Monday, June 04, 2007

Was Durbin Right? (2007 Edition)

Most of you may remember the imbroglio in the summer of 2005 when Senator Richard Durbin criticized American torture policies and suggested that if you were to hear some of the interrogation techniques carried out against detainees you might be able to mistake them with Soviet gulags or Nazi Germany. Durbin caused more than a bit of a storm as conservatives rushed to see who could condemn him the most harshly.

I wrote something of a defense of Durbin, or at least a call for more intellectually honest debate at the late, great Rebunk. (I was not alone.)

Well, it must be a bit uncomfortable for some of the conservatives who reserved their harshest vitriol for liberals who defended Durbin, or at least asked for an honest rendering of what Durbin had said and within what context. Of course now we know from the yeoman's work of Andrew Sullivan that the very idea of "enhanced interrogation" bears more than a passing resemblance, indeed shares its euphemistic name, with the German "Verschärfte Vernehmung" introduced by -- you guessed it -- the Gestapo.

And now the Sunday New York Times reveals that the administration's approved interrogation techniques were in large part adopted from -- wait for it -- Stalin's Soviet Union.

I, for one, look forward to the apologia from the smug commentariat.

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