Doug Jehl, who’s the Washington editor for the New York Times, explains today why his paper cannot use the word “torture” to describe “waterboarding” when no legal or political or cultural authority from the Spanish Inquisition until the Bush administration ever doubted for a moment that it was torture. [...]
In the face of this, are there any legal decisions, judgments or trials in the last five centuries in which waterboarding has not been deemed torture? None that I am aware of. And this is not surprising. If waterboarding someone 183 times is not torture, then nothing is torture.
The fact that the editors of the New York Times cannot reflect this core truth in its use of plain English is a scandal of journalistic cowardice, evasion and willful ignorance. It is entirely a function not of seeking the truth but of placating those in power and maintaining a fictitious illusion of “balance”. The idea that the Bush administration’s insistence for the first time in human history that waterboarding is legal and not torture – when it has itself used the torture technique – is to be weighed equally against the entire body of legal, historical and cultural evidence in deciding what to call torture is preposterous.
(via Jay Rosen)