During the 17-day occupation of Tahrir Square, some 300 protesters lost their lives. A few were hit with rocks or petrol bombs. But most of those who died were picked up by the police and thrown in jail. There, they were beaten and tortured. Many of them never made it out.
Next time we hear of the great respect the protesters have for the Egyptian military, it would be useful to remember that the abusers and torturers and murderers who caused these deaths in detention were Military Police -- the cops of the Army. Exactly the same group that used to be Mubarak's Army. Chances are we'll never know for sure who gave these guys their marching orders.
Now, every military organization has military police and a criminal investigation division, however named. But there is no need for these units to become medieval murder machines. I know; I used to be a military cop.
What I learned is that these torture machines don't happen by spontaneous combustion. Sometimes, it starts with one misanthropic sadist, who manages to get others to follow his lead. Sometimes, it's someone at or near the top who plans the torture machine, manages it and encourages the torturers. Whichever it is, it doesn't happen by accident.
The important thing to remember is that today, days after the people's amazing revolution, the military police are still in place, presumably doing what they've been trained to do.
If you're not squeamish, you can read the chilling account of one man's torture by the Army's Military Police in Britain's Guardian newspaper. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/09/egypt-army-detentions-torture-accused?)
Police brutality intrudes at many levels. The record of the Secret Security Police is better-known and arguably even more blood-curdling than that of the Military Police. The 30-year-old Emergency Laws provides cover for the most bestial enemies of the State as they continue to arrest, abuse and torture people.
Reigning in the dreaded police working for the incredibly cruel and unbelievably corrupt Ministry of Interior is another dangerous aspect of the Military's mission. For the moment, we have to take it on faith that the Military has reached or will soon reach some agreement with the police that will result in the tamping down of their more barbarian instincts.