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The Apologist


I know I should lie low for a while, but when the targets are this soft arguments are this remarkably silly*:

Could you please read this NYT article very carefully and explain to me how we know it was the Egyptian government’s secret police as opposed to an exercise by opponents of the government, done to induce reporters to write stories antagonistic to the government?

Ok. Well, let’s start with this:

We had been detained by Egyptian authorities, handed over to the country’s dreaded Mukhabarat, the secret police, and interrogated.


At the outskirts of Cairo, we were stopped at what looked like a civilian checkpoint.

We had been through many checkpoints without problems, but after the driver opened our trunk a tremendous uproar began. They saw a large black bag with an orange ZDF microphone poking out. In the tense environment, television crews had been attacked and accused of creating anti-Egyptian propaganda. We had been in the middle of a near-riot with the same crew the day before.

The crowd shouted and banged on the car, pulling the doors open. The ZDF crew in the other car managed to drive off, while we were stuck. Instead of dragging us out as we expected, two men pushed their way into the backseat. We were relieved that they were taking us from the crowd, until one pulled out his police identification. Rather than helping us escape, he was now detaining us.

Perhaps too charitably, let’s assume that not even Althouse could believe that the reporters were delivered to the resistance by…the Egyptian authorities themselves. So what we have to assume if we’re to buy Althouse’s conspiracy theory is that the nascent, largely ad hoc resistance 1)successfully impersonated one level of state authority convincingly enough to fool both experienced reporters and other Egyptian civilians, 2)successfully disguised a building to look like a detention center, 3)successfully impersonated another level of state authority, and 4)managed to cast a bunch of people to convincingly play torture victims. We’re already dealing with implausibility packed on implausibility here, with no convincing explanation (let alone evidence) to explain a single one.   Conversely, there’s no underlying reason to doubt the account — the Egyptian state has detained and threatened a substantial number of journalists, and the Mubarak regime’s extensive use of torture is well-documented.

But wait — it gets nuttier. What makes Althouse skeptical about the account is “the hearing without seeing.” So, her logic seems to be that if the reporters had been detained by real state authorities, they would have been shown the torture first-hand! Because of the typical policy of most authoritarian regimes is to give reporters as much access to their private torture chambers as possible! I…Jesus.

I think this tops “Maybe Rand Paul’s goons were Code Pink ratfuckers,” although perhaps not “it’s entirely plausible that Jose Padilla had to be tortured to keep him from blinking secret terrorist messages to other people from solitary confinement at Gitmo.” Either way, if there’s some conservative necessity to defend arbitrary violence Althouse can always be counted on for an argument that makes your average Troofer theory look like a model of logical rigor.

*Edited to conform to the war on metaphor.  Which is not a real war!

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  • Malaclypse

    I just read this article and felt like the reporters could have been duped by people manufacturing disinformation.

    Ann, just because you could be duped by an eight-year-old in a Halloween costume with a cardboard box for a room, does not mean the world shares your track record.

    The irony is she believes she is displaying skepticism with this post.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Seriously, John Yoo or Rush Limbaugh could sell her 50 acres of oceanfront property in Wyoming.

      • Bill Murray

        The key is not to say when the ocean was there.

        also, did you mean Mukhabarat when you used Mubarak in the sentence below?

        “and the Mubarak ’s extensive use of torture is well-documented.”

      • Malaclypse

        The thing to remember, whenever she gets you really annoyed, is that 30 years or so from now Madison will become a mecca for every grifter selling magazine subscriptions, driveway paving services, and roofing under the sun.

  • Xenocrates

    Anne has finally gone around the bend, and is now working her way to the richly-deserved obscurity from which she arose. Wrong, wrong, wrong again, but still free to hit the “Publish” button after two boxes of wine. At least she continues to amuse me…stupid cow.

  • rm

    Sounds an awful lot like the duplicate android police department in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? How indeed can we be sure that the protesters are not all androids? Or the police agents?

    (For the record, I am against using gender-specific epithets to attack stupid or wrong writers, so Xenocrates, do you really think the word “cow” is worth using? And if you do, you’re a stupid asshole whatever your gender).

    • timb


  • DrDick

    This woman gets paid to teach law at the University of Wisconsin??!? The mind she boggles and the stomach she churns.

  • herr doktor bimler

    Could you please […] explain to me how we know it was the Egyptian government’s secret police as opposed to an exercise by opponents of the government [..] ?

    One indicator might have been the fact that only one of the two parties is motivated to drive journalists out of the country and to ensure that events in Egypt receive no attention from the outside world.

    • DrDick

      There you go again with those evil biased liberal facts and logic again.

  • Anonymous

    I’m beginning to think that the next time Professor Althouse goes to open a fresh box of wine, she may find several of them missing.

  • herr doktor bimler

    I imagine that Prof. Althouse has no great personal investment in the theory that the people arresting and intimidating journalists are really among those trying to topple Mubarak’s regime, any more than in the journalists’ own report that they were Egyptian police. So really she’s being contrarian here for for its own sake.

    I can’t see the appeal of empty sophistry myself, but it motivates any number of Internet trolls so clearly it exists. Perhaps she’s hoping to become the next Camille Paglia. Of course that brings me no closer to an explanation because I have no idea why anyone would want to seize Paglia’s mantle, but it is not for me to delve into the motivation of law professors.

    • Hogan

      NYT bashing is catnip for her regulars. Every now and then I like to see my cats get crazy too.

  • Uncle Kvetch

    So really she’s being contrarian here for for its own sake.

    I fear you’re giving her too much credit. The emergent wingnut meme is that the protests are a stalking horse for the takeover of Egypt by crazee radical Mooslims, with Obama’s acquiescence or enthusiastic support, take your pick. Glenn Beck is squealing it nightly, while Palin and Althouse are sticking to dark insinuations…for now, anyway. How do we know the protesters are sincere about democracy, and that they aren’t actually crazee radical Mooslims? Just because they say they’re not? Well they would say that, wouldn’t they? And what if the President is secretly backing the establishment of a crazee radical Mooslim government in Egypt? Sure, he’d deny it…but he would, wouldn’t he?

    Nobody knows what’s going to happen in Egypt, but for Althouse and her ilk, it isn’t really important. What’s important is that whatever happens be spun as a Very Bad Thing, and this Very Bad Thing be directly imputable to Barack Obama. Nothing else matters.

    At this rate I’d wager that Althouse stands a good chance of getting a plum assignment in the next Republican presidential administration…as Scott points out in the OP, she’s got the Rovian ratfucking instincts down pat. And notice that her defender and spouse hasn’t uttered a word about the actual topic of the post. Just deflect, deflect, deflect. That’s how the game is played.

    • Scott Lemieux


  • Gus

    You know, Althouse must have some smarts. It takes some brains to be a professor at a very good law school. So why does everything she says outside of her professional realm sound so incredibly stupid?

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