The ‘Important Historical Context’ of Torture Punditry

Quoting Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter’s strong words on the Keith Olbermann show about how “it’s important, historically, to look at the context of” the “effort in these OLC memos to try to dress [torture] up as something else,” Hullabaloo blogger digby takes issue (4/24/09) with his statement that “Dick Cheney stands almost alone” in still publicly defending the memos:

Yes, Dick Cheney is forlorn and all alone. Many of the people who advocated taking the gloves off are leaving him out there hanging today. And one of them is Jonathan Alter.

See, he forgot to mention–and Keith apparently didn’t know–that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 this torture talk didn’t come out of nowhere or even from the dark recesses of Cheney’s evil mind. Jonathan Alter himself was one of the people who brought it up almost instantly: “Time to Think About Torture” By Jonathan Alter, Newsweek, November 5, 2001.

Clearly, the Pentagon wasn’t alone in advocating torture from the moment 9/11 happened. It was being advocated in the pages of major newsmagazines by so-called liberal columnists who are now commenting on what “Cheney did” as if they weren’t even in the country at the time.

Read FAIR’s review of such craven commentators at the time Extra!: “Pro-Pain Pundits: Torture Advocates Defy U.S., International Law” (1-2/02) by Steve Rendall