In 1987, there was finally a trial for the 73-year-old Klaus Barbie, "the Butcher of Lyon," the former head of the Gestapo in France. Barbie was accused of torturing thousands of Jews and people associated with the French Resistance. The Americans had spirited Barbie out of France right after World War Two because he was a valued anti-Soviet intelligence asset. The wartime predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency provided him with a new identity in Bolivia.
It was recently revealed that President George W. Bush's Justice Department secretly approved the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" that are remarkably similar to some of the techniques that the convicted war criminal Klaus Barbie preferred.
During Barbie's trial, six of his victims came forward to describe the torture techniques he used to persuade them to give up the names of French Resistance fighters. Lise Lesevre, 86, described how Barbie tortured her for 19 days where he repeatedly nearly drowned her in a bathtub. Ms. Lesevre belonged to a resistance group and was arrested while she was carrying a letter intended for a Resistance leader.
Barbie wanted names so he ordered her to strip naked and get into a tub filled with freezing water. Her legs were tied to a bar across the tub and Barbie yanked a chain attached to the bar to pull her head under the water for as long as he determined necessary. Each time she felt like she was going to drown and came up coughing and gasping for breath. "During the bathtub torture in the presence of Barbie," Ms. Lesevre testified, "I wanted to drink to drown myself quickly. But I wasn't able to do it. I didn't say anything."
Barbie's bathtub treatment, in practice, sounds a lot like President Bush's "waterboarding."
But the Bush administration would never torture anybody because Bush recently said: "This government does not torture people."
Ms. Lesevre refused to talk and the a German military tribunal, a secretive military court not unlike those the Bush administration employs as part of the "Military Commissions Act," convicted her.
The tribunal ordered her sent to a secret women's prison at the Ravensbruck concentration camp where she miraculously survived the war.
The German military tribunal "convicted" Ms. Lesevre of the crime of "terrorism."