The Associated Press is, as always, hot on the trail of heinous, despicable acts of torture:
An American geologist held and tortured by China’s state security agents was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday for gathering data on the Chinese oil industry in a case that highlights the government’s use of vague secrets laws to restrict business information.Glenn Greenwald read the above and rightly called for the AP to apologize to China:
In pronouncing Xue Feng guilty of spying and collecting state secrets, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court said his actions “endangered our country’s national security.” . . . Agents from China’s internal security agency detained Xue in November 2007 and tortured him, stubbing lit cigarettes into his arms in the early days of his detention.
A few cigarette stubs into a forearm for a handful of days? That’s it? That’s “torture”? Not according to the official definition of that term adopted by the U.S. Government, as explained by John Yoo:Shame on you, AP. Everyone knows that countries around the world are now able to enhancedly interrogate people with impunity. Get with the modern paradigm already.
Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death. For purely mental pain or suffering to amount to torture (under U.S. law), it must result in significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years.Placing a lit cigarette on someone’s arm is unquestionably painful, but clearly does not rise to the level of pain “accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” Moreover, any psychological harm would likely be fleeting, not of “significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years” — that’s at least as true as the psychological harm from being repeatedly strapped onto a board and drowned close to the point of death.
Given the standards of Good Journalism prevailing in the U.S. media, as taught to us just this weekend by high-level executives at the NYT and The Washington Post (and previously at NPR): what right does AP have to “take sides” in this dispute by substituting its own judgment about “torture” for the Chinese Government’s? Beyond that, given that the U.S. Government has officially adopted a definition of “torture” that plainly does not include a few cigarette stubs on an arm, shouldn’t that preclude any Good Journalist from using the term in this subjective and biased way? I hope AP will be apologizing to the Chinese shortly for its act of journalistic irresponsibility. It’s not the role of journalists to take sides this way.
(h/t John Cole, who is shrill)
Is there anything out there anymore that will somehow manage to shock our collective conscience again?
Physicians for Human Rights has just released a new report on the American way of torture. It sees real signs of illegal experimentation on imprisoned human suspects to refine torture techniques – a war crime. This is not exactly a surprise: Part of any torture regime is research into how torture techniques work, in order to refine them and to avoid accidentally killing victims (always embarrassing). The Nazis did this, as did the Khmer Rouge – and the Bush-Cheney administration followed this inevitable pattern, as every torture regime must.
I am just so royally pissed off about the Office of Professional Responsibility’s granting of a get-out-of-disbarment-free card for the Torture Lawyers that I can’t even write a cogent post on it.
But I can pass this along, which is an excerpt from an OPR investigator interview with one of the authors of the Torture Memos:
At the core of the legal arguments were the views of Yoo, strongly backed by David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s legal counsel, that the president’s wartime powers were essentially unlimited and included the authority to override laws passed by Congress, such as a statute banning the use of torture. Pressed on his views in an interview with OPR investigators, Yoo was asked:
“What about ordering a village of resistants to be massacred? … Is that a power that the president could legally—”
“Yeah,” Yoo replied, according to a partial transcript included in the report. “Although, let me say this: So, certainly, that would fall within the commander-in-chief’s power over tactical decisions.”
“To order a village of civilians to be [exterminated]?” the OPR investigator asked again.
“Sure,” said Yoo.
From the blog of Saint Megan, covering up torture is really really bad, and Republicans are not “ready to lead”:
Via The Sully
I usually do not swear on this blog. But all I can think of is a quote from PJ O’Rourke on seeing young kids shot by the IDF: “This is bullshit. This is barbarism.” This is not how a decent country acts, which is presumably why we lied about it.
I expect tomorrow, if Brown wins, we’ll hear a lot of talk about a Republican resurgence. But unless the Republicans can come up with a more convincing program to keep stuff like this from happening–and a more convincing economic program than cutting taxes in the face of record deficits–I don’t think they’re ready to lead.
My conservative readers are no doubt winding up to tell me I’m a liberal sellout. But I don’t think it’s particularly bleeding heart to think that we shouldn’t have to fake suicides to cover up for abusing prisoners. In fact, I think that’s the stance of a hard core believer in law and order.
Gherald’s new BFF appears to get a torture boner along with his Republican compatriots in Congress:
State Senator Scott Brown, the Republican candidate for US Senate, endorsed yesterday the use of enhanced interrogation techniques – including the practice of simulated drowning known as waterboarding – in questioning terror suspects.Nice guy you picked to support, G.
This was done in all of our names and we should all, individually, be deeply and profoundly ashamed:
We were receiving CIA intelligence. MI-6 and the CIA share all their intelligence. So I was getting all the CIA intelligence on Uzbekistan and it was saying that detainees had confessed to membership in al-Qaeda and being in training camps in Afghanistan and to meeting Osama bin Laden. One way and another I was piecing together the fact that the CIA material came from the Uzbek torture sessions.via Sully
I didn’t want to make a fool of myself so I sent my deputy, a lady called Karen Moran, to see the CIA head of station and say to him, “My ambassador is worried your intelligence might be coming from torture. Is there anything he’s missing?”
She reported back to me that the CIA head of station said, “Yes, it probably is coming from torture, but we don’t see that as a problem in the context of the war on terror.”
In addition to which I learned that CIA were actually flying people to Uzbekistan in order to be tortured. I should be quite clear that I knew for certain and reported back to London that people were being handed over by the CIA to the Uzbek intelligence services and were being subjected to the most horrible tortures.
I didn’t realize that they weren’t Uzbek. I presumed simply that these were Uzbek people who had been captured elsewhere and were being sent in.
I now know from things I’ve learned subsequently, including the facts that the Council of Europe parliamentary inquiry into extraordinary rendition found that 90 percent of all the flights that called at the secret prison in Poland run by the CIA as a torture center for extraordinary rendition, 90 percent of those flights next went straight on to Tashkent [the capital of Uzbekistan].
Who wants to take bets on whether we’ll see any of this in the mainstream TV media anytime soon?
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