7 Letter Word

Friday, April 24, 2009


While some in the media wondered if Obama flip-flopped when it comes to prosecuting Bush Administration officials who authorized torture, the White House tried to get its media message straight ... all without actually using the T-word. Columbia University law professor and Harper's Magazine contributing editor Scott Horton explains why the Administration, and some members of the media, are backing away from "torture."

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Comments [4]

Tony from NYC

Equally egregious -- and infuriating to English teachers -- is this reliance on the passive construction.

"Policies were put in place." "Decisions were made." "Programs were implemented." "Detainees were questioned."

By whom? That gets to the heart of accountability. By relying on the passive voice, politicians and pundits allow themselves to talk about these "enhanced techniques" without ever identifying an actual agent. The back door is built into the sentences themselves they choose to use.

May. 01 2009 07:21 AM
Jack from Chicago

The fact is Michael, you don't know what intelligence was brought to light by harsh interrogation methods. And Obama's not talking torture because he's finding it so useful, he's doing it; just like state secret privilege, executive order reversals, etc.

Terrorists aren't signatories to any Geneva conventions, nor do they act on behalf of any particular nation. International laws don't apply. So let's not kid ourselves that just because we don't do it, they won't. Who started flying planes into buildings?

Why not ask why Obama caved into the ACLU instead of taking the memo case to the Supreme Court? At a minimum, Obama's "transparency" is selective. I'll give him this, he controls the message and creates enough smoke that the media looks more pathetic than usual.

Take Bob, another week and another pointless swipe at Fox News. Bob loves bloviating on this tiresome topic.

Apr. 27 2009 10:52 PM
chuck thompson from Anchorage AK

Bravo, michael!
Well said.

As part of my undergrad pre-law curriculum was a symposium on International Law. The underlying reason, I learned, that nations abide by principles of international law is that what goes around, comes around. Nations honor the sovereignty of embassies, for instance, because a violation of theirs might be next.

To me, this is a principle that was totally lost on the Bush Administration. What we do in black Eastern European prisons to "those guys" might soon be visited in some hell-hole to "our" guys.

It's a point michael made quite well and we -- and by "we," I mean Obama and any future administrations, as well as us Americans collectively -- would do to remember. Ergo, here's my definition of torture: If we don't want someone doing it to our guys, we shouldn't be doing it to theirs.

That's a concept simple and straight-forward enough for even George to understand, wouldn't you think?

Apr. 25 2009 10:59 PM
michael pettengill from merrimack, nh

Rather than debate the word torture, I seek to debate the practices of the Bush administration. And what I point to is the interrogation, confession, conviction, and sentencing of Roxana Saberi. From all reports, Saberi was interrogated well within the bounds set by the Bush administration, we know the confession is true because the Bush administration says such confessions are true, the trial in secret is justified on national security grounds because this is what the Bush administration said was required, and the sentence is justified because you need to deal harshly with people who are out to kill you.

Personally, I find the policies of the Bush administration to be reprehensible violations of basic rights, and in saying that, I can say with equal authority that the actions of the Iranian government are reprehensible violations of human rights.

And I don't need to use the word torture to make my argument. Nor do I need to debate where the legal line is drawn.

And to argue that the actions in Iran are wrong because she is innocent, well, the Bush administration treated innocent people in exactly the same way, and in a number of cases got no confessions to justify their detention for years and for their interrogation.

Apr. 25 2009 03:50 PM

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