The Gift That Keeps On Giving: In Which We Pretend That Widely Known Facts Aren't Widely Known

03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

One of the more inane ideas that has been put forth since the beginning of the Iraq War is that our enemy sits with their eyes glued to the television and bases their strategic decisions upon what a bunch of politicians say half a world away. Their daft ideological causes, as it turns out, aren't sufficient to sustain them--no, no!--their spirits are kept alive when Steny Hoyer criticizes our Iraq strategy! They have to check in with C-SPAN on a daily basis for the grist to fuel their fundamentalism!

None of it, naturally, makes a lick of sense. The president widely broadcast his "Surge" strategy in advance of its launch. Why weren't the insurgents better prepared for it? Now, they can tune into the news or pick up the morning paper and hear that the "Surge" is a success! So why hasn't know--surrendered?

Another example of this la-la-land pretense played itself out in the Press Room today, as White House Press Secretary Dana Perino worked to stonewall the press corps on the issue of the C.I.A. torture videos.

Q: After a retired team member is on national television explaining exactly what was done, is there an al-Qaeda member anywhere that doesn't know that this is in the arsenal?

PERINO: Obviously, al Qaeda listens closely to everything that we do and say, and that is something that we should keep in mind. The President said that he is going to do what it takes to protect this country, and in a legal way. The intelligence community has worked very hard in order to do that. Remember that this is classified for a reason. We do not talk about the specific techniques, and do not think it is prudent or a good idea to do so. But it is discussed in the appropriate arena which is on the Hill. And General Hayden again is up there today, answering the questions probably about all of the questions that are you asking me. Which are questions that he can answer in a closed setting. And I think that it is reasonable and that people should be able to agree it is reasonable that such matters of sensitivity should remain classified and not spoken about publicly.

Q: But it has been spoken about in public. so what is at this point --

PERINO: You know, often times I am asked about things in the newspaper because somebody comes out to talk about it. It does not mean I am obligated to confirm it, or talk about it. It is not necessarily the way that it works.

So let me see if I get this correctly. Al Qaeda "listens closely," which means they've probably heard something about how we torture people. Because that is one of those "things in the newspaper because someone comes out to talk about it." So that's bad! They know, right? They're getting emboldened! The jig is up, right? No! Because by the same logic, Dana Perino, by not "confirming" or "talking" about it, thus provides a firewall of uncertainty between our enemies and our widely-known non-secrets.

The only problem with that logic is that if al Qaeda is using Perino as its "trust but verify" mechanism, we should have defeated them by now.