Saturday, May 9, 2009

More on Torture

One of the biggest questions for the media is not whether "torture" ethical or effective, but simply whether to use the word "torture" (as opposed to a more neutral "aggressive interrogation") to talk about the policies of the previous administration. Most media outlets, such as the Times have opted for "aggressive interrogation, which very clearly sides with the previous administration.
Andrew Sullivan points out, these the Times has no such qualms about describing these acts as torture.
Col. Harold E. Fischer Jr., an American fighter pilot who was routinely tortured in a Chinese prison during and after the Korean War, becoming — along with three other American airmen held at the same prison — a symbol and victim of cold war tension, died in Las Vegas on April 30. He was 83 and lived in Las Vegas. The cause was complications of back surgery, his son Kurt said.

From April 1953 through May 1955, Colonel Fischer — then an Air Force captain — was held at a prison outside Mukden, Manchuria. For most of that time, he was kept in a dark, damp cell with no bed and no opening except a slot in the door through which a bowl of food could be pushed. Much of the time he was handcuffed. Hour after hour, a high-frequency whistle pierced the air.

As Sullivan points out, the techniques used by the Chinese in this case are the exact same ones which became the basis for the United States torture program (the techniques cribbed from the SERE program were the based on the techniques that Harold Fischer, among others, was subjected to.)
But I would like to know if Bill Keller will remove the t-word from this obit and replace it with "harsh interrogations" as he does when referring to the US government's use of identical techniques. If not, why not? Remember: these people won't even use the word torture to describe a technique displayed in the Cambodian museum of torture to commemmorate the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge - as long as Americans do the torturing.

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