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.
Winner of the 2009 Lemkin Award, Institute for the Study of Genocide Winner of the 2008 Best Book, Human Rights Section of the American Political Science Association "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 "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 "[Creates] 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, [Torture and Democracy] 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."--Aziz 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 & 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... [T]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 "Torture and Democracy by Darius Rejali is arguably the most impressive and most important book to be published on torture in the past few years. A monumental achievement of meticulous documentation, theoretical testing, and reasoned argumentation, it is certain to become the yardstick against which future research on torture will be measured... It should be required reading for any scholar or student of torture, and more importantly, for every policy-maker and counter-terrorism practitioner considering whether torture could or should be used to deal with the current terrorist threat."--Richard Jackson, Critical Studies on Terrorism
Preface xvAcknowledgments xixIntroduction 1Historical Claims 3Puzzles and Cautions 5The Priority of Public Monitoring 8Variations among States 11Variations within States 15National Styles of Stealth Torture 16Torture and Democracy 21Does Torture Work? 23Who Cares? 25Part I: Torture and Democracy 33Chapter 1: Modern Torture and Its Observers 35Defining Torture 36Monitoring Torture 39Chapter 2: Torture and Democracy 45The National Security Model 46The Juridical Model 49The Civic Discipline Model 55Hell Is in the Details 60Part II: Remembering Stalinism and Nazism 65Introduction 67Chapter 3: Lights, Heat, and Sweat 69Sweating and Stealth in America 70British Psychological Techniques 74Interrogation Elsewhere in Europe 76Sweating and Stealth in Russia 79The Spread of the Russian Style 83Remembering Pavlov 87Chapter 4: Whips and Water 91Labussie`re's List 92Documenting Nazi Torture 93Torture in Germany 95Torture in Nazi-Occupied Europe 97Remembering the War 104Chapter 5: Bathtubs 108Masuy's Bathtub 109Marty's Magneto 111The French Gestapo and Electric Torture 112The Decline of Sweating and Stealth 115The German Gestapo and Modern Torture 117Remembering Nuremberg 117The Search for Electric Torture 118Part III: A History of Electric Stealth 121Chapter 6: Shock 123The AC/DC Controversy and the Electric Chair 124The Mystery of Electric Death 126Early Police Devices 128The Mystery of Shock 132Early Medical Devices 135Transmitting Shock 138Later Medical Devices 139Remembering the Animals 141Chapter 7: Magnetos 144What Is a Magneto? 145Indochina, 1931 146Out of Indochina 149Korea, 1931 150Out of Korea 152The Lost History of the Magneto 155French and British Electrotorture after World War II 157The Colonial Police and Wuillaume's List 160The Triumph of the Ge'ge`ne 161Algeria, 1960 163Remembering the Gestapo 165Chapter 8: Currents 167South Vietnamese Torture 170Vietnam, 1968 172Bell Telephone Hour 174Out of Vietnam Again 178Variation within the French Style 183Cattle Prods 185The Electric Cornucopia 186Remembering Vietnam 188Chapter 9: Singing the World Electric 190When Electrotorture Was New 190Explaining Clean Electrotorture 194Crafting Electrotorture 197Surging Forward 201The Americas 203Middle East and North Africa 207Asia 209Sub-Saharan Africa 211Europe and Central Asia 214Explaining the Surge 216Remembering the Cold War 222Chapter 10: Prods, Tasers, and Stun Guns 225Electric Utopia 225Electric-Free Protest 227Stun Technology 229Covering America 230Remembering Eutopia 237Chapter 11: Stun City 239Magneto Torture in Chicago 240Stun and Torture 242Tasers and Torture 245Burning Issues 248Stun and Democracy 249But No One Died 252Civic Shock 253Welcome to Stun City 255Part IV: Other Stealth Traditions 259Introduction 261Chapter 12: Sticks and Bones 269Clean Whipping 269Paddles 271Beating Feet 273Remembering Slaves and Sailors 277Chapter 13: Water, Sleep, and Spice 279Pumping 280Choking 281Showers and Ice 285Salt and Spice 287Deprivation of Sleep 290Remembering the Inquisition 292Chapter 14: Stress and Duress 294Great and Lesser Stress Traditions 295British Stress Tortures 296French Stress Tortures 301American Stress Tortures 306Authoritarian Adaptations 311Remembering the Eighteenth Century 314Chapter 15: Forced Standing and Other Positions 316Old Users after the War 317Positional Tortures in the Communist World 322Positional Tortures in the Non-Communist World 324The Universal Distributor Hypothesis Revisited 329Remembering the Hooded Men 332Chapter 16: Fists and Exercises 334Clean Beating 335Adapting "the Necktie" 341Exhaustion Exercises 342Remembering the Grunts and the Cops 345Chapter 17: Old and New Restraints 347Bucking (the Parrot's Perch) 347The Crapaudine 349Standing Handcuffs 350Sweatboxes 351Adapting Old Restraints 353The Shabeh 354Remembering the Allied POWs 357Chapter 18: Noise 360Low-Technology Noise 360High-Technology Noise 363The CIA and Sensory Deprivation Boxes 368Beyond the Laboratory 371Principles and Guinea Pigs 373Remembering Evil 384Chapter 19: Drugs and Doctors 385Police and Drugs 386The CIA and Drugs 388The Decline of Pharmacological Torture 390Soviet Pharmacological Torture 392Communist Pyschoprisons 394Lines of Defense 397Remembering the Prison Doctors 401V Politics and Memory 403Chapter 20: Supply and Demand for Clean Torture 405Historical Claims 406The Priority of Public Monitoring 409Variations among and within States 414National Styles of Stealth Torture 419The Strength of Low Technology 423The Power of Whispers 426Why Styles Change 434Disciplinary Interventions 439The Demand for Torture 444Chapter 21: Does Torture Work? 446Can Torture Be Scientific? 447Can Torture Be Restrained? 450Does Technology Help? 453Can Torture Be Professionally Conducted? 454Works Better Than What? 458Is Anything Better Than Nothing? 460How Well Do Interrogators Spot the Truth? 463How Well Do Cooperative Prisoners Remember? 466How Good Is the Intelligence Overall? 469Even When Time Is Short? 474Remembering the Questions 478Chapter 22: What the Apologists Say 480Remembering the Battle of Algiers 481Information in the Battle of Algiers 482French Interrogation Units 485Coerced Information in the Algerian War 487Saving Innocents, Losing Wars 492Gestapo Stories 493Stories from the Resistance 495CIA Stories 500The Interrogation of Al Qaeda 503Abu Ghraib and Guanta'namo 508Afghanistan 511Testimonial Literature from Other Conflicts 513Remembering Abu Ghraib 518Chapter 23: Why Governments Don't Learn 519How Knowledge Does Not Accumulate 520How Knowledge Is Not Analyzed 521How Torture Warrants Might Help 523Regulating Torture 526Variations in Regulative Failure 529Stealth and the Regulation of Torture 532How Knowledge Does Not Matter 533Remembering the Soldiers 535Chapter 24: The Great Age of Torture in Modern Memory 537The Great Rift 538The Architecture of Amnesia 540The Designs of Genius 542Demons in the City 543Algerian Souvenirs 545Caring for the Memories 550AppendixesA: A List of Clean Tortures 553B: Issues of Method 557C: Organization and Explanations 566D: A Note on Sources for American Torture during the Vietnam War 581Notes 593Selected Bibliography 781Index 819