This what the Weasel in Charge said about the situation back then:
When the first revelations emerged a decade ago, the situation was murky. The details about what the Central Intelligence Agency did in its interrogation rooms were vague. The word “torture” had a specialized legal meaning as well as a plain-English one. While the methods set off a national debate, the Justice Department insisted that the techniques did not rise to the legal definition of “torture.” The Times described what we knew of the program but avoided a label that was still in dispute, instead using terms like harsh or brutal interrogation methods.Bull-motherfucking-shit.
This is what my Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (7th Edition) says is torture: "The infliction of intense pain to punish, coerce or afford sadistic pleasure." By any rational review of what the CIA and the Army was reportedly doing to prisoners, at the time, they were practicing torture. There is nothing "murky" about waterboarding or beating people to jelly or stripping them naked, dousing them with cold water and tossing them into refrigerated cells. That was torture.
Here's an easy test: If the Gestapo or the KGB did the same thing, would the Times have called that "brutal interrogation" or "torture"? If the Taliban had captured a Times reporter and beat the shit out of him until he confessed to being a Crusader spy, would they have said that "he received a severe beating" or "he was tortured"?
There wasn't anything murky about what the CIA was doing. But if a book is ever written about the Grey Lady's connivance at the aggression of the Iraq War or her turning her back on the CIA's war crimes, I have a suggestion for a title:
"Profiles in Cowardice".