It seems like Vice President Cheney (of course his boss too) has followed, in part, a British road map in torturing one’s supposed and “possible” enemies.
A disturbing report appeared today in the Guardian on a secret detention camp for Nazis, SS officials and people thought to be collaborators at a German spa turned into an interrogation and torture center named Bad Nenndorf.
One of the really disturbing parts of the report is that a Scotland Yard report discovered that not all of the victims of this camp were hard-core parts of Hitler’s government or police apparatus. Some were “industrialists, tobacco importers, oil company bosses or forestry owners”.
From Ian Cobain’s important investigative report:
Prisoners complained thumbscrews and “shin screws” were employed at the prison and Dr Jordan’s report highlighted the small, round scars that he had seen on the legs of two men, “which were said to be the result of the use of some instrument to facilitate questioning”. One of these men was Hans Habermann, a 43-year-old disabled German Jew who had survived three years in Buchenwald concentration camp.
All of these men had been held at Bad Nenndorf, a small, once-elegant spa resort near Hanover. Here, an organisation called the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre (CSDIC) ran a secret prison following the British occupation of north-west Germany in 1945.
CSDIC, a division of the War Office, operated interrogation centres around the world, including one known as the London Cage, located in one of London’s most exclusive neighbourhoods. Official documents discovered last month at the National Archives at Kew, south-west London, show that the London Cage was a secret torture centre where German prisoners who had been concealed from the Red Cross were beaten, deprived of sleep, and threatened with execution or with unnecessary surgery.
As horrific as conditions were at the London Cage, Bad Nenndorf was far worse. Last week, Foreign Office files which have remained closed for almost 60 years were opened after a request by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act. These papers, and others declassified earlier, lay bare the appalling suffering of many of the 372 men and 44 women who passed through the centre during the 22 months it operated before its closure in July 1947.
They detail the investigation carried out by a Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Tom Hayward, following the complaints of Major Morgan-Jones and Dr Jordan. Despite the precise and formal prose of the detective’s report to the military government, anger and revulsion leap from every page as he turns his spotlight on a place where prisoners were systematically beaten and exposed to extreme cold, where some were starved to death and, allegedly, tortured with instruments that his fellow countrymen had recovered from a Gestapo prison in Hamburg. Even today, the Foreign Office is refusing to release photographs taken of some of the “living skeletons” on their release.
Initially, most of the detainees were Nazi party members or former members of the SS, rounded up in an attempt to thwart any Nazi insurgency. A significant number, however, were industrialists, tobacco importers, oil company bosses or forestry owners who had flourished under Hitler.
This report was covered as well today in an article in Haaretz.
In the nearly 60 years since the end of World War II, one would think that the norms of leading democracies in the world had finally figured out that our greatest strength comes not from throwing out human rights protections and due process when the going gets rough — but in holding them up as the genetic material of our society and model of government, particularly during times of national crisis.
This report on the British camps is important because it reminds us of where we were in World War II, and how little some people elected as our national leaders today have grown since that time. If they can so easily throw out the rule of law and protection of individual liberty — then and today — then our democracy is not worth much.
This is not to say that we should become apologists for evil people and those who would do us great harm — but hold them accountable in courts of justice, not gulags and torture chambers.
— Steve Clemons