Back in June, a study by Harvard students (echoing earlier work in Extra!—5-6/08) found that media outlets like the New York Times consistently called things like waterboarding torture when they reported on them–that is, until the Bush administration’s torture came to light. The study sparkeda lot of discussion, with the Times responding that it didn’t refer to waterboarding as torture because it wanted to avoid “taking sides in a political dispute.”
In today’s New York Times (11/3/10), a review of George W. Bush’s new book shows that the Times is sticking with that formula:
He likewise defends his decision to authorize harsh interrogation techniques on captured terror suspects. When the CIA asked him if they could subject Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the September 11 mastermind, to a form of simulated drowning called waterboarding, he writes that he said, “Damn right.” The interrogations, he adds, “saved lives.”
So Bush’s admittedly cavalier attitude towards torture is still not a reason to call it torture.