"Torture"

Over the last few years, it has been interesting to note which news organizations use the word "torture," and which don't. Several newspapers enclose the word in quotation marks; while others precede it with complicated caveats ("techniques often regarded as torture," for instance.)

Andrew Sullivan, perhaps more than any other working journalist, has chronicled usage — or lack of usage — on his blog. Today, he references a post by Steve Chapman, a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune, on Reason magazine's website:

...if effectiveness is the only gauge, why even debate whether these techniques fit the definition of torture? The problem with using "it worked" as an argument is that it justifies too much. By that rationale, we can justify subjecting enemy captives to every form of torture ever devised. We can even justify torturing and killing their spouses, siblings, parents, and children, right in front of them.

Cheney and others have yet to advocate going that far. But if they really believe what they say about the techniques we've used, here's a question they need to answer: Why not?

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