Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Torture update: much has changed in last 24 hours

Obama's comments on Tuesday (transcript) -- not ruling out the prosecution of the architects of torture policy -- were a huge shift from the past.

To Greenwald, the story today is not that Obama "[leaves the door open]" to prosecutions, it's actually "[Obama officially recognizes that the law is the law, and therefore it is the Attorney General's decision whether to prosecute, and the White House will not violate the law by politically interfering with an AG's decision to prosecute, should such a decision be made.]"

The White House press corps went at Gibbs for 45 minutes or so on the subject of torture accountability, which has never happened so far with this administration. That's exciting. But Sam Stein recounts how much of the questioning was about a political game -- who said what when and who were they influenced by -- and not about the actual issue of accountability for torture.


And now a couple updates on the language around torture:

- Greg Sargent reports that Obama and crew have mostly moved away from using the word 'torture', instead usually using terms like "enhanced interrogation techniques." This is a dangerous development.

- The Washington Post's good editorial Tuesday on torture first uses the term "waterboarding", but later uses the term "water torture". Good for them. We need to go back to "water torture" because that's what it's called. The U.S. called it that back in the day because, well, the term "waterboard" hadn't even been made up. OTM had a really interesting rundown on the terms "waterboard" and "simulated drowning" back in 2007 that's worth a listen.


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