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CNN Helps Mike Hayden Uncork A Fine Whine

Michael Hayden is at it again. This time it is CNN that has donated the bandwidth to his continued petty whining about the release of the OLC Torture Memos. After acknowledging that the matter is over and now simply a matter of history, Hayden, in a “Special to CNN Comment” bearing today’s date, says:

I know that the story has moved on, that the outline of the journalistic narrative has been set, and that the “first draft” of history has been just about finalized. Before the ink dries though, I would like to offer at least a footnote.

And this footnote has to do with President Obama’s decision in April to release opinions drafted by the Department of Justice that detailed the CIA’s interrogation program for high-value al Qaeda detainees.

Make no mistake. The decision to release those memos in April was a political one, not a legal one — a question of choice rather than necessity.

This was a deliberate decision and, if it is to be defended, history (and journalism) should demand that it be defended on those grounds and not on some hapless “the judge was going to make me do it” argument.

As I said, this is all now a footnote, and Hellerstein’s September decision was barely remarked in the public discourse.

But the good people of CIA follow this more closely than most and, like the good operators and analysts that they are, they know what they see and they know what it means.

“Make no mistake”, just as the decision to release the torture Memos is old news, so is Hayden’s objection. He made it abundantly clear, on many records, before, during and after the Memos’ release. Why did CNN decide that giving Hayden a prime “special” opportunity to continue the same relentless petulance was a good idea? Where is the CNN “Special Comment” on the decision of the British High Court that heroically proclaimed:

It cannot be suggested that information as to how officials of the U.S. government admitted treating (Binyam Mohamed) during his interrogation is information that can in any democratic society governed by the rule of law be characterized as ’secret’ or as ‘intelligence’…

Where was the CNN “Special Comment” on US Federal Judge Jeffrey White who trumpeted the public’s “right to know” what their government has done in their name in a very similar FOIA case?

Why is it that CNN has special space available for Michael Hayden, a man centrally involved in the alleged Bush war criminal misconduct, to rehash his same old self serving petty whining from months ago, but not for the current news that actually supports the rule of law in a democracy?

If They Cut Off Your Rent-A-Generals, Just Buy-An-Advisor

I highly recommend checking out this Media Matters database, which lists all 4500 appearances the Rent-A-Generals named in NYT’s article on the program (I hope Media Matters expands it to include other Rent-A-Hacks listed in the full document dump). Here, for example, are the appearances made by David Grange, the most prolific Rent-A-General, just as the Iraq War began (Update: as drational points out, Grange appears to be the most prolific in this sample because Media Matter’s methodology over-represents CNN).

grange-cnn.jpg

Kind of hard to see, I know, but it basically reads CNN CNN CNN CNN CNN CNN CNN CNN CNN CNN.

Now, as it turns out, the last CNN appearance from David Grange was on April 25, just a few days after the NYT story. The other CNN favorite Rent-A-General, Donald Sheppperd, actually stopped appearing in March.

So what’s a poor cable news network to do, now that its Rent-A-General addiction (Lou Dobbs has a particularly bad habit) has been exposed?

I would suggest today’s finalization of the news–first announced about a week after the NYT story–that Fran Townsend is joining CNN as a Buy-A-Hack might answer your question.

Frances Fragos Townsend, who recently stepped down as President George W. Bush’s chief anti-terrorism and homeland security adviser, will join CNN as an on-air contributor providing analysis and insight on national security issues, it was announced by Jon Klein, president of CNN/U.S. Townsend, who has spent more than two decades in the fields of intelligence and criminal justice, has served during the past three administrations, most recently as assistant to Bush for homeland security and counterterrorism. She chaired the Homeland Security Council from May 2004 until January 2008. Prior to that, she was a deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism from 2003 to 2004. She has been at the center of America’s effort to fight terrorism through her work in the U.S. Coast Guard, the Justice Department under President Bill Clinton and the George W. Bush White House.

If you can’t continue to present Administration propaganda with the Rent-A-Generals anymore, I guess, you might have to suck it up and hire the Administration’s own security "expert" to present the Administration’s spin.

CNN has not announced whether Townsend will get favorable access to Administration briefings–beyond those available as a member of the PFIAB.