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None Dare Call It Torture

With the Senate Intelligence Committee’s vote to declassify part of the 6000+ word report on the Bush torture regime, the media is once again reporting on the issue — and once again almost entirely refusing to call it torture. All they want to use are euphemisms:

What’s not new is the media’s persistent dance around the word at the heart of the entire story: “torture.”

Much has been made in the past decade or so about the news business’ sudden conversion to euphemism when it came to describing techniques that had been previously universally recognized as torture. One study, for instance, found that major outlets abruptly stopped defining waterboarding as torture when the Bush administration began using it.

That tendency has not abated in recent years, and a look through recent newspaper and television coverage shows that many outlets are still hesitant to use “torture.”

McClatchy, which published the leaked findings from the Senate report, called them “harsh interrogation techniques,” even as it provided a gruesome description of what those techniques were…

An examination of monitoring service TV Eyes over the last couple of weeks shows that television news is—with some exceptions—equally reluctant to use “torture.”

In one discussion of the report, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinki referred to “interrogation tactics used by the CIA.”

“CBS This Morning” used the term “extreme interrogation techniques.”

NBC’s David Gregory asked Obama administration adviser Dan Pfeiffer about “past interrogation techniques.”

On CNN, Candy Crowley hedged her bets by saying that the CIA had used “torture depending on who’s describing it.”

One network where “torture” seems more acceptable is, surprisingly, Fox News. Viewers tuning into that channel could hear Shep Smith say that the term “enhanced interrogation techniques” “means torture in English.” They could watch anchor Shannon Bream read news copy that said that the Senate had concluded that the CIA “tortured suspects and gained little evidence.”

This is language used to obscure rather than communicate, to hide the gruesome reality of what the government did in our name while also lying about it.

Comments

  1. D. C. Sessions says

    One network where “torture” seems more acceptable is, surprisingly, Fox News.

    Not surprising. Fox News is the one network that can be confident its viewers will have a positive view of something called “torture.”

  2. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @DC Sessions:

    Yeah, I’d like to look at the transcripts. To the extent that they admit torture is a bad thing, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t immediately followed by a statement blaming obama.

  3. Alverant says

    And here I thought conservatives were against PC language. “Harsh interrogation techniques” is being PC technically right, since it uses inoffensive language. “Torture” is just so loaded. /s

    I guess it’s not torture when the US does it.

  4. Azuma Hazuki says

    And now US soldiers are proper fucked if they’re ever captured in foreign lands…because the entire world knows what the US did to their captives. Way to go, CIA assholes. Blowback might cost us our nation.

  5. matty1 says

    One network where “torture” seems more acceptable is, surprisingly, Fox News.

    That could be taken so many ways.

  6. Anthony K says

    And now US soldiers are proper fucked if they’re ever captured in foreign lands…because the entire world knows what the US did to their captives.

    I watched the Missing in Action movies in the 80s. All General Trau did was subject Chuck Norris to some stress positions. One wonders how such minor inconveniences merited driving the plot of an entire series of blockbuster films, but that’s whiny Liberal Hollywood for you.

  7. Abdul Alhazred says

    I dare call it torture, but I think there’s something hideously disingenuous about call it the “Bush torture regime”.

    It was a bi-partisan policy from day one and is still in effect.

  8. colnago80 says

    One of the main offenders is the New York Times, alleged “newspaper of record”. Some newspaper of record.

  9. Anthony K says

    Some newspaper of record.

    Newspaper of broken record, perhaps? cf. “Both Sides Do It™”

  10. says

    kantalope (#1) -

    is there any news agency talking about why they won’t call it torture?

    For them to call it torture now would be to admit complicity. They knew and kept their mouths shut in the past and don’t want the blame they deserve.

    Ralph Nader said Detroit kept trying to blame “the nut behind the wheel” instead of their cars. The media now are trying to blame those who speak out instead of blaming those who were silent.

  11. Michael Heath says

    Azuma Hazukie writes:

    And now US soldiers are proper fucked if they’re ever captured in foreign lands…because the entire world knows what the US did to their captives. Way to go, CIA assholes. Blowback might cost us our nation.

    This narrative frames the cost as a future threat. But the fact is, the U.S. military has already suffered thousands of casualties because of the Bush Administration’s use of torture.

    The biggest recruiting tool al Qaeda in Iraq leveraged was the exposure of President Bush’s use of torture. That was discovered by the U.S.’s chief interrogation officer in Iraq during the bloodiest time we were in-country. Matthew Alexander, a pseudonym, reported this in his book, How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man… .

    President George W. Bush doesn’t have blood on his hands solely for leading us into war in Iraq. He’s also got blood the blood of U.S. military personnel who served in Iraq and were victims of al Qaeda. That for making the U.S. military sought-after targets of non-Iraqi Muslims seeking revenge on the U.S. for the U.S. torturing other Muslims.

  12. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ ^ Michael Heath :

    President George W. Bush doesn’t have blood on his hands solely for leading us into war in Iraq.

    Don’t ya think maybe Saddam Hussein has to take a bit of the blame for that war too?

    Had Saddam surrendered or fled into exile as woulda y’know made sense; well, wouldn;t have been a war would it?

    He’s also got blood the blood of U.S. military personnel who served in Iraq and were victims of al Qaeda.

    So. Lemme get this right ‘k? You are saying (For real, yeah?) that :

    Murderous Al Quaidea terrorists in Iraq (&elsewhere round da world) kill US troops among other humans and the blood is on Bush’es hands NOT theirs .. because, well, why?

    Really?

    Dafuck?

    I’d say Al Quaida are responsible for the people they murder and the blood is on their hands nobody elses but hey, that’s just me. (Or instead is it, y’know, anyone with half a brain?)

    That for making the U.S. military sought-after targets of non-Iraqi Muslims seeking revenge on the U.S. for the U.S. torturing other Muslims.

    Yet Muslims torture Muslims especially other sects of Muslim all around the planet and you think they and we we should ignore this because .. why? Torture is traditional to Muslim govts just like female genital mutilation,the burka and wife* beating (sanctioned by the Quran dontchya know!) are sacred cultura;l traditions that dare not be criticised in “modern” Muslim culture world-wide.

    * Wife – or make that wives plural up to four of ‘em – may not be older than fucken eight yeras old. Hey, if ole’ Mo-the-ham-mad says its okay to rape children in his Quran then its fucken hunky dory. Because a dark Age pedophile warlord is the ideal and revered role model for today’s space age world right?

  13. Nick Gotts says

    StevoR@14,

    Don’t ya think maybe Saddam Hussein has to take a bit of the blame for that war too?

    Had Saddam surrendered or fled into exile as woulda y’know made sense; well, wouldn;t have been a war would it?

    As you make clear here, more than one person can “have blood on their hands” for (i.e. bear responsibility for) the same deaths.

    Murderous Al Quaidea terrorists in Iraq (&elsewhere round da world) kill US troops among other humans and the blood is on Bush’es hands NOT theirs .. because, well, why?

    Really?

    Dafuck?

    I’d say Al Quaida are responsible for the people they murder and the blood is on their hands nobody elses but hey, that’s just me. (Or instead is it, y’know, anyone with half a brain?)

    Anybody who wasn’t a fuckwitted bigot might have noticed that they had themselves just disproved the claim that X’s responsibility for deaths shows that Y was not responsible for them.

  14. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    D’oh!

    Coorcetions ‘mong other stuff ups there :

    (Or instead is it, y’know, also anyone with half a brain?)

    &

    Wife – or make that wives plural up to four of ‘em – may or may not be older than fucken eight yeras old.

    Plus :

    .. are sacred cultural traditions ..

    Probly other typos too. Sorry, hope y’all get the gist.

  15. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @15. Modusoperandi : Not excatly sadly.

    Its not like I’m the only one here who can’t type or that it matters tha’ much anyhow.

    @16.Nick Gotts :

    As you make clear here, more than one person can “have blood on their hands” for (i.e. bear responsibility for) the same deaths.

    Funny how it always takes *me* to point out the fact tahtSaddam bears some -indeed most -of teh culpability here though eh?

    Bush II messed up sure. He does bear some guilt for the mistakes he made. Saddam – well *he* deserves a lot more of the blame than he ever seems get round these parts.

    Why d’yu (& the others in the FTB’s pro-Islam lobby) always seem to forget about the dictator who really did cause most of this problem eh?

    Anybody who wasn’t a fuckwitted bigot might have noticed that they had themselves just disproved the claim that X’s responsibility for deaths shows that Y was not responsible for them.

    Huh? I don’t follow your logic here.

    You mean saying Saddam as well as Bush II was responsible for the second Saddam war = Al Quaida (however they bloody spell it)not solely responsible for killing the people that those Jihadist terrorists chose and set out and did murder?

    These aren’t the same cases and I don’t see how you get from da one t’de’other..

    Are you saying someone other than Al Quaida is to blame for Al Quaida murdering people -incl. mostly Muslims? For real?

  16. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    PS. Also, .Nick Gotts, if you;re going to call me a bigot – well I’m gonna call u a liar because I’m really not.

    I know who I am and how I treat and view people and ethnic groups – and you, well, don’t.

    Muslims aren’t the same as Jihadists and I always (now) make that distinction.

    Most Muslims are NOT terrorists, most terrorists (2/3rds or so) are Islamists.

  17. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    PPS. Torture is wrong and shouldnt be done. D’uh.

    Equally getting Osama bin Laden in part because of information obtained through torture (see 0-dark-30) beats NOT getting that late’n’unlamented piece of shit mass-murdering (understatement!) cruel, sadistic, brutal, ultra-mega-uber-hyper-super-lunar-astronomically-far-extreme right winger religious fanatical Jihadist ex-terrorist now double tapped bit of fish food. (Well shark feces now no doubt.)

    Torture =bad, wrong, not something anyone should do.

    Letting a Terrorist kill more people = far worse.

    Again, d’uh!

    (No NOT saying torture is okay or defending it at all – refer to this comment’s first sentence down, reread until you actually comprehend this fucken basic point. World ain’t black and white and evils aren’t equally evil but still evil y’know. But lesser ‘n’greater still mean just that. Fucks sake.)

  18. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    One last thought (because yeah I type instrema of semiconsciousness :

    @15.Modusoperandi : Of all the things I observed and stated in my commet # 14 theonly eror youfind is inmy typng -admittedly doen when tired and drunk.

    Thankyou I’m flattered you agree on everything else I noted there.

  19. Nick Gotts says

    Why d’yu (& the others in the FTB’s pro-Islam lobby) always seem to forget about the dictator who really did cause most of this problem eh?

    You’re a lying scumbag. If you dispute this, produce the evidence that I am part of a “pro-Islam lobby” (and no, showing that I called you out on your advocacy of genocide won’t do) or that I “forget about” Saddam Hussein.

    Huh? I don’t follow your logic here.

    Of course you don’t, because you’re a fuckwitted bigot.

    You mean saying Saddam as well as Bush II was responsible for the second Saddam war = Al Quaida (however they bloody spell it)not solely responsible for killing the people that those Jihadist terrorists chose and set out and did murder?

    The depth of your stupidity never ceases to amaze. Those who enabled Al Qaeda, such as Bush, share that responsibility. Before the invasion of Iraq, Al Qaeda had no foothold in that country; the invasion allowed them to establish themselves there – as well as aiding their recruitment worldwide – and they have maintained their presence ever since.

    PPS. Torture is wrong and shouldnt be done. D’uh.

    Equally getting Osama bin Laden in part because of information obtained through torture (see 0-dark-30) beats NOT getting that late’n’unlamented piece of shit mass-murdering (understatement!) cruel, sadistic, brutal, ultra-mega-uber-hyper-super-lunar-astronomically-far-extreme right winger religious fanatical Jihadist ex-terrorist now double tapped bit of fish food. (Well shark feces now no doubt.)

    Torture =bad, wrong, not something anyone should do.

    Brilliant! Now you immediately follow a statement disapproving of torture with approval of torture because it (allegedly) gets results, then with a statement that it’s “not something anyone should do”, and so blatantly contradict yourself twice within a few lines! What’s more, you’re too fucking stupid to know that Zero Dark Thirty was fiction. There’s no clear evidence torture played any significant part in locating Osama bin Laden – not that this would justify its use if it had.

    No NOT saying torture is okay or defending it at all

    Yes, you are. That’s exactly what you’re doing. But as a fuckwitted bigot, you’re too fuckwitted and bigoted to notice.

    I know who I am and how I treat and view people and ethnic groups – and you, well, don’t. – StevoR

    I know the bigoted crap you’ve come out with year after year, and I know you lack self-insight. Your assurances bear no weight whatever.

  20. says

    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! “Thankyou I’m flattered you agree on everything else I noted there.”
    More realistically, I’ve changed jobs; to one where I have maybe five minutes to research, formulate, type, check, and rewrite comments. Worse, when I have the time, I’m not where I have access to the reams of links I’ve collected over the years, making refuting “Equally getting Osama bin Laden in part because of information obtained through torture (see 0-dark-30)” time consuming*. Frankly, I’d rather be fishing. And I don’t even like fishing.

     
    * Although “Murderous Al Quaidea terrorists in Iraq (&elsewhere round da world) kill US troops among other humans and the blood is on Bush’es hands NOT theirs .. because, well, why?” might be the most daft thing I’ve read all day. Beyond waging preemptive war on a lie, beyond planning the post-war on both ignorance and a terribly faulty model of reality, we created the conditions that gave Al Qaeda a vacuum to fill (purging the bureaucracy, firing the army, general incompetence and apathy, etc), ignored the growing insurgency for a year and a half, taking another year to plan the counterinsurgency, and then on top of that helped them recruit with a reprehensible system of law and treaty-breaking extreme rendition, secret prisons, secret “trials”, and torture. Yes, Al Qaeda has blood on their hands, but they were growing in the soil we cleared for them.

  21. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @ ^ Modusoperandi : So you’re so terribly busy. I’ve got a life too mate. My point still stands. If the only thing you can find to criticise at first glance (or even later) is my spelling when I know damn well I suck at typing, well, as I said, I’m flattered.

    Beyond waging preemptive war on a lie, ..

    That’s a convenient lie in itself a very grave oversimplification and ignoring a whole lot of other key factors. Saddam Hussein was a nasty and threatening dictator, there was a plan to remove him and help improve the region for all its people. It didn’t work as planned but that doesn’t make it a lie.

    beyond planning the post-war on both ignorance and a terribly faulty model of reality, we created the conditions ..

    Some of the US policies were contributing factors to what happened after Saddam was toppled. Others were pre-existing and others were the fault of the Jihadists. Your approach and understanding here is flawed – too simplistic and West -Bashing.

    secret “trials”

    Nonsense. Daid Hicks trial for one was front page news here in Australia at the time – and he was very well represented and supported.

    Yes, Al Qaeda has blood on their hands, but they were growing in the soil we cleared for them.

    Which excuses them how? I don’t think it does. Yes, the West got some things wrong – that doesn’t justify Al Quaida or any of the other Jihadists groups acts of terrorism one little bit. They bear the blame and responsibility for *their* actions.

  22. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @22. Nick Gotts :

    .. produce the evidence that I am part of a “pro-Islam lobby” (and no, showing that I called you out on your advocacy of genocide won’t do) or that I “forget about” Saddam Hussein.

    I’ve read your comments regularly Nick Gotts and I can’t recall you once criticising or even mentioning Saddam Hussein. Plus you have always taken the Arab side against Israel every thread I’ve seen you comment on. Prove me wrong if you can. You know what you’ve posted better than anyone else. Link us with a comment where you’ve unequivocally supported Israel’s right to defend itself from terrorism,homicide-suicide bombers and rocket fire and pointed out that Saddam is culpable for the two wars he caused by invading Kuwait and then in the destruction of his own country when he could’ve fled into exile instead. You can’t. You lie, I don’t.

    “Huh? I don’t follow your logic here.”- StevoR
    Of course you don’t, because you’re a fuckwitted bigot.

    Bzzt. No, rather because the logic isn’t there and name-calling and personal abuse won’t put it there.

    Those who enabled Al Qaeda, such as Bush, share that responsibility…

    A ridiculous lie there doesn’t help you either,. Bush fought Al Quaida – he didn’t “enable” them..

    Now you immediately follow a statement disapproving of torture with approval of torture because it (allegedly) gets results, then with a statement that it’s “not something anyone should do”, and so blatantly contradict yourself twice within a few lines!

    Fucks sake do you ever FAIL at reading comprehension Nick!

    English
    Motherfucker.
    Do.
    You.
    Speak.
    It?

    Words have meanings. I say torture is wrong. I mean torture is wrong.

    Saying it is a lesser evil and there are worse ones also means just fucking *that*. It doesn’t mean I then approve of torture. I don’t. Nor am I contradicting myself. Saying for instance that the A-bomb works pointing out a case where it has been effective at eliminating its target (eg Hiroshima) does NOT mean I support its use. Its just pointing out facts and you can add that the alternative was worse and that still doesn’t change.

    What’s more, you’re too fucking stupid to know that Zero Dark Thirty was fiction. There’s no clear evidence torture played any significant part in locating Osama bin Laden

    Oh I know it was fiction, asshole.

    Fiction based on a true story with some true details given by the expert advisors who, unlike you werre actually there, actually fought and risked their lives for their country and did something that saved lives from future attacks – incl. perhaps your own. You owe these people your thanks and support and maybe life. Try not to forget it.

    “No NOT saying torture is okay or defending it at all.” – StevoR

    Yes, you are. That’s exactly what you’re doing.

    Fucks’ sake . Reading FAIL on your part as per usual, Nick Gotts-Noclue.

    What part of I’m NOT defending torture or I think torture is wrong do you fail to understand exactly?

    “I know who I am and how I treat and view people and ethnic groups – and you, well, don’t.” – StevoR

    I know the bigoted crap you’ve come out with year after year, and I know you lack self-insight. Your assurances bear no weight whatever.

    You are entitled to your erroneous opinion but it is exactly that. Your pinion and completely erroneous.

    You think I talk crap? Fuck, you should read *yourself* sometime! If you ever develop the requisite basic english comprehension skills.

    Oh and learn about a trillion things and think a lot more to o.

  23. Nick Gotts says

    StevoR,

    I’ve read your comments regularly Nick Gotts and I can’t recall you once criticising or even mentioning Saddam Hussein.

    Saddam Hussein has been dead for a number of years – WTF should I have mentioned him at all recently? That does not show that I forget him – which was your claim. He was a murderous scumbag, as I undoubtedly said many times when he was actually in the news, but that was before I ever commented here.

    Plus you have always taken the Arab side against Israel every thread I’ve seen you comment on.

    Note the casually stupid equivalence made by StevoR between “Islam” and “Arab” (StevoR, many Arab are not Muslims, most Muslims are not Arabs), plus the equally stupid assumption that there is a single “Arab side”. Your problem, StevoR, is that you are unable to stop thinking in grossly simplistic terms and shoving people into “good” and “bad” boxes according to the labels you’ve tied to them.

    Link us with a comment where you’ve unequivocally supported Israel’s right to defend itself from terrorism,homicide-suicide bombers and rocket fire

    What you mean, of course, is a comment similar to yours or colnago80′s, in which any and every action of the Israeli government and military is taken to be legitimate because Israelis have been the target of terrorism. I can’t oblige, because I’m not a fuckwitted bigot like you.

    I say torture is wrong. I mean torture is wrong.

    Except when you think it’s right:

    getting Osama bin Laden in part because of information obtained through torture (see 0-dark-30) beats NOT getting that late’n’unlamented piece of shit mass-murdering (understatement!) cruel, sadistic, brutal, ultra-mega-uber-hyper-super-lunar-astronomically-far-extreme right winger religious fanatical Jihadist ex-terrorist now double tapped bit of fish food.

    So, assuming for the moment that torture actually played a part, you evidently think it was justified. That’s what you are saying in the quote.

    Now we come to the really hilarious bit:

    Fiction based on a true story with some true details given by the expert advisors who, unlike you werre actually there, actually fought and risked their lives for their country and did something that saved lives from future attacks – incl. perhaps your own. You owe these people your thanks and support and maybe life. Try not to forget it.

    Bwa-ha ha-ha-ha!!! How the fuck do you think you know the “expert advisors” gave “true details”? They couldn’t have wanted to retrospectively justify torturing people, perhaps? There couldn’t have been a propaganda purpose in their involvement in the film? Stone me, you come across as so stupid it’s almost impossible to believe you’re not just a piece of performance art.

    You owe these people your thanks and support and maybe life.

    So according to you, I owe these torturers my thanks and support for torturing people – after all, according to you, that’s how they obtained the information for which I should be thanking and supporting them. How the fuck can you go on claiming that you think torture is wrong?

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