Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Torture again

It was the 200th anniversary of Austerlitz last week. It has been remarked in the French media that they celebrated the anniversary of a naval defeat (Trafalgar), but not this land victory. Some of Napoleon's more negative aspects have been given prominence recently, like his re-introduction of slavery (see the interview with Jack Lang this morning, for example). Napoleon cast a shadow over most of the 19th century, as a hero or superman figure, and not just in France - read Dostoevsky's
'Crime and punishment'.

Part of Channel 4's 'season', which included Peter Oborne's progammes, was something by  Andrew Gilligan about torture. My first reaction was  'hasn´t it been on before ?' As I noted before, 'Torture: the Dirty Business'  was shown on Channel 4 in March. Another programme shown at that time was 'We have ways of making you talk...' I've just started watching a tape of this. I've only seen a few minutes, but it is actually quite interesting. They interviewed people who had tortured for France back at the time of Algeria's war for independence. One said he saw the effect the methods used by the Nazis against the Resistance had.

One of the techniques used was to turn on a tap and give the victim the choice of talking or drowning. This seems to be the same as what is now called water-boarding, which, according to the media, some Americans do not regard as 'torture'...


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