FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The T Word

Three BBC correspondents were treated horribly in Libya by Khadafi forces. They were beaten, hooded, and subjected to mock executions.

The New York Times headlined its report “3 BBC Journalists Report Being Tortured in Libya.”

It’s noteworthy, and not in a good way, that the Gray Lady got it wrong.

By international treaty–the Convention Against Torture–“torture” is severe mistreatment applied for the purpose of extracting a confession: “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession.”

The purpose of the treaty is to remove physical and mental mistreatment from the menu of permitted prosecutorial techniques, and discourage the formation of a state justice apparatus reliant upon extorted and often false testimony.

The BBC journalists were beaten and terrorized in order to intimidate them, not to extract a confession.

What they endured was “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”–mistreatment that is specifically exempted from the Convention Against Torture.

Apparently as long as government incentives to abuse prisoners to extract confessions were removed, the governments that signed the Convention were unwilling to provide the same protections against abuse to detainees if it was motivated by the perceived needs for prison discipline, or as a simple exercise in recreational sadism.

It’s also the kind of treatment that is applied ad nauseum in US-run detention facilities overseas.

Bradley Manning is being tortured: he is being mistreated in order to compel him to confess and, presumably, implicate Julian Assange.

The New York Times hasn’t deemed it fit to characterize the conditions of Bradley Manning’s detention as “torture”.

Maybe that’s why it’s so sloppy with its use of the term.

PETER LEE edits China Matters.

More articles by:

Peter Lee edits China Matters and writes about Asia for CounterPunch.  

March 25, 2019
Dave Lindorff
The TSA’s Role as Journalist Harasser and Media ‘Watchdog’
Jonathan Cook
Three Lessons for the Left from the Mueller Inquiry
Tanya Golash-Boza – Michael Golash
Epifanio Camacho: a Militant Farmworker Brushed Out of History
Robert Fisk
Don’t Believe the Hype: Here’s Why ISIS Hasn’t Been Defeated
Jack Rasmus
The Capitulation of Jerome Powell and the Fed
Lawrence Davidson
Israel’s Moves to the Right
John Feffer
After Trump
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9/11
Dean Baker
The Importance of Kicking Up: Changing Market Structures So the Rich Don’t Get All the Money
Lawrence Wittner
What Democratic Socialism Is and Is Not
Thomas Knapp
Suppressing Discussion Doesn’t Solve the Problem. It is the Problem.
Stephen Cooper
“I’m a Nine-Star General Now”: an Interview with Black Uhuru’s Duckie Simpson
Andrew Moss
Immigration and the Democratic Hopefuls
Weekend Edition
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
Peter Mayo
US Higher Education Influence Takes a Different Turn
Martha Rosenberg
New Study Confirms That Eggs are a Stroke in a Shell
Ted Rall
The Greatest Projects I Never Mad
George Wuerthner
Saving the Big Wild: Why Aren’t More Conservationists Supporting NREPA?
Norman Solomon
Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for President
Ralph Nader
Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs
Tracey L. Rogers
White Supremacy is a Global Threat
Nyla Ali Khan
Intersectionalities of Gender and Politics in Indian-Administered Kashmir
Karen J. Greenberg
Citizenship in the Age of Trump: Death by a Thousand Cuts
Jill Richardson
Getting It Right on What Stuff Costs
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail