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Hullabaloo


Monday, April 14, 2014

 
It's torture. If they still won't call it what it is, you know it will happen again.

by digby

There is just no excuse for this:
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:
The techniques included waterboarding, which produces a sensation of drowning, stress positions, sleep deprivation for up to 11 days at a time, confinement in a cramped box, slaps and slamming detainees into walls. The CIA held detainees in secret “black site” prisons overseas and abducted others who it turned over to foreign governments for interrogation.
The Washington Post referred to "brutal," "harsh" and "excruciating" techniques.

A New York Times article mentioned "brutal methods."

Reuters wrote about "brutal interrogation methods that critics say amount to torture."

The Associated Press actually described the report in one article as a "torture report," though it later used the term "enhanced interrogation techniques" in quotes.

Read on. Television is just as bad.

This is unacceptable. And at this point the news media has to take some responsibility for perpetrating the myth that "the US doesn't torture." If you won't put the word in black and white, you aren't being truthful with the American public. Indeed, they are making it safe for the government to do it again.

They are now officially propagandists for the torture regime.

Does everyone recall what the US media used to call what the North Vietnamese did to prisoners? Torture:

"Stress positions"  



Many men were handcuffed or tied to a stool as a means of slow torture. The [detainee] sat in one position, day and night. Each time he would fall over, the guards would sit him upright. He was not allowed to sleep or rest. Exhaustion and pain take their toll. When the [detainee] agreed to cooperate with his captors and acquiesced to their demands, he would be removed. Here, I have pictured a guard named "Mouse," who liked to throw buckets of cold water on a man on cold winter nights. 

You're always sitting either on the floor or on a stool or concrete block or something low. The interrogator is always behind a table that's covered with cloth of some kind, white or blue or something. And he sits above you and he's always looking down at you asking you questions and they want to know what the targets are for tomorrow, next week, next month. You don't know. You really don't know. But he doesn't -- he's going to have to have an answer of some kind. Now the back of the room comes the -- the torture. And he's a -- he's a big guy that knows what he's doing. And he starts locking your elbows up with ropes and tying your wrists together and bending you
"Sleep Deprivation"  



Some men were tied to their beds, sometimes for weeks at a time. Here, I have drawn a picture showing the handcuffs being worn in front, but the usual position was with the wrists handcuffed behind the back. A man would live this way day and night, without sleep or rest. 

The guards come around the middle of the night just rattling the lock on your door. That's a terrifying thing because they may be taking you out for a torture session. You don't know. 

"... obviously this is an emotional thing to me, was listening to the screams of other ... prisoners while they were being tortured. And being locked in a cell myself sometimes uh, in handcuffs or tied up and not able to do anything about it. And that's the way I've got to spend the night."

"Isolation"  

The ten months that I spent in the blacked out cell I went into panic. The only thing I could do was exercise. As long as I could move, I felt like I was going to -- well, it was so bad I would put a rag in my mouth and hold another one over it so I could scream. That seemed to help. It's not that I was scared, more scared than another other time or anything. It was happening to my nerves and my mind. And uh, I had to move or die. I'd wake up at two o'clock in the morning or midnight or three or whatever and I would jump up immediately and start running in place. Side straddle hops. Maybe four hours of sit ups. But I had to exercise. And of course I prayed a lot

I won't go into how much those "harsh techniques" resembled the torture methods used by our own government. It's obvious. And it's just a small sample.

That little excerpt above was from a post I wrote 10 years ago. And they don't even include "waterboarding" which Vice President Cheney called a "no brainer" and said he'd do again without a second thought.

I don't know what these news organizations fear from calling torture what it is. But I can guarantee it's not as bad as what was done to those prisoners or to the reputation of the United States of America. If we can't even call the torture by its real name it's hard to see why the government won't see this as just another semantic debate and do the same thing if they feel it's "necessary." I guess much of the news business feels it's immune from that sort of thing but the rest of us should worry. If the US government has officially defined deviancy down to the point where torture is no longer torture, you have to wonder where it might end? After all, the world is full of danger. Who knows who they might think they need to "interrogate" with "enhanced methods" next time?

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