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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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