Keith Olbermann got a lot of attention for Monday night's "special comment" on waterboarding, in which he described the White House as "a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush" and told the astonishing tale, first reported by ABC News last week, of former Department of Justice official Daniel Levin. Charged with rewriting the Administration's legal position on torture, Levin actually voluntarily underwent waterboarding in 2004 to better understand the procedure before assessing its legality. Here's what Olbermann said Levin concluded: "Waterboarding, he said, is torture. Legally it is torture. Practically it is torture. Ethically it is torture. And he wrote it down." Then he got fired, naturally.
It's stirring rhetoric from Olbermann, as usual—only it's almost certainly 100 percent not true!
According to the ABC News report Olbermann cited, Levin did not decide that waterboarding by the U.S. is torture; he just thought we were doing it wrong. "Levin, who refused to comment for this story, concluded waterboarding could be illegal torture unless performed in a highly limited way and with close supervision," wrote ABC News's Jan Crawford Greenburg and Ariane de Vogue (emphasis added). "And, sources told ABC News, he believed the Bush Administration had failed to offer clear guidelines for its use." In other words, the man whom Olbermann believes "should have a statue in his honor in Washington right now" for making a liar of Bush about torture apparently thinks that, in principle, waterboarding is perfectly legal.
Which makes him any different from Dick Cheney how, exactly?