CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen is a long-time critic of the Bush administration, enhanced interrogation techniques, military tribunals, Gitmo, and many aspects of the government's prosecution of the war on terror. For general background, see Cohen's CBS News blog "Court Watch." It is, therefore, no surprise at all to see Cohen defending the propriety of the upcoming New York City terror trials.
Two-and-a-half years before Army Major Nidal Hasan, a Muslim medical doctor, murdered 13 at Fort Hood in Texas in what more-and-more looks like a jihadist terrorist attack given his anti-American rants and ties to Islamic extremists, ABC's since-canceled Boston Legal drama ridiculed the idea a doctor could be a terrorist.
A scene in the episode first aired on Tuesday, May 8, 2007 -- meant to show the silliness and incompetence of the military for detaining obviously innocent men -- concluded with a released terror suspect being asked in courtroom about a colleague who had committed suicide to avoid the mistreatment: “Was your friend a terrorist?” The man replied with these words, dripping with disgust, which dramatically ended the scene: “No, he was a doctor.”
Late Wednesday afternoon, MSNBC's David Shuster and Chris Matthews made clear their agreement with the message of a new ad from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) which ridicules former Vice President Dick Cheney's past judgments and thus proclaims him “WRONG” on the value of enhanced interrogation techniques, with Shuster declaring “he deserves” the “brutal ad” which makes, Matthews decided, an “obvious” and “undeniable” point.
Giving free publicity to the TV ad supposedly scheduled to begin airing Thursday on cable channels, just before 5 PM EDT MSNBC played part of the ad and Hardball viewers were treated to the entire 30 seconds about a half hour later. With “WRONG” on screen, the ad features a clip of Cheney asserting what was conventional wisdom at the time: “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.” Then, with “HE'S STILL WRONG” on screen, viewers hear Cheney maintain “the enhanced interrogation techniques were absolutely essential.” The ad ends with:
ABC's Brian Ross and NBC's Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday night each listed some al Qaeda plots uncovered via CIA interrogations, but both balked when it came to vindicating former Vice President Dick Cheney on whether “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EITs) led to information which prevented attacks.
“Nowhere in the reports...does the CIA ever draw a direct connection between the valuable information and the specific use of harsh tactics,” Ross declared on World News in citing reports Cheney requested be released. NBC's Andrea Mitchell cited only Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and related how “administration officials say there is no way to know whether the same information could have be obtained from him without waterboarding or whether he would have given it up sooner had he been handled differently.”
On FNC, however, The Weekly Standard's Steve Hayes, quoting from the just-released 2004 report by CIA Inspector General John Helgerson, pointed out how even it noted regarding Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, the terrorist behind the USS Cole attack, “following the use of EIT's, he provided information about his most current operational planning as opposed to the historical information he provided before the use of the EIT's.” Hayes asserted: “I mean, it doesn't get clearer than that. So we can debate the morality, we can debate whether this was torture. We can't debate any longer about whether this was effective.”
Early in Saturday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Jeff Glor reported: "Tonight there are new allegations of torture by the CIA. Newsweek magazine is reporting that a secret 2004 report reveals that interrogators used mock executions to intimidate prisoners."
Glor went on to talk to Newsweek reporter Mark Hosenball, who claimed: "And in the case of one detainee that we know about, somebody named Abdel-Rahman al Nashiri, who was an alleged architect of the USS Cole bombing, this report alleges that at some point CIA interrogators, whether contractors or CIA staff officers, brandished a gun in front of this guy in an effort to frighten him and also took a power drill in front of him and turn turned it on and went ‘bzzz,’ implying therefore that they were going to use it on him."
Meanwhile, neither the Saturday nor Friday Evening News programs made any mention of reports that ACLU attorneys defending Guantanamo detainees illegally showed terror suspects photos of CIA personnel in an effort to implicate interrogators in acts of torture. On Friday, the Washington Post reported: "The Justice Department recently questioned military defense attorneys at Guantanamo Bay about whether photographs of CIA personnel, including covert officers, were unlawfully provided to detainees charged with organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to sources familiar with the investigation."
HBO's Real Sports promised a look at an “inspirational therapeutic program” in which wounded warriors are able to go diving in the “pristine” coral reefs off of the Guantanamo Bay detention camps in Cuba, but Bryant Gumbel and correspondent Jon Frankel couldn't resist piling on left-wing cliches about “one of the most controversial places on Earth,” “the most infamous military base in the world” where “the heat here, this month, will reach a hundred degrees, [and] the glare of world criticism is even hotter” since “Gitmo is notorious for the detention camps put here after 9/11.”
Frankel, a veteran of CBS, ABC and NBC, wasn't done as he explained the detention camps were “put here by the Bush administration on the notion that this place is not America after all and thus not under the purview of U.S. law. The result: Hostile detainees on the inside and international anger from without.”
For once I was close to agreeing with Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. Then she had to ruin it by reverting to herself.
Maddow was in self-righteous dudgeon on June 9 about news that the Pacific island nation of Palau agreed to accept Uighur detainees from Guantanamo -- for a whopping $200 million --
MADDOW: Well now, today's news, a potential solution. We may be looking at another round of "Survivor: Palau". This time, though, it's the Uighur edition. No decisions have been made yet apparently, but there are talks underway to have Palau accept our 17 woebegotten, innocent Uighur prisoners in exchange for a ton of money. The AP is reporting that the negotiations for Palau to take these 17 guys may involve a promise of as much as $200 million of development aid and budget support and other inducements to sweeten the deal. That would be roughly $10,000 per citizen of Palau. Or looked at it another way, that would be a payment to Palau of $11,764,705 per Uighur.
On Friday's Special Report with Bret Baier, FNC correspondent Jennifer Griffin informed viewers that the Obama administration has once again snubbed the British government, as the administration transferred a group of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the British protectorate of Bermuda without first consulting the British government as protocol requires. Substitute anchor Chris Wallace raised the issue:
Let's talk about the Bermuda part of the story because Bermuda is a British protectorate. We supposedly have a special relationship with the U.K., but we didn't talk to them, we didn't inform them about our deal to put the Uighurs there.
Griffin described the administration's faux pas as "stunning":
FNC's Catherine Herridge traveled to Bermuda to meet the four Chinese Muslim Uighurs just released from Guantanamo Bay and she elicited from them that living in China is worse than life at Guantanamo. Talking to them through an interpreter at their new home, a pink bungalow with a swimming pool, Herridge reported how she “asked which was worse: Life at Gitmo versus China?” The interpreter relayed, over the voices of all of the men talking: “Of course it's China. There's no guarantee for human rights there.”
So, there's a new angle for the media: Guantanamo as a bastion of human rights protections. Not really much of a surprise in contrast to China, but it took a FNC reporter to frame the comparison between a U.S. military-run detention center and a communist nation.
President Obama's popularity amongst Muslims pegged to success at “pulling out of Iraq,” “ending torture” and “closing Guantanamo Bay,” are key to the chances of ending terrorism CBS reporter Lara Logan contended Wednesday night. She concluded her preview of Obama's Thursday speech in Cairo: “Terrorists who are threatened by Obama's popularity amongst Muslims do not want America's President to succeed.”
She earlier defined that “success” as:
The Arab world expects a lot of this President. From pulling out of Iraq, to ending torture, to closing Guantanamo Bay. Failure to achieve all this could be disastrous for Obama. But even worse, if he wasn't trying to reach out to Muslims.
Logan then ran a soundbite of Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif: “I think it would be catastrophic. We have been in a downturn for so long. We're creating beds for terrorism to flourish.” Logan prompted him to agree disaster is ahead if Obama's change from Bush policy does not occur: “Creating beds for terrorism to flourish?” Nazif: “That's true.”
The Politico's Jeanne Cummings, a veteran of the Wall Street Journal, fretted on this weekend's Inside Washington that former Vice President Dick Cheney has “changed this debate in a way that has made it much, much harder to close Guantanamo, which the President is already committed to doing.” So he's done an awful thing in daring to oppose something President Obama is “committed to doing.” Dreadful!
In fact, she soon charged that in complicating Obama's intention to close Guantanamo -- which Obama had announced without any plan for where to place the detainees -- “Cheney really did damage to the effort to keep our country secure by turning this into a political issue. We were going to have to deal with this and to make it a political issue is not helpful. It's just not.”
To which a befuddled columnist Charles Krauthammer retorted by pointing out the overwhelming bi-partisan vote to block the closing: “Cheney is the one who turned it into a political issue? I thought it was a 90-6 vote in the Senate. Just about every Democrat in the Senate-” Cummings jumped in to blame Cheney for turning virtually every Senate Democrat against Obama: “No, Cheney started making political arguments a week ago. That is when you did start to see the tide turn up on Capitol Hill. It was after Cheney started to talk about 'I don't want to be the Member who says I brought a terrorist to a jail in my district.'”
Anchor Anderson Cooper grilled Dick Cheney’s daughter Liz Cheney on his CNN program on Thursday evening about her father’s defense of the Bush administration’s anti-terror tactics. At one point, he asked, “Is it appropriate, though, for your father, who has had access to high-level intelligence for -- for eight years, to be very publicly waving a flag, saying, we’re much weaker now than ever before? Isn’t that, in fact, emboldening our enemies? Couldn’t you make that argument?”
Cooper later asked the former State Department official, “If a Democrat was doing this in a Republican administration, wouldn’t be the Republicans be saying, this is traitorous?” The anchor also questioned whether the CIA actually took care in implementing its enhanced interrogations: “But -- more than 100 people are known to have died in U.S. custody. Twenty -- I think about 20 of those have been ruled a homicide. I mean, if -- if these were just tightly-controlled things, how come so many people are being murdered in U.S. custody?”
At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show co-host Julie Chen declared: "New details about that foiled terrorist plot in New York. Are American jails becoming breeding grounds for home-grown terrorists?" In the report that followed, correspondent Kelly Wallace explained: "Three of the suspects are U.S. citizens, all are Muslim. Three of the four are said to be jailhouse converts...One study estimates that as many as 175,000 inmates of American prisons converted to Islam since September 11th."
Despite such a shocking statistic, from a 2007 Indiana State University study, Wallace made no mention of President Obama’s plan to release Islamic fundamentalists from Guantanamo into American prisons. Wallace did feature terrorism expert and former Bush aide Juan Zarate, who observed: "I think what you have here is a volatile admixture of radical religious thought, combined with violent extremism. And within the prison walls it becomes a really dangerous mix." A "mix" that would be made even more dangerous if Guantanamo terrorist suspects were added.
Immediately following Wallace’s report, co-host Harry Smith and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer discussed the dueling national security speeches by President Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney, including the topic of closing Guantanamo. However, neither Smith nor Schieffer referenced the startling report that had just preceded them.
While discussing Thursday’s opposing national security speeches by President Obama and former Vice President Cheney, on Friday’s CBS Early Show, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer acknowledged: "...the fact that the President of the United States had to make this speech, the fact that Congress had turned him down in giving him the money to close Guantanamo, I have to say that on points, I give it to -- to the Vice President on this...Right now I think the Vice President has made his case. And at this point I'd have to say he's winning."
Meanwhile, co-host Harry Smih at least admitted a draw: "I think it behooves everybody who cares a whit about this issue at all, that they go on Youtube, or go online, and read the transcripts of every single word that was uttered. Because both speeches were breathtaking, I think, in their scope, in their pointedness."
While both Smith and Schieffer recognized Cheney’s success at countering Obama on issues like closing Guantanamo Bay, near the end of the segment Schieffer still declared: "I think most people think that Guantanamo is an open sore. That it in many ways it's a recruiting tool for these terrorists." At the same, he acknowledged the newfound difficulty in closing the facility: "But, getting it closed, what do you do with these people? Because, I mean, let's face it, there's some bad dudes down there. And no congressman wants those people brought back in to his home district, even to be put into prison. The President has got to come up with a detailed plan on how he plans to do this."
"Good Morning America" on Friday featured something that has become rare on morning shows, an actual philosophical debate between a strong conservative and a vocal liberal. Liz Cheney, daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, engaged in a shoot-out with MSNBC analyst and former Senate Democratic chief of staff Lawrence O'Donnell over the issue of torture, Guantanamo Bay and keeping America safe. (On MSNBC, Thursday, O'Donnell called Dick Cheney's speech an "abomination.") [Audio available for download here.]
Cuomo did offer this softball to O'Donnell in relation to Barack Obama and the former Vice President's dueling speeches on Thursday: "Enhanced interrogation. Is that just another word for torture and is that the game America should be in?"He then asked O'Donnell, "Is this just another term for torture? Is that what you think is going on here?"But, Cuomo mostly conducted a fair interview, playing traffic cop as the two guests argued their points. He pointedly queried O'Donnell, "Mr. O'Donnell, is the President's instinct to play nice putting us at risk?"
Thursday's NBC Nightly News featured Andrea Mitchell chastising and correcting former Vice President Dick Cheney for his speech on fighting terrorism, but the network saw no need to correct anything asserted by President Obama in his address on the same topic while anchor Brian Williams asked if Republicans are “happy” to have Cheney as “their messenger?”
CBS delivered contrasting conclusions in their two stories: With Obama, stressing his rebuke of his critics; with Cheney, emphasizing his unpopularity. Chip Reid ended his report on Obama by relaying Obama's charge that “opponents of closing Guantanamo Bay are using the politics of fear,” but, moments later, Bill Plante concluded his look at former VP Cheney's address on fighting terrorism by highlighting “Republicans who fear that the high-profile criticism coming from someone as unpopular as Cheney isn't helping their party.” The two conclusions on the May 21 CBS Evening News:
Chip Reid: “The President said opponents of closing Guantanamo Bay are using the politics of fear and he promised it will be closed.”
Bill Plante: “The former Vice President has made it clear that he intends to continue speaking out, ignoring Republicans who fear that the high-profile criticism coming from someone as unpopular as Cheney isn't helping their party.”
Immediately following a speech by former Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday, MSNBC assembled its usual panel of left-wing pundits to tear him down, including political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell, who proclaimed: "Well, he came today to -- obviously to do nothing much other than defend torture, which he calls 'tough questioning.' This was as sleazy a presentation by a vice president as we've had since Spiro Agnew. This was an absolute abomination."
Chris Matthews anchored the coverage and had just asked O’Donnell: "Lawrence, can he get away with this? Giving a speech that's -- well, it was 16 pages long -- and never mention the main foreign policy initiative of the administration just passed, which is the war in Iraq." After O’Donnell denounced Cheney’s sleaziness, he went on this diatribe:
He [Cheney] cannot, ever, frame the other side's position honestly. What you saw with Obama earlier was Obama describes the other side's position fairly. He then goes on to advance his position. Cheney comes out and lies about the other side, it's the only way he can talk. He says that Obama will not use the word 'terrorist,' when Obama does indeed use that word. He pretends that all we did was tough questioning. He says that 9/11 -- he says that 9/11 made everyone take a second look at the threat. That is a lie. Dick Cheney and the President were in possession of memos that said this threat was present, this particular methodology was going to come, that they were going to use airliners. He and the President failed in their first nine months in office to pay any attention to the A.Q. Khan network, who he now wants to take credit for dismantling. What did Cheney do before 9/11? He denies, in this speech, that 9/11 changed him and then describes his very specific activities on 9/11, which were frightening for the Vice President. Then he goes on to say that he thinks about it every day. This guy just has to lie from beginning to end through his setup of his opposition's position in order to advance any of his ideas at all, none of which have any proof to them at all.
Kate Phillips blogged the Obama-Cheney dueling national security speeches Thursday morning at nytimes.com. Phillips got her Cheney feedback from New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg, who was listening to Cheney live at the American Enterprise Institute. Cheney began his speech right after President Obama had finished addressing an audience at the National Archives.
A double standard was soon evident. While the reporters reacted passively to Obama's speech, simply relaying great chunks of it which went unchallenged, Phillips and Rutenberg peppered Cheney's speech with questions on several occasions or otherwise sniped at him. Some excerpts from the Times's live coverage of Cheney's speech:
Mr. Cheney Begins | 11:22 a.m. The former vice president steps up -- and you know he's ad-libbing a little when he begins by saying that you can tell that President Obama was in the Senate, not the House, (where Mr. Cheney once served), because representatives have a five-minute rule on the floor for speeches.
"Today" reporter Chuck Todd on Thursday spun the dueling speeches of President Barack Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney as not "a fair fight." Speaking of the two May 21 addresses on the subject of terrorism, the NBC correspondent proclaimed, "Our latest poll indicates it's the most popular member of the Democratic Party facing off against one of the most unpopular members of the Republican Party."
In a follow-up interview with Republican strategist Nicolle Wallace and Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, host Matt Lauer asserted that with regards to issues like closing Guantanamo Bay and the use of enhanced interrogation, "this debate has been settled." He added, "It was settled back in November during the last election, when Americans chose to elect Barack Obama and move away from the legacy of the Bush administration." He mused, "So what does Dick Cheney have to gain or lose today?"
ABC, CBS and NBC all led Wednesday night with the Senate's overwhelming 90 to 6 bi-partisan vote to withhold funding for the closing of Guantanamo and block any detainees from being moved to the U.S., but ABC anchor Charles Gibson was uniquely flummoxed: “What's the problem here?...We have terrorists in U.S. prisons, so why not the guys from Guantanamo?”
Gibson alluded, in setting up his question to George Stephanopoulos, to Jake Tapper's reference to how “several convicted terrorists are currently in U.S. 'super-max' facilities, including shoe bomber Richard Reid,” and how Dianne Feinstein (one of the six Senators on Obama's side) argued “there is ample evidence that the United States can, and in fact does, hold dangerous convicts securely and without incident.”
But in being confused about the reasoning of the vast majority, Gibson overlooked how Tapper had already answered his question: “FBI Director Robert Mueller today said putting these detainees in U.S. prisons could be dangerous.” Viewers then heard from Mueller: “There is a potential for radicalization in a number of ways, whether it be for gang activity, for terrorist groups, for other extremists.”
Filling in for Bob Schieffer on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, host Harry Smith helped finish the sentences of ACLU executive director Anthony Romero, while grilling New York Republican Congressman Peter King during a discussion on recent national security decisions by the Obama administration.
Smith began by asking Romero about the Obama administration’s decision to reinstate military tribunals for terror suspects: "The headlines from this -- no evidence admitted gained from harsh interrogation techniques. Hearsay, some hearsay will be admissible in court. To you, Anthony Romero, is there any good news in this?" Romero replied: "First, by continuing with the Bush military commissions, we are going to delay justice. It will take years before we see justice in these commissions." Smith helped to bolster the point: "Because, one, there’s -- already they said at least hundred and twenty days before this can go on."
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith took a critical tone against the Obama administration’s decision to reinstate military tribunals for terror suspects: "President Obama will resume the controversial military tribunals for some terror suspects." Smith later discussed the decision with John Dickerson from Slate.com and wondered what the hard left would think: "Let's talk about this decision by the Obama administration to go ahead and have tribunals for some of these terror suspects. The whole part of the -- a huge part of Obama's campaign was repudiation of this Bush policy in Guantanamo. What are Obama's supporters going to think of this decision this morning?"
Dickerson responded by attempting to explain that the decision was not a reversal by Obama: "Well, they have a lot of reason to be upset with him for a variety of decisions he's made recently. But Obama always said that he would take a look at these tribunals...He never said he would do away with them completely...So they will probably be upset. They would like the President to do away with the tribunals altogether. But in terms of matching what he's done now with his previous statements, he's still in line with what he said before."
On Sunday’s 60 Minutes on CBS, correspondent David Martin reported on the "soft approach" to terrorism in Saudi Arabia: "Each time the United States releases Saudis from the prison at Guantanamo, the kingdom dispatches a 747 to Cuba to pick them up...the Saudi government is paying for cars, homes, even marriages for these reformed jihadists."
After explaining that "...more than half the so-called 'detainees' will probably never go before a jury because the U.S. government does not have a case that will stand up in court," Martin went on to describe a Saudi Arabian program for released detainees: "What we found is a rehabilitation program that attempts to make solid citizens out of holy warriors by convincing them Bin Laden has it all wrong."
Not only did Martin highlight the Saudi efforts to "rehabilitate" terror suspects, but he explained: "Some Saudis have been in Guantanamo for seven years, and Dr. Abdul Rahman Al Hadlaq believes the longer a man is there, the harder he is to treat." Martin then asked Hadlaq, a Saudi psychologist who runs the program: "They come out of Guantanamo hating Americans?...Is there evidence that Guantanamo has made them more radical?" Hadlaq replied: "I think so, yes. Because, in their journey, you know, from Afghanistan to Guantanamo, they have faced a lot of torturing. It's so important to deal with this, you know, issue of torture."
In response, Martin added: "‘Torture’ is, of course, a loaded word, but at the very least, the treatment en route to Guantanamo was rough, and provided the raw material for Al Qaeda propaganda videos to drum up new recruits."
As media members pressure Congress and the White House to prosecute Bush administration officials for enhanced interrogation techniques employed at the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, they present their case as if such practices began quite recently.
This is by no means surprising as the full grips of Bush Derangement Syndrome cannot be felt without either a complete revision of history or one totally ignoring everything that happened prior to January 20, 2001.
With this in mind, an op-ed published in Sunday's Los Angeles Times, which accused one of the left's most-sacred golden idols, Robert F. Kennedy, of being involved in teaching torture techniques to Brazilian police officers, is sure to raise a few eyebrows (h/t Gary Hall):
Back on April 9, radio host Ed Schultz boasted of his high regard for accuracy while telling listeners about his new television show on MSNBC --
Where I work, they don't put stuff on the air unless it's accurate and they differentiate between opinion and fact. And in my world I think that's kind of important. On The Ed Show (Schultz's program on MSNBC), I'm not going to tell you something that I know isn't the truth.
Operative words here -- "kind of." And apparently Schultz's "world" doesn't extend to his nationally syndicated radio show, the top rated among so-called progressive talkers.
On Friday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann and Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter seemed to take turns reining in each other’s conspiracy theories as the two discussed the latest on former Vice President Cheney’s request for the release of classified information regarding the results of waterboarding al-Qaeda detainees. Alter charged that former Vice President Cheney is attacking President Obama’s national security policies so that his own popularity will be "resurrected" if there is another 9/11-style attack, as the Newsweek editor called Cheney’s behavior "sick":
It`s the former Vice President who is becoming a forlorn and, I think, soon to be even further disgraced figure. But this is his bid for resurrection. Because what he is betting on – and this is the sick thing to me, Keith – is that if there's another attack that he will then be back as a huge and important figure who predicted that this would happen if we stopped torturing. And this is his bid for historical resurrection.
Olbermann assumed Alter was charging that Cheney desires another 9/11 attack for his own benefit, and actually seemed to halfway defend Cheney, prompting Alter to clarify that he did not actually think the former Vice President was hoping for another attack, but he also contended that it was "not a very patriotic thing to do" for Cheney to call President Obama "weak":
In a news brief on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell implied a link between the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal and Bush administration approval of tough interrogation tactics on suspected terrorists: "Soon we will see more pictures of U.S. personnel allegedly abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. The photos, like these from Abu Ghraib, are being released next month, following a suit by the American Civil Liberties Union. The group says it is proof that prisoner abuse was widespread. And high-profile Bush administration officials are being linked to those interrogation techniques."
Correspondent Thalia Assuras then reported: "Condoleezza Rice, as National Security Adviser in 2002, verbally approved the CIA's use of waterboarding, the earliest known green light according to a Senate account." Assuras then rhetorically asked: "But her decision alone?" A clip was then played of a so-called expert, Dan Guide, from the left-wing group Center for American Progress: "I don't think that we can identify individuals who are anymore or less responsible within the higher levels of the Bush administration. This was taken as a collective decision." Assuras never mentioned the political affiliation of the organization. Later in the report, Guide lamented limitations on prosecuting Bush officials: "The most significant constraint, at least in my view, is that this entire case would be conducted with classified information."
"Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough on Thursday attacked misinformation spread by a guest during a segment on the previous day's "Hardball." Ex-CIA agent Bob Baer appeared on Chris Matthews' program on Wednesday to claim that no information was gained from waterboarding and that using the practice on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed left the terrorist "almost brain dead." Scarborough derided this kind of comment as "vomit[ing] out bad information" and later apologized if people were confused by Baer. [Audio available here]
Scarborough quoted a memo by National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair asserting that "high value information" came from waterboarding. This appeared to be a way of educating Baer and, in what sounded like a warning to his MSNBC colleagues "anybody else that books Bob Baer." Scarborough went further and offered an apology that, one would assume, would have to be on the behalf of not just Baer, but also his own network. Looking right into the camera, the host empathized, "AndI only say this, because this is the information that gets out on TV and in the newspapers and in magazines and I can understand why Americans are confused and I apologize that people are giving you bad information."
While discussing the possible prosecution of Bush administration officials over interrogation methods used against terror suspects, on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith asked Senator John McCain: "You fought a long battle with the [Bush] White House over this issue, said they ought to follow the Army manual, which the -- the White House refused to...Why do you feel so strongly that those who helped create this policy should not face some sort of recrimination?"
McCain explained his opposition to what he called a "witch hunt": "Because I think, Harry, if you legal -- if you criminalize legal advice, which is basically what they're going to do, then it has a terribly chilling effect on any kind of advice and counsel that the president might receive...this is going to turn into a witch hunt."