I see the Washington Post is playing fast and loose with reality on this story. When we put this piece together, we intentionally segregated the Abu Ghraib/Iraq documents that were released Monday from the Afghanistan/Guantanamo documents releaed at the same time. We'll handle the latter in a separate story.
But most outlets did not make the distinction. That's fine, of course, if they know how to separate disparate stories within the same article. But the Post took a different approach:
The documents also make it clear that some personnel at Guantanamo Bay believed they were relying on authority from senior officials in Washington to conduct aggressive interrogations. One FBI agent wrote a memo referring to a presidential order that approved interrogation methods "beyond the bounds of standard FBI practice," although White House and FBI officials said yesterday that such an order does not exist.
Instead, FBI and Pentagon officials said, the order in question was signed by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in December 2002 and then revised four months later after complaints from military lawyers that he had authorized methods that violated international and domestic law.
The Post has chosen obfuscation and denial. This is really incredible. First, they do not make it clear that the "memo" in question was written by an Iraq field agent in May 2004. That sets us up to accept the alternate explanation, following the denial that comes in the very same sentence as the (shallowly presented) revelation.
But the alternate explanation is quite a stretch, since the email was dated May 2004 and mentions that the Executive Order (which it capitalizes in all 10 instances) was issued by the president (and puts it that way twice). If the Baghdad "On Scene Commander" is that far off, there is a problem in and of itself.
But since no one in Washington is willing to go on the record and be identified in association with the denial, that should really set off alarms. If they were right, there would be no reason to stay anonymous.
A decent reporter would at least contextualize the "official" denials by pointing out that the explanation they offer is not even remotely plausible as the reason this particular FBI agent said what s/he said. Sometimes you just have to
call a spade a spade tell it like it is -- we have a rule about that around the office.
[It has been brought to our attention that the term "call a spade a spade" has roots in racist language. We do not know if that is true, but since there are 30 other available ciches, with apologies we'll gladly swap it for another.]