Bureaucracy of Death May Prove Assad’s Downfall

The Assad regime and the Nazis is not an unfair comparison. Pictured: the Syrian  Army. (Photo: the Indian Express)

The Assad regime and the Nazis is not an unfair comparison. Pictured: the Syrian Army. (Photo: the Indian Express)

Yesterday, we wrote about how Syria’s Assad regime exceeded even the demonic Islamic State in brutality. In quoting from an article titled The Assad Files in the New Yorker by Ben Taub, we even compared it to the Nazis, however tacky that is considered in light of Godwin’s Law.*

What invited that comparison was how, reminiscent of Nazi death camps, the Assad regime let the bodies of those it tortured to death pile up. In other words, it’s bloodlust overwhelmed its ability to process the results of its murderous state policies.

One reason that may have happened is another area where the Assad regime resembles the Nazis. The Nazis created a whole bureaucracy to obsessively document their killing. I haven’t researched that, but I am guessing it was to compare the number of those killed to the census to determine how many Jews, Gypsies, and all the others it deemed undesirable were still left to kill). A perceived need to document the deaths may have created a backlog in processing. Taub writes:

As Barakat and I spoke through a video feed, he lifted up a heap of files, which are usually kept in a secure facility. “These are the meeting minutes for the Central Crisis Management Cell,” he said. He pulled out a page and pointed to the embossed emblem at the top. “As you can see—that little gold hawk? These are the original documents, and they’re signed in green.” The commission began sifting through Barakat’s files, analyzing connections between the Crisis Cell’s decisions and the criminal behavior of security agents in distant provinces.

And then there was the military police photographer called Caesar, who you may have read, smuggled 55,000 photographs, mostly of corpses, out of Syria.

Before the war, Caesar and his colleagues had documented crime scenes and traffic accidents involving military personnel in Damascus. He uploaded pictures to government computers, then printed them and stapled them to official death reports. Beginning in 2011, however, the bodies were those of detainees, collected each day from security branches and delivered to military hospitals.

At Hospital 601, Caesar’s team photographed bodies in the morgue and in a garage bay. Each corpse that was photographed had a unique number, usually four digits—like Hamada’s 1858—scrawled on paper, tape, the chest, or the forehead with a thick marker. Another number signified the intelligence branch in which the patient had been killed. There were about eleven thousand bodies. Caesar’s team sometimes catalogued more than fifty corpses a day—emaciated, mutilated, cut, burned, shot, beaten, strangled, broken, melted.

Ultimately, though, what Taub’s article is about, as I wrote yesterday, is how the same kind of documentation, but even more detailed, by Syrian witnesses and victims can be used, should its members ever fall into the hands of the International Criminal Courts, to prosecute the Assad regime.

*As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches.” (Wikipedia)