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Torture and Democracy

by Darius Rejali Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
06/2009
ISBN:
9780691143330
Format:
Pbk 880 pages
Price:
AU$113.00 NZ$118.26
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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This is the most comprehensive, and most comprehensively chilling, study of modern torture yet written. Darius Rejali, one of the world's leading experts on torture, takes the reader from the late nineteenth century to the aftermath of Abu Ghraib, from slavery and the electric chair to electrotorture in American inner cities, and from French and British colonial prison cells and the Spanish-American War to the fields of Vietnam, the wars of the Middle East, and the new democracies of Latin America and Europe.

As Rejali traces the development and application of one torture technique after another in these settings, he reaches startling conclusions. As the twentieth century progressed, he argues, democracies not only tortured, but set the international pace for torture. Dictatorships may have tortured more, and more indiscriminately, but the United States, Britain, and France pioneered and exported techniques that have become the lingua franca of modern torture: methods that leave no marks. Under the watchful eyes of reporters and human rights activists, low-level authorities in the world's oldest democracies were the first to learn that to scar a victim was to advertise iniquity and invite scandal. Long before the CIA even existed, police and soldiers turned instead to ''clean'' techniques, such as torture by electricity, ice, water, noise, drugs, and stress positions. As democracy and human rights spread after World War II, so too did these methods.

Rejali makes this troubling case in fluid, arresting prose and on the basis of unprecedented research--conducted in multiple languages and on several continents--begun years before most of us had ever heard of Osama bin Laden or Abu Ghraib. The author of a major study of Iranian torture, Rejali also tackles the controversial question of whether torture really works, answering the new apologists for torture point by point. A brave and disturbing book, this is the benchmark against which all future studies of modern torture will be measured.

''Rejali's approach is to track the different behaviors, trends and traditions in torture throughout history to see who influenced whom and what they did...Rejali, a leading expert on government interrogation techniques, reaches key conclusions. First, monitoring by human rights groups doesn't stop torture, it simply causes torturers to resort to techniques that don't scar...Second, most contemporary torture traditions were passed on like crafts from teacher to apprentice...Third, Rejali writes, a person being tortured is likely to say whatever he thinks his captors want to hear, making it one of the poorest methods of gathering reliable information.''--Laurel Maury, Los Angeles Times

''Torture and Democracy immediately lays claim to be the most compendious and the most rigorous treatment of the subject yet written. Saul Bellow used to say that we are constantly looking for the book it is necessary to read next. On torture, this is it...Torture and Democracy is the anatomy of sneaky. Rejali regales us with tales of every technique of torture known to man...Rejali's analysis of efficacy is exemplary: at once prudent and trenchant, historically alert and morally sentient.''--Alex Danchev, Times Higher Education

''[A] magisterial study of torture and how it has developed as a social and moral issue with a focus on developments through the last century.''--Scott Horton, Harper's Magazine



Preface xv

Acknowledgments xix



Introduction 1

Historical Claims 3

Puzzles and Cautions 5

The Priority of Public Monitoring 8

Variations among States 11

Variations within States 15

National Styles of Stealth Torture 16

Torture and Democracy 21

Does Torture Work? 23

Who Cares? 25



Part I: Torture and Democracy 33



Chapter 1: Modern Torture and Its Observers 35

Defining Torture 36

Monitoring Torture 39



Chapter 2: Torture and Democracy 45

The National Security Model 46

The Juridical Model 49

The Civic Discipline Model 55

Hell Is in the Details 60



Part II: Remembering Stalinism and Nazism 65

Introduction 67



Chapter 3: Lights, Heat, and Sweat 69

Sweating and Stealth in America 70

British Psychological Techniques 74

Interrogation Elsewhere in Europe 76

Sweating and Stealth in Russia 79

The Spread of the Russian Style 83

Remembering Pavlov 87



Chapter 4: Whips and Water 91

Labussie`re's List 92

Documenting Nazi Torture 93

Torture in Germany 95

Torture in Nazi-Occupied Europe 97

Remembering the War 104



Chapter 5: Bathtubs 108

Masuy's Bathtub 109

Marty's Magneto 111

The French Gestapo and Electric Torture 112

The Decline of Sweating and Stealth 115

The German Gestapo and Modern Torture 117

Remembering Nuremberg 117

The Search for Electric Torture 118



Part III: A History of Electric Stealth 121



Chapter 6: Shock 123

The AC/DC Controversy and the Electric Chair 124

The Mystery of Electric Death 126

Early Police Devices 128

The Mystery of Shock 132

Early Medical Devices 135

Transmitting Shock 138

Later Medical Devices 139

Remembering the Animals 141



Chapter 7: Magnetos 144

What Is a Magneto? 145

Indochina, 1931 146

Out of Indochina 149

Korea, 1931 150

Out of Korea 152

The Lost History of the Magneto 155

French and British Electrotorture after World War II 157

The Colonial Police and Wuillaume's List 160

The Triumph of the Ge´ge`ne 161

Algeria, 1960 163

Remembering the Gestapo 165



Chapter 8: Currents 167

South Vietnamese Torture 170

Vietnam, 1968 172

Bell Telephone Hour 174

Out of Vietnam Again 178

Variation within the French Style 183

Cattle Prods 185

The Electric Cornucopia 186

Remembering Vietnam 188



Chapter 9: Singing the World Electric 190

When Electrotorture Was New 190

Explaining Clean Electrotorture 194

Crafting Electrotorture 197

Surging Forward 201

The Americas 203

Middle East and North Africa 207

Asia 209

Sub-Saharan Africa 211

Europe and Central Asia 214

Explaining the Surge 216

Remembering the Cold War 222



Chapter 10: Prods, Tasers, and Stun Guns 225

Electric Utopia 225

Electric-Free Protest 227

Stun Technology 229

Covering America 230

Remembering Eutopia 237



Chapter 11: Stun City 239

Magneto Torture in Chicago 240

Stun and Torture 242

Tasers and Torture 245

Burning Issues 248

Stun and Democracy 249

But No One Died 252

Civic Shock 253

Welcome to Stun City 255



Part IV: Other Stealth Traditions 259

Introduction 261



Chapter 12: Sticks and Bones 269

Clean Whipping 269

Paddles 271

Beating Feet 273

Remembering Slaves and Sailors 277



Chapter 13: Water, Sleep, and Spice 279

Pumping 280

Choking 281

Showers and Ice 285

Salt and Spice 287

Deprivation of Sleep 290

Remembering the Inquisition 292



Chapter 14: Stress and Duress 294

Great and Lesser Stress Traditions 295

British Stress Tortures 296

French Stress Tortures 301

American Stress Tortures 306

Authoritarian Adaptations 311

Remembering the Eighteenth Century 314



Chapter 15: Forced Standing and Other Positions 316

Old Users after the War 317

Positional Tortures in the Communist World 322

Positional Tortures in the Non-Communist World 324

The Universal Distributor Hypothesis Revisited 329

Remembering the Hooded Men 332



Chapter 16: Fists and Exercises 334

Clean Beating 335

Adapting "the Necktie" 341

Exhaustion Exercises 342

Remembering the Grunts and the Cops 345



Chapter 17: Old and New Restraints 347

Bucking (the Parrot's Perch) 347

The Crapaudine 349

Standing Handcuffs 350

Sweatboxes 351

Adapting Old Restraints 353

The Shabeh 354

Remembering the Allied POWs 357



Chapter 18: Noise 360

Low-Technology Noise 360

High-Technology Noise 363

The CIA and Sensory Deprivation Boxes 368

Beyond the Laboratory 371

Principles and Guinea Pigs 373

Remembering Evil 384



Chapter 19: Drugs and Doctors 385

Police and Drugs 386

The CIA and Drugs 388

The Decline of Pharmacological Torture 390

Soviet Pharmacological Torture 392

Communist Pyschoprisons 394

Lines of Defense 397

Remembering the Prison Doctors 401

V Politics and Memory 403



Chapter 20: Supply and Demand for Clean Torture 405

Historical Claims 406

The Priority of Public Monitoring 409

Variations among and within States 414

National Styles of Stealth Torture 419

The Strength of Low Technology 423

The Power of Whispers 426

Why Styles Change 434

Disciplinary Interventions 439

The Demand for Torture 444



Chapter 21: Does Torture Work? 446

Can Torture Be Scientific? 447

Can Torture Be Restrained? 450

Does Technology Help? 453

Can Torture Be Professionally Conducted? 454

Works Better Than What? 458

Is Anything Better Than Nothing? 460

How Well Do Interrogators Spot the Truth? 463

How Well Do Cooperative Prisoners Remember? 466

How Good Is the Intelligence Overall? 469

Even When Time Is Short? 474

Remembering the Questions 478



Chapter 22: What the Apologists Say 480

Remembering the Battle of Algiers 481

Information in the Battle of Algiers 482

French Interrogation Units 485

Coerced Information in the Algerian War 487

Saving Innocents, Losing Wars 492

Gestapo Stories 493

Stories from the Resistance 495

CIA Stories 500

The Interrogation of Al Qaeda 503

Abu Ghraib and Guanta´namo 508

Afghanistan 511

Testimonial Literature from Other Conflicts 513

Remembering Abu Ghraib 518



Chapter 23: Why Governments Don't Learn 519

How Knowledge Does Not Accumulate 520

How Knowledge Is Not Analyzed 521

How Torture Warrants Might Help 523

Regulating Torture 526

Variations in Regulative Failure 529

Stealth and the Regulation of Torture 532

How Knowledge Does Not Matter 533

Remembering the Soldiers 535



Chapter 24: The Great Age of Torture in Modern Memory 537

The Great Rift 538

The Architecture of Amnesia 540

The Designs of Genius 542

Demons in the City 543

Algerian Souvenirs 545

Caring for the Memories 550



Appendixes

A: A List of Clean Tortures 553

B: Issues of Method 557

C: Organization and Explanations 566

D: A Note on Sources for American Torture during the Vietnam War 581



Notes 593

Selected Bibliography 781

Index 819


Darius Rejali has written a superb genealogy of modern torture. Meticulously researched and filled with surprising insights, Rejali's indictment derives its power from thoughtful analysis and deep historical grounding. It is the best book on the subject that I have encountered. No one should debate the merits of torture without having read it. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch Darius Rejali has given the world an extraordinary work of scholarship and personal passion that no one wants to hear about but that everyone must learn about. Torture and Democracy exposes the core issues facing every nation whose deepest values of human dignity are defiled by its state-sanctioned 'violence workers.' Beyond platitudes, this pioneering expert descends into the torture dungeons around the world to reveal the strategies and tactics secretly used to break human will to resist. A vital book for anyone wanting to understand the whys and hows of torture being practiced today by our own government. Philip Zimbardo, author of 'The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil' Monumental. Definitive. Devastating. Sidney Blumenthal Torture and Democracy brings the fact of torture straight home to democratic societies--societies that are the most reluctant to acknowledge the presence of torture in their midst. Darius Rejali's theme is the appeal of stealth forms of torture in democracies, but he also illuminates the culture of disinformation, self-deluding euphemisms, and outright mythology that accompanies these kinds of torture. Rejali's research has been truly formidable. He has read more widely in more disciplines than any analyst of torture that I know of. Edward Peters, author of 'Torture' This is a timely and extraordinarily important book, an unprecedented study of torture and its technologies, and of the relationship between torture and types of political systems. The research that went into this book is beyond impressive; it is thorough beyond belief. Torture and Democracy will become a reference for anyone who wants to understand torture. Darius Rejali is to be congratulated. Martha Huggins, Tulane University Torture and Democracy is a provocative, state-of-the-art consideration of what Rejali calls 'stealth' or 'clean' torture. He makes a powerful case that democracies tend to be laboratories for these forms of torture and that one of the unintended consequences of democratization is that torture, rather than being eliminated, becomes harder to identify and document. Austin Sarat, Amherst College Rejali's approach is to track the different behaviors, trends and traditions in torture throughout history to see who influenced whom and what they did...Rejali, a leading expert on government interrogation techniques, reaches key conclusions. First, monitoring by human rights groups doesn't stop torture, it simply causes torturers to resort to techniques that don't scar...Second, most contemporary torture traditions were passed on like crafts from teacher to apprentice...Third, Rejali writes, a person being tortured is likely to say whatever he thinks his captors want to hear, making it one of the poorest methods of gathering reliable information. Laurel Maury Los Angeles Times Torture and Democracy immediately lays claim to be the most compendious and the most rigorous treatment of the subject yet written. Saul Bellow used to say that we are constantly looking for the book it is necessary to read next. On torture, this is it...Torture and Democracy is the anatomy of sneaky. Rejali regales us with tales of every technique of torture known to man...Rejali's analysis of efficacy is exemplary: at once prudent and trenchant, historically alert and morally sentient. Alex Danchev Times Higher Education magisterial study of torture and how it has developed as a social and moral issue with a focus on developments through the last century. Scott Horton Harper's Magazine An exhaustive study of...'clean tortures,' or tortures that leave no permanent scars. Electrotorture, water tortures, stress and duress positions, beating, noise, drugs and forced exercises all make an appearance. The book is a towering achievement, a serious work of social science on an urgent topic that is too frequently surrounded by assumption and myth. It should be read and disseminated widely...The book is devoted to exploding one myth in particular: that clean tortures can casually and reliably be traced to the ancients, or, failing that, to the Nazis. Rejali's provocative thesis is that most clean tortures were actually born in democracies, especially imperial Britain and France. Michael O'Donnell San Francisco Chronicle Torture and Democracy is a much-needed attempt to put our discussions on a firmer historical and conceptual footing while showing us the realities of what torture is and what it does. Based on a decade of research and approximately 2,000 sources in 14 languages, Torture and Democracy is really several books in one. It is a methodical history of what Rejali calls 'clean' or 'stealth' torture (torture that leaves no marks) in the 20th century; a sociological examination of torture's relationship to democracies; a psychological exploration of torture's impact on societies and individuals; a practical consideration of torture's effectiveness; a philosophical musing on the ethics of torture and interrogation in general; an exhaustive cataloguing of tortures used throughout the ages; and what Rejali calls 'a reliable sourcebook' for those who speak out against torture anywhere. Michael McGregor The Oregonian what essentially amounts to an epidemiology of torture. Just as scientists were able to show how HIV traveled around the world by mapping the locatino and date of each outbreak of AIDS, Rejali similarly documents the global transmission of major torture techniquest by drawing up a chronology of their occurrence . . . Rejali's accomplishment--and it's a considerable one--is to lay out this vast amount of information to demonstrate patterns few had noticed before. Brian Zabcik American Lawyer Documenting modern torture techniques, is both horrifying and compelling. The consequences of torture are always unpredictable and Rejali argues that torture fails when it's needed most--in last-minute, ticking bomb scenarios. Karen J. Greenberg Financial Times Dozens of books about torture have been published over the last five years. But none compare to Torture and Democracy for its richly detailed comparative analysis, and its synthesis of historical, psychological, medical, forensic, sociological, and political information to explain what torture is, what it does to victims and perpetrators, and why and how it spreads. . . . Rejali has earned the right to speak authoritatively about the most important question of all: Does torture work? His answer, like his book, is profound, complex, and supported by a wealth of empirical detail. Lisa Hajjar Arab Studies Journal Torture and Democracy, the fruit of a lifetime's study should dispel much ignorance and frequently facile assumptions about the subject. David Bentley World Today Darius Rejali's Torture and Democracy, a decade in the making, will be the canonical source text for information on, and the historical confirmation of, the democratic pedigree of tortures that leave no mark. z Z. Huq. 'World Policy Journal Sprawling, essential. . . . A massive dictionary of the unspeakable. Gary Bass Dissent Rejali's consolidation of the available data on torture is certainly an admirable and relevant task. What is especially provocative and essential about Rejali's scholarship is that he forces readers to retreat from the minutiae of political debates surrounding torture and asks us to examine the larger contextual picture. Shana Tabak Democracy and Society This book is quite simply the most authoritative study of torture ever written. Twenty-five years of painstaking research in the making, it will serve the human rights movement for decades to come. George Hunsinger Theology Today The book suits well as an introduction to the topic of torture (techniques) throughout the world from the 20th century until today. . . . he first two parts of the opus offer a vast amount of information on the historical and technical development of torture across many different states. Daniela Kaschel Journal of International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict
Darius Rejali is professor of political science at Reed College and an internationally recognized expert on modern torture. He is the author of Torture and Modernity: Self, Society, and State in Modern Iran.