Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Good Resource on Torture

Born in 1918, Ella Mazel has been compiling material about torture--its meaning, purpose, technique, morality, victims, perpetrators, and consequences--for nearly half a century. Two years ago, she cyber-published the results of her work. Her book is entitled Not in My Name!: A collection of quotes on the past, present, and future of the practice of torture. It's an invaluable resource, and deserves wider recognition than it's received.
Here's one of the passages Ms. Mazel quotes. It's from George Ryley Scott's 1940 The History of Torture Throughout the Ages. It seems especially pertinent today.

"War and torture are bedmates. . . . When once a war breaks out, torture may be recognized as an inevitable concomitant. Even if the governments concerned ostensibly denounce and prohibit torture, it occurs nevertheless. There is no way in which bodies of men or individuals can be prevented from surreptitiously practising torture upon such of their enemies as fall into their power where licence to kill and maim has been freely given."