Wednesday, May 30, 2007

On justice and bitter, bitter irony, Part III

Via Andrew Sullivan:

The phrase "Verschärfte Vernehmung" is German for "enhanced interrogation". Other translations include "intensified interrogation" or "sharpened interrogation". It's a phrase that appears to have been concocted in 1937, to describe a form of torture that would leave no marks, and hence save the embarrassment pre-war Nazi officials were experiencing as their wounded torture victims ended up in court. The methods, as you can see [in the above translated directive written by Gestapo chief Müller], are indistinguishable from those described as "enhanced interrogation techniques" by the president. As you can see from the Gestapo memo, moreover, the Nazis were adamant that their "enhanced interrogation techniques" would be carefully restricted and controlled, monitored by an elite professional staff, of the kind recommended by Charles Krauthammer, and strictly reserved for certain categories of prisoner. At least, that was the original plan.

Go read the rest. There's a disturbing picture, but the reading is (or should be) more disturbing by far.

And no, we're not Nazis. That is precisely the point of calling your attention to this. Yet here we are: same methods, and even the same euphemistic phrase for describing them. Explain with an easy conscience and a straight face to someone, anyone--our friends, our enemies, our children--how our duck differs from the Nazi duck.

1 comment:

Pam said...

Disturbing, to say the least.

There really is no difference, but it's always puzzled me - no, troubled me, that we can justify some actions for the 'greater' (aka 'our') good. There is no good in it.