Thursday, December 4, 2008

Watering Down Torture

Andrew Sullivan is angry at the New York Times, as everyone should be:

In fact, the only time the word "torture" is used in the NYT piece is to describe techniques practised by other countries. This is an important point because it shows how the NYT is now actively deceiving its readers about this matter. Here is the NYT's locution on waterboarding, a torture technique used for centuries:
the near-drowning tactic considered by many legal authorities to be torture.
The net effect of this foul, craven dithering is to allow the most depraved actors of the Bush-Cheney junta to establish the moral status of torture. This is unacceptable.

Sullivan also references a court ruling from Mississippi in 1926 that was able to declare, without stuttering or equivocating, that waterboarding is torture. The NYT's "some say X, some say Y" equivocation thus places us somewhere below Mississippi's 1920's Jim Crow legal establishment. Nor is it clear how far below -- we have no notion of where the bottom is. What will the NYT (et. al.) refuse to portray in this "some say X, some say Y" fashion when it comes to torture?

And it only gets uglier when you read Glennzilla's latest on the chickenshit maneuverings of Democrats, including my own Senator Wyden as well as frequenter-to-Greenwald's-wrath, Senator Feinstein of California. Key passage:
What is needed in order to put an end to the Bush torture regime are absolute, unequivocal, and transparent legal prohibitions governing interrogations, ones that are devoid of ambiguity, flexibility and secrecy. Feinstein and Wyden certainly purported to recognize exactly that all year long when, as they well knew, they weren't in a position to do anything about it. Now that they are, they ought to follow through on what they repeatedly said they intended to do.
The Democrats have to find the courage and wisdom to say no to torture. Their fitness to govern depends on it.

(via Rust Belt Philosophy)

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