06/21/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Ed Schultz Defends Obama Against Entire Cast Of Morning Joe (VIDEO)

Media Monitor Brian Cohoon sends us this clip of MSNBC's Ed Schultz appearing on Morning Joe and running a four on one gauntlet over the transfer of detainees from GITMO.

A basic recap: Joe Scarborough doesn't want Khalid Sheikh Mohammed moved to Pensacola, Florida, because it would make the city a "terrorist target," I guess the argument being that whatever cities are currently on al Qaeda's to-attack list should bear the weight for the rest of the country and Floridians in general, who I guess aren't made of particularly stern stuff. At least Joe understands that we are very good at locking people up in jails.

Ed Schultz points out that Obama would be a hypocrite to "quote Martin Luther King" on the campaign trail and not attempt to "take the moral high ground" by dispensing proper justice to the detainees. Somehow, the conversation immediately veers to the general subject of policy rollbacks of Obama's that may or may not anger "the left." (Constantly included in these litanies are the pace of the Iraq withdrawal, and the re-focused mission in Afghanistan. Both may draw criticism from "the left," but neither are policy rollbacks -- in the former case, the administration has hewed tightly to the Status of Forces Agreement on withdrawal and shows no sign of breaking from that plan, and in the latter case -- well, moving new troops into Afghanistan was constantly promised on the campaign trail.)

Schultz, preaching patience, brings the matter back to GITMO, and very gamely goes back to the successful arrest of terrorists last night, which as Schultz points out, involved no waterboarding. Brzezinski, insipidly counters by saying, "Well, there was an informant," which she apparently doesn't understand does not refute the fact that there was no torture.

Mark Halperin, who is a famous blow-up doll from TIME Magazine who obsesses on political minutiae, thinks that a "good President acknowledges the shifts in policy." Schultz suggests that a good President just adapts to changing circumstances in pursuit of the larger mission of national security.

Then a long, long conversation about Nancy Pelosi -- her accusations, her stories, the political ramifications -- as usual, everything but the issue that underpins the Pelosi subplot, which is that the United States tortured people. Scarborough attempts to cast the whole matter as a general issue of the CIA's truthfulness, asking Schultz if he agrees with the contention of Democrats that the CIA has misled in the past. As I have pointed out before, accusing the CIA of misleading is not a new or shocking occurrence. What's more, Republicans have done it as well:

Jesus, then Scarborough intimates that the Obama administration is "cherrypicking intelligence," which makes me wonder what he was doing in the run-up to the Iraq War. He then goes on to...uhm, what's the word I'm looking for? OH YEAH, CHERRYPICK! He goes on to cherrypick statements by Dennis Blair, in the hopes that it can back up the premise that torture is effective policy. Let's go back to Greg Sargent on this matter, one more time, with feeling:

In his private memo, Blair said that in some cases, torture yielded "high value information" that has "provided a deeper understanding" of Al Qaeda. He said he couldn't promise he wouldn't have approved such tactics in the wake of 9/11.

In his public statement, he said that despite those facts, torture still does more harm than good and is not essential to our national security.

Sorry -- these two statements are not mutually exclusive. Many will disagree with Blair's initial statement. Many will believe that his real views skew in the direction of the private memo. All fine. But the simple fact is that his public statement deserves to be part of this discussion, and it isn't contradicted by what's in the private memo.

Blair can believe that torture has worked in isolated cases and believe that overall, torture is bad policy. Period.

Anyway, everyone ends up coming down in favor of a Truth Commission, some of them not disingenuously.


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