File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_2004/foucault.0405, message 10

Date: Mon, 10 May 2004 01:58:17 EDT
Subject: Re: Panopticon Reversed

I have just become aware (thanks to Jim Tully) of the work, and comments on  
this issue, of Prof Darius Rezali, a scholar influenced by  Foucault, and 
author of Torture and Modernity: Self, Society and State in  Modern Iran.
(_ ( 
)  .  See his comments below.
-----Original Message-----
From: Darius Rejali  [] 
Sent: May 7, 2004 12:54 AM
To:  Darius Rejali
Subject: Past Midnight Email

I apologize for the mass  email. But nevertheless... I have been thinking of
of you.    All I have been doing this week is answer questions from newsweek,
time, phil  inquirer, balt. sun, the oregonian, kxl radio AM and the  local
affiliat, and the Lehrer New hour?  How do people live like  this? ANyways, I
exhausted and wanted to take this midnight moment to  remember all of you. 

I'm posting two editorials that have been my output  this week.  I wrote the
first friday am almost as soon as I saw the  photo of the hooded man on a
box. I
realized I was one of a few people who  knew exactly what that was. And as it
turned out I was right, Hersch's  article came out the next day confirming it
sleep deprivation and  posture torture.  This editorial has not found a home
but it has  made it around the world on the net and back an the nation got
from  two different sources.  I think it's because at that time the  media
couldn't utter the "T" word and kept saying "abuse."    

The other editorial came out today. I wrote it monday. A little more in  the
"fit" of the way they want to talk about this, but still making the  same

Look for me on the Lehrer show tuesday maybe. I got bumped  once already form
Friday since boiling the sec def in oil on the Hill is the  news for
tomorrow. So
I'm not counting chickens...

I am so  saddened. After years of having missed my capacity for outrage,
now  and again I think i almost have it again.

You should know I think of all  of you alot as I do this. I find it all
scary, and your advice and  reassurances have survived the years.  No
necessary, given  the deluge of emails, I'm unlikely to be able to reply.
Nevertheless, thank  you, 

Forced to Stand:  An Expert Torture

Forced to  stand on a box with wires attached to your fingers, toes and  penis
night log.  Just something that Specialist Sabrina Harman  dreamed up in Abu
Ghraib prison? Think again. 

This torture is well  known to intelligence agencies worldwide.  The CIA
documented the  effects of forced standing forty years ago.  And the
technique  is
valued because it leaves few marks, and so nothing to document.   

Forced standing was a prescribed field punishment in West European  armies in
early 20th century.  The British Army called it Field  Punishment No 1,
the soldiers referred to it as "the crucifixion."  The French Legionaires
it "the Silo."  

By the 1920s,  forced standing was a routine police torture in America.   In
the National Commission on Lawless Enforcement of the Law found  numerous
American police departments using forced standing to coerce  confessions.   

In the 1930s, Stalin's NKVD also famously used  forced standing to coerce
seemingly voluntary confessions for show  trials.   The Gestapo used forced
standing as a routine punishment  in many concentrationcamps.  It even
small narrow "standing  cells," Stehzelle, where prisoners had to stand all

In 1956,  the CIA commissioned two experts, Wolf and Hinkle, who  described
effects of forced standing. The ankles and feet swell to  twice their size
24 hours. Moving becomes agony. Large blisters  develop. The heart rate
increases, and some faint. The kidneys eventually  shut down.

In the mid-20th century, torturers learned how to use the  swelling and
blistering to cause more pain.  The South Africa and  Brazilian police made
prisoners stand on cans or bricks, the edges causing  excruciating pain to
sensitive feet. In 1999, the South African Truth  Commission determined that
forced standing was the third most common torture  during Apartheid after
and electricity. 

Hooding was a  common feature of Brazilian and South African torture.  In the
1970s,  the Brazilians added the electrical supplement.  When the hooded  man
the can was electrified, the cans stuck to his feet een when he  keeled

Ironically, the Brazilians called the whole  technique - hooded man on a can
electrified - "the Vietnam."  The  innovative technique combined tortures
used by
the North Vietnamese  (forced standing) with tortures used commonly by
and South  Vietnamese interrogators (electrical torture from field phones). 

And now  the ghost of "the Vietnam" appears in Iraq. 

The American soldiers  performed the torture, but someone taught them the
parameters.    This kind of torture is not common knowledge, and if it were
for the  photographs, no one would know that it had been practiced.

Today American  interrogators are using "stress and duress" techniques in
prisons in  Afghanistan and Diego Garcia.  Officials refer to these
techniques  as
"torture lite." Abu Ghraib gave us the first chance to see what  these
really are:  stealth tortures that leave no  marks.

Torture like this doesn't just happen "over there." Torture like  this casts
shadow back here for years aferwards.   Soldiers  trained in stealth torture
take these techniques back into civilian life as  policemen and private
It takes years to uncover the subsequent  damage. The American style in
torture in Vietnam appeared in  Arkansas prisons in the 1960s and Chicago
rooms in the 1970s and  1980s.  

Likewise the excruciating water tortures American soldiers  used for
interrogation during the Spanish American War appeared in American  policing
the next two decades.   For those who suffered from  these tortures, it was
comfort that President Theodore Roosevelt  felt it was a "mild torture," or
it was hard to see that anyone "was  seriously damaged," or that, on Memorial
1902, the President regretted  the "few acts of cruelty" American troops had

When will we  ever learn?

Darius Rejali is a nationally recognized expert on  torture and
the author of Torture and Democracy  (forthcoming Princeton) and a 2003
Scholar. He is an Associat  Professor of Political Science at Reed College.

Not  as Bad as Terrorism?

Whatever happened at Abu Ghuraib, surely it is not  as bad as the killing and
mutilation of the four contractors in Falluja or  the mass murder on 9/11? 

On the contrary, no act of terrorism could have  done as much damage to our
intelligence gathering capabilities as the torture  at Abu Ghuraib.  Acts of
terrorism killed people, but they did not  undermine the trust on which good
intelligence depends.

Successful  police and intelligence work depends on public cooperation.    In
societies, police uncover crimes most of the time because people  tell them
supply the witnesses and the information. 

Since the  1970s, a large body of research has shown that unless the public
specifically  identifies suspects to the police, the chances that a crime
will be
solved  falls to about 10%. Only a small percentage of crimes are  discovered
solved with techniques like fingerprinting, DNA sampling and  offender

Polie in long term dictatorships like the Chinese  and Soviets also know the
importance of public co-operation for solving  crimes. Where they can't get
public cooperation for some kinds of crimes  (crimes against state property),
they create an alternative human  intelligence system, informants. 

Torture is good for intimidation and  false confessions to put someone away.
can torture produce more  reliable information than public co-operation or
technological monitoring?  Even these states know you would be better off
a psychic.  

The bottom line is the always the same: Good intelligence requires  humans
willing to trust government enough to work with it. Torture is always  the
that the government either does not enjoy the trust of the people  it governs
that it cannot recruit informers into a system of  surveillance.  In both
torture for information is a sign of  institutional decay and desperation -
Saddam Hussein's Iraq clearly  demonstrated.

Torture accelerates this process, estroying the bonds of  loyalty, respect
trust that keeps information flowing.  When  citizens detain, assault or kill
they use only the forces at their  disposal. When a state official detains
assaults me for public  purposes (to stop crime, to ensure good government),
does so using the  authority and instruments with which the public entrusted
Torture,  as it is defined from the Romans to the United Nations,  always
this use or abuse of public trust, something that is  absent when a private
citizen assaults me. 

Whoever authorized the  soldiers at Abu Ghuraib also knew the importance of
public trust.  They  used techniques that left few long term visible marks.
people die of  stealth tortures, there are few wounds to show, and pain - in
absence  of blood - seems ephemeral.  Someone was trying to have it both
keep public trust of Iraqis and Americans and at the same time engage  in
coercive interrogations. 

But this was a profoundly damaging  mistake.  Unlike raditional war, winning
war on terror is not  about winning more land or wealth.  It is about our way
life, the  fundamental identity of liberal democratic society.  Those  who
this kind of society believe that fundamentally such societies  are scam
and they disguise violent coercion with promises of  freedom.  Tyranny, as
Greeks used to say, always wears a  mask.

Now everyone has plenty of reason to be suspicious.  Every  time a government
abuses public trust in a war on terror, it undermines the  respect and
loyalty of
those it hopes to win.  What kind of victory  is it to have won the battle,
lost our way of life?  If we cannot  respect the rule of law, if we cannot
with one hand tied behind our  backs and win, who exactly are we? 

Darius Rejali is a nationally  recognized expert on torture and
the author of Torture and  Democracy (forthcoming Princeton) and a 2003
Scholar. He is an  Associate Professor of Political Science at Reed  College.

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