Tag Archives: New York Times

New York Times: torture is torture, except when the U.S. does it

27 Jun

The New York Times has once again shown why it is losing readers, money, and relevancy in last Friday’s obituary of Harold E. Fischer, Jr., a brave Air Force captain who was held captive by the Chinese in the early 1950s:

“Col. Harold E. Fischer Jr., an American fighter pilot who was routinely tortured in a Chinese prison during and after the Korean War, becoming — along with three other American airmen held at the same prison — a symbol and victim of cold war tension, died in Las Vegas on April 30. He was 83 and lived in Las Vegas.

From April 1953 through May 1955, Colonel Fischer — then an Air Force captain — was held at a prison outside Mukden, Manchuria. For most of that time, he was kept in a dark, damp cell with no bed and no opening except a slot in the door through which a bowl of food could be pushed. Much of the time he was handcuffed. Hour after hour, a high-frequency whistle pierced the air…. under duress, Captain Fischer had falsely confessed to participating in germ warfare.”

Wait a second…I’m confused. The NYT didn’t put quotations around the word torture? They didn’t call it “enhanced interrogation” or use some other type of Orwellian wordplay to describe what the Chinese did to Fischer; why, those Commie Reds tortured him!

What the Chinese government did to Fischer was immoral and despicable, but the NYT can’t have it both ways. When the Chinese “interrogated” their captives, it’s automatically torture, yet when the U.S. does far worse to its captives*, it somehow isn’t.

The indispensable Glenn Greenwald clears up this paradox over at Salon.com, exposing the NYT’s hypocrisy:

Why are the much less brutal methods used by the Chinese on Fischer called torture by the NYT, whereas much harsher methods used by Americans do not merit that term?  Here we find what is clearly the single most predominant fact shaping our political and media discourse:  everything is different, and better, when we do it.  In fact, it is that exact mentality that was and continues to be the primary justification for our torture regime and so much else that we do.”

Greenwald, who has been an excellent critic of what he calls our “torture regime” for years, makes a revealing point about the NYT. Contrary to popular belief, the NYT is not a “liberal” newspaper, it is a Statist one, and there isn’t a government program it doesn’t swoon over. If there is a war brewing, you can count on the NYT to cheer it on, to spew disinformation and phony intelligence, and to smear any war critics that dare defy its perch on its ivory tower. War, torture, government spending and counterfeiting, spying on Americans, restrictions of civil liberties; this is what the NYT stands for and continually defends, regardless of who sits on the Imperial Throne.

And speaking of torture, my disgraceful, incompetent, and criminal representative Madame Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) knew about Bush’s torture crimes all the way back in 2002. The CIA briefed her on the use of torture and she said and did nothing about it, apparently being too preoccupied with gaining power than legitimately punishing those who have abused it.

There is some talk about a serious investigation into Bush’s torture obsession, but there is much reason to believe that this will never actually happen, and if it does, it’ll find nothing and punish nobody (Warren Commission? Iran-Contra? 9/11 Commission?).

An honest investigation is direly needed into this massive abuse of power and of the rule of law. It won’t happen, of course, due to  the NYT’s and the Democrats’ complacency.

*The U.S. prosecuted Japanese military leaders post WW-2 for war crimes because they waterboarded American POWs. Ever since then, waterboarding has been banned in nearly all resemblances of international law, and has only been revived in the last few years by the U.S.