The New York Times' Scott Shane has a history of slanted reporting on intelligence (most notoriously his credulous acceptance of everything said by anti-war huckster Joe Wilson). But a sentence in his Thursday "news analysis," "The C.I.A. and the Tapes: Sensing Support Shifting Away From Its Methods," was either clumsily written or just plain bizarre.
Shane began by likening the CIA to a group of grifters afraid their luck may finally be running out.
"For six years, Central Intelligence Agency officers have worried that someday the tide of post-Sept. 11 opinion would turn, and their harsh treatment of prisoners from Al Qaeda would be subjected to hostile scrutiny and possible criminal prosecution.
"Now that day may have arrived, after years of shifting legal advice, searing criticism from rights groups -- and no new terrorist attacks on American soil."
"The Justice Department, which in 2002 gave the C.I.A. legal approval for waterboarding and other tough interrogation methods, is reviewing whether agency officials broke the law by destroying videotapes of those very methods.
"The Congressional intelligence committees, whose leaders in 2002 gave at least tacit approval for the tough tactics, have voted in conference to ban all coercive techniques, and they have announced investigations of the destruction of the videotapes and the methods they documented."
That part about "no new terrorist attacks," which Shane is apparently using to bash the CIA, reminds us of the infamous Times headline from September 1997:
"Crime Keeps on Falling, But Prisons Keep on Filling."
Just like that old headline writer couldn't comprehend that putting more criminals in jail leads to less crime, Shane apparently hasn't considered that the CIA's harsh interrogation of Al Qaeda suspects may have enabled them to gather the vital intelligence necessary to prevent "terrorist attacks on American soil" in the first place.
See TimesWatch for the complete version of this article.