About Freaking Time: New York Times Will Finally Start Calling CIA Torture Practices 'Torture'

from the should-have-happened-long-ago dept

We've questioned in the past why Senators like Dianne Feinstein won't come out and admit that what the CIA did was torture. Even President Obama has used the word to explain the CIA's actions. Yet, beyond Senator Feinstein, there was one other major hold out: the NY Times refused to use that word. Until now. In a note from the executive editor of the Times, Dean Baquet, he says that the NY Times will finally be accurate and will describe the CIA's actions as torture:
[F]rom now on, The Times will use the word “torture” to describe incidents in which we know for sure that interrogators inflicted pain on a prisoner in an effort to get information.
In explaining the change, Baquet insists that early on, not as much was known about the techniques used by the CIA, and that many with knowledge of the situation insisted that it didn't rise to the level of torture. Of course, that those with knowledge were often protecting themselves perhaps should have risen red flags for the Times. Baquet also notes that reporters at the paper urged editors to change their policy -- so kudos to those reporters.

That said, there is something troubling in this part of the rationale:
Meanwhile, the Justice Department, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, has made clear that it will not prosecute in connection with the interrogation program. The result is that today, the debate is focused less on whether the methods violated a statute or treaty provision and more on whether they worked – that is, whether they generated useful information that the government could not otherwise have obtained from prisoners. In that context, the disputed legal meaning of the word “torture” is secondary to the common meaning: the intentional infliction of pain to make someone talk.
In other words, in the past, whether or not it was torture actually mattered, because legally it might have resulted in prosecutions of people committing war crimes. Under US law, the US has to prosecute those engaged in torture. But now that the "powers that be" have made it clear it simply won't prosecute anyone, and thus it doesn't really matter legally if it's referred to as torture or not, the NY Times will finally call it what it is. That seems immensely troubling. It basically suggests the NY Times could have impacted an important debate, but chose to sit it out until it was much too late to matter.

So, yes, it's good that the NY Times is finally calling torture, torture, but it's a black mark on the paper that it didn't do so years ago.

Reader Comments (rss)

 
From NY Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet's statement:
When the first revelations emerged a decade ago, the situation was murky. The details about what the Central Intelligence Agency did in its interrogation rooms were vague. The word “torture” had a specialized legal meaning as well as a plain-English one. While the methods set off a national debate, the Justice Department insisted that the techniques did not rise to the legal definition of “torture.” The Times described what we knew of the program but avoided a label that was still in dispute, instead using terms like harsh or brutal interrogation methods.

We’ve known for a decade (due to the leak in 2004 of the 2002 Yoo/Bybee “Torture Memos”) that the U.S. used techniques including waterboarding against prisoners. We had reliable reports of these abuses from well before then. Even Michael Hayden admitted (in 2008) that the CIA used waterboarding against three detainees.

So the only “murkiness” that the Times could be referring to is whether these abuses constitute torture. Despite the perversion of applicable laws and definitions in the torture memos, the Times should not have had any difficulty in finding clarity. If it had had difficulty, though, it could have turned to any number of experts on torture and the law, including human rights organizations, military judges, physicians who treat survivors of torture, and many other reputable sources.

For that matter, when it comes to waterboarding as torture, the Times could have looked to the historical record, from the first documented use in the 14th century, where it was known (among other terms) as “water torture”; to after World War II, when the U.S. government convicted several Japanese soldiers of war crimes for the use of waterboarding on American POWs; and all the way up to the present. Or, at least, to 2002, when the U.S. government sought to redefine everything to serve its short-sighted agenda.

Who disputed the label of torture? Proponents of torture, apologists for torture, and those seeking to avoid prosecution for those crimes. This is not a real dispute -- This is people looking for excuses to justify illegal and immoral acts.

The Pew Research Journalism Project outlines nine core principles of journalism, among these are:
- Journalism’s first obligation is the truth
- Journalism must serve as an independent monitor of power

In its refusal to call these abuses torture, in sanitizing the policy as “harsh interrogation”, the New York Times failed entirely to uphold these principles. Instead, it became a willing partner in the perpetuation of a grotesque fiction, denying the reality and the criminality of U.S. policy. The executive editor’s statement from yesterday does nothing to mitigate this failure.
—sorrykb

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 1:11am

    And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    Fear - as induced by the 911-attacks - was the optimal filter when it came to separate values held truly dear from values that were mere lip services.

    It's not that the US of A changed overnight from "protector of the weak" to "schoolyard bully". No.

    911 just revealed that the US-government was a bully all along. A bully wearing the mask of the protector - a title it earned by fighting the nazis in WW2. A title it no longer deserved.

     

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    Beech, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 1:18am

    Seems like the most hilarious approach would be
    1) kidnap those from the CIA that practiced, or authorized the practice of, torture.
    2) torture them
    3) claim the same kind of immunity they apparently have. here you have two people doing the same thing, how can one be immune from prosecution and the other not?

     

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    Beech, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 1:26am

    Re: And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    My main problem is, the state of affairs today is probably exactly what Osama wanted. I remember hearing (among other reasons) that we were attacked because the terrorists "hated our freedom." As laughable as that is, look where we are now. Our government flipped out, just as the terrorists intended and we played right into their hands. Indefinite detentions with no evidence. Militarization of local police forces. Not being able to board a plane without a high-school dropout sticking a finger in your butt. Drone strikes killing innocents. Wars across the globe. Spying on everyone, citizens included. Constitution-free zones. FUCKING TORTURE.

    The US may not have always been the "good guy" but at least we used to be able to pretend we were with a straight face. THAT'S how terrorism won the War on Terror. They hated our freedom, and now we have less of it.

     

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    David, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 1:38am

    Re: And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    A bully wearing the mask of the protector - a title it earned by fighting the nazis in WW2.

    Makes you wonder why they fought the Nazis in WW2. After all, the Germans did nothing that the U.S. does not wholeheartedly embrace with a few labels exchanged. Instead of the Zionistic World Conspiracy we have International Terrorism, but frankly: who can tell one brown face from another?Actually, the Zionists are these days themselves engaged in systematic genocide with considerable support from the U.S. and don't get much more than a wagging finger for it.

    Presumably because you cannot call out someone for crimes against humanity whose greatgrandparents were victims.

    And the U.S. is not fascist because the current citizens' greatgrandparents fought against Germany.

    What would the greatgrantparents say if anybody listened to them? "We did not suffer our fate to see our greatgrandchildren turn into the monsters of our youth."?

    Are there war memorials with the inscription "We died so that you may kill."?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 2:19am

    I am not convinced by that definition: Inflicting pain on prisoners could be a very narrow definition.

    The known methods used includes sleep deprivation which probably wouldn't pass as "torture" by their definition.

    Cramped spaces is one of those things: Technically it induces pain, but it is after a period of time. It is unknown if that would qualify.

    Water-boarding is the only one where torture by that definition is safe to assume.

    I think it is a very weak conceptual understanding from the newspaper. Torture is so much more about psychology than physical suffering. By excluding that dimension, they are completely obscuring why torture is done.
    Newsflash for New York Post: Torture is not done solely to satisfy a need to inflict pain on someone...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 2:22am

    Re:

    *Times, not Post.

     

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    Whatever (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 2:36am

    I think that the NYP is pretty much jumping the fence on this one for purely populist reasons. The acts didn't change, it's not like there is anything truly new under the sun except that Obama is honest enough to admit that there have been past occurrences. Their stand makes it sound like torture is a standard operating procedure at all times for all prisoners, which seems to be far from the truth.

    My take on what has happened with the US is pretty simple. After 9/11, the American people as an almost collected whole were behind Bush, and gave him a sort of carte blanche to get the bastards who did this to the US. Much of the aparatus you see today is that of the Bush era. The permissive culture of the US extended pretty much all the way until Obama was elected and Osama was executed. Now it's not quite as simple.

    The US quite simply was the angry victim lashing out and not caring who they hurt. But tempers have moderated, the situation has cooled, and many cannot see that the situation requires urgent, expedient, and sometimes illegal action to resolve.

    Remember, for some people, Justin Beiber is their idol, for others, it's torture to listen to him (and yes, they use his music in Guantanamo Bay to entertain the prisoners). Torture is a slippery term, and without clarity, the NYP is just contributing to muddying the waters.

     

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    Whatever (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 3:41am

    Re:

    correction times not post, followed the comment above me.. :)

     

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    Rich Kulawiec, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 4:04am

    Re: Re: And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."

    --- Friedrich Nietzsche

     

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    Ninja (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 5:05am

    Re: And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    The story told by the winners is seldom the real thing too... So, yeah.

     

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    tomczerniawski, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 5:10am

    Re:

    I do not feel that this is a narrow definition of torture:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dilawar_(torture_victim)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 5:39am

    I absolutely does fucking matter. Words matter. The definition of a word does not change just because the government wants it to. Torture is still torture and by refusing to prosecute those responsible, they are breaking the law... Again!

    Nice to see our priorities are straight. We can spend millions trying to prosecute a president for getting a blowjob which isn't illegal but won't do anything about torturing people which is despite the law requiring us to do so.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 5:46am

    Re:

    Because.... terrorists!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 5:48am

    Re: Re: And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    I don't really buy the "they hated our freedom" argument anymore. They hated our hypocrisy. It was just easier for us to conceal from the American people and much of the rest of the world before. If we had not engaged in the imperialistic activities that we have in the past 70 years or so, they wouldn't really have cared about our freedom.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 6:21am

    Re: And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    Indeed. Virtues do not exist until they have been tested, no matter the claims made. Up until the moment of truth they are like Schrodinger's cat: neither alive nor dead.

     

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    Whatever (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 6:32am

    Re: Re: And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    Actually, the Zionists are these days themselves engaged in systematic genocide with considerable support from the U.S. and don't get much more than a wagging finger for it.

    it's somewhat more complicated than that. Israel has very smart in these things, holding back until the palestinians get too agressive, then they retaliate with massive levels of overkill that pushes their enemy back another notch. Rather than negotiating peace and coming up with a way to live together in some fashion, they continue to fight because (a) Israel keeps gaining more land, and (b) the Palestinians are stubborn and apparently willing to call this hand all the way to the river even if they lost on the flop.

     

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    BentFranklin (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 6:32am

    If prosecution of torturers is the law and some prosecutors choose not to prosecute, then we should prosecute those prosecutors.

     

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    JWW (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 6:44am

    Re: Re: Re: And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    I'll feel much more sympathy for the Palestinians once they drop that "every Jew in Israel must die" bargaining point.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 7:15am

    Re:

    It's one thing to say you can understand how an entire country would compromise principles in a time of distress.

    Suggesting that any particular distress was so bad that it actually justifies those compromises, and makes them acceptable, is the dangerous slippery slope that leads to unlimited human rights violations.

     

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    Roger Strong (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 7:18am

    Re:

    ...for purely populist reasons.

    That claim might have had an ounce of credibility if it were just a few confirmed terrorists subjected to sleep deprivation. Alas, it was not.

    They were kidnapping and torturing just to see **IF** someone had information. Like say Maher Arar, a Canadian telecommunications engineer, kidnapped, beaten and tortured for a year, before being released with an "er, never mind." They kidnapped over 100 people from EU soil alone.

    It wasn't just waterboarding and stress positions and sleep deprivation and beatings. Brits being present for part of it became a major scandal in Britain. It ended up in court with British intelligence officers testifying in court for example, "Mr Mohamed’s genitals were sliced with a scalpel and other torture methods so extreme that waterboarding, the controversial technique of simulated drowning, is very far down the list of things they did." (The US eventually dropped charges and released him with an "er, never mind.")

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/defence/4551441/UK-government-suppressed- evidence-on-Binyam-Mohamed-torture-because-MI6-helped-his-interrogators.html

    http://thinkprogress.org /security/2009/02/09/35952/mohamed-torture-uk-us/

    Or there's the ruling by the European Human Rights Court confirming - Macedonian state police had observed this - that when CIA agents kidnapped and tortured and beat German citizen Khaled el-Masri, they even sodomized him to break his will. (In CIA parlance, subjected him to "capture shock")

    (After sending him from Europe to Afghanistan for months more torture, they realized that they had the wrong person. So they flew him to a third country, and dropped him off on a back road with an "er, never mind" and no money or ID or apology.)

    Make no mistake: The US is still a torture state. The US government refuses to prosecute those who did it. The US government refuses to prosecute those who ordered it. Dick Cheney and friends are still on US news programs and no-one bats an eye. John Yoo, who wrote the torture memos to tell those who did it that torture was peachy-keen, is a law professor at Berkeley for Christ's sake.

    During the 2004 election it was already known that the US had turned into a mass-torture state. Bush II and friends were reelected.

    During the 2012 election Republican candidates Bachmann, Cain, Perry and Santorum ALL called for torture to resume. (Presumably Ron Paul thought that waterboarding is an issue that should be left to the states.) Not only did this not cause a scandal or hurt their chances within the Republican Party, but there wasn't a hint of a scandal about it with the Democrats or the general public.

    This is not a country that has ended torture. At most it's a country that has paused torture for the current administration.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 7:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    If a group of people from a certain country decided they were moving into your house, and all you get is the couch , but you disagree.. and they slaughter your family in the name of the group and all other families on the block the the end result would be hatred of the group entirely , the ones who ordered it and the ones who carried it out .

     

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    Pixelation, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 7:53am

    US is a "State Sponsor of Terrorism"...

    Torture is a form of terrorism.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 7:53am

    Those who permit it are equally responsible, and have deemed themselves co-conspirators, the next wording mishap maybe genocide.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 7:56am

    Can we now call reading the NYT's inadequate sports coverage 'torture' or do we need to stick with 'lame?'

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 8:04am

    Re: Re: Re: And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    "Hate Our Freedom" is just FOX propaganda. Why would anyone truly hate freedom (unless they were deranged)?

    What they hated was our bullying and meddling in world affairs - playing world police and trying to mold other countries for our benefit.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 8:13am

    Ya think?

    Of course, that those with knowledge were often protecting themselves perhaps should have risen red flags for the Times.


    Perhaps? Perhaps??

    Good for you, NYT, for changing your editorial policy. Bad for you, though, for failing to own up to your obvious errors in judgement.

     

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    Rekrul, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 8:20am

    Under US law, the US has to prosecute those engaged in torture. But now that the "powers that be" have made it clear it simply won't prosecute anyone, and thus it doesn't really matter legally if it's referred to as torture or not, the NY Times will finally call it what it is.

    The US government only follows the law when it's convenient to do so.

     

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    Jg, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 8:58am

    Conspiracy to Torture

    Obama is guilty of covering up these torture crimes to this day, and is therefore in violation of the torture statute. He could get 20 years, along with everyone else who participated.

    For over 200 years we've banned cruel and unusual punishment. The Constitutional lawyer in chief knows exactly what he's doing and he's guilty as sin. This is a relatively minor one of his many crimes.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 9:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    There are no angels in that fight.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 9:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    To be fair, the argument was that the despotic leaders of those mid-east organizations hated the hope and alternate lifestyle that "American Freedoms" promoted -- so while they were telling their followers to do as they were told, the US was shouting around the world that people should do as they saw fit, and live with freedom of expression.

    It's almost as false (people globally hate that the US government has one set of policies for the world, and paints an alternate picture for its own citizens so they'll keep supporting these policies), but it's much more believable than the black/white argument that people have turned this into.

     

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    Unfrozen Caveman (non-lawyer) (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 9:51am

    Trickle-down Torturenomics

    Is anyone else a bit worried that this logic could be used to justify a police officer punching/tasering a confession out of a suspect? Isn't that basically the same?

    Cop pulls you over. Cop accuses you of driving like a cop(speeding and tailgating, with a phone to your ear). Cop nightsticks your face until you agree. Judge applauds cop for unconventional methods in extracting useful information of dangerous activity.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 10:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    Exactly. We weren't attacked by nation states that hated the fact that we were undermining their ability to control their populations by demonstrating the benefits of living in a free society. We were attacked by organized groups of individuals that saw the hypocrisy of what our government claimed to stand for and simultaneously violated in their countries.

     

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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    Exactly. A lot of people have a vested interest in obscuring the facts here, but when you get down to it, there is no such thing as "the Palestinian people." They do not exist in any objective sense.

    Before the nation of Israel was established, there were a handful of groups in that area that went by the name "Palestinian." They were all Jewish groups. Aside from Jerusalem itself, which is holy to Muslims, Arabs did not want to live there because it was such an inhospitable desert that even inhospitable-desert-dwellers found it hostile.

    But that all changed when some of the more powerful nations finally saw sense and said "nobody but Jews are living here anyway, and it's their ancestral homeland, so we really should just make it official." A bunch of Jews moved in and started turning Israel into a beautiful place... and that's when it all hit the fan. A bunch of Jordanians moved in and illegally colonized some of the nicest bits of Israel, and then tried to retcon history itself and claim it was actually their home when it never had been.

    In the USA, we've got an illegal immigration problem, and we mostly don't do much about it because the illegal immigrants mostly keep their heads down. But imagine if they all started claiming that the states along the southern border belonged to them now, and that oh, seriously, it really always had, and they started murdering and blowing up anyone who said otherwise? Yeah, you'd better believe we'd be responding exactly the way Israel is responding to their illegal immigration problem!

     

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    sorrykb (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 12:32pm

    From NY Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet's statement:
    When the first revelations emerged a decade ago, the situation was murky. The details about what the Central Intelligence Agency did in its interrogation rooms were vague. The word “torture” had a specialized legal meaning as well as a plain-English one. While the methods set off a national debate, the Justice Department insisted that the techniques did not rise to the legal definition of “torture.” The Times described what we knew of the program but avoided a label that was still in dispute, instead using terms like harsh or brutal interrogation methods.

    We’ve known for a decade (due to the leak in 2004 of the 2002 Yoo/Bybee “Torture Memos”) that the U.S. used techniques including waterboarding against prisoners. We had reliable reports of these abuses from well before then. Even Michael Hayden admitted (in 2008) that the CIA used waterboarding against three detainees.

    So the only “murkiness” that the Times could be referring to is whether these abuses constitute torture. Despite the perversion of applicable laws and definitions in the torture memos, the Times should not have had any difficulty in finding clarity. If it had had difficulty, though, it could have turned to any number of experts on torture and the law, including human rights organizations, military judges, physicians who treat survivors of torture, and many other reputable sources.

    For that matter, when it comes to waterboarding as torture, the Times could have looked to the historical record, from the first documented use in the 14th century, where it was known (among other terms) as “water torture”; to after World War II, when the U.S. government convicted several Japanese soldiers of war crimes for the use of waterboarding on American POWs; and all the way up to the present. Or, at least, to 2002, when the U.S. government sought to redefine everything to serve its short-sighted agenda.

    Who disputed the label of torture? Proponents of torture, apologists for torture, and those seeking to avoid prosecution for those crimes. This is not a real dispute -- This is people looking for excuses to justify illegal and immoral acts.

    The Pew Research Journalism Project outlines nine core principles of journalism, among these are:
    - Journalism’s first obligation is the truth
    - Journalism must serve as an independent monitor of power

    In its refusal to call these abuses torture, in sanitizing the policy as “harsh interrogation”, the New York Times failed entirely to uphold these principles. Instead, it became a willing partner in the perpetuation of a grotesque fiction, denying the reality and the criminality of U.S. policy. The executive editor’s statement from yesterday does nothing to mitigate this failure.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 12:45pm

    Re:

    "- Journalism’s first obligation is the truth
    - Journalism must serve as an independent monitor of power"

    As it happens, the absence of both of these is why I say that journalism has mostly stopped existing in mainstream media as a whole a few decades ago.

     

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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 2:39pm

    Sleep deprivation

    The Soviets notoriously used sleep deprivation to break people down and we sure as fuck regarded it as torture then. Indeed, those agents who suffered sleep dep at the hands of the Soviet Union (reconnaissance plain pilots, mostly) are still pretty broken due to their experiences.

    Having suffered through sleep dep as punishment, myself (and my circadians are forever fucked-up as a result), I'd say yeah, it fucking is torture.

    Whenever we decide that X isn't torture, expect that some clever soul will find a way to present X so that it becomes excruciating.

     

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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Sleep deprivation

    It occurs that I was responding to a post that I thought was dismissing sleep-dep as torture, but re-reading it, I see it was saying the NYY definition of torture is not comprehensive enough as to exclude sleep dep.

    I'm sorry if my post came across as hostile. I was unduly irate.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 3:12pm

    Re: Re: Sleep deprivation

    "I was unduly irate."

    I'm not so sure it was unduly.

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 6:58pm

    Definition

    So where do things like having a Muslim guy interrogated by a woman fall? Or being seen naked by a woman? Or shaving a Muslim's beard? Or having their religion insulted? Or not telling a prisoner which way Mecca is located (or telling him the wrong direction)?

    Because all of those have been described as "torture" by various media outlets over the years, yet no actual pain is inflicted in any of those scenarios.

    Is the Times going to actually stick with its definition or is it going to wander down the ridiculous PC road other media orgs have trod, where basically anything that makes a terrorist feel bad is the equivalent of torture?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 7:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    > But imagine if they all started claiming that the states along
    > the southern border belonged to them now

    They're actually starting to do that.

    > Yeah, you'd better believe we'd be responding exactly
    > the way Israel is responding to their illegal immigration
    > problem!

    No kidding. If Mexico started launching rockets into Texas at the rate of 40,000/year, you'd better believe we'd bring the hammer of god down on them. The people would demand it. It's what we pay all those taxes to have a Defense Department for. To, you know, defend us from shit like that.

    Bottom line, don't start wars with people who can kick your ass and then whine when you get your ass kicked.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 7:42pm

    Re: Definition

    So where do things like having a Muslim guy interrogated by a woman fall?...et al.

    Your question raises two points. One of which is that there may be extremes at the other end, treatment that would qualify as inhospitality (e.g. not providing for religious needs) but not necessarily torture. Yeah, I'm not sure the act of shaving a man's beard, or otherwise violating a person's sensibilities counts as torture.

    But, and this is the other point, that is not to say we should do such things. (Granted, we may have other cause to shave a man's beard, say if body lice is a problem in a facility) To the contrary, ill treatment of a captive, whether regarded as torture or not, serves no intelligence-based purpose, and shouldn't be done on that basis, or really any basis. In fact, quite the reverse: in wars (or the cold war, which doesn't really count as a proper war) in which we treated our captives well, they were more inclined to cooperate and provide information than in those cases that we didn't.

    Generally prisoners are treated poorly either due to a scarcity of supplies (such as some theaters of WWII) or at the personal pleasure of the guards. And frankly when US guards are abusive of their prisoners, it debases the country they represent and lends validation to causes of the enemies of the United States.

    We cannot have the moral high ground when we act like dirtbags, and now that we've tortured, it's going to be decades before we can even pretend to have it again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), Aug 9th, 2014 @ 12:10am

    Re: Conspiracy to Torture

    These crimes were authorized by one or more of: George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, or John Ashcroft.

    What penalty should they receive?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2014 @ 3:44am

    Re: Re: Re: And this is (another reason) why the "war on terror" has been lost the moment it was started

    I strongly suspect that some of the idiocy of the Palestinian leadership is created by the Israelis. The British handled the Zionist Terrorists (as they were then called) the same way as they handled (and created) the IRA splinter groups in NI, and ISTR that some of Irgun's junior leaders later said they'd found out what was going on. That would explain why Hamas persist in using rocket attacks, despite their almost total ineffectiveness (virtually anything else would be more productive in terms of killing Israelis, and would make them look better), and why they always break cease-fires even in utterly useless ways (like the last one, where they ended it a couple of hours early for no benefit whatsoever).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2014 @ 3:54am

    Re: Re: Definition

    And frankly when US guards are abusive of their prisoners, it debases the country they represent and lends validation to causes of the enemies of the United States.


    Apparently, during the invasion of Iraq, there were stories of large numbers of Iraqi soldiers of all ranks deserting their posts so they could surrender to British forces rather than American.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Uriel-238 on a mobile device, Aug 9th, 2014 @ 6:39am

    Surrender to US forces

    Apparently, during the invasion of Iraq, there were stories of large numbers of Iraqi soldiers of all ranks deserting their posts so they could surrender to British forces rather than American.

    And doesn't that smack of the Germans fighting to keep the Soviets from taking Berlin in '45 so that they might surrender to the western Allies.

    During the cold war, surrendering to US forces was synonymous with getting rescued by them, a reputation we carefully cultivated. The USSR falls, then the 9/11 attacks, and how quickly our morals crumble.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Benjamin Wade, Aug 9th, 2014 @ 8:36am

    Re:

    Forget torturing the people who were ordered to do it. Torture the people who ordered them. That said, torture may be a necessary evil in some instances, and we shouldn't pretend otherwise.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
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    sorrykb (profile), Aug 9th, 2014 @ 11:48am

    Re: Re:

    You're half right. Torture is evil. But it is never acceptable. Never.

    And it's a strange thing about trying to justify an evil act for "the greater good": You tell yourself you're making an exception, "just this once", because this is a special situation, this is different, these are Bad People. And yet, you'll see, as time goes by, you'll keep finding more excuses to repeat that evil act, and more besides.

    Have we learned nothing from all this?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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