Sunday, October 01, 2006

Life Imitates TV: "Nobody Expects the [American] Inquisition!"

From one of the all-time best Monty Python skits:

(Cut to them torturing a dear old lady, Marjorie Wilde).
Ximinez: Now, old woman -- you are accused of heresy on three counts -- heresy by thought, heresy by word, heresy by deed, and heresy by action -- *four* counts. Do you confess?
Wilde: I don't understand what I'm accused of.
Ximinez: Ha! Then we'll make you understand! Biggles! Fetch...THE CUSHIONS!

(JARRING CHORD)
(Biggles holds out two ordinary modern household cushions)

Biggles: Here they are, lord.
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!

(JARRING CHORD)
(Zoom into Fang's horrified face)

Fang (terrified): The...Comfy Chair?
(Biggles pushes in a comfy chair -- a really plush one)

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!

From Rich Lowry's September 28 column, "Soft Cell":

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.

From Hugh Hewitt's talk on September 28 with Mark Steyn, on Hugh's radio show:

HH: . . . Do they appear put upon to you, Mark Steyn?

MS: No, they don't. It's interesting to me. They were being treated very lavishly, as you know, to Ramadan, and we at the meal that...when I was down there, that the detainees eat, and very proudly, we were told, as they served up this fantastic meal, that it featured homemade pastries, especially cooked for the detainees for Ramadan. So I can tell you something. They eat much better food...I've eaten MRE's with American troops in Iraq, and these detainees eat much better than American troops do.

. . .

HH: Mark Steyn, did you get a chance to talk to any of the interrogators at Gitmo?

MS: Yes, I did, actually. (laughing) I spoke briefly to a rather lovely female interrogator. As you know, Muslim young men often have complicated attitudes to women. And they...and she, in fact, found that although Saudi males were incredibly hostile to her the first couple of times she interrogates them, that they've been deprived of female company for so long, that actually, they warm up to her by about the third or fourth meeting. So I found the interrogation, I think...I had the opportunity to kind of eavesdrop on a couple of interrogations, which are certainly surreal, if you're used to this sort of anti-American propaganda, where the guys are in dungeons and chains, chained to these little, wooden chairs under the bare light bulb, or some guys beating the information out of them. In fact, they're interrogated in a La-Z-Boy recliner, which is this oddly surreal point. It's a very unusual set up down there.

. . .

HH: Now Mark Steyn, when they were done, do they evidence hostility towards Americans? Did you come into contact with any of the Gitmo prisoners, or just through the looking glass?

MS: Well, we came in contact with some of the Afghan ones, who turn out to be the most compliant. . . . the Afghan guys are apparently the most agreeable and affable and friendly ones in the joint. The Saudis and Yemenis are far more hostile. And I must say, these are the fattest Afghans I've ever seen, because they're on this kind of 4,700 calorie a day diet, which I don't quite understand. So instead of that rather sort of lean, wily Afghan look, these are kind of big, bloated, chubby Afghans. And if they ever did want to go back to jihad, they're going to have to shed about...(laughing)

HH: They're going to have to go into training.

MS: Yes.

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