December 3, 2008

Tortured language

In today's New York Times article on Obama and the CIA, reporter Mark Mazzetti (with Scott Shane) repeats some of the irritating nonsense that Glenn Greenwald has already called him on, with new twists. Let's subject it to enhance interrogation, shall we.

Last week, John O. Brennan, a C.I.A. veteran who was widely seen as Mr. Obama’s likeliest choice to head the intelligence agency, withdrew his name from consideration after liberal critics attacked his alleged role in the agency’s detention and interrogation program. Mr. Brennan protested that he had been a “strong opponent” within the agency of harsh interrogation tactics, yet Mr. Obama evidently decided that nominating Mr. Brennan was not worth a battle with some of his most ardent supporters on the left.

1) Brennan played an "alleged role" but "protested" the allegations... Here's a thought for reporters: why not actually try to determine what his role was and whether his protest has merit? Greenwald managed to dig up quite a few examples of Brennan endorsing rendition and torture and claiming to have "intimate" knowledge of some cases. Surely a Times reporter could do similar digging.

2) "Obama evidently decided that nominating Mr. Brennan was not worth a battle with some of his most ardent supporters on the left." OK, so where's the evidence? This description of Obama's decision certainly seems possible, but it's also possible that Obama decided that his ardent supporters on the left were, in fact, correct about Brennan — a completely different story. At the very least, Mazzetti and Shane should have said apparently rather than evidently.

3) In the earlier article that Greenwald dissected, Mazzetti wrote: "the episode shows that the C.I.A.’s secret detention program remains a particularly incendiary issue for the Democratic base, making it difficult for Mr. Obama to select someone for a top intelligence post who has played any role in the agency’s campaign against Al Qaeda since the Sept. 11 attacks."

Greemwald observed that "to object to someone like Brennan... is hardly the same as objecting to anyone who 'played any role in the agency’s campaign against Al Qaeda,'" so today Mazzetti avoids stating this as fact and attributes it to a source.

Mark M. Lowenthal, an intelligence veteran who left a senior post at the C.I.A. in 2005, said Mr. Obama’s decision to exclude Mr. Brennan from contention for the top job had sent a message that “if you worked in the C.I.A. during the war on terror, you are now tainted,” and had created anxiety in the ranks of the agency’s clandestine service.

Now you could look at this as progress (or, conversely, as an acknowledgment by Mazzetti that in the recent past he treated the opinions of his biased sources as factual statements) but it's hard not to read this as if there is supposed to be something wrong with creating anxiety in the ranks of the CIA over illegal and inhumane actions. More to the point, even though it's now posed as one man's opinion, that opinion is left unchallenged — until Mazzetti's own reporting several paragraphs later actually refutes it: "Among those mentioned as possible candidates for the job are Stephen R. Kappes, a C.I.A. veteran who is the deputy director." When you list people who "worked in the C.I.A. during the war on terror" or "played a role in the agency's campaign against Al Qaida," Kappes would be near the top. I'm not an expert on the internal workings of the agency, but I see that Kappes clashed with others in the hierarchy and was instrumental in eventually banning water-boarding. Not everyone is tainted, just the ones who dove into the taint.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


The CIA is the permanent regime's death squad; always has been always will be. JFK intended to dissolve the CIA, thus bang bang bangity bang in broad daylight.

Must be quite a balancing act for Times employees to write and edit for the permanent regime's main house organ, providing what looks like real information while busily obscuring the truth (especially when you can't even use words any Upper West Side seven-year-old spouts with glee). And quite a task for the new White House errand boy to maintain the illusion that he is invested with the powers stated in the Constitution and is acting only to serve the American people. Ivy League lawyers are well trained in the denial, compartmentalization and cognitive dissonance required for the job.

Looking forward to the 8-year Afghanistan War, and another major false flag domestic terror event to quell popular discontent, accompanied by some world-class executive homilies to make us feel all warm and runny inside about our international death dealing.

i'm confused. i thought the previous entry was about the how the NYT won't "[dive] into the taint."

i bet Elisha Cuthbert's taint is worth diving into, though.

good one, Daniel. Now if you'll just analyze the dozen other front page articles... And also go back and take a look at their WMD reporting...

Feel free to copy and past (repeatedly) the following statement into any and all letters to the editor...


ahhh... the internet....

but seriously, you don't want the CIA looking into your taint....

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