Torture Videos Shed Light on Egyptian Torture — and U.S. Rendition Policies

For years, unnamed government officials have acknowledged that they use “extraordinary renditions” to send suspects to other countries to be tortured. Our ally Egypt is a favorite destination of such flights. Now, videos of Egyptian torture have forced Americans to see what such “special treatment” is like for suspects. In one video, a woman is forced to strip and is abused by a police officer and in another Egyptian mini-bus driver, Emad el-Kabir, 21,l is shown screaming on the floor as officers sodomize him with a wooden pole. The police then sent the video to el-Kabir’s friends to humiliate him. These videos remove the abstract quality of the debate over U.S. torture policies, both in terms of waterboarding and extraordinary renditions.

Both of the videos were put on Youtube and have been seen around the world. What is most striking about the el-Kabir video is that the police were so unconcerned about disclosure of torture that they sent it to the victim’s friends. It was only due to Youtube and public outcry that the officers were given relatively short prison sentences. For an article, click here These are the same individuals who handle our own torture needs through extraordinary renditions.

Compounding the shock, it turns out that it was the police who made the film, and that they then transmitted it to the cell phones of the victim’s friends in order to humiliate him.

The most recent video shows a woman being beaten and forced to strip. I include this this link for those who want to see what is entailed in such abuse. I debated whether the post these links, but the problem with the current debate is that the Bush Administration (and many in Congress of both parties) prefer to keep such matters on an abstract level. Perhaps it is time to see what such “interrogations” involve. This video is mild in comparison to the abuse of el-Kabir. For an article on the latest video, click here

Youtube also contains this video of another woman in an Egyptian torture cell.

Egyptian mini-bus driver, Emad el-Kabir, 21, whom police sodomized, filmed his torture and transmitted it to the cell phones of the victim’s friends in order to humiliate him, looks on behind the bars inside a courtroom on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2007 in Cairo, where he was sentenced to three months in prison for `resisting authorities.’ (AP Photo/Al Masry Al Youm, File) (Al Masry Al Youm – AP)

The week’s events from around the world, captured in pictures.


For Egypt, the ordeal of 21-year-old Emad el-Kabir has been something of a Rodney King moment _ a sudden, stark glimpse of a reality which authorities routinely deny, but which human rights groups say is part of a pattern of police brutality.

But unlike the tape of the Los Angeles police beating up King in 1991, which was aired almost immediately, the attack on el-Kabir happened a year ago, and has only became public months later after an Egyptian blogger posted it on his site and it reached YouTube.

10 thoughts on “Torture Videos Shed Light on Egyptian Torture — and U.S. Rendition Policies”

  1. No doubt I would agree. Without even having read what you read, all one needs to look at is the Founder’s line of thinking and general reasoning on every other issue and to know the history of how they labored over their product.

    It’s shocking to my conscience as an American to have been subjected to this kind torturous, nonsensical, argumentative reasoning, incessantly for the past seven years.

  2. Late night thoughts on torture, renditions to torture, and the Congress:

    the Offenses Clause….

    United States v Arjona…..

    The Torture Victims Protection Act of 1992.

    and so forth

    no matter how one reads “laws of nations” one is left with the sense the Founders were thinking that acts shocking to the conscience would fall under such a rubric whether or not such acts were currently explicitly proscribed or not.

    if so Congress has the power to define and punish such acts whether or not any specific country has laws against them or not.

    The TVPA covers personnel in foreign prisons.

    end of thoughts..

  3. “The use of force by any nation may now destroy it as well as those against whom it is used.

    Internally and externally me must untie our Gordian knots; we cannot cut them except at our peril.”

    Justice William O Douglas (1946)

    What this current administration has done in all its acts has been to cut through the laws that hindered the will of the Executive. They had not the patience nor the skill nor the wit to abide by legalities they found trivial and obstructive.

    And amazingly, our generation was so soaked in moral and legal ambivalence as to allow them to get away with it. Until now.

  4. “Besides being bound by the law of the United Nations Charter, twenty-three nations, members of this Assembly, including the United States, Soviet Russia, the United Kingdom and France, are also bound by the law of the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal. That makes planning or waging a war of aggression a crime against humanity for which individuals as well as nations can be brought before the bar of international justice, gtried and punished.”

    Warren R Austin, Chief Delegate of the United States, opening address to the General Assembly of the United Nations. October 30, 1946.

    When did compliance with treaties and charters to which we are signatory become “only if convenient

  5. These videos though of course disturbing do not surprise me professor. Also, be sure that terror suspects do not just get whacked around with a stick by some idiot cop. Although our military does not actively perform the torture, they are morally complicit in their backhanded way of the use of torture to extract information. These videos do give some indication of the bruatality that terror suspects must face.

  6. Which leads to the haunting question that truly, deeply and fundamentally bothers me on almost every level: Have we become “the enemy”? Has this country, in some ways, become the fascist Italy/Nazi Germany/Imperial Japan of the 21st century? Only, we don’t recognize it because we’re on the inside looking out? The whole “can’t see the forest for the trees” kind of thing? And, lest we dump all this on an evil administration and/or complicit legislature and/or dysfunctional court and/or compliant media, there are three hundred million of us out here. 95% don’t know, (or, choose not to) and/or don’t care. Doesn’t this apathy impart a tacit approval on our part of what is transpiring? I suspect history will not judge this generation kindly. The “greatest” generation is being followed by the self absorbed, exploitative consumerists. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Fuhgeddaboudit!!! Avarice, lust for power and, “what’s in it for me?”.

  7. “[In Shaw v D.P.P.]…Lord Simonds asserted that there remains in the courts of law a residual power to enforce the supreme and fundamental purpose of the law, to conserve not only the safety and order, but also the moral welfare of the state;
    and that the King’s Bench was the custos morum of the people and had the superintendency of offenses contra bonos mores…”

    “Law, Democracy and Morality” (1962) 110 U. Pa. L. Rev. 635, 648

  8. There was a very interesting and very relevant article in the American Journal of International Law: “Speaking Law to Power, Lawyers and Torture” by R Bilder and D Vagts back in 2004.

    If you have access to JSTOR here is the link:×0005e/0

    Scott Horton writes in Harpers that United States v Alstoetter, the famous Justice Cases was all about going after the lawyers and judges who by their actions promoted and enabled war crimes and torture and that we did sentence such individuals to prison terms for their complicity in this loathsome practice.

    Is it time for another Nuremburg Commission? And people like Yoo, Bradbury, Gonzales, Addington, Cheney and yes, Bush, to be held accountable?

    There was a passage about “reconsecrating the temple of German law” after WWII. I think we need to do the same for our law here after 9-11 and Iraq/Afghanistan. All the renditions, the network of secret prisons, the tortures and deaths, the detentions, the wire-taps,… have deeply defiled the American “temple” of law. It is past time to take the actions to reconsecrate it.

  9. I’m pretty sure I’ve read that the US has also employed Syria to conduct some of its “extreme rendition” (torture) exercises. If true, I have a hard time getting my mind around the public condemnation of Syria as a terrorist state, a tool of Iran, supporter of Hezbollah, enemy of Israel, blah, blah, blah and having them be a CIA partner in Bush’s war on humankind. Can we, as a country, be that overtly hypocritical? Does anyone else also recall this perverted connection being made in the press?

Comments are closed.