DOJ Torture Emails: How The NY Times Could Have Reported The Story

This is an interesting exercise by TPM's Zachary Roth on how the NY Times could have written it's recent piece on the the Dept. of Justice's torture memos...

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that Justice Department lawyers agreed in 2005 that harsh interrogation techniques were legal. The impact of the story -- which was based largely on email messages written at the time by James Comey, then a high-ranking Justice Department official -- has been, it seems, to bolster the Dick Cheney position in the ongoing torture debate in Washington.

But the Times also, to its credit, released Comey's emails in full, allowing us all to make our own judgments about what they show. And after a close look at the emails, it seems clear that the paper could have used them to write a very different story -- with a very different effect on the public debate.

Here's the story the Times could have written:

WASHINGTON -- Alberto Gonzales told Justice Department lawyers in 2005 that he was under great pressure from Vice President Dick Cheney to complete memos approving the use of harsh interrogation techniques, and that President Bush had also asked about them, according to emails written at the time by a top Justice Department official and obtained by the New York Times.

The emails, written by James Comey, the deputy attorney general, make clear that Comey and other DOJ lawyers raised frequent and strenuous objections to the use of the techniques. They show Comey expressing the view that the White House placed extreme pressure on the department to approve the techniques without taking the time needed for a full consideration of the issues raised, and show him lamenting that department officials -- including, it appears, Gonzales -- had caved to that pressure. And they also suggest that Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, tried to short-circuit a discussion among senior administration officials, sought by DOJ, about the wisdom of employing the harsh techniques....

read the full re-write...

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