Washington Post reporter Paul Kane explains the reluctance to use the word "torture" to describe torture:
New York, N.Y.: What's the difference betwee the "harsh interrogations" I keep reading about in The Post and actual "torture"? If it's the same thing, then why not just call it "torture"? I don't get it. Aren't you guys continuing to catapult Bush-era propaganda when you use such NewSpeak euphemisms for what we all (finally) know was clearly torture, based on U.S. and International law?
Paul Kane: You can't call someone a convicted murderer until he/she has actually been convicted.
Understand? Get it?
The reason we say "alleged" murder and things like that is for our own legal protection. So we can't be sued for libel. Take a look at financial reports on the newspaper business. We're not going to do anything that leads to us losing any more money these days.
So who does the Post think is going to sue them for libel if they refer to torture as "torture"? It doesn't seem like there is a long line of people who participated in harsh interrogations torture who are eager to litigate their conduct, but maybe I'm wrong.