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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Gulags

Posted by: Hammer / 1:33 PM

Boy, was Amnesty International off the mark. Here's an excerpt from an excerpt from Gulag Archipelago:
19. Then there is the method of simply compelling a prisoner to stand there. This can be arranged so that the accused stands only while being interrogated-because that, too, exhausts and breaks a person down. It can be set up in another way-so that the prisoner sits down during interrogation but is forced to stand up between interrogations. (A watch is set over him, and the guards see to it that he doesn't lean against the wall, and if he goes to sleep and falls over he is given a kick and straightened up.) Sometimes even one day of standing is enough to deprive a person of all his strength and to force him to testify to anything at all.

20. During all these tortures which involved standing for three, four, and five days, they ordinarily deprived a person of water. ...

21. Sleeplessness, which they quite failed to appreciate in medieval times. They did not understand how narrow are the limits within which a human being can preserve his personality intact. Sleeplessness (yes, combined with standing, thirst, bright light, terror, and the unknown -what other tortures are needed!?) befogs the reason, undermines the will, and the human being ceases to be himself...

Sleeplessness was a great form of torture: it left no visible marks and could not provide grounds for complaint even if an inspection-something unheard of anyway-were to strike on the morrow.

More at Remote Post.

8 Comments:

Hammer, you have a ready-made follow up. Have you seen the book meme that is floating around out there? How many conservatives do you think have that book on their book list right now? How many of these folks also have comments about how what Durbin talked about isn't torture.

Ready...set...go!!

cp

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:54 PM  

I like the show "24". The reason I like it is because the main character Jack Bauer will do anything and everything possible to catch the terrorist and keep Americans safe. He needed to sweat a guy who had vital information about a terrorist and Counter Terrorist Unit had to let him go. Jack jumps dude in the parking lot and starts off the interrogation by breaking a thumb. Guy gives up the information.

Point is that we are not playing hopscotch. We are dealing with terrorist killers who want us dead. We are not breaking their thumbs, but subjecting them to uncomfortable conditions to get information. What we supposed to do? Just beg? I don't get it.

By Anonymous Sean W. O'Neill, at 5:48 PM  

Wow. What a world Jack Bauer lives in. In the real world, you can be locked up in Gitmo for 3 years and interrogated day and night with no access to anyone outside the base.

A number of detainees have already been released from Guantanamo. Did the Bush administration really release a bunch of terrorist killers who want us dead? Or did they release a bunch of people who shouldn't have been detained in the first place?

In my opinion, the easiest case to prove in the country today would be a terrorism case. Any 1L should be able to convict a suspected terrorist just by showing up in court with her fly zipped up. The de facto burden would be on the defendant to prove beyond pretty much any doubt that he wasn't a threat to Americans.

The Bush administration hasn't brought any such cases (Moussaoui pled out), so it's hard to test my hypothesis.

The detainees should have the right to prove that the army picked up the wrong guy. And, since there's no nuclear bomb counting down in Times Square right now, they should have that hearing before their thumbs are broken.

By Blogger Hammer, at 8:46 AM  

they should have that hearing before their thumbs are broken

Absolutely. We can get bogged down with arguments about the Geneva Convention, enemy combatants, stateless fighters, and so on, all the while ignoring this one thing: we ought to be better than that.

But please don't be making willy-nilly comparisons of Gitmo to the Gulag without at least mentioning the millions that died at the hand of Stalin.

By Blogger Joseph, at 9:49 AM  

As you say, Joseph, it's always worth remembering that millions of Russians died under Stalin, through a whole series of brutal activities. Only about 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody in the last couple of years, and none of the deaths have occured at Guantanamo.

This difference in scale is what makes the analogies to Hitler and Stalin inapt. That said, it's still right to oppose a relatively small wrong.

By Blogger Hammer, at 10:00 AM  

Hammer, I am sure you can look this up, but I think I heard that for these military trials it is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. I don't believe the burden is on the defense. There may even be a presumption of innocence. 60 Minutes had a very enlightening piece on the military lawyers who are suing Rumsfeld on behalf of their Gitmo clients. One of the things I do find disturbing is that once they are found not guilty the procedure is to hold them until the executive branch gives the okay to release them. But of course Rumsfeld says that many terrorists were released because they lied about their identity and we didn't catch it. Look, I do feel for the innocent people locked up in Gitmo, but I think we really need to err on the side of national security here.

By Anonymous Sean W. O'Neill, at 7:07 PM  

I heard that for these military trials it is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

I don't speak for Hammer (obviously...), but he said "de facto," so I'm guessing he understands that.

By Blogger Joseph, at 11:16 AM  

Exactly right, Joseph. The actual burden would be on the state. In fact, however, I think most juries would be predisposed toward conviction. It's one thing for a juror to stroll over to a Michael Jackson victory party after the trial, but what kind of proof would it take to convince the average American to set free any person who might be linked to Al Qaeda?

The burden was on the state to prove that Tom Robinson was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Yes, To Kill a Mockingbird was fiction, but I think the truth was -- and probably is -- that it's very easy to get a conviction against a black man accused of raping a white woman in the American south.

By Blogger Hammer, at 3:57 PM  

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