Search Results for: torture
What did Mark annoy us about in 2014? Here are the year’s “Memmos” divided into categories:
ATTENDING RALLIES AND POLITICKING
– “Why do we get some things wrong?” Our most common errors.
LABELS AND WHY IT’S WISE TO AVOID THEM
– “Victims” vs. “survivors.” (Particularly in cases of sexual assault.)
LANGUAGE TO USE AND LANGUAGE NOT TO USE
– Ebola; infectious or contagious?
– “Immigration” (and related terms).
– ISIS and al-Qaida; how to refer to their links.
– “Victims” vs. “survivors.” (Particularly in cases of sexual assault.)
STYLE & STANDARDS
‘TAKING DOWN’ STORIES
THINGS THAT SHOULD NOT BE FORGOTTEN
– Get names (why we don’t put random voices on the air).
– Good grammar.
– Never assume.
WHERE TO FIND GUIDANCE
(Memmos; Dec. 29, 2014)
Do not refer to what was done as “enhanced interrogation techniques” unless you’re explaining that is the term the CIA uses for the practices it believes were legal.
Instead, use such words and phrases as:
– “Interrogation techniques.”
– “Interrogations,” as Steve Inskeep did this morning when he introduced a report by simply saying “we’re going to sort out some of the facts behind a polarizing debate. It’s the debate over U.S. interrogations after nine-eleven.”
– ”Brutal interrogation techniques / brutal interrogations.”
On “torture”: Once again, the word can be used.
– As Robert Siegel did last April when he said there was “torture of terrorism suspects after 9/11.”
– Or by saying that “torture and other harsh [or brutal] methods” were used.
– Or by saying that detainees were “in some cases tortured.”
– Or as Steve did this morning when he said, “this week’s Senate report on U.S. interrogations is the latest stage in a decade-long debate. Americans have talked about torture in different ways, including debating whether to call it torture at all.”
– Or by introducing the fact that some of the practices were acts the U.S. has called torture when they were done by other nations.
Reminder: Though there are those who argue that the techniques were not torture in the legal sense of that word, Merriam-Webster defines torture as “the act of causing severe physical pain as a form of punishment or as a way to force someone to do or say something.”
(Memmos; Dec. 11, 2014)
Here are some examples of how our guidance on use of the word “torture” has been implemented in the past 24 hours. They may be helpful.
Key takeaway: A thread that connects them is that we establish that the report details instances of torture, cite examples and then get on with the news or conversations.
In a Newscast spot:
“A report released today by the Senate Intelligence Committee charges the CIA lied to lawmakers and the public about interrogation techniques it used on terrorism suspects after 9-11. The report is based on some 6 million CIA documents. NPR’s Brian Naylor says the report concluded no useful information was obtained through the methods.
[Brian:] “The so-called ‘torture report’ says interrogators water-boarded suspects, forced detainees who had broken legs to stand for hours and employed quote rectal feeding un quote. …”
On Morning Edition:
“This is Morning Edition from NPR news. I’m Steve Inskeep.
“I’m Renee Montagne.
“What’s come to be known as the ‘torture report’ by Senate investigators … broke more new ground than expected.
“Lawmakers examined interrogations of terror suspects after nine-eleven.
[Steve:] “It was already known that interrogators used waterboarding, sleep deprivation and more.
“Senate investigators have now added to that story.
“The report, released by Democrats, contends the tactics failed to produce useful information.
[Renee:] “It says the CIA failed to tell lawmakers everything it was doing.
“And the report says interrogation practices were even more brutal than previously known.
“NPR’s National Security Correspondent Dina Temple-Raston reports on just what was more brutal.”
Also on Morning Edition, during a Two-Way with former CIA lawyer John Rizzo:
Renee: “I should warn our audience that there’s a difficult couple of techniques that I’m just going to describe in a line. One, putting a drill to a detainee’s head. Another, threatening sodomy with a broom handle. These were techniques that this report found were used. Do they constitute torture?”
Rizzo: “Well, they certainly were not authorized and they are indefensible. So, sure. I mean if those Justice Department legal opinions established the legal lines and legal limits … anything that went beyond those techniques, especially the gruesome ones that you described there, sure they would probably constitute torture.”
On All Things Considered:
Audie Cornish, to former CIA acting director John McLaughlin: “You had Senator John McCain on the Senate floor today saying torture produces more misleading information than actionable intelligence. And that is one major argument throughout this report – that there’s intelligence there that could have been yielded through other means – that some of the intelligence, using brutal techniques, was fabricated or not useful.”
Reminder: Other examples of how the word has been used include the way Robert Siegel said in April that the Senate report would address “the torture of terrorism suspects after 9/11.” Though there are those who argue that the techniques were not torture in the legal sense of that word, Merriam-Webster defines torture as “the act of causing severe physical pain as a form of punishment or as a way to force someone to do or say something.”
(Memmos; Dec. 10, 2014)
As you may have heard, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet wrote Thursday that “from now on, The Times will use the word ‘torture’ to describe incidents in which we know for sure that interrogators inflicted pain on a prisoner in an effort to get information.”
His post about the Times‘ position on use of that word is here. It came a week after President Obama’s “we tortured some folks” comment.
This is a good time to refresh our memory on NPR’s position. As with many such guidelines, it’s on our internal Wiki.
Here’s what Ellen Weiss wrote on Nov. 13, 2009. I’ve added some bold for emphasis:
“Contrary to some commentaries, NPR did not ban the word ‘torture.’ Rather, we gave our journalists guidance about how to avoid loaded language about interrogation techniques, realizing that no matter what words are chosen, we risk the appearance of taking one side or another. We asked our staff to avoid using imprecise descriptions that lump all techniques together, and to evaluate the use of the following descriptions, depending on context, including: ‘harsh’ or ‘extreme’ techniques; ‘enhanced interrogation techniques;’ and specific descriptions, such as ‘controlled drowning.’ We specifically advised them that they may use the word ‘torture’ when it makes sense in the context of the piece.“
In the years since Ellen’s note, debate over the word has continued and we’ve applied the guidance. For example, here’s Robert Siegel this past April:
“Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee moved a step closer to publishing parts of a report about the torture of terrorism suspects after 9/11. Lawmakers voted to send the report on to the White House and to CIA. The CIA will determine how much of the five-year-long study can be declassified. And President Obama could be called upon to referee any dispute of how much of the report sees the light of day.”
Here’s Tom Gjelten in May 2013:
“[President] Obama banned those interrogation techniques on his second day in office. But he has largely avoided the debate over whether torture in some cases has produced valuable information. … The program did not ‘work,’ the [Senate] committee said, in the sense that the ‘brutal’ interrogations — the torture — produced no information, no leads, of any use in tracking down terrorists.”
We’re constantly discussing and reviewing the language we use. Our guidance on use of the word “torture” comes down to the issue of whether it “makes sense in the context of the piece.” The Times says the test is whether “we know for sure that interrogators inflicted pain on a prisoner in an effort to get information.” I would think that if NPR is confident interrogators “inflicted pain on a prisoner in an effort to get information” that is the sort of context our guideline suggests is relevant.
(Memmos; Aug. 8, 2014)