An Everyday Guide to Safe Torturing For All Ages
By Ed Handling, Senior Special Overseas 'Operations' Co-ordinator for the CIA.
Hi kids. Hi Moms and Dads
You hear a lot on the television about how bad torturing can be, but that's because it's probably not being done right. Believe it or not, torturing is one of the quickest and easiest methods available for getting to know people with interesting things to say and for finding out stuff that's not only fun, but operationally useful, too. A word of warning, though. Like all activities, torturing is not without its risks, which is why I've written this handy guide to explain how it can be done safely with no harm to the torturer and as little harm as is needed to extract information from the victim.
Follow these guidelines and you should be safe to inflict controllable amounts of physical and mental pain on someone withholding information without risk of their demise in front of you or your own protracted legal battles with human-rights authorities.
Be a wholehearted torturer
One of the most common causes of injury happens when a torturer doesn't put quite as much commitment into torturing as he or she should. If you try dunking a man's head into a bucket of ice and water and blades and Korans while thinking halfway through: 'Is this appropriate?', then there's every likelihood that the gentleman in question will see your hesitation as an opportunity to swing round and cuff you in the chest or eyeball with free bits of his body. Always be alert if close to pieces of serrated glass. Really go for it and the torturee will appreciate he's in the clamps of a professional.
Be an undoubting torturer
Our President teaches us that torture is a perfectly legal way of extracting information from someone, provided it's not done on American property and the person doing it doesn't realise he is torturing someone. This last specification is easy to meet, since very often the torturer is so appalled at the terrorist crimes the torturee has committed that he's driven into a medical condition known as a Blind Rage that temporarily prevents him being responsible for his actions. This is a perfectly legitimate excuse for spontaneously attaching someone's genitals to an extractor fan. Of course, in order to be provoked into a Blind Rage, it's necessary to hear what terrorist crimes the torturee has done, so it may be necessary to torture him first to find these out and then collapse into a Blind Rage retrospectively. But the principal still applies.
Make the torture last the whole evening long
Some people rush torture, so it's all over in several hours. But remember, torturing is all about intimacy. You're getting to find out quite a lot about your victim, but equally he's getting to know you. Make an evening of it. Put on music and put out some scented candles; you can use these later to drop hot wax on to your victim's stomach. Soft, absorbent rugs on the floor add to the intimate atmosphere and colourful absorbent hangings on the walls dampen sound.
Constitutionally, it's legal to torture someone as long as you don't know who it is you're torturing. For this reason, it may be necessary to prevent a victim from identifying himself. Obviously, the sole aim of torturing is to extract information, so at some stage or other, he's going to tell you who he is, otherwise you're not doing it right. If he does blurt out his name, stick your fingers in your ears. If he keeps doing it, stick his fingers in his eyes and his ears in a kettle.
Follow the Torturing Code
There are some tortures that are beyond the pale and we don't do those lightly. We don't Water Board, Nut Hammer or Digit Shave. However, this leaves plenty of other, non-specified torturing opportunities to explore. Ever thought about forcing a man to eat his elbows? Try it. I guarantee you'll be delighted by the results. Other tortures worth trying are ankle knotting and filling a man's stomach with rice then hot water.
It ain't what you say
George W Bush never uses the word 'torture'. Instead, he talks about 'special interrogative procedures'. I like collecting verbiage like this. I've done so ever since I heard a guy responsible from the firm that collects London's congestion charge appear on the telly and describe collecting the charge as a 'green-field opportunity'. What he meant was 'something we've never done before', but that sounds too negative. That's the thing about modern verbiage; it's the language of forced optimism. Splits in the Labour party are referred to as 'renewal', while Cameron ditches old policies by talking of 'realignment'.
We're exporting this language. I spoke to someone who's responsible for training people in places such as Sierra Leone how to run their businesses. She told me she was amazed to find out that people there had picked up buzz phrases from volunteers from Western-funded development agencies and knew exactly what words were most likely to get money out of them. People would say things like: 'We're in dire need of renewed infrastructure'; kids would plead for 'more active participation' in their environment; while everyone would complain of being 'de-sensitised to gender issues'. Apparently, it works a treat.
Look out for beggars in UK cities asking for '10 pence to fulfil the respect agenda'.
Armando Iannucci is a columnist on the Observer, who has produced, hosted and written extensively for television comedy.
© The Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006