Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Enhanced Interrogation"

Andrew Sullivan's must-read post yesterday on 'enhanced interrogation' techniques has resonated throughout the blogosphere, and for good reason. The very euphemism -- "enhanced interrogation" -- was apparently coined in the late 1930s by a Nazi party that was concerned (at least at that time) about public appearances:
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 above, are indistinguishable from those described as "enhanced interrogation techniques" by the president.
To his credit, Sullivan has been writing about torture for some time, and taking on the Administration's position. His post focuses on a post-WWII trial in Norway, wherein 3 Nazis were convicted for the war-crimes of 'enhanced interrogation', aka torture.

Sullivan concludes:
Critics will no doubt say I am accusing the Bush administration of being Hitler. I'm not. There is no comparison between the political system in Germany in 1937 and the U.S. in 2007. What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn't-somehow-torture - "enhanced interrogation techniques" - is a term originally coined by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death.

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