Thursday, May 31, 2007

We might as well forget Godwin's law. The Republicans are adopting Gestapo techinques and using the same euphamisms.

It seems that the term "Enhanced Interrogation" as used by the Bush White House is exactly the same as the term the Gestapo used for their torture techniques. Here is from Andrew Sullivan.:
The phrase "Verschärfte Vernehmung" is German for "enhanced interrogation". Other translations include "intensified interrogation" or "sharpened interrogation". It's a phrase that appears to have been concocted in 1937, to describe a form of torture that would leave no marks, and hence save the embarrassment pre-war Nazi officials were experiencing as their wounded torture victims ended up in court. The methods, as you can see above, are indistinguishable from those described as "enhanced interrogation techniques" by the president. As you can see from the Gestapo memo, moreover, the Nazis were adamant that their "enhanced interrogation techniques" would be carefully restricted and controlled, monitored by an elite professional staff, of the kind recommended by Charles Krauthammer, and strictly reserved for certain categories of prisoner. At least, that was the original plan.

Also: the use of hypothermia, authorized by Bush and Rumsfeld, was initially forbidden. 'Waterboarding" was forbidden too, unlike that authorized by Bush. As time went on, historians have found that all the bureaucratic restrictions were eventually broken or abridged. Once you start torturing, it has a life of its own. The "cold bath" technique - the same as that used by Bush against al-Qahtani in Guantanamo - was, according to professor Darius Rejali of Reed College,

pioneered by a member of the French Gestapo by the pseudonym Masuy about 1943. The Belgian resistance referred to it as the Paris method, and the Gestapo authorized its extension from France to at least two places late in the war, Norway and Czechoslovakia. That is where people report experiencing it.
There is an excellent history book called A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954 - 1962 by Alistair Horne which presents the history of the war of national liberation by the Algerian FLN to defeat the French Imperial occupiers. He has several Prefaces, each written for a later edition as he got further information about the the Algerian war of national liberation. Just reading them is a real education.

The FLN learned a lot from Ho Chi Minh in Viet Nam, and applied it to their war against the French, since both nations had the same intent - remove the Imperialist occupier. The French kept fighting and kept wondering why the Algerians were fighting them because the French were just there to bring democracy and improve the education and economy of Algeria. The FLN realized early on that they could not defeat the French in a head-to-head battle, so they developed terrorist techniques and went after the Algerian police who were attempting to stabilize Algeria.

The French recognized that they were fighting a war that required effective Intelligence to win, so they made special efforts to gather that Intelligence, using some of the nastiest torture techniques that they had developed. The Algerians responded by increased terrorism that went after civilians, men women and children with no regard for humanity.

Any of this sound familiar? Because after the French left Algeria the Palestinians used techniques developed by the Algerians to go after the Israeli occupiers during the Intifada, and the Israelis used increasingly tough interrogation techniques on the Palestinians to get effective Intelligence in a timely manner. All of this has blended into the current war in Iraq, with the two sides, American and insurgent, each patterning on the appropriate techniques developed first in Algeria.

Horne presents the evidence that shows there is no difference between the rationale and rhetoric of the earlier Imperialist occupiers and the Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza as well as the U.S. in Iraq. The reason our military is fighting terrorists in Iraq is exactly that same as why the French were fighting the Viet Cong in Viet Name and then following that were fighting the terrorists in Algeria. The French were occupiers who did not want ot leave and the Occupied wanted them out at any cost. That is what Bush's recent statement about there being an American presence in Iraq for the next half century, on a time scale similar to that of our troops in South Korea. That will not happen. We will leave Iraq relatively soon. The cost of staying is way too high.

America is an unwanted occupier in Iraq, and now we even have polls showing that the majority of Iraqis want us out of there immediately if not sooner.

But there is one more really significant similarity. Torture. The U.S. under George W. Bush demands good and timely Intelligence, and they will go to whatever extremes they need to to get it. That is the reason for the similarities in the language describing Intelligence gathering techniques that this article started with. But here is Alastair Horne's warning on the use of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques:"
[ from page 18.] The vile hand of torture; of abuse, and counter-abuse. In the Algerian War what led -- probably more than any other single factor -- to the ultimate defeat of France was the realisation, in France and the world at large, that methods of interrogation sere being used that had been condemned under the Nazi Occupation. At the dawn of the new century, the ugly ghosts of torture returned to plague France. In 2001, and eighty-three-year-old former general, Paul Aussaresses, published a book in which he unashamedly, indeed proudly, admitted to having tortured -- in a good cause, he claimed. After a trial which gripped France, the aging G=general got away with a find of one hundred thousand franc, on a uniquely worded charge "in the name of respect for the victims."

Because of the slowness of communications in the 1950's and 1960's it took a year or more for the message of abuses perpetuated in Algeria to sink in. Now, with the Internet and al-Jazeera, one set of photos from Abu Ghraib is enough to inflame hatred across the Islamic world against the West, providing an excuse for all the beheadings and atrocities carried out by al-Qaeda. From the Inquisition to the Gestapo and the "Battle of Agiers," history teaches us that, in the production of reliable intelligence, regardless of the moral issue, torture is counter-productive. As a further footnote to my tenet, learned in Algeria, ... torture should never, never, never be resorted to by any Western society.

The testimony of Prefect Tietgen of Algiers - Tietgen had been informed by the Algiers police that they had intelligence of a bomb which could have caused appalling casualties. Could they put a suspect to "the question"? Himself a deportee in World War II, Teitgen ... refused.
"...I trembled the whole afternoon. Finally the bomb did not go off. Thank God I was right. Because once you get into the torture business, your lost.... All our so-called civilization is covered with varnish. Scratch it, and underneath you find fear....When you wee the throats of your coplains slit, the the varnish disappears."
In America under the heel of Bush, Cheney and the Republicans, the varnish is nearly gone.

Bush, Cheney and the Republicans need to be removed from American public life - forever. Only then will we begin to be able to replace the varnish of civilization which they have so casually discarded.

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