Contradictions that aren't seen as contradictory

The only profession more accountability-free than politics is political reporting.

By Glenn Greenwald

Published June 22, 2009 10:23AM (EDT)

(updated below)

Washington Post Pentagon correspondent Bradley Graham, discussing his new book on Donald Rumsfeld, June 15, 2009

As for the enhanced interrogation techniques, Rumsfeld personally authorized one set of harsh measures for use at Guantanamo in December 2002, then rescinded the measures the following months after strong objections from some Pentagon lawyers. He issued a new set of 24 measures in April 2003 after a review by Pentagon officials. . . . From everything I could determine, Rumsfeld was indeed fully supportive of the invasion [of Iraq] . . . I doubt Rumsfeld will ever come to view the invasion as a mistake.

Time Magazine excerpt from Graham's book, yesterday:

Rumsfeld is in many respects an honorable man, deeply patriotic, a good friend to many, and unfailingly loyal to those he has served and to a number who have served him. He is smart, cunning, and capable of great geniality, all highly desirable qualities in a leader with such power.

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Lindsey Graham, June 9, 2009, condemning those who oppose the suppression of torture photos:

So what we're about to do today, in stripping this language from the supplemental, is give in to people who I believe have a very naive sense of what the world is really about, that have no real understanding that this is a war, where people are getting killed every day trying to protect us against a vicious enemy. They are absolutely, completely out of touch with reality.

Lindsey Graham, February 5, 2003:

There’s no question that Iraq and Saddam Hussein aren't telling the truth. Iraq had hundreds of artillery shells with chemical weapons, thousands of liters of anthrax, and hundreds of tons of nerve agents in their inventory. Now they are not accounted for. The Iraqi response of ‘we have no weapons of mass destruction,’ is a flat-out lie.

I hope the world will get behind President Bush in making sure this man cannot continue his weapons program. He either needs to be disarmed or replaced.

* * * * *

Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, June 19, 2009:

Millions of Iranians take to the streets to defy a theocratic dictatorship that, among its other finer qualities, is a self-declared enemy of America and the tolerance and liberties it represents.

Charles Krauthammer, May 1, 2009:

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John McCain, Face the Nation, yesterday:

I'm not for fomenting violence, nothing except to say that America's position in the world is one of moral leadership.  And that's what America is all about.  And frankly, it's not only about what takes place in the streets of Tehran but it's also about what takes place in America's conscience. . . . The fact is that America has been and will be the beacon of hope and freedom.

John McCain, April 19, 2007:

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John McCain, Twitter, June 16, 2009:

USA always stands for freedom and democracy!!

Washington Post Pentagon correspondent Bradley Graham, discussing his new book on Don Rumsfeld, June 15, 2009

Rumsfeld's meeting with Saddam Hussein in December 1983 took place at a time when both the Iraqi leader and the Reagan administration were interested in re-establishing ties. Twenty years later, when the situation had drastically changed, it certainly was more than little awkward for Rumsfeld to have in circulation photos of him shaking hands with Saddam. But it was U.S. policy that had changed, not Rumsfeld.

* * * * *

Washington Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt, January 19, 2009:

Yet the incoming Obama administration seems to be inclining, in its foreign policy, toward a philosophy that says: Voting matters, but maybe not as much as economic development, or women's rights, or honest judges. Its adoption as U.S. policy would be a terrible mistake, for America's security as well as its moral standing.

Washington Post, December 12, 2006, celebrating the rule of Augusto Pinochet:

AUGUSTO PINOCHET, who died Sunday at the age of 91, has been vilified for three decades in and outside of Chile, the South American country he ruled for 17 years. For some he was the epitome of an evil dictator.  That was partly because he helped to overthrow, with U.S. support, an elected president considered saintly by the international left: socialist Salvador Allende . . .

It's hard not to notice, however, that the evil dictator leaves behind the most successful country in Latin America. . . . Like it or not, Mr. Pinochet had something to do with this success. . . . In "Dictatorships and Double Standards," a work that caught the eye of President Ronald Reagan, Ms. Kirkpatrick argued that right-wing dictators such as Mr. Pinochet were ultimately less malign than communist rulers, in part because their regimes were more likely to pave the way for liberal democracies. She, too, was vilified by the left. Yet by now it should be obvious: She was right.

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Tom Friedman, The New York Times, June 20, 2009:

The popular uprising unfolding in Iran right now really is remarkable. . . . Why is this so unusual? Because in most Middle East states, power grows out of the barrel of a gun and out of a barrel of oil — and that combination is very hard to overthrow.

Tom Friedman, The Charlie Rose Show, May 23, 2003:

I think [the invasion of Iraq] was unquestionably worth doing, Charlie. I think that, looking back, I now certainly feel I understand more what the war was about . . . We needed to go over there basically, and take out a very big stick, right in the heart of that world, and burst that bubble. . . .And what they needed to see was American boys and girls going from house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, and basically saying: which part of this sentence do you understand? . . . Well, Suck. On. This. That, Charlie, was what this war was about.

We could have hit Saudi Arabia. It was part of that bubble. Could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could. That's the real truth.

* * * * * 

These blatantly contradictory statements aren't considered contradictions because of the core premises of our political culture:  We don't really consider torture and mass pointless slaughter -- when we do it -- to be all that bad.  Those who advocated, defended and ordered it are still highly respectable -- "honorable."  Those who were so humiliatingly wrong that it cannot be adequately expressed in words still prance around, and are still treated as, wise experts, while those were right are naive and unSerious.  The U.S stands for freedom, democracy and human rights -- even when we don't.   People who advocate unprovoked wars of aggression, torture and mass violence are irredeemable monsters -- except when they're American or our allies.


UPDATE:  This might be the most glaring (unrecognized) contradiction yet:  the person who wrote this definitively deranged, reality-detached rant about Barack Obama today -- one that has to be read to be believed ("as a man of the hard Left, Obama is more comfortable with a totalitarian Islamic regime than he would be with a free Iranian society") -- is considered to be a very Serious legal expert -- not only by the Right, but also  by many in the media.

Glenn Greenwald

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