What is the science behind waterboarding

Waterboarding for US media not torture

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One of them is a terrorist, so is an old and banal wisdom, the other is a freedom fighter. And depending on which war party abuses prisoners, the US media sees it as either committing torture - or not. In any case, this is the impression left by a recently published study by the US elite Harvard University, carried out in April.

Specifically, it is about the practice of waterboarding that was carried out during the Bush years. The mouth of a man in chains is covered with a cloth and water gives him the impression that he is on the verge of drowning. The journalist Christopher Hitchens has impressively tested this method on his own body - and clearly defined it as torture.

Four largest US newspapers examined

The four most widespread US print media, USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal, saw it differently, according to the study. When non-American states use waterboarding, the papers describe it as torture. If US officials are doing the same, this attribution is avoided.

Since 2000, and especially since 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror proclaimed by US President George W. Bush, this trend has intensified massively.

9/11 brought about change

Between the 1930s and 1999, for example, the New York Times described waterboarding as "torture" in 81 percent of its reports, and between 2000 and 2008 it was only 1.4 percent. According to the study, more than 150 articles on waterboarding were published in 2007 and 2008 alone.

Renowned Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan, originally an avowed supporter of the war in Iraq, sharply criticized his colleagues for this. Instead of calling things by their names, the New York Times and the like have made themselves "mouthpieces for war criminals".

Glenn Greenwald from the blog veteran Salon.com paints an equally gloomy picture: "As always, the media of the US establishment follow the government." As long as Washington criticized the practice of waterboarding in other states, so would the newspapers. When that changed, the editors simply adopted the government's new language regime. (flon / derStandard.at, July 2nd, 2010)