For some fine examples of how language is being manipulated in the War on Terror, try the Cato Institute briefing paper Doublespeak and the War on Terrorism. This 16-page report is very readable, and somewhat disturbing. Read on for some of my favourites…
Suicide attempts by prisoners are now “self-injurious behaviour incidents”:
When three men hanged themselves in their cells [at Guantanamo Bay], the camp commander, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, went so far as to say that the suicides were â€œan act of asymmetrical warfareâ€ against the American military.
Yes, that’s right. A prisoner killing himself is an attack on America.
And prisoners held in military jails shouldn’t have access to the courts because:
According to Bushâ€™s lawyers, the courts should not â€œsecond-guessâ€ the presidentâ€™s â€œbattlefieldâ€ decisions… But when the government attorneys were pressed about their definition of the term â€œbattlefield,â€ they said they considered the entire world to be the battlefield, including every inch of US territory… That is a profoundly disturbing claim because there are no legal rights whatsoever on the battlefield. Military commanders simply exercise raw power.
Thanks to Bruce Schneier for the pointer.
One Reply to ““War on Terror” Doublespeak”
Iâ€™ve just been told that a friend whoâ€™s teaching â€œEnglish for business and ITâ€ in Germany will be using this Cato Institute report as a comprehension exercise in his next lesson.
Perhaps he should use that most famous piece of doublespeak, â€œArbeit macht freiâ€.
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