Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 13, 2005

Humane Restraint

Newsweek has this picture next to a piece The Debate Over Torture:

John Moore / Getty Images

It is an recent photo by an embedded photographer. The military obviously believes that there is nothing to hide here. The caption to this picture says:

An Iraqi detainee screams "Allah" while tied down in a "humane restraint chair" at the maximum security section of the Abu Ghraib Prison on Oct. 28, 2005. U.S. Army military police said that he had been given two hours in the chair as punishment. The suspected insurgent, a juvenile, had earlier been moved to the maximum-security section of the prison for 30 days for attacking a guard in another section of the facility.

Maybe people do not think this is torture. But is this not inhumane, cruel and degrading treatment? Is this not unusual punishment?

Does the boy in this "humane restraint chair" know why was he arrested?

But the US military thinks this is just fine humane, usual punishment and there is no problem if a Pulitzer price wining professional photographer takes this picture.

Will they ever learn?

Posted by b on November 13, 2005 at 20:19 UTC | Permalink


Will they ever learn?

Learn what ? Not to allow pictures ? (sarcasm)

We use 'Humane restraint chairs' on our own prison population as punishment too. Anyone else noticed an Orwellian aspect of the devices name ?

Yep, winning thier 'Hearts and Minds' ... ah, no, that's my naivety coming to the fore ... we aren't actually trying to win any Iraqis 'hearts and minds', we're simply broadly attempting to break their will to resist a permanent U.S. military occupation of what used to be their country ... all elite discussions of withdrawal envision a permanent U.S. 'rump' of ~60,000 troops ...

Which if we achieve the Demo-publicans vision of 'victory', will be a U.S. run Bantustan in the Israeli style ...

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 13 2005 20:57 utc | 1

I sit in a chair like that all day at the office, no problem.

Posted by: Rummy | Nov 13 2005 21:12 utc | 2


QUESTION: Is this a fair evaluation of the U.S. policy on torture: we do not torture detainees but we want to have an exception for the CIA in case it's ever necessary --

MR. ERELI: No, I think there is a clear statement of policy -- is the Administration's statement of policy, which is available to you. I'll endeavor to get you the site. It should be on a website somewhere and you can read it for yourself. It's exhaustive.

Posted by: b | Nov 13 2005 21:16 utc | 3

We use 'Humane restraint chairs' on our own prison population as punishment too.


Posted by: b | Nov 13 2005 21:17 utc | 4

An Orwellian piece of editorial shit from the Wall Street Journal

Two persistent sources of confusion in this debate have been misreadings of the Geneva Conventions and sloppy (or willfully distorted) use of the word "torture." The Geneva Conventions are very strict about which detainees qualify for the protections of "prisoner of war" status: They must, for example, have fought in uniform and shown some respect for the laws of war, such as avoiding attacks on civilians.

What's more, any form of manipulation, including positive reinforcements such as better rations, are forbidden when it comes to interrogating legitimate POWs. Recognizing guerrillas and terrorists as POWs would be a form of unilateral disarmament, and, worse, would legitimize their behavior. The U.S. was respecting, not skirting, international law when it refused to classify them as such.

Posted by: b | Nov 13 2005 21:25 utc | 5

"Know that there are five degrees of torture, videlicit, first, the torture of being threatened to be tortured; secondly, the torture of being conveyed to the place of torture; thirdly, the torture of being, and bound for torture; fourthly, the torture of being hoisted on the torturing rack; and fifthly, and lastly, the torture of squassation."

- Philip Limborch, a preacher and able annotator, quotes in his History of the Inquisition, a writer of the name of Julius Clarus, whom it would appear formed a very forcible idea of the powers of imagination, since he allows them four parts in five of the torments decreed by that satanic tribunal.

The purpose of torture is often as much to force acquiescence on an enemy, or destroy a person psychologically from within, as it is to gain information, and its effects endure long after the torture itself has ended. In this sense torture is often described by survivors as "never ending".

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 13 2005 21:31 utc | 6

"Will they ever learn?"

Learn what? That might does not equal right? That the best tool for fixing a broken watch isn't necessarily a sledgehammer? No. But they have learned a few other things.

These people have learned patience. They have learned craft. They have learned to utilise fear. And these lessons are not only applicable towards consolidating their authoritarian grip in the United States, they have learned to apply these lessons to people everywhere.

Photos like the one of the juvenile in the "humane restraint chair" are, unlike the photos of abuses from Abu Ghraib, internationally illegal (unless you can argue that the chair, and not the prisoner, is the "public curiosity" here). But they have learned to get around international law.

They have learned from their past mistakes and remain with us more powerful and pervasive than ever... and all the while they have remained true to their dictum that "(w)hen you've got 'em by their balls, their hearts and minds will follow".

Maybe we are the ones who refuse to learn. Amongst our axioms are the "quaint" beliefs (to paraphrase Gonzalez) that humans are basically good and that no population will tolerate injustice and corruption for very long. This does not seem to be borne out by the evidence and these core beliefs of ours are the very things that are used to manipulate us over and over again. I will call the US administration many unflattering things, but to suggest that they are stupid or incapable of learning does us far more harm than it does them.

Posted by: Monolycus | Nov 13 2005 22:11 utc | 7

The Geneva Conventions, international law requiring humane treatment, applied to some, but maybe not all prisoners—or did they? The answer seemed to depend on—what? No one seemed to know for sure. The international Convention Against Torture, ratified by the United States in 1994, bans the "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of all prisoners. But Justice Department lawyers had obligingly declared that the president could ignore such constraints.

Apart from the above paragraph the NewsWeek article is largely a 'soft pedal' story. They use certain phrases and sentence structure to deny the truth and soften the realities involved. A seamy 'soft sell' ...

Torture is Torture and should be referred to as such, NOT evasively 'watered down' as 'abuse'.

Oh, the other thing is the NewsWeek article gives the impression we don't have a history of using torture. Simply untrue. More revisionist forgetting. It's just the current Cabal are more than happy to advertise it and shine light into otherwise previously dark corners 'cause it suits their overall strategy.

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 13 2005 22:34 utc | 8

A brief glimpse into our denied, wilfully forgotten, history ... and a clear insight into why the Latin Americans and Iranians, amongst others, object to their experience of the 'reality' of our foreign policy and export of U.S. style 'democracy' & 'freedom' ...


Torture’s Teachers
By A.J. Langguth

... Dan Mitrione, the United States policy adviser [CIA, Uruguay, 1970]...

... I see that I too had resisted acknowledging how drastically a man’s career can deform him. I was aware that Mr. Mitrione knew of the tortures and condoned them. That was bad enough. I could not believe even worse of a family man. A Midwesterner. An American.

Thanks to Mr. Hevia, I was finally hearing Mr. Mitrione’s true voice:

"When you receive a subject, the first thing to do is to determine his physical state, his degree of resistance, through a medical examination. A premature death means a failure by the technician.

"Another important thing to know is exactly how far you can go given the political situation and the personality of the prisoner. It is very important to know beforehand whether we have the luxury of letting the subject die…

"Before all else, you must be efficient. You must cause only the damage that is strictly necessary, not a bit more. We must control our tempers in any case. You have to act with the efficiency and cleanliness of a surgeon and with the perfection of an artist…

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 13 2005 22:56 utc | 9

Torture (excerpts)

For those readers who have difficulty believing that American government civilian and military personnel could be closely involved in the torture of foreigners, it is suggested that they consider what these Americans have done to other Americans.

At the US Navy's schools in San Diego and Maine during the 1960s and 1970s, students were supposedly learning about methods of "survival, evasion, resistance and escape" which they could use if they were ever a prisoner of war. There was in the course something of survival in a desert, where students were forced to eat lizards, but the naval officers and cadets were also subjected to beatings, jarring judo flips, "tiger cages"-hooded and placed in a 16-cubic-foot box for 22 hours with a coffee can for their excrement-and a torture device called the "water board": the subject strapped to an inclined board, head downward, a towel placed over his face, and cold water poured over the towel; he would choke, gag, retch and gurgle as he experienced the sensation of drowning.

A former student, Navy pilot Lt. Wendell Richard Young, claimed that his back was broken during the course and that students were tortured into spitting, urinating and defecating on the American flag, masturbating before guards, and, on one occasion, engaging in sex with an instructor...

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 13 2005 23:11 utc | 10

how hard it is to stay even tempered - when you have before your eyes the birth of the american einsatzgruppen

the workers of this particular toil - are the inheritors of the legacy of kaltenbrunner, heydrich, beria, yagoda, & the armies of death squads that wander iraq under the flag of occupation are the mirror of those who wandered through the east burning everything to the ground

that is their real history & it is a continuing history - it is the history of illegal state formations gone mad like the police battalions, the secret police, the gestapo, the sd

& the americans are there. it is not hyperbole . it is the reality for anyone who has confronted u s power whether it was patrice lumumba or anyone in the middle east who can offer some form of vision outside that of the greedridden & diseased empire

b's correct with the wapo editorial - these people who shit ink over spilt blood legitimise directly the horror show it is in the end their entertainement perhaps more than the paractitioners of torture - for they are surely torturing their public lying in such a way that the truth has to scream to be heard

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 14 2005 0:28 utc | 11

some graduates from the university of terror

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 14 2005 2:13 utc | 13

some scooling on america's trainers of torture

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 14 2005 2:22 utc | 14

Mark Twain's observation that "there is no distinct, native American criminal class--except Congress."

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 14 2005 2:32 utc | 15

in that wapo editorial, it is stated that "Recognizing guerrillas and terrorists as POWs...would legitimize their behavior." a textbook case of the pot calling the kettle black, isn't it? in what way is the invasion/occupation of their lands legal & w/i the bounds of international law? respect? yeah right. torture is a counterinsurgency tactic of destroying a political structure through its members or base of support. when a propaganda rag like this says that the insurgency isn't legit & that the united states is respecting international law, you know that their little fantasy world is collapsing soon.

Posted by: b real | Nov 14 2005 3:30 utc | 16

For G-d's sake, that's a European or American in that chair! Look at his neck, hands and torso. He's from the South, probably Texas or Arkansas.

This is another Rovian setup like the fake Bush Air Reserves records that destroyed Rather's career, and exploded the MSM investigation into Bush's AWOL during Viet Nam, just as they were getting close to proving it, conclusively.

The Left Blogistan is going to run with this, then BushCo will prove it's a fake, and there goes the ball game, you klutz's! It's a setup photo, I'll prove it. There's nothing in that not allowed under Geneva Convention! When's the last time you saw an Iraqi with size 12 feet and a Shick shave!

Posted by: tante aime | Nov 14 2005 5:21 utc | 17

I feel inclined to agree with tante aime's evaluation.

Posted by: aschweig | Nov 14 2005 6:36 utc | 18

Pretty upscale clogs and nice laundered white tee shirt. I think you’re on to something tante aime.

Could these guys really be that stupid?
But then Rather took the bait. Sometimes, I imagine, we can all be quite gullible even while consciously trying not to be.

Posted by: Juannie | Nov 14 2005 6:37 utc | 19

Of course it's torture - have you ever tried to sleep in a chair like that. It's a damn bitch. Really hard on the neck.

Posted by: jj | Nov 14 2005 7:04 utc | 20

There's a lot of chatter about Bush being drunk at the Virginia governor's race appearance. That might be more wishful thinking. Bush, the president who loves his sleep and in deteriorating physical health, was just back from one of his few overseas trips where he got blasted but by a bad reaction to him. What might be more likely he was just exhausted holding onto the podium.

Yeah, somebody did a heck of job turning the story from Bush ducking on his Naty Guard duty to a story on fake docs. And this from the administration that runs on fake docs.

Posted by: christofay | Nov 14 2005 7:08 utc | 21

Yeah... um... yeah.

Why would they dress a real prisoner in a military detention facility (especially when a reporter with a camera was around)in a clean prison jumpsuit? Shouldn't prisoners be wearing rags or something to make it look more dungeon-esque? And a real prisoner wouldn't be wearing shower shoes that fit. They'd have newspapers or something wrapped around their tiny, little Arab feet. Good to see so many expert penologists and physical anthropologists here on the ball.

Except that the photo doesn't purport to show "abuse" and therefore was never in any danger of creating an egg-on-your-face scandal like the AWOL Bush docs were. The scandal is our illegal detention and treatment of prisoners. Was the photo staged? It was certainly "arranged", since it was taken by a photojournalist and published by a quasi-legitimate news agency (and doesn't have any boyish women in it giving the prisoner a "thumbs up"). But how you make the leap that just because it was released by the military for public consumption it must be entirely faked and setting you up for a fall is a little beyond my powers of deduction.

I'm beginning to understand why the far Right characterise us as tin-foil hat wearing loonies, though. There's healthy cynicism and then there's destructive paranoia. Now excuse me while I go demonstrate how the moon landing was faked in 1969.

Posted by: Monolycus | Nov 14 2005 7:09 utc | 22

Unless... tante aime and aschweig are really saboteurs who wanted me to disagree with them so as to discredit the Left when it was revealed that the photo actually is fake... except that they'd anticipate that I'd be on to that ploy, so they'd make sure the photo wasn't fake first just to set me up. But then, they'd have to realise that I would see through that gambit and realise that they would know that I knew they were setting me up, so they would make sure that the photo is faked!

We could do this all day. Meanwhile, Bushco defends torture.

Posted by: Monolycus | Nov 14 2005 7:18 utc | 23

There's healthy cynicism and then there's destructive paranoia

I couldn't agree more, Monolycus. Just noticed this elsewhere. I thought some progress was being made, but maybe not. What exactly is everyone so terrified of? There are real things but to name them accurately would help. Fear of government has always been a hook for something else. They've been doing all these dastardly things all along and people have been living above, below, in and around it.

This whole torture fixation is out of control. It's always gone families, cities, countries...and it will continue. You can't stop it. Just as long as you don't do it.

Posted by: jm | Nov 14 2005 7:22 utc | 24

NYT: Doing Unto Others as They Did Unto Us

Fearful of future terrorist attacks and frustrated by the slow progress of intelligence-gathering from prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Pentagon officials turned to the closest thing on their organizational charts to a school for torture. That was a classified program at Fort Bragg, N.C., known as SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. Based on studies of North Korean and Vietnamese efforts to break American prisoners, SERE was intended to train American soldiers to resist the abuse they might face in enemy custody.

The Pentagon appears to have flipped SERE's teachings on their head, mining the program not for resistance techniques but for interrogation methods. At a June 2004 briefing, the chief of the United States Southern Command, Gen. James T. Hill, said a team from Guantánamo went "up to our SERE school and developed a list of techniques" for "high-profile, high-value" detainees. General Hill had sent this list - which included prolonged isolation and sleep deprivation, stress positions, physical assault and the exploitation of detainees' phobias - to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who approved most of the tactics in December 2002.
Three soldiers have been ordered to stand trial on murder charges in General Mowhoush's death. Yet the Pentagon cannot point to any intelligence gains resulting from the techniques that have so tarnished America's image. That's because the techniques designed by communist interrogators were created to control a prisoner's will rather than to extract useful intelligence.

A full account of how our leaders reacted to terrorism by re-engineering Red Army methods must await an independent inquiry. But the SERE model's embrace by the Pentagon's civilian leaders is further evidence that abuse tantamount to torture was national policy, not merely the product of rogue freelancers. After the shock of 9/11 - when Americans desperately wanted mastery over a world that suddenly seemed terrifying - this policy had visceral appeal. But it's the task of command authority to connect means and ends rationally. The Bush administration has too frequently failed to do this. And so it is urgent that Congress step in to tie our detainee policy to our national interest.

Posted by: b | Nov 14 2005 7:31 utc | 25

from the new yorker.... A DEADLY INTERROGATION

At the end of a secluded cul-de-sac, in a fast-growing Virginia suburb favored by employees of the Central Intelligence Agency, is a handsome replica of an old-fashioned farmhouse, with a white-railed front porch. The large back yard has a swimming pool, which, on a recent October afternoon, was neatly covered. In the driveway were two cars, a late-model truck, and an all-terrain vehicle. The sole discordant note was struck by a faded American flag on the porch; instead of fluttering in the autumn breeze, it was folded on a heap of old Christmas ornaments.

The house belongs to Mark Swanner, a forty-six-year-old C.I.A. officer who has performed interrogations and polygraph tests for the agency, which has employed him at least since the nineteen-nineties. (He is not a covert operative.) Two years ago, at Abu Ghraib prison, outside Baghdad, an Iraqi prisoner in Swanner’s custody, Manadel al-Jamadi, died during an interrogation.........


Posted by: annie | Nov 14 2005 7:32 utc | 26

Of course the policy should be tied to national interest. Then what? It goes underground again. Hidden from public scrutiny. But if it makes people feel better that our President doesn't endorse torture, that's good. And all will be well since we won't have to face it.

Posted by: jm | Nov 14 2005 7:43 utc | 27

The Man in the Hood

The first guard was Caucasian, tall, blond, and very thin. He was clean-shaven and on some days wore eyeglasses. Then, N. says, speaking in Arabic through a translator, "I was sexually assaulted by an American soldier." N.'s modesty as a Muslim, as an Iraqi, and as an adolescent prevents him from detailing much more about the episode, though in a declaration recently filed on his behalf under penalty of perjury in the U.S. District Court in Southern California, his attorney provides a somewhat more explicit account, saying one or more guards placed "fingers in his anus." (In 20 minutes of humiliating, circular discussion with N. about the above allegation, mediated by a translator, I could never fully ascertain the precise narrative of the July 23 assault, but N. made it clear that a guard's finger or fingers were willfully placed inside him in a manner that N. didn't welcome.)


This past summer, in an initial step to plumb these mysteries, a team of three American attorneys, one of whom works with the Center for Constitutional Rights (C.C.R.) in New York, filed a class-action lawsuit and sought injunctive relief in the name of more than 1,000 Iraqi detainees against two U.S. corporate contractors operating prisons or detention centers in Iraq. (The suit does not name the U.S. government as a defendant, but it does identify certain military and government officials as co-conspirators.)

Posted by: annie | Nov 14 2005 7:53 utc | 28

Torture in Maine’s prison

Inside the Supermax: Testimony from six prisoners and a videotape; the head of Corrections promises reform

"The mission of the Maine State Prison is to provide a safe, secure, and humane correctional environment for the incarcerated offender."

— prison Web page

Five hollering guards wearing helmets, face shields, and full body armor charge into a mentally ill man’s cell. The first attacker smashes a big shield into him, knocking him down. The attackers jump on him, spray Mace into his face, push him onto his bed, and twist his arms to his back so they can handcuff him. They connect the cuffs by a chain to leg irons. Then they take him into the corridor, cut off all his clothes, and carry him naked and screaming through the cellblock, continuing to Mace him. They put him in an observation room where they bind him to a restraint chair with straps. He remains there naked and cold for hours, yelling and mumbling...

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 14 2005 10:36 utc | 29

@Tante Aime, aschweig and Juannie

Re this specific Getty photo and the occupant of the chair:

An Iraqi detainee screams "Allah" while tied down in a "humane restraint chair" at the maximum security section of the Abu Ghraib Prison October 28, 2005 on the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq. His jailers, U.S. Army military police, said that he was being punished for disrespecting them, and that he would spend 2 hours in the chair as punishment. The suspected insurgent, a juvenile, had earlier been moved to the maximum security section of the prison for 30 days for attacking a guard in another section of the facility.

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 14 2005 10:44 utc | 30

Outraged, Monolycus - I am in no position to comment on the physical features of the occupant. The circumstances surrounding the photo are suspect. First of all, embedded journalists have too often been used to sculpt the news. Secondly, since embedded journalists are subject to content review, I have to agree with the conclusion, "the military obviously believes that there is nothing to hide here." Finally, the framing of the photograph, with the soldier in the background appearently paying no attention to the camera leads me to believe that this is a photograph of torture for the sake of publicity (perhaps an even more sickening idea). Either it is going to be proved a fake, or, it going to be "see - Americans don't torture." This looks to me to be an attempt to reframe the torture debate.

Posted by: aschweig | Nov 14 2005 13:40 utc | 31

This looks to me to be an attempt to reframe the torture debate.

Oh, agreed, the photo and the NewsWeek article both.

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 14 2005 14:28 utc | 32

They have a chair like that at my local sheriff's office - only pointing this out to tie into Outrage's above: too much obsessive emphasis on control, restraint and submission everywhere in the culture.

Posted by: Tantalus | Nov 14 2005 17:26 utc | 33

They have a chair like that at my local sheriff's office

Interesting use of pronouns. It's your sheriff but their chair eh!

Until the pallid, obese and uncaring take control of what is being done in their name, all whining about this is just a vain attempt by hipocrites to wash their hands of the least savory aspects of empire while they enjoy the benefits.

When the time comes do you really think you're gonna save your ass by saying "I told them not to do it, but nobody listened"


"your time is gonna come"

Posted by: justwatching | Nov 14 2005 20:40 utc | 34


The photo was not being used to make or break a case that the US government is engaging in extralegal and inhumane treatment of detainees (more accurately, political prisoners). The photo itself is only peripherally relevant and only appears as an illustration to the Newsweek article, which is why I thought tante's observations about it being used to "set us up" were silly, borderline hysterical and probably disingenuous on his or her part. The scandal here is the debate itself and not any piece of material evidence we have been presented.

You do raise a valid about how the photo and the article are employed to subtly reframe the debate, and I am not taking any umbrage with that. With the wording of the article, that particular photo could as easily have been a man eating a cold dinner or getting a stern finger-waggling from the warden. It just goes hand-in-hand with the "See? We're not so bad!" meme that they are trying to push. They weren't going to run a photo of a water-boarding in progress or somebody being sodomized with a chemical light in that context, so I'm not sure why that particular pic's authenticity is even in question. Seems to me that the photographer was better trained in "focus" than we're being.

Posted by: Monolycus | Nov 14 2005 22:38 utc | 35

They are trying to sell magazines. Circulation is lagging.

Posted by: jm | Nov 14 2005 23:14 utc | 36

Per r'giap's posts -
Costa Gravas made a very good movie in 1973 about the demise of Dan Mitrione in Uruguay in 1970 at the hands of an urban guerilla group, the Tupamaros. The lightly fictionalized screenplay was written by Franco Solinas, who ealier created the screenplay for "Battle of Algiers." "State of Siege" was dismissed by many U.S. critics, but>Vince Canby/ NYT mostly got it.

Some of Canby's comments are perhaps more interesting from the perspective of our own times.

Finally, [the movie] is an examination of our capacity to be shocked, a capacity that may have begun to run out with the disclosures about the Bay of Pigs, so that now, when we read the stories about the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation and Chile, we are as much inclined to laughter as we are to grief or even to surprise. We shrug and ask ourselves, in effect, what will they do next? Self-interest carried to the limit is no longer evil, or a matter for review by one's conscience, but a kind of dumbfounding rascality, a high form of scalawaggery.

What makes "State of Siege" so harrowing is not that it is all true (I'm not in a position to know), but that it could be true, and all of us could be responsible. This is more important, I think, than carping over details of the film...


"State of Siege," which opened yesterday at the Beekman, also raises the question about what the American Film Institute was up to when it first booked the film to open its new Washington theater at the Kennedy Center. It should have been apparent to anyone who had seen it that "State of Siege" would ruffle a lot of people in Washington, but then to cancel it, as was done last week, suggests incompetence of an order as scary as outright censorship.

Or it suggests the indirect, covert censorship more common in the U.S. One wonders does Canby truly disapprove of AFI incompetence, or is he covering himself in order to report the dust-up? One might settle for even such artful dodges in today's NYT, if it got the stories out.

Curiously, the NYT posts on the web a more recent, brief review by Hal Erickson, which one has to click through to arrive at the original Canby review. The contrast between the two reviews reflects the sad state of much contemporary critique and analysis, the newer bearing little resemblance to Canby's review and so little relation to the movie that it is doubtful Erickson ever saw it. Says Erickson in summary:

Despite its up-to-date radicalism, State of Siege adheres to time-honored Hollywood formula, with ugly, vulgar bad guys vs. handsome, articulate good guys.

In fact, contrary to Mr. Erickson's review, perhaps the most brilliant insight of the movie's creators was to cast Yves Montand (neither ugly nor vulgar) as Philip Michael Santore/Dan Mitrione. The evil that Santore perpetrates is clear, but the viewer does not see him torture. Throughout the film Montand's presence is intelligent and sympathetic.

This is a challenge we Americans continually fail to meet: to recognize and turn away from seductive evil, that comes bearing gifts, dressed in modest manners, a common creed, and the cogency of high ideas. Not the jackbooted Nazis, psychopathic foreigners, lawless druglords, Jokers, Penguins, all our cultural shorthand for Manichean villains, with whom we populate our nightmares and our stories, when we imagine face of evil.

Posted by: small coke | Nov 15 2005 6:53 utc | 37

Notice the wood block under the chair, rubber shoes, and the metal frame of the chair! It allows them to apply voltage to occupant by hooking up positive and negative terminals, as opposed to a grounded chair which will create a ground loop and not allow good control on voltage. You are not seeing the chair in action, its only a photo op. Prisioner's reaction clearly shows that he expects it to be much more painfull based upon his experience. Instead of assuming a defiant pose in restraints, commonly displayed by Iraqi/Arab detainees, this guys is already for a jolt of pain.


Posted by: Max Andersen | Nov 15 2005 8:09 utc | 38

small coke,

on that review of the review, i'll have to give it a watch

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 15 2005 9:19 utc | 39

Man on Fire--Not!
By Larry Johnson
From: Foreign Affairs

I think Dick Cheney has been watching too many Hollywood flicks that glorify torture. He needs, instead, to get on the ground and talk to the folks he is ostensibly trying to empower to torture. Unlike Dick I have spoken with three CIA operations officers in the last three months--all who have worked on terrorism at the highest levels--and not one endorses torture or believes it will help us. In fact, they believe it will hurt us on many levels.

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 15 2005 13:37 utc | 40

US sweep of arrests after Iraq invasion leads to few convictions

Official US figures help support this. The number of Iraqis detained by the US and other foreign forces has more than doubled in a year and a half. The number of attacks has also more than doubled. "It is difficult to think of anything better calculated to create antagonism among the Iraqi population than detention against which there is no right to challenge or to appeal," the Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman, Sir Menzies Campbell, said yesterday. He added: "Acting wholly contrary to accepted principle and without regard to legal obligations will inevitably make the struggle much more difficult. For the Iraqi government to have such a subordinate role until the point of conviction simply underlines the fact that they are a long way from having sovereignty over their own country."

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 15 2005 14:01 utc | 41

Spanish police expose more CIA links to secret flights of detainees

· 42 operatives traced going through Palma airport
· Names unearthed match Italian and German inquiries

Giles Tremlett in Madrid
Tuesday November 15, 2005
The Guardian

Spanish police have traced up to 42 suspected CIA operatives believed to have taken part in secret flights carrying detained or kidnapped Islamist terror suspects to interrogation centres and jails in Afghanistan, Egypt and elsewhere.

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 15 2005 14:09 utc | 42

@ justwatching:

too true.

@ smallcoke:

Costa-Gavras would also, presumably, have been making a point about the Greek junta that was still in power at that point. The junta was a CIA-complicit military dictatorship complete with gulags, torture, suppression of civil liberties and an emphasis on religio-moral behaviour. This happened within NATO, in our lifetime, but seems to have disappeared down the memory-hole. The coup took place a couple of years after Lyndon Johnson told the Greek ambassador, re. Greco-Turkish squabblings over Cyprus, to "fuck your Parliament and your Constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked by the elephant's trunk, whacked good.... We pay a lot of good American dollars to the Greeks, Mr. Ambassador. If your Prime Minister gives me talk about Democracy, Parliament and Constitutions, he, his Parliament and his Constitution may not last very long."

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...

Posted by: Tantalus | Nov 15 2005 14:15 utc | 43

Much has been said about the illegality of these tactics, but the strategic error that led to their adoption has been overlooked.

This opening paragraph from the NYT op-ed, posted by b, frames the present policy of torture as a strategic error, of a sort explained futher in the article.

For Communist interrogators, truth was beside the point: their aim was to force compliance to the point of false confession.

,,, the techniques designed by communist interrogators were created to control a prisoner's will rather than to extract useful intelligence.

Has the administration really commited this "strategic error," or does this inversion of SERE training represent something more akin to "country dumb"? Is information gathering really the aim of all the Iraq and Guantanamo torture? If so, they are killing far too many of their sources prematurely with inept technique.

Isn't torture more effective as a means of intimidation than as a method of information gathering? Isn't it possible that the Cheney argument about interrogation requiring torture to obtain vital information is merely a smokescreen, the "acceptable" argument, to protect torture for its real value as a very useful technique in the armamentum of intimidation? Exactly what the NYT authors say it was designed for. Just as Saddam used it.

Posted by: small coke | Nov 15 2005 16:37 utc | 44

@Small Coke
Short version: Yes.

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 15 2005 16:40 utc | 45

George Orwell, 1984, Summary Pt. 3 Chp. 2
Summary Pt. 3 Chp. 2

Chapter 2

Winston’s torture starts in real earnest and is presided over by O’Brien himself. At first it is sheer brutal physical torture, incessant blows all over, reducing him to a cowering animal confessing to anything and everything, implicating everybody if only the pain would stop. Then the guards are replaced by the intellectuals of the Party who inflict subtler kinds of pain and reduce him to an abject cringing wreck crying from sheer humiliation and exhaustion. In between, he is administered frequent drug injections which sometimes increase his pain and sometimes knock him out completely. In the last stage, O’Brien takes over personally, with Winston connected to an electric dial by means of which O’Brien can impose any degree of pain he wishes.

O’Brien tells Winston that he is there to be cured of his mental fallacies. He combines the relentless logic of doublethink and the administration of pain till Winston is reduced o saying that four fingers are actually five. O’Brien points out that unlike the persecutors of the old Regimes, Nazism or the inquisition, they did not stop with extorting forced confessions, they break men till they actually become what they are tortured into being. Even the three leaders Winston had once admired – Jones, Aaronson and Rutherford had been broken by the same method till they had been completely broken. He tells Winston that there is no escape, even if they allow him to live, there would be no capacity left in him to be a full human being again, and posterity will not vindicate him as posterity will not even hear of him.

Finally, O’Brien invites Winston to ask any questions he wants to. Winston asks about Julia and is told that she betrayed him totally and completely. He asks if Big Brother exists and is told that as the party says Big Brother exists then he exists. He asks about the Brotherhood and is told that that was something he would never know, even if he lives to be ninety it would be an unsolved mystery for him.

Then Winston nerves himself to ask the last question “What is in Room 101?” O’Brien’s mocking answer is that everyone KNOWS what is in Room 101.

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 15 2005 17:04 utc | 46

Judging from the height, skin color, jawbone and nasal structure of the "victim" in this picture, I would say that it is staged, with an American playing the role of torturee. The soldier behind the glass sure looks like a Nazi in dress and demeanor.........

Posted by: Malooga | Nov 15 2005 20:35 utc | 47

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