By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
Fox News’ Megyn Kelly got a big interview this week following the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogations in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on America on September 11, 2001. It was compelling TV, and journalism. Dr. James Mitchell, a former Air Force psychologist, contracted with the CIA to help develop a program to interrogate CIA detainees while America, and those tasked to protect this country, prepared for a second wave of attacks.
Mitchell had spoken with the British newspaper, The Guardian, back in April, after an executive summary of the Senate Intelligence report had been leaked to McClatchy News. At the time, as reported by The Guardian, Mitchell “mounted a full-throated defense of the Bush administration’s counter-terrorism policies and attacked ‘partisan Democrats’ for ‘throwing me under the bus’ and ‘rewriting history.’” Now he clearly feels even more free to speak out.
Mitchell was never interviewed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) committee. In fact, none of the CIA people involved in the interrogations, nor the directors or deputy directors, were interviewed. In other words, the purpose of this report was not to actually get to the truth of what happened. It was an attempt, for various political and PR reasons, to accuse and indict the Bush administration and the CIA for allegedly using torture on the detainees.
Mitchell revealed that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) didn’t break, or provide information that eventually led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, because of waterboarding, but rather because of other EITs (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques). The technique that did work on KSM, according to the American Enterprise Institute’s Marc Thiessen, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, was sleep deprivation. But Mitchell revealed something that KSM did tell him: “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told me personally, ‘Your country will turn on you, the liberal media will turn on you, the people will grow tired of this, they will turn on you, and when they do, you are going to be abandoned.’”
What comes through in Megyn Kelly’s interview is a thoughtful, patriotic American who was moved by the image of Americans leaping out of World Trade Center buildings, and by the courage of those on Flight 93 who helped bring the plane down, rather than allow it to successfully strike the third of three targets of the “decapitation” that Mitchell said was their goal. The terrorists hit our financial center in New York, they hit the Pentagon—the headquarters of the U.S. military—and the third plane was intended to crash into the Capitol building in Washington, DC.
America is divided over this, but a recent Washington Post – ABC poll shows that the American public overwhelmingly think that “the CIA treatment of suspected terrorists” was justified, by a margin of 59% to 31%. Clearly a significant majority believe the CIA was trying to protect this country at that time, and aren’t too worried about the few cases of excess—even death—that occurred. They don’t see it as a “stain” on our country. In fact, many view the stain as this one-sided report that cherry-picked information and revealed selective portions of emails, contradicted by other portions not revealed in the report—if that’s what they needed to make their case. Many believe that the release of this report has given aid and comfort to America’s enemies, and put American lives at increased risk.
It turns out that KSM was right about the “liberal media,” but it seems that a significant majority of the American people are quite okay with what was done to these terrorists—and other detainees—and don’t believe it damaged us as a country. Many of those in the liberal media—such as Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, Jane Mayer of the New Yorker (who actually interviewed Dr. Mitchell back in 2005), and Erin Burnett of CNN—freely call what happened “torture.” To them, it’s not an opinion, it’s a fact.
Kudos to Megyn Kelly for getting the interview, which aired in two parts on Monday and Tuesday nights this week. I urge you to watch for yourself, and to also read this column, “The Feinstein Report is Going to Cost Us,” by Andrew McCarthy. He was the lawyer who successfully prosecuted the Blind Sheikh, the man responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. McCarthy has a lot of interesting things to say about the report, such as this: “As I have frequently argued here over the years, there is a world of difference between what is couched in political rhetoric as ‘torture,’ a conversation stopper that the Left cavalierly applies to every instance of prisoner abuse, and the federal crime of torture, which has a strict legal definition and is a difficult offense to prove, precisely to ensure that torture is not trivialized.”
You can watch Kelly’s interview with Dr. Mitchell here.