US Media and Post-9/11 Human Rights Violations in the Name of Counterterrorism

Brigitte L. Nacos, Yaeli Bloch-Elkon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This article adds to earlier research revealing that the American news media did not discharge their responsibility as a watchdog press in the post-9/11 years by failing to scrutinize extreme and unlawful government policies and actions, most of all the decision to invade Iraq based on false information about Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction arsenal. The content analyses presented here demonstrate that leading US news organizations, both television and print, did not expressly refer to human rights violations when they reported on the torturing of foreign detainees during “enhanced interrogations” in US-run prison facilities abroad and the killing of civilians, including children, in US drone strikes overseas and outside theaters of war. Moreover, by framing torture and the “collateral damage” caused by drone-launched missile attacks episodically rather than in the context of human rights, the news media failed to alert the American public to the grave humanitarian violations in the so-called war on terrorism during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-210
Number of pages18
JournalHuman Rights Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature.


  • Civilian victims
  • Collateral damage
  • Episodic and thematic framing patterns
  • Media responsibility
  • Public opinion
  • Torture
  • Warfare


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