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Saturday, July 3. 2010
I posted a Comment to the NYTs report, as follows (cut-and-pasted from the "preview" that awaits the NYTs to decide whether to publish it or not):
If you want to weigh in, go to the Comment link above or to the NYTs report link. Of course, be succinct, informed, and direct to matters of fact.
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More "Waterboarding" BS From NYTs and Harvard Students
Haven't gotten involved in this one because your headline sums up exactly my take on this issue. Thanks!
First, it fails to mention that the term \"waterboarding\" originated in 2004
The study does mention that the practice had other names before 2004. In the PDF to which you link, it is stated that:
Before 2004, “waterboarding” had been referred to variously as “water torture,” the “water cure,” the “water treatment,” el submarino (or the wet submarine), dunking, and forced ingestion, among other terms.
The study also gives a complete list of terms that it used when searching for references to the practice of waterboarding:
waterboarding, “water boarding,” ”water board,” waterboard, “water?board,” water?boarding,” “water torture,” submarino, “simulated drowning,” “mock drowning,” “near drowning,” “feigned drowning, ”submersion head water, submersion water torture, “water cure,” “water treatment,” “parrot’s perch,” ”torture?lite,” “tortura del agua,” “tormento de toca,” “punishment of the pump,” “water detail,” “form of mock execution,” “Asian torture,” “Swedish drink,” “cold water dash,” “cold water process.”
The United States press had no problem, either before or after 2004, in determining that waterboarding, when used by foreign governments, was torture. The reason the press did not use the word torture when waterboarding was used by the United States government is given by the press itself:
...the Times acknowledged that political circumstances did play a role in the paper's usage calls. "As the debate over interrogation of terror suspects grew post-9/11, defenders of the practice (including senior officials of the Bush administration) insisted that it did not constitute torture," a Times spokesman said in a statement. "When using a word amounts to taking sides in a political dispute, our general practice is to supply the readers with the information to decide for themselves.
The Times spokesman went on to claim that waterboarding was described as torture outside of the straight news articles.
So the press knew it was torture and described it as torture when it was done by other countries, but they didn't use the word torture to describe the actions of the US government because the Bush administration didn't want them to, not because it had determined that there were differences in the severity or duration or application of the waterboarding.
You opine: "So the press knew it was torture and described it as torture when it was done by other countries, but they didn't use the word torture to describe the actions of the US government because the Bush administration didn't want them to, not because it had determined that there were differences in the severity or duration or application of the waterboarding."
The operant phrase: "...So the press knew it was torture and described it as torture when it was done by other countries, but they didn't use the word torture to describe the actions of the US government because the Bush administration didn't want them to, not because it had determined that there were differences in the severity or duration or application of the waterboarding."
THE issue is that
1. "it had determined", i.e., major media like the Harvard student equate grosser torture with the few instances of "waterboarding" that occurred and saved hundreds or thousands of innocent lives.
2. The Harvard students listing of terms that they automatically equate with "waterboarding" is their assertion, but conflates sex with kissing.
1) The media did not use or not use the word torture based on an attempt to determine the severity of waterboarding. By their admission they refrained from using the word torture because the Bush administration asked them to even though - again by their own admission - they believed that what was being done was torture and referred to it that way in opinion pieces and other non-news pieces.
2) The study did not "automatically" equate terms with waterboarding. For one thing, one of the terms they searched for - “Parrot’s perch” - does not refer to waterboarding. But the term turned up often enough in articles that did refer to waterboarding that they searched for this term and then checked for other references to the practice.
Another thing, they did not automatically include all - or even most - of the articles that contained one of the search terms in their data set. From the study:
Using our search terms, we returned a total of 14,589 results. Articles containing terms associated with waterboarding but not addressing the actual interrogation practice (e.g. the actions of municipal Water Boards) were eliminated. In addition, articles that mention the practice only tangentially or metaphorically (e.g., quoting a stock broker saying that the economy was like Chinese water torture) were not included in the data set. Finally, to isolate the narrative voice of the paper itself, book reviews, theater reviews, film reviews, and letters to the editor were excluded.
Of the 14,589 total returns, 668 articles met our specifications and were coded. This includes 175 coded from the LA Times, 354 from the NY Times, 36 from USA Today, and 103 from the WSJ.
This is not automatically equating a list of terms with waterboarding, it is using a list of search terms to find a potential set of matches and then methodically examining them to see if they are relevant.
I'm heading to the beach with my 5-year old, so he can "waterboard" me.
Meanwhile, you still miss the point by reductio ad absurdem citing that they left out such references as mine above by my son, excusing the students' equating of "waterboarding" as practiced on three terrorists with the water tortures practiced under far wider and far harsher and damaging conditions decades earlier or elsewhere by others.
Have a fun and patriotic 4th, more relaxed in the realization that wherever you live and those you care for are less likely to be at the hands of terrorists.
I'm heading to the beach with my 5-year old, so he can "waterboard" me.
Official Maggie's Farm Best Line of The Day.
We just got back from the beach. 5-year old Gavin did dunk my boogie-board and me, so I am now officially "waterboarded" and will appeal to the UN to send me $millions of aid and ten white-shoe attorneys to protest the torture and "get" my torturer Gavin clapped in irons, chocolate ones of course.
Oh, the indignity of it all will stay with me forever!
Try not to confuse the inmates with too many facts.
However, that the press wasn't standin' tall can only be laid at the feet of the press cowards, themselves.
Blaming Bush administration for press cowardice ain't a presentation of fact.
Stick to the facts and dinkuses will wilt.
Pulling out fingernails is torture. Using red hot pokers is torture. Waterboarding is not torture, it causes a severe fear/panic response but leaves no permanent marks or damage.
Here's a reporter who makes a $1 per second bet that he can withstand waterboarding for twenty seconds:
One fact the mainstream media is conscientiously ignoring is that those of our military who are deemed to be in danger of waterboarding by "the enemy" are required to take a SERE course [Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape] which includes their being submitted to so-called "waterboarding." Now, come on, folks, would we submit our own military to such an experience if it really were "torture?" It leaves the person to whom it is done with no broken or twisted limbs, no wounds, no physical damage other than a momentary experience of panic and fear of death. Those men who have endured it are undamaged at the end of it, and have some knowledge of what it entails. The people having hissy-fits about it are deliberately ignoring the fact that thousands of our own military men and women have survived it and are healthy and undamaged.
This reminds me in a way of the so-called Valerie Plame scandal. Plame was an intelligence analyst at Langley Center. She was not a "covert agent." [The CIA doesn't call them "covert agents." They call them "field agents."] She may or may not have been a field agent more than seven years before the time of the "scandal," but she had not been one for more than seven years. There are more than 100,000 CIA employees at Langley and abroad. The are not all covert, or even most them. What Plame did was go to the office every working day, just like the rest of us working stiffs. But her husband and she decided that it would be profitable to make a fuss, and the mainstream media fell for it. The Wilson/Plames thought they could make some dough out of this and they went to Hollywood to try to sell their story. But I guess that the movie folks decided that there "was no there there" as the expression goes.
Now the MSM is all thrilled about "waterboarding torture." Tom Francis, you're right about Bruce Kesler's crack. It is indeed "the best line of the day."
Yes, USA military would submit our own military to such an experience .
But then yall wouldn't know that from experience.
Fer all yall who'd like a waterboarding, it can be arranged fer a nominal fee.
Step right up, yankees and get yer hides an experience yall'll almost, never forget.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen (of the latter we 're not so sure) the trifle money i charge'll be gone shortly, but the experience will be with yall till Kingdom comes.
Come on yankees, man up.
Yall ladies may take exception.
I can understand the POV which says "We shall refrain from this, even in extremity. We will not merely forego this practice in 99.9% of cases, but forego it in 100%. We fear the coarsening of the conscience, we fear the slippery slope, we will hold back from this because nothing else is consistent with our best values." Some days I can even agree with that.
What I cannot understand is the stance which says 99.9% is functionally equivalent to 0%. However much the critics of waterboarding deny it, and however many deny that they say any such thing, there is a significant percentage who mean exactly that. Is it 10% of the critics? 90%? 50%? I don't know, but I throw the same moral exactitude back at them. If critics, including Duff Clarity, do not condemn that false equivalence 100% of the time - 99.9% is not enough - then you have have forfeited your right to outrage.
Well, that's a ridiculously high standard. Even decent, honest people could hardly attain it. Dashed unfair of me to even suggest such a thing, isn't it? But, as Columbo used to say, "Oh, one more thing." Now adhere to that standard when lives are on the line - my son's, for example.
We are in far greater danger, physically and morally, of falling into the error of being a nation of enablers of terror, refusing justice to the oppressed and failing to protect the lives of the innocent, than we are of becoming a nation of torturers. The inability to make distinctions of degree, context, and quantity is a great moral blindness, all the more dangerous because it hides in sheep's clothing.
Accuse me of rationalising and enabling if you choose. I, at least, have considered that possibility that I deceive myself and hold it before me. The critics of waterboarding, in the main, cannot make the same claim.
There is some truly scary Orwellian reasoning going on here. Wow.
yes, it must seem distant from the Princeton campus.
The only thing Owellian is the revisionist history and misuse of language by the Harvard students and the NYTs reporter.
Really, BradyB? Duff Clarity's entire point rests on the assertion that when the NYT said "When using a word amounts to taking sides in a political dispute, our general practice is to supply the readers with the information to decide for themselves, " they didn't really mean that; that they in fact meant "By their admission they refrained from using the word torture because the Bush administration asked them to..." (DC's translation). That recast of the statement eluded you because...why? My first guess is you missed it because you want very badly for the point to be so, and thus did not scruple at the mind-reading involved.
You might fairly accuse the OP and commenters here of splitting hairs. I think you would be wrong, but that characterization at least fits the direction of an attempt at precision. "Orwellian" has a different meaning. Unless, of course, you were using Orwellian in the looser sense of "statements by evil right-wingers justifying things I just feel are wrong, though I don't have a ready argument against them."
Duff Clarity's entire point rests on the assertion that when the NYT said "When using a word amounts to taking sides in a political dispute, our general practice is to supply the readers with the information to decide for themselves, " they didn't really mean that; that they in fact meant "By their admission they refrained from using the word torture because the Bush administration asked them to..."
If you think that distinction is crucial to my point, you have missed my point.
In the past the press had no issue with using the word torture when it thought torture accurately described what was being done. Contrary to the assertion above, the press had even used the word torture to describe actions even when there was a political dispute about whether the actions were torture. The press only refrained from using the word torture when the United States government was disputing the accuracy of the term - even though the press believed the use of the term was accurate.
Whether the government specifically request they stop the use of the term or not is completely irrelevant to the discussion.
The refusal by the press to use the word torture is Orwellian. As Orwell said in "Politics and the English Language":
...political language has to consist largely of euphemism., question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them
That is precisely what is going on here. Of course the government would rather see the phrase "enhanced interrogation techniques" in the press rather than "water torture". There is no reason for the press accommodate them if it believes torture is being committed and if it has used the word in the past for the same actions. Personally I think the press should be more critical of my own government than other governments. I am responsible for what my government does in a way that I am not responsible for the actions of foreign governments. I can affect how my government acts in ways that I can not affect foreign governments. And for this, I need a press that tells me the facts as accurately as possible. Instead we have a press that uses language to obscure the truth.
The press claims that it was avoiding taking sides in a political dispute when in fact it was taking the side of the government it believed was using torture.
Exactly, and the onus rests with cowardly press not Bush administration.
BS to you both.
Yes, the press can print what it chooses.
No, that doesn't make what the inbred press thinks true.
Yes, the three cases of waterboarding were not torture, except by gross exaggeration of the word. That gross exaggeration is Orwellian.
No, the press, by their exaggeration and focus on the charges certainly succeeded in creating hostile, and ignorant, opinion.
Yes, the US, and innocents here and elsewhere, suffered by that Orwellian anti-US propaganda.
This is at least your 3rd public warning.
You are soon history, and your above is deleted.
Fume elsewhere, then be fumigated.
Don't you get the impression that what passes for news reporters today, is actually students from liberal colleges that majored in creative writing?
J ... These "students from liberal colleges" are the same students who become Congressional aides to lazy legislators and produce for them the 1500-page bill drafts which result in evil stuff like Obamacare and other examples of the law of unintended consequences ...