Posted by SAM on 22 May, 2009 at 10:35 am. 7 comments already!

Propaganda is described in many ways, but one of those has got to be the kneejerk reliance and subsequent marketing of half quotes as whole truths. A half quote is a half truth, and this poor excuse for honest, factually accurate information is no doubt why newspapers are failing, and why their writers are fleeing to the Obama Administration for PR employment as spinmeisters. Take for example this article:

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s defense Thursday of the Bush administration’s policies for interrogating suspected terrorists contained omissions, exaggerations and misstatements.

In his address to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy organization in Washington, Cheney said that the techniques the Bush administration approved, including waterboarding — simulated drowning that’s considered a form of torture — forced nakedness and sleep deprivation, were “legal” and produced information that “prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people.”

[NOTE President Bush’s Sept 6, 2006 address on this topic listed specific examples of this. Also, recently declassified CIA documents show that Congress was briefed on the “actionable intelligence” that the EIT program yielded. A partial list of thwarted attacks is available here.]

He quoted the Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, as saying that the information gave U.S. officials a “deeper understanding of the al Qaida organization that was attacking this country.”

In a statement April 21, however, Blair said the information “was valuable in some instances” but that “there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. …”

[NOTE: The Admiral doesn’t make clear if by “other means” he means other enhanced interrogation techniques or something more extreme. However, the CIA documents that President Obama declassified for political purposes clearly show that the use of EITs was only done AFTER traditional interrogation methods had been used, AFTER multiple levels of higher authority had approved their use, and a clear requirement for using the EITs instead of traditional interrogation methods had to be demonstrated before they were authorized.]

“…The bottom line is that these techniques hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security.”

[NOTE: The admiral and writers miss the point that it’s not JUST the secret techniques that damaged American image abroad-as the revelation of most secret programs would do, but that the illegal exposure of the EIT program by the economically struggling New York Times (whether for financial or political reasons) is what caused the damage. Had the program remained as secret as other offensive covert CIA programs…there would have likely been no damage at all. In fact, the program didn’t include any sort of public relations staff or plan at all.]

A top-secret 2004 CIA inspector general’s investigation found no conclusive proof that information gained from aggressive interrogations helped thwart any “specific imminent attacks,” according to one of four top-secret Bush-era memos that the Justice Department released last month.

[NOTE: the CIA’s Inspector General investigation only looked at CIA involvement regarding the EIT program. It did not look at how intelligence gained from EITs was used by American leaders and the 16 other intelligence agencies. However, people who did have that knowledge-like 4 CIA Directors, Vice President Cheney, President Bush, and more-have all said that the intelligence gathered by the CIA led to attacks being thwarted.]

FBI Director Robert Mueller told Vanity Fair magazine in December that he didn’t think that the techniques disrupted any attacks.

[NOTE: Vanity Fair? Gosh, I wonder what he “revealed” to Rolling Stone, GQ, and TEEN Magazine?! Is this the same FBI Director Mueller who told a concerned President Bush in August 2001 that the FBI had the situation in control, was conducting 70+ investigations, had the 20th hijacker in custody w the entire 911 plot on his laptop (also in Mueller’s custody), and still the 911 attacks occurred? One wonders if the 911 plot could have been thwarted had EIT’s been used on Zacarias Moussoui, or even if they’d have had the political courage to open his laptop despite the ominous presence of the ACLU’s shadow protecting the right to privacy on that laptop?]


_ Cheney said that President Barack Obama’s decision to release the four top-secret Bush administration memos on the interrogation techniques was “flatly contrary” to U.S. national security, and would help al Qaida train terrorists in how to resist U.S. interrogations.

However, Blair, who oversees all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, said in his statement that he recommended the release of the memos, “strongly supported” Obama’s decision to prohibit using the controversial methods and that “we do not need these techniques to keep America safe.”

_ Cheney said that the Bush administration “moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and their sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks.”

The former vice president didn’t point out that Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenant, Ayman al Zawahri, remain at large nearly eight years after 9-11 and that the Bush administration began diverting U.S. forces, intelligence assets, time and money to planning an invasion of Iraq before it finished the war in Afghanistan against al Qaida and the Taliban.

[NOTE: Let the leftist talking points begin! VP Cheney is correct that the US devastated Al Queda in 2001 and 2002 as well as later covertly. Writers of this article, however, can’t seem to pick up a calendar and realize that Al Queda largely escaped Afghanistan in December 2001, and was almost completely driven from the country in the first 3 months of 2002. When there were just remnants of Al Queda in Afghanistan, the US handed over most of the responsibility for the war there to our NATO allies, and left mopping up forces in country with the belief that relying on allies was a good idea. Then there was a 4-5 month period in 2002 when the US began to update its military strategies for Iraq, and in September 2002 (6 months after the final major battle with Al Queda in Afghanistan), the US began its military/political/diplomatic runup to war in Iraq. Partisan political opponents of the Iraq invasion called this September 2002-March 2003, 6-month period the “Rush to war,” but sometimes that term also encompasses the additional, previous 6-months during which Al Queda fled to Pakistan and the war in Afghanistan dwindled to a mopping-up operation. Only ONE U.S. military unit was shifted from Afghanistan to the invasion of Iraq (the 5th Special Operations Unit), and that unit specialized in using indigenous forces to overthrow a country covertly and with the support of air power rather than full out invasion. No other units were diverted from fighting Al Queda in Afghanistan (which had already fled Afghanistan) to the invasion of Iraq. These are chronological, historical facts that the writers of the article are either ignorant of realizing or chose to deliberately ignore for purposes of misleading. Short version: someone needs a calendar]

There are now 49,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan fighting to contain the bloodiest surge in Taliban violence since the 2001 U.S.-led intervention, and Islamic extremists also have launched their most concerted attack yet on neighboring, nuclear-armed Pakistan.

[NOTE: Eight years after driving Al Queda from Afghanistan, they are still not back in anywhere near the same size in forces, and remain in Pakistan-not Afghanistan. Sending troops to fight Al Queda in a country that they are not largely in…is a mistake, and while the writers use correct facts about a Taliban offensive and the numbers of US forces in Afghanistan eight years after driving out Al Queda, these facts are distractions from the reality that the fight against Al Queda in Afghanistan never resurged to post April 2002 levels. The fight against Al Queda’s allies, the Taliban has resurged, and relying on America’s allies has proven to be folly at best which is why the offensive has happened, and why US forces have been sent back in en masse.]

_ Cheney denied that there was any connection between the Bush administration’s interrogation policies and the abuse of detainee at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, which he blamed on “a few sadistic guards . . . in violation of American law, military regulations and simple decency.”

However, a bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report in December traced the abuses at Abu Ghraib to the approval of the techniques by senior Bush administration officials, including former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

“The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of ‘a few bad apples’ acting on their own,” said the report issued by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz. “The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality and authorized their use against detainees.”

[NOTE: Notice how the writers take Cheney’s core point-that Abu Ghraib and Gitmo are not connected-and distract from it by focusing on three words used to describe Abu Ghraib. The point remains unchallenged: the EIT program at Gitmo which is the subject of much debate and discussion these days is not an episode in history identical to the criminal abuses at Abu Ghraib.]

_ Cheney said that “only detainees of the highest intelligence value” were subjected to the harsh interrogation techniques, and he cited Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged mastermind of the 9-11 attacks.

He didn’t mention Abu Zubaydah, the first senior al Qaida operative to be captured after 9-11. Former FBI special agent Ali Soufan told a Senate subcommittee last week that his interrogation of Zubaydah using traditional methods elicited crucial information, including Mohammed’s alleged role in 9-11.

The decision to use the harsh interrogation methods “was one of the worst and most harmful decisions made in our efforts against al Qaida,” Soufan said. Former State Department official Philip Zelikow, who in 2005 was then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s point man in an internal fight to overhaul the Bush administration’s detention policies, joined Soufan in his criticism.

[NOTE: The writers are completely incorrect in their claim, and in their poor writing, that Cheney somehow said only 1 person was subjected to waterboarding. He specifically said there were three. He just didn’t give their names, hair color, weight, or grandmothers’ maiden names all of which would have been as relevant as their names to his point: that only 3 people were waterboarded.]

_ Cheney said that “the key to any strategy is accurate intelligence,” but the Bush administration ignored warnings from experts in the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department, the Department of Energy and other agencies, and used false or exaggerated intelligence supplied by Iraqi exile groups and others to help make its case for the 2003 invasion.

[NOTE: One of the problems with writing under the influence of emotion and a lack of historical hindsight is that what pops up on the screen can sometimes be an oxymoron rather than a clear point. Here the writers are trying to say that Cheney claimed “accurate intelligence” is important, but that he somehow didn’t rely on “accurate intelligence” for the 2003 war. Does this mean that having “accurate intelligence” is not important? Are they trying to say that Cheney is correct, and having “accurate intelligence” IS important? If the first, then they’re ignoring the fact that 6yrs after the invasion of Iraq Cheney thinks it is important, and he is correct. If they’re trying to make the second point (that “accurate intelligence” is not important, then they’re effectively saying that the intelligence used for the invasion of Iraq was enough. Either way, they present an oxymoronic argument that ignores the two greatest lessons of both the 911 attacks and the invasion of Iraq: 1) America’s intelligence services were woefully inadequate from 1998-2007…at least, and 2) Of course having “accurate intelligence” is important, but it’s been almost a decade since American intelligence services were brought back up to speed and strength after the peace dividend cuts of 1998, and historical flashpoints and the actions of America’s enemies do not wait for “accurate intelligence”; they strike when its weakest. “Accurate intelligence” is important, but NEVER accurate enough, and rarely in sufficient qualities.]

Cheney made no mention of al Qaida operative Ali Mohamed al Fakheri, who’s known as Ibn Sheikh al Libi, whom the Bush administration secretly turned over to Egypt for interrogation in January 2002. While allegedly being tortured by Egyptian authorities, Libi provided false information about Iraq’s links with al Qaida, which the Bush administration used despite doubts expressed by the DIA.

A state-run Libyan newspaper said Libi committed suicide recently in a Libyan jail.

[NOTE: al Libi was alive in US custody, and the Bush/Obama policy of handing over unsavory characters to their home countries didn’t work out too well for him.]

_ Cheney accused Obama of “the selective release” of documents on Bush administration detainee policies, charging that Obama withheld records that Cheney claimed prove that information gained from the harsh interrogation methods prevented terrorist attacks.

“I’ve formally asked that (the information) be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained,” Cheney said. “Last week, that request was formally rejected.”

However, the decision to withhold the documents was announced by the CIA, which said that it was obliged to do so by a 2003 executive order issued by former President George W. Bush prohibiting the release of materials that are the subject of lawsuits.

[NOTE: President Obama had no problem releasing politically suggestive documents regarding the EIT program despite the fact that they too are subject of the exact same lawsuits as the documents VP Cheney, as well as both Democrats and Republicans, want to see released. The same executive order cited by the writers allows President Obama to release the Cheney documents, but the writers chose not to let the readers believe there’s duplicity on the part of the Obama Administration, themselves, or that politics are being played with national security.]

_ Cheney said that only “ruthless enemies of this country” were detained by U.S. operatives overseas and taken to secret U.S. prisons.

[NOTE: This is completely not true, and anyone who actually watched Vice President Cheney and/or read the text of his speech knows it. The writers know it, and that’s why the word “ONLY” is not included in the quote. It’s not there because he didn’t say “ONLY.” That false claim is put forth by the writers-writers who follow up their false quote by arguing against their own false quote that it wasn’t “only ruthless enemies of this country.” What the writers do not dispute (conveniently) is that “ruthless enemies of this country” were held at Gitmo exactly as Vice President described.]

A 2008 McClatchy investigation, however, found that the vast majority of Guantanamo detainees captured in 2001 and 2002 in Afghanistan and Pakistan were innocent citizens or low-level fighters of little intelligence value who were turned over to American officials for money or because of personal or political rivalries.

[NOTE: This has nothing to do with what Vice President Cheney said. He never said there were no innocent detainees, and the writers acknowledge that by not putting the word “ONLY” in the quote from VP Cheney.]

In addition, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Oct. 5, 2005, that the Bush administration had admitted to her that it had mistakenly abducted a German citizen, Khaled Masri, from Macedonia in January 2004.

Masri reportedly was flown to a secret prison in Afghanistan, where he allegedly was abused while being interrogated. He was released in May 2004 and dumped on a remote road in Albania.

In January 2007, the German government issued arrest warrants for 13 alleged CIA operatives on charges of kidnapping Masri.

[NOTE: This has nothing to do with what Vice President Cheney said. He never said there were no innocent detainees, and the writers acknowledge that by not putting the word “ONLY” in the quote from VP Cheney.]

_ Cheney slammed Obama’s decision to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and criticized his effort to persuade other countries to accept some of the detainees.

[NOTE: This is incorrect. The Vice President opposed the ignorant choice to close Gitmo before having a plan to close it.]

The effort to shut down the facility, however, began during Bush’s second term, promoted by Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

“One of the things that would help a lot is, in the discussions that we have with the states of which they (detainees) are nationals, if we could get some of those countries to take them back,” Rice said in a Dec. 12, 2007, interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. “So we need help in closing Guantanamo.”

_ Cheney said that, in assessing the security environment after 9-11, the Bush team had to take into account “dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.”

[NOTE: This claim that Saddam Hussein had known ties to Mideast terrorists was never disputed by any Director of the CIA, by President Clinton, by President Bush Sr., or by the FBI. In fact, part of the 1998 Department of Justice indictment of Osama Bin Laden specifically cites his ties to the Saddam Hussein regime.]

Cheney didn’t explicitly repeat the contention he made repeatedly in office: that Saddam cooperated with al Qaida, a linkage that U.S. intelligence officials and numerous official inquiries have rebutted repeatedly.

[NOTE: This is completely false. No intelligence leader, no intelligence publication, and no independent commission has ever said that the issue of regime ties to the Al Queda network and its affiliates (using the Obama nomenclature) has ever been fully investigated, or concluded. In fact, quite the opposite is true: all bi-partisan and/or independent investigations have called for more investigation into the matter as initial intelligence was almost non-existent and post-invasion intelligence shows a trend of demonstrating more and more ties rather than fewer.]

The late Iraqi dictator’s association with terrorists vacillated and was mostly aimed at quashing opponents and critics at home and abroad.

The last State Department report on international terrorism to be released before 9-11 said that Saddam’s regime “has not attempted an anti-Western terrorist attack since its failed plot to assassinate former President (George H.W.) Bush in 1993 in Kuwait.”

[NOTE: The writers here are actually suggesting that the State Department’s intelligence assessment (or any intelligence assessment before 911) was accurate? After the 911 attacks, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees formed a bi-partisan investigation into how and why the attacks succeeded. Among the shocking revelations was the fact that from 1998-9/11/01 there was an average of 4-40 people in the entire 16 American intelligence agencies watching the entire Al Queda network. Later, a Senate Intelligence Committee, bi-partisan investigation pointed out in 2004 that between 12/98 and 12/03 (FIVE YEARS!) there was not a single human intelligence asset inside all of Iraq. Yet, these same writers who danced with the idea of how important “accurate intelligence” is earlier in their article want to rely on a report that formed a conclusion about a 2 entities where one had not a single human intelligence asset, and the other had a whopping four people watching the entire network. Their focus on the need for “accurate intelligence” is clearly subjective to whatever point they’re trying to make rather than consistent.]

A Pentagon study released last year, based on a review of 600,000 Iraqi documents captured after the U.S.-led invasion, concluded that while Saddam supported militant Palestinian groups — the late terrorist Abu Nidal found refuge in Baghdad, at least until Saddam had him killed — the Iraqi security services had no “direct operational link” with al Qaida.

[NOTE: This is not true. If it were, the writers would have included the entire quote. In almost every case, those who believe that the threat of Saddam’s regime working with Al Queda was non-existent are basing those beliefs on at least one of three things:

1) Hope. The thought of a rogue regime with WMD is a nightmare that many cannot imagine.

2) Denial. Whether it was the 1998 Clinton impeachment, the 2000 election, the 911 attacks, or the invasion of Iraq, partisan divide has become engrained in many Americans over the last 11 yrs. For those who follow the news, politics, and history it is particularly acute. As such, skepticism reigns. If someone tends to doubt Democrats, then anything said by a Democratic leader is automatically so doubtful for many people that it is assumed to be either a lie or at least not true. The same is conversely true for people who have followed those dividing events closely and view anything said by a Republican as intrinsically false, misleading, a lie, or a cover-up of some sorts.

3) Half truths come from half quotes. As we’ve seen throughout this oped article, relying on partial quotes is extremely irresponsible sometimes. It’s mostly irresponsible when a person deliberately ignores an important caveat. If there is a sign that says, “No Turn On Red During Weekday Hours 5-7pm,” and the driver ignores the second part…then they’re likely to cause an accident or get fined. When a quote says, “There is no evidence of a tie between Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein…” it’s important to read the rest of the quote and not dismiss it because it fits one’s political agenda or conflicts with a mental fear.

If the FULL QUOTE/FULL TRUTH is, “There is no evidence of a tie between Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein because we had no one watching either Iraq or Al Queda for 4yrs, and more intelligence needs to be collected before a conclusion can be reached.” Then ignoring the second half of the quote, ignoring the whole truth in favor of a false, half truth is wrong.

The only thing more wrong is marketing that half truth as though it were fact. Take for example the very last part of this article-the part about the investigation into the 600,000 captured documents from Saddam’s regime. Did the writers mention that only about 1/5 of those documents had been examined? Did they mention that the very same report cited multiple, confirmed, documented, operational ties between Saddam’s regime and Al Queda network groups/affiliates? No. Why would they leave that out and present a false impression that the issue had been fully investigated, fully concluded, and is closed?]

More on ties between Saddam’s regime and (as Pres. Obama likes to say….) “the Al Queda terrorist network and its affiliates.”

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