A little over a month ago, Andrew Sullivan had a fascinating piece on the evolution of the New York Times’ willingness, or lack thereof, to use the term "torture" to describe, well, torture (for definite lack of a better word). As Sullivan demonstrates, prior to the Bush administration, the Times repeatedly and reflexively referred to interrogation methods such as sleep deprivation, waterboarding, hypothermia, stress positions and physical beatings as torture. No euphemism, no equivocation, no even-handed airing of the torturers’ rationale/argument and no concern for the associated political controversy. It was simply torture.
In recent years, however, the Times has begun to use euphemisms to describe those exact same techniques. What was torture was now "intense interrogation," "harsh interrogation and "detainee abuse" – though recently, and to much self-congratulation, the Times has mustered the courage to call what they once freely termed torture, a "brutal mode of..interrogation." Baby steps for a previously ambulatory being.
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