Reuters Downplays CIA Torture As Merely 'Physically Stressful Interrogation Techniques'

from the torturing-the-english-language dept

We recently wrote about the ongoing delays in releasing a (heavily redacted) executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the CIA's torture regime following 9/11. That was linked to a Reuters story about how the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee still can't agree on what to redact. However, I'd totally missed a line at the end of that Reuters piece that Kevin Gosztola calls to our attention. It's where Reuters reporter Patricia Zengerle decides to not call torture "torture," but rather "physically stressful interrogation."
Human rights activists and many politicians have labeled as "torture" some of the physically stressful interrogation techniques, such as water boarding - or simulated drowning - that were authorized under former President George W. Bush.
This is a cheap cop out by Reuters and Zengerle. Waterboarding is torture. A month ago, the NY Times finally got around to admitting that waterboarding and the other interrogation techniques used by the CIA were torture and that it would call it that in the future. Reuters should get with the program (also known as the English language). It's the "view from nowhere" to pull the "well, some human rights activists call it torture." It is torture. It is not just a few human rights activists saying this. It is widely accepted as torture. The UN has said it is torture, and Reuters reporters should know that because that article is from Reuters.

Not only that, but it's pretty clearly torture under US law which defines it as:
“torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
The act further says that "severe mental pain or suffering" includes "the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering" and "the threat of imminent death." Waterboarding fits both those classifications. It makes the brain think that you're drowning. It is severe pain and suffering and makes those experiencing it think they are about to die.

If you don't like the US law, how about the Geneva Convention, which says that parties are "prohibited from taking any measure of such a character as to cause the physical suffering or extermination of protected persons in their hands" and further defines "torture or inhuman treatment" as including "willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health."

And if that's not enough, we have the UN Convention Against Torture, which the US has both signed and ratified, which clearly notes:
For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.
There is no legitimate argument that the activities carried out by the CIA go beyond "physically stressful interrogation techniques." The CIA engaged in torture. And Reuters can (and should) call it that.

Filed Under: cia, interrogation, journalism, patricia zengerle, physically stressful, torture, waterboarding
Companies: reuters


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 8:00am

    Physically Stressful makes it sound like they exercised too hard.

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

  • icon
    Michael Donnelly (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 8:03am

    We tortured some folks.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 8:06am

    perhaps those from Reuters who think/believe this would like to have the 'techniques' done to them? maybe they would go from reutered to neutered?

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

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 2:22pm

      Are you sure you want to ride this train?

      During the Bush admin there were some torture naysayers who agreed to give it a try, and one correspondent did believe it was torture, but got our SERE trainers to waterboard him so he could see what our victims went through.

      To the last they decided it was torture. Maybe they were all wussies, though. Maybe John Rambo and John Matrix and John Conner would be able to take it like manly mega-macho men.

      I thought that was how correspondents earned the privilege of claiming that a little "torture" was no big thing, was by taking that proverbial train to the end of the line.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 8:06am

    When you have to legally argue the definition of torture...you're torturing.

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

  • identicon
    Michael, 11 Sep 2014 @ 8:10am

    have labeled as "torture" some of the physically stressful interrogation techniques, such as water boarding - or simulated drowning

    Perhaps they mean that these torture techniques are physically stressful for those doing the torturing. Holding someone down and pouring heavy buckets of water over their nose and mouth is physically taxing on the torturers and I think Reuters was just making sure we knew how much work the acts of torturing people to get little or no usable information really is on our agents.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 9:05am

      Re:

      Not to mention all that whiny screaming the torturers have to listen to. I mean these guys are American heroes, the best of the best, and they have to listen to that shit?

      You know how we know how good, how righteous our 'boys in black' are? Not a single one has come out with an "American Torturer" book. They could be making big bucks with a tell-all but they have too much integrity to sell out.

      ...either that or they're scared shitless about selling their souls, AND THAT JUST CAN'T BE.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 8:16am

    yes, and the football player didn't hit the lady with a hammer.  he hit her with a high-impact fastening device.

    the other football player didn't push that girl down the stairs.  he pushed her down one step and she fell the rest of the way.  that's on her.

    so how much penalty for pushing someone down one step?

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

  • icon
    dfed (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 8:19am

    I guess we can now downplay Reuters hyperbolic and shitty stories as news.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 8:19am

    When even the president openly admits that it was torture, I'm pretty sure Reuters looks completely asinine by trying to dance around it with weaselly syntax.

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

  • icon
    Jeff Green (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 8:34am

    It's torture if THEY do it, it's stressful when WE do
    Integrity? Eschew it, we'll tell you what is true.
    Report on all the issues, but always toe OUR line
    The facts are merely tissues, the truth is, OUR side's fine.
    You're rights protect the guilty so should be put aside
    Though the water's thick and silty, sit back enjoy the ride.
    We know who you should trust in, WE know who does no good
    Leave liberty a rustin', do what we say you should!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 9:00am

    The US military as well as the CIA have a problem with calling it torture. So much so that the admitted evidence provided by such means can't be introduced into the trial as under torture. The defense can't even mention that word in court.

    What that tells you is they know they broke the Geneva Convention. Admitting it would put on the world stage that those responsible should be up before the World Court on charges of Crimes Against Humanity, no different than those that did similar under Nazi Germany.

    Do as I say, not as I do under the most extreme circumstances.

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

  • icon
    gorehound (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 9:01am

    I get very angry when I read News where assholes lie and will not admit that they are using torture.They will whine on how waterboarding is not torture, etc.
    I would love to see those kind of asshole people tied up and waterboarded themselves.

    NOTE:
    My Dad is a Holocaust Survivor who was tortured by the Hungarian Nyilas and the Gestapo.
    Here is the story on Carpathian Jewry.
    http://www.bigmeathammer.com/aushwitz.htm

    FUCK all Politicians, etc who deny TORTURE.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 9:12am

    Rapist

    What would they say if a rapist said"

    I was Merely performing a 'Physically Stressful Interrogation Technique' to evaluate how good they are in the sack!

    Seriously fuck those guys!

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

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 9:50am

    Apologists

    Throughout history, one of the biggest difficulties in eliminating inhumanity has been the apologists: Those people/organizations who say, "I'm sure they meant well when they tortured/oppressed/'genocided'."

    It's sad to see the fourth estate continue to apologize when even the inhumane say they have done wrong.

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

  • icon
    scotts13 (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 10:15am

    So...

    If a foreign national waterboards an American citizen, it's OK with the US government. Not torture, you see. Good to know.

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

  • identicon
    VRichthofen, 11 Sep 2014 @ 11:23am

    Reuters reporting code prevents journalists from using emotionally charged words. For instance, they refrain from using the word "terrorist" unless they are quoting someone.

    That definition is not that bad, though it should also be prefixed with "mentally".

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

    • identicon
      Michael, 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:10pm

      Re:

      Reuters reporting code prevents journalists from using emotionally charged words.

      Before I read that, I really thought I could not have any less respect for Reuters, but if that is actually true, I was wrong.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 11 Sep 2014 @ 12:46pm

      Re:

      Torture is not an 'emotionally charged' word, it's a factual word. The CIA tortured prisoners, this is a fact, avoiding calling it torture because of any 'emotional attachments' that might come with the word is simply a refusal to report on the facts, making their 'reporting' useless.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Sep 2014 @ 1:14pm

    I used to think Reuters reporting was unbiased. Then I read some of their stories on the Ukraine civil war and the Gaza war. I now realize I was wrong and Reuters is very biased.

    It's hard to find good new sites to read unbiased world news. Either they're spewing propaganda from the west, or propaganda from the east.

    So I read western news sites, and eastern news sites to kind of even things out.

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

  • icon
    LewisV (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 1:53am

    "Reuters Downplays CIA Torture As Merely 'Physically Stressful Interrogation Techniques'"

    ANY form of physical or mental distress applied to a suspect or individual(s) for the purpose of coercion is considered torture. No IFs, ANDs, or BUTs about it. The US government is guilty of lying to its citizens and to the world, that it does not torture people. When in fact, they do.

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

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 12 Sep 2014 @ 2:00pm

    Natural Selection in Action part 2

    Ah, Reuters.

    Another member of the Truth-Free Press adds its paid-for 2 cents to the public forum. How appropriate. Must be the season for the dinosaurs to make their march to the dinosaur graveyard.

    Well, we can hope.

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

    • identicon
      VRichthofen, 12 Sep 2014 @ 2:59pm

      Re: Natural Selection in Action part 2

      Get paid a lot better than that doing my non-political job. Was just pointing out what I've learned in the last few years. Reuters got quite a lot of flak for the refusal to use the word "terrorist".

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

      • icon
        GEMont (profile), 15 Sep 2014 @ 3:40am

        Re: Re: Natural Selection in Action part 2

        "Reuters got quite a lot of flak for the refusal to use the word "terrorist"."

        Well yeah, and that was to be expected.

        After all, "TERRORIST" is the finely tuned "meme" of the US Federal Government and it's to be used as often as possible and in as many situations as possible by all privately owned media outlets, in order for it to have the desired effect of making Americans hide under the bed and demand the Government protect them from the boogie man by stripping the US public of its constitutional and civil rights!

        This situation is, however, quite the opposite methinks, as the US Federal Government in this case, wants nobody to ever use the word Torture in connection with the US Federal Government or its agencies...

        Not even if you say the US Tortures Terrorists! :)

        ---

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


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