Obama's press conference could not have gone that well, because it is not on the front page of my Times. Ben Smith breaks news from WWII, however, on torture and Winston Churchill.
THE ONE: ...Jeff Zeleny.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.
The President was far too kind to answer that he was most enchanted by the Times probing, hard-hitting journalism.
Where is the video? I bet Zeleny looks enchanting with his skirt and pom-poms. Give him an "O" indeed... [I am looking for Zeleney in the video provided by The Captain.]
NOW WE KNOW WHY HE SENT BACK THE CHURCHILL BUST:
Ben Smith at The Politico busts Obama for self-deception on torture:
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. You've said in the past that waterboarding in your opinion is torture. And torture is a violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions. Do you believe that the previous administration sanctioned torture?
MR. OBAMA: What I've said -- and I will repeat -- is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. I do believe that it is torture. I don't think that's just my opinion; that's the opinion of many who've examined the topic. And that's why I put an end to these practices.
I am absolutely convinced that it was the right thing to do -- not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways -- in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are.
I was struck by an article that I was reading the other day talking about the fact that the British, during World War II, when London was being bombed to smithereens, had 200 or so detainees. And Churchill said, "we don't torture," when the -- the entire British -- all of the British people were being subjected to unimaginable risk and threat. And -- and -- and the reason was that Churchill understood, you start taking shortcuts, and over time, that corrodes what's -- what's best in a people.
The London Cage was run by MI19, the section of the War Office responsible for gleaning information from enemy prisoners of war, and few outside this organisation knew exactly what went on beyond the single barbed-wire fence that separated the three houses from the busy streets and grand parks of west London.
By examining thousands of documents stored at the National Archives, formerly the Public Record Office, as well as the archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, the Guardian has established what happened to this prisoner, and many others like him.
The London Cage was used partly as a torture centre, inside which large numbers of German officers and soldiers were subjected to systematic ill-treatment. In total 3,573 men passed through the Cage, and more than 1,000 were persuaded to give statements about war crimes. The brutality did not end with the war, moreover: a number of German civilians joined the servicemen who were interrogated there up to 1948.
Within the National Archives are documents from two official inquiries into the methods employed at the Cage, one which heard evidence that guards were under orders to knock on some prisoners' cell doors every 15 minutes, depriving them of sleep, and another which concluded with "the possibility that violence was used" during interrogations.
There is also a long and detailed letter of complaint from one SS captain, Fritz Knoechlein, who describes his treatment after being taken to the Cage in October 1946. Knoechlein alleges that because he was "unable to make the desired confession" he was stripped, given only a pair of pyjama trousers, deprived of sleep for four days and nights, and starved.
The guards kicked him each time he passed, he alleges, while his interrogators boasted that they were "much better" than the "Gestapo in Alexanderplatz". After being forced to perform rigorous exercises until he collapsed, he says he was compelled to walk in a tight circle for four hours. On complaining to Scotland that he was being kicked even "by ordinary soldiers without a rank", Knoechlein alleges that he was doused in cold water, pushed down stairs, and beaten with a cudgel. Later, he says, he was forced to stand beside a large gas stove with all its rings lit before being confined in a shower which sprayed extremely cold water from the sides as well as from above. Finally, the SS man says, he and another prisoner were taken into the gardens behind the mansions, where they were forced to run in circles while carrying heavy logs.
"Since these tortures were the consequences of my personal complaint, any further complaint would have been senseless," Knoechlein wrote. "One of the guards who had a somewhat humane feeling advised me not to make any more complaints, otherwise things would turn worse for me." Other prisoners, he alleged, were beaten until they begged to be killed, while some were told that they could be made to disappear.
Churchill tortured Germans, Roosevelt interned Japanese-Americans, yet we endure. Is the Guardian account plausible? I suppose we could compare this to British treatment of the IRA. FWIW, the commander of The Cage, Alexander Scotland, received a decoration from the Us and was never prosecuted by the British.
As to Sullivan's sense of history and ability to provide objective research, well, it's too bad no one alleged that Winston Churchill was the secret father of Trig Palin...