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But Cohen apparently found safety in numbers. The fact that he was surrounded by scores of other big-name media stars who had fallen for the same "bait-and-switch" scam meant that he kept his place as a major national columnist -- and soon returned to his comfortable role defending the war policies of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
For instance, in a June 19, 2007, op-ed, Cohen rallied to the defense of Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis Libby who had been sentenced to 30 months in jail for perjury and obstruction of justice for lying about his role in unmasking covert CIA officer Valerie Plame.
The destruction of Plame's career was collateral damage resulting from the Bush administration trying to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for criticizing Bush's use of a misleading claim about Iraq seeking uranium from Africa.
But Cohen showed no sympathy for Wilson or Plame, two patriotic citizens who had been personally targeted by Cheney and the White House. Cohen worried only about Libby.
In the column, Cohen denounced the trial as "a mountain out of a molehill." Following the neocon propaganda themes on the Plame case, Cohen concluded there was no "underlying crime," and poked fun at Americans who thought the invasion of Iraq might have been a bad idea.
"They thought -- if 'thought' can be used in this context -- that if the thread was pulled on who had leaked the identity of Valerie Plame to Robert D. Novak, the effort to snooker an entire nation into war would unravel and this would show ... who knows? Something," Cohen wrote.
Smirking at Torture
Cohen also sympathized with Cheney over his enthusiasm for torturing Muslim detainees. In a May 11, 2009, column -- entitled "What If Cheney's Right?" -- Cohen justified "enhanced interrogation techniques," including the near-drowning tactic of waterboarding, as worthwhile in eliciting important intelligence information and thus saving American lives.
Starting the column, Cohen made light of the whole issue of torture with the quip, "Blogger Alert: I have written a column in defense of Dick Cheney."
While conceding that torture is morally wrong, Cohen wrote, "where I reserve a soupçon of doubt is over the question of whether 'enhanced interrogation techniques' actually work. That they do not is a matter of absolute conviction among those on the political left, who seem to think that the CIA tortured suspected terrorists just for the hell of it."
Cohen noted that Cheney -- through his declaration that critical intelligence was extracted by these means -- "poses a hard, hard question: Is it more immoral to torture than it is to fail to prevent the deaths of thousands?"
With unintended irony, the columnist regretted that Cheney's credibility on torture had been dinged by the fact that his pre-Iraq War claims had proved false, like his insisting "that 'the evidence is overwhelming' that al-Qaeda had been in high-level contact with Saddam Hussein's regime when the 'evidence' was virtually non-existent."
What Cohen left out was the very relevant point that precisely those claims of a Saddam-al-Qaeda connection resulted from a coerced confession from one of the CIA's "high-value detainees," Ibu al-Sheikh al-Libi.
A June 2002 CIA report cited claims by al-Libi that Iraq had "provided" unspecified chemical and biological weapons training for two al-Qaeda operatives. Al-Libi's information was then inserted into a November 2002 National Intelligence Estimate.
Al-Libi's false claim -- which he later said he offered to escape torture -- also found its way into Cheney's public presentations and into Powell's UN speech. But Cohen did not deign to mention this inconvenient fact in his column defending these harsh tactics.
On Oct. 6, 2009, Cohen was back serving the neocon cause, baiting President Barack Obama into a major military escalation in Afghanistan, through an opinion piece entitled "Does Obama Have the Backbone?" -- questioning Obama's mettle as a war president.