Jon Burge was a Chicago Police Commander who was good at getting confessions from suspects. Carol Marin of the Chicago Sun Times reports on how that worked with one accused.
Twenty-six years later, Burge was arrested on federal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice yesterday. He couldn't be charged directly for the torture (there are believed to have been over 100 victims of this treatment) because the statute of limitations has run out. But federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald (yes, the same one who led the Scooter Libby prosecution) brought the charges. He'll be tried in Chicago.
John Conroy took the case of the Chicago police torturers as one of his three subjects in Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The Dynamics of Torture; An Examination of the Practice of Torture in Three Democracies. The other two were what the British did in Northern Ireland to Irish nationalists and what Israel does to Palestinians. His conclusions are not hopeful.
All the more reason to applaud the tiny minority of cases in which persistent accusers finally get some recourse to justice.
Conroy wrote in 2000, before the Bush administration led the U.S. government into a widespread practice of torture. Dick Cheney's heart probably won't last long enough for him to be brought before a judge. But with all his devotion to physical fitness, perhaps someday we'll see an elderly George W. Bush in the dock. This is certainly an outcome worth working for.