The Gulags were a network of prisons in Northern Siberia, Russia. The Russians at the prisons devised cheap means of torturing and acquiring information from prisoners, as they had limited access to high-tech equipment.
One method of torture used at the gulags involved soaking a towel in water, then forcing it down a prisoner's throat. When the towel was partially digested, the interrogator would then pull the towel out, ripping the prisoner's stomach lining out with it. This would result in a slow, painful death, sometimes taking as long as a week. Jack Bauer threatened to use this method on Ted Cofell in order to find out where his wife and daughter were being held as hostages. ("Day 1: 9:00am-10:00am")