From Forbes, our image of the day captures nicely the mainstream media's credibility problem, as their…
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Image of the Day: Mainstream Media's Evaporating Credibility

From Forbes, our image of the day captures nicely the mainstream media's credibility problem, as their cries of "Wolf!" accumulate.  Simultaneously, it captures how three institutions most intertwined with conservative values - the military, small business and police - remain atop the list of public esteem.

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[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="960"] Media's Evaporating Credibility[/caption]

 

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October 04, 2019 • 10:29 am

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Senate Democrats' "Torture" Report Amounts to Malpractice Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, December 11 2014
As was the case with Rolling Stone, the failure or refusal to so much as interview the most relevant actors in the matter is inexcusable...

This week, a report on terrorist interrogation techniques prepared by Democratic staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee was released. 

Although reflexively celebrated by all too many journalists and political observers as some sort of sober analysis of an important policy issue, it actually bears more in common with another ugly media spectacle we witnessed this week.  Namely, the rapid implosion of the Rolling Stone magazine story on an alleged rape at the University of Virginia campus. 

For anyone still unfamiliar with that journalistic debacle, Rolling Stone ran a graphic and explosive account of an alleged September 2012 gang rape at a university fraternity house, and the subsequent administration coverup.  Upon publication, university officials summarily shut down the entire fraternity system for the remainder of the semester until January, and a media prairie fire commenced.  But then the account unraveled like a North Korean business suit in a monsoon. 

Among other glaring flaws, the name given by the alleged victim as her date on the night in question doesn't match anyone at the university, and one of the photos she reportedly texted to her friends was actually a high school classmate who attends college in another state and hasn't been to Charlottesville in six years.  Worse, the Rolling Stone reporter not only failed to interview any of the alleged victim's friends (whom she alleged she told of the rape afterward), she didn't interview any of the alleged perpetrators. 

Not a single one. 

The entire tawdry episode recalls the Duke lacrosse rape hoax of 2006, but the Rolling Stone journalist hoping to push a privileged white male "rape culture" narrative never internalized that lesson. 

Which brings us to this week's defective "torture" report, seen by many as a parting shot from Senator Diane Feinstein (D - California) as she prepares for minority party status. 

The Democratic staff who prepared the report didn't interview a single one of the three Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) directors from the period in question, or even any of the three deputy directors or other CIA personnel who had briefed them on the interrogation program or executed it. 

That simply amounts to governmental malpractice. 

In response to the release of the report, former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden drafted a Wall Street Journal rebuttal itemizing the report's fatal flaws. 

First, the former directors point out that today's retrospective context is far different than the context in which the interrogations occurred.  While that doesn't, standing alone, justify actions that would otherwise violate applicable legal standards, it must be remembered that we were in the midst of a "post-Pearl Harbor" atmosphere.  We knew very little about al Qaeda, its operations and its imminent plans.  In addition to the possibility of post-9/11 plots, recall that the anthrax attacks occurred soon thereafter. 

More fundamentally, the former directors flatly reject the new Senate report's assertion that the enhanced interrogation techniques employed were ineffective.  Evidence obtained through the interrogations led to the capture of high-level al Qaeda members, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed himself.  It also helped disrupt a planned second wave of attacks on the U.S. west coast, as well as innumerable future attacks that would otherwise have occurred both in the U.S. and abroad. 

Accordingly, in the narrower debate over whether the interrogation techniques proved fruitful, the certainty of former CIA directors and people like Democrat Leon Panetta must be weighed against the claims of people like Senator Feinstein.  That disparity of credibility and knowledge is obvious. 

Additionally, it should be noted that leaders of Congress such as Nancy Pelosi were informed of the techniques used at the time, with no objection voiced.  Only now do such figures claim horror for political effect.  George Orwell once observed that preaching pacifism is easy from behind the protective cover of the Royal Navy, and the same concept applies to this debate. 

Regardless, the sloppy nature of the new "torture" report shamefully parallels the Rolling Stone rape allegation debacle.  As was the case with Rolling Stone, the failure or refusal to so much as interview the most relevant actors in the matter is inexcusable, as the former CIA directors note: 

"Astonishingly, the staff avoided interviewing any of us who had been involved in establishing or running the program, the first time a supposedly comprehensive Senate Select Committee on Intelligence study has been carried out in this way.  The excuse given by a majority of Senators is that CIA officers were under investigation by the Justice Department and therefore could not be made available.  This is nonsense.  The investigations referred to were completed in 2011 and 2012, and applied only to certain officers.  They never applied to six former CIA directors and deputy directors, all of whom could have added firsthand truth to the study.  Yet a press account indicates that the committee staff did see fit to interview at least one attorney for a terrorist at Guantanamo Bay. 

We can only conclude that the committee members or staff did not want to risk having to deal with data that did not fit their construct." 

This is not the sort of product that Americans should accept from their elected representatives.  Too much is at stake, even if memories of 9/11 have proven too ephemeral for some. 

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Which one of the following is still remembered as the most infamous incident in American industrial history?
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