It’s Hard to Print a Simple Fact

It takes some guts to print the Gitmo leaks, but it that’s just one measure of a media outlet. Let’s see who can call torture by its real name, and who pussyfoots around.

Here’s the clearest possible statement of what happened, as printed in The Guardian:

US authorities relied heavily on information obtained from a small number of detainees under torture. They continued to maintain this testimony was reliable even after admitting that the prisoners who provided it had been mistreated.

The underappreciated but always high-quality McClatchy does pretty well:

Marked “SECRET // NOFORN,” the documents consist of more than 750 intelligence summaries […] They make little mention of the abuse and torture scandals that surrounded intelligence gathering — both at secret CIA detention centers abroad and at the Guantanamo camps.

A decade of euphemism continues, and it’s enhanced by a wimpy “opinions differ”/”controversy exists” takeback in the Times:

The documents are largely silent about the use of the harsh interrogation tactics at Guantánamo — including sleep deprivation, shackling in stress positions and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures — that drew global condemnation. Several prisoners, though, are portrayed as making up false stories about being subjected to abuse.

At least NPR names waterboarding (which is universally recognized as torture) before assuming the fetal crouch:

Al-Nashiri is one of three prisoners who were held overseas and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques including waterboarding.

It starts with a “T” and ends with an “E”, and apparently it’s a dirty word, because neither the nation’s “paper of record” nor the supposedly most-liberal media outlet can bring themselves to put it in print.

38 replies
  1. 1
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    Professor Dumbledore, colleague to collegue, what is your opinion about the timing of the release of this material?
    ummm….why now?
    I presume that WL and the Guardian and other media outlets have had this material for a while.
    I think it is WL policy to have the media release of a particular segment strategically timed, and co-ordinated between multiple outlets to reduce the bias of the NYT.
    ;)

  2. 2
    gypsy howell says:

    Our media begins with the conclusion that “we don’t torture” and their reporting works backward from there.

    Lysenkoism as applied to journalism.

  3. 3

    @gypsy howell: It starts with a “P” and ends with an “A” and has a “ROPAGAND” in the middle.

  4. 4
    WyldPirate says:

    I blame Glen Greenwald…

  5. 5
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    You don’t use torture to get information.

    You use torture to get propaganda talking points.

    John McCain experienced this first hand, yet he did not absorb the lesson. Which indicates what a shithead he is.

  6. 6
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I think it was also done to show how “tough” and willing to “take the gloves off” they were. I suppose that is another set of propaganda talking points, so I am not disagreeing with you.

  7. 7
    gypsy howell says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Sort of like our ‘newspaper of record” only with “RAVD” in the middle.

  8. 8
    jrg says:

    If Jesus were alive today and was in Gitmo, a lot of the same people who spent the past weekend crowing on about how he died for our sins would be encouraging the government to subject him to torture.

    I really think those morons believe that the cross is just a pretty symbol. They don’t have the cognitive horsepower it takes to connect it to modern-day torture.

  9. 9
    stuckinred says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: There was no such thing as a “talking point” when President McCain has up in the Hilton.

  10. 10
    dj spellchecka says:

    the way the nyt muddies the waters is especially shameful

  11. 11
    Joe Beese says:

    Morning Edition also managed to report on the Wikileaks dump for several minutes at the top of the hour without mentioning that 1/5 of the inmates were completely innocent – even after the appointed analyst was asked “Did anything else catch your attention?”

    The kind of thing I remember during pledge week when they bleat about their “quality news coverage”.

  12. 12
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @stuckinred: I was referring only to the Bush Administration’s choice to use torture. They wanted to posture and pose, so they tortured people to 1) get them to say what they wanted to hear and 2) look like they were the heroes in an action movie who were willing to “do whatever it takes” to protect America.

  13. 13
    Gregory says:

    @Joe Beese:

    Morning Edition also managed to report on the Wikileaks dump for several minutes at the top of the hour without mentioning that 1/5 of the inmates were completely innocent

    Or that many were tortured — yeah, that caught my attention, too.

    In fact, the slant on the story seemed to be “Obama released dangerous terrorists from Gitmo despite promising not to!” I wonder whose agenda “even-the-liberal-NPR” serves with that spin? (No, I don’t, really.)

  14. 14
    Bulworth says:

    The documents are largely silent about the use of the harsh interrogation tactics at Guantánamo — including sleep deprivation, shackling in stress positions and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures — that drew global condemnation. Several prisoners, though, are portrayed as making up false stories about being subjected to abuse.

    So, it wasn’t “the word that dare not speak its name” and the terrorists prisoners are lying about all that anyway.

  15. 15
    stuckinred says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: And I was kidding.

  16. 16
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bulworth: I really like the “are portrayed as” phrase.

  17. 17
    Dennis SGMM says:

    There are 480 ex-inmates in Afghanistan who will not be tortured:

    Taliban tunnels more than 480 out of Afghan prison

    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Taliban militants tunneled more than 480 inmates out the main prison in southern Afghanistan overnight, whisking them through a 1,000-foot-long underground passage they had dug over months, officials and insurgents said Monday.

  18. 18
    Cermet says:

    @jrg: Have any of these so-call christians (very little ‘c’) ever read the new testament and tried to live by just a few of the points Christ demanded? Like love your enemy like your brother? Turn the other cheek? Give to the poor and NO he did not mean give only a tiny bit of your income like all christians generally do and Christ, unlike any amerikan christians lived the life of the poor; not owning two SUV’s in a three car garage with a five thousand square feet of housing space … the list goes on. Yes, we torture and tend to follow classical Roman ways (Nothing like watching Game of Thrones to match old time blood sport) more than what Christ said to live.

  19. 19
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @stuckinred: Whew… I thought so, but I wanted to make sure.

  20. 20
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    And behold, dear Professor Dumbledore, your ‘brother’ blog the LoOG has another JAFI post up by Tim Kowal.

    But the response fails to address the broader concern about Sharia, which really involves two questions: What is it? And do American Muslims want it imposed in this country? These are both complex questions, so I don’t fault Imam Al-Qazqini for not engaging them in depth. But there does seem to be a generally sense of avoidance of these questions by the moderate Muslim community.

    ooooo! skeery creeping shariah!
    Mainstreaming Islamophobia…its ALWAYS whats for dinner at the League of Ordinary Gentlemen

  21. 21
    gypsy howell says:

    @jrg:

    Well, in fairness, “the man needed to die” IS a fairly common conservative position.

  22. 22
    El Cid says:

    The important thing is that some of these people who were tortured had likely committed or were planning to carry out violence, so it’s something ‘we’ have to do.

    Any attempt to expose this is basically a partisan opposition activity related to the self-promotion of the exposers. Pretty much as it always is.

    Right?

  23. 23
    El Cid says:

    Also, I am very frightened that soon this country of a mere 300 million people will soon be forced to submit to shari’a law, given our Kenyonesian President’s inclination and weakness. Also, Bill Ayers, and Reverend Wright, and NANCY! PELOSI! WENT TO SYRIA! LOGAN ACT! SHE WORE A HEADSCARF!

  24. 24
    Jay C says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley:

    Well, having read the entire linked LoOG piece by Tim Kowal – twice – I think your characterization of it (based on this single paragraph) as “mainstreaming Islamophobia” is, like so many other of your comments here, a bit wide-of-the-mark.

    Mind you, Kowal’s bit does have its flaws: AFAICT, far from “mainstreaming” anti-Muslim sentiments, it tiptoes around them; and he tends (like in your chosen quote) to pose questions without answers to them. But “mainstreaming Islamophobia”?? Nuh-uh.

  25. 25
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @El Cid: it isn’t funnie. The LoOG is mainstreaming and legitimizing the creeping shariah argument as wrong but “understandable”. Just like the slave fetuses. Just like, IPOF, birtherism.
    I realize you crusaders don’t give a shit about muslims, El Campeador, but 70% of americans voted against the “terror” mosque.
    The birther vote can’t carry 2012, but the JAFI vote could.

  26. 26
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @Jay C: have you read all Kowal’s posts? And EDK’s “push-back”? Giving the guy a front page slot to “speculate” about creeping shariah and “radical islam” is the same as giving a Reform Birther a slot to speculate about birtherism. It legitimizes islamophobia…its just “an opinion”… It is just like EDK’s approach to the fetus=slave meme….

    well, its wrong, but it is UNDERSTANDABLE that you believe that.

  27. 27
    singfoom says:

    We can’t call harsh interrogation methods torture. It’s only torture when it’s done not in the name of justice and freedom.

    And as we all know, the US does everything in the name of justice in freedom. Why do you fucking hippies hate America?

    QED.

    On the other hand, I heard the NPR report about this morning and it gave a number of people who they released and went back to terrorism.

    I was surprised to hear it wasn’t 100%. Fuck, if I was imprisoned for years and tortured, if I wasn’t a terrorist when I went in, I’d be one when I got out.

    Why do they never think that imprisoning these people for years becomes a motivator for the very behavior they are trying to “protect” us from?

    The mind boggles.

  28. 28
    ItAintEazy says:

    @singfoom:

    Mind doesn’t boggle for me. To them it makes sense to lock up innocent people since they are gonna become dirty terra-ists anyways.

  29. 29
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @stuckinred:

    President McCain was tortured to induce “confessions” that could be used for propaganda purposes.

    The deserting coward and the Dark Lord were cribbing directly from the playbook of Kim Il-Sung, circa 1952.

    It’s about aquiring material that can be used to justify the indefensible.

  30. 30
    El Cid says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley: (1) I am mocking the attitude of those who actually argue that the US population — anywhere — is at threat from the imposition of shari’a law. Maintaining a serious, threatened, outraged stance in no way does the slightest thing to change the activities of the anti-shari’a lunatics.

    Also, this is a blog named “Balloon-Juice”. Those who think that only serious comments regarding policy matters here are either quite mistaken regarding the nature of this blog and its stature, or have a far overestimation of the majority of the blogosphere and in particular anonymous commenters.

    (2) I have adopted the sobriquet after the poem / song, not the mercenary, and in no way anti-Muslim crusader, from historical evidence.

    When Ruy Diaz set up his own mini-state in today’s Valenca comunidad, it was a combined Moorish and Christian population, and the army comprised both as well. He was interested in money and power, not religion. At the service of the highest bidders with consistent business, and then at his own when his power enabled it.

  31. 31
    Triassic Sands says:

    It’s only torture when it’s done not in the name of justice and freedom.

    If the Wingers want to justify torture, they need to start doing it in the name of tax cuts for the wealthy. Then, torture would become an engine of job creation and universally popular within the US.

  32. 32
    Triassic Sands says:

    That ad is fairly stupid and crappy…

    A different voice would be nice. Competing with Sarah Palin for most irritating voice on the planet is not the best way to convey this message.

  33. 33
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @El Cid: you know, i do not think you are a crusader. I was bein’ flip. This is the internetz.
    But I am deadly fucking serious about the shit going down at the loog.
    Kowal ia a raving islamophobe and EDK is mainstreaming him.
    Conservatives and libertarians are very good at mainstreaming, legitimizing horrible socon “values” like homophobia and racism, like AGW denialism and birtherism and IDT/creationism.

    well, its wrong, but it is UNDERSTANDABLE that christians/republicans/birthers/DOMA advocates/League of the South/homophobes/teabaggers believe that.

    They have been doing it for 50 years.
    And im saying if they get to goin’ on legitimizing islamophobia it will work like a charm.
    America just got PUBLICALLY HUMILIATED in Iraq. Maliki told Mullen to fuck off. And we are gettin’ our asses handed to us in Af-Pak.
    Who is bubba going to pick for a scapegoat here?
    Ya think?

  34. 34
    Morbo says:

    @Hermione Granger-Weasley: Sounds like a lot of the motivation is media competition. The NYT reported that it got the documents from another source. Wikileaks’s twitter said it published first after learning about the other source.

  35. 35
    Hermione Granger-Weasley says:

    @Morbo: ahhh, that is interesting. Usually WL enforces release protocol and honesty by letting the outlets know they all have the same material. Don’t obey the rules? get starved like the Wa-Po.
    That explains the softpedal. The Times thought WL was bluffing.

  36. 36

    […] LinksWikiLeaks on TwitterBalloon Juice: It's Hard to Print a Simple FactCNN: WikiLeaks reveals details about Guantanamo detaineesBBC: Wikileaks: Many at Guantanamo 'not […]

  37. 37
    jackinthebox says:

    Euphemisms such as “enemy combatants” and “enhanced interrogation techniques” were intentionally invented propaganda terms to confuse the public and divert the public’s attention from the fact that these are not “wars” at all, but invasions, occupations, and murder. And if, according to .gov, we are involved in three undeclared “wars,” Libya illegally since Congress was not even consulted, then it’s high time we start terming the inmates at Guantanamo Bay as what they are, PRISONERS OF WAR. Bush’s PR people were geniuses, and apparently Obama is using the same folks. If the alternative press would start using “war” terminology, maybe the public will realize where all the tax money has gone and that .gov values torture and murder above education.

  38. 38

    […] blogger at Balloon Juice also noted the unwillingness of US media outlets to call torture torture. McClatchy, they note, […]

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