During the recent celebrations of Treason In Defense Of Slavery History Month, it was ruefully noted by more than one commentator that the Confederacy retroactively won the war when Reconstruction ended and the Southern states established Jim Crow. Likewise, it seems we were a little hasty in popping the champagne corks on V-E Day, because it turns out that certain former Gestapo functionaries are having a bit of a laugh at our expense.
As Andrew Sullivan points out, the Bush Administration borrowed the elegant euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” from a pre-War Gestapo manual (which also limited the types of prisoners upon whom such techniques could legally be used — ah, those naive, starry-eyed Nazis), as well as several types of creative, interrogater-induced torment:
Freezing prisoners to near-death, repeated beatings, long forced-standing, waterboarding, cold showers in air-conditioned rooms, stress positions [Arrest mit Verschaerfung], withholding of medicine and leaving wounded or sick prisoners alone in cells for days on end - all these have occurred at US detention camps under the command of president George W. Bush. Over a hundred documented deaths have occurred in these interrogation sessions. The Pentagon itself has conceded homocide by torture in multiple cases.
…The victims, by the way, were not in uniform. And the Nazis tried to argue, just as John Yoo did, that this made torturing them legit. The victims were paramilitary Norwegians, operating as an insurgency, against an occupying force.
…This is the Yoo position. It’s what Glenn Reynolds calls the “sensible” position on torture. It was the camp slogan at Camp Nama in Iraq: “No Blood, No Foul.” Now take the issue of “stress positions”, photographed at Abu Ghraib and used at Bagram to murder an innocent detainee. Here’s a good description of how stress positions operate:
The hands were tied together closely with a cord on the back of the prisoner, raised then the body and hung the cord to a hook, which was attached into two meters height in a tree, so that the feet in air hung. The whole body weight rested thus at the joints bent to the rear. The minimum period of hanging up was a half hour. To remain there three hours hung up, was pretty often. This punishment was carried out at least twice weekly.
Remember during the 2000 presidential campaign, where the candidates were asked to name their favorite political philosopher? And Bush, who was slumping in his chair liked a bored fourth grader on a library field trip, drawled, “Jesus, because he changed my heart.” Well, maybe so, but apparently he changed it into a lump of coal, since some of the techniques the president has authorized actually predate the Gestapo, going all the way back to Roman times, when a certain political philosopher named Jesus coincidentally died from a “stress position.”