“I thought ‘torture tourism’ was about the US and UK sending terror suspects to be interrogated in countries where it was OK to attach electrodes to their genitals, rather than just ask them politely whether they were a terrorist,” declares thirty-two year old former City of London banker Virgil Triplex. “I never realised that it could actually involve me being paid to travel the world to abuse people’s human rights!” Croydon resident Triplex found himself recruited as a CIA interrogator after visiting Guantanamo Bay as part of a package holiday. “It was an all inclusive tour of various prisons and detention centres in South and Central America and the Caribbean,” he explains. “We got to see some real hell holes, packed full of these poor bastards locked up in the most horrendous conditions. In Bolivia and Nicaragua we got to watch inmates being tortured in every way imaginable. In Columbia we were even allowed to poke them with sticks.” However, the highlight of the holiday came in the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, where, as part of the tour, the tourists were each allowed to actually torture an inmate. “It was only for fifteen minutes, but it was brilliant.” Triplex enthuses. “Obviously, you were under the supervision of a couple of official interrogators and you had to follow a set script where the questions were concerned, but you were allowed to employ any form of coercion you liked – electricity, water boarding, physical abuse, even thumb screws!” To everyone’s surprise, Triplex proved most adept at ‘interrogation’, his skilful combination of techniques coaxing a full confession from an al Qaida suspect who had previously resisted six months of abuse. “Of course, everyone thought at first it was just a fluke – beginner’s luck,” he says. “So they got me to work over a couple more inmates – I managed to get the details of a terror plot against Britney Spears involving a poisoned dildo and a plan to blow up Gracelands with a booby-trapped toilet! After that, this CIA bloke told me I was a natural, and offered me a job!” Triplex is enjoying his new job. “It isn’t just the travel – I get far more job satisfaction than I ever did working in the City. In this job you really get to feel that you’ve changed people’s lives for the better. It’s a public service,” he opines. “Not only that, but at parties I get far more respect from people when I tell them what I do now, than I ever did when I was a banker.”

“There are a lot of misconceptions about what kind of people make the best torturers,” says Chuck Ladle, the CIA operative who recruited Triplex. “It’s assumed that you need to be some kind of hard man, or sadist to most effectively extract information through physical means from reluctant subjects. But it doesn’t necessarily follow.” According to the CIA man, modern technology has made physical strength less of an issue in the business of physical torture. “Let’s face it, since the Spanish Inquisition invented the rack, even the puniest interrogator can inflict massive pain on a subject,” he muses. “With the increasing use of electrical devices and psychologically based techniques, intelligence has been more important than brawn in this business.” He also believes that having a psychological predilection for inflicting suffering on others can also be a hindrance to those seeking a career in modern torture. “The problem is, that if they enjoy the actual torture itself too much, they forget to conduct a proper interrogation. They’re too busy having fun,” Ladle says. “The fact is that you need a guy who can be totally indifferent to the suffering of others, and instead just focus on the reward he’s going to get at the end of it – that’s why this banker guy was perfect for the job.” Triplex agrees that keeping a degree of professional distance from his subjects is key to his success. “You just can’t afford to get emotionally involved,” he says. “If they start begging for mercy, I just imagine that they’re a bad debt risk applying for a loan – refusing their request is just a matter of policy. Nothing personal.” The only downside for Triplex so far has been the wide variance in resources available at the various venues at which he performs. “Obviously, places like Guantanamo Bay have the full works – anything you need to extract information, no matter how unusual, they can provide it,” he explains. “But I spend a lot of my time in places like Pakistan – their set ups are very crude. It’s like they’re still in the Middle Ages – all branding irons and whips. I frequently find myself having to improvise with household electrical appliances and craft tools. Still, what they lack in equipment, they make up for in enthusiasm.”

The ‘torture package tour’ which resulted in Triplex landing his new job, has been roundly criticised by human rights groups for exploiting human misery. However, the company behind it has vigourously defended the tour, claiming that such holidays are becoming increasingly popular amongst relatively affluent professionals. “It started with so-called ‘accident tourism’, where holidaymakers were given the opportunity to on cruises taking in various disaster zones – earthquakes, famines, that sort of thing,” says Sally Twaddler of Odyne Tours. “After all, when you have money, there’s nothing like seeing other people wallowing in abject misery to make you appreciate it more. I know there are those who will say that flaunting your wealth and good fortune at people who have just lost homes, livelihoods and families might be considered poor taste, is it any worse than visiting the scenes of gruesome murders? I mean, those Jack the Ripper tours in Whitechapel still do good business, don’t they?” According to Twaddler, the ‘torture tours’ were a natural extension of this. “The only misery worse than that caused by a natural disaster is that inflicted on some poor bastard by his fellow man,” she says, adding that she firmly believes her company’s holidays to have a vital educational role. “Let’s be honest – actually visiting fly-blown slums and international torture camps is probably the only way affluent middle class thirtysomethings are ever going to be made aware of poverty and human rights abuses.” Despite the criticism from human rights groups, Odyne Tours have announced that they are planning to expand their involvement in ‘torture tourism’. “We’re aiming to actually provide the means for regimes to facilitate extraordinary rendition by building a series of specially equipped ‘torture hotels’ in places like Pakistan, Yemen and Tunisia,” says Twaddler. “Our aim is to bring together tourists and prisoners in one convenient establishment. The advantages are obvious – modern facilities for interrogation combined with hygienic and humane accommodation for captives.”