Why the Senate Intelligence Committee is like Rolling Stone magazine

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Rolling Stone magazine has committed a series of astonishing journalistic blunders of late:

Rolling Stone magazine has blown it again.

First it outraged New Englanders by putting a photo of the accused Boston Marathon bomber on its July 2013 cover — after the horrific terror attack that killed three people and injured more than 260 — that made him appear like a sultry, tousled-hair rock star.

But the single worst example of its blinding ineptitude was the UVA scandal:

If that wasn’t reason enough to cancel one’s subscription, now Rolling Stone has backpedaled on its story about a woman allegedly gang-raped at a Phi Kappa Psi frat party at the University of Virginia in 2012.

In a 9,000 word expose, one of Rolling Stone’s freelance writers told a story based on interviews with a female UVA student by the name of “Jackie” who claimed that seven frat boys gang-raped her.

They made one mistake. One gigantic, idiotic mistake:

Instead of fact-checking the serious allegations by doing common sense things such as interviewing the accused — or verifying if the frat party even took place — Rolling Stone ran the damning story without doing its homework. And now Rolling Stone has issued an apology.

“In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced,” Will Dana, the magazine’s managing editor, wrote on its website.

Memo to Rolling Stone: A fifth-grader would’ve done some basic fact-checking before potentially ruining men’s lives.

Hello lawsuits. This is media sloppiness at its worst.

Sloppiness indeed. There are two sides to every story. Well, not always.

The Senate Intelligence Committee today released its so-called “torture report”:

A long-awaited Senate report concludes that the CIA repeatedly misled the public, Congress and the White House about the agency’s aggressive questioning of detainees — including waterboarding, confinement in small spaces and shackling in stress positions — after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, minimizing the severity of the interrogations and exaggerating the usefulness of the information produced, including its role in setting in motion the U.S. raid that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report finds that the “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” program escaped effective scrutiny by outsiders long after its inception in 2002, with CIA records showing that President George W. Bush was never briefed by the agency on specific techniques such as waterboarding until 2006. Top Bush administration officials such as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell were not told of the practices until September 2003.

The congressional review also says that the CIA’s actual tactics often went far beyond the terms laid out in Justice Department legal opinions, subjecting detainees to prolonged interrogation under a combination of harsh techniques and ignoring safeguards set forth in the legal memos such as ensuring that interrogators were well-trained and had high-level approvals before using the unusually aggressive tactics.

Taking a page out of the Rolling Stone playbook, Senate democrats decided not to interview any of those they were to so heavily criticize. They were not interested in both sides of the story, to which those besmirched, including some significant higher ups, took exception:

George Tenet:

George Tenet, who was CIA director through much of the Bush administration, said the report is “biased, inaccurate, and destructive” and said it “does damage to U.S. national security, to the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency, and most of all to the truth.”

“It is indeed a dark day for congressional oversight,” Tenet added.

John Brennan:

CIA Director John Brennan said the agency “made mistakes” in the years after 9/11, but he rebutted the Senate Intelligence Committee’s conclusion that officials routinely misled officials in Washington.

“While we made mistakes, the record does not support the study’s inference that the agency systematically and intentionally misled each of these audiences on the effectiveness of the program,” he said.

Brennan accused lawmakers and congressional staffers, who have spent years on the analysis, of painting “an incomplete and selective picture of what occurred” by compiling the report solely from communications records and not conducting interviews.

James Clapper:

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper declined to point out faults in the report but said that rebuttal from Republicans on the Intelligence Committee offers “one example of strong alternative views” on the program.

A group of former CIA Directors and Deputy Directors had this to say:

First, its claim that the CIA’s interrogation program was ineffective in producing intelligence that helped us disrupt, capture, or kill terrorists is just not accurate. The program was invaluable in three critical ways:

• It led to the capture of senior al Qaeda operatives, thereby removing them from the battlefield.

• It led to the disruption of terrorist plots and prevented mass casualty attacks, saving American and Allied lives.

• It added enormously to what we knew about al Qaeda as an organization and therefore informed our approaches on how best to attack, thwart and degrade it.

This is the vise in which intelligence agencies found themselves:

The detention and interrogation program was formulated in the aftermath of the murders of close to 3,000 people on 9/11. This was a time when:

• We had evidence that al Qaeda was planning a second wave of attacks on the U.S.

• We had certain knowledge that bin Laden had met with Pakistani nuclear scientists and wanted nuclear weapons.

• We had reports that nuclear weapons were being smuggled into New York City.

• We had hard evidence that al Qaeda was trying to manufacture anthrax.

Jose Rodriguez, the former CIA agent who ran the interrogation program, had some reminders about what democrats said back then.

Nancy Pelosi:

The leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees and of both parties in Congress were briefed on the program more than 40 times between 2002 and 2009. But Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tried to deny that she was told in 2002 that detainees had been waterboarded. That is simply not true. I was among those who briefed her.

Dianne Feinstein:

On May 26, 2002, Feinstein was quoted in the New York Times saying that the attacks of 9/11 were a real awakening and that it would no longer be “business as usual.” The attacks, she said, let us know “that the threat is profound” and “that we have to do some things that historically we have not wanted to do to protect ourselves.”

It would have been nice to hear exactly what she meant by that.

Jay Rockefeller:

After extraordinary CIA efforts, aided by information obtained through the enhanced-interrogation program, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed architect of the 9/11 attacks, was captured in Pakistan. Shortly afterward, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), then the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, appeared on CNN’s “Late Edition” on March 2, 2003. Rockefeller, who had been extensively briefed about the CIA’s efforts, told Wolf Blitzer that “happily, we don’t know where [KSM] is,” adding: “He’s in safekeeping, under American protection. He’ll be grilled by us. I’m sure we’ll be proper with him, but I’m sure we’ll be very, very tough with him.”

When Blitzer asked about how KSM would be interrogated, Rockefeller assured him that “there are presidential memorandums that prescribe and allow certain measures to be taken, but we have to be careful.” Then he added: “On the other hand, he does have the information. Getting that information will save American lives. We have no business not getting that information.”

And that’s not all. Blitzer asked if the United States should turn over KSM to a friendly country with no restrictions against torture. Rockefeller, laughing, said he wouldn’t rule it out: “I wouldn’t take anything off the table where he is concerned, because this is the man who has killed hundreds and hundreds of Americans over the last 10 years.”

There is a website which seeks to rebut the one sided report. It can be found here.

The release of the Senate report was considered so potentially inflammatory that security alerts were issued for US personnel worldwide. Of course, not releasing the report would have spared all that.

May I remind my liberal colleagues of something: in 2009 Eric Holder initiated a three year investigation into EIT tactics. The investigation was dropped in 2012 with Holder ruling out prosecution.

So what was the purpose of all of this? Politics. Nothing else. I see Feinstein and her committee as Pontius Pilate, washing their hands of the responsibility in which they were so deeply steeped. And no better than the shameful editors and writers at Rolling Stone.

image courtesy of Powerline

UPDATE

President Barack Obama punted when asked, on Tuesday, whether he would have ordered harsh interrogation techniques if he had been in George W. Bush’s shoes after 9/11.

“I’m not gonna engage in those hypotheticals,” he said in an interview with Telemundo. “Nobody can fully understand what it was like to be responsible for the safety and security of the American people in the aftermath of the worst attack on our national soil.”

Politico

Case closed

DrJohn has been a health care professional for more than 30 years. In addition to clinical practice he has done extensive research and has published widely with over 70 original articles and abstracts in the peer-reviewed literature. DrJohn is well known in his field and has lectured on every continent except for Antarctica. He has been married to the same wonderful lady for over 30 years and has three kids- two sons, both of whom are attorneys and one daughter on her way into the field of education. DrJohn was brought up with the concept that one can do well if one is prepared to work hard but nothing in life is guaranteed. Except for liberals being foolish.

15 Responses to “Why the Senate Intelligence Committee is like Rolling Stone magazine”

  1. 1

    Marla Hughes

    This one’s getting Bookmarked, Evernoted, Clippered and saved every way from Sunday. Chock full to the brim with references and great analysis. Stellar job, Dr. John. As usual.

  2. 2

    Nanny

    Most people were mystified by Diane F’s sudden recent enmity against the CIA.
    Back in March she demanded massive amounts of CIA information.
    Her right.
    The CIA sent it over to her in a form (perhaps like Java?) that could not be copied or edited.
    It also could not be easily searched as it had no table of contents or index.
    So, she (well, her staff, really) had to do actual homework.

    The grudge has been on ever since.
    Today Granny F. got the CIA back.
    Only problem is, unlike the CIA’s information dump with merely inconvenienced her and her staff, this payback could hurt our entire intelligence community and even civilians.
    She really didn’t think this through.

  3. 3

    Me

    Nanny, DF simply doesn’t care. Her seat is safe until she chooses to retire, and her legacy will be however she writes it. She’ll hold herself up as a heroine for liberal causes, and when she spins from our mortal coil she’ll be celebrated as she has wished. More’s the pity for us who know her record better.

  4. 4

    Wordsmith

    editor

    Feinstein with Blitzer:

    Blitzer brought up security concerns raised by government agencies. Feinstein said there’s “no perfect time to release this report” and took a shot at CNN for “hyping the warnings.” Blitzer responded, “But if Americans are killed as a result of the report… I assume you would feel guilty about that.”

    Feinstein took offense at Blitzer’s line of questioning, and Blitzer had to take a minute to clarify that all he’s doing is reporting on what the government is saying. Feinstein, rather testily, asked, “Is there a question?”

    They kept going back and forth over the report, with Blitzer questioning why the Senate committee didn’t speak to anyone from the CIA. Feinstein ended the interview by saying she doesn’t want to fight with anyone, encouraging people to read what the report says.

    The excuse about the CIA under a criminal investigation at the time is bogus, since Holder’s investigation ended in 2012 (also noted by Dr. John).

    Josh Earnest hemming and hawing. Why? Because I think President Obama did come to realize that the CIA program did obtain useful information. This is noted by “Beale”. Pointed out by Stephen Hayes:

    Beale believes that Barack Obama and others briefed on the use of EITs understand that they worked. In support of this view, he notes a subtle but telling change in Obama’s language:

    Go back and take a look at the difference between Candidate Obama’s characterization of the efficacy of the interrogation program versus President Obama’s version. Candidate Obama repeatedly stated that enhanced interrogation was not only immoral and un-American, but it didn’t work. People will say anything to make it stop. Every leading interrogator and intelligence professional will tell you that “torture” never works—it produces bad intelligence. That was Candidate Obama.

    President Obama told a slightly different story. During his [100th]-day press conference in April 2009, President Obama used an entirely different construct when responding to a question about shutting down the interrogation program: “I am absolutely convinced it was the right thing to do—not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways, in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are.”

    He went on to say, “But here’s what I can tell you—that the public reports and the public justifications for these techniques—which is that we got information from these individuals that were subjected to these techniques—doesn’t answer the core question, which is: Could we have gotten that same information without resorting to these techniques? And it doesn’t answer the broader question: Are we safer as a consequence of having used these techniques?”

    Finally, this: “And so I will do whatever is required to keep the American people safe, but I am absolutely convinced that the best way I can do that is to make sure that we are not taking shortcuts that undermine who we are.”

    Note the difference—it’s important. After being briefed by serious people using actual intelligence information gained from the EIT interrogation program, President Obama knew that he could not continue with the “it never works” campaign rhetoric as President—to do so would have been insulting and objectionable to the national security team who briefed him, and would be a lie. So .  .  . “we don’t know if we could have collected the same information using standard techniques” became the talking point for every administration official on the subject of EITs.

    I know. I know that we couldn’t have collected the same information using standard techniques because I was an expert in using standard techniques—I used them thousands of times over two decades—and the notion that I could have convinced the detainees ■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■ to provide closely-held information (or any information at all) without the use of EITs is laughable. There is zero chance. Zero.

  5. 9

    Pete

    This report shows yet again that democrats do not care about the security of the US, and will stoop to any depth to denigrate our nation for the sake of marching their collectivist ideology forward.

    Written solely by democrats, pushed out now before control of the senate changes hands and such an anti-American bunch of garbage would be squashed. Amazing how these vermin demand “transparency” over alleged torture, but work tirelessly to obfuscate and deceive on Obamacare, IRSgate, Benghazi, and Fast and Furious.

    Democrats are demonstrating ever more blatantly that they want to destroy our constitutional republic, and are the enemy.

  6. 10

    Nanny

    Is Diane F. happier knowing Obama has been killing (usually via drone strikes) any al Qaeda/Taliban/ISIS/etc., without the benefit of extracting any intel from them at all?
    He certainly does that.
    He even used to have a bunch of 5X8 cards he called his kill cards so he could pick his next target for death.

  7. 11

    Bill

    “Nobody can fully understand what it was like to be responsible for the safety and security of the American people in the aftermath of the worst attack on our national soil.”

    “But, we sure can criticize and condemn those with the guts to make those tough decisions and do what is necessary to fight the animals that want to destroy us and our families.”

    If the DOJ has found incidences of people who “broke the law”, aren’t they obligated to prosecute? Shouldn’t Obama officially use his “prosecutorial digression” to then grant amnesty to any of these patriots?

    @drjohn:

    She’s pissy over her believing that the CIA was hacking her computers.

    Weren’t they CIA computers they were letting them use? I thought that was how I understood it.

    I have never forgiven the idiot Feinstein for blurting out during a hearing that we were launching drone strikes out of a secret air base in Pakistan; something I am sure the Musharraf regime in Pakistan didn’t want everyone to know. So, she closed that little gold mine down. She is a liberal idiot, if my redundancy can be forgiven.

  8. 12

    old+guy

    I like the report here by Dr.John. My cynical feeling is that the Senate Report is the new shiny object to take the heat off Gruber. This administration is great at bait and switch.

  9. 13

    Common+Sense

    What also is deplorable, disgusting, and purely political theatre is the fact that Demoncrats decide to launch this $40 million turd on the day Gruber grovels before the House Committee. The report has been totally refuted by those that where there which Demoncrats did not even interview as part of the report!! I am certain poor Difi and the rest of the sore losers are still so pissed they are not in any mode to deal with reality!! Gruber will be back and Republicans will then be in charge of the Senate. Can’t wait!!

  10. 14

    Wordsmith

    editor

    Looks like Marc Thiessen is riding your coattails, Dr. J:

    Rolling Stone magazine has faced nearly unanimous condemnation for publishing serious accusations without bothering to interview those it accused to check the facts and get their side of the story.

    So why is it wrong for Rolling Stone to do this, but okay for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)?

    Feinstein and Senate intelligence committee Democrats just spent six years and $40 million investigating the CIA’s rendition and interrogation program. Surely they took the time to sit down with the CIA officials who ran the program, present the committee’s findings and ask officials to explain their version of events, right?

    Wrong.

    Feinstein and her staff did not interview a single CIA official involved in the interrogation program. Not one. As the senator’s Web page notes: “The committee could not conduct its own interviews because of a simultaneous DOJ investigation into the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.”

    That is “nonsense,” say former CIA directors Michael Hayden, George Tenet and Porter Goss, who published a response with former deputy directors John McLaughlin, Albert Calland and Stephen Kappes in the Wall Street Journal last week. They point out that Justice Department investigations were completed two years ago and “never applied to six former CIA directors and deputy directors, all of whom could have added firsthand truth to the study.”

    No one on the committee spoke to John Rizzo, former chief legal officer at the CIA, or to Jose Rodriguez, who ran the interrogation program. Not only were they not under investigation, both have also written memoirs discussing the program.

    The fact that Feinstein is misleading reporters about this should be a major red flag for the media. If she can’t even tell the truth about why she failed to interview any CIA officials for their report, how can anyone trust the honesty of the report itself?

    The reason Feinstein and her staff did not interview Hayden, Tenet, Goss, Rizzo, Rodriguez or any other CIA officials is the same reason Rolling Stone did not talk to those it was accusing — because they did not want to hear inconvenient facts that might undermine their predetermined narrative. As a result, Senate Democrats made numerous serious errors that call into question the credibility of their entire report.

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