In this New York Times story, “McCain Finds Sympathy on Torture Issue” we find the following paragraph:
Democrats are largely opposed to torture, and while the Bush administration has said it does not engage in torture, it had previously reserved the right to use aggressive interrogation techniques in questioning terrorism suspects. And the leading Republican candidates, with the exception of Mr. McCain, are refusing to rule out certain techniques that others would deem as torture.
It’s a classic example of the problem with today’s journalism. News organizations accurately quote people, but flatly decline to point out the truth — that one side is lying.
The truth in this case is that the United States, by any measure, does torture people. “Aggressive interrogation techniques” like “waterboarding” — designed in perfect Orwellian lanauge to sound like a theme park ride — are the kind of torture that was bad enough to convict Japanese soldiers of war crimes.
No one has begun to contradict the truth of what — among others — Malcolm Nance, a counterterrorism expert and former Navy instructor in how to resist interrogation, wrote here and told Congress. Here’s a lengthy quote:
1. Waterboarding is a torture technique. Period. There is no way to gloss over it or sugarcoat it. It has no justification outside of its limited role as a training demonstrator. Our service members have to learn that the will to survive requires them accept and understand that they may be subjected to torture, but that America is better than its enemies and it is one’s duty to trust in your nation and God, endure the hardships and return home with honor.
2. Waterboarding is not a simulation. Unless you have been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs, you will not know the meaning of the word.
Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model, occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. How much the victim is to drown depends on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into the victim’s face) and the obstinacy of the subject. A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience, to horrific suffocating punishment to the final death spiral.
Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration –usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its use again and again.
Call it “Chinese Water Torture,” “the Barrel,” or “the Waterfall,” it is all the same. Whether the victim is allowed to comply or not is usually left up to the interrogator. Many waterboard team members, even in training, enjoy the sadistic power of making the victim suffer and often ask questions as an after thought. These people are dangerous and predictable and when left unshackled, unsupervised or undetected they bring us the murderous abuses seen at Abu Ghraieb, Baghram and Guantanamo. No doubt, to avoid human factors like fear and guilt someone has created a one-button version that probably looks like an MRI machine with high intensity waterjets.
3. If you support the use of waterboarding on enemy captives, you support the use of that torture on any future American captives. The Small Wars Council had a spirited discussion about this earlier in the year, especially when former Marine Generals Krulak and Hoar rejected all arguments for torture.
Yet the New York Times can’t bring itself to simply explain the reality. It does stenography, repeating the lies from one side.
So disappointing. Yet also so standard for the Paper of Record.