Five Worst Examples Of Fox News Hosts Trivializing Torture

Fox News hosts rushed to minimize the severity of interrogation methods used by the CIA during the Bush administration in the wake of a Senate report outlining the agency's brutal techniques. Here are some of the network's worst attempts to trivialize torture.

Fox News Hosts: “We Humiliated A Few Terrorists” And Subjected Them To “A Little Bit Of Cold”

The Five Hosts: “All Of [The Detainees] Got Three Hot Meals.” On the December 10 episode of Fox News' The Five, co-hosts Dana Perino and Eric Bolling repeatedly dismissed the severity of torture techniques, referring to the interrogation as “tough talk to some terrorists” and arguing that the tactics could not have been that bad because "[a]ll of them got three hot meals":

PERINO: I'm not going to call it torture. Enhanced interrogation. Tough talk to some terrorists.


BOLLING: Take both sides of the story. Fair and balanced, find out what -- let's hear from the other side as well. And by the way, why are we taking sides. This is our safety we're talking about. Greg, you pointed out -- 39 enhanced interrogations. Three were waterboarded. Five rectal rehydrations. But zero died. Zero dismembered. Zero jumped to their death. All of them got three hot meals. [Fox News, The Five12/10/14]

Brian Kilmeade: “Some [Detainees] Had Sleep Deprivation. Some Had A Little Bit Of Cold.” While attempting to compare whether the CIA's use of torture was worse than drone strikes carried out by the United States, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade described some torture techniques as simply “sleep deprivation” and “a little bit of cold”:

KILMEADE: You're talking about, oh, Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded. And some had sleep deprivation, and some had a little bit of cold and whatever it was. Well what is worse? Having that and still be alive and getting to play soccer in Cuba right now, or having you be blown up when a hellfire missile hits you in the head? [Fox News, Fox & Friends12/11/14]

Jesse Watters: “So We Humiliated A Few Terrorists. No One Cares.” On Outnumbered on December 9, Fox News correspondent and guest co-host Jesse Watters said of potential backlash to the report, “So we roughed up a few of them. So we humiliated a few terrorists. No one cares.” He followed up saying, “It's not torture.” [Fox News, Outnumbered12/9/14]

Neil Cavuto Dismisses “Torture” Label: “You'd Almost Think We Were Chopping People's Fingers Off.” Attempting to draw a distinction between enhanced interrogation and torture on the December 9 episode of Your World, host Neil Cavuto told former Navy SEAL Jonathan Gilliam of the reported torture tactics, "[Y]ou'd almost think we were chopping people's fingers off."

GILLIAM: When you go over into torture from interrogation, you're now going to point where you're inflicting damage on somebody for little or no feedback at all, and it's basically to break a person's spirit overall for just the sheer fact of breaking their spirit.

CAVUTO: But you'd almost think we were chopping people's fingers off and [inaudible]. All I know, some of the incidents I've seen out of ISIS and others with these beheadings, is they're a little rougher when it comes to dealing with types they don't want. [Fox News, Your World12/9/14]

Sean Hannity: Being Waterboarded 183 Times Probably “Wasn't Pleasant.” On the December 10 edition of Sean Hannity's radio show, the Fox host described the 183 waterboardings of one detainee by saying, “Not fun. I'm sure it wasn't pleasant”:

HANNITY: So the worst thing that happened to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- KSM, the master mind of 9/11 -- was that for seven and a half days, they gave him sleep deprivation. They waterboarded this guy about 183 times. Alright, not fun. I'm sure it wasn't pleasant. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show12/9/14]

Senate Report Detailed Interrogation Practices That Were “More Brutal And Employed More Extensively” Than Previously Acknowledged

NY Times: “C.I.A.'s Interrogation Techniques Were More Brutal and Employed More Extensively” Than CIA Portrayed. The Times described how the report found that the CIA's “interrogation techniques were more brutal and employed more extensively than the agency portrayed.” The torture techniques used against detainees included “sleep deprivation up to a week” and “near drowning”:

The report describes extensive waterboarding as a “series of near drownings” and suggests that more prisoners were subjected to waterboarding than the three prisoners the C.I.A. has acknowledged in the past. The report also describes detainees being subjected to sleep deprivation for up to a week, medically unnecessary “rectal feeding” and death threats. Conditions at one prison, described by a clandestine officer as a “dungeon,” were blamed for the death of a detainee, and the harsh techniques were described as leading to “psychological and behavioral issues, including hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation.” [The New York Times12/9/14]

Detainees Were Forced To Stand On Broken Legs, Withstand Rectal Feeding, Stay Awake For Over A Week. To help readers “get a sense of the gravity of the abuses” performed on detainees, Vox outlined some of the most “egregious behaviors” in the Senate report, which included:

Interrogators forced detainees to stand on broken feet.


CIA interrogators threatened to sexually assault the mother of a detainee


Abu Zubaydah lost his left eye in CIA custody.


Detainees were kept awake for as long as 180 hours -- over a week.


At least 26 out of 119 known detainees were wrongfully held. [Vox, 12/9/14]

Report Found That Actual Practices “Often Went Far Beyond” Those Approved By Department Of Justice. As Politico reported, the interrogation techniques laid out in the torture report frequently “went far beyond” what had been approved by the Department of Justice:

The congressional review also says that the CIA's actual tactics often went far beyond the terms laid out in Justice Department legal opinions, subjecting detainees to prolonged interrogation under a combination of harsh techniques and ignoring safeguards set forth in the legal memos such as ensuring that interrogators were well-trained and had high-level approvals before using the unusually aggressive tactics. [Politico12/9/14]