New York Times Attempts to Stifle Torture Debate It Helped Spark in the Wake of Osama bin Laden’s Death

On Thursday, the New York Times, having played a major part in creating a buzz in the United States about the role that torture and the existence of Guantánamo played in locating Osama bin Laden, with an article on Tuesday entitled, “Bin Laden Raid Revives Debate on Value of Torture,” resolutely stepped back from the result of suggesting that there were even grounds for a “debate” — given that the use of torture is illegal (as well as morally corrosive and unreliable) — by publishing an excellent editorial decisively condemning the “immoral and illegal behavior” of torture apologists after 9/11, including Berkeley law professor John Yoo, who, as a lawyer in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2002, “twisted the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions into an unrecognizable mess to excuse torture” in what will forever be known as the “torture memos.”

The Times also recognized torture as “immoral and illegal and counterproductive,” and stated that, although torture may produce some useful information — amongst all the lies that, for example, plague the military assessments of Guantánamo prisoners that were recently released by WikiLeaks — “most experienced interrogators think that the same information, or better, can be obtained through legal and humane means.”

I would prefer that the last line had read “experienced interrogators have absolutely no doubt that the same information, or better, can be obtained through legal and humane means,” and I would also have preferred the Times‘ editors not to have claimed that the use of torture has led to America’s “inability to hold credible trials for very bad men” — presumably a reference to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his alleged co-conspirators in the preparation and execution of the 9/11 attacks — when the truth is that Attorney General Eric Holder was convinced that a federal court trial could proceed, but was prevented from doing so for nakedly political reasons. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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