File this one in the “about time” folder: New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet just published a note to readers in which he pledges that the newspaper will deploy the English language to describe things, particularly the infliction of pain by interrogators to force detainees to cough up information. Here’s how such things will be described from here on out in the pages of the New York Times:
[F]rom now on, The Times will use the word “torture” to describe incidents in which we know for sure that interrogators inflicted pain on a prisoner in an effort to get information.
That’s a change. As Baquet notes in his explanation, the Times had previously used terms such as “harsh or brutal interrogation methods” to describe “torture,” in deference to a “murky” factual landscape and U.S. government officials who insisted that these methods didn’t meet the legal definition of torture — even though any discerning reader could see that such claims were preposterous.
We’ll now dive into the archives to fish out the paper’s greatest torture euphemisms.