Contradictions That Aren't Seen as Contradictory

Glenn Greenwald

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techniques, Rumsfeld personally authorized one set of harsh measures for use at Guantanamo in December 2002, then rescinded the measures the following months after strong objections from some Pentagon lawyers.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.

* * * * * 

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:

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:

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:

* * * * * 

John McCain, Face the Nation, yesterday:

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:

* * * * *

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

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:

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.

* * * * * 

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:

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.

* * * * * 

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.

Glenn Greenwald's piece was originally published by

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