Joseph Abrams reports that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was not waterboarded 183 times, as the New York Times reported; rather water was poured onto his face 183 times over the course of, at most, five waterboarding sessions. The Times’s eagerness to put the most catastrophic face on anything Bush-related is old news. So, too, is its willingness to shirk journalistic standards in pursuit of that achievement. What’s newly relevant is that once again further airing of CIA interrogation techniqes breaks in favor of the techniques’ defenders.
George W. Bush’s critics spent eight years feverishly accusing the administration of crimes. They had it easy because there was no serious burden of proof. But the prospect of an actual investigation means they can no longer play fast and loose with the facts. Convicting a party of federal crimes isn’t like making a paranoid “documentary” or writing a best-selling hit job. The charges have to jibe with reality, for a change.