Jan
12
2009

Newsweek on Cheney years: Don't Look Back

Newsweek's cover story (1/19/09) is a look at the Cheney/Bush national security policies that will Barack Obama will soon inherit. In his editor's note, Jon Meacham advises that the piece is definitely NOT a look backwards:

.. to rehash the case against Cheney at this late hour in the life of the Bush administration would be the rough equivalent of pornography–briefly engaging, perhaps, but utterly predictable and finally repetitive. As Stuart Taylor Jr. and Evan Thomas explore in this week's cover, the urgent question now is whether President Obama will hew to that dogma or whether, confronted with the realities of office, he will begin to see virtue in the antiterror apparatus Cheney helped Bush create.

Well, that's a relief–one thing people probably don't want is accountability. And what an idea to get Stuart Taylor to co-write it. He recently wrote that Bush's civil libertarian critics are more worried about surveillance "thanthe prospect of thousands of people being murdered by terrorists." Taylor wenton to argue that Obama "kick the hard Left gently in the teeth." (Read Matthew Yglesias on Taylor here.)

The actual cover story is about what you'd expect; it cheers Obama's FISA flip-flop and claimsit "is a liberal shibboleth that torture doesn't work." I guessthat isn't "utterly predictable."

As for that torture shibboleth, see Extra!, (1-2/02):

This evident confidence in the efficacy of torture seems to be shared by many pro-torture pundits, though as Human Rights Watch points out, "the unreliability of forced confessions was one of the principal reasons that U.S. courts originally prohibited their use." As early as the 18th Century, political philosopher Cesare Beccaria warned that the victim of torture "will accuse himself of crimes of which he is innocent" (and will falsely implicate others "yet more readily").

Former FBI official Oliver Revell concurs: "People will even admit they killed their grandmother, just to stop the beatings" ("The Legal Prohibition Against Torture," www.hrw.org).

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.