Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Don't Dare to Call it Torture

Very little of what the Associated Press sends from Washington these days is journalism in the sense the term once conveyed.
Yet the wire service is the sole source of national news for hundreds of local papers throughout the United States -- just one more factor in the American public's vast wasteland of ignorance.
Occasionally, the AP's reportage descends to the level of unintended irony, as in the following example (emphasis, of course, is mine):

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration launched a criminal investigation Monday into HARSH QUESTIONING of detainees during President George W. Bush's war on terrorism, revealing CIA interrogators' threats to KILL ONE SUSPECT'S CHILDREN and to FORCE ANOTHER TO WATCH HIS MOTHER BEING SEXUALLY ASSAULTED.

One presumes that after this bit of "harshness" they all went out for ice cream.
For reasons known only to its reporters and editors, the AP chose to focus on what some might consider the most "lenient" of the "harsh" interrogation tactics. After all, nobody was actually shot, raped or assaulted with a power drill.
Aside from the fact that the threats themselves are barbaric acts and violations of the Geneva Convention to which the U.S. is a signatory, it would be well to consider some of the other interrogation tactics divulged in official reports:
--Applying pressure to the detainee's carotid artery to the point of losing consciousness , then shaking him awake to repeat the process.
--Twice striking a detainee with a rifle butt, then knee kicking him three times.
--Forcing smoke into a detainee's lungs until he vomited.
--Using a waterboarding technique more severe than the one for which Japanese soldiers were prosecuted after World War II , under the Geneva Convention.
--Hanging detainees by their arms until interrogators believed their shoulders had been dislocated.
--Dousing detainees with water, then shackling them to a cold concrete floor in cold temperatures to induce hypothermia.
The IG report concluded that "unauthorized, improvised and inhumane detention and interrogation techniques were used." It said many of the detainees were subjected to this treatment because of "assessments that were unsupported by credible intelligence."
As kids used to be taught in Reporting 101, "if you can't characterize it accurately, don't characterize it at all. Let the facts speak for themselves."

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