The Strange Case of the Soviet Torture That Morphed Into “Interrogation”

Scott Shane of the New York Times writes about how the C.I.A. and the Pentagon, after 9/11, turned to a Cold War-era military program that trained Americans in how to resist common Soviet torture techniques in order to develop the so-called “enhanced interrogation methods” used against detainees in Guantanamo, in C.I.A.-run secret detention centers, and in other U.S.-controlled interrogation facilities worldwide:

HOW did the United States, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, come to adopt interrogation techniques copied from the Soviet Union and other cold war adversaries?

Investigators for the Senate Armed Services Committee are examining how the methods, long used to train Americans for what they may face as prisoners of war, became the basis for American interrogations.

In 2002, the C.I.A. and the Pentagon became concerned that standard questioning was inadequate for suspected terrorists and turned to a military training program called Survival, Evasion, Reconnaissance and Escape, or SERE. For decades, SERE trainers had exposed aviators and others at high risk for capture to Soviet-style tactics, including disrupted sleep, exposure to extreme heat and cold, and hours in uncomfortable stress positions. Sometimes the ordeal included waterboarding, in which a prisoner’s face is covered with cloth and water is poured from above to create a feeling of suffocation.

Some of those techniques have been used on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and in Afghanistan and Iraq, and at the C.I.A.’s secret overseas jails for high-level operatives of Al Qaeda.

Many SERE veterans were appalled at the “reverse engineering” of their methods, said Charles A. Morgan III, a Yale psychiatrist who has worked closely with SERE trainers for a decade.

“How did something used as an example of what an unethical government would do become something we do?” he asked.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “The Strange Case of the Soviet Torture That Morphed Into “Interrogation”

  1. “How did something used as an example of what an unethical government would do become something we do?” he asked.

    The answer is simple, really. The people in charge are authoritarians who use the word democracy as a fig leaf. It should be no surprise that they’d adopt Soviet tactics. They don’t believe in individual liberties in the first place.

  2. Speaking as one who had the “privilege” to try this out first hand on his own body/mind during my AF days this revelation does in no way surprise me coming from this bunch Fascist bastards. Nor does it surprise me at all that this same bunch of pricks totally ignore the fact that “WE” sentenced to death and executed Germans who did exactly this during WWII. And the DEMS haven’t got the balls to Impeach! What a bunch of CUNTS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Uh, the Democrats don’t have the power to impeach effectively. They don’t have a 2/3 majority in the Senate to convict. They only have even a bare majority in the Senate if Joe Quisling Lieberman goes along with them, and you KNOW he’d never go for anything that might hamper our government’s inevitably futile efforts to subjugate the Middle East.

    And yeah, it sucks that the insane minority still have enough power to thwart the sane majority, but what can be done about that before the 2008 elections? 😦

  4. “How did something used as an example of what an unethical government would do become something we do?” he asked.

    Become?

    Oh, wait – a full eight hours of instruction in civil rights. My mistake…

  5. Brynn

    I think it’s worth mentioning that before 9/11, these tactics were being developed/used/tested on American prisoners at high-security facilities, such as the “supermax” section of Pelican Bay in California. Isolation, 24/7 of unnatural light, sensory deprivation, I think even heat/cold, they are all tactics which activists identified and tried to stop at Pelican Bay. But to this day, most Americans remain unconcerned about what goes on behind the walls of state and federal prisons, because, after all, the tactics are only being used against “dangerous criminals.” Not our kind of people.

  6. Brynn

    IBW, I’m with GOM on this one, which I know comes as no surprise.

    You’re right, the Dems don’t have enough votes to carry an impeachment. They could still make the gesture, which would go far in gaining them support among the majority of Americans who are fed up with Bush and his criminal conspiracy. It would be a “political” gesture, AND also the right thing to do. In both regards, it would do nothing but good for the Dems’ standing nationally and globally.

  7. Thanks Brynn. If the Dems would get their fingers out and start the process, then bring in all the evidence of what these lying bastards have done anyone, Rethug or WimpDemo, who voted against impechment would be wiped out next election. CAN THAT BE A BAD THING?? Then send the whole lot to the Hague and let them be tried as the war criminals they are.

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