The OPR report: required reading?
It’s easy for me to tell you (echoing Sullivan) to read this blog post by James Fallows. It’s more difficult for me to commit to what he advises. After months of delay, the Office of Professional Responsibility report on the ethical conduct of Bush Administration lawyers has been released (Peggy Steinfels posted about it and the accompanying report from David Margolis over the weekend). And it’s available online: you can download the pdf here. Will you read it? Fallows says you should.
If you want to argue that “whatever” happened in the “war on terror” was necessary because of the magnitude and novelty of the threat, then you had better be willing to face what the “whatever” entailed. Which is what this report brings out. And if you believe — as I do, and have argued through the years — that what happened included excessive, abusive, lawless, immoral, and self-defeating acts done wrongly in the name of American “security,” then this is a basic text as well.
And when you’re done, you can download Margolis’s 69-page memo and read that too.
Some argue that the Internet has made it easier for people to be uninformed, or selectively informed — you can choose, if you wish, to hear only that which validates the opinions you already hold. True enough. But the Internet also makes it easier to do the background work — to circumvent filters and get information straight from the source — if you want to. It has made it possible to find out whether the sources you rely on are actually reliable. But, of course, you have to put in the effort, and the time.
On the issue of torture and the law, defenders of the Bush Administration’s policies have been saying demonstrably untrue things on television and in print for years (as I noted here last year). They keep doing it because their interlocutors — not just Raymond Arroyo, but most cable-news hosts and many opinion-page editors — either don’t know or don’t care that their arguments have already been shown to be false. Dick Cheney has fought to prevent documents like this OPR report from being released. (And not only Cheney; according to that Jane Mayer New Yorker article I recommended earlier this month, Rahm Emmanuel has been pressuring Eric Holder not to rock the boat.) But even when the truth comes out, it makes not difference unless people actually hear it. That’s why Fallows is recommending that his readers take the time to read this report. And I think he’s right. We know by now that we can’t depend on the Sunday-morning talk-show circuit to take care of it on our behalf.
There are a lot of things I’d rather do than read this report, of course, but I’ll do it anyway. A Lenten penance, perhaps. Will you? Or, is there a source you trust to do the heavy lifting and tell you what’s in it? I know Sullivan is orchestrating a group-read and report on his blog. I will again recommend Scott Horton’s “No Comment” blog for informed commentary. Where else should we look?