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Tilting at Windmills

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July 2, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

LEARNING FROM THE BEST....The New York Times reports today that many of the coercive interrogation techniques used at Guantánamo Bay were taken from a chart in a 1956 Air Force study called "Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions from Air Force Prisoners of War":

The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of "coercive management techniques" for possible use on prisoners, including "sleep deprivation," "prolonged constraint," and "exposure."

....The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency.

....The only change made in the chart presented at Guantánamo was to drop its original title: "Communist Coercive Methods for Eliciting Individual Compliance."

Unfortunately, Drudge is reporting that one of Barack Obama's boyhood friends says that Obama once allowed an American flag to touch the ground and didn't seem very concerned about it, so we really don't have time for this kind of thing. Priorities, people.

[UPDATE: Just kidding about the flag thing, folks. The fact that it sounds sorta plausible in the wake of the Wes Clark pseudo-outrage tells you something, though. Sarcasm is getting harder and harder these days.]

In case you're curious, the chart is below the fold. The full 1956 article is here.

Kevin Drum 12:34 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (72)

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Comments

Are you serious about Sludge? Does he really have that up on his front page? I guess we'll see it on the front page of The Politico tomorrow.

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on July 2, 2008 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

This is so bad I don't even know what to say.

And if Drudge is that bad off...that's a terribly slow news day even for him.

Posted by: Miss Otis on July 2, 2008 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

Those who will be apologizing to Senator Durbin, please do not block the hallways as you line up.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on July 2, 2008 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

Applying techniques designed to force false confession to the attainment of useful information. At least you guys used to know about the limited applicability of torture and that these weren't applications that democracies were interested in...

...and yet Republican and Democratic alike you keep insisting you're the land of the free, the last best hope for mankind... this torture thing placed in a little box to the side. It's not really who you are. Sorry, but your refusal as a society to confront this head on has made it a central part of who you are now.

Posted by: snicker-snack on July 2, 2008 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

I for one am proud that the Army and Pentagon are staffed with individuals capable of thinking outside the box, understanding of the value of examining other cultures' diverse techniques, and able to bring those techniques back to the United States.

Posted by: jerry on July 2, 2008 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

The New York Times reports today that many of the coercive interrogation techniques used at Guantnamo Bay were taken from a chart in a 1956 Air Force study called "Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions from Air Force Prisoners of War":

If so, that's so funny that this is what we called their techniques before we changed the name on the chart.

So what does this mean? That we picked out interrogation techniques hoping we could cull false confessions?

It kind of eliminates the Republicans moral high-ground, and make the soldiers / interrogators look as if they were used (they really thought they were trying to stop terrorism, but they were really getting date-raped by the Republicans).

Posted by: Swan on July 2, 2008 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

I'd like to say something funny about "Chinese Water Torture," but I'm drawin' a blank here.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on July 2, 2008 at 2:55 AM | PERMALINK

Despite Kevin's update, I'm really concerned that the flag item could be true. It sounds like just the sort of thing that someone who isn't like regular people and doesn't really love America might do.

Let's just say that it didn't happen AS FAR AS WE KNOW.

Posted by: howie on July 2, 2008 at 6:43 AM | PERMALINK

The Chinese and North Korean interrogators were mostly constrained from administering unambigious physical torture, so had to skirt around the edge of it by using "coercion" and "harsh interrogation". Apparently the Chinese and North Koreans were concerned about their international image. Sound familar?

Posted by: Cris on July 2, 2008 at 7:52 AM | PERMALINK

I found this interesting in the NYT article:

But committee investigators were not aware of the chart’s source in the half-century-old journal article, a connection pointed out to The New York Times by an independent expert on interrogation who spoke on condition of anonymity.

I assume "independent expert" is someone outside the government. Is he trying to get a job inside the government at some point thus needing anonymity.

Posted by: CarlP on July 2, 2008 at 7:54 AM | PERMALINK

many of the coercive interrogation techniques used at Guantánamo Bay were taken from a chart in a 1956 Air Force study called "Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions from Air Force Prisoners of War"

I look forward to the cognitive dissonance as the wingnuts try to reconcile their support of Bush's authoritarianism with their ridiculous paranoia about Communism.

Also, what Quaker in a Basement said.

Posted by: Gregory on July 2, 2008 at 8:03 AM | PERMALINK

This is not at all Orwellian.

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

Posted by: Rich on July 2, 2008 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

^

Posted by: mhr on July 2, 2008 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

I don't see anything about causing organ failure on that chart. Everyone knows that people won't confess to things they didn't do as long as all their major organs are working properly.

Posted by: ibid on July 2, 2008 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

It's probably only a matter of time before we simply ship the prisoners themselves to the PRC.

I'm sure they would enhanced-interrogate them for us for pennies on the dollar now paid to the likes of CACI to do the job.

The first MBA president deserves the first MBA war.

Outsourced, off-site, and off the books. La guerre, c'est Enron.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 2, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Wow so Kevin you've allowed the village idiot to start ranting again(mhr). I and I'm sure many others would be happy to see you stuff a sock in it's mouth.

Posted by: Gandalf on July 2, 2008 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

If found it interesting that "Monotonous Food" can be used as torture...

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on July 2, 2008 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats can show their solidarity with the islamists who allegedly suffered at Abu Ghraib by having a few appear at their National Convention dressed in their now familiar orange jump suits.

And the Republicans can show solidarity with authoritarians by ripping of the torture techniques of the Red Chinese.

Oh, wait -- as opposed to mhr's stupid straw man, they already did that.

And oh, yes, Senator Durbin can introduce some of the US soldiers who served in Iraq that he called Nazis.

Dishonest as usual -- he compared the tactics they were ordered to carry out to those of authoritarian governments. Which, we know now, was precisely the case.

Jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on July 2, 2008 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

mhr, dont you remember that Dubya went to Iraq to free the islamists from the oppression they suffered under Saddam? Why are you now hating in your friends?

Posted by: Jet on July 2, 2008 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

I and I'm sure many others would be happy to see you stuff a sock in it's mouth.

Stuff pie in its mouth instead.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 2, 2008 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking of Obama, Kevin, is Amy Sullivan sick? Dead? Possessed by demons?

I expected a 5,000-word bloggasm from her after Obama's "I HEART faith-based programs" speech yesterday, and I'm actually kind of disappointed.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on July 2, 2008 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

America has adopted the worst practices from the worst regimes since the end of WW II for its national security tactics. It started with the co-opting of Nazis to battle the Soviet Union and now the US adopts the interrogation techniques used by the communist Chinese to secure false confessions. One would think the US could at least have used the domestic interrogation techniques of Cook County to obtain false confessions, but perhaps they are too secret.

Posted by: Brojo on July 2, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Wny stop there?

Republicans should hold a demonstration of their harsh interrogation techniques at their convention and turn it into a money maker. Attendees and other patriotic Americans could participate in the torture of a prisoner right on the stage, and for an additional donation they could 'interrogate' with McDodo's help in a photo op, to be lovingly framed and placed alongside photos of Nicaraguans, whose legs were blown off by Reagan.

Posted by: Brojo on July 2, 2008 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

"The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency."
______________________

You'll notice, of course, that the title does not label the methods as torture, but as "coercive." Almost all coercive techniques have variants that must be called torture, but not all coercion is torture. Coercive techniques are a part of all interrogations.

Likewise, that these techniques happened to be listed on a chart discussing false confessions does not mean that their only utility is to elicit false information.

Beyond this war, there will still be a need to interrogate prisoners for whom a shorter term of imprisonment or preferred treatment is not an incentive to cooperate. Somewhere on the spectrum of interrogation techniques there is a dividing line between necessary coercion and illegal techniques that can be labeled torture. Perhaps the new Congress will provide better guidance in that regard, but don't count on it. Ex post facto criticism of interrogation techniques is too delicious a tool to give up.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 2, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Appallingly, but not surprisingly, Trashy shows up to defend the Administration's torture program. But then, he's long since made clear that he isn't here for good-faith debate, but to say outrageous things in service of the mendacious, incompetent, tyrannical and corrupt Bush Administration. Shame on you, Trashy.

Posted by: Gregory on July 2, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK


Why does John McCain hate America?

Posted by: Jesus Wept on July 2, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

It's on Drudge NOW that "Kevin Drum reported that one of Barack Obama's boyhood friends says that Obama once allowed an American flag to touch the ground and ..."

Posted by: eho on July 2, 2008 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Take a look at that last technique, number eight, "enforcing trivial demands", that "develops habit of compliance" -- then think about what we go through each and every time we travel by air. Rules that make no sense, ostensibly to keep us safe -- or just compliant?

Posted by: jame on July 2, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

I've got an American flag in my basement wadded up in a box right next to a soviet flag, also wadded up.

What are ya'll gonna do about THAT? Both flags are equally bogus wastes of cloth.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on July 2, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Appallingly, but not surprisingly, Trashy shows up to defend the Administration's torture program."
_______________________

There's not a single sentence in my post supporting any specific interrogation technique approved by this Administration. You're making your normal fool of yourself, gregory.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 2, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the new Congress will provide better guidance in that regard, but don't count on it.

You mean more guidance than already exists here?

US Code, Title 18, Part I,2340A.

Torture
(a) Offense.— Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
(b) Jurisdiction.— There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if—
(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or (2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.
(c) Conspiracy.— A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.

As used in this chapter—
(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;

(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality

Posted by: Stefan on July 2, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

There's not a single sentence in my post supporting any specific interrogation technique approved by this Administration.

No, that's true. It's the usual mealy-mouthed, wishy-washy, boringly written tripe aching to sound intelligent but only revealing its author's fairly limited reasoning skills.

Posted by: Stefan on July 2, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Guys something important has been missing from this revelation. The term is 'False Confessions' I think this term is no accident. The Bush administration has for years been waying the bloody red flag of the 'ticking time bomb' while at the same time practicing these techniques.

I can only then suppose two things: First, the Bush administration knows that there are very few actual terrorists in the first place so they need to create a false sense that there are many more - feeds into Bush/McCain's phony assertion that the Islamic terrorist threat is the 'Biggest' threat the US faces in the world today. But also Second, IF we ever do 'uncover' from an 'interogated' prisoner the whereabouts of a ticking time bomb, you would really have to ask yourself how did such a thing came to exist in first place?

After all McCain's top strategist did recently say that a terrorist act would be 'helpful' to his campaign. Perhaps the 'uncovering' of a 'terrible' plot to blow up something important could do the same.

Posted by: timlf on July 2, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Ex post facto criticism of interrogation techniques is too delicious a tool to give up.

Uh. no. The problem here is the fact that illegal and inhumane interrogation methods AND torture took place over the strenuous objections of military lawyers, commanders, FBI agents, and others, while at the same dissent on this issue was quashed and evidence was hidden to cover up the crimes that were taking place.

I know you're slow so I'll rephase this so you can understand it better: criticism of these methods was taking place WHILE they were happening BY members of the military and law enforcement.

I know you hate it when people dwell on criminal behavior by this administration that has gone unpunished, inconvenient as that is for your narrative. I guess that most ordinary people have a more finely developed expecation of justice and sense of morality than yours.

Posted by: trex on July 2, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Ex post facto criticism of interrogation techniques is too delicious a tool to give up.

True. Why, just for example, look at all those ex post facto criticisms of John McCain's North Vietnamese jailers for their tort...excuse me, enhanced interrogations of McCain. It's appalling that Americans who weren't there and don't understand the stress the Vietnamese were under to come up with actionable intelligence to prevent further bombing attacks on their homeland dare to criticize whatever steps they may have felt they needed to take to tort...excuse me, interrogate McCain. I know it gives Republicans a sick delicious thrill to go on and on about how poor John McCain was tort...excuse me, harshly interrogated, but it's appalling and they should hang their heads in shame....

Posted by: Stefan on July 2, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Well, here we have it. This administration and its servile military commanders photocopying Communist Chinese terror methods, which we as a nation always thought (or at least claimed in public) were criminal, and of course, above -- to use as the manual on what U.S. interrogators should do. It is becoming more and more clear - and with this insolent fascist practice, it is baldly plain -- that this administration is also using totalitarian methods (perhaps official manuals, dare I say) as blueprints for their domestic spying policy and most other constitutional and legal positions. Whether on purpose or by coincidence (due to the fact that all totalitarians' hearts beat the same, with the accumulation of power their goal and secrecy their vehicle), I do not know.

Notice well that the military did nothing but follow along to earn more stars (until they retired and recanted, once safe with their pensions and perks), doing obeisance to those we have now found are followers of Communist methods: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Yoo, and the rest in cahoots. Malfeasance, abuse of power and culpability for these policies and the Iraq war fiasco lie everywhere around, but in a special way with the top military and Condi. For more on this, visit my blog, http://www.wrathofmcgrath.com

Posted by: Jim McGrath on July 2, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

"I guess that most ordinary people have a more finely developed expecation of justice and sense of morality than yours."
____________________

Perhaps so. One thing we can all be certain of is your propensity for claiming you are morally superior in all things.

Equally so, you intentionally avoid the point I made - it is entirely too convenient for people like you to accuse unknown interrogators of crimes generally, without being specific about what is a criminal act and what is not. The reason it is fine for you is that you don't have, nor are you ever likely to have, responsibility for anything, much less gathering military intelligence.

Congress does have such a responsibility and has carefully chosen not to give specific enough guidance about the definition of torture and what coercive techniques are allowable and which are not. They further have not demanded anyone be brought up on charges of torture.

Such nonspecificity has a policy advantage - it is overall beneficial to keep our enemies guessing about what might happen to them. But it also conveniently keeps them from being criticized themselves by folks like you who have the luxury of a place in the cheap seats.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 2, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Congress does have such a responsibility and has carefully chosen not to give specific enough guidance about the definition of torture and what coercive techniques are allowable and which are not.

Bullshit, you miserable little liar. I provided the exact text of the Federal Torture Statute above, which is guidance enough. These interrogators knew exactly what they were doing -- that's after, all, why they're now trying to hide it.

Posted by: Stefan on July 2, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

"If found it interesting that "Monotonous Food" can be used as torture..."
--Doc at the Radar Station

If that is true, I am suing my high school!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 2, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Equally so, you intentionally avoid the point I made - it is entirely too convenient for people like you to accuse unknown interrogators of crimes generally, without being specific about what is a criminal act and what is not.

Again with the lies, when in point of fact we've been very specific about the criminal and barbarous acts committed by this regime's henchmen, including murder, kidnapping, rape, sexual abuse, torture and aggravated assault.

Here's some more specificity:

Forced drowning? Criminal act.

Striking, beating and kicking prisoners? Criminal act.

Mock executions? Criminal act.

Stress positions? Criminal act.

Prolonged sleep deprivation? Criminal act.

Here's some more criminal acts witnessed by FBI agents:

Besides being shackled to the floor, detainees were subjected to extremes of temperature. One witness said he saw a barefoot detainee shaking with cold because the air conditioning had bought the temperature close to freezing. On another occasion, the air conditioning was off in an unventilated room, making the temperature over 38C (100F) and a detainee lay almost unconscious on the floor with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been pulling out his hair throughout the night.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jan/03/guantanamo.usa

Posted by: Stefan on July 2, 2008 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Equally so, you intentionally avoid the point I made - it is entirely too convenient for people like you to accuse unknown interrogators of crimes generally, without being specific about what is a criminal act and what is not.

Stefan has deftly handed you your ass, as usual, but I would just like to enter into the record a statement from Alberto J. Mora, retired General Counsel of the Navy, into the lawbreaking that took place at Guantanamo:

I met in my office with Jaymie Durnan, a Special Assistant to Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Showing him the December 2nd Mem, I informed Mr Durnan about the alleged prisoner abuse at Guantanamo, the repugnance that NCIS and other U.S. officials at the base felt about the practice, and my view that the mistreatment was illegal and contrary to American values.

In addition to their unlawfulness, the abusive practices —— once they became known to the American public and military —— would have severe policy repercussions: the public and military would both repudiate them; public support for the War on Terror would diminish; there would be ensuing international condemnation; and, as a result, the United States would find it more difficult not only to expand the current coalition, but even to maintain the one that existed. .

Perhaps you should take up your complaint with the General Counsel and NCIS. After all, they're not luxuriating in the "cheap seats" and they agree with exactly what we're saying.

It isn't the cowardly libs who object to these practices, it is anyone with respect for the law, respect for basic standards of humane treatment (yes, even for scary brown people), and an understanding of just how utterly counterproductive these kinds of practices are.

Posted by: trex on July 2, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Many fund raisers use the dunk tank to raise money, selling chances to throw a ball and hit the target to drop the principal or the boss into a tank of water. At the Republican convention they could auction chances to water board young detainees from Afhanistan and Iraq to raise money for the presidential campaign. It would raise more money than lunch with Buffet and demonstrate Republicans' commitment to national security.

Posted by: Brojo on July 2, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

"we've been very specific about the criminal and barbarous acts committed by this regime's henchmen"
_____________________

Okay then, how about these specific acts - criminal or no?

Isolation? If so, for how long?

Vague threats?

Prolonged interrogation? If so, for how long?

Occasional indulgences? (I assume you are in favor of these.)

Demonstrating Omnipotence or Omniscience?

Insults and taunts?

Enforcing trival demands?

Any physical discomfort at all?

Which of these would you make criminal and which would you allow? It's probably pointless to remind you that the police and FBI use variations of all these things quite legally every day.

Some form of coercion is essential in the interrogation of any hostile subject. You've named some things you'd forbid. The problem for interrogators is that you - and more importantly, Congress - haven't the guts to say what is allowable.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 2, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

trashhauler, give it up. Your phony baloney scripted Republican talking points have been crushed.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 2, 2008 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Which of these would you make criminal and which would you allow?

It doesn't matter which I would allow, because Congress has already made criminal any act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control; where (2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering; (B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality; (C) the threat of imminent death; or (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality.

Therefore if any of the acts above fall into that ambit, they are criminal torture. Whether a specfic act committed by a specific individual is so or not is for the judge and/or jury to decide.


Posted by: Stefan on July 2, 2008 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

"I provided the exact text of the Federal Torture Statute above, which is guidance enough."
_________________

It isn't enough guidance, you fool, which you'd have to acknowledge if you were approaching this subject from any other direction than a way of showing your supposed moral superiority.

I can think of several things not listed in the Act which probably should be illegal. Not saying what is allowable leaves interrogators out there guessing what sort of ex post facto condemnation they'll face in the future.

That's fine, so long as you don't care if we learn anything - which I suspect you don't.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 2, 2008 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Some form of coercion is essential in the interrogation of any hostile subject.

Like this?

"Since August 2002, nearly 100 detainees have died while in the hands of U.S. officials in the global “war on terror.” According to the U.S. military’s own classifications, 34 of these cases are suspected or confirmed homicides; Human Rights First has identified another 11 in which the facts suggest death as a result of physical abuse or harsh conditions of detention. In close to half the deaths Human Rights First surveyed, the cause of death remains officially undetermined or unannounced. Overall, eight people in U.S. custody were tortured to death.

Despite these numbers, four years since the first known death in U.S. custody, only 12 detainee deaths have resulted in punishment of any kind for any U.S. official. Of the 34 homicide cases so far identified by the military, investigators recommended criminal charges in fewer than two thirds, and charges were actually brought (based on decisions made by command) in less than half. While the CIA has been implicated in several deaths, not one CIA agent has faced a criminal charge. Crucially, among the worst cases in this list – those of detainees tortured to death – only half have resulted in punishment; the steepest sentence for anyone involved in a torture-related death: five months in jail."

-- excerpted from the report by Human Rights First entitled Command's Responsibility: Detainee Deaths in U.S. Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan

Some form of coercion is essential in the interrogation of any hostile subject.

Actually, the most experienced interrogators will tell you that building a trust relationship with a prisoner is the best way to elicit truthful information -- and that the Communist methods intended to elicit false confessions used at Guantanamo are the worst.

Further -- the majority of the prisoners at Guantanamo WERE SENT THERE WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE OF HAVING COMMITTED CRIMES.

The same is true of Abu Ghraib. Tony Lagouranis, who witnessed and even participated in abuse at that facility, said that 90% of the people incarcerated there weren't guilty of anything, but yet they were abused simply in the hope that they might say something that posssessed intelligence value.

Not saying what is allowable leaves interrogators out there guessing what sort of ex post facto condemnation they'll face in the future.

Actually, the General Counsel of the Navy said that they were illegal and he was rebuffed by Haynes, Rumsfeld, and Yoo. Do you think they ignored him because they couldn't stand his vile moral superiority?

Posted by: trex on July 2, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Your phony baloney scripted Republican talking points have been crushed."
________________

What in the hell is "Republican" about wanting to know how far our interrogators can go to do their jobs? Just short of severe pain or suffering? Threats which do not involve death, severe pain or suffering? How about mildly altering the subject's senses or personality?

Do you think the problem is going to go away under a Democratic Administration? We'll still be taking prisoners and we'll still have a need for tactical and strategic intelligence.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 2, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

I remember that paper from the SF 'escape & evasion' class at Bragg in '65. The whole curriculum was based on de-briefings of Korean War POWs. POWs of the NoKoreans signed confessions, virtually all of them (at least, the ones who survived to be de-briefed). This was a shock for the US military; our GIs had never done that before unless physically tortured. (BTW, a big part of the 'resisting interrogation' part of the class dealt with how to give up just a little bit of information but make your captors think you were giving them the whole farm.)

The NoKoreans and Chinese used a psychological method (see the chart) that we called 'brainwashing'. It had the goal of creating what we now call a 'Stockholm Syndrome' in the captive. They wanted you to love them and be grateful.

Pardon the long post. It seems pertinant.

They destroyed military discipline. Ripped off the Sgt's stripes, put him to shame--mucking out latrines, etc. Goal was to create a mob of individuals instead of a military unit.

They isolated you within the mob. Totally at random they would pick you for 'the treatment'. The whole list on the chart in the OP. While everyone around you ate, you had to sit without food. Your blankets were taken (NoKorea is arctic, siberian). Long periods of standing in the freezing outdoors--at the window so the others who (for now) escaped this were in your line of sight. No one is allowed to speak to you. This could go on for a long time.

Then they march you outside the camp. You've never been outside the wire. No one speaks. Then you're given a shovel and told to dig a grave. So you do, convinced you're going to die today. They keep you at this for a long time. Deeper. Make it level. Square the corners. You have a long time to think. Finally it's dug and they tell you to stand and face the grave.

The Officer in charge of the 'funeral detail' shows you his pistol, walks around behind you, places the gun to your head.

Click. The gun is not loaded.

Then he spins you around to face him and wraps his arms around you and hugs you....and you are alive.

Then you get extra chow, more blankets, smiles from the guards.

You are prone to tell them anything they want to know, even the location of your grandmother's gold teeth and where your wife's birthmark is.
You can't help it. They gave you new life.

Prison camps became cults.

I remind whoever has had the patience to get here--this was torture but not physical abuse.

Our President and his officials have done much much much that is worse than thin.

Ceasar has crossed the Rubicon and our experiment with a democracy-in-a-republic is hanging by a thread. Weep if you love America.

Posted by: JohnMcC on July 2, 2008 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Whether a specfic act committed by a specific individual is so or not is for the judge and/or jury to decide."
_________________

Meaning you don't want to take the chance of naming a technique of which you'd approve for fear someone would accuse you of being cruel.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 2, 2008 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Not saying what is allowable leaves interrogators out there guessing what sort of ex post facto condemnation they'll face in the future. That's fine, so long as you don't care if we learn anything - which I suspect you don't.
Posted by: trashhauler

What we've just learned is that the Guantanamo interrogators based their training on a Chinese manual which used techniques used on American soldiers which we used to call torture. Whether by design or not, these techniques resulted in false confessions.

I'm not interested in false confessions. Torture apologists, OTOH, want confessions and compliance, because they enjoy the sense of righteousness that comes with it ... or they just like torturing brown people because they're racist pieces of shit.

From what I can tell, defending this torture doesn't come from a desire to "learn anything" - not learn anything useful, anyways. Torture here, as always, is its own ends, and being Americans doesn't make their brand of it special.

Posted by: Gonads on July 2, 2008 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Meaning you don't want to take the chance of naming a technique of which you'd approve for fear someone would accuse you of being cruel.

Uh, no. Sufficient and effective guidelines for interrogation have been in place for decades. It was only when the DoD deviated from these lawful guidelines that a problem arose, and honorable military and law enforcement officers filed reports citing the lawbreaking and abuse.

Your attempt to rewrite history in order to reframe this issue is deplorable.

Posted by: trex on July 2, 2008 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

I went through the same course, JohnMcC. Now, based on your experience, which part of "the treatment" would you allow and which part would you outlaw?

Posted by: trashhauler on July 2, 2008 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Not saying what is allowable leaves interrogators out there guessing what sort of ex post facto condemnation they'll face in the future.

With torture, as with rape, if you're not sure that what you're doing to another helpless and unwilling human being is torture, then it's probably a good sign that you shouldn't be doing it.

Posted by: Stefan on July 2, 2008 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Sufficient and effective guidelines for interrogation have been in place for decades."
__________________

So, pick a few of the things I listed and tell us if they fit within the guidelines. Somewhere in the spectrum of each is an allowable technique, though you keep edging away from acknowledging it.

And I'm not talking about the past - any criminal acts in the past should be prosecuted. What I'm asking you moral giants is what is to be allowed in the future. Not that any of you really give a shit.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 2, 2008 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Meaning you don't want to take the chance of naming a technique of which you'd approve for fear someone would accuse you of being cruel. .

Why not the same technique the police and FBI use every single day with criminal subjects including serial killers, Mafiosi, gang bangers, multiple murderers, kidnappers, rapists and child abusers? That is, you sit them down in a chair and start talking. Don't do something that you wouldn't want to admit in open court under oath. Simple as that.

Posted by: Stefan on July 2, 2008 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Fortunately for trashhauler, beating a dead horse is not illegal.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 2, 2008 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

It isn't enough guidance, you fool, which you'd have to acknowledge if you were approaching this subject from any other direction than a way of showing your supposed moral superiority.

The fact that you think that being told "don't do anything specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering upon another person within your custody or physical control" isn't "enough guidance" says more about your perverted little sense of sadism and lack of any ethical guidelines than it does about my moral superiority pver you.

Posted by: Stefan on July 2, 2008 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Somewhere in the spectrum of each is an allowable technique, though you keep edging away from acknowledging it.

No one is edging away from anything. Stefan posted a very detailed list, there are other military guidelines in place in addition to U.S. Code Title 18, and the very people in charge of investigating these interrogation techniques found them to be unlawful according to those guidelines.

YOU'RE the one who refuses to acknowledge that it was military people who raised the alarm over this in the first place! You're putting your fingers in your ears and saying "La la la" and you keep demanding that somehwere, someplace there is an unanswerable question on a technique that may or may not be torture -- so the whole question is moot!

That's nothing but a tactic of desperation and misdirection.

Fuck you for making a mockery of all that is good about the American tradition and ideals of law and humanity.

Posted by: trex on July 2, 2008 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

"What we've just learned is that the Guantanamo interrogators based their training on a Chinese manual which used techniques used on American soldiers which we used to call torture. Whether by design or not, these techniques resulted in false confessions."
_________________

Not quite. The Guantanamo interrogators training was partially based on a paper which lists several categories of treatment. Most of the categories, if taken to extremes, would include acts of torture. The categories also include acts which could not be classed as torture.

The Chinese used these techniques to extract false confessions because they were seeking false confessions, not because the techniques themselves could only extract false confessions.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 2, 2008 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

trashhauler: "What I'm asking you moral giants is what is to be allowed in the future. Not that any of you really give a shit."

Certainly, no one else seems to be as obsessed as you are with what forms of torture they will be allowed to engage in (vicariously if not personally) in the future.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 2, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

"That is, you sit them down in a chair and start talking."
____________________

Anyone who has gone through SERE training or its Al Qaeda equivalent will let you talk yourself to death.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 2, 2008 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Fuck you for making a mockery of all that is good about the American tradition and ideals of law and humanity."
__________________

Since when is asking for clear definitions of what is allowable against the ideals of law and humanity, you nitwit?

Posted by: trashhauler on July 2, 2008 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Certainly, no one else seems to be as obsessed as you are with what forms of torture they will be allowed to engage in (vicariously if not personally) in the future."
__________________

Strawman. If anything is clear, it is that I don't want our interrogators torturing anyone. What I want is for Congress to be more explicit in defining what is allowable. They should have at least as much legal protection as their subjects have.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 2, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Harsh interrogation techniques, whether torture or not, are designed to coerce the suspect/victim into making a false confession, not for extracting valuable information as evidence a crime has been committed or to stop an impending attack. The Chinese and Soviets used these techniques to obtain false confessions and so did the W. Bush administration. We know the Soviets and Chinese used false confessions domestically to eliminate political competition and to publicly place blame for their political failures on those they wanted to eliminate. Why exactly the W. Bush regime would seek out false confessions from so-called enemy combatants can only be guessed, but certainly one reason was to publicize their success in the war on terror by demonstrating they foiled a terrorist plot to the American public, which, like the Soviets, was to cover up their failure to prevent 9/11. It is hard to believe, but the subsequent torture revelations have not helped that cause.

Posted by: Brojo on July 2, 2008 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

What I want is for Congress to be more explicit in defining what is allowable. They should have at least as much legal protection as their subjects have.
Posted by: trashhauler

Sorry. I'm not very sympathetic to the Nuremberg defense. Why does no one else here seem to have a question about the immorality of these techniques?

Posted by: Gonads on July 2, 2008 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who has gone through SERE training or its Al Qaeda equivalent will let you talk yourself to death.

Let's put trashauler's extensive knowledge of "24", "Alias" and other TV spy show interrogation methods up against the real thing:

"You want a good interrogator?" Jerry Giorgio, the New York Police Department's legendary third-degree man, asks. "Give me somebody who people like, and who likes people. Give me somebody who knows how to put people at ease. Because the more comfortable they are, the more they talk, and the more they talk, the more trouble they're in—the harder it is to sustain a lie."

....A policeman's subjects all have to be read their Miranda rights, and cops who physically threaten or abuse suspects—at least nowadays—may find themselves in jail. Jerry Giorgio, the legendary NYPD interrogator, has operated within these rules for nearly forty years. He may not know all the names of the CIA and military techniques, but he has probably seen most of them at work. Known as "Big Daddy Uptown"....[h]e is considered a wizard by his former colleagues in the NYPD. "All of us of a certain generation came out of the Jerry Giorgio school of interrogation," says John Bourges, a recently retired Manhattan homicide detective.

"Everybody knows the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine, right?" Giorgio says. "Well, I'm always the Good Cop. I don't work with a Bad Cop, either. Don't need it. You want to know the truth? The truth is—and this is important—everybody down deep wants to tell his or her story. It's true. No matter how damaging it is to them, no matter how important it is for them to keep quiet, they want to tell their story. If they feel guilty, they want to get it off their chest. If they feel justified in what they did, they want to explain themselves. I tell them, 'Hey, I know what you did and I can prove it. Now what are you going to do about it? If you show remorse, if you help me out, I'll go to bat for you.' I tell them that. And if you give them half a reason to do it, they'll tell you everything."

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200310/bowden

Posted by: Stefan on July 2, 2008 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

What I want is for Congress to be more explicit in defining what is allowable.

Again, how much more explicit do you have to get than "do not committ any act under the color of law that is specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within your custody or physical control; where (2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering; (B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality; (C) the threat of imminent death; or (D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality"?

If you're the type of person who frequently finds himself edging over the line into inflicting severe physical or mental pain or suffering on a prisoner in your control, who often stands around over a weeping screaming victim while scratching your head and wondering "geez, is what I'm doing to this guy torture or isn't it?", then I don't think guidance from Congress is really what you're looking for.....

Posted by: Stefan on July 2, 2008 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Retired Army Gen. Antonio Taguba, who headed a 2004 investigation of the abuses at Abu Ghraib, in remarks accompanying the [Physicians for Human Rights] study, wrote that “there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”

Reed the Executive Summary here.

Read the full report here.

From the Preface:

...This report tells the largely untold human story ofwhat happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture....

Systemic. War crimes.

Posted by: trex on July 2, 2008 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

Mr Trashhauler, hope the years have treated you well, sir. I've considered that being an 'alumni' of Bragg and SF training put me at least one square ahead of graduates of the Ivies.

You ask 'what part of the interrogation methods would I keep'? (I paraphrase.)

My answer--if I am to be completely honest--is that I don't know. I was tossed in 'the hole', was made pretty uncomfortable for a few hours. It was a school and I didn't seriously think the Army would kill or maim me. I had a fair amount of classroom--almost worse than the 'torture' in the school. Honest confession--the only 'torture' I ever suffered was being bounced off of every wall in the Jackson Tennesse Police Dep't one nite in 1969 because I had long hair. Today--no hair. My feeling that I sufficient answers to all life's big questions has gone the way of my hair follicles. Age and experience took it.

Still, you are a buddy. You deserve an answer. I'll try two observations. First, that my grandmother was right about this--nothing matter more than character. Applied to this situation, I think the experienced interogators who have come forward with outrage that their profession has been demeaned and degraded are right. Look at the VanityFair site where Christopher Hitchens (of all people!! my opinion of him just changed completely!!) actually was waterboarded. He would have told his torturer any damn thing, every damn thing, truth has no meaning, whatever makes the torture stop is true enough. That is the quality of information torturers get. But if the captive thinks you have a decent character, the experts tell us, they tell you the truth. The difference is character. Rest in peace, Gramma Flossie.

Second, I observe that freedom is simple anarchy without accountability. And the present Administration has committed outrages--which in the shadow of 9/11 could have made a sort of sense to them. I bet I could understand that if they'd only make the case. Instead they have maintained a malevalent secrecy and stonewalled the world. They seem likely to retire after 20Jan09 to positions of wealth and honor. This is wrong. They should be forced to give an account of their actions before the American people, before the world.

Good Luck to you. I go to right-wing sites and raise hell. Nice exercise. That's how truth emerges--when opposing opinions content.

Thank you for being here.

Posted by: JohnMcC on July 2, 2008 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

Now my inner English teacher emerges:

'content' = 'when opposing views CONTEST"

Posted by: JohnMcC on July 3, 2008 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

Stop flying rendition victims to foreign torture sites.

Stop flyig dope for Carlyle and W. Bush.

Posted by: Brojo on July 3, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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