Bicycle Diaries: What happens in Chicago, Part II

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What happens in Chicago, Part II


Last week I posted Peter Sagal's brilliant commentary on Chicago-style reality. It's what I love about the City of Big Shoulders. But if you're going to make reality a virtue, you have to acknowledge the bad along with the good. A case in point is torture. On 16 December 07, Darius Rigali, highlights (in The Boston Globe) the links between torture overseas and here at home. Too close to home, it seems ... because he includes several examples of Chicago-style torture:
Chicago police used magneto [electric shock] torture in the 1970s and 1980s to extract confessions. Most alleged incidents implicated Commander Jon Burge, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, and the detectives he supervised...

In Chicago, in the decade after Vietnam, the use of magnetos and other clean tortures left a disaster: At least 11 men were sentenced to death and many others given long-term prison sentences based on confessions extracted by torture, and in 2003, Governor George Ryan of Illinois commuted the death sentences of all 167 death row inmates. Earlier this month the City of Chicago agreed to pay nearly $20 million to settle lawsuits filed by four former death row inmates who claimed they were tortured and wrongly convicted.

If the spread of torture techniques suggests a blurry line between "us" and "them," it also teaches that there's no real boundary between "there" and "here." It would be ignoring history to assume that what happens in an American-run prison in Iraq will stay in Iraq. Soldiers who learn torture techniques abroad get jobs as police when they return, and the new developments in torture you read about today could yet be employed in a neighborhood near you.

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Blogger Ron said...

I think of the unjudicious use of tasers by cops. Did you hear how police killed a Polish man in an airport recently? Must be on YouTube.

18/12/07 05:20  

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