Tuesday, December 06, 2005
The Definition of Torture
One man, Ahmed Hassan Mohammed testified:
I swear by God, I walked by a room and . . . saw a grinder with blood coming
out of it and human hair underneath...
My brother was given electric shocks while my 77-year-old father watched
. . . One man was shot in the leg. . . Some were crippled because they had arms and legs broken.
A woman, from behind a screen in fear for her life offered this chilling testimony:
"I was forced to take off my clothes, and he raised my legs up and tied up my hands. He continued administering electric shocks and beating me," she said of Wadah al-Sheik, an Iraqi intelligence officer who died of cancer last month. Several times, the woman - hidden behind a light blue curtain - broke down.
"God is great. Oh, my Lord!" she moaned, her voice electronically deepened and
She strongly suggested she had been raped, but did not say so outright. When Chief Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin asked her about the "assault," she said: "I was beaten up and tortured by electrical shocks."
The witness, who was 16 at the time of her arrest, repeated that she had been ordered to undress.
"I begged them, but they hit with their pistols," she said. "They
made me put my legs up. There were five or more, and they treated me like a
"Is that what happens to the virtuous woman that Saddam speaks
about?" she wept, prompting the judge to advise her to stick to the facts.
The thing about torture is that it does not work. And all that Jack Bauer 24 stuff is pure Hollywood fantasy. If a bomb is about to go off in a matter of hours, don't you think a committed terrorist, who is willing to die for his mission, would hold out even under the most extreme pain? (Perhaps not, but it's certainly conceivable given the jihadist mindset of militant Islamists.)
And Hussein's torture was done not to extract information, but to produce terror, to force Iraqis into utter subservience. So on one hand, that could be a significant distinction to make. But then, on the other hand, do we even want the slightest association with such methods?
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