Humint Events Online: Apparently the Chinese Don't Torture Either

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Apparently the Chinese Don't Torture Either

This is truly astounding:
On Monday, I noted that this Associated Press article twice used the word "torture" to describe what the Chinese Government did to Xue Feng, an American geologist now convicted of obtaining China's "state secrets." AP used the word "torture" despite the fact that (a) the treatment to which the Chinese subjected him (a few cigarette burns on his arms) clearly does not meet the Bush/Cheney/John-Yoo definition of "torture," and (b) the Chinese Government vehemently denies that its treatment of prisoners rises to the level of "torture." I very satirically demanded that AP apologize to China and cease using the word "torture" to describe what it did in light of the prevailing American media standard as articulated by the NYT's Bill Keller, The Washington Post, and NPR: namely, that the word "torture" must not be used by Good Journalists (at least when it comes to the U.S. Government) if the abuse falls short of the Government's official definition and/or if the Government denies that what it does is "torture." That, explained our leading media mavens, would be "taking sides," and only Bad Journalists do that.

Imagine my amazement when, several hours after I wrote that, I discovered that AP had -- with no explanation or even indication -- completely deleted the word "torture" from its article in both places where it had appeared (compare the original version to the edited version). It's as though AP really had decided that it was being unfair to China -- "taking sides" -- by using the word "torture" to describe Chinese torture. That discovery led to the following email exchange I had with Charles Hutzler, the AP reporter whose name appeared on the article's byline:

From: Glenn Greenwald//Sent: Tuesday, July 06, 2010 9:57 PM //To: Hutzler, Charles; Hutzler, Charles //Subject: Torture/China

Mr. Hutzler - Yesterday at Salon, I wrote about your use of the word "torture" to describe what the Chinese Government did to Xue Feng. Thereafter, the AP article was edited to delete all references to "torture" (compare this to this ).

I'd like to write about this change. Can you shed any light on why this was done?

Glenn Greenwald

From: "Charles Hutzler"//To: Glenn Greenwald//Sent: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 11:13:22 AM (GMT-0300) Auto-Detected//Subject: RE: Torture/China

Dear Mr. Greenwald:

Sorry, I can't. But keep up the good fight.

All the best,


From: Glenn Greenwald//To: "Charles Hutzler"//Sent: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 11:22:19 AM (GMT-0300) Auto-Detected//Subject: Re: Torture/China

Thanks for the response, which I genuinely appreciate: But just to clarify, you (a) can't shed light on the change because you don't know what accounted for it, or (b) do know what accounted for it but can't/won't say?

He stopped responding. Apparently, AP's policy with regard to the use of the word "torture," along with the reason for this rather striking change when it comes to reporting on the Chinese Government -- both obviously significant matters -- are not anything we can or should know about.
So now our scum-sucking, worthless press is propagandizing for the Chinese regime?

Good to know...


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4:37 AM  

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