May
09
2011

Sunday Morning Torture

It's bad enough that corporate media are having such an ill-informed debate about whether torturing some prisoners helped find Osama bin Laden. But considering whom the media invite to this debate, it's probably not a surprise. Take yesterday's Sunday shows (please!).

On NBC's Meet the Press, Obama national security adviser Thomas Donilon basically refused to take a definitive position on torture, waterboarding and intelligence. "No single piece of intelligence led to this," was his line. They followed up with a segment with former CIA head Michael Hayden and Rudy Giuliani, both of whom basically endorsed the idea that torture worked.

On CBS's Face the Nation, Donald Rumsfeld declared that these tactics worked.

Fox News Sunday had an "exclusive" with Dick Cheney, which followed a pretty contentious interview with Donilon. Cheney did not surprise.

On ABC's This Week, torture advocate Liz Cheney was on the roundtable to say exactly what you'd expect. ("That debate is over. It worked. It got the intelligence. It wasn't torture. It was legal.") This came after host Christiane Amanpour seemed to overstate the White House's view, saying that that Obama officials have admitted that waterboarding "did, in fact, yield fruitful information in the hunt for Osama bin Laden."

But give ABC credit for having a critic of torture on their show. Former Washington Post reporter Tom Ricks said this:

I never thought I'd live in a country where we would debate whether we should endorse torture as an official policy. Was some information obtained through torture? Probably yeah. Could it have been obtained through more professional methods the intelligence professionals recommended? Almost certainly yes. We could have gotten it sooner and better.

Also, what we know is that the use of torture became the prime recruiting tool for Al Qaida and for insurgents in Iraq, and so directly resulted in the death of American troops.

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.