Carrying Cheney's Water in the New York Times
What's this story which Marcy writes about today have in common with this story which I wrote about in April? Funny how whenever Dead-eye Dick wants to make sure someone else take the fall for his torture policy, he seems to get his story out through Scott Shane.
And these two incidents are not the only time Shane has been found carrying Cheney's water. Last December when there was a lot of push back on who Obama should name as CIA director, Charles Kaiser of CJR noted that Shane's story once more was slanted.
The story on the front page of Wednesday morning’s New York Times provides the most recent and the most dramatic example of this syndrome. The story, by Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane, noted that John O. Brennan had withdrawn his name from consideration for CIA director after liberal critics attacked his role in the agency’s interrogation program, even though Brennan characterized himself as a “strong opponent” within the agency of harsh interrogation techniques. Brennan’s characterization was not disputed by anyone else in the story, even though most experts on this subject agree that Brennan acquiesced in everything that the CIA did in this area while he served there.
But here's how Scott Horton described what happened with this story (emphasis mine).
"I was aghast reading this," said Scott Horton, a professor of human rights law at Hofstra and a contributing editor at Harper’s, whose blog was instrumental in framing the opposition to Brennan’s appointment. "The Times doesn’t even do a reasonable job of presenting the conflicts—their principal source today was John O. Brennan. They have not reached out to the other side. It looks like Mark and Scott have decided that it’s payback time for a couple of their sources at the agency."
Horton also disputed the idea that an investigation of agency abuses would "would demoralize the line officers of intelligence and the military." The people saying that are "very very skillfully pointing to the interrogators as being the targets—because they know they would not be the targets. The people who would be the targets are policy makers like [Cheney chief of staff David] Addington, who have the same ability to attract sympathy from the public as cockroaches. I’m not sure that the early part of the story is going to be so embarrassing to the company. There was push back at the beginning; you had pretty high level opposition and Cheney decided to cram it down, which is why they went to get that Department of Justice memo" authorizing the torture of prisoners.
As Charles notes in his post, Scott Shane's reporting on the subject of torture has been egregiously bad.
It appears that Scott Shane has his reasons for writing story after story that helps carry Cheney's water, but it doesn't help the Times credibility on this subject.
Update: Read Glenn Greenwald's analysis on today's Times story and what the Comey memos actually show.
Glenn is right that the torture story is like the bullying of the CIA by Cheney and his ghouls because it really is the same story. Cheney insisted on torture because he wanted to have an excuse to bomb Iraq and after the war started was looking for evidence that Saddam was in cahoots with bin Laden. Today, Cheney acknowledges there was no link. But everything we know about the torture and the lies that led to the war was that Cheney was the main driver.