Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How to Know When Waterboarding is Not Torture

As Salon magazines Glenn Greenwald points out, there is a very simple test. If it is done by the US it is definitely not "torture" but if it is done by any other country, then it is definitely "torture". Clear?
New York Times Washington Bureau Editor Douglas Jehl on why his paper refuses to describe Bush's waterboarding program as "torture":
I have resisted using torture without qualification or to describe all the techniques. Exactly what constitutes torture continues to be a matter of debate and hasn’t been resolved by a court. This president and this attorney general say waterboarding is torture, but the previous president and attorney general said it is not. On what basis should a newspaper render its own verdict, short of charges being filed or a legal judgment rendered.
From the New York Times obituary today:
As a hero of the French Resistance, St├ęphane Hessel was in exile with Charles de Gaulle in London, imprisoned in concentration camps, waterboarded in Nazi torture sessions and saved from hanging by swapping identities with an inmate who had died of typhus. . . . Asked how he survived torture, he said, "The third time of waterboarding, I said, 'Now, I’ll tell you.' And I told them a lie of course." He added: "One survives torture. So many people unfortunately have been tortured. But it's not a thing to recommend."
So according to The New York Times, it's journalistically improper to call waterboarding "torture" -- when done by the United States, but when Nazi Germany (or, more generally, China) does exactly the same thing, then it may be called "torture" repeatedly and without qualification. An organization which behaves this way may be called many things; "journalist" isn't one of them.
No moral ambiguity here. No concern over self contradiction or making a mockery of yourself. When George Bush ran the flag of "not torture" up the pole, the New York Times stood up and saluted like any good "patriotic" newspaper.

With "journalism" like that, why bother sending reporters into the field to gather facts. The "news" can be produced like Fox "news", i.e. from the comfort of an air-conditioned office away from the messy reality of facts on the ground.

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