Published 24 April 2009 · Main Posts and what if they don’t follow the script? Jeff Sparrow A point that’s been missed in the discussion of the Bush torture memos is that interrogators always go further than regulations allow. Police in the developed world aren’t supposed to beat prisoners in cells but everyone knows that, like, some of them do. Naturally, then, if the official instructions permit interrogators to waterboard, to slap prisoners, to push them into walls, to humiliate them, to keep them in cramped positions, some will push things to a whole different level. For instance: Yes, I walked into this room, and it was a small room with the walls painted black. There was an interrogator sitting in a chair. To his left was an interpreter. The detainee was kneeling with his wrists handcuffed behind his back before the interrogator. Standing behind the interrogator was a guard carrying a — I don’t recall now if it was wood or iron rod — and it was almost stereotypical, being patted into his hand like it was some B movie, gangster movie, if you will. And the questions were posed to the detainee, interpreted. The detainee would answer, the answer was interpreted, and upon that interpretation, the interrogator would slap him across the face. For those who have read the report, they talk about in survival training, an “insult slap.” It’s very important to understand that those are affected in a very careful fashion, and to truly shock someone rather than hurt them. And this type of slap was much more forceful. The other difference is, it was being delivered systematically, and when I walked in, I asked how long it had been going on, and I was told “30 minutes.” So this individual had been slapped continuously while he was on his knees for 30 minutes. This was in Iraq. What do you suppose happens in the CIA’s black prisons, where the interrogators know that whatever happens in their cells will never, ever be known to the outside world? Jeff Sparrow Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland. More by Jeff Sparrow › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 10 November 202311 November 2023 · Subscriberthon 2023 On the final day of Subscriberthon, Overland’s most important members get to have their say Editorial Team BORIS A quick guide to another year of Overland, from your trusty feline, Boris. I liked the ginger cat story, though it made my human cry. I liked the talking cat, too, but I’m definitely in the “not wasting my time learning to talk” camp. But reading is good. And writing is fun, though it’s been challenging […] 1 First published in Overland Issue 228 9 November 20239 November 2023 · Subscriberthon 2023 On the second-last day of Subscriberthon, Overland’s co-chief editor Evelyn Araluen speaks truth to power Editorial Team To my friends and comrades, I’m not sure if there’s language to communicate how this last month has utterly changed me. This time a few weeks ago the busyness and chaos of bricolage arts and academic labour had so efficiently distracted me from my anxiety about the upcoming referendum that I forgot to prepare myself for its inevitable conclusion.