In December of 2002, when military trainers arrived at the Guantánamo Bay prison camp to train interrogators, they built their entire class around a chart that spelled out the effects of "coercive management techniques" and how those "techniques" might be employed against prisoners at the camp. The torture methods detailed on the chart included exposure to extreme temperatures, prolonged constraint, and sleep deprivation.
What the trainers did not tell the budding Torquemadas sitting in rapt attention was where that chart originated - and what disgraceful company Americans would all to soon be keeping.
Perhaps they were unaware - and if so that is a deplorable commentary in and of itself. But that chart they now used as a training tool had a nefarious, infamous origin. It was compiled by communist China as a how-to template for breaking United States Air Force personnel captured in Korea, designed to secure confessions, whether they be real or imagined.
The 1957 article from which the chart was copied was entitled “Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions From Air Force Prisoners of War” and written by Albert D. Biderman, a sociologist then working for the Air Force, who died in 2003. Mr. Biderman had interviewed American prisoners returning from North Korea, some of whom had been filmed by their Chinese interrogators confessing to germ warfare and other atrocities.No, we sure don't. False intelligence gets us, among other things, a never-ending war in Iraq. The chart was verbatim to the half-century old template save one word...The original was titled "Communist Coercive Methods for Eliciting Individual Compliance." The version used at Guantanamo wisely dropped the word "Communist" from the header.
Those orchestrated confessions led to allegations that the American prisoners had been “brainwashed,” and provoked the military to revamp its training to give some military personnel a taste of the enemies’ harsh methods to inoculate them against quick capitulation if captured.
In 2002, the training program, known as SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, became a source of interrogation methods both for the C.I.A. and the military. In what critics describe as a remarkable case of historical amnesia, officials who drew on the SERE program appear to have been unaware that it had been created as a result of concern about false confessions by American prisoners.
Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said after reviewing the 1957 article that “every American would be shocked” by the origin of the training document.
“What makes this document doubly stunning is that these were techniques to get false confessions,” Mr. Levin said. “People say we need intelligence, and we do. But we don’t need false intelligence.”
A spokesman for the Department of Defense, Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Ryder, refused to speculate on the etiology of the chart, but also seemed to be trying to put some distance between the Gates Pentagon and the Rumsfeld Pentagram. “I can’t speculate on previous decisions that may have been made prior to current D.O.D. policy on interrogations,” Colonel Ryder said. “I can tell you that current D.O.D. policy is clear — we treat all detainees humanely.”
Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, a psychiatrist who also studied the returning prisoners of war and wrote an accompanying article in the same 1957 issue of The Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, said in an interview that he was disturbed to learn that the Chinese methods had been recycled and taught at Guantánamo.The current occupant of the oval office has insisted that the use of torture has saved American lives and prevented terrorist attacks against this country, but that amounts to asserting facts not in evidence, or as they call it in the common vernacular "just making shit up." That is what your president does, America. He is a thug, a punk and a low-class cretin, and he has dragged you down with him when you didn't protest his perfidy and his propensity for being a lying sack of shit.
“It saddens me,” said Dr. Lifton, who wrote a 1961 book on what the Chinese called “thought reform” and became known in popular American parlance as brainwashing. He called the use of the Chinese techniques by American interrogators at Guantánamo a “180-degree turn.”
His bloodlust and thuggery, and willingness to play fast and loose with the rules has led to the dismissal of charges against one of those so-called worst-of-the-worst who might actually be a bloodthirsty, murderous terrorist!. The harshest interrogation inflicted at Guantánamo was reserved for Mohammed al-Qahtani, a member of Al Qaeda suspected of being the intended 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 attacks. Terror charges against Qahtani were dropped suddenly and unexpectedly about six weeks ago. Officials at the time said the charges might be refiled at a later date, but declined to say whether the decision was influenced by concern about Mr. Qahtani’s treatment.
Another detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, an alleged member of al Qaeda who stands accused of playing a major role in the bombing of the American destroyer U.S.S. Cole in Yemen in 2000, was charged with murder and other crimes two days ago. In previous hearings, Mr. Nashiri, who was subjected to waterboarding, has said he only falsely confessed to being involved with the bombing because he was tortured.
A few years ago I said in a fit of pique that I did not spend my entire fucking life fighting the cold war, only to pave the way for a worse brand of authoritarianism and thuggery to take over here at home - and I was dismissed as being melodramatic and histrionic. Well, I was right. And I was not only not being melodramatic nor histrionic - I might actually have been understating the case.