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No More Torture Says France
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‘This is La Main Rouge,’ said the gruff voice on our home telephone in Geneva, Switzerland.. ‘Stop your activities on behalf of the FLN or we will kill you.’ The mysterious caller hung up.

I was petrified. La Main Rouge was killing supporters of free Algeria across Europe.

This was 1959 where I was studying at the International School of Geneva. The war to liberate Algeria from 130 years of French colonial was at its bloodiest and most intense.

As an idealistic student, I was outraged by the brutality of this struggle in which up to 1.5 million Algerians were killed by the French and by fellow Algerians. I organized demonstrations calling for free Algeria, penned articles and carried messages for the Algerian underground (Front de Liberation National, or FLN)’s branch in Paris.

The death threat was the first of many I would receive over my life, along with much other heavy intimidation and offers of bribes to alter my journalistic positions. But the bloody Algerian War of Independence, that ran from 1954-1962, still holds particular resonance for me even though I’ve covered 14 wars since then. The horrors of Algeria’s massacres and torture have stayed with me all these years.

La Main Rouge (Red Hand), we later learned, was a false flag operation mounted by French intelligence (SDECE) to kill or frighten off supporters of the Algerian cause, notably pro-Algerian leftwing intellectuals, and arms suppliers.

That’s why I was elated to see France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, officially admit that France had indeed conducted systemic torture in Algeria that he called ‘a crime against humanity.’ Previous French governments had denied the crimes in Algeria and censored reports and books about it.

Torture, ‘disappearing’ and judicial executions would no longer be sanctioned in France, even in extreme cases. Macron called France’s repression in Algeria ‘a crime against humanity.’

The record of the war is ghastly. Tens of thousands of Algerian suspects were rounded up at night, thrown into prisons, and tortured – many to death – using electric generators attached to their genitals or lips with steel clips. Intense beatings and use of masked informers were common. Many FLN suspects were sent to the guillotine.

The superb film ‘Battle of Algiers’ recounts ferocious efforts by French elite paratroopers and security forces to crush the FLN network. `We far outdid the Nazi SS and Gestapo,’ boasted one particularly sadistic French general.

As a result of the Algerian War, torture spread to France’s metropolitan security services and even regular police. But this is always what happens when torture is used. It spreads like a virus.

Back in 1995, then President Jacques Chirac admitted that French police, not Germans, had rounded up 75,000 French Jews and sent them to German concentration camps. France’s right was outraged.

Now, France’s right is denouncing President Macron for finally telling the truth and opening France’s secret archives


Which raises the question of torture by US occupation forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and of similar crimes by its satraps Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and by Israel. Under President Donald Trump, the US is going in precisely the opposite direction as France. Trump and his cohorts have lauded the use and efficacy of torture and called for its wider and more intense use in America’s modern colonial wars. The CIA’s new chief led one part of the torture program in Southeast Asia.

France is now purging itself of the crimes against humanity committed during the Algerian War. Nations, like people, need to occasionally cleanse their spirit of foul deeds and crimes. But not so the United States where the White House and Congress have become cheerleaders for torture.

It will be hard for Washington to keep holding itself up to be the world champion of human rights when its torturers are hard at work inflicting unspeakable punishments on suspects. Let’s recall that the Bush-Cheney administration massively increased the use of torture to try to prove a fake link between Saddam’s Iraq and 9/11. America disgraced itself and never could manufacture the ‘evidence.’

America and France are sister democracies. President Macron has shown Washington how to deal with the crime of torture. We should listen.


Epilogue: Algeria gained independence in 1962 thanks to the wisdom of President Charles De Gaulle. But, as Danton famously stated, ‘the revolution devours its young.’ The FLN’s rival leaders began murdering one another. The once noble struggle for independence turned into a bloodbath. Algeria fell under military rule and suffered worse horrors than even the French inflicted.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy, History • Tags: Battle of Algiers, France, Torture 
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  1. Macron is a traitor, focus of the commemorations in France should be on the many horrible atrocities committed by the FLN terrorists.

  2. Mohammedan worshipper Eric Margolis at it again.

    News at 11.

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  3. @Thorfinnsson

    Seriously, what do you expect ? He was brought up largely by his mother, a woman of Albanian Muslim origin. His Jewish father seems to have had very little influence on him.

  4. Vendetta says:

    Torture is more or less a necessity of counter-insurgency warfare. Always has been, probably always will be. If you’re not carrying it out yourself, then you’re outsourcing it to your less scrupulous local allies.

    The layman’s critique of torture is that the victim is going to tell you everything he knows and then everything he doesn’t know, making up a bunch of answers in the hopes of stopping the torture. How are the torturers supposed to separate truthful information from fabrications?

    That critique may be valid in cases where you’re only torturing one person. But let’s say you’re torturing fifty. You can cross-reference all of their statements against one another. Which pieces of information did all of them divulge? They can’t all make the same false confessions, not if they’ve been kept seperate from one another.

    Torture is effective. Torture is also evil. Torture is a field that is going to attract sadists and psychopaths like no other. It will also bring out the worst in normal people who are assigned to do it. They are never going to be the same again as they were before.

    Most nations throughout history have used torture when they deemed it necessary, but have also been wise enough to leave the creeps entrusted with carrying it out in the basements where they belong. You don’t promote them out of the dungeons, you don’t start putting them in charge of state policy, you don’t start giving them medals and publicly lauding their bravery and service as if they were heroes.

    That is unfortunately what is happening in the United States right now and has been ever since the War on Terror started. And it will continue this way as long as these wars do. Torture is an inescapable reality of insurgency warfare; it is a symptom of a problem rather then a root of it.

    It’s one thing to use it in a war of survival that has been imposed upon you. Then it is a necessary evil just as killing your enemy and all the other regular horrors of war are. It’s quite another, however, to use torture in wars of choice and wars of aggression.

    Torture is a symptom; the root of the sickness is our policy of Forever War overseas. The only way to put an end to torture in America is to put an end to our unnecessary wars in the Middle East and elsewhere.

    • Replies: @Proud_Srbin
  5. @Vendetta

    Torture is a symptom; the root of the sickness is our policy of Forever War overseas. The only way to put an end to torture in America is to put an end to our unnecessary wars in the Middle East and elsewhere.

    This is 1500% FACTUALLY correct.
    Humanity knows WHO and what RACES are most responsible for this.
    What are Brits doing on Malvinas Islands in the 21 st. century?
    5 Eyes are waging WARS against Humanity TODAY.
    In S-500 I trust.

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  6. @Proud_Srbin

    Another one of your incoherent ramblings. And you’re not even mildly amusing like Tiny Duck.

    • Replies: @Proud_Srbin
  7. @Verymuchalive

    Facts have a tendancy to hurt, especialy bloodlusting amongst us.
    What is not factual in my answer?

  8. Buzzwar says:

    France has enslaved the Algerians for 132 years. The time period starting from 1832 to 1872 was called “pacification”. During that period the french killed several millions Algerians. They stole (like the zionists today in Palestine) the best lands, deported several thousand people to prison islands in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans (new Caledonia, etc.). On May 8,1945, during the so-called victory day celebrating the end of WWII, the racist french managed to kill 45000 Algerians, in just 3 or 4 days. their sin ? well they just wanted emancipation and liberation from the colonial rule. the response from the french was more killings, more deportation and more hardship for the Algerians. It must be stressed that France fought WWI and WWII with respectively 2 hundred thousands (200000) and 1 hundred and 50 thousands(150000) Algerians conscripts. The Algerians never understood, even today, why 45000 people have been murdered by the French colonials when 200000 other Algerians have just finished fighting the nazis on behalf of France. Then came November 1, 1954. the start of the the armed struggle for the liberation of the Algerian people from the invaders. the struggle of course was asymmetric and like in any asymmetric war the military(and also financial and political) means of one side (France in this case) overwhelmed those of the other side (FLN-ALN). Despite the unbalance the Algerians managed to fight the french not only on the battlefield but also on the diplomatic front. During the seven year-war the french killed an additional 1.5 millions Algerians. Overall the french killed around 10 millions Algerians during their rule which lasted 132 years. yes it was really a crime against humanity.

  9. @Buzzwar

    Why, if the French were so all-fired beastly to those noble Algerians, why are so many of them trying to get into France today?

  10. Saxon says:

    How long did the Barbary coast slave trade which traded in Europeans and which Algeria participated in last? Also, why do so many of these people want into Europe and European territories so bad if we’re all so terrible?

    • Replies: @Alden
  11. Castellio says:

    I think this an important subject and a good article.

    To me, the line that jumped out was: “Let’s recall that the Bush-Cheney administration massively increased the use of torture to try to prove a fake link between Saddam’s Iraq and 9/11.”

    Good to be reminded of the forces and context behind the drive to torture.

    It wasn’t trying to find the bad guys while a clock was ticking… it was to force false confessions that would suggest that those chosen to be blamed actually did it.

  12. Algeria gained independence in 1962 thanks to the wisdom of President Charles De Gaulle. But, as Danton famously stated, ‘the revolution devours its young.’ The FLN’s rival leaders began murdering one another. The once noble struggle for independence turned into a bloodbath. Algeria fell under military rule and suffered worse horrors than even the French inflicted.

    What else could one expect but such a result? The history of de-colonialization is that the former colonies were left with the outward forms of government as it existed in the former colonizing power: prime ministers, parliaments, courts complete with robed and bewigged judges and barristers. Within a few years these outward forms disappeared and almost all of the former French, British, or Portuguese colonies became either grim dictatorships or anarchic basket-cases. As some wag has put it, they received “one man, one vote, one time.”

    The population of Algeria has a median IQ of 83. This is in the range of many other Islamic countries. Sub-Saharan Africa has even lower median IQs. Is there not, perhaps, a minimum median IQ below which a country’s population is incapable of orderly self-government? Here’s a listing of median IQ by country:

    Maybe stupid people can only be ruled effectively by harsh measures, and below a certain median IQ they can’t be ruled at all, unless by a foreign power whose proconsular authorities possess significantly higher intelligence levels than the population that they lord it over –

    “…fluttered folk and wild —
    Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
    Half-devil and half-child.”

    • Replies: @Alden
  13. Alden says:

    The Algerians fought against the French so they could move to France rape and harass French women and do to France’s great cities what blacks did and are still doing to America’s great cities.

    BTW, the Algerian pirates and slave raiders didn’t stop attacking Europe until the 1830s after the French took over the slave raiding pirate country.

    I saw Battle of Algiers. I snickered all through it.

    Laugh out loud at this sanctimonious BS.

    Bet he thinks OJ is innocent as well.

  14. Alden says:

    When Turkey ruled Algeria and other arab Muslims countries they used European slaves to administer the countries because Turkey considered the Arabs stupid useless and corrupt.

  15. Alden says:

    The Algerians slave raided to 1830s when the French stopped it. Except for the fortified cities of Toulouse and Marseille the Mediterranean coast of France was underdeveloped until the mid 1850s because of the Algerian slave raiders.

    Margolis probably writes articles about the glories of Muslim Spain and how barbarous the Spanish were to finally kick them out.

  16. Agent76 says:

    January 17th, 2014 500 Years of History: Mass Spying Always Aimed At Crushing Dissent *It’s Never to Protect Us From Bad Guys*

    No matter which government conducts mass surveillance, they also do it to crush dissent, and then give a false rationale for why they’re doing it.

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