Walking in ghosts and shadows

Darius Rejali

From an interview in New Scientist with Darius Rejali, who tells us that so-called “clean torture” is thriving in modern democracies…

“[Torture] screws everybody up and it takes a long time to undo that damage. I fear the US is well on that path…

If there were [a science of torture], then torture should be producing accurate information regularly. Each interrogator would know exactly how much pain to apply to get a person to break. But pain cannot be measured in the way people think…

Public cooperation is the best way to gather information. After the failed bomb attacks in London in 2005, the British police found every one of the gang within a week. One was caught after his parents turned him in. They would not have done that if they’d thought he’d be tortured…

Anybody who puts cruelty first in their lives is open to misanthropy. They can become frustrated with how stupid other people can be. To protect yourself against that, you have to learn to be dependent, to be vulnerable, because the tendency is to want to withdraw.”

Darius Rejali grew up in Iran prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution. His great-grandfather, who was governor-general of Khorasan province,

“…didn’t hesitate to torture people or turn cannons on crowds. This was part of his way of defending his world.”

Rejali is now professor of political science at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and one of the world’s leading experts on modern torture and interrogation.