The times how they do change. This evening, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, Lebanon's leading television station, which used to much more subtly toe the line set down by Syria, is interviewing former Lebanese prisoners held in Syrian jails. The tales are all too familiar in a region where dehumanization and brutality are the norm--years of incarceration in appalling conditions (five years in solitary confinement for one prisoner), beatings, successive days of torture, humiliation, attempted suicides, extortion ($30,000 paid by relatives of one prisoner to a senior Baath official, Abdullah al-Ahmar, to secure a release), and much more.

A tale of cruelty and silence, to paraphrase Kanan Makiya, and one most probably continuing for Lebanese prisoners, and definitely for countless Syrians who invariably remain the main victims of the sinister kleptocracy in Damascus.