Just over a week ago, former Bush speechwriter and torture-enthusiast Marc Thiessen took to the pages of Foreign Policy to say that President Barack Obama was putting national security at risk by killing too many terrorists, leaving precious few available for the torture that Thiessen believes fortify American exceptionalism. In the intervening period, it was revealed that the FBI had proven successful in their non-torturey approach to interrogating Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and were acting on that intelligence. Then, in a major victory in the war on terror, a joint U.S./Pakistan operation resulted in the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's top military commander.
Thus, with the entire premise of Thiessen's piece destroyed, it was naturally time for Fred Hiatt to hire him, to write crap op-eds for the Washington Post!
It's a magical hire, indeed. Washington Post readers will remember Thiessen's previous offerings, like his claim that torturing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 2003 prevented a terrorist attack on Los Angeles' Library Tower in 2002, which would, indeed, have been a tremendous achievement in surmounting the time-space continuum.
however far the plot to attack the Library Tower ever got -- an unnamed senior FBI official would later tell the Los Angeles Times that Bush's characterization of it as a "disrupted plot" was "ludicrous" -- that plot was foiled in 2002. But Sheikh Mohammed wasn't captured until March 2003.
How could Sheikh Mohammed's water-boarded confession have prevented the Library Tower attack if the Bush administration "broke up" that attack during the previous year? It couldn't, of course. Conceivably the Bush administration, or at least parts of the Bush administration, didn't realize until Sheikh Mohammed confessed under torture that it had already broken up a plot to blow up the Library Tower about which it knew nothing. Stranger things have happened. But the plot was already a dead letter. If foiling the Library Tower plot was the reason to water-board Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, then that water-boarding was more than cruel and unjust. It was a waste of water.
And, per Crooks And Liars, I'm only too certain that Post subscribers will be happy to welcome a contributor who actually wants us to believe that Abu Zubaydah -- waterboarded 83 times in one month -- thanked the people who tortured him for alleviating his "moral burden."
It's all pretty amazing. It was last October that Alex Pareene wrote his withering piece, "The Washington Post Has the Worst Opinion Section in America," and it would seem that since then, Hiatt's modus operandi is to prove Alex wrong by demonstrating that he could make that section even more horrible. And he's had some successes! Charles Lane, who recently praised Evan Bayh for having the courage to be base, selfish, and craven, is on the rise. And Thiessen joins a pool of opinion meisters who failed at other papers, like Bill Kristol, and who just make stuff up, like George Will.
Meanwhile, as Andrew Sullivan points out, it's no wonder that a quality reporter like two-time Pulitzer winner and Angler author Barton Gellman just wants to get the frack up out of the place, given the fact that it's slowly becoming a haven for people who are consistently wrong about everything they say in public.
Sullivan notes, "Watching this paper die a sad a sordid death as it gathers a gaggle of neocon sycophants and has-beens around a proud war criminal like [former Vice President Dick] Cheney is truly depressing." And there may be depressing truth to some of the scuttlebutt I'm hearing about Thiessen's hiring, which is rumored to have come about after Hiatt had a series of off-the-record meetings with Cheney, during which Cheney pitched Thiessen as a potential hire. (In this respect, it looks like the Washington Post is, once again, frantically trying to play catch-up with the Politico.)
Anyway, if you really want to learn a great deal about the torture regime and the interrogations of KSM and Abu Zubaydah, I recommend reading Marcy Wheeler, who the Post would never seek out for her opinions because they are too well-informed by painstakingly executed, fact-based reporting.