A reader writes:

One point on the Solzhenitsyn quote. The method you describe — one of over 30 he describes that were used to break prisoners but did not leave permanent marks on them so are OK, according to the Right these days. These methods were not used to extract information from prisoners. When the Soviets wanted intelligence, they would treat prisoners humanely, even well, making the comfortable and trying to persuade them to talk voluntarily. The idea was to get the prisoner to let down his guard, to trust you and then to let something slip. They did this for a variety of reasons, the biggest being that you never know what a prisoner might say that will turn out to be useful. We ape-folk like to talk. And when we’re doing wrong or secretive, our urge to confess to someone is very strong. The important thing was just to get the prisoner talking. Human nature would take care of the rest.

No, these techniques were used to extract confessions. The Organs would write up a confession to various crimes against the state and use these methods until the prisoner signed. They would use them until the prisoner named names — any names would do. Most of them had quotas for the number of political dissidents they needed to arrest. Forced confessions was a good way of getting a quota. But even the Commies realized that intelligence acquired that way was next to useless.

We’ve become dumber than the Soviets and in some cases just as cruel. Thank God this shameful era appears to be coming to an end.


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