Yet, these stories left a great black hole. It was: Just who were these incredibly cruel, sadistic, bloodthirsty young men who were doing the torturing and the killing? Were they incredibly cruel, sadistic, bloodthirsty young men when they were hired? Or did they "grow into it," as they say? If so, how and under whose tutelage?
Most important of all to understand: Were these people just "bad seeds?" Or were they conditioned by their lack of education, their poverty, their absense of opportunity, to be sociopaths? Or was it some other combination of factors?
We learned nothing about who they are. And it seems to me that information is essential if Egypt wants to avoid hiring the same types of jailers next time around.
Those of us who have lived and worked in Egypt accept that many Egyptians have two faces.
There is the face shown to the public, especially the expat or foreign tourist public. This is the face of charm, of impeccable manners, of open-handed hospitality, even among poor Egyptians, who are usually happy to share their food with you although they don't have enough to feed themselves, and who are honored that you are visiting their home.
I have gone to the University of Cairo to talk to young undergrads about life in America, warts and all. There were, I was told later, half a dozen jihadis in the group. I was astonished when I learned that the young man who invited me to his home to continue the discussion over dinner was one of the hottest firebrand jihadis! He had some of his facts wrong, and I had a few, but we had a spirited and constructive conversation nevertheless. And I had the feeling we were talking to one another, not past one another.
Then, I'm told, there is the dark side. In my mind, the dark side consists of the dead-enders (HT Mr. Rumsfeld) who can not find employment other than employment that involves maiming and killing people, and getting off on the unspeakable sounds of unspeakable pain. As the attributes of these people were explained to me, the words took on an affinity with the vocabulary used to describe the really dangerous American street gangs. In other words, criminals in training.
Were these the people the Ministry of Interior was recruiting? If that's the case, the Egyptian people need to know more about who they are and how they were motivated -- so that Egypt never goes down that road again!