Wednesday, July 2, 2008

GITMO torture designed to illicit FALSE confessions

Why did we really institute policies to torture "detainees"? An interesting read from Scott Shane on GITMO torture in the NYT today sheds some light on that question.

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.”

What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.

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.”

Lets recap:

1. The Chinese developed torturous "brainwashing" techniques during the Korean War and used them on American prisoners. This caused much concern, not just because of torture, but because it was successfully used to illicit FALSE CONFESSIONS. As John McCain's confession showed, those same techniques remained successful during the Viet Nam War.

2. The US Air Force did a study of those techniques in 1957.

3. Near the end of the Korean War the Air Force used that study to create SERE, a training program for military personnel (primarily pilots) for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape.

4. In 02-03 SERE trainers went to GITMO to present to interrogators “the theory and application of the physical pressures utilized during our training.”

Did we really forget that the reasons those techniques were developed was to illicit FALSE confessions?

Certainly that seems highly unlikely. A significant part of the SERE training was resistance; learning how to resist torture when it was being used to illicit FALSE confessions. Surely the SERE trainers knew that when they went to GITMO to teach US interrogators the Chinese torture techniques. Just as surely those who tasked the SERE trainers to GITMO knew that as well.

These are not simply War Crimes; but the now obviously false claim that they were used to get actionable intelligence makes it clear that they are also crimes against American Democracy; High Crimes and Misdemeanors if you will.

1 comment:

Mika said...

Came here for the 1st time only today via Spencer Ackerman. Thank you for making this point!!!!! And so long ago! I keep hoping to see it emphasized, but so far haven't. Critics of the torture program will note its origin in Chinese/North Korean brainwashing and then skip directly to talking about it as adopted by Cheney, et al. to extract truth from detainees. But this set of procedures is designed to manufacture false confessions! Even if our government wasn't using them primarily for that purpose, surely they should have been aware that false confessions would be a natural consequence of set of procedures with such proven success in producing them!