A US Senate report outlining the methods used by CIA interrogators in the early 2000s brings to mind the following passage from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago:
By 1966, eighty-six thousand Nazi criminals had been convicted in West Germany. And we still choke with anger here. … ‘Too few! Eighty-six thousand are too few. And twenty years is too little! It must go on and on. … But in a quarter-century [in Russia] we have not tracked down anyone. We have not brought anyone to trial. … Why is Germany allowed to punish its evildoers and Russia is not? What kind of disastrous path lies ahead for us if we do not have the chance to purge ourselves of that putrefaction rotting inside our body? What, then, can Russia teach the world?
… But let us be generous. We will not shoot them. We will not pour salt water into them, nor bury them in bedbugs, nor bridle them into a ‘swan dive’, nor keep them on sleepless ‘stand-ups’ for a week, nor kick them with jackboots, nor beat them with rubber truncheons, nor squeeze their skulls in iron rings, nor push them into a cell so that they lie atop of each other like pieces of baggage – we will not do any of the things they did! But for the sake of our country and our children we have the duty to seek them all out and bring them all to trial! Not to put them on trial so much as their crimes. And to compel each one of them to announce loudly: ‘Yes, I was an executioner and a murderer.’
… It is unthinkable in the twentieth century to fail to distinguish between what constitutes an abominable atrocity that must be prosecuted and what constitutes that ‘past’ which ‘ought not to be stirred up’.
… When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations. …
It is going to be uncomfortable, horrible, to live in such a country.