Sunday, December 09, 2007

Nothing to see here, move along (enhanced edition)

Via the New York Times, some blogger asks a question:

Jay Rockefeller is constantly learning of legally dubious (at best) C.I.A. intelligence activities, and then saying nothing about them publicly until they are leaked to the press, at which point he expresses outrage and incredulity — but reveals nothing. Really, isn’t it about time the Democrats select an effective Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, one who will treat this scandal with the seriousness it deserves, and who will shed much-needed light on the C.I.A. program of torture, cruel treatment and obstruction of evidence?

What the naifs who populate the top echelons of our press and punditry fail to realize is -- as usual -- the obvious. Jay Rockefeller is an effective Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee precisely because he covers up these things. When you are a prominent member of a fake opposition party, the willingness to cover up for the bad guys is one of the most important qualifications for the job.

Look at any issue and you’ll find “democrats” following the same script. They use their positions in government to cover up the inner party’s high crimes and lesser misdeeds then blather fake outrage and do nothing when anything illegal or embarrassing comes to light.

And everyday the same old becomes new again:
For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised.

Objections were not raised? However could that be?

The press, which fulfills its function as a guardian of truth only slightly better than the “democrats fulfill their role as real political party, still has trouble calling torture torture. Beating, breaking bones, wiring genitals, drowning people; none of that is torture. Those interrogations may be harsh. They may be severe. But they are not torture. They are nothing more than techniques, methods and tactics. Good things all. And sometimes these techniques, methods, and tactics are enhanced! The goodness never stops!

But occasionally some truth slips past the gatekeepers.
Waterboarding as an interrogation technique has its roots in some of history's worst totalitarian nations, from Nazi Germany and the Spanish Inquisition to North Korea and Iraq. In the United States, the technique was first used five decades ago as a training tool to give U.S. troops a realistic sense of what they could expect if captured by the Soviet Union or the armies of Southeast Asia. The U.S. military has officially regarded the tactic as torture since the Spanish-American War.

Of course the fact that the US is aping the worst totalitarian nations in the history of humankind comes near the end of the article and the fact that it’s blatantly illegal comes far past the point in the piece where 95 percent of the readers will have stopped reading. Hmmmm, top government officials in both parties collude to commit horrible crimes against humanity in the worst tradition of Hitler, Stalin, and Torquemada. Big news, you'd think.

In journalism-speak that’s what's known as burying the lede. I suspect that pretty soon the powers that be will figure out that they’re in for a dime, might as well be in for a dollar and figure uncle Joe knows best. They’ll put an end to the journalists' practice of burying uncomfortable facts deep in the article and start burying the journalists who publish facts instead.