Police brutality in Egypt is "routine and pervasive" and the use of torture so widespread that the Egyptian government has stopped denying it exists, according to leaked cables released by WikiLeaks.
Wikileaks presents a batch of US embassy cables, a depressing picture of a police force and security service in Egypt wholly out of control. The cables suggest torture is routinely used against ordinary criminals, Islamist detainees, opposition activists and bloggers.
The Guardian writes: "The police use brutal methods mostly against common criminals to extract confessions, but also against demonstrators, certain political prisoners and unfortunate bystanders. One human rights lawyer told us there is evidence of torture in Egypt dating back to the time of the pharaohs. NGO contacts estimate there are literally hundreds of torture incidents every day in Cairo police stations alone," one cable said.
Under Hosni Mubarak's presidency there had been "no serious effort to transform the police from an instrument of regime power into a public service institution", it said. The police's ubiquitous use of force had pervaded Egyptian culture to such an extent that one popular TV soap opera recently featured a police detective hero who beat up suspects to collect evidence.
Fortunately, the pro-democracy forces won't have to deal with Hosni Mubarak, nor will it find Mubarak's consigliere, Omar Suleiman, hanging around waiting for work.
Suleiman -- Mubarak's pointman for the U.S. rendition program -- left with this encouraging parting shot: "The culture of democracy is still far away." He added that the continued demonstrations in Cairo and across the nation were "disrespectful" of Mubarak and warned of "the dark bats of the night emerging to terrorize the people."
It would seem that Mr. Suleiman, and his boss, were just a tad out of touch with the mood of the ebullient warriors in Tahrir Square,
Putting an even finer point on it, Robert Baer, a former CIA official, summed up his view of prisoner interrogation in the Middle East. He said, "If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear--never to see them again--you send them to Egypt."