What legal weapons are available to you?
The terrorists, or servants of Satan, are a particularly difficult target in a war. So you have to plan our approach very carefully. It is here that our experience is most relevant since our deadly foes, the witches, were an equally secretive, maniacal and deadly foe and we had to devise special methods to deal with them. Perhaps we can suggest some ways to improve your rather amateur methods of discovering, trying and destroying terrorists?
How to hunt down the terrorists
Firstly find your terrorist. Since they are so secretive and they can work at a distance through means equivalent to the magical methods of witches (sending anthrax through the post, corrupting computer systems in cyberspace etc), they are very hard to find. So you need means which are not used against ordinary criminals.
One method is criminal ‘profiling’. We knew a witch from her looks. She looked like a witch – old, ugly, angry-faced, dirty. Terrorists often give themselves away by their looks. They are usually young, of middle Eastern origin, often with beards.
Witches behaved in a suspect way. They muttered to themselves, harassed their neighbours by constantly begging, cursed people, flew into rages, threatened people, kept small pets which were their ‘familiars’. Modern terrorists go to mosques where they listen to radical clerics, they read books by certain thinkers, they have bank accounts with a surprising amount of money in them, they spend periods of time in suspect countries in the middle East, they consort with other suspects.
All these profiles lead to a prima facie case that they are terrorists and justify you in raiding their houses at dawn, hand-cuffing them, putting them in solitary confinement without charge for some months. But if you cannot obtain more evidence than this, even after long interrogation of a degrading kind, often verging on, or employing, torture, then you will probably finally have to release them after some months or years.
This is unfortunate, but you live in societies where busy-body lawyers and others seem not to realize that the best thing would be to eradicate all suspects at this stage, or at least to send them back to the infidel countries from which they come.
So you will need a little more evidence to rid yourself of them. One obvious technique is to use spies. In our case we used inquisitors, who dressed as ordinary citizens or joined in suspect organizations, ‘infiltrated’ in your language. They then laid bare the plots. We also had bribed informants. Furthermore we encouraged people to spy on each other, and thoughtfully provided in all our cities boxes into which people could drop a letter informing on their neighbours. In your age you should start an anonymous web-site to which people could send messages of accusation against their friends and neighbours.
Since those accused were not told who had informed against them, or even what they were accused of, there was no danger for the accuser. The fact that some of the accusations were made out of pure malice or as a result of a grudge, and turned out to be inaccurate, was a small price to pay for much valuable information.
How to spread the net wider; the use of accusations and especially children
Our most useful method, however, was to penetrate a nest of witches, and then systematically to work through the network of contacts. An old woman would be brought in as a suspect. She would be deprived of sleep for long periods, told that she would be burnt unless she confessed. She would be suspended with heavy weights attached to her feet, or put on a rack and her joints slowly pulled apart, or splinters inserted under her nails, or her feet slowly crushed.
We know that you have your equivalents with electric shocks, burning with cigarette ends, immersion in freezing water and air, ‘waterboarding’ (almost drowning people on a wooden board which tips into the water again and again), playing unbearably loud music or ‘white sound’ that nearly destroys the ear drums and so on. We gather that one Harvard Professor of Law’s suggested method is exactly the same as ours of splinters under the nails – extraordinarily painful, yet leaving no long-term marks.
You may like to use another favourite technique of ours. A suspect was told that her sentence would be lightened if she named her accomplices. Instead of being burnt alive in excruciating pain, she would be strangled before death, for example. Then all sorts of names of possible accomplices would be read out to her – implying that the evidence was already very strong against them and she was just adding another stick to their pyre. All she had to do was to confirm that they were fellow witches. Sometimes this uncovered whole nests of these vermin.
Children were particularly helpful. If an older person was suspected, we decided that contrary to the situation with ordinary criminals, the evidence of their children, their husbands or wives, or other close relatives was admissible. It is amazing what some threats or bribes will affect in a young child. This was a wonderful method in our medieval trials and we understand that the evidence of young people in their teens was particularly useful in the glorious persecution of witches in Salem, Massachusetts at a later period.
We know that you have adopted some of these methods. We know that you arrest people, hold them in solitary confinement without formal charges, keep them in degrading conditions which wear them down physically, deprive them of sleep, set dogs on them, urinate on them, force them to masturbate or have sex in front of you, beat and electrify them. We have seen photographs of all this. We know that the purpose of all this torture must be to get ‘credible information’ for use against others. These methods indeed are rightly defended by you as necessary in order to uncover the cells of the terrorists. And sensibly, when through some foolishness the more extreme methods become known to the public you claim that it was just one or two ‘rotten apples’ that caused it and you knew nothing about it.
We also know that you use the technique which we found so effective, which is to tell a particular individual that all sorts of things about his or her activities have been already revealed by another named person, and ask him to make counter-accusations against that person. You have, of course, made this up, but the technique often softens people up, puts them in a state of constant anxiety, undermines any resolve they have to hold out against you.
Yet while you are to be commended on adopting methods which were also used so effectively by Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao in their successful ferreting out of traitors, you still, to us at least, seem to pull your punches a bit.
While children were encouraged to destroy their parents and other adults in Satanic child abuse cases, as in our time, we have not heard so much about their use in anti-terrorism cases. Perhaps they are herded up and tricked or tortured into revealing their parents’ activities. Or perhaps you just bomb and shoot them as part of ‘collateral damage’ to a suspected person’s imprisonment, thus deterring future traitors in a form of collective retribution which was a mainstay of most States through history. Yet we would urge you that you should look into better use of children’s evidence. They often have their grievances and in their mixture of fact and fantasy, it is very easy to get them to say what you like with strong suggestions and leading questions. We recommend this to you as a tried and tested method.
The need to force confessions
Then there is the question of how, having got your terrorists in prison, you convict them. How can you prove them guilty so that there can be no question in any one’s mind?
We believe that we adopted the best solution, which was embodied in the heart of the legal system of most of Europe from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries. This is to force the accused to confess their guilt, preferably publicly, but at least in a signed confession. This method was clearly first rate, since it is also the one which Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao employed, two great thinkers in this field. For them, and particularly Stalin, confession was essential before a person could be executed by a firing squad.
If you use this method, of course, you need to be able to force a confession. You will know for certain that they are guilty, even if the evidence is nearly always below the level of normal criminal proof, circumstantial and hearsay rather than factual. But we believed that they must be forced to confess this.
So the question of how to prove guilt became quite a narrow technical one. What methods can you employ to cause the most pain and anxiety to a human being without actually killing them? Since this is such an important matter, and one where you have learnt a good deal, though you still seem occasionally a little squeamish, we refer you to the manuals for the torture of heretics which we and others wrote.
The need to change the legal process of trials
We must say, however, that though, in effect, you are using most of the methods which we found so helpful, secretly trying to extract confessions using methods tantamount to torture, your modern new-fangled legal procedures seem to pose considerable obstacles. You have inherited concepts completely opposite to ours. We believed that a person was guilty until proven innocent; some of your lawyers talk about ‘the presumption of innocence’ and ‘innocent unless proven guilty’. Your activists say that a person should be represented by a trained lawyer to stop them being entrapped. They say that a person should have a fair and open trial which the public can attend. They say that a jury, free from political or other pressure, should stand between the accused and the power of the State.
Fortunately you have managed to persuade your people that in view of the fact that you are in a (constant) state of war, these legal provisions should be dispensed with. The right to know what you have been accused of, of being brought to trial rather than lying untried for years, of access to friends, family and legal advice, of being brought before judges who are not part of the State’s direct machine (for example military judges), all of these, we note, have been briskly wiped away or weakened.
Your politicians, who enact overnight new legal provisions, may not have had the time to read through the legislation which give vastly heightened powers to the State and destroy the traditional separation of legal and political power. They can lie easy in their beds, however, for they know that the clumsy old liberties of the citizen are worth suspending for the duration of this war.
The short, quick, way to eradicating your enemies
Even with all this, you seem a little reluctant to go the whole way and return to the fine system we established. Why not return to the clean and efficient method which was good enough for us, our successors and Stalin? Why not simply state that all those you hold will only be executed if they admit their guilt by a signed confession? This looks a very reasonable policy. People will only be punished on their own decision. And then, of course, you can torture them with as refined methods as possible until they confess.
You are very likely to get those confessions. We were pretty successful, but there has been a great deal of research since our time on the best psychological techniques, and refined physical ones which leave no physical mark. Hardly anyone could withstand you for a few months.
If they do resist you for a while, you can easily justify your continued tortures by pointing out that Satan makes witches (and terrorists), particularly obdurate and almost oblivious to pain. In our day, their broken bones and screams of pain only redoubled Satan’s efforts to prevent them from confessing. So, very extreme methods are needed to press and crush out what we know to be the truth. One of your leaders very fairly stated that the people in one of your major prisons were all evil people, even before they had been formally accused, let alone tried. So why do you hesitate?
Always remember the unanswerable argument to anyone who suggests that you should preserve the basic tenets of the post-Enlightenment rule of law. If a terrorist is in prison and knows the whereabouts of a bomb which will explode and kill hundreds of innocent people, is it not right to torture him or her in any way that works in order to potentially save many lives? Better a few people are tortured, if necessary to death, than that hundreds of innocents die. The old adage that it is better that several guilty men go free rather than one innocent man be falsely punished is clearly untenable in the face of terrorism. Pinochet, Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin and your own troops in Algeria, Vietnam and elsewhere soon grasped this point and behaved accordingly. You should never forget it nor succumb to doubts as to whether the system you are erecting is as savage and arbitrary as that of your enemies.
You might learn a little here from some governments which believe in pre-emptive strikes. There was a brief period in the later twentieth century when it was believed that it was wrong for a State to assassinate its believed enemies without trial. Yet in the face of threats this very quickly reversed. You have the ‘smart’ bombs, the helicopter gun-ships. You have the spies and hidden sensors which enable you to ‘profile’ likely suspects. They are vermin and should be assassinated before they even have a chance to raid your chicken yard. And if some of their families and friends and ‘innocent’ civilians are killed in the process, that is unfortunate. But if they will consort with people you know are terrorists, they really cannot complain too much.
A way around some obstacles
If you used this method against all terrorists you would be more effective. Profile them, place them in a network, then torture or kill them. War is not a time to be squeamish. A huntsman who hesitates as the tiger leaps will be dead. The ends justify the means. You must use all means available and those who are part of the ‘collateral damage’ are a necessary cost. Remember, this is a total war. When you hunt animals, you do not always have time or knowledge to avoid other species, their bodies can be discarded. As long as you weed out the vermin.
If, by extreme mismanagement or bad luck, your lawyers obdurately refuse to allow torture to take place on your own homeland, there are many ways to subcontract this work out. Designate certain areas which you control, but are not in your territory, as centres for detention. We believe that this is called ‘extreme rendition’ and that your most powerful leader has recently defended this when it was unfortunately revealed that hundreds of suspects were secretly being held in foreign prisons. Whey people should be squeamish about this, it is difficult to say, for it is a great advantage that they are not subject to your law, though they are in your power. Do the torturing there. Ensure that your judges rule that even if you cannot torture yourself, if others do the job for you, their good work can be used by you. Get them to rule that evidence gained under torture is admissible in your legal system, as long as it was done by someone else. Then send suspects off to centres of excellence in torture methods and wait for the evidence.
The need to strike on the basis of intent rather than action
You will know that one of the pillars of your legal traditions in the past was that a person could only be tried for an offence they had committed, or were obviously about to commit. In the case of witches or now terrorists, this pillar must be pulled down. Just as Thomas Hobbes argued that if a person believed that if a person believed that saying a few words and waving his hat over someone’s head would cause them to die, and then carried out this act, the intention was enough for the State to execute them, so you must act in the same way. If some foolish person has the intention to cause harm, even if they could possibly not do so, they should be severely punished. Furthermore, you should try to guess long-term intent. You cannot afford to wait until a terrorist strikes. The risks are so great that even if people meet in a pub for a chat and talk about what they might do, that is enough to lock them up out of harm’s way. You must strike first even before even the planning has begun.
This means, when combined with the other methods described above, that you can decide that you will order the arrest of an individual who has done nothing very definite, said nothing in itself treasonable, but seems to be somewhat suspect. If possible, enact laws so that they can be held indefinitely, without being told their offence or tried, just in case. The gulags of Stalin or thought trials of Chairman Mao are in this tradition, and we are pleased to see that you have set up a gigantic camp in just outside your normal jurisdiction so that you can continue this tradition. This will mean that anyone who makes any criticism of the government, particularly if they are from an ethnic minority, will realize that this could lead to detention without trial or deportation.
Perhaps the best model was in previous wars. You did it in the Second World War, when thousands of Japanese were herded up and imprisoned in America on the single grounds that they were Japanese. Thousands of suspects were similarly imprisoned without charge or trial in Britain, just in case. The same thing happened in the Vietnamese war. Now that you are permanently at war, this could well become a permanent feature of our landscape. You will find not only that the normal criminal population rises, but that ever greater numbers of persons are arrested, or placed under house arrest in the way they were in South Africa under apartheid. You can do all this in the name of fighting for ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’. After all is it not the government’s duty to protect its people, which is paramount and over-rides everything else. Every individual right, including the right to freedom and a fair trial, must be put on one side to guard your citizens from their devious enemies. For what is more important, freedom from being bombed, or the rights of individuals?
The best way to punish the Evil ones
This takes us finally to the punishment for terrorists. Here again you seem a little confused and sometimes even squeamish. These are not just criminals, or even human beings. They are deadly enemies, but not subject to the protection of enemy combatants. They may argue that they are fighting for their homeland, their families, their rights and dignity. These you know are lies, not worth arguing with.
Your enemies, like our witches, are non-human, beasts, whose bodies should be mutilated and their names blotted out from human history. We had a good way of punishing them. We first paraded them in ignominy through our streets, the marks of their shame placed on them in long hats and over-garments with flames on to show they would be burnt. The crowd could scream, or be terrified. We took away all their property and so made their whole family destitute.
Then we tied them to a stake and burnt them alive in front of the crowds. This was called the auto da fé and was a grand carnival or theatrical performance, which entertained, admonished and terrified at the same time. It also ensured that their bodies could not be buried as Christians. They were dust and ashes, blotted out from memory.
We suspect that returning to such a salutary system might meet some resistance in your nations. But at least, for God’s sake, kill them. We know that your are trying to do this. We believe, as we expect you do, that if you continue to panic your populations enough even where the death penalty currently does not exist, the capital punishment for terrorism will be introduced.
If you could also bring in a law to confiscate all their property and to make their names infamous, that would be even better. As for the method of execution, I suppose you will have to settle for the firing squad, lethal injections, noose or electric chair, your preferred methods. More educational methods, like hanging, drawing and quartering, or even burning alive, you have to leave to a braver, more self-confident, past age. Do what you can, in the Name of God.
That it is necessary to forget the past
Your critics may say that one of the tragedies of what is happening in the brave war you are fighting against terrorists is that you have become just as bad as the enemies you have sought to fight. We use their methods and debase the civilization which you claim to be defending. With torture and threat, you defend yourselves by winding up the very freedoms which you say you uphold. It often feels as if minds have grown crooked fighting crooked minds. They say that this has happened before many times, and you are repeating the mistakes.
Such evil doubters say that any serious knowledge of previous battles against so-called evil threats, from the Albigensian heretics (Cathars), through other medieval heretics, witches, Jews, communists under McCarthy and supposed satanic child abusers has shown a consistent pattern. A panic has arisen, sometimes based on complete fantasy, sometimes with a core of real threat which has been vastly inflated. The legal system has been tampered with to make it easier to convict people. A vast conspiracy has been unearthed using the new methods. And then, decades or centuries later, when hundreds of thousands of people in some case have been slaughtered, it is realized that it was the legal methods which then created the supposed objects of the attack.
Witches did not exist. Jews did exist but were not guilty of the crimes they were accused of. Most communists were not part of the plot of which they were accused.. Their numbers and their danger was multiplied immensely once the usual safeguards of the liberty of the citizen were cut away.
Your critics say that the same is true of terrorism. They say it is a nightmare largely caused by the methods used to face it. Just as the Japanese and other interned people were released at the end of the Second World War and found to have been harmless, so, in the future, they say, if we ever escape from this nightmare which has been created out of a conspiracy between you and your opponents, we will discover the same result. We will wonder why so many lives were wasted and anger and resentment increased by what is perceived in many parts of the world as patently unfair treatment for no sensible purpose.
There are indeed many apparent parallels and if people knew of them they might withdraw their backing from you. So in the well tried and established method, erase history. Say that there is no parallel with previous persecutions because the terrorists are something entirely new and more terrible. But best of all, cover over history and experience, or re-write it. He who controls the present also controls the past and hence the future. Imagine away all the past gulags, persecutions, failures, and make a brave new world for peace-loving peoples cleansed of the nightmare of evil.