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The MSM’s Gift to Moms? The Mushroom Cloud Brigade

I noted this already, but it so exceeds even the abysmal standards of the Sunday show bookers, I’m going to repeat it.

To celebrate Mothers Day, the Sunday shows have brought you the Mushroom Cloud Brigade–Condi Rice, Rummy, and Dick Cheney–the three people who, on September 8, 2002 used the Sunday shows to trumpet the intelligence they had laundered through Judy Miller to lie us into war against Iraq.

RICE: You will get different estimates about precisely how close he is. We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments going into Iran, for instance — into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to — high-quality aluminum tools that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs.

We know that he has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon. And we know that when the inspectors assessed this after the Gulf War, he was far, far closer to a crude nuclear device than anybody thought, maybe six months from a crude nuclear device.

The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t what the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.

Of course, the Mushroom Cloud Brigade won’t be lying about Iraq today. They’ll be lying about torture. And they’ll be helped by a slew of other torture apologists: Michael Hayden, Michael Chertoff, Rudy “9/11” Giuliani, and Liz “BabyDick” Cheney. Update: My apologies for forgetting Univision, which also hosted a torture apologist (Alberto Gonzales), today.

As they spew their torture apology, remember this. The guy who ran their torture program, Jose Rodriguez, has said the best piece of intelligence we got from torture with respect to Osama bin Laden led him to conclude that OBL was no longer the tactical leader of al Qaeda.

Al-Libbi told interrogators that the courier would carry messages from bin Laden to the outside world only every two months or so. “I realized that bin Laden was not really running his organization. You can’t run an organization and have a courier who makes the rounds every two months,” Rodriguez says. “So I became convinced then that this was a person who was just a figurehead and was not calling the shots, the tactical shots, of the organization. So that was significant.”

That led the CIA to shut down its search for OBL precisely because they believed OBL no longer headed a hierarchical organization.

Only, at least according to a background briefing at the Pentagon yesterday (which could itself be more propaganda), that conclusion was wrong. The biggest lesson our intelligence agencies have gotten from analyzing the stash of materials at OBL’s compound is that OBL was not a figurehead, he remained not just the strategic, but also the tactical head of al Qaeda.

The following is a key point:  the materials reviewed over the past several days clearly show that bin Laden remained an active leader in al Qaeda, providing strategic, operational and tactical instructions to the group.  Though separated from many al Qaeda members who are located in more remote areas of the region, he was far from a figurehead.  He was an active player making the recent operation even more essential for our nation’s security.

According to torture apologist Jose Rodriguez, the most important information we got on OBL using torture was that he was a figurehead. According to those analyzing the materials from OBL’s compound, OBL “was far from a figurehead.”

Rodriguez’ torture-induced conclusion was completely wrong.

That’s what the torture apologists have to show for themselves: they gave up the hunt for OBL because they got bad information from torture.

So whereas on September 8, 2002, the Mushroom Cloud Brigade used the Sunday shows to sell a war that would distract us from fighting al Qaeda and getting OBL, today they’ll use the Sunday shows to claim torture helped find OBL. Yet another lie from the Mushroom Cloud Brigade on the Sunday shows.

Happy Mothers Day, moms! May the breakfast in bed your kids made for you help you avoid seeing the Mushroom Cloud Brigade and torture apologists on TV.

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Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.