outrage going on here. Imagine the mother of the guy she called “dear” and badgered and interrogated.

        This is serious business. Not just from the point of view of what she said and what it all points to on the national and international stage. Or what it points to in terms of whether the NY Times (or anyone) takes this as seriously as we do. This occurred in a college dorm. A professor demeaned a student, who was asking serious questions. Now, if she cannot return to the role of professor, of someone who is there on behalf of students, then she should resign her position. Honestly, this is whole other aspect of it to me. And it bears on what is appropriate behavior for someone in authority when people who rightfully have a role, which includes learning and free and open questions, behave in perfectly appropriate ways for a student. I saw nothing in the student’s questions which warranted Condi’s behavior. I think it was out of line for a professor. And I’d welcome comments regarding my view on this. (Indeed I may post a blog on it when I have time – or I invite others to do so.)

        And EW, if I have strayed too far off topic here, then I apologize for that. But this is another very important aspect of what occurred under bush gangsterism – the arrogant and contemptuous view of citizens, the “So what?” attitude. It’s been bad as a way of governing. And it’s percolating into other areas now. Honestly, were I the parent of a Stanford student, I’d be organizing parents right now!

        • Leen says:

          That is exactly why I mentioned her demeaning attitude “do your homework”

          And did you know, did you know that Abu Gharib was the Ritz of prisons or some effort to distract those students from their solid and logical points and questions.

          She was so disrespectful towards them. so arrogant.

          The most confident Professors I have ever encountered encourage well thought out, obvious and logical quesions. While I appreciate her effort to describe the pressure they were under…. Condi was incredibly defensive. She could have said “these are logical and important questions” Gone into her song and dance about “unless you were there” And then gotten into more details.

          Her defensiveness, attempt to distract, humiliate, intimidate, and then pacify (when she leaned over to the student that she had just said “do your homework”) that student were telling. Rather disgusting

          On top of it she lied “we do not torture” Flat out lie

          • TheraP says:

            It is heartening to see this. I actually did just put up a blog on it. Talked to Mr. TheraP about it last night before we went to sleep. He was a college professor. Very kind and caring. Always encouraged his students to think. And question. Never would have badgered or demeaned a student.

            I’m really glad you and Bob commented on this. And I think it needs to be the focus of greater attention. (Interestingly someone drew that to my attention yesterday, on my blog, as a topic worthy of a blog.) It’s not just Condi. They all did it!

            Tiny incident. But contains so much! This contempt for citizens, for students is really not part of our democratic system. And underlies so much. I need to think about it more.

            • wavpeac says:

              As much as I would like to support the notion of supportive, loving caring profs…I have to say that this was not my experience in college. I had at least one or two that scared the beegeeebus out of me. One was much like the professor on the series “Paper Chase”. He could be very condescending at times.

              That said…Do not attack or defend. (When we attack, when we defend, we give away our bias, our emotional vulnerability, we show our wound.)

              Condi both attacked and defended her position. This speaks volumes as far as I am concerned. It tells me she feel threatened, and she feels the need to defend her position. (if she felt no guilt or shame, she would not defend…if she felt no fear, she would not attack).

              What is far more interesting to me, is that Cheney is doing both, Condi is doing both, and bush…nada. For me this validates the DX. avoidance, equals an underlying addiction or compulsion. He’s escaping, just as I would predict an addict would do.

              The whole thing is fascinating.

              We have to know that the attacking and defending are going to continue…the way to cope is to validate those who question…and do this loudly.

              • BayStateLibrul says:

                Had a great English prof whose gentle words keep replaying back
                “One never knows, one never knows.”

              • TheraP says:

                Med school is brutal. Law school is brutal. A dorm should not be brutal! And now that people can be caught doing that on a cell phone, if it’s going on, students have a way to complain that provides some objectivity. Demeaning a student does not promote learning. I was a teacher of young children for 8 years before I became a psychologist. It’s not appropriate at any age. It’s not appropriate in the workplace.

                I think this needs to be discussed.

                And again, I apologize to EW if I have sidetracked her thread here.

                • wavpeac says:

                  I totally agree with your point. I guess my point was of a broader notion which is that we tolerate this behavior from far too many of our leaders, teachers, and parents in general.

                  This authoritarian behavior is not acceptable to me. But have you ever tried to get an elementary, or jr. high teacher fired for it? You can’t.

                  We can discuss all day long whether or not she “should” have behaved that way. In my view this is the behavior of a perpetrator. (someone guilty). I expect that this is exactly how a person guilty of her potential crime would act. Not saying of course that it is proof of her guilt, but simply that people who use power and control MUST engage in minimizing, denying and/or blaming. I have seen many in positions of authority use this behavior. In fact, my point is that our culture is almost “immune” to this behavior in our leaders and role models. My point is that we tolerated in Nixon, we tolerated this behavior in Reagan, we tolerated in Clinton, we tolerated in 8 freakin’ sick years of bushco.

                  I am all for the idea of making this behavior a red flag to everyone…but I fear that many folks would not agree with me, and some might even confuse this behavior (due to childhood conditioning) as a sign of authority instead of the way we see it.

                  • TheraP says:

                    Beautifully expressed. Especially your last sentence. That some people mistake authoritarian behavior for leadership.

                • Leen says:

                  “brutal” or academically challenging and demanding? Why would there be a reason to be “brutal” in Med school or “humiliate, dominate, pacify or lie” students

                  • TheraP says:

                    Med School. They are brutal in questioning during clinical years and residency. But they’re not lying. I’ve literally watched residents “flayed” emotionally by an attending doc. I think they’re trying to mitigate that now, however. So it’s not the demandingness of the courses. (They actually go out of their way during the first two years to help people pass those.) It’s being put on the spot to come up with a diagnosis and defend it. It’s pretty much an authoritarian system (and can, sadly, involve humiliating and dominating at times). (As opposed, for example, to our training in psychology – where the academics are demanding and no one’s going to make that easier for you, but the clinical training is very compassionate.) I was only an observer on the few occasions I witnessed, and it was horrible to watch.

                    Nevertheless, what Condi did was worse in my view, since it had nothing to do with professional training in your mid to late 20’s. The kid was a sophomore, I believe. It was a dorm. And her behavior was just way of line and uncharacteristic for the way most profs would behave, especially in an informal setting.

        • Mormaer says:

          and Leen at 61
          Condi is becoming very, very touchy. While she has always been snide and condescending, this behavior of hers is new to me. She does not appear to be dealing with all of this very well. She is clearly showing signs of abusive behavior towards the student who is a convenient stand-in for others who are causing her to feel threatened. The abuse towards others is simply a milder form of dehumanization (denying other viewpoints, withholding, denial of events, demeaning to destroy self worth, etc) which leads to behaviors such as torture. This is basically how her gang operates and it is very obvious.

          • Rayne says:

            Yes, not only did the values of her recent co-workers rub off on her, but it looks like Ms. Rice has forgotten her eight years with the Bush administration were only a couple of back-to-back short-term gigs and not a lifetime appointment.

            She’s still mentally wearing those black pointy-toed boots.

    • MarkH says:

      I don’t think it’s ‘bizarre’. She was National Security ADVISER (or is it advisOr?) Who was she going to authorize or order?

      She wasn’t even one who would say “I was only taking orders.” In her case she was only a courier.

      Seems like a good legal defense. And, if she really was on the side of the angels in those principals discussions, then why should we pile on.

  2. JohnLopresti says:

    Rep Waxman had some retrospectives in an eleven page letter December 18 2008, concerning the credibility of the subject with respect to the sixteenWords. The credibility factor…ellipsis.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Well, it would be cool if someone got around to doing a computational analysis of Condi, the Grey Lady, and the number of unnamed sources. Seems like a graph such as the one shown here would be mostly light grey dots, with Condi as a black dot connected to them all: http://www.slate.com/id/2217204/


  3. cinnamonape says:

    Clearly there was controversy…over what the had already done. After all, Zelikow claims his memo was about stopping the torture because the legal substance behind it would have allowed the use of small town police to “string people up naked by their wrists” suspects for exigent circumstances.

    And that was ‘controversial’ enough that it had to be destroyed.

    And I wonder why she even bothered to say “the President authorized it”…if she’s going to go back and say…”it was determined to be legal by Justice”. Is she playing to the authoritarians out there on one hand, and those who are cowed by the brilliancy of John Yoo on the other. What about her own “signing off”? Could not the President say…I trusted the wisdom of my Secretary of State and other counselors? Where the hell is personal culpability…the responsibility that when one signs something it “becomes you”. You become a party to the agreement, and legally responsible?

    Or as the previous Secretary of State said “You break it, you buy it.”

  4. CalGeorge says:

    Nice to know that a bunch of college kids have more guts than the venerable N.Y. Times when it comes to confronting those in power over the issue of torture.

    • FrankProbst says:

      Nice to know that a bunch of college kids have more guts than the venerable N.Y. Times when it comes to confronting those in power over the issue of torture.

      That was my thought, too. And if any of these so-called journalists want to argue that they have to abide by the ground rules that their interviewees set, they should ask themselves how a bunch of college kids got better ground rules than so-called journalists do.

  5. Mary says:

    Well, you do have to appreciate how they manage to match up the Tale of the Gosslings, with a nifty piano score that manages to simultaneously evoke flying in formation and hooker boots.

  6. bmaz says:

    Topic: Why does the NYT suck so badly?

    Funny you should ask, Mary and I were just starting to get back to that in the room that shall not be mentioned.

    • pdaly says:

      Shane gave credit to Marcy about two weeks ago. The h/t from Shane to emptywheel (or even the Stanford students for posing the question to Rice) should have become easier with practice. Maybe the NY Times has a self imposed monthly or yearly limit to hat tips to bloggers? /snark

  7. freepatriot says:

    we were raised to deride Pravda

    an now the NY Times is imitating them

    it’s called the “Lemming” school of economic and political theory

  8. WilliamOckham says:

    I had an epiphany a while back that’s relevant here. In the MSM worldview, it is the presence of the press that mediates the difference between the public and the private. The press creates the stage upon which public actors play out the drama we call news. The only way something can become part of the drama is through the press. If something an actor (in this case Condi) does off-stage gets into the public sphere, it, by definition, was unofficial. The NYT can only refer to the video indirectly, by saying that bloggers seized upon it.

    I originally realized this back during the Mayhill Fowler/’bitter, cling to their guns’/Obama kerfluffle. For Mazetti and Shane, the Stanford event was off-stage. Until all those bloggers rudely put it on-stage, it didn’t exist to the MSM.

    • fatster says:

      Pardon my dotage, but this thing with the declining press concerns me. How exciting it used to be to find a “regular” or “straight” newspaper willing to take some risks, explore some possibilities, do some digging rather than just offer some pablum and denounce you, your questions, your attitudes, and your actions to boot. But, mainly, you had to go to the alternatives to try and find “the truth.” Those alternatives popped up and even flourished for awhile: “Ramparts”, “The Realist”, “The [National] Guardian” and so on. I.F. Stone’s Weekly shone brightly, while many underground newspapers published results of hours spent in university libraries by youth trying to understand and analyze the insanities of the time (Kennedy assassination, Viet Nam, relentless racism, MLK assassination, second Kennedy assassination, etc.), and even mimeographed pages were eagerly read and circulated privately, and so on.

      Today newspapers are closing. We have the blogs (and this one is absolutely outstanding), but what of the future? Will blogs which vigorously seek the truth be able to survive? Or will the propaganda machines go into high (though subtle) gear and the tee vee shows continue to entertain a listless audience? And will the press, reduced in size and concentrated in fewer hands, not just mediate but dictate relentlessly what is “news”?

      Ya know?

      And please don’t sic Freep on me for this, even though I’ve been long-winded and off topic for a few minutes. EW’s brilliance underscores the vital importance of free inquiry and dissemination. How do we assure it?

      • bmaz says:

        Just keep contributing to the effort here. It is not just Marcy, you don’t know how much energy flows the other way too and how the comments and interaction fuel the effort. Just keep participating. And thanks for doing so.

      • bobschacht says:

        I.F. Stone’s Weekly shone brightly,…

        Glenzilla and Amy Goodman just recently got the annual Izzy award. If there was any justice in this world, that should have been Front Page News all over.

        Bob in HI

        • fatster says:

          And isn’t it wonderful that the judges captured the spirit of Stone in making those awards? The judges were: ” communications professor and author Robert W. McChesney; Linda Jue, director and executive editor of the G.W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism; and Jeff Cohen, director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College.”


          Good on them!

    • MarkH says:

      It’s fine if they want to establish those rules, but that doesn’t mean we or anyone else have to follow them. We look at anything public figures say or do as being meaningful. If the MSM want to ignore some things, then they aren’t really true journalists, are they? After all, a journalist is someone who records (journals) their impression of events and includes pictures, audio & quotes to complete the picture for us.

      What we sometimes get really worried about is when Dubya says ‘America would be a lot easier as a dictatorship’ and the media report it, but not very much. It appears at those times they’re covering their butts, but showing their editor’s acceptance of Dubya despite ANYTHING he might say or do. THAT kind of journalism becomes a kind of editorial comment we can do without. It’s the kind which leads us to wonder where the real Liberal Media can be found.

  9. freepatriot says:

    I don’t do the youtube, so can somebody clear this up:

    did this asshat compare the condiliar’s confession to a music video ???

    basically, the condiliar’s point, taken to it’s logical conclusion, abrogates the Declaration Of Independence and the US Constitution

    so yeah, it’s kinda like my favorite music video

    where the fuck do they find these pinheads ???

    or do I owe him an apology ???

  10. bmaz says:

    If Condi had said, “By definition, if it was authorized by the President, it did not violate our obligations in the Convention Against Torture,” to the NYT via these same legally cowering anonymous sources, then would they consider it news?

    Heh, well, what are the odds Mazzetti and Shane actually watched that elusive video that “bloggers seized upon”? If they can’t quite get the picture directly from her mouth, are you proposing that they would through secret sources?? There just may be no hope for the grey ladies.

  11. Mary says:

    Apparently one problem is that they don’t have enough fourth graders on staff:

    per Loo Hoo @56 in the Wreck Room below


    A fourth grader goes to the real source with a direct question.

    When real life starts to mimic sugary parables on how the grizzled ol journalist learned from the little school girl in kneesocks, there is something seriously wrong.

    I put below my comment on watching the discussion on Campbell Brown about how “tough” Condi who “believed in what she was saying” and was being “unfairly attacked by two very aggressive guys” yada yada held her own and walked off with the brass ring – they even played the tape through her comment on Nixon Bush, but immediiately went to a body language lady who said woo hoo Condi, you go girl and the only comment on her statement about it being “by definition” legal was someone saying “she misspoke, she’s smarter than that” which was immediately drowned out by hoots over tough Condi.

  12. cinnamonape says:

    Notice that the article doesn’t state that Bellinger and Rice had arguments about the legal basis of performing torture. According to the article, Bellinger was using arguments based upon Israeli and other rogue nations use of these same techniques in interrogation, then he said “they don’t work”. Condi’s approach was that “their time has passed”. IOW that there were no “high-ranking” al Qaida detainees to torture stuff that might be imminent any more.

    They weren’t arguing from the legal, moral or ethical position (which was the basis of the report by the Inspector General) – there were still arguing about it’s “intelligence value”. Now maybe they thought this was the only way to convince the pragmatists that the acts needed to stop. That the “sadists” would ignore “legal” arguments. Or point out that they all had originally approved the original tortures, so they were all “in this together”. So to argue “it doesn’t work” might be the only option they felt they could succeed at.

    Of course, they could have blown the whistle…and faced the heat for their own culpability.

    But there were no “John Deans” in this bunch.

  13. FrankProbst says:

    While we’re talking about college kids, I’ll bet you a dollar to a doughnut that activism on the part of college kids will force Condi out of Stanford long before Bybee loses his judgeship. Hell, Stanford will probably be in a race with Cal to see who can be the first to dump their tenured prof who was totally disgraced by their role in all this.

  14. Leen says:

    Does Condi differentiate between orders that were “legal” coming from the President’s office and the rest of the administrations authorizations?

    Is she trying to protect Bush here and hang out Cheney

    “we did not torture anyone” What a flat out liar…flat out liar

  15. JThomason says:

    Like I was sayin, anyone who has any sense is coming here first and letting the NYT and her bedfellows gently dissipate into irrelevance.

    (I guess this means I’ll be diggin into my wallet…)

  16. wmd1961 says:

    Can we compel Holder to prosecute? When would a writ of Mandamus work – it seems that there’s ample evidence that prosecutions are required under the Convention on Torture, so can we get the judiciary to force the DoJ to act?

  17. Mary says:

    Remember, too, that Bellinger got the direct brief on all the innocents at GITMO. And as Rice was getting the word on el-Masri, he’d have been clued in on that. Do you see Condi and Belli showing up to answer questions for Arar’s and el-Masri’s children?

    If homework is asking where daddy is, those kids probably did a lot more than Condi.

      • bmaz says:

        Okay now, let’s not desecrate the good name of Melvin Belli by using that name as slang for Bellinger. Just creeps me out.

        • JThomason says:

          Must admit I did a double take and of course would have designated obvious snark but for wanting to imagine Mary roll her eyes.

      • Mary says:

        Hugs backatcha

        I thought the way she kept trying to distance herself more and more desperately was interesting – at one point, although she doesn’t finish it, she starts out a thought as her defense with, “The US was told…”

        It’s like she wants to take on the sins of the nation – but just the other way around.

  18. klynn says:

    Thanks for opening the refinished basement for dialogue. The following is OT and yet it’s not…

    This was Specter on CNN’s Late Night with Wolfie on Nov. 2007.

    I was going to post this transcript in the last post.

    BLITZER: Let me bring back the ranking member of the judiciary committee, Senator Specter. Here was the exchange, Senator Specter, that the former judge, Michael Mukasey, had with your colleague, Sheldon Whitehouse. Listen to this exchange on this sensitive issue of waterboarding, which a lot of people believe is torture. Listen to this.


    SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, D-R.I.: Is waterboarding constitutional?

    MICHAEL MUKASEY, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL CANDIDATE: I don’t know what’s involved in the technique. If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional.

    (END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Now that answer was not satisfactory to the chairman of your committee, Patrick Leahy, who announced’s he going to oppose the nomination. Listen to what Leahy said.


    SEN. PATRICK J. LEAHY, D-VT.: I don’t believe he should be attorney general. It’s not anything against him personally. It sends a signal to the rest of the world that the United States will not say waterboarding is torture and illegal.


    • klynn says:

      Part two:

      Here’s the best part of the interview:

      BLITZER: Now, usually — very often at least, you and Senator Leahy are on the same page. Are you on the same page as far as Mukasey is concerned right now?

      SPECTER: I’m going to support him. I voted to declare waterboarding illegal. The Congress did not vote waterboarding illegal in the Military Commission Act.

      SPECTER: And I think that Judge Mukasey went about as far as he could go, considering any declaration beyond that would put a lot of people in the administration at risk.

      And he has said, in response to questions to — from Senator Schumer, as reported, that, if Congress declares waterboarding to be torture, that the president will not have the authority, under Article II, to supersede that.

      Now look here. He could have said a lot of things which would have given me more assurances. But he is intelligent; he’s really learned in the law. He’s strong, ethical, honest beyond any question. He’s not an intimate of the president.

      And you have to balance it off with where we are today. The Department of Justice is dysfunctional. It is not performing. And every day that passes, we do not have someone in charge of the investigation against terrorism, the fight against violent crime.

      And it is very important, in the national interest, that we have a strong attorney general.

      So I would have liked better assurances. And I think Congress ought to take a firm stand on waterboarding.

      BLITZER: Well, let me ask Senator Feinstein, why not, if there’s consensus in the Senate, pass legislation that would make waterboarding illegal?

      Because, as you know, the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies believe there are those handful of cases, rare cases, where you need this; for example, a Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, an Al Qaida operative, to get timely information to stop terrorist attacks from occurring against Americans.

      FEINSTEIN: Well, let me, first of all, say, I believe it is illegal. Under the Geneva Conventions, under…

      BLITZER: Would you support a resolution barring it?

      FEINSTEIN: Absolutely. Absolutely.

      BLITZER: Because the Senate’s had its chance.

      FEINSTEIN: Let me…

      BLITZER: The House has had its chance. They haven’t done it.

      FEINSTEIN: All right. Let me speak for a second. The Detainee Treatment Act specifically makes waterboarding illegal for all military use. It makes the field manual the document. And that prohibits waterboarding.

      There is an exception, because the detainee act doesn’t cover it, and that’s the CIA. We should promptly pass a law which clearly places all military and nonmilitary personnel under the field manual.

      There is legislation. Senator Kennedy has a piece. Senator Biden has a piece. I believe it should be added to the FISA bill which is now before the committee.

      BLITZER: All right. Let me ask Senator Specter. Would you support that legislation, to bar the CIA from using waterboarding under any circumstances?

      SPECTER: I would, and I did, in the Military Commissions Act, and it failed 53-46.

      (my emphasis)

      Wolfie, how did you know there were “rare” cases? Who the H— fed you those lines? Same folks feeding the NYT’s?

  19. Waccamaw says:

    ew –

    epu land so I just gotta ask……..given the outpouring of your wonderful posts this weekend, can we assume you’ve signed the paperwork to become the official investigative reporter for the Lake?

    And……do you *ever* sleep?


  20. SparklestheIguana says:

    Hey wait, I thought one of the results of the Libby trial and that big bad PJF was that sources were going to dry up forever.

    Apparently not….

    • emptywheel says:


      GUess it didn’t work out that way, huh?

      Though maybe after Judy effectively got to protect Cheney, the A1 cut-outs are even less afraid of playing stenographer.

  21. pdaly says:

    Questions for the NYT:
    Why didn’t you write “We asked Rice for a direct comment”?

    Did you ask Rice for a comment?

    If Rice refused to comment on the record, what happened to the line “When asked for an explanation but she refused comment citing certain legal issues”?
    Same question and answer for the other anonymous contributors to the ‘unraveling article’

  22. KiwiJackson says:

    OT, this site can’t produce 150000 for Marcy Wheeler to carry on her work? It’s time for a really heavy funding drive to make up the slack. I don’t know much being all done in myself, but I do know that.

    • bobschacht says:

      Maybe we need to follow the lead of local NPR stations and have a drive every 6 months. What has been raised already should keep EW in Beamish for about 6 months, and then starting about August we can roll out the calabash again?

      Bob in HI

  23. SparklestheIguana says:

    I was hoping the timeline of Cheney’s heart ailments would show correspondences with the torture timeline, e.g. in Summer ‘06 Condi defeats Dick on relocating the detainees to Gitmo, but it doesn’t seem to.

    _1978: Cheney’s first heart attack, at age 37.

    _1984: Second heart attack.

    _1988: After a third heart attack, Cheney has quadruple bypass surgery in August to clear clogged arteries.

    _Nov. 22, 2000: Cheney has what doctors called a “very slight” heart attack, his fourth. He has an angioplasty to open a clogged artery. After this heart attack, Cheney begins a daily 30-minute regimen on the treadmill and eating healthier. He takes medication to lower his cholesterol. He quit smoking in 1978.

    _March 5, 2001: Just over 100 days later, Cheney feels chest pains and has another angioplasty to reopen the same artery.

    _June 30, 2001: Cheney returns to the hospital and has a special pacemaker, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD, inserted into his chest. During his 2004 annual checkup, doctors say the device never has activated automatically to regulate, which they say means the heart is functioning normally.

    _Nov. 13, 2004: Cheney enters the hospital after complaining of shortness of breath. He leaves after three hours. An aide says tests find no abnormalities.

    _Sept. 24, 2005: Cheney has surgery to repair an arterial aneurysm on the back of each knee.

    _Jan. 9, 2006: Cheney experiences shortness of breath and goes to the hospital. The problem is attributed to fluid retention as a result of medication he was taking for a foot ailment. He is placed on a diuretic and released.

    _July 1, 2006: His annual physical shows the pacemaker is working properly and his overall heart condition. A stress test on a treadmill is scheduled for the fall.

    _June 8, 2007: His annual physical reveals no new blockages in his heart, but doctors say he needs a new battery for a special pacemaker he has in his chest.

    _July 28, 2007: He has surgery to replace an implanted device that monitors his heartbeat. Doctors replaced the defibrillator, a sealed unit that includes a battery. They did not replace the wiring attached to the defibrillator. The wires thread through Cheney’s heart and replacing them would have required a much more extensive operation.

    _Nov. 26, 2007: Doctors administered an electrical shock to Cheney’s heart and restored it to a normal rhythm during a 2 1/2 hour hospital visit. Cheney was discovered to have an irregular heartbeat when he was seen by doctors at the White House for a lingering cough from a cold. He remained at work throughout the day before going to the hospital. The irregular heartbeat was determined to be atrial fibrillation, an abnormal rhythm involving the upper chambers of the heart.

    _July 12, 2008: Doctors reported that Cheney’s heartbeat was normal for a 67-year-old man with a history of heart problems. At his annual checkup, he also had an electrocardiogram, a test that detects and records the electrical activity of the heart, and imaging of the stents placed in the arteries behind his knees in 2005. Doctors found that Cheney had not experienced any recurrence of atrial fibrillation and the special pacemaker had neither detected nor treated any arrhythmia, a problem with the heartbeat’s speed or rhythm.

    (USA Today)

    • perris says:

      July 12, 2008: Doctors reported that Cheney’s heartbeat was normal for a 67-year-old man with a history of heart problems.

      isn’t this like saying;

      “water levels are normal for a reservoir that has been drained”

      “his hand works normally for a hand that uses prosthetics”

      “his intelligence is normal for someone who’s had a lobotomy”

      I can go on of course

  24. SparklestheIguana says:

    Closing the C.I.A. prisons, Mr. Panetta said, would save taxpayers $4 million.

    Mkay. If Panetta’s so concerned about saving money, why is he allowing the CIA to pay $325,000 for him to be flown 5 times a year on private jets to California (personal trips), and Panetta only has to reimburse the government for the cost of a coach ticket?

    • freepatriot says:

      why is he allowing …

      cuz people in coach already suffer enough, and subjecting them to leon pannetta probably violates some EPA regulations or something

      you wouldn’t actually want him to fly coach, you might have to sit next to the corrupt fucker

      power corrupts, an leon is so corrupt he corrupts others by osmosis

  25. freepatriot says:

    a FOURTH GRADE student asked the condiliar a question

    but the powers that be decided to “soften it and take out the word ‘torture.’”

    now we have to prevent the children from offending the fookin repuglitards

    can ANYBODY see the fucking problem here ???

    we’re protecting ADULTS from CHILDREN

    who’s side are we on ???

    hey condiliar, that ain’t gonna look good on the ol resume

    • BayStateLibrul says:

      OT, and late but here’s the info you requested a while back:

      Remaining 15 games left between Yanks-Sox

      May 4-5 (Steinbrenner Stadium)
      June 9-11 (Fens)
      Aug 6-9 (SS)
      Aug 21-23 (Fens)
      Sept 25-27 (SS)

  26. radiofreewill says:

    “I’m not responsible for the things I didn’t do.”

    ~ personal mantra of C. Rice

    Condi’s been ‘all-in’ with Bush for a while now – really, imvho, since her July 10, 2001 Meeting with Tenet and Black, when she was “warned of 911 in the strongest possible terms.” Then, a month later, in the August PDB, the CIA drew a picture for Bush and Condi – airliner flying into skyscraper – ‘Bin Laden determined to attack US.’ And, then another month later – 911.

    Condi’s MO is always the same: “Who could have known?” alternating with “How dare you?” Strong Denial/Righteous Indignation. She’s the Loyal Servant – energetically shilling for Bush’s Agenda as a ’subject matter expert’ – whose only real expertise is in pleasing Bush by playing to his ‘infallibility’ no matter the subject. It’s really all that she’s concerned with – she didn’t even bother to ‘lead’ the organizations that she nominally headed.

    She was Too Weak to challenge Bush when challenging him was the Right Thing to do. And, when Confronted with her own “failures to act” – sins of omission – she runs away and hides until she gets the ‘all clear’ to come out from Bush.

    So, count Condi in with Bush’s Inner Cabal – Complicit, Compromised and Loyal – now and forever, because it’s always been Self-Serving for her to do so – just don’t ask her to be responsible for the things she didn’t do.

  27. Mormaer says:

    The NYT appears to be used to communicate between the conspirators and as a test market forum to determine which insipid defenses can gain any traction. By passively sitting on a stump and ignoring every screaming indicator while this horror was being planned and executed, the media exemplified by the NYT is part of the entire mess and they know it. Allowing the ass-coverers to to anonymously float escalating weird and whiny justifications is a passive and cowardly way to cover their own behinds. I may be out in left field but this is very obvious to me.

    Thanks EW for this entire series which is becoming almost unbearable to watch. I fear we are going to see much worse and soon.

    • skdadl says:

      I wish I’d written that, since it’s very much what I think, and especially since I seem to be unable to get beyond the sputtering in outrage stage m’self.

      I’m also very pleased to see that we have a Mormaer among us. Mormaers are fascinating.

      • Mormaer says:

        I am happy that someone else sees what the press is attempting to accomplish with the anonymous sourcing and I am not simply paranoid. For all I can tell one or two of the guilty parties is simply floating idiotic rationalizations and the NYT dutifully prints them up.

        As for mormaer, I was teasingly called this by a younger relative while we were working on a project for our rather large extended family. It stuck.

    • Rayne says:

      Yes, NYT as focus group interface.

      And WSJ as one-way billboard for messages which need more urgent dispersion than the NYT’s layered and diluted handling permits.

      WO (11) — most excellent comment. After working inside media for a couple of years, must agree with you. Access has become too valuable to mainstream media, reinforcing the separation between the public stage and the non-public offstage. The exception is entertainment media, where nothing is private, everything is onstage, which begs the question, why? Public officials, elected or appointed or hired, on the public dime, are somehow accorded more offstage space than privately-paid entertainment celebrities?

  28. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    But then look at why their 12 anonymous sources won’t go on the record: “they feared being enmeshed in future investigations or public controversy.” Since they’re already enmeshed in public controversy (albeit taking their potshots at Cheney while hiding behind the Gray Lady’s skirts), I suspect the issue is more the second part, a fear of “being enmeshed in future investigations.” These people fear legal consequences for saying, in their own names, the things they’ve told the NYT are true. They won’t say any of this stuff on the record for fear they’ll have to do so under oath. [my bold]

    And relish the irony in an era where, if they told the NYT this info on a cell phone or email or over landline (or possibly even at a coffee shop or restaurant) the NSA could listen in.

    Go figure.

  29. Leen says:

    this morning on NPR….

    Israelis Want U.S. To Focus More On Iran

    by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

    Morning Edition, May 4, 2009 · Israel’s President Shimon Peres is in Washington for a meeting with President Obama Tuesday. On the agenda will be the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Iran’s suspected nuclear program. Some people in Israel want Iran to be the number-one priority.

    Here is what President Netanyahu ” we will not allow the holocaust deniers to carry out another Holocaust against the Jewish people”


    You would think we had not noticed that Israel and the I lobby wanted “Iran to be the number one priority” of the U.S.

    Christ immediately after the illegal invasion of Iraq. Micheal Ledeen, Reul Marc Gerecht, Frum, Bolton, Cheney, Woolsey, Frank Gaffney, were all over the airways repeating unsubstantiated claims about Iran. hell at the Aipac conference that Ariel Sharon and Richard Perle spoke at soon after the invasion. A Hollywood set of an alleged Iranian nuclear facility was set up for participants at the Aipac conference to go though.

    The march towards a military conference with Iran started long before the invasion of Iraq and they (Israel /I lobby stepped on the excelerator soon after the invasion. Now with Rosen/Weissman being let off the espionage hook, while Larry Franklin was left holding the bag, Charles Freeman being taken out with Steve Rosen leading the pack, Harman taunting congress and the justice system for her ‘waddle” role, Glenn Greenwald (who would have believed it)making excuses for the espionage, Aipac forces on the hill today and tomorrow pushing for more Iranian sanctions based on unsubstantiated claims.

    Looks like the next stop will be a confrontation with Iran

  30. SmileySam says:

    Dan Abrams asked both Ashcroft and Gonzales the “Nixon” question in a interview last week. Anyone interested should read the interview first at the DailyBeast, but then be sure to go read the entire transcript because it has some things not in the DailyBeast piece.

    DA: Let me ask you – I want to read a famous quote, Attorney General Ashcroft. Richard Nixon. . .when he said “The President does it – [Laughter] that means it’s not illegal.” And the follow up was, “If the President for example approves something because of the national security, or in this case because of the threat of internal peace and the order of significant magnitude, then the President’s decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out without violating the law, otherwise, they’re in an impossible position.” Do you agree with Richard Nixon?

    JA: There are –

    AG: I’m glad he asked you that – [Laughter]

    DA: Well, you’re getting it too. [Laughter]

    AG: I want to see how he answers that.

    JA: There are things that a President only has the authority to do. And no one else has the authority to do.

    DA: But when the President does it –

    JA: When the President does it. If he has the authority to do it, it means its not a crime.

    DA: Take away the caveat there. If has the authority to do it. What President Nixon was saying was “When the President does it, that means its not illegal.”

    JA: Well, no. Obviously the President does not have carte blanche to do things – [Applause] that are illegal. And the law –

    DA: Even because of national security?

    JA: That’s correct, there are certain things the President doesn’t have the right to do, even in national security. But there are significant powers that the President has in national security, and I believe that there are some powers that are “inherent’ in the presidency that come to him in the constitutional designation as Commander In Chief.

    DA [to AG]: Do you disagree with President Nixon as well?

    AG: I think that the President can make the decision for the executive branch. But the courts have the final say. The framers envisioned a system of checks and balances, and the checks on the executive branch are the decisions by the court. And so if the courts tell President Nixon that he’s done something that’s unlawful –

    DA: But if the courts haven’t ruled on it yet. There’ll be times when the President will have to make a decision. President Nixon was saying — if the President approves something because of national security, or because of the threat to internal peace and order, than the President’s decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out to carry it out without violating the law.

    AG: I think that’s its dangerous to say that the President would have that kind of authority.


    • Rayne says:

      Thanks for sharing that. Hope to see Dan Abrams being more aggressive with coverage of torture.

      This bit you posted is quite important:

      JA: That’s correct, there are certain things the President doesn’t have the right to do, even in national security. But there are significant powers that the President has in national security, and I believe that there are some powers that are “inherent’ in the presidency that come to him in the constitutional designation as Commander In Chief.

      (Emphasis mine.) Recall the February 7, 2002 presidential-memo-cum-unenumerated-executive-order; Bush actually exercises the C-in-C function, saying, “Pursuant to my authority as commander in chief and chief executive of the United States…” in order to cover all his bases, even placing C-in-C ahead of his role as chief executive.

      The memo is addressed primarily to the NSC members, which includes Ashcroft at that time. Good enough for him if the C-in-C says it’s legal.

  31. whitewidow says:

    Top C.I.A. officials then feared that the agency’s methods could actually be illegal.

    This line from the NYT piece jumped out at me. Torture was illegal before and after the 2005 law against cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

    That whole article raised my blood pressure. The abuse of anonymity is really out of hand.

    • MarkH says:

      That’s hardly journalism we can believe in. The video of Condi is much better journalism because you have the person behind the words and you even have a live audio-video recording of it. All too often in recent years the NYT stories have proven to be propaganda and lies. That’s pretty clear evidence they’ve overdone the un-named sources quotes.

  32. klynn says:

    At the very least the NYT’s could have done some WO type of homework within those 1400 words and done some fact checking.

    Here’s a little fact-checking on Rice’s claim that the OSCE described Guantanamo as a model prison. She’s referring to this statement, made in March 2006:

    But Alain Grignard, the deputy head of Brussels’ federal police anti-terrorism unit, said holding people for many years without telling them what would happen to them is in itself “mental torture”.

    “At the level of the detention facilities, it is a model prison, where people are better treated than in Belgian prisons,” Mr Grignard said.

    However, the OCSE released a statement the next day that said:

    The OSCE Spokesperson said that, in the light of these reports, he wished to make it clear the Organization itself had not sent an expert to Guantanamo: “The person quoted in several of the stories as “an OSCE expert”, Professor Alain Grignard, accompanied the delegation despatched by the Parliamentary Assembly, based in Copenhagen, but he was not employed or commissioned by the OSCE.”

    Mr. Grignard was not allowed to speak with prisoners or witness interrogations. He wasn’t speaking on behalf of the OCSE. He also made it clear that indefinite detention was mental torture. On the whole, I think we can safely call bullshit on this claim.

  33. Leen says:

    wonder if anyone will be interviewing those students whom Condi demeaned, intimidated, distracted and then attempted to pacify. “do your homework” leans over and says “it was the Supreme Court”

    that student was pissed

    • bobschacht says:

      Earlier, I provided a link to the Stanford student paper article on the interview with Condi. It was not critical. Did not mention putdowns.

      Bob in HI

  34. klynn says:


    Some of this reads like the rent-a-generals articles and TV appearances, minus names, faces and uniforms.

  35. Rayne says:

    Gawddamnitall. Each time I watch that video, I want to barf.

    – She ghoulishly uses the deaths of 9/11 victims as a scaremongering tool several times, while blowing off the deaths of WWII;

    – She abuses the facts repeatedly, like the example of ICRC’s access to Gitmo;

    – She refuses any responsibility for her roles as National Security Adviser (which should counsel the president on effective national security measures) or Secretary of State (which should be the vanguard of foreign policy including compliance with international treaties);

    – She is disrespectful of the students’ probable awareness of more facts than she would like them to have.

    She ought to be one of the first people Congress brings up for hearings on false statements; they should have little difficulty with getting her to crack like a nut if they can get her to stick to yes or no answers.

    • Mormaer says:

      Condi is using tactics of emotional and psychological abusers to shut the student up. This is exactly what was done in the run up to the Iraq war and the pattern is very clear. The more agitated she becomes the more unhinged her thinking. Some one needs to call her a liar when she is spouting this stuff and you will see real bizarre behavior. I cannot help but think that the really bad stuff is coming hence the desperation to stop inquiry and dissent. It appears we are seeing two camps trying to trash each other while at the same time squash any investigation. It is office politics gone public and Machiavellian.

      • Rayne says:

        There may be two camps, but they crossed over so much during the first 6 years that it’s going to be very difficult for either camp to escape unscathed.

        Following EW’s work and reading other texts like Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side, it’s easy to see that we the public were told one thing while other things were going on.

        They pointedly used the public stage (as WilliamOckham outlines upthread at (11)), while conducting documented activities offstage which should also have been public — and all of the actors are present in both onstage and offstage production.

        Condi cannot successfully deny she was a consensual participant and principal, both BEFORE 9/11 and AFTER 9/11; she’s implicated this early by way of executive orders which include her function as National Security Adviser. She needs to be confronted about her lack of documented protest against any illegal activities not clearly prohibited by these orders, among other things.

  36. pdaly says:

    In the NYT Mazzetti/Shane article linked to by emptywheel in the main post, I noticed what looks like a reference to the ‘every body does it’ argument:

    John B. Bellinger III, who, as the National Security Council’s top lawyer, played a role in discussions when the program was approved in 2002, by the next year had begun to research past ill-fated British and Israeli use of torture and grew doubtful about the wisdom of the techniques.

    Mr. Bellinger shared his doubts with his boss, Ms. Rice, then the national security adviser, who began to reconsider her strong support for the program.

    No dates for this British or Isreali “torture” nor mention of whether anyone was held accountable. It is left as a breadcrumb for taking people down other paths or maybe to distract from the fact that the US tortures by normalizing the behavior. Or perhaps this sentence tries to make the US look better by comparison to Britain and Israel, because, as Pres. Bush and Rice have said, ‘The US does not torture.’

  37. behindthefall says:

    About the NYT’s attitude: No links or citations, just something I’ve been saying to myself over the past year … The NYT ran a 2-page article on things you can do to make your home more energy efficient; its conclusion was essentially, “Meh! It’ll cost you more than it’s worth. Just turn out the lights when you leave a room.” It recently ran a “science” article about isolating active compounds from botanical sources for medical uses; question: Should people take herbs? answer: No; there might be side effects, so wait until we have a pill. Then there are articles saying that ‘green’ is overblown, won’t change anything very much, costs too much.

    How to put the impression I’ve been getting from their slant? “Don’t wake the inmates. They’re sleeping comfortably, and you never know what they might do if they looked out the window.”

  38. Mary says:

    I wonder if Rice even picked up on the irony of her “do your homework” hiss?

    It’s almost as if she didn’t realize that the Sup Ct had just given her and her admin an F for THEIR homework.

    82 – she’s been able to insulate herself from hard questions (remember her just not showing up to talk to Congress when they would try to get her and how much it took for Bush to let her show up before the 9/11 commission)and in the few instances where she did get asked, she could hide behind states secrets and classified info in her answers and she and Bellinger could plant snippets indicating that they were “heroes” who “fought” Cheney.

    The more that comes out, the more the picture of herself she wants to sell the world crumbles.

  39. Mary says:

    EPU’d, but AGAG in that interview saying, “AG: I think that the President can make the decision for the executive branch.” highlights the problems with DOJ. Lawyers are not just executive branch employees, they are also officers of the court with a direct duty to the judiciary and they are independent professionals bound to professional standards (including things like candor to tribunals) that cannot be supplanted by Presidential fiat.

    • Rayne says:

      But if AG was speaking about decisions made in 2001-2005 during Ashcroft’s tenure as USAG, AG is speaking from his as Bush’s White House Counsel.

      Which tells us it’s not in the best interest of our country to have a USAG repping the President and then move to repping the country. Bad enough to have such unethical behavior repping the president but then to have the rep continue under an entirely different role is beyond the pale.

      AG as USAG never really gave up being White House Counsel. As for his ethics as an attorney: he never really had any, was apparently a prerequisite for his hiring.

  40. cbl2 says:

    probably EPU’d as well.

    David He Has Brought Facism To These Shores ! Swanson reminds us Jay Bybee used Nixon’s veto of the War Powers Act to justify going in to Iraq, rully…never mind it was overwhelmingly overriden – how in bloody hell did these guys ever get a JD ??

  41. maryo2 says:

    Envision a music video with Condi repeating the chorus
    “No one could have foreseen…Do your homework.”
    “No one could have foreseen…Do your homework.”

  42. tjbs says:

    I’ve been calling out the NYT for months the clowns that they are.
    They did publish my online letter this morning which read as follows concerning who to kill next in the middle east
    2009 6:44 am

    Because of the 9-11 treason lie we have no right to be anywhere randomly murdering innocents. Didn’t you guys attend worship this weekend?

  43. MiriamKniaz says:

    Of course the NYT didn’t report on it. We have to look forward, not back after all.

Comments are closed.