Confessions by prisoners are an ugly business.

“Tehran has released footage and letters that it says are confessions that the 15 entered Iranian waters.”
I don’t know where this ship really was, but such confessions–by imprisoned people who have no legal recourse and no idea what is going to happen to them–are inherently an ugly business. That’s true for Tehran as well as Gitmo–or the basement of a police department somewhere in New York City or Chicago.
The Washington Post article
Berkeley senior citizens may remember confessions from US pilots held in North Vietnam, which were published in the Berkeley Barb. They included references to Captain Clark Kent and Captain Marvel. Funny, but then, on second thought, also not so funny.
I once had to check out confessions from the crew of the US Navy ship “Pueblo,” which had been seized by North Korea, under the claim it had violated their territorial waters. I went to the room of giant maps in the Berkeley library and found that the Pueblo was not even fast enough to have traveled through the successive positions they had confessed to.
It’s not just that it may be a lie, it’s that these people are terrified, and their terror is being politically exploited.



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2 responses to “Confessions by prisoners are an ugly business.”

  1. Dumpster Avatar

    I’m old enough to have read the Barb in my adolescence; and though I don’t remember reading pilots’ confessions, I can easily imagine myself at the time thinking that even if a confession was coerced, it was substantially correct and the coercion therefore deserved. It’s likely that the British “confessions” have a similar propaganda value for the Iranians.

  2. David Kolodney Avatar
    David Kolodney

    A hard saying. The British government could deserve coercion, but these individual sailors? I feel sorry for them. What do you think about the “name, rank, and serial number” idea?