A Monty Python skit foreshadowed harsh interrogation techniques at Gitmo:
Ximinez: Now, old lady — you have one last chance. Confess the heinous sin of heresy, reject the works of the ungodly — *two* last chances. And you shall be free — *three* last chances. You have three last chances, the nature of which I have divulged in my previous utterance.
Wilde: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Ximinez: Right! If that’s the way you want it — Cardinal! Poke her with the soft cushions!
[Biggles carries out this rather pathetic torture]
Ximinez: Confess! Confess! Confess!
Biggles: It doesn’t seem to be hurting her, lord.
Ximinez: Have you got all the stuffing up one end?
Biggles: Yes, lord.
Ximinez [angrily hurling away the cushions]: Hm! She is made of harder stuff! Cardinal Fang! Fetch…THE COMFY CHAIR!
[Zoom into Fang’s horrified face]
Fang [terrified]: The…Comfy Chair?
Yes. The Comfy Chair.
From Rich Lowry’s recent article on Guantanamo:
Interrogators rely on the soft sell. Detainees sit in a La-Z-Boy chair during interrogations, and beverages and movies are available to put them at ease. The most effective interrogator is said to be an older woman who adopts a nurturing attitude.
Back to Monty Python:
Ximinez: So you think you are strong because you can survive the soft cushions. Well, we shall see. Biggles! Put her in the Comfy Chair!
[They roughly push her into the Comfy Chair]
Ximinez [with a cruel leer]: Now — you will stay in the Comfy Chair until lunch time, with only a cup of coffee at eleven. [aside, to Biggles] Is that really all it is?
Biggles: Yes, lord.
Ximinez: I see. I suppose we make it worse by shouting a lot, do we? Confess, woman. Confess! Confess! Confess! Confess!
Biggles: I confess!
Ximinez: Not you!
See Dubya skips the snark, and notes (but passes on) the cheap and obvious Monty Python reference. That’s the difference between him and me — if it’s cheap and obvious, I’m there, baby!
But See Dubya does make several cogent observations, including this:
It’s a shame that the Left has focused so much misplaced energy and capital in trying to prove that Gitmo and CIA overseas interrogation are secretly Treblinka. Abuses and atrocities are, regrettably and rarely, committed by our side in cases like Abu Ghraib and Haditha, and a decent, principled Left would have saved its outrage for these cases when it counted, and thus acted as a conscience to check our worst martial impulses. Instead, their cries of “torture!” and “Gulag!” have faded into one long undifferentiated drone that lulls us to sleep instead of waking us up.
The Left has cried nothing but Wolf since the war started, and it’s hard to take their outrage seriously anymore, if we ever did.
I’d go further. If we’re worried about the perception of our actions overseas, as the Left claims to be, why isn’t the Left equally (if not more) responsible for that perception, due to their constant exaggeration of our interrogation practices?
Although I will give them this: it is indeed difficult to withstand the Comfy Chair.