Bush and Abuse in French Media

Bush in French MediaThis is the picture French media is running of Bush’s speech on September 6 in which he again spoke to families of 9/11 victims of the War on Terror but also acknowledged secret CIA prisons had been used to transfer captured terrorists (photo from Le Monde). Carefully selected, no doubt.

Aside from the French media, together with other European media*, carefully selecting the images they choose to print of the President of the United States to convey the idea that he is a clown, Le Monde’s coverage of yesterday’s speech reported that Bush seemed to be trying to restore America’s credibility and moral authority (quoting John Kerry) but also seemed to question his proposal for moving forward on trying terrorist detainees in military tribunals (“La bataille est désormais engagée au Sénat, car le président continue à vouloir limiter les droits de la défense.“)

Finally, the article reports the Pentagon’s release of its standards for interrogation on Sept. 6, which specifically prohibit certain methods of interrogation such as “forcing a detainee to be naked or perform sexual acts; using beatings and other forms of causing pain, including electric shocks; placing hoods over prisoners’ heads or tape on their eyes; mock executions; withholding food, water or medical care; using dogs against detainees; and waterboarding.

In its reporting of this enumeration of prohibited techniques, Le Monde seems to take the same approach to this list as Andrew Sullivan (and others) who seem to be saying that because they were not proscribed on an enumerated list before today, they were specifically allowed or even endorsed. Piggybacking on Stuart’s Sept. 6 recommendation of Heather Mac Donald’s 2005 City Journal article on prisoner abuse, I would hope that readers of Andrew Sullivan and Marty Lederman would also read Heather Mac Donald’s response to this type of analysis. This is certainly not so they will come around to endorse torture (I don’t and neither does Heather Mac Donald seem to) but rather so that they can get an alternative analysis of what types of treatment were endorsed by whom, for whom, and when. I think it is disputable whether the lack of specific enumeration of prohibited techniques meant that they were specifically allowed.

*This is the picture German media was running of President Bush’s visit to Salt Lake City last week for a speech about the War on Terror (photo from Die Welt):