Euphemisms

Only minutes after President Obama’s speech at the U.S. National Archives in Washington on closing down Guantánamo prison camp what he called a “misguided experiment”, former vice president Dick Cheney denounced the decision saying it came “without deliberation and no plan.” A large part of Cheney’s speech at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, a neocon think tank, deals with recent euphemisms used in the Global War on Terror, a term, the Obama administration has abandoned. The now prescribed terminology is “overseas contingency operations”.

“In the event of another attack on America, the Homeland Security Department assures us it will be ready for this, quote, ‘man-made disaster’ – never mind that the whole Department was created for the purpose of protecting Americans from terrorist attack.

“Another term out there that slipped into the discussion is the notion that American interrogation practices were a ‘recruitment tool’ for the enemy. On this theory, by the questioning of killers, we supposedly fallen short of our own values. This recruitment theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the President himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It’s another version of that same old refrain from the Left, ‘We brought it on ourselves.’

“In the category of euphemisms, the prizewinning entry would be a recent editorial in a familiar newspaper that referred to terrorists we’ve captured as, quote, ‘abducted.’ Here we have ruthless enemies of this country, stopped in their tracks by brave operatives in the service of America, and a major editorial page makes them sound like they were kidnapped victims at random on their way to the movies.”

It was, of course, the former Bush administration, where Cheney had been the vice president, which had introduced some of the most unjustified euphemisms and exaggerations after 9-11. Has there ever been a Global War on Terrorism? Or had it rather been a modern crusade? Enhanced interrogation techniques are torture, what else? Enemy combatants? A term coined to deprive prisoners of war of their Geneva Conventions rights. The use of these euphemisms has destroyed America’s reputation as a democracy, and that might be more devastating and longer lasting than the 9-11 attacks eight years ago.

Cheney mentions also alleged effectiveness of CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.

“Maybe you’ve heard that when we captured KSM [Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, reportedly the principal architect of the 9-11 attacks], he said he would talk as soon as he got to New York City and saw his lawyer. But like many critics of interrogations, he clearly misunderstood the business at hand. American personnel were not there to commence an elaborate legal proceeding, but to extract information from him before al-Qaeda could strike again and kill more of our people.”

Khaled Sheikh Mohammed had been waterboarded 183 times. A list of his confessions can be found at Wikipedia:

• The February 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City

• A failed “shoe bomber” operation

• The October 2003 attack in Kuwait

• The nightclub bombing in Bali, Indonesia

• A plan for a “second wave” of attacks on major U.S. landmarks after the 9-11 attacks, including the Library Tower in Los Angeles, the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Plaza Bank Building in Seattle and the Empire State Building in New York

• Plots to attack oil tankers and U.S. naval ships in the Straits of Hormuz, the Straits of Gibraltar and Singapore

• A plan to blow up the Panama Canal

• Plans to assassinate Jimmy Carter

• A plot to blow up suspension bridges in New York City

• A plan to destroy the Sears Tower in Chicago with burning fuel trucks

• Plans to “destroy” Heathrow Airport, Canary Wharf and Big Ben in London

• A planned attack on “many” nightclubs in Thailand

• A plot targeting the New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. financial targets

• A plan to destroy buildings in Eilat, Israel

• Plans to destroy U.S. embassies in Indonesia, Australia and Japan in 2002

• Plots to destroy Israeli embassies in India, Azerbaijan, the Philippines and Australia

• Surveying and financing an attack on an Israeli El-Al flight from Bangkok

• Sending several “mujahideen” into Israel to survey “strategic targets” with the intention of attacking them

• The November 2002 suicide bombing of a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya

• The failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli passenger jet leaving Mombasa airport in Kenya

• Plans to attack U.S. targets in South Korea

• Providing financial support for a plan to attack U.S., British and Jewish targets in Turkey

• Surveillance of U.S. nuclear power plants in order to attack them

• A plot to attack NATO’s headquarters in Europe

• Planning and surveillance in a 1995 plan (the “Bojinka Operation”) to bomb 12 American passenger jets

• The planned assassination attempt against then-U.S. President Bill Clinton during a mid-1990s trip to the Philippines

• “Shared responsibility” for a plot to kill Pope John Paul II

• Plans to assassinate Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf

• An attempt to attack a U.S. oil company in Sumatra, Indonesia, “owned by the Jewish former [U.S.] Secretary of State Henry Kissinger”

• The beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl

As regards the final item on this very long list, Kahlid’s confession led lawyers of Daniel Pearl’s alleged killer, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh (the man who, according to Benazir Bhutto in her infamous interview with David Frost in November 2007 “had murdered Osama bin Laden”) appeal of their client’s death sentence.

Did Cheney ever read George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four? Did it inspire him? Does he remember the character Emmanuel Goldstein?

This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Iraq, Terrorism, USA and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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