There are two stories in the NYT this morning that form a nice matched set on the matter of how the wingnuts conduct our government.
The more interesting and important is the front-pager about “intelligence techniques,” and in particular the bullyboy approach to interrogation currently favored among our betters. A new report shows again that the bullyboy approach just isn’t terribly effective. But we knew that: the newsy bit is the suggestionthat the administration can’t really defend the bullyboy approach against less immoral means, because the bullyboy approach is the only technique it ever really tried. The Times says (link):
[S]ome of the experts involved in the interrogation review … say that during World War II, German and Japanese prisoners were effectively questioned without coercion.
“It far outclassed what we’ve done,” said Steven M. Kleinman, a former Air Force interrogator and trainer, who has studied the World War II program of interrogating Germans. The questioners at Fort Hunt, Va., “had graduate degrees in law and philosophy, spoke the language flawlessly,” and prepared for four to six hours for each hour of questioning, said Mr. Kleinman, who wrote two chapters for the December report.
Mr. Kleinman, who worked as an interrogator in
Robert F. Coulam, a research professor and attorney at
In a prologue to the December report, the first of a planned series, [Robert] Fein [the director of the project] said the shortage of research meant that many American interrogators were “forced to ‘make it up’ on the fly,” resulting in “unfortunate cases of abuse.”
The companion piece is the story about the “resignation” of Cindy Sheehan—her announced decision step down as the public face of the peace movement (link). There’s been something remarkable about the Sheehan episode since day one—not so much Cindy herself as the wingnut response to it.
For her part, Cindy is almost the model of human misfortune—the gold-star mother, the woman who lost a son in war. In her grief she spoke out against the war, and who could blame her? No, wait a minute, there is an answer to that question—I’ll tell you who could blame her, the entire wingnutterati, that’s who. Almost since he moment she opened her mouth, she’s been hit with a shitstorm of dead cats and rotten vegetables so unrelenting that you might almost think she was a senator from
Cindy isn’t the Senator from
The devilish part is that if we had let her be, then after a couple of days—weeks at most—she would have morphed into a non-story, one more of those sincerely unhappy people you see waving placards on Saturday mornings outside farmers markets. That is: I don’t see that Cindy Sheehan has ever been a “problem” in any important sense, but if she is a problem, it is because her enemies have made her a problem.
The common thread in these two stories: when there is a choice between tact, diplomacy and silent respect (on one hand) and slack-jawed ruffianism on the other, always go for the technique that involves the threats, noise and intimidation. It