SECRET POLICE: The Inside Story of a Network of Terror by Thomas & Andrea Darvi Plate
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SECRET POLICE: The Inside Story of a Network of Terror

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A responsible examination of the secret police as a universal phenomenon, drawing upon numerous examples and using case studies to illustrate the purposes, nature, organization, and operations of these agencies. Plate (Crime Pays!, Commissioner) and Darvi, a husband-and-wife team, define the secret police as those internal security agencies having the power of ""indefinite detention,"" and note that while all police agencies usually have some secret aspects to their operations this does not necessarily make them a ""Category A"" secret police force. Indeed, in order for a secret police force to be effective it cannot operate in secret. The agencies that receive the greatest attention are Iran's SAVAK--now reborn as the revolution's SAVAMA--and Chile's DINA; but the KGB and South Africa's BOSS also receive considerable attention, and dozens of others from Afghanistan to Zambia come in for some scrutiny. Plate and Darvi note, importantly, that there are certain basic patterns to secret police forces. They are raised by societies which feel threatened by subversion. Their organization is frequently rather chaotic; they often recruit from the lower elements of society; they are generally considered unreliable, necessitating further secret police agencies to watch the official secret police; and ultimately all are willing to resort to intimidation and torture. Torture is a prime concern of the authors: the uses and abuses of mental and physical torture; the recruiting and training of torturers. But hardly less a concern are the enemies of the secret police, such as Amnesty International, the Church, the International Red Cross, and particularly the Western press. Many examples of the effectiveness of these groups in alleviating the problems of particular individuals are cited. The Carter ""human rights"" campaign is also seen as having had some success, inasmuch as nations feeling a need for a secret police are trying to reduce criticism, while active pursuit of abuses increases it. The United States does not, however, come out well: Plate and Darvi take note of numerous allegations that torture techniques are taught at American military police installations attended by students from repressive countries. But they are careful to note that little concrete evidence exists--a position they take whenever they appear to be less than satisfied with their sources. With a lengthy glossary of torture techniques, along with appendices on the inner organization of secret police agencies and American involvement with the countries concerned, an unusually rich body of damning evidence.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 1981
Publisher: Doubleday