Yesterday’s New York Times ran a story entitled “U.S. Lawyer Agreed on Legalities of Brutal Tactics“, giving the completely misleading impression that the the Bush/Cheney enhanced interrogation policies were legitimized by government attorneys. The story was based on three emails penned by former Deputy Attorney General, James Comey, that were leaked, as described by Glen Greenwald,
clearly from someone eager to defend Bush officials by suggesting that Comey’s emails prove that all DOJ lawyers — even those opposed to torture on policy grounds — agreed these techniques were legal, and the NYT reporters, Scott Shane and David Johnston, dutifully do the leakers’ bidding by misleadingly depicting the Comey emails as vindication for Bush/Cheney.
After having read the three emails myself, it is truly astonishing that a journalist can honestly print such misleading garbage. The emails indicate the immense pressure the government lawyers were under to approve the Bush Cheney techniques and the lawyers’ discomfort in doing so, not their validation.
This story by a reputable newspaper like the New York Times just goes to show the despicable state of our leading new sources. As Greenwald writes in his previous piece, also in reference to shady journalism at the Times,
The steadfast, ongoing refusal of our leading media institutions to refer to what the Bush administration did as “torture” — even in the face of more than 100 detainee deaths; the use of that term by a leading Bush official to describe what was done at Guantanamo; and the fact that media outlets frequently use the word “torture” to describe the exact same methods when used by other countries — reveals much about how the modern journalist thinks.