Scott Shane, "Waterboarding Used 266 Times on 2 Suspects". April 19
C.I.A. interrogators used waterboarding, the near-drowning technique that top Obama administration officials have described as illegal torture, 266 times on two key prisoners from Al Qaeda, far more than had been previously reported.
The C.I.A. officers used waterboarding at least 83 times in August 2002 against Abu Zubaydah, according to a 2005 Justice Department legal memorandum. Abu Zubaydah has been described as a Qaeda operative.
A former C.I.A. officer, John Kiriakou, told ABC News and other news media organizations in 2007 that Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew....
The release of the numbers is likely to become part of the debate about the morality and efficacy of interrogation methods that the Justice Department under the Bush administration declared legal even though the United States had historically treated them as torture.
WHICH, then, seems ample justification to refer to them in print as "torture techniques", sans quotes, or "interrogation methods," quotes included, or for just working around it if you want to be squeamish. Not to trivialize things, but when, for example, an administration takes what had been called, throughout the history of the Republic, "tax increases" and starts referring to them as "revenue enhancements", the onus is on it to explain the subtle shades of meaning; otherwise it ought to be treated as a risible, if not shameful, attempt to use euphemism in an effort to fool people which should be doomed to failure if the target audience has what are called "reading skills". It ought not to be presented as though there's some sort of active semantic debate going on between the previous two centuries and some transparent PR scheme.
The present case is the opposite of laughable, of course; too bad the faux-balanced coverage veers that way once or twice. When we report that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was subjected to "simulated" drowning 183 times in March, 2003 (it is a month with 31 days, meaning 5.9 times per day, once every 4.06 hours a day, every day, non-stop), we are reporting that he was tortured, period. There's no fucking wiggle room about "interrogation", however enhanced, and there's precious little to suggest that those supervising this treatment, if not also those carrying it out, have some sort of blanket excuse, or immunity, bestowed upon them by the small-animal-torturing sexual psychopaths then occupying the two highest executive offices in the land. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah were being tortured. For kicks. By, and at the behest of, people who do not believe that American justice is medieval enough to be fully satisfying. This was one month. If we expected to get information out of these two we would have allowed them time to breath oxygen.
Let's lose the 24 shit. This was not some sort of hot pursuit/ticking time bomb bullshit (and I say this as someone who believes that a competently-trained field commander, in a combat zone, might indeed be justified in using harsh measures if he had determined they were absolutely necessary and time was of the essence, whether or not they are proven efficacious. Although it is also true that I believe such cannot be sanctioned by US or military law). It was torture justified by the facile description of the crimes of 9/11 as Acts of War, which metaphor we then treated as an adequate description whenever it suited us, and ignored when it came to the Geneva Conventions. What was either of these two ever able to sputter? Certainly not the truth: every single increase in the Color Code Alert Level changes in that Homeland Security Barometer for Stateside Tom Clancy Fanboys was bogus; every single global terror attack went unpredicted. We were torturing Clyde because Bonnie had escaped to the mountains. Because trial and execution weren't good enough for President Frog Baseball.
Those of you with long memories will recall those distant days when "If X then the terrorists will have won" was a common rejoinder. It was certainly convenient to portray them as SPECTRE. It was politically rewarding, too, for a time. And, as seemed clear to more than a few of us at the time, it mostly looked liked a lot of fun to far too many of our fellow citizens, a too-sizable chunk of the military establishment with direct control over captured combatants and non-combatants alike, and the nearly-unfettered criminals installed in our highest office at the time. It's not a question of what "top [unnamed] Obama administration officials" think of, or don't think of , as "torture." It's torture, and it was perpetrated not for any of the flaccid excuses offered as an afterthought, but out of the pure infantile-sexuality and psychopathy of its stewards, who believed they were empowered to ignore the law and all standards of civilized behavior, in the name of all Americans. The one proper response is to allow the actual Rule of Law to serve as the rivers Alpheus and Peneus and clean the Augean stables. This of course will be, and already has been, tempered by political cowardice. The least the rest of us can do--including the Times--is to lose the fraudulent quotation marks once and for all.