Tidbits for Political Junkies with Short Attention Spans & Hearty Appetites


Monday, May 17, 2004


Pentagon Non-denials

In precisely the manner that, on Mission Impossible, Jim Phelps was always led to expect -- the Pentagon has been busily "disavowing all knowledge" of the secret operation recently exposed by Seymour Hersh. In the words of a "senior intelligence official" quoted by CNN, "The unit described simply does not exist."

Notice that the unnamed source doesn't say that it never existed. Just that -- present tense -- it doesn't. You have to watch these things.

Tellingly, the Pentagon's public pronouncements manage to sound like denials, without actually denying much of anything. Billmon breaks it down:
If you read Sy's story, he makes it pretty clear that the operation - the "special access program" - was specifically designed to provide the men at the top the maximum amount of plausible (well, semi-plausible) denial. The operative principle, Sy quotes one source as saying, was:

“The rules are ‘Grab whom you must. Do what you want.’”

In other words, if you believe Hersh, the SAP was specifically structured so that none of the interrogation methods adopted could be traced back to any "sanctioned program, training manual, instruction, or order."

Can it be any surprise that the most frequently repeated "denial" is that "we've found no evidence." These instructions will self-destruct in five seconds ....


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