Shades of Abu GhraibIssue: Nov-Dec 2009
THE GRISLY subject of torture is back with us again, with fresh allegations of CIA misconduct. It is a subject which first came to occupy my thoughts when I was writing a book on the Algerian War, A Savage War of Peace, back in the 1970s. It has never left me. In the course of my researches in France, one of the men I came most to respect, Paul Teitgen, former French prefect of Algiers, remarked to me:
All our so-called civilisation is covered with a varnish. Scratch it, and underneath you find fear. The French . . . are not torturers by nature. But when you see the throats of your copains [buddies] slit, then the varnish disappears.
Teitgen was a thoroughly honorable man, and he has surely been proved a wise one since 9/11.