Helen Would Have Asked about the Rape Threats for Teens

That last thread is getting a bit long, and since McCaffrey the MilleniaLab says we’re going on a walk NOW, I wanted to throw up more space for discussion.

So let me just make this observation. Apparently, not one of the crack reporters at yesterday’s White House press conference asked any question about what it means that a judge speaking for the United States of America decided the other day that using rape threats with teens is an acceptable way to force confessions.

As I suggested, perhaps Robert Gibbs’ intemperate rant wasn’t so stupid after all. It distracted from the sad state of America’s claims at being a law-abiding nation. Lots of questions about the professional left. No questions about threatening a teenager with rape and then using the confession that results as admissible evidence.

Which brings me to a point WaldenE made. Used to be, these kinds of questions got asked in White House press briefings. Back when Helen Thomas was still the Dean of the White House press corps, she would have asked about military interrogators using rape threats with teens (after which, Robert Gibbs would have sighed and given her a patronizing response). No longer. Because she was chased out because–they say–she was an opinion journalist and because she made a comment that Robert Gibbs might call “inartful.”

These things are all connected somehow…

  1. cregan says:

    I agree totally with your post. Questions should have been asked. A lot of them. Not that I like Helen Thomas, but you are correct; she would have asked some tough questions.

    Generally, there is a lack of tough questions to Gibbs. The fourth estate needs to quit cheer leading and begin doing their jobs.

  2. klynn says:

    I would like a reality tv show:

    Real Questions For White House Press Briefings


    Snark aside

    Could we have Helen here as a salon guest just to discuss this very important concern?

    • Leen says:

      Such a good idea. How about Helen Thomas and Dan Rather being the hosts of a reality show on the media. Outrageous!

      Helen Thomas would definitely ask the rape question.

      One of my favorite articles about the Helen Thomas rail roading. At the If Americans knew website. Unable to link

      As Israel kills and maims, Outrage is directed at Helen Thomas

      Whenever Israel commits yet another atrocity, its defenders are quick to redirect public attention away from the grisly crime scene…

      Currently, there are headlines about allegedly anti-Semitic comments made by senior White House correspondent Helen Thomas. Pundits across the land evince outrage at her off-the-cuff 25-second statement made to a man who appears to be holding a camera right in her face.
      Thomas’s “outrageous” statement

      Yet, the rage we see in the U.S. media is directed against none of this. People shot in the head, eyes and brain parts destroyed, the elderly beaten, small children and infants caused to suffer and die, parents to grieve – none of this has caused a hint of anger. In fact, most of it has been considered of too little importance even to report.

      Instead, media reports are filled with outrage at “anti-Israel” words spoken by 89-year-old Helen Thomas.

      In Thomas’s lifetime Israel has ethnically cleansed over a million people, replaced them with colonists from around the world, committed dozens of massacres, tortured thousands of people, killed and maimed untold numbers of children, mangled limbs, and committed outrages on women, old people, the weak and the infirm.

      It has assassinated people throughout the world, invaded numerous countries, spied on the U.S., killed and injured 200 American servicemen (the anniversary is this week), and tortured and imprisoned Americans. All while receiving more American money than any other country on earth.

      Thomas issued a public apology for her words, but this was insufficient to assuage the wounded feelings of powerful antagonists, and she has now retired from a long and distinguished career.

    • Mary says:

      That would actually be an interesting idea. It won’t happen, except maybe somehow on “the toobz” but it would be interesting and worth a watch if done right.


      EW – It distracted I think you are dead on with this – as you were putting it up, I was putting up a comment that touches on that on Peterr’s thread. The tea party crap was really great for the WH in many ways bc it served to distract from substantive examination of what the WH was doing, with so much examination instead focused on the really obvious gaffes of the guys and gals carrying the Obama as Hitler signs.

      Whenever substance even begins to come up, the mantra is “not enough Dems in the Senate, mean Republicans, poor Obama” Everyone caught on fast enough to the fact that Republicans have no real economic plan of their own and are pretty much adrift at sea, but why wouldn’t they be when they see how well that has worked for Obama. He spewed some empty rhetoric, then abandoned it all to instead govern day to day based on what deals corporations what point his polls said he could pander to at the time.

      The last thing Obamaco wants is any substantive discussions – so the new distraction to take the place of the tea partiers is the “professional left.”

      God forbid anyone would actually have pushed Gibbs on substance instead of just engaging in stenogrpahy while he rants and builds strawmen.

      • Leen says:

        “The last thing Obamaco wants is any substantive discussions – so the new distraction to take the place of the tea partiers is the “professional left.”

        although lets not forget Obama broadcast his message live at Netroots. Saying to the crowd you are having an effect, keep pushing, make us do it. This “professional left” play was either a lets see how much we can get under their skin play or just a dumb ass mistake. The lefties bit hook line and sinker. Not sure what the intention was, but the lefties are sure focused on it.

        Anyone who has worked out in the public the last four to 10 years knows that all sorts of people came out of the cracks to work against the illegal and immoral policies of the Bush administration. The big question is whether the Obama administration has the cajones to give us reasons to support them besides the moving forward agenda and you had better be with us because look at the alternative

  3. tjbs says:

    I always believed these shows are scripted otherwise a free press would demand equal access to ask a question in the form of a seat lottery to ask the next question. When the “president” gets to chose the next questioner it’s like getting to count the votes, in private.

    Every one admitted to the press conference, with the proper credentials, should have an equal chance to ask a question. That would give you the results we desire.

    To think people who cared about us, died on the battlefield to insure a “free press” for this thin gruel. I asked my local editor ,after publishing a letter against the war, why he took out our counties expenditure for the war from my letter that was the whole point. I asked him how many Iraq citizens we killed and the “free press’ guy had no answer.

  4. BayStateLibrul says:

    Indeed. If you want the real deal tune in to Jon Stewart or Saturday Night


    The press conference is pure drama/theater…

    I’ve stopped watching Tweety/Countdown and watch Seinfeld re-runs and the

    Sox games on NESN…

    I’m much happier now.

  5. fatster says:

    Blackwater guards indicted for murder [of two Afghans]

    “A federal grand jury has added an additional indictment to a former Blackwater employee involved in the murders of two Afghan civilians in May of 2009, according to The Virginian-Pilot.”


  6. brendanx says:

    Of course Thomas would have asked that question, given her animus towards Israel. *snark*

    Any speculation on who the next Mel Gibson/Helen Thomas will be when the Israelis extend their “routine brush-clearing maintenance” to the rest of Lebanon again?

  7. Jeff Kaye says:

    As I suggested, perhaps Robert Gibbs’ intemperate rant wasn’t so stupid after all. It distracted from the sad state of America’s claims at being a law-abiding nation. Lots of questions about the professional left. No questions about threatening a teenager with rape and then using the confession that results as admissible evidence.

    I totally agree! I said something like that in one of Teddy’s threads yesterday.

    If Robert Gibbs goes down, plenty of satisfied goring for someone who certainly deserves it, but meanwhile, the veal pen won’t be forced to defend their pushing a bogus war crime trial on a child “soldier”. The only ones to win? The Pentagon, who will be laughing all the way to the bank, so to speak, having legitimated the military commissions and only had to sacrifice, in the name of misdirection, the hapless Gibbs.

    It’s not as if Obama is going to do a Checkers speech for the left.

    Watching the feast on Gibbs is redolent of the classic cliche about Chinese food. Tastes good, but you’re hungry two hours later (not actually my experience, by the way, and I love Chinese food).

    It is certainly newsworthy that the Obama administration wants to declare war on the “professional Left”. But there are other newsworthy stories not even being reported. The New York Times didn’t even have a story on the Khadr jury selection yesterday. The anti-torture statute in New York State, which threatened the licenses of an health care professional involved in torture, was defeated. Of course, as I noted in a comment, the charges against John Leso, also in New York, a Gitmo BSCT psychologists involved in the torture of Al Qahtani, and could very well have been involved for all we know in the Khadr case, were dismissed as lacking jurisdiction (because torture is not the practice of psychology, see?).

    But we’ll hear nothing of these events in the news, or even on the blogs. Maybe from EW. Maybe if I can break away longer from work than to do a quick run-by comment.

    Obama got what he wanted. In retrospect the best reaction to Gibbs would have been to ignore him. Push our own agenda, condemn the administration when appropriate. Who gives a shit what Gibbs says? In many ways, I’m thinking we’ve played into their game. They make the news, and we are catching up.

    We should be making the news, telling America what is news. And here’s the news: the government is full of war criminals and profiteers, don’t listen to their lies.

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      Hank did the bulk of the research on this, and rightly has first author rights. I’m happy I get to work some with him. He is doing trailblazing work, and has great sources. It’s an amazing article with a lot of material, goes even beyond the issue of the testing on children (though that’s the main thing), but also a look at the testing on another “vulnerable population”… prisoners.

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      A nice quote from the article which I personally found telling in the writing of it:

      In an article published in 1970, Dr. Bender reported on the results of LSD dosing upon “two adolescent boys who were mildly schizophrenic.” She reported that the boys experienced perceptual distortions. They thought the researchers were making faces at them, that their pencils were becoming “rubbery,” and one boy reported the other boy’s face had turned green. The boys began to complain that they were being experimented upon. Even so, Bender and her associate continued the two male adolescents on a regimen of 150 mcg. per day, in divided doses, of LSD. While one of the boys supposedly “benefited very much,” Bender report that he later returned to the hospital as “a disturbed adult schizophrenic.” The other boy kept complaining that he was being experimented upon and they stopped giving him LSD, not because of the drug’s effects itself, Bender explained, but “because of the boy’s attitude towards it,” which she attributed to “his own psychopathology.”

      Here’s a link to the 1970 Bender article itself

  8. lysias says:

    Walter Graziano wrote about how the CIA conducted drug experiments on prisoners in his 2004 book Hitler ganó la guerra [Hitler Won the War], which I am now having to struggle through in the original Spanish (because there has been no English translation of this bestseller in Argentina).

  9. Leen says:

    As some have pointed out this bait that the White House threw out “professional left” was swallowed hook line and sinker by the lefties. Did anyone hear Jane, Glenn, etc bring up this rape threat on Dylan Ratigans or was it all this “professional left” bait that was focused on

    • Garrett says:

      At dKos, LaFeminista had a very powerful diary on the execution by stoning sentence of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, with a wider tying together of issues in it. It was on the rec list in the dead of night spot.

      A number of people have been considering doing a diary on the Khadr trial, with I’m sure the conflicted feelings of knowing it needs posted over there, and dreading the disappointment of the seven or so comments, from the usual crew.

      I’ll be doing one tomorrow.

  10. textynn says:

    What happened to Helen Thomas was total bull. Who would want to go to the WH and suck up on their phony double speak anyway? Just a waste of time to go all the way there just to dance around topics and listen while the elite are served at the cost of the people with toddler like explanations. Why bother.??