Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading

Vladimir Bukovsky, who spent nearly 12 years in Soviet prisons, labor camps and psychiatric hospitals for nonviolent human rights activities, has a few words for the Devils destroying America.

I do know that if Vice President Cheney is right and that some “cruel, inhumane or degrading” (CID) treatment of captives is a necessary tool for winning the war on terrorism, then the war is lost already.

Even talking about the possibility of using CID treatment sends wrong signals and encourages base instincts in those who should be consistently delivered from temptation by their superiors. As someone who has been on the receiving end of the “treatment” under discussion, let me tell you that trying to make a distinction between torture and CID techniques is ridiculous. Long gone are the days when a torturer needed the nasty-looking tools displayed in the Tower of London. A simple prison bed is deadly if you remove the mattress and force a prisoner to sleep on the iron frame night after night after night. Or how about the “Chekist’s handshake” so widely practiced under Stalin — a firm squeeze of the victim’s palm with a simple pencil inserted between his fingers? Very convenient, very simple. And how would you define leaving 2,000 inmates of a labor camp without dental service for months on end? Is it CID not to treat an excruciatingly painful toothache, or is it torture?

Now it appears that sleep deprivation is “only” CID and used on Guantanamo Bay captives. Well, congratulations, comrades! It was exactly this method that the NKVD used to produce those spectacular confessions in Stalin’s “show trials” of the 1930s. The henchmen called it “conveyer,” when a prisoner was interrogated nonstop for a week or 10 days without a wink of sleep. At the end, the victim would sign any confession without even understanding what he had signed.

Torture Defends No One

Would you please send a copy of this article to your elected representatives? Ask them why the unaccountable silence in the past week. Why there has been no representation of our American dreams on the floor of Congress? What is happening to the country we grew up in where everyone knew the evil of torture, of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment? Ask them to find their voices before the America we love changes into an America we fear.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.