Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Philip Zelikow interview on Maddow show Tuesday night

Another must see interview from the Maddow show, a follow-up to last night's big one. Here Philip Zelikow, former State Department official under Condoleezza Rice speaks of his having produced competing legal advice to the torture memos which took issue with the claims made in them. He has written a piece for Foreign Policy that discloses this information, along with the fact that Bush administration officials sought to destroy all copies of his memo. A very remarkable interview which indicates that there was indeed dissent in the Bush administration on this issue that now seems to be unleashed, freed up by the release of these memos now to come out. Also interesting is the hint that Rice was unhappy with the administration on the torture issue, at least, that's what's hinted at here by Zelikow who makes a point of stating that he was acting as agent on her behalf. Watched earlier tonight and thought it was among one of the best interviews I've seen of late in terms of its significance, a signalling of the unravelling of the former coherent front of the Bush administration.

Update (Wednesday a.m.):  Also of interest today, the account in the NY Times about the inception of the interrogation programme. A key part of the report, in my opinion, is the emphasized part of this sentence: 
Though some former officials expressed regret that such a momentous decision was made so quickly without vital information or robust debate, none were willing to be quoted by name.
A momentous case study in failed leadership and failed governance. Replete with poor information circulating, based on poor research, information asymmetries among those both steering the decision-making and making the decisions along with a whole cast of acquiescent players. Philip Zelikow, also quoted here, makes a point along those lines: 
Competent staff work could have quickly canvassed relevant history, insights from the best law enforcement and military interrogators, and lessons from the painful British and Israeli experience,” Mr. Zelikow said. “Especially in a time of great stress, walking into this minefield, the president was entitled to get the most thoughtful and searching analysis our government could muster.”
Yes, and he should have been the one ensuring that it was.