All the Torture’s that Fit to Call Torture Now Includes US Torture

On Monday in Salon, I said (in part),

[T]he recent history of America’s torture also damns the conventions of journalism that strive so hard for some kind of fake balance that still prefers a term that obscures the truth over one that accurately describes it.

Don’t get me wrong: We owe our knowledge of torture to some of the best journalists in the business, people like Jane Mayer and Dana Priest and Adam Goldman.

But as soon as coverage moved beyond that superb investigative work to coverage of the politics of torture — to the journalists who should hold those who implemented torture accountable — we remain mired in obscurantist language.

Which brings us to the torture report result the press might take most seriously.

According to McClatchy, in addition to misleading Congress, DOJ and the White House, the torture report concludes that the CIA also fed misleading information to the press: “[T]he news media were manipulated with leaks that tended to blunt criticism of the agency.”

Part of this manipulation (one the White House participated in) involved convincing the press to call torture something else, something it’s not. Enhanced interrogation. Harsh treatment.

Anything but torture.

For 10 years, journalists have willingly perpetuated this linguistic absurdity, even as more evidence came out proving the CIA used torture and not some fluffed up interrogation process, even as more and more neutral arbiters judged our torture torture.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has spent five years trying to understand and come to grips with the torture done in our name. Isn’t it time for journalists to do the same?

While I don’t flatter myself that my column was needed at this point — or even would have been influential –the NYT did just announce that it would henceforth call torture, including US torture, torture.

Over the past few months, reporters and editors of The Times have debated a subject that has come up regularly ever since the world learned of the C.I.A.’s brutal questioning of terrorism suspects: whether to call the practices torture.

[snip]

Given [changes that have taken place in recent years, including with the legal status of torture], reporters urged that The Times recalibrate its language. I agreed. So from 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.

I may have more to say about the substance of the statement down the road. But for now two things are important: The most prestigious newspaper in the country has formally given up Bush’s euphemism. And this change came from the reporters.

May other outlets follow the Gray Lady’s lead.

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+2Email to someone

23 Responses to All the Torture’s that Fit to Call Torture Now Includes US Torture

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @gideonstrumpet Should have known. I was out goofing off at Super Bowl junk most of the second half of yesterday and missed this stuff.
1mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @jackgillum @gideonstrumpet I think a plaintiff can overcome QI on these facts.
2mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Marissa Alexander, Jeff Toobin and Blackledge https://t.co/UqcjzaBiqK A look at the contemptible actions of DA Angela Corey
4mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @michaelbkiefer: Judge just sent the #jodiarias jury home until Monday. A witness cannot get a flight here to Phoenix because of Super B…
14mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ScottGreenfield I missed this yesterday, but outrageous is kind of an understatement. Just wow.
15mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Public defender arrested for objecting to cops questioning her client outside a courtroom http://t.co/Lj79bJz4T4 cc: @GideonsTrumpet
18mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @ryanjreilly: Every #DOJ IG ever wants to change approach to prosecutorial misconduct http://t.co/do90BJEZlH but no signs of a shakeup f…
25mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @Will_Bunch At least the cops didn't shoot them. Baby steps.
28mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ZoeTillman Hey, I sat an active federal judge on a criminal jury once. But I would bounce a federal prosecutor.
33mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @HanniFakhoury Holy fucking shit. How have I not heard of that whackadoodle case before???
34mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Truly amazing story of police/prosecutorial duplicity+Brady violations regarding jailhouse snitches in Orange County http://t.co/LWJ5en2a5j
38mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @JasonLeopold @emptywheel You should have a dog named "Glomar". Perhaps a retriever.
45mreplyretweetfavorite
August 2014
S M T W T F S
« Jul   Sep »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31