July 03, 2008

Let's get HONEST about waterboarding and TORTURE

Warning From The Best - Must Read - chart below

Published: July 2, 2008

WASHINGTON — 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.

Some methods were used against a small number of prisoners at Guantánamo before 2005, when Congress banned the use of coercion by the military. The C.I.A. is still authorized by President Bush to use a number of secret “alternative” interrogation methods.

Several Guantánamo documents, including the chart outlining coercive methods, were made public at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing June 17 that examined how such tactics came to be employed.

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.

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 Alfred 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.

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 Defense Department spokesman, Lt. Col Patrick Ryder, said he could not comment on the Guantánamo training chart. “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.”

Mr. Biderman’s 1957 article described “one form of torture” used by the Chinese as forcing American prisoners to stand “for exceedingly long periods,” sometimes in conditions of “extreme cold.” Such passive methods, he wrote, were more common than outright physical violence. Prolonged standing and exposure to cold have both been used by American military and C.I.A. interrogators against terrorist suspects.

The chart also listed other techniques used by the Chinese, including “Semi-Starvation,” “Exploitation of Wounds,” and “Filthy, Infested Surroundings,” and with their effects: “Makes Victim Dependent on Interrogator,” “Weakens Mental and Physical Ability to Resist,” and “Reduces Prisoner to ‘Animal Level’ Concerns.”

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

The documents released last month include an e-mail message from two SERE trainers reporting on a trip to Guantánamo from Dec. 29, 2002, to Jan. 4, 2003. Their purpose, the message said, was to present to interrogators “the theory and application of the physical pressures utilized during our training.”

The sessions included “an in-depth class on Biderman’s Principles,” the message said, referring to the chart from Mr. Biderman’s 1957 article. Versions of the same chart, often identified as “Biderman’s Chart of Coercion,” have circulated on anti-cult sites on the Web, where the methods are used to describe how cults control their members.

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 interviePublish Postw that he was disturbed to learn that the Chinese methods had been recycled and taught at Guantánamo.

“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.”

The harshest known interrogation at Guantánamo was that of Mohammed al-Qahtani, a member of Al Qaeda suspected of being the intended 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 attacks. Mr. Qahtani’s interrogation involved sleep deprivation, stress positions, exposure to cold and other methods also used by the Chinese.

Terror charges against Mr. Qahtani were dropped unexpectedly in May. Officials said the charges could be reinstated later and declined to say whether the decision was influenced by concern about Mr. Qahtani’s treatment.

Mr. Bush has defended the use the interrogation methods, saying they helped provide critical intelligence and prevented new terrorist attacks. But the issue continues to complicate the long-delayed prosecutions now proceeding at Guantánamo.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Qaeda member accused of playing a major role in the bombing of the American destroyer Cole in Yemen in 2000, was charged with murder and other crimes on Monday. In previous hearings, Mr. Nashiri, who was subjected to waterboarding, has said he confessed to participating in the bombing falsely only because he was tortured.

These techniques Did Not originate with the Communists:

The techniques were diagrammed and spelled out earlier, in Gestapo manuals (View a photocopy online of an original at GW University’s National Security Archives) produced in the 30’s, are identical (except for the sexual perversion) to all of the torture techniques used by the CIA (and who knows what other agents of the US gov) since the disastrous National Security Act was passed under Truman. The Gestapo’s favorite techniques (yielding terror and false confessions, not accurate info) included a combination of sensory deprivation (with or without sensory overload), self-inflicted pain (stress positions etc), environmental stress (hot, cold etc), sleep deprivation, controlled starvation, with or without asphyxiation techniques(such as water boarding). Remember the Abu Ghraib photos of thugs torturing with asphyxiation by sitting on the board sandwiched chests of their civilian prisoners. Many die from asphyxiation techniques. One of the few convictions for U.S. torture in Iraq was for the asphyxiation torture death of uniformed Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush (the heavy set officer that officially surrendered to Gen Schwarzkopf at the end of Gulf War I) who had turned himself in for questioning while the U.S. was holding members of his family. He had been water-boarded but died while tightly bound head-first in a sleeping bag. Celebrities and pundits, who undergo fake water-boarding, help to trivialize one of the worst tortures in history.

Through “Operation Paperclip”, the US secreted many Nazi war criminals to the US, not just rocket scientists, but sadistic torturers (among multiple other categories) so as to learn what they knew. It was therefore obvious from the very beginning (starting in 2001 at Bagram) to those with even a cursory knowledge of this history, that the 1st accounts coming out of Bagram air force base in Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, and all the rest meant not just isolated, rogue or poorly trained soldiers being cruel but the top-down institution of the Gestapo’s techniques as the policy of the Bush administration. It has been reported in the last several months that Bush is now “rendering” and torturing 10’s of thousands of people on a world-wide network of prison ships. (He stole that idea from the British).

The Soviets had their own version of “Operation Paperclip” and learned from the Germans as well. The big joke after World War II was that the US could brag that “our German scientists are better than the your (the Soviets) German scientists”.

It is quite curious that those who should know better would claim that these techniques were studied scientifically and perfected by the fascists, not the communists. That is not to say that all of the powerful democracies (including the U.S.) have used torture (and terrorism) extensively for over a century. The U.S. killed and tortured the people of the Philippines by the hundreds of thousands at the turn of the last century.

No need to blame the Communists on this one.. Makes you wonder what the source of the story was.

Peace, JK

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