News reporting and the compilation of historical narratives are different than opinion pieces – or at least they should be. They should include all relevant facts and data, and include as many valid and qualified primary sources as possible. Regrettably, that is becoming increasingly rare.
In the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, media promulgated a story of a compliant young man who was shot execution style based on partial, and apparently disreputable, sources. The full story, including reputable eyewitness accounts and supporting evidence, was intentionally withheld perhaps because it didn’t comport with the desired narrative, but it made sensational news.
The fraternity gang-rape story emanating from the University of Virginia, was published by Rolling Stone based on the victim’s account only. The “reporter” made no attempt to contact other primary sources to establish the viability or veracity of the claim. As that story continues to unravel, the egregious faux pas of the reporter, as well as the publication, have been clearly evidenced. But it created a sensational story, even if it was largely fictitious.
Now this week we have the outgoing chairman, Senator Diane Feinstein, of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, releasing a partisan 500-page report on enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT) conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency. The report is a summary of a more detailed 6,000-page document that was not released. As with the aforementioned situations, this report intentionally excluded key primary sources, full contextual relevancy, and insubstantial data.
The report was constructed with an obvious bias, cherry-picking references, and both overtly and by inference, made accusations against the CIA that were clearly fallacious. Drafters of the report, Democrat staffers to the committee, allege that the CIA was not honest to the oversight committees or the Bush administration about EIT’s; claim no actionable intelligence was derived thereby; claim there was no internal dissent over the use of EITs; claim EIT’s were more brutal than the oversight committees and administration were led to believe; and that the CIA misrepresented the physical effects of the interrogations.
Current CIA Director John Brennan, former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden, along with deputy directors John McLaughlin, Albert Calland and Stephen Kappes have all written or testified at varied times debunking the charges leveled by the report. Director Hayden went so far this week as to say that the evidence invalidating the reports assertions is found in the very documents the Democrat staffers poured through to cherry-pick their evidence.
I know of no one who has the stomach for, or condones, torture or the methods identified as EITs. But conversely, no one should condone our own government, or a small segment of it, wasting $40 million to pour through a million pages of documentation, to produce a clearly biased and prejudicial report that is as potentially damaging as this is to our security relationships around the globe. Especially since the allegations occurred over seven years ago, and have been since discontinued! What can possibly be gained by such a report?
President George W. Bush ended most of the aspects of the CIA’s EIT program before he left office. This effectively ended the interrogative procedures included in the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program, which President Bush authorized after the September 11 attacks.
Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said, “We have U.S. personnel, both intelligence officials and military special operators, in harm’s way. Why would we release [this report] now? What did we have to gain? All of this has been debated. All of this has been settled. … Clearly the administration knew it was going to cause trouble as they sent out warnings all across the world.”
Before the report was released, Obama administration officials placed military and law-enforcement personnel on high alert that it might spawn terrorist attacks around the globe and across the country. Since the program has long since ended, it’s unconscionable that Senate Democrats and the White House would intentionally subject the nation to potential terrorist attacks for what can only be considered political purposes.
It’s become political sport to some to denigrate America. And since there was no practical purpose behind the release of the flawed report, we can only surmise that it was done for political purposes to curry the favor of those who play the “revile America” game. There was clearly an agenda behind the release, but it had nothing to do with “protecting and defending” the nation and the Constitution, which oath these public officials have all taken.
There’s also an unsurprisingly duplicitous component to this as well. This administration denounces the EITs previously engaged in, yet has used drone strikes more extensively than ever, to kill terrorists and civilians. Which is more “humane,” to try to extract actionable intelligence from a terrorist, or to just expunge them and their friends and family?
We expect the mainstream media to misrepresent the truth, tarnish reputations fallaciously, and put people at risk, as they do so often. But we expect more of our government, and those who serve in it.
Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].