Friday, September 22, 2006


Caught Up on the Conveyor

Red State Rabble is first and foremost a blog about the battle over teaching evolution in public schools. Occasionally we also comment on school censorship and the foibles of the religious right. We rarely stray from these subjects.

Today, we're making an exception.

The Washington Post has published an essay, "Torture's Long Shadow," by Vladimir Bukovsky about the consequences of the nation's torture policy.

Bukovsky spent nearly 12 years in Soviet prisons, labor camps and psychiatric hospitals for nonviolent human rights activities. He is the author of several books, including "To Build a Castle" and "Judgment in Moscow."

Torture, now euphemized and made respectable as coercive interrogation, was implemented by the Bush administration after 9/11. Even as it has been revealed that the innocent have been indiscriminately swept up by the torture machine, it has now, apparently, been acquiesced to by Senators McCain, Lindsay Graham, and John Warner, and a cowering congress. It is abetted by the silence of the American people who, seemingly, will accept anything as long as they can still go to the mall on the weekend.

Bukovsky writes:
As someone who has been on the receiving end of the "treatment" under discussion, let me tell you that trying to make a distinction between torture and CID [cruel, inhuman, degrading, RSR] techniques is ridiculous. Long gone are the days when a torturer needed the nasty-looking tools displayed in the Tower of London. A simple prison bed is deadly if you remove the mattress and force a prisoner to sleep on the iron frame night after night after night. ...

Now it appears that sleep deprivation is "only" CID and used on Guantanamo Bay captives. Well, congratulations, comrades! It was exactly this method that the NKVD used to produce those spectacular confessions in Stalin's "show trials" of the 1930s. The henchmen called it "conveyer," when a prisoner was interrogated nonstop for a week or 10 days without a wink of sleep. At the end, the victim would sign any confession without even understanding what he had signed.

Normally, if RSR comments on something elsewhere on the web, we encourage you to go and read it for yourself. In this case we make the recommendation with reservations.

Reading Bukovsky's essay may make you think about what this nation is in the process of becoming, and that sort of thinking is dangerous. It may even be subversive.


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