Interrogation Methods And People

In a February 18, 2006 ZNet article (originally published in “Democracy”) Professor Alfred McCoy describing the “advanced” methods of torture adopted by the CIA writes: “You simply make somebody stand for a day or two…And so, as they stand, what happens is the fluids flow down to the legs, the legs swell, lesions form, they erupt, they separate, hallucinations start, the kidneys shut down.” Let us go back 34 years, to 1972. Anastasios Minis was born in Greece in 1919. In 1940 he entered the Greek Air Force Academy. In 1942 he fought, as a pilot, at El Alamein, in Egypt, against the Nazis of Rommel and was wounded. Then, in a dangerous and secret mission, he parachuted into the Nazi occupied Greece. From 1946 to 1949, as a pilot, he took part in the Greek civil war (on the side of the US controlled Greek Air Force against the leftist resurrection) and was wounded three times. On July 1, 1972, Minis (at the age of 53) is found in a Greek military police interrogation room about 200 yards south of the US Embassy, in Athens. (This time Greece is under a US-sponsored military dictatorship). He is accused of being the leader of a group resisting the dictatorship. At midday he is lying in his bed, after having lunch. The door opens and the guard enters accompanied by a man in civilian cloths. The guard says: “Mr. Minis get up and put on your shoes”. The man orders Minis to stand at attention three feet away from the wall facing it. The guard leaves and the other stays in the room to make sure that Minis stands at attention continuously. Minis describes what happened while standing at attention as follows: “I have already started to perspire, my legs tremble, my body oscillates now left to right, now forwards to backwards. I start having difficulty breathing, my knees start to buckle. One or two hours have gone by, I do not know, I make this estimate because the man guarding me changed and there is a new one…I start getting dizzy,…I start seeing all kinds of images on the wall.. my shoulders, my neck, my head are in pain…It is night…I feel very thirsty, I ask for water but they do not give me…At some point I fall down on the mosaic floor and I faint…they call the doctor…They lay me down on the bed, he takes my pulse, checks my heart and orders the guard to bring me some orangeade. After drinking it I feel a little better…they bring a couch and make me sit on it. Opposite me a guard sits on a chair…I feel drowsy…the guard prevents me to sleep. My feet are swollen…This is how all the night goes by. Daybreak and I [am] still immobile, but seated on the couch. In the morning…the doctor comes back and examines me. He orders the guard to bring a bed for me. At last I drink water…I sleep. At noon they wake me up…three men in civilian take the bed away and order me to stand at attention opposite the wall…The hours go by…It is night…I have hallucinations…I imagine the wall to become transparent and I discern very clearly…images…I would see these images, always the same, during all the period I was been tortured… …in my mouth there is a white crust… like white skin…I have lost the sense of time…my eyesight and my hearing have diminished. My feet are swollen so much that the flesh flows over my shoes like the cakes that raise too much during baking and spill over their tin container… July 10. In the morning…they let me sit on a chair…They give me some tea, I want to drink but I have difficulty swallowing. This white crust that has formed in my mouth and which I pull out with my dirty fingers (I have not slept since the noon of July 1) prevents me also to even breath…July 11 [to July] 15…All these days I lie in bed. Most of the time I am asleep…” This procedure of keeping Minis standing for days and then having him lie down and sleep for days is repeated two more times and the entire “operation” lasts for 111 [one hundred and eleven] days. This experience was put in writing by Minis on small pieces of paper which were smuggled out of prison and were first published as a 93-page book in Germany in July 1973 by “rororo Rowohlt” of Hamburg under the title: “Die Folter geht Weiter”. Minis was still in prison. [Note: The guards during the day changed every two hours. During the night every hour and a half. Which means that to accomplish the feat of the torture-by-"standing" one needs about 15 guards per day per tortured person. Now, in Guantanamo, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, etc, etc there are prisoners that number in the thousands, which means that there is a huge number of young Americans who will go back to their hometowns after having tortured thousand of men and women all over the world. Will they tell their neighbors? However, as Minis relates, there were a few guards that let him sit down on the floor during their watch! Some even gave him some water. How will Rumsfeld and Condolcezza deal with this anomaly, which is apt to happen in Iraq, etc? What if W. Bush and his mother Barbara get wind of such unpatriotic acts by US guards?] Minis not only survived the torture-by-”standing” but he, probably, belongs to the rare cases worldwide who did not succumb to torture and name the names of other Resistance fighters. Although, during the third time of “standing” he tried to kill himself by hitting the wall in front of him with his head as hard as he could. I met Minis for the first time a few months after the “fall” of the dictatorship (i.e. the change of the US proxy in Greece). He had been persuaded to run for deputy in the Greek Parliament, in the first elections after the dictatorship. I helped his campaign by contacting some newspapers and submitting some election ads, on my own initiative, with which Minis had nothing to do. What impressed me was that when I visited the owner of a conservative paper which was the “organ” of Karamanlis, the elder, (the US choice for a successor to the dictator), the owner refused to accept the Minis ad, although by that time Minis was the most heroic figure of the Resistance against the dictatorship for the ten million Greeks. Minis was elected as Parliament deputy. He stayed in the Parliament for a few years. Observed the corruption and the irrelevance of Parlimentarism, or “representative democracy”, quit, and never took part in politics again. Minis died in 2005. He was 86 years old. Minis dedicated his book to his wife Sofia and his two sons. At some point I met briefly his two sons [still teenagers at the time]. Discussing their father’s history with them, I found that besides being proud about their father’s heroism, what both were very proud of their father was that he was an excellent mathematician! What about the torturers of Minis? The Commanding Officer of the torturers was Theofilogianakos ["Little John friend of God", in Greek], already mentioned in a previous Commentary as the torturer of Lady Amalia Fleming, wife of Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin. When he introduced himself to Minis he added that the dictatorship “will last for one hundred years”. The dictatorship lasted for seven years. Theofilogianakos spent more than twenty years in prison for torturing Minis and many others. Of what I could guess from watching him for weeks during his trial in 1975 he was in his late 40s. Today he probably is in his late seventies and out of prison. They tell me that, by now, he has realized the immorality of what he has done. Yet, if he really wishes to do something for his fellow humans he should have the courage to come out and inform the world when and where the Americans taught him the “art” of torture-by-standing and what are the names of his American teachers. The calling of prophesying is rather “complex” as it demands conversing with the divine, a quality not all humans are endowed with. However, “secular” prophesying can be “possible” if based on a fact. – The fact: “[The] three acquitted men, Schacht, von Papen, and Fritzsche, wanted to leave the prison a few hours ago, but turned back because an enraged crowd was waiting for them at the street gate. There was general confusion until the Americans offered to let them take refuge in the prison.” The words belong to Albert Speer inmate at the prison. The place is Nuremberg. The date is October 1, 1946. The three men are the famous Nazis. The “crowd” are German citizens! Repeat: “German citizens”! [Albert Speer, "Spandau the Secret Diaries", Collins, London, 1976, p. 4]. – The prophesy: At some point, Bush II and his gang will face “an enraged crowd” of American citizens joined by the majority of the peoples of the world. However, they will not have a place to hide. Wishful thinking? Not exactly: Theofilogianakos thought that he would torture for a hundred years; he spent a third of his life in prison. Nixon was certain about his place in history. So were McCarthy, Pinochet, Stalin, Mussolini, Marcos, etc, etc. The American citizens, as all humans, have the ability to think rationally and act morally.

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