Facts before outrage

When I can get some time, I hope to comment about the Obama administration’s release of the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel interrogation memos. John has already written about it here.

For now, I will simply note an error in the Washington Post’s editorial on the subject. The Post asserts that the OLC signed off on depriving some of the detainees of sleep for eleven days. To emphasize their outrage the Post’s editors repeat this in a sentence that reads, “Eleven days!”

But the OLC didn’t approve eleven days of sleep deprivation; it approved up to 180 hours. That’s 7.5 days.

The Post may consider this a “disgrace” too (I consider neither amount to be one). But it shouldn’t let its outrage stand in the way of getting the facts right.

CORRECTION: I hope I didn’t sound too outraged because my facts are wrong. The Bybee memo, which the Post editorial cites, does say “up to 11 days.” I was relying on a subsequent memo by Steven Bradbury that said “the maximum allowable duration for sleep deprivation aruthorized by the CIA is 180 hours, after which the detainee must be permitted to sleep without interruption for at least eight hours.”

I regret the error.


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