Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Forbidden Book: Douglas Valentine's "The Phoenix Program: America's Use of Terror in Vietnam"

Article originally posted at FDL/The Dissenter

On June 10, Open Roads publishers announced a new "Forbidden Bookshelf" series. Curated by New York University Professor Mark Crispin Miller, "Forbidden Bookshelf" aims to "fill in the blanks of America’s repressed history by resurrecting books that focused on issues and events that are too often left in the dark."

One of the first books published in the series is Douglas Valentine's invaluable, in-depth history of one of America's most egregious counterinsurgency, torture and assassination programs, as described in his 1990 book The Phoenix Program: America's Use of Terror in Vietnam.

The book is intricately and densely written, yet reads like a Rashomon-like detective story, as Valentine allows many of the actors involved speak for themselves. Never has such an in-depth look at a major CIA operation been written. You know who did what and when. The larger picture is not lost either, as, for instance, Valentine refers to earlier counter-terror programs that influenced Phoenix, such as the UK's counterinsurgency-terror program in Malaysia after World War II.

An encyclopedic attention to detail is Valentine's forte, as those will know who have read his two-volume history on the rise of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

The Phoenix Program itself was created by the CIA as a way to coordinate numerous counterinsurgency programs during the Vietnam war, using methods of blanket surveillance, kidnapping and extrajudicial detention, interrogation and torture, and the paramilitarization of the police. The goal, beyond gathering of intelligence, was to eliminate -- via murder, mass use of informants, and terror -- what the U.S. called the "Viet Cong Infrastructure" (VCI), especially the top and middle levels of VC leadership.

Instead, Phoenix sank under the weight of institutional corruption and interagency competition, not to mention Washington's demand to produce results -- even if there were no results to produce. Phoenix itself grew out of the CIA's theory of "Contre Coup," or "counter-terror." The idea was the U.S. would match the terror used by opponent forces, but do it even better.

As Valentine wrote in a May 2001 article: "The object of Contre Coup was to identify and terrorize each and every individual VCI and his/her family, friends and fellow villagers. To this end the CIA in 1964 launched a massive intelligence operation called the Provincial Interrogation Center Program [PICs].... Staffed by members of the brutal [South Vietnamese] Special Police, who ran extensive informant networks, and advised by CIA officers, the purpose of the PICs was to identify, through the systematic 'interrogation' (read torture) of VCI suspects, the membership of the VCI at every level of its organization...."

As the Vietnam War grew in intensity and the U.S. intervention neared half-a-million troops, the CIA tried to rationalize their anti-terror campaign, uniting their counter-insurgency, police, and intelligence aims, while working closely with their fractious South Vietnamese partners.

What followed was murder and torture and graft and corruption on a grand scale. Untold thousands died and were tortured. The figures for those killed in the "counter-terror" program range from the CIA's admitted 20,000 to over 40,000.

A vast number of those killed had no connection with the VC at all. Valentine explains in his book, "most Vietnamese jailed under Phoenix were anonymous pawns whose only value was the small bribe their families offered for their release." The bribes didn't help thousands, as Phoenix managers imposed quotas as high as 1,800 "neutralizations" per month.

Phoenix and Torture

The PICs became an integral part of Phoenix, and torture was standard operating procedure, while CIA "advisers" stood by. Later, CIA personnel argued they had tried to teach their South Vietnamese partners more effective kinds of interrogation, but in practice, they often were present during torture sessions, and countenanced much of what went on. Indeed, CIA's Support Services Branch was in charge of training police Special Branch officers in interrogation methods.

Valentine describes the torture in the PICs: "rape, gang rape, rape using eels, snakes or hard objects, and rape followed by murder; electrical shock ('the Bell Telephone Hour')," as well as suspension in air, beatings with rubber hoses and whips, "use of police dogs to maul prisoners,"and more. But as the first director of the PIC program in Vietnam, John Patrick Muldoon, told Valentine, "You can't have an American there all the time watching these things."

The situation will sound familiar to those who have followed the actions of U.S. and allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan who routinely turned over prisoners for torture to local authorities, while shadowy U.S. agents lurked in the background of the foreign torture chambers. (A direct report on such actions in Iraq can be seen in Peter Maass's video report, Searching for Steele. More recent revelations in a new FOIA of the CIA's interrogation manual from the 1960s shows such interactions with foreign intelligence and police services during interrogation and torture was something the CIA thought and planned about a great deal.)

When the CIA was in control of their own captives, they used the kinds of "touchless" torture they had perfected and described in their KUBARK interrogation manual. Valentine describes the torture of high-level North Vietnamese officer Nyguyen Van Tai, who was kept in a specially-built prison cell, kept in isolation and constant surveillance by hidden cameras, in a room painted "snow-white," all the while exposed to frigid air conditioning. The solitary confinement continued over four years without Van Tai ever admitting who he was.

"Colby's imprimatur"

In her August 2007 New Yorker article on the CIA black sites, Jane Mayer noted the interest of the CIA in the Phoenix Program as a model for the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

"A Pentagon-contract study found that, between 1970 and 1971, ninety-seven per cent of the Vietcong targeted by the Phoenix Program were of negligible importance," Mayer wrote. "But, after September 11th, some CIA officials viewed the program as a useful model."

While as a work of history The Phoenix Program is one of the most important books ever written on the CIA and the military, on the birth of US "counter-terror" policy, and government sponsored torture and assassination programs, its relevancy to post-9/11 history is self-evident. Anyone trying to understand the chaos and crimes committed by US and associated forces in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars must know this book.

There's a good reason national security historian and author John Prados has called Phoenix a "must read." Heavily researched over a number of years, more than any other book I know of about the period (with Nick Turse's book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, a close second), Valentine's book relied on over 200 interviews with participants, including top CIA and special forces personnel. How the author obtained such access, and what happened as a result is a story in itself.

Valentine described the story in an email exchange with The Dissenter:

"I began work on The Phoenix Program in the summer of 1984," Valentine wrote. "I approached the subject from two angles. First, I made a direct approach to William Colby, the former Director of the CIA and the individual most closely associated with Phoenix, based on his defense of the program before several Congressional committees. Colby agreed to help and referred me to several CIA officers who played prominent roles in Phoenix. These former, and in some cases current, agents spoke openly to me, simply because I carried Colby’s imprimatur.

"Colby generated access lasted into 1987, when I started to notice doors closing and people avoiding me. I’d always known it would happen sooner than later, and I’d pretty much made the rounds, so it didn’t bother me too much. I’d hustled the CIA, I’d gotten inside its walls and rummaged around, and now the CIA was going to exact its revenge. That’s just how it works. If you fuck with he bull, you get the horns. Everyone knows that.

"I also got asked by CIA officer Bob Wall to join the CIA before the door slammed shut altogether.

"But I wasn’t ready to quit, and I wanted to back the CIA off a bit, so I filed a Privacy Act request, and in 1992 I got some results, thanks to the ACLU and a sympathetic judge in the federal district in Springfield, Massachusetts."

"It may cause damage"

More of the story is documented in John Prados' book, The Family Jewels:

"Elements at Langley became uncooperative after one retiree asked CIA lawyers, in the summer of 1986, what things were safe to talk about. When a Publications Review Board lawyer checked to see whether Phoenix was off-limits (the Board had previously cleared Phoenix material in works by Colby himself and agency officer Ralph McGehee), he was advised to caution interviewees not to talk to Valentine....

"By April 1988 the Publications Review Board was advising clandestine service officers of a concern that Valentine’s 'forthcoming book will contain so much detailed information about Agency operations and officers that... it may cause damage,' and asking that senior management of the Directorate of Operations should have the entire matter brought to their attention. Spooks, including some in the ostensibly impartial Inspector General’s office, were ranging the halls telling each other that the author was bad news and hoping they might escape his attention. Valentine eventually discovered this stonewalling due to the reticence of CIA veterans—and the materials quoted here emerged in the course of legal discovery in the lawsuit Douglas Valentine brought against the Central Intelligence Agency."

Valentine has posted online some of the legal documents from his lawsuit against the CIA. His papers collected in the writing of the book are held by the National Security Archives, and available to researchers. Many of his taped interviews, including interviews with William Colby and other senior Phoenix personnel, can be heard online (thanks Cryptocomb.org).

What Phoenix Wrought

While a good knowledge of the Phoenix Program in necessary to understand how U.S. counterinsurgency acts in reality in countries around the globe, in a new introduction for the Open Roads edition of the book, Valentine writes about the corrupting influence of Phoenix upon democratic processes domestically.

Valentine speaks of the "insidious" spread of Phoenix methods in the United States for the purpose of "the political control of its citizens through terrorism, on behalf of the rich military-industrial-political elite who rule our society."

"Indeed, America's security forces were always aware of the domestic applications of the Phoenix," Valentine writes, "and the program has not only come to define modern American warfare, it is the model for our internal 'homeland security' apparatus as well. It is with the Phoenix program that we find the genesis of the paramilitarization of American police forces in their role as adjuncts to military and political security forces engaged in population control and suppression of dissent."

For Valentine, who makes a compelling case, the building of Guantanamo, the use of black sites and torture, the provision -- even as late as 2013 -- for the indefinite detention of Americans and other "war on terror" prisoners, "was easy to predict," if you knew about Phoenix.

I am grateful to Doug Valentine and Mark Crispin Miller for giving The Phoenix Program a new publishing life, to help educate a new generation, which faces a fight against forces of state repression every bit as difficult and important as any faced in this country's history.

Other books released as part of Open Road Media's "Forbidden Bookshelf" series include Christopher Simpson's landmark history, Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and Its Destructive Impact on Our Domestic and Foreign Policy; The Search for an Abortionist: The Classic Study of How American Women Coped with Unwanted Pregnancy Before Roe v. Wade by Nancy Howell Lee, Interference: How Organized Crime Influences Professional Football by Dan E. Moldea; and The Lords of Creation: The History of America’s 1 Percent by Frederick Lewis Allen. More titles are promised in the near future.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Review - Surviving Evil: CIA Mind Control Experiments in Vermont

While the CIA's MK-ULTRA mind control research, and associated experimental programs concerned with interrogation, torture, and use of incapacitating agents and lethal weapons, involved many dozens, if not hundreds of top U.S. researchers, and cost many millions of dollars, actual testimony from its victims is extremely difficult to find.

Publishers, news agencies, and mainstream bloggers have shunned such stories, while most victims have been either too psychologically and physically damaged, or too frightened, to come forward. Others have been written off as "crazy." Indeed, CIA stories about "mind control" have sometimes brought out persecutory delusions in the purely mentally ill.

An Involuntary Experimental Subject 

But this is not one of those stories. This victim of CIA mind control research will not be dismissed, and her book, Surviving Evil - CIA Mind Control Experiments in Vermontis largely the tale of how she documents what happened to her.

While former MK-ULTRA subject Karen Wetmore was made an involuntary subject of CIA experiments from the age of 13, and suffered from ongoing psychiatric breakdowns over the years, involving major depression, PTSD, serious dissociation (including dissociative identity disorder), autoimmune disorders and psychotic episodes, her journey from powerless victim to intrepid researcher, whistleblower, and champion of historical truth is admirable.

Wetmore used FOIA, wide-ranging research, and a dogged determination, to gather materials that would document what happened to her. In the course of her journey -- meant to reconstruct her both her life and her sense of unified self -- she discovered that the story was bigger than just her own life and experience. By luck or circumstance, she was trapped inside a tremendously large, bureaucratic, inhumane, covert program in mind control and interrogation research, run by the CIA and the Department of Defense, with tentacles spread throughout the government, academia, and medical and pharmaceutical companies and associations.

Surviving Evil  is published by Manitou Comunications, a small firm owned by Colin A. Ross, M.D, who himself published an important book on the doctors who worked for the CIA in MK-ULTRA, and to whom Wetmore turned for advice and counsel during her journey. In the end, Ross helped her publish her memoir.

The book has all the strengths and a few of the weaknesses of a personal document and testimony. It is first of all an amazing story of Wetmore's recovery from psychiatric illness and trauma, made all the more impressive when you realize that she was not only combatting her own psychic demons but also government agents who did not want her to tell her story, or even know what had happened to her. Just as frustrating is the lack of help or interest in those to who she repeatedly reached out for assistance, documentation, and just plain human empathy.

Luckily for Karen, at crucial times she found people who were supportive or sympathetic. None of these were probably more important than Kathy Judge, the therapist that guided her out of the hell that is Dissociative Identity Disorder. It worth noting that while the Vermont native was horribly abused by many doctors and other medical personnel -- whose crime in many cases was silence in the face of unethical and illegal behavior -- she finds some doctors and nurses to praise for their humanity, kindness, and assistance.

Karen Wetmore was psychiatrically hospitalized at Vermont State Hospital (VSH) in the 1960s and early 1970s, and spent years there and in other psychiatric facilities. She was given powerful antipsychotic and tranquilizing drugs (and also likely hallucinogens like LSD), massive electroshock therapy, metrazol chemically-induced shock, was straightjacketed for months, probably hypnotized, and also likely sexually abused.

Recovering a History

Wetmore has searched diligently for records of her treatment, but was told they were destroyed. Yet by persistence and possibly luck -- including at one point a hint from an otherwise unhelpful CIA FOIA office -- she was able to put together some of the story, finally finding a link between psychological testing she was given at VSH and the CIA's MK-ULTRA testing psychologist, John Gittinger of Psychological Assessment Associates. (Gittinger's story was recounted in John Marks' classic book, Search for the Manchurian Candidate.)

Before she's done, Wetmore impressively linked her abuse to the operations of top CIA researcher, Dr. Robert Hyde, and others who occupied powerful medical and academic positions in the 1950s-1970s. An earlier version of her story was published in an important newspaper investigation at the Rutland Herald in November 2008. Journalist Louis Porter concentrated on following the links between Hyde and VSH. It's a rare instance of investigative journalism into the nationwide scandal that was MKULTRA (and associated programs), all-too-unique as for the most part researchers over the past 15 years have ignored the scandal. One major exception is H.P. Albarelli, who wrote an encyclopedic work on the subject, centered around the death of CIA-DoD researcher Frank Olson.

At one point in her book, Karen confronts Dr. Frederick Curlin, who had been Assistant Superintendent at VSH during part of her stay there. Her account of her conversation with the doctor is chilling. After telling Wetmore to look into his eyes, and telling her he will buy a plane or bus ticket so she can leave Vermont, Karen confronts Curlin:
"... Did you know that VSH was conducting CIA experiments?"

"Call me Doc. I love you Karen."

"Are you CIA, Dr. Curlin?"

"Not every good Indian is a dead Indian. I do love you."(p. 35)
The book is an exciting read, almost like a detective story, as Wetmore tries to put together the truth of what happened to her. At times the story rambles, and the book could sorely use an index. But in the end, her narrative holds together. When I looked up obscure references that relied on documentary evidence -- like the very little known Rockland Project, or the matter involved in MK-ULTRA subproject 8 -- the facts always checked out. Karen Wetmore has done her homework, and paid in blood and tears for having had to do it.

The narrative is often heart-breaking, and even the occasional repetitiveness works to help the reader understand how Karen's story was revealed to her over long periods of time, with sporadic new pieces of information or memories added after many iterations. The intrusive and often partial memories are like the heavy, persistent, if sometimes halting music played by PTSD, that can't be escaped.

Standing Witness

In the end, I can't review this as I would any book, for it's not just any book. It is an historical document, and the voice within is authentic. Wetmore can be plaintive, angry, sometimes confused, but more often authoritative. In my mind, she is a hero. She opens new avenues for researchers.

The best example of this is her research into deaths at VSH during the period it was presumably a CIA research facility. Wetmore documents inpatient death rates at the hospital of 11-15% per year from 1953-1972. While I could not find what normal death rates in hospitals were during that period, a CDC document I found states that normal hospital inpatient death rates from 2000-2010 were 2-2.5%. I believe that rates from thirty years earlier could not have been much more. In any case, this is a prime example of work still yet to be done.

Surviving Evil is the testimony of a witness and must be respected. We all owe Karen Wetmore a debt of gratitude. I know the impulse is to turn away from such evil as she reports, but we owe it to her, and to ourselves, not to do that. The people who did terrible things to Karen, and hundreds or thousands of others, were never held to account for it. Now a new generation practices their dark arts at CIA black sites, Guantanamo, and who knows where else. The archives remain mostly closed. Thousands of documents have been destroyed. Some few voices are still trying to speak out. Here's one. Listen.

Cross-posted at FDL/The Dissenter

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Punitive Use of Medical Restraints on Guantanamo Hunger Strikers

A partially redacted set of medical records released in the aftermath of the 2006 deaths of three Guantanamo prisoners shows that the use of "medical restraints" in the use of forced feeding of hunger striking detainees was used as a threat on hunger striking prisoners. At least one detainee was told over and over that use of "medical restraints" was due to his voluntary refusal to eat.

While Guantanamo medical authorities said the need for restraints was due to "medical necessity," such necessity was never documented. Instead, it was clear the use of restraints was punitive in nature.

The use of medical restraints in forced feeding, for which DoD uses a restraint chair, is not a normal procedure at other penal institutions. In a letter nearly one year ago from the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Feinstein noted, "When force-feedings do occur within the Bureau of Prisons, we have been told that nearly 95% of the time they are conducted with a fully compliant inmate requiring no restraints. At Guantanamo Bay, on the other hand, all detainees being force-fed—regardless of their level of cooperation—are placed in chairs where they are forcibly restrained." (Emphasis added.)

In the medical records (PDF) for Ali Abdullah Ahmed (ISN 693) in March 2006, a "Gitmo Nurse" noted in Ahmed's medical chart numerous discussions with the prisoner about his refusal to eat and the policy to feed him forcefully, a policy that insisted that the prisoner's behavior "must change":
Detainee placed in [redacted] Reason for Restraint: Medical Necessity [last two words are circled]

Detainee was advised by the Medical Staff that hunger striking is detrimental to his health. His behavior is due to his refusal to eat and not due to mental status change or illness. Medical Staff/Guards attempted to get the detainee to eat on his own. He is being offered food at every meal, yet he refuses to eat. Because the detainee refuses to eat, restraints were initiated for medical necessity for feeding. Detainee will be observed continually and he will be reminded of how his behavior must change (he must eat voluntarily) to avoid the use of medical restraints for present and future feedings. Detainee was told that he will remain in medical restraints until feed and post feed observation (60-120 minutes)

Elsewhere in the medical notes (3/7/2006), the nurse states, "There is no evidence that medications or a medical process is causing this detainee's refusal to eat."

Other notes show that while Ahmed was kept in restraints, he remained under "Line of Sight Observation." Circulation checks were made every 15 minutes for the first hour, and then hourly thereafter. Vital signs were checked immediately after the restraints are attached, and every hour thereafter. The medical restraints order expired only after 12 hours. No reason why it is medically necessary to restrain the prisoner was ever given in the notes I saw. No evidence of opposition to the process of enteral feeding by Ahmed was ever described.

The policy of keeping Ahmed in medical restraints through his "post feed observation" was not consistent with the SOP for hunger striking as later revealed in the March 3, 2013 Standard Operation Procedure for hunger strikes and forced feeding obtained by Jason Leopold for Al Jazeera last year.

According to the portion of the policy titled "Chair Restraint System Clinical Protocol for the Intermittent Enteral Feeding of Detainees on Hunger Strike," "Medical restraints chair restraint system) should be used for the safety of the detainee, medical staff, and guard force.... Upon completion of the nutrient infusion and removal of the feeding tube, the detainee is removed from the restraint chair and placed in a 'dry cell'. The guard force will observe the detainee for 45-60 minutes for any indications of vomiting or attempts to induce vomiting."

But this is not what happened to Ahmed, who perhaps along with other detainees was kept as long as possible in a five point restraint chair, or possibly a restraint bed. The purpose of prolonging his restraints could only be punitive in nature, to teach him a lesson and get him to "change."

Only three months after the notes quoted above, Ahmed was one of three prisoners found supposedly hanged in their cells. The government maintains the three prisoners hanged themselves in an act of "asymmetrical warfare," but recent revelations by researchers at Seton Hall Law School (and Scott Horton at Harper's) show that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), charged with investigating the deaths, withheld crucial information from their report, hiding information about the deaths that came from witnesses and even the Senior Medical Officer on site which contradicted the government's own narrative.

The new information which has come to light argues that Ahmed and the two other men died with socks or rags stuffed down their throats, possibly part of an interrogation session meant to force the prisoners to turn informants for the CIA or the Department of Defense. The Senior Medical Officer (SMO) at Guantanamo who attended at least two of three high-profile “suicides” at Guantanamo concluded at the time that, contrary to the conclusions of the NCIS investigation, the detainees did not die by hanging but by “likely asphyxiation” from “obstruction” of the airway. His conclusion was never mentioned in the NCIS report, and later interventions by the Department of Justice prevented inquisitive congressional representatives from knowing that fact.

"The Torture Chair"

The secretive, abusive Guantanamo regime is under new scrutiny of its hunger striking procedures, thanks to a lawsuit by a Guantanamo prisoner.

According to Ben Fox at AP, attorneys for Guantanamo prisoner Abu Wa'el Dhiab have been viewing almost three dozen videotapes a federal judge ordered government authorities to turn over to the defense in Dhiab's appeal to stop his forced feeding. Dhiab is one of a number of hunger strikers currently refusing food at Guantanamo in protest of inhumane conditions and their indefinite detention.

Dhiab himself has been cleared for transfer or release from the Cuba-sited prison since 2009. The next hearing in his case is on June 18.

Due to a change in policy last December, DoD will not report the actual number of active strikers, or those refusing food, in what many believe was an attempt by authorities to reduce the political effectiveness of the prisoners' strike technique.

A lot has been written on the torture that is Guantanamo's forced feeding policy, which includes brutal beatings -- so-called Forced Cell Extractions (FCEs) -- to bring the hunger striking prisoner to a restraint chair, where he is strapped down and has liquid food put down a tube forced down his nose and into his stomach. The speed at which the liquid is forced down a prisoner's gullet is something defense attorneys have likened to the ancient "water cure torture."

The UN high commissioner for human rights, the World Medical Association, and other medical and human rights organizations have said forced feeding of prisoners amounts to torture.

In a June 3 filing by one of Dhiab's attorneys, Jon Eisenberg, wrote, Dhiab "does not object to being force-fed in order to keep him alive, as long as the force-feeding is 'civilized.' He states: 'I am willing to be force-fed in a humane manner.' His recent force-feedings, however, have not been humane. He asks: 'Is it necessary for them to torture me? Is it necessary for them to choke me every day with the tube? Is it necessary for them to make my throat so swollen every day? Do I have to suffer every day? Is it necessary for them to put me on the torture chair in order to feed me?'”

A new version of the Guantanamo SOP for use on hunger strikers, who are now called "Detainees With Weight Loss" on "long-term non-religious fasts," placed instructions on use of the restraint chair into its own new SOP. That document, like almost everything else at Guantanamo, is currently classified.

Cross-posted at FDL/The Dissenter

Monday, June 2, 2014

New Report: NCIS Hid Medical Evidence About Guantanamo Suicides

The Senior Medical Officer (SMO) at Guantanamo who attended at least two of three high-profile "suicides" at Guantanamo nearly eight years ago concluded at the time that, contrary to the conclusions of a later government investigation, the detainees did not die by hanging but by "likely asphyxiation" from "obstruction" of the airway. Moreover this SMO found a prisoner he examined and pronounced dead had "cotton clothing material in [his] mouth and upper pharynx." (See pgs. 5-7 of this PDF to view the SMO's original findings.)

The finding is consistent with other accounts, and with the theory the three prisoners died from a torture procedure known as "dryboarding," as researcher Almerindo Ojeda described in an 2011 story at Truthout.

Yet, unaccountably, the SMO was never formally interviewed by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), which had the Department of Defense mandate to investigate the supposed suicides. Furthermore, the SMO's account was not included in the NCIS final report. This new finding is one of a number of such discoveries detailed in a new investigatory report published last month by The Center for Policy and Research (CPR) at Seton Hall University School of Law.

Thus far, their report has been totally ignored by the press.

Other findings in CPR's new report either ignored or overlooked in previous investigations include the fact that guards who searched the deceased's rooms only hours prior to their deaths did "not discover anything that a detainee could hang himself with.... in the manner of the rumors" of their death by hanging.

CPR's report, "Uncovering the Cover-ups: Death in Camp Delta," was supervised by Seton Hall law professor (and attorney for some Guantanamo detainees) Mark Denbeaux, and co-written by Charles Church, Ryan K. Gallagher, Adam Kirchner and Joshua Wirtshafter. Joseph Hickman, who was at Guantanamo at the time of the deaths, and who figured so prominently in Scott Horton’s January 2010 Harper’s article, “The Guantanamo Suicides," acted as lead investigator. A full PDF download of the paper is available at this link.

This article will summarize CPR's findings, but it is highly recommended that readers study the entire report.

Newly Uncovered Documents

Last month, Scott Horton wrote an article at Harpers Magazine, "The Guantanamo 'Suicides," Revisited," which reproduced and annotated a document that had been suppressed in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) release of documents concerning their investigation into three purported suicides at Guantanamo on June 10, 2006. The document, part of a group of documents associated with a separate Staff Judge Advocate investigation of the deaths, had sat unexamined on a DoD FOIA website for literally years, until both Seton Hall and Scott Horton brought it to the public's attention. The original can be found on pgs. 15-17 of this PDF.

The explosive document -- a sworn statement by Master of Arms Denny called to attend to the suicides that evening -- states a number of facts from a witness on the scene that directly contradicts the story promulgated by Guantanamo officials and the NCIS report into the deaths. (Denny was named by Horton, but not described by name in the CPR report.) Horton and CPR describe Denny's account in some detail, including the fact attempts to revive a still living "suicide" were not made for some time, and that cloth wrapped tightly around his neck was not removed.

Government authorities contend the three prisoners died in an act of simultaneous suicide by hanging, an act JTF Guantanamo Commander Harry Harris described only one day after the deaths as "asymmetrical warfare." It is this version of what happened that has been accepted by a wide section of the press. Horton's article surmises that the prisoners may have died at Guantanamo's "Camp No," also known as "Penny Lane," thought to be a special CIA black site at Guantanamo used to coerce prisoners, including through torture, to turn informants for the U.S. government.

CPR's report goes much farther than Horton's article in documenting exactly how the government pulled this document -- Exhibit 25 of the NCIS report -- and replaced it with random pages from elsewhere in the group of documents gathered in the course of the investigation. Detailed in Appendix D of the report, the work is an impressive piece of forensic research.

This deliberate suppression of information contrary to the government's story should be a matter of public outrage and congressional investigation, but the CPR report also shows how the Obama administration's Justice Department deliberately misled congressional queries about the report in the wake of the 2010 Harpers report and earlier Seton Hall CPR investigation and report, "Death in Camp Delta" (PDF).

Unfortunately, for reasons that are not clear at present, Horton's recent article, which drew upon work done by Seton Hall's (CPR), did not include reference to to a number of other new findings and documents CPR uncovered in their ongoing analysis of the Guantanamo deaths (including the SMO report). The documents describe how important evidence contradicting the official narrative were withheld from the NCIS report. Furthermore, when congressional representatives went to the Department of Justice to ask for an investigation, they were lied to about how long the investigation had taken, and whether or not there was evidence that showed something other than death by hanging.

According to the CPR Executive Summary, besides the findings discussed above, the new report concludes:
• Contrary to standard investigative protocol, NCIS never authenticated “suspected suicide notes.”

• Contrary to standard suspected suicide protocol, NCIS never investigated the behavior, state of mind, or emotional condition of the dead men during the minutes, hours, days, and weeks before they died.

• NCIS failed to investigate multiple irregularities in protocol, among them: tampering with the contents of cells where the men were reported to have died, as well as more than fifty discrete events so irregular that they had no specific designation in the log book, and that were so secret that their details were redacted which occurred for hours before the alleged crime scene was secured and investigated by NCIS....

• Contrary to extensive protocol, the Camp Commander ordered the cessation of video recording of the events.
Cover-up or "Conspiracy building"?

The most compelling evidence of a cover-up consists of contemporaneous reports that all three prisoners were found with socks or other cloth material shoved deep into their throats. It was this account of the deaths that Guantanamo authorities moved quickly to cover-up and replace with a story that the detainees had hanged themselves.

According to Horton's 2010 article, the Joint Detention Group Commander, Michael Bumgarner, gathered camp personnel hours after the deaths and told them "you all know" the prisoners had died from swallowing rags and choking to death, but the press would be told something different: the prisoners had died by hanging themselves.

In May 2011, Alex Koppelman, then writing for Adweek, but currently the News Editor for The Guardian/US, wrote an influential article criticizing Scott Horton for "conspiracy building." He decried the story about Baumgarner's speech about "rags" -- because Bumgarner denied to him having ever made it. Koppelman's account was later cited in a government legal brief used to counter a lawsuit by the relatives of two of the Guantanamo "suicides." I deconstructed Koppelman's account in a series of articles that examined his arguments in detail.

But the new evidence in Horton's article and the Seton Hall report demonstrates conclusively that multiple witnesses on the scene, including the Senior Medical Officer, found cloth material inside the deceased's mouths and throats. This was no "conspiracy building": the evidence was covered up.

Among many telling details in the new documents, Master of Arms Denny's account of how one detainee, ISN 093, Yasser Talal al Zahrani, was found alive even two hours after he supposedly hanged himself. Denny witnessed cloth matching a ligature placed around Zahrain's throat being wrapped around his hands:
I observed a Corpsman wrapping an altered detainee sheet... around the detainee’s right wrist. The other side of the material was bound to the detainee’s left wrist with approximately a foot of cloth in between. The cloth was not on the detainees [sic] wrists when the Camp 1 guards removed the handcuffs a few minutes earlier.
The fact all the "suicides" had their hands bound was supposed to be evidence of collaboration in the "asymmetrical warfare" that was simultaneous suicide. But Denny's account shows the "evidence" was being fabricated after the supposed suicides themselves.

The Seton Hall report deserves wide exposure and Congress must undertake its own investigation, as it's evident that DOJ and the Obama administration have no intention of looking further into what happened. But according to Seton Hall's Executive Director for Communications, Janet LeMonnier, attempts to get attention from multiple attempts at media outreach have garnered "very little interest," and CPR personnel are frustrated at the lack of response.

Even so, Mark Denbeaux told me in a phone interview that Seton Hall's investigations are going forward, and another report with even more new revelations is due out early next year.

Cross-posted from FDL/The Dissenter

Monday, May 12, 2014

Psychologists Call for End to Abusive Interrogation Techniques in Army Field Manual

A group of psychologists who have been outspoken in opposing the use of U.S. medical professionals in interrogations have released a letter to President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel condemning the ongoing use of interrogation techniques amounting to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners.

The use of such techniques are found in the current Army Field Manual (PDF), and in particular in its special Appendix M, which summarizes a set of techniques, under the label "separation," that are only meant to be used on prisoners who the U.S. government claims don't meet the additional Prisoner of War protections of the Geneva Conventions -- prisoners like those held in indefinite detention at Guantanamo.

Even so, most human rights and legal groups have found the techniques under question -- solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, manipulation of diet and environment, use of fear and emotional abuse of prisoners -- to be against Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the UN Convention Against Torture, and other international and domestic laws. (See "Contrary to Obama's promises, the US military still permits torture," The Guardian, Jan. 25, 2014).

Not mentioned in the letter, signed by Steven Reisner, President of Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR), on behalf of his organization, is the recent discovery that the use of torture techniques derived from a government program to help military personnel resist torture (the "SERE" program), was never totally removed from the military's Army Field Manual. Instead, the Pentagon used obfuscating language and obscure references to hide that fact from the casual onlooker.

Indeed, the current Army Field Manual on interrogations, including its Appendix M, was the subject of an Office of Legal Council 2006 memorandum by "torture memo" author Steven Bradbury. While President Obama rescinded most of the Bush-era torture memos when he first came into office, he never rescinded the Bradbury memo on Appendix M.

To this day, the use of methods amounting to torture in the Army Field Manual continues, and while this is opposed by nearly every human rights group that has looked at the torture question -- from Amnesty International to Physicians for Human Rights, from Center for Constitutional Rights to The Constitution Project -- Congressional oversight personnel at the Senator Carl Levin's Armed Services Committee (SASC) state the procedures in the Army Field Manual and its Appendix M are not abusive.

The procedures in the Army Field Manual currently are backed by presidential executive order, and its methods are used by both the Department of Defense and the CIA.

A SASC staffer was quoted recently as saying, “We are comfortable that Appendix M of the Army Field Manual no longer permits the use of interrogation techniques that are cruel and inhuman, or are a violation of our obligations under international law.”

"No longer permits..."? Does SASC admit Appendix M once did permit torture? If it "no longer permits" such use of cruel and inhuman techniques, nor violate international obligations, can someone at SASC inform us of when that change took place? And what did that change consist of?

I don't think we'll ever get an answer to these questions. As long as the mainstream media, including so-called alternative outlets, continue to ignore the current use of torture by the United States, government apologists and those who cover for use of torture have nothing to lose by keeping mum.

History will not treat such cowardice and dishonesty kindly.

Below is the full text of the letter from PsySR. The link to the letter is here.


April 29, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As an organization of health professionals dedicated to human rights advocacy, Psychologists for Social Responsibility strongly objects to practices that violate the ethics of health professions and lie outside the norms of international law and practice. The recent Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence confirms that, beginning during the Bush Administration, interrogation and detention practices were put in place by the CIA that constituted torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Practices once condemned under law and international treaty were soon redefined by the Justice Department to permit a "culture of torture" to proliferate under U.S. policy. These practices quickly spread to the detention centers of the Department of Defense and throughout the theaters of war. While legal progress has been made to limit these policies and practices, significant remnants remain under your authority. We write to you today to urge you to eliminate all existing procedures allowing for torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees.

In 2009, via Executive Order 13491, your administration officially announced its intention to end the torture practices developed and instituted under the Bush Administration. Interrogation practices that did not conform to the Army Field Manual were abolished. However, as documented by numerous legal and human rights groups, as well as by former interrogators,[1] the Army Field Manual still includes abusive techniques in violation of these standards.

We concur with the recent recommendation of the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP)/Open Society Foundations report [2] calling for you to issue a new executive order banning interrogation techniques using isolation, sleep deprivation, exploitation of fear, and other methods that violate international standards regarding torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. We, too, urge you to remediate the ethical standards of the Army Field Manual via executive order.

The current edition of the Army Field Manual (2006) officially supports interrogations using "approach techniques," including the creation, manipulation, and intensification of phobias and fears in prisoners ("Fear Up") and the calculated psychological attack against ego or self-esteem ("Emotional Pride and Ego Down"). The "Emotional Futility" approach intends to create a perception in a prisoner that "resistance to questioning is futile." The manual describes the purpose of this technique as engendering "a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness" in a detainee and notes the "potential for application of the pride and ego approach to cross the line into humiliating and degrading treatment of the detainee."

Also problematic on both basic health and human rights grounds is Appendix M, added to this most recent version of the Army Field Manual (2-22.3). This special annex proposes a technique known as "Separation," which includes the use of solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, forms of sensory deprivation, and environmental manipulations -- all of which could theoretically be extended indefinitely -- as ostensibly legitimate forms of treatment on "unlawful combatants." The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture [3] and independent human rights organizations describe such practices as torture and/or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. As health professionals and human rights advocates, we are disturbed that such techniques are conducted under an official capacity and by executive order.

We are particularly concerned that health professionals, including psychologists, have been engaged to support such efforts, directly or indirectly, in violation of their ethical obligations and in violation of the policies of their professional associations.

As you must be aware, these practices are not only cruel, but also yield questionable intelligence and contribute to a perception of our country as a systematic violator of human rights. It would serve as a strong and principled legacy of your Administration if these remaining practices of torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment were finally and definitively ended.

We look forward to your timely response.


Steven Reisner, PhD
Psychologists for Social Responsibility

cc: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel

[1] Scott Horton, "Interrogators Call for the Elimination of Appendix M", Harpers, Nov. 16, 2010. URL: http://harpers.org/blog/2010/11/interrogators-call-for-the-elimination-of-appendix-m/
[2] Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror, IMAP/OSF Task Force Report (PDF), Nov. 2013. URL: http://www.imapny.org/File Library/Documents/IMAP-EthicsTextFinal2.pdf
[3] "'Solitary confinement should be banned in most cases," UN expert says'", UN News Centre, Oct. 18, 2011. URL: https://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=40097

[Note: The letter was first posted at Counterpunch on April 30. Also, in regards to full disclosure, I should say that I am a member of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, and while I am not on the steering committee that decided to publish this letter, nor have ever held any leadership position in that organization, I was consulted on the matter of this letter. I am proud that an organization I belong to took a principled stand on this issue.]

Originally posted at FDL/The Dissenter

Sunday, April 20, 2014

DoD Deception Masks Fact SERE Torture Techniques Still Allowed for Interrogations

Recent revelations about the content of a still secret Senate report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program, which allowed for use of torture, highlight the use of techniques used by a little-known military department.

These techniques from the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape program (SERE) had been lifted from a mock-torture prison camp exercise used to inoculate U.S. prisoners against the effects of torture. Two military psychologists hired as contractors for the CIA allegedly helped form the CIA’s controversial “enhanced interrogation” program.

James Mitchell, one of the two psychologists, recently told The Guardian newspaper he could not talk about the specifics of the program due to a non-disclosure agreement, which carried "criminal and civil penalties" should he violate it. But the details of the program, used in slightly different forms by both the CIA and the Department of Defense have been examined in numerous press and governmental reports.

Currently, the use of SERE techniques is supposedly banned for use by both CIA and Defense Department interrogators.

But a key U.S. Defense Department directive rewritten only a month before Barack Obama was first elected President used a legalistically-carved definition for SERE techniques to hide the fact that important components of the SERE interrogation techniques that could amount to torture were still available to U.S. interrogators.

Procedures for "Control, Dependency, Compliance, and Cooperation"

In October 2008, only a few weeks after the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee finished the second of two hearings on Defense Department (DoD) torture of detainees in Guantanamo, Afghanistan and Iraq, the Pentagon released a new version of its directive on "DoD Intelligence Interrogations, Detainee Debriefings, and Tactical Questioning."

The Senate hearings had focused on how after 9/11 SERE techniques had been turned into a proactive torture program to be used on prisoners captured by the military. The hearings (which produced a report in November 2008) documented how in December 2001, and on subsequent occasions, representatives from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's office approached officials at the Pentagon's Joint Personnel and Recovery Agency (JPRA), which oversaw many of the military’s SERE programs, asking for assistance in using SERE techniques in interrogations. JPRA officials were more than willing to help.

According to the Senate report, SERE-derived techniques included "the facial slap, walling, the abdomen slap, use of water, the attention grasp, and stress positions," in addition to "use of smoke, shaking and manhandling, cramped confinement, immersion in water or wetting down, and waterboarding." Many of these techniques also were used by the CIA in its so-called "enhanced interrogation program,” but were not the subject of the Senate Armed Services Committee investigation. They are, however, said to be a key aspect of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the CIA's program.

Along with the techniques listed by SASC, a separate but complementary set of procedures included "tactics derived from JPRA SERE school lesson plans… designed to 'induce control, dependency, complia[n]ce, and cooperation,' including isolation or solitary confinement, induced physical weakness and exhaustion, degradation, conditioning, sensory deprivation, sensory overload, disruption of sleep and biorhythms, and manipulation of diet."

These "control" techniques ultimately formed an essential part of the military's post-9/11 detention and interrogation program. After the CIA’s “high-value detainees” were sent to Guantanamo in summer 2006, a new Army manual on interrogation introduced a special technique “restricted” to non-POW detainee “enemy combatants,” like those held at Guantanamo.

Titled “Separation” in Appendix M of the Army Field Manual 2-22.3 on interrogations, it was never one technique, but a collection of detention treatment procedures meant to disorient and break down prisoners using a combination of isolation (solitary confinement), modified forms of sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation, in addition to dietary and environmental manipulations, so long as they were not deemed “extreme.”

Yet the new interrogation techniques were so rough they required the presence of medical professionals, “in the event a medical emergency occurs,” according to the manual.

Scandal Leads to SERE "Ban"

Possibly in reaction to the Senate investigation and the wide press coverage of SERE-derived abuse and torture by the military, the new version of the Department of Defense directive on intelligence interrogations introduced in October 2008 now included a prohibition on the use of SERE techniques by military. The news was quickly reported.

One prominent news agency reported, "Pentagon bans SERE interrogation techniques." Steven Aftergood, writing for Secrecy News, part of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy, noted that by the supposed banning of SERE techniques the directive "closes loopholes in detainee interrogation policy."

But a close reading of the DoD directive, numbered 3115.09, shows that only a portion of the SERE techniques were banned, even though the document clearly states, "Use of SERE techniques against a person in the custody or effective control of the DoD or detained in a DoD facility is prohibited."

But back in 2008, no one noticed the military’s sleight-of-hand regarding use of the controversial SERE techniques. The deception was hidden in the "Definitions" section of the directive, where "SERE techniques" are defined in the document as "Those techniques used by SERE school instructors that are not authorized in Reference (i) for use as intelligence interrogation techniques" (emphasis added).

Reference (i) refers to the Army Field Manual, the interrogation manual authorized by President Barack Obama's Executive Order 13491 to be the standard for all Department of Defense and CIA interrogations.


The Pentagon maintains the fiction that SERE techniques were prohibited. A 2010 DoD Inspector General report found the military had followed recommendations from an earlier military report on “detainee abuse” to eliminate the SERE techniques. In particular, the 2010 Defense Department report concluded the current version of the Army Field Manual “does not authorize the use of any SERE techniques as approved intelligence interrogation techniques.”

In fact, the Army Field Manual utilizes techniques of interrogation that many human rights and legal groups have described as torture or cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners. The techniques involved -- use of isolation, sleep deprivation (no more than 4 hours sleep per night), partial sensory deprivation, manipulation of fears, inducing hopelessness, diet and environmental manipulation, etc. -- sound very much if not exactly like those SERE school lesson plans designed to induce control, dependency and compliance described in the Senate investigation into SERE-like torture of detainees.

While the military ultimately did ban certain techniques, like the use of "working dogs" to scare detainees, the use of hooding, and manipulation of phobias by Behavioral Science Consultants used in interrogations (nothing was said about manipulation of such phobias by interrogators), as DoD Directive 3115.09 makes clear, not all the SERE techniques actually were banned or prohibited.

Last February, Secretary of Defense Public Affairs spokesman, Lt. Col. J. Todd Breasseale, reiterated to this author the military’s position that the Army Field Manual relies on humane and legal procedures.

“The United States is committed to ensuring that individuals detained in any armed conflict are treated humanely in all circumstances, consistent with U.S. treaty obligations, domestic law, and policy, whenever such individuals are in the custody or under the effective control of the U.S. government," Breasseale said. "The Army Field Manual does not authorize or condone the use of sleep manipulation or sensory deprivation."

While, when asked, Breasseale did not deny the presence of some SERE techniques in the Army Field Manual, he stated, "It's worth noting that nothing in Appendix M could be read or used in such a way as to defeat those generally applicable principles and guidelines."

Breasseale also referred to criteria in the manual that is meant to guide interrogators as to whether a particular interrogation "approach" is prohibited.

A SASC staffer, when asked about the loophole allowing SERE techniques in the Army Field Manual, told this author in an April 11 email, "We are comfortable that Appendix M of the Army Field Manual no longer permits the use of interrogation techniques that are cruel and inhuman, or are a violation of our obligations under international law."

But a leading human rights expert demurred. Leonard Rubenstein, who was co-author of a recent report by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession condemning the use of medical professionals in abusive interrogations, told this author, “Almost a decade after revelations of torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib, it is disturbing that some of the interrogation methods at the center of the abuse and condemned by an independent medical task force continued to be authorized at the highest level of the U.S. military.“

Psychologist Bradley Olson, former president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, criticized the deceptive way DoD handled the supposed SERE ban.

“When it comes to torture, more than any other area, the devil is in the details,” Olson said. “Any attempt to pretend SERE techniques are prohibited while opening the door with Appendix M of the Army Field Manual is nothing but a contradiction, and a deceptive and dangerous one at that.”

Clapper's Role

In a link to the scandal over NSA surveillance, Directive 3115.09 was promulgated under the leadership of then-Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, James R. Clapper, Jr. Clapper, who is now Director of National Intelligence, famously lied to Congress in testimony in June 2013 about the extent of NSA spying on Americans.

According to former “master” SERE instructor Captain (ret.) Michael Kearns, who previously held high-ranking positions within the Air Force Headquarters Staff and Department of Defense, and who personally knew Bruce Jessen, one of the alleged proponents of the CIA's torture program, the format of the directive shows that back in 2008 Clapper’s office had “the initiating level of responsibility” for the directive.

Kearns said the policy promulgated was “enforced at the Deputy level.” The original version of the document itself was signed by Gordon England, then Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense.

But the policy on SERE techniques has not changed since the Bush presidency. The DoD’s most recent version of the directive, effective as of November 15, 2013, still carries the defining exception regarding SERE techniques used in the Army Field Manual.

Also posted at The Dissenter/FDL

Monday, April 14, 2014

"You are completely destroyed": Testimony on Torture from Shaker Aamer's Medical Report at Guantanamo

On April 7, 2014, Shaker Aamer, the last British resident still held at Guantanamo, and his attorneys filed a habeas petition (PDF) asking for his release due to chronic health problems that can not be treated at Guantanamo. The worst of these problems apparently stems from PTSD from the torture Shaker has endured since he was captured by the Northern Alliance, then turned over to the Americans on Christmas Eve, 2001.

The details of his torture at Bagram, Kandahar and Guantanamo are described in lengthy quotations from a February 2, 2014 medical psychiatric report by Dr. Emily Keram, a forensic psychiatrist who has evaluated a number of Guantanamo detainees at the request of the U.S. courts, the Military Commissions, and various habeas attorneys. The report is appended to the habeas filing.

What follows here is a long section from her report (PDF), where Dr. Keram quotes Shaker's narrative about his experiences under torture after his capture. From my experience, it is one of the most remarkable and disturbing documents to have come out of Guantanamo, as Shaker Aamer is an intelligent, sensitive man who speaks English. He has left us a record of his torture that cries out to be read.

I reproduce portions of Shaker's testimony here in the hopes of mobilizing support for freeing him from Guantanamo (he has been "cleared for release" for years now). I also hope this helps mobilize support for freeing or transferring all the detainees/prisoners to humane incarceration with the certainty of quick adjudication of their cases. Those detainees who are not guilty of anything should be released, and at this point -- read the following and you will understand fully -- given the surety of medical treatment as long as they need it.

Both the habeas filing and the medical report were linked in a story by long-time Guantanamo expert and passionate advocate for an end to torture and indefinite detention, Andy Worthington. His article, "Gravely Ill, Shaker Aamer Asks US Judge to Order His Release from Guantánamo," is posted at the Close Guantanamo website.


From Shaker Aamer's Medical Report (verbatim):

Mr. Aamer and I reviewed his conditions of confinement at Bagram Airfield. He reported severe maltreatment by guards, interrogators, and medical personnel working in concert, by means of humiliation, sleep deprivation, exposure to cold, manipulation of food and water, stress positions, threats of sexual assault against his young daughter, and beatings.

“The nakedness made me feel animal-like. I was not a human being anymore. I meant nothing to them. I lost my dignity, my pride, being a man. I had to take off my underwear and hand it to them. You lose your humanity. You are an animal. You know if you don’t do it, they will do it by force and it will be a lot worse. I respected and believed they would give me a fair chance because they were Americans. I was happy that I was with Americans because of their human rights.

I had sleep deprivation for 11 days. That made me crazy. They poured cold water over me. They kept me standing for 20 hours a day. I had to hold my hands and arms out. If I dozed off they would bang on the concrete with an axe. The sleep deprivation caused hallucinations. It started with noise. Then I heard old music from my childhood. I wondered, ‘Where did they get those tapes?’ I heard people talking. I started looking for who was talking. There was no one there. No one else heard them. Finally I heard music from my childhood that I knew they never could have found. I talked to the doctor about it. He said I was going crazy. He told me, ‘You should talk to the interrogators so then you can relax.’

They withheld food, except for frozen MRE’s. They would give you a bottle of frozen water. You didn’t want to drink because it would make you have to pee. The guards won’t take you to pee so I peed where I was sitting. I didn’t have a bowel movement for 25 days. My stomach became like a stone. I didn’t see a doctor initially because the interrogators were happy because I was telling them everything, whatever they wanted. [Interrogators controlled access to medical personnel] Then the doctor gave me a laxative. They took me to a hole. Female and male guards were watching. A guard pulled down my coveralls and told me to shit. It was very hard. I had to push hard. The female and male guards were joking. A female said, ‘Look, he’s having a baby.’ I passed what felt like stones. The guards gave me a tissue from an MRE to wipe myself. It was bloody. I felt so humiliated.

All of the statements I made at Bagram were during the sleep deprivation. I would have said anything. I told them, ‘I will tell you I am bin Laden if you want me to tell you I am bin Laden.’”

Mr. Aamer described the effects of maltreatment on his mental state.

“It’s a process of losing your mind. First it’s knowing you are not in control of yourself anymore. Someone else is in control of you. So you fool yourself and think, ‘Well, he’s only controlling me physically, but not mentally.’ They’re not in your head. But then you realize you’re wrong and they control your mind.

Then it’s welcome to the microwave. It’s easy to crack an egg from the outside. It’s hard to blow up the egg from the inside. They let you recover so you think you’re strong again. And then they break you again. And you thought you were strong again. And you don’t know your thoughts anymore. Like the microwave, they boil you from the inside to the outside until you explode.

After the microwave, the eggshell may be intact because the heat penetrated to the inside. The shell looks strong. But if you crack the egg, inside you will see charcoal.

So I would go to the interrogators thinking, ‘How can I lower the level of torture? What can I say to please him? I am going to be so easy with him today, I will please him.’”....

“It makes me scared to talk about it. I’ve been keeping it all inside. I’m scared because they are listening to us now and they’re learning; I’m teaching them how to interrogate. And now they will write a whole new book on interrogation with what they have learned....

“It’s a terrible procedure. The interrogator starts to talk with you about things that are small and well known. You agree. But he is driving you to a cliff. The more you drive with him on his interrogation, he starts throwing out fish bait, so little by little they show you that they are interested in knowing who you are. They do this by saying, ‘Shaker Aamer, we know you; we know who you are. We know you are nobody. We know you are a small fish rubbing shoulders with the big fish.’

My goal is, ‘How can I minimize the torture? I just want to sleep.’ I never had a goal more than that. It was never my goal to get out of the facility and be freed. My goal was just to lessen the torture. The problem is, not all the small fish know the big fish; but you want to lessen the torture.

So, their interest in you makes you trust them. You start to tell them the truth; you build the truth by telling the story in chronological order. You build the building one story at a time. Until I separated from my wife and go [sic] to hide in the mountains and wait for the man to take me through the mountains. The interrogators asked me the name of the mountains, the name of the man who would guide me. I didn’t know. And that’s when the interrogators went crazy.

The interrogators threw chairs. They put me in a grey disc with my legs spread. They banged the chairs. And you are just trying to avoid any hit. They shook me. They threw me on the ground. They banged my head into the wall.

I was telling them the truth. Their interest made me trust them. It made me hope the torture will decrease. But when I couldn’t tell them what they want [sic] to hear they made me stand for hours, they scream at me, they bang into me. You aren’t even thinking beyond how to protect yourself and not attack them so that you don’t get a bullet in your head. They do that until you are shivering, until they have broken you, until your mind is completely empty. You feel like you’re not real anymore. Like it’s a dream.

And now the worst part comes. They treat you with kindness. It destroys you completely. Your thinking is paralyzed. Your feeling is paralyzed. And the interrogator says, ‘I am trying to help you.’ You don’t know what to love and what to hate because it’s all happening at the same time. You don’t know anything anymore. You can’t tell apart good and bad, kind and evil. You lose the sense of the meaning of kindness.

You ask yourself, ‘Are they really trying to hurt me or are they trying to help me?’ You can’t tell anymore. They bang your head on the wall and then they give you a hot meal. One interrogator talked about what he would do to my five-year-old daughter in details that destroyed me. He said ‘They are going to screw her. She will be screaming, ‘Daddy! Daddy’’ You are completely disorganized. You are completely destroyed.

It happened many times. You learn they don’t really want to hear what the truth is. The truth only results in the same; more torture. So you begin to follow their story; they ask you questions, they give you descriptions and you agree. What was the color of the car? Did the driver look like this? Was the driver from al Qaeda? I answered, ‘How should I know.’ They said, ‘Well, a taxi driver wouldn’t drive to this compound would he, so he must be al Qaeda. The taxi driver takes you to the Arab guesthouse so the taxi driver is al Qaeda and the Arab guesthouse is al Qaeda.’

The interrogators give you the details, but they don’t want you to agree. They say have you seen a fat guy? A guy with a turban? This guy? That guy? Guess what? Those guys are al Qaeda. And then you feel like that you are al Qaeda. Then the interrogators tell you that al Qaeda recruited you without you knowing it; they were behind funding your travel.

Then they ask you to sign a statement. When I say no, the whole thing starts again. In the end, I offered to my interrogator to sign that I am al Qaeda, everything the interrogator wanted me to sign, if the interrogator would agree not to interrogate and torture me anymore. And the interrogator said, ‘I can’t tell you that we won’t interrogate you anymore.’

No matter what you said, they still wanted more. So they kept torturing me no matter what. The degree of the torture would change. Maybe they would let me sit for a brief period of time and then it would get worse again.

For the first 25 days at Bagram it was constant severe torture. For the last week they left me alone with the other detainees in a room with a heater. We all had frostbite. The interrogators only asked what we knew about certain people, but they weren’t pushing me for specific information. I didn’t see the sun except twice while I was at Bagram. And then there was ‘The Big Goodbye Party’ when you leave for Kandahar. I was beaten, shackled, and hooded. The guards laughed and cursed me. I was roped together with other detainees. Then the plane didn’t come. The next day they gave us another ‘Goodbye Party.’ We weren’t allowed to use the toilet. The plane came. I was fearful, thinking, ‘If this is happening right now, what is coming next? Maybe they’re getting ready to shoot me? Maybe it will be something worse than this.’”

Mr. Aamer experienced severe maltreatment at Kandahar Airfield with identical effects on his physical and mental state.

"I was shipped to Kandahar. The airplane was freezing cold. Someone took my socks from me. And then the ‘Welcome Party.’ They told the soldiers they could do anything they wanted with the detainees. We landed. They put us face first on cold concrete. We were shivering. They hit me with gun butts, kicked me with boots, and stomped on my back. There was a 17-year-old detainee. They put a gun up his rectum. He was screaming, ‘I’m no woman! I’m no woman!’ I yelled at the guards to stop in English. Then, because I spoke English the soldiers said, ‘He’s a traitor. He speaks perfect English.’ They beat me even harder. A black female soldier stopped them, saying, ‘You’ve had your fun.’

At about 0600, after 20 minutes of not being beaten, they put me in a cage with a blanket. They put me on my face and unshackled me. Then they ran out. They gave me bread. At about 0730 or 0800 they yelled at me to get up. They put my head on the ground, hooded and shackled me and took me to the interrogators tent. I was kept awake for 10 days.

The torture in Kandahar was more physical than in Bagram. They shook me, threw me on the floor, made me hold my arms out, hit my hands. There was no blanket, just lying on the ground. There was a nice thick blanket lying on the floor, but if I reached for it they would start beating me.

Two interrogators named John and Tony and a guy named Sallie or Sal took turns for three to six hours at a time or two to three hours at a time. There was also an Egyptian. They were with me almost all the time. At least I had my own place in Bagram; I was in a cage and the guards were on the outside. That was a comfort to me. But at Kandahar there was nothing between me and the guards. They were in the tent. If I closed my eyes, the guard would say to open them.

The interrogations at Kandahar had the same process as at Bagram in terms of the interrogators being both cruel and kind. The worst was Sal. He was so kind. He sat me outside the tent with the guards and heated up my food. The guards were starting [sic?] at me. I felt humiliated. Sal talked to me as if I were a human being. Then Sal would say he was going to screw my five-year-old daughter; he was going to do this and that to my daughter sexually; how my daughter would scream and scream. I thought about attacking Sal and getting killed. But I wouldn’t do anything aggressive. Force is the weapon of the coward.

This went on for 10 days. It was constant interrogation and torture. I told them the exact same truth that I had told the interrogators in Bagram, plus they had more true information about me. I also told the interrogators things that weren’t true in order to decrease the intensity of the torture I was suffering.

In those ten days, I only went to the toilet once. I had sleep deprivation. The ICRC came to see me in Bagram one time. Then they came to Kandahar to see me. They took me to a cage with other detainees. The judge from the ICRC saw me there, a Swiss judge. He gave me a card with my number on it.

After 10 days they sent the Egyptian guy who told me I was going to Guantanamo. They put me in a cage for four days and pretty much left me alone. A British agent came to see me, a young officer with a red beret. I wouldn’t talk with him because he said he couldn’t do anything to help me. The Americans only asked me questions those last four days at Kandahar like the last days at Bagram. They didn’t press me to lie about anything.

After four days they gave me the ‘Goodbye Party’ at Kandahar and a far worse ‘Welcome Party’ at Guantanamo.”

The maltreatment and its physical and mental effects continued at Guantanamo.

“The interrogations at Guantanamo have twists. There’s a 'frequent flyer program' where they move you every two hours. The guards shout at you in the same block. They switch the water off. They spray Pine Sol in my clothes.

It’s the same process psychologically; I can’t tell cruelty and kindness apart. I told the interrogators everything to decrease the torture severity. Another thing that was at Guantanamo that was not at Bagram was the circles within circles. The guards were connected with medical, were connected with the people who gave supplies like linens, were connected with the administration like the NCO’s, were connected with the Navy or the Army, were connected with the CIA, were connected with the FBI, were connected with the Republicans and the Democrats. All of these people want to squeeze my neck at the center of all of the circles. You tell them what they want to hear to decrease the severity of the torture.

For example, an internist came to see me. I asked for a blanket because I have arthritis and the cold air conditioning makes it worse. The doctor said the arthritis is in my record and agreed that it was cold. The doctor said, ‘I will ask permission from the Joint Detention Group (JDG) for a blanket for you.’ And the doctor says he’s independent.

The worst thing about torture is that you don’t know how to think, what to do, how to feel. You know you have your mind, but you don’t now how to react, which is horrible because you feel vulnerable. It’s terrible. We believed that the people here; the CIA, the interrogators, use ‘djinn.’ [spirits] The evil djinn. Some of the things that happened, you can’t explain. Some people with think that it was drugs or something, but 95% of us believe we got possessed by djinn.”

Also posted at Firedoglake/The Dissenter

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Newly Revealed Portions of CIA Torture Manual: Doctoring Tapes, Foreign Detentions & Interrogating 'Defectors”

Describing interrogation techniques and approaches used during the Cold War, an old 1960s CIA counterintelligence interrogation manual advised covertly photographing the interrogation subject and also audio taping his interrogations.

A tape player could free an interrogator from note taking, the CIA’s experts wrote, while also providing a live record of an interrogation that could replayed later. The manual’s author noted that for some of those interrogated, "the shock of hearing their own voices unexpectedly is unnerving."

Portions of the manual, originally declassified over 16 years ago, have remained censored until now. In March 2014, the CIA released an updated version [PDF] of the manual, which contains new revelations that extend our knowledge of CIA interrogation activities.

For example, in the case of audio taping interrogations, the newly declassified version of the manual adds that the CIA believed the doctoring of such tapes to be “effective.”

"Tapes can also be edited and spliced, with effective results, if the tampering can be hidden," the CIA manual explained in a section previously redacted. The CIA further elaborated on the effects of having a tape "edited to make it sound like a confession."

While controversy remains pitched over the release of a portion of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s post-9/11 “enhanced interrogation” torture program, the CIA’s release of material – including portions that speak to the agency’s years-long use of foreign intelligence services for detention and interrogation – was quietly released with little fanfare. Meanwhile, leaks to news media and analysis by commentators demonstrate that the CIA lied to Congress about aspects of its post-9/11 rendition, detention and interrogation (torture) program.

What has not been emphasized much until now is that the post-9/11 program in regards to torture, rendition and detention, both at "black sites" and by foreign intelligence services working with the CIA, is the continuation of a CIA practice going back decades.

KUBARK as a Model for Interrogation and Torture

The CIA’s 1963 set of instructions on counterintelligence interrogation, known as the KUBARK manual, was first declassified in 1997. (KUBARK was the CIA’s own code name for itself.) Recently, since that initial declassification, I obtained an update of the CIA’s infamous document, obtained on March 12, 2013 via Mandatory Declassification Request. The document was obtained by using the FOIA-activist website Muckrock.com, and the document and all materials regarding its production, including my initial request, is posted at their site. Click here to download the document (or on the thumbnail below).

The updated version of the KUBARK manual still contains numerous redactions, even 51 years after the document’s origination. But it also includes brand-new information about the CIA’s use of torture, including never before revealed discussions of the CIA’s early use of foreign intelligence services for both interrogation and detention, including the use of such foreign services as cover for CIA interrogations. The new unredacted material includes the finding that KUBARK techniques were used at “defector reception” or interrogation centers during the Cold War.

The Baltimore Sun, which originally had gained the manual via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request it first made in May 1994, linked the KUBARK manual to later torture and interrogation techniques utilized in a 1983 set of manuals used in Central America to train Honduran and other Central American interrogators.

The product of years of experimentation and field experience, the KUBARK manual written in 1963 utilized a set of torture and other interrogation techniques that included use of solitary confinement, sensory deprivation, fear, stress positions, electric shock, sleep deprivation, drugs, and other methods to induce compliance and the “exploitation” of the prisoner or subject interrogated.

After the Abu Ghraib scandal, when the kinds of abusive interrogation and detention techniques used on U.S. “war on terror” detainees were vividly visualized for U.S. and world audiences, the similarities between what the U.S. was doing and the early instructions in the KUBARK manual became front-page news in the mainstream U.S. press.

The similarity of the KUBARK techniques to certain abusive techniques used by other government agencies, such as the FBI, has been noted. But it is the connection with the CIA’s own Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program that resonates the most in the context of a major government dispute over the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA program.

The Intelligence Committee has voted to release the Executive Summary of the report, but most of the 6,000 page report will not be released. Meanwhile, the CIA itself has been asked (or demanded, perhaps) to be centrally involved in classification decisions made in the release of the Executive Summary. The chance we'll see much of that full report is slim. As we can see, it's taken 51 years and we still don't have all the information in the CIA's 1963 interrogation manual.

A recent article by Jason Leopold at Al Jazeera America suggested that the Senate report will show that CIA “enhanced interrogation” techniques “either went beyond what was authorized by the Justice Department or were applied before they had been authorized.” Those techniques included, among other forms of torture, physical slapping, sleep deprivation, isolation, confinement of a prisoner in small box, stress positions, and waterboarding.

Early Evidence of Black Sites and Rendition

Among the most prominent portions of the KUBARK manual that were not originally declassified and held secret until now -- labeled KUBARK II here to forego confusion with the 1997 declassified version -- concern CIA’s interrogations conducted “with or through liaison.” Such liaison included “foreign” or “host” services, including those interrogations that “involved illegality.”

While there is no portion of the document that specifically uses the term "rendition," there is a lot of discussion about having to use foreign intelligence services as liaison on interrogation, and on the limited amount of detention time the CIA had when holding prisoners in other countries. (It is widely known that post-9/11, the CIA held prisoners at secret prisons in Thailand, Poland, Romania, and Lithuania, while rendition to torture sent kidnapped detainees to foreign intelligence prisons in Syria, Morocco, Egypt and other countries.)

CIA ex-Deputy Counsel John Rizzo recently admitted that the CIA rendition program was a practice of long standing. “Renditions were not a product of the post-9/11 era…” Rizzo recently told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, “... renditions, in and of themselves, are actually a fairly well-established fact in American and world, actually, intelligence organizations.”

Until now, most discussions of the U.S. post-9/11 CIA interrogation program have presumed that renditions to foreign interrogation services were something that originated after the Al Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, or perhaps earlier, during the Clinton administration. But the newly restored sections in KUBARK II suggest that such activities by the CIA were common practice during the Cold War.

One example of this, not referenced in the KUBARK document, but known from other CIA documents, was known in intelligence circles as the “Kelly Case,” and described by H.P. Albarelli and this author in a 2010 article. Kelly, a code name for a Bulgarian operative named Dimitrov, was kidnapped by the CIA in the early 1950s and sent to a secret interrogation center run by the CIA at Fort Clayton, Panama (then Panama Canal Zone) where he was tortured using drugs and hypnosis, part of the Agency's Operation Artichoke.

In another example of early rendition practice, the CIA and the Army Intelligence Corps (CIC) allegedly ran a kidnapping program called "Snatch/Countersnatch" in Europe after World War II. There were notable early examples of CIA kidnapping as well. One of these was the case of Peter Moroz, an employee of the CIA's Institute for the Study of the USSR, who "was seized by CIA operatives posing as German police," and taken to a "safe house" near Munich. Munoz was subjected to loud music and bright lights for almost three months in isolation, all because the CIA wanted to question him after his son purportedly had defected to the East Germans. (See Maris Cakars & Barton Osborn, "Operation Ohio: Mass Murder by US Intelligence Agencies," Win Magazine, Vol. 11, No. 30, 9/18/1975*)

According to KUBARK II, "Interrogations conducted under compulsion or duress are especially likely to involve illegality and to entail damaging consequences for KUBARK." The newly declassified material shows approval for such actions, including interrogations involving “physical harm” and “medical, chemical or electrical methods or materials… used to induce acquiescence,” derived from a CIA official labeled “KUDOVE,” a cryptonym which according to a National Archives document describes the CIA’s Deputy Director of Operations (DDO).

Such approval by the DDO was also necessary “[i]f the detention is locally illegal and traceable to KUBARK...."

James Pavitt was Deputy Director of Operations from 1999 to June 4, 2004. He was succeeded by Stephen Kappes, whose tenure only lasted until August 2004. Kappes was followed by Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr. Rodriquez famously ordered the destruction of video tapes used in the interrogation and torture of Abu Zubaydah and other "high-value detainees" held by the CIA at their Thailand "black site." During Rodriquez's tenure, the CIA's Directorate of Operations, which was once known as the Directorate of Plans, changed its name once again to the National Clandestine Service (NCS). Whether Directorate of Plans, Directorate of Operations, or NCS, this section of CIA is responsible for covert operations.

While it seems likely Rodriquez's destruction of the tapes was meant to destroy evidence of torture, the revelation about doctoring tapes in the new version of the KUBARK document raises the question whether or not the evidence had to be destroyed so that no one would know the tapes had been altered in an effort to produce or manufacture the appearance of confessions.

The Detention Problem

Most of the discussion of working with foreign intelligence agencies is in the manual’s section on “Legal and Policy Considerations.” In 1997, much of that material was redacted, so that it was difficult to know that there was any coordination between the CIA and foreign services. But the newly unredacted material shows that the CIA turned to foreign “liaison” services because the legislation that formed the Agency "denied it any law-enforcement or police powers."

As "the necessary powers are vested in the competent liaison service or services, not in KUBARK, it is frequently necessary to conduct such interrogations with or through liaison,” the CIA wrote. The legality of such an interrogation – whether conducted “unilaterally” by either CIA or the host service – was “"determined by the laws of the country in which the act occurs.”

According to the CIA document, detention of prisoners was the primary legal problem, as the CIA had no legal power to hold prisoners. "Even if the local authorities have exercised powers of detention in our behalf," the CIA wrote, "the legal time-limit may be narrow." Hence, the manual suggests that the determination has to how long a prisoner can be held in detention be determined as quickly as possible. As the reference to “locally illegal” detention cited earlier suggests, sometimes that determination included a decision to hold prisoners unlawfully. A full paragraph on how to determine how much time could be available to CIA for interrogation in such circumstances remains censored in KUBARK II.

The issue of control over a prisoner’s detention is raised more than once in the document. "As a general rule, it is difficult to succeed in the CI [counterintelligence] interrogation of a resistant source unless the interrogating service can control the subject and his environment for as long as proves necessary," the manual states. While most of the ensuing discussion remains classified in the latest manual release, a portion of this section was unredacted.

The CIA expresses concern over what is done to prisoners or detainees held by foreign liaison services. Some "sources may demand immediate release," the CIA document states, or "later bring suit for illegal detention.” There does not appear to be any easy solution to this dilemma, from the CIA’s standpoint, though the manual warns against either pressing “too hard” on a detainee or releasing him too early, before the information desired has been obtained. "Transfer to an interrogation center should not be used as an automatic solution,” the CIA manual noted.

It was not clear what type of "interrogation center" the manual was referring to at this point.

Security Leaks

The newly declassified material shows the CIA as very concerned with possible security leaks. A released prisoner, subjected to KUBARK-style interrogation and torture, is such a possible security leak, according to the manual.

If a "subject is to be turned over to a host service,” KUBARK II states, “it becomes more than usually important to hold to a minimum the amount of information about KUBARK and its methods that he can communicate." It is possible that these are some of the same types of concerns that, unspoken, keep dozens of detainees cleared for transfer or release held indefinitely at Guantanamo.

That the CIA wished to keep its collaboration with “foreign services” secret can be discerned from the numerous times even small references to such services, even in passing, were deleted from the original declassification release.

In an “Interrogator’s Checklist” towards the end of the manual, the CIA asks the interrogator to consider whether an arrest is "contemplated." "By whom?” the manual asks. “Is the arrest fully legal? If difficulties develop, will the arresting liaison service reveal KUBARK's role or interest?" Furthermore, "If the interrogatee is to be confined, can KUBARK control his environment fully?"

In a tantalizing revelation of even further considerations around sharing detention and interrogation with foreign services, one of the newly declassified “checklist” items asks, "If the interrogation is to be conducted jointly with a liaison service, has due regard been paid to the opportunity thus afforded to acquire additional information about that service while minimizing KUBARK's exposure to it?"

To date, none of the discussions about the post-9/11 RDI program have dwelled upon the intelligence activities the CIA and its allies may have conducted upon each other, or the intelligence vulnerabilities or risks the RDI program may have entailed in that regard.

“Defector Reception Center”

One of the topics the KUBARK manual touches upon is the existence of “defector reception centers.” In the original declassification, all references to such centers were censored, even though such centers concerned possible defectors from the Soviet Union or its allies, and the 1997 FOIA release of KUBARK came six years after the fall of the USSR and its East European satellite states.

Very little has been written about these centers. According to declassified CIA and State Department documents and some memoirs by former CIA personnel, we know that the CIA maintained a “defector reception center” near Frankfurt, West Germany. It was housed at the primary Allied post-World War II interrogation center, Camp King, at Oberursel.

According to a memoir by former CIA Deputy Director of Covert Operations, Ted Shackley, “all people defecting in Europe from countries of the Soviet bloc were brought here" (to Camp King). They were held in villas scattered around Frankfurt. CIA documents released a few years ago show the housing and resettlement aspect of this defector program was code-named HARVARD.

In Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks’s classic 1975 exposé, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, detainees at the Defector Reception Center at Camp King were “subjected to extensive debriefing and interrogation by agency officers who are experts at draining from them their full informational potential. Some defectors are subjected to questioning that lasts for months; a few are interrogated for a year or more.”

According to KUBARK II, all defectors, escapees, and refugees were “customarily sent to a defector center for detailed exploitation." "Detection reception centers and some large stations are able to conduct preliminary psychological screening before interrogation starts," the manual states.

While there is no direct evidence of torture of any defectors or East Bloc escapees held at any defector reception center, the fact the KUBARK manual itself describes procedures that amount to “coercion,” even by CIA standards, strongly suggests that some torture was conducted on Soviet and East European detainees held at one or more such reception centers.

Further exploration of the Defector Reception Center and activities at Camp King are a fruitful source of possible future research. Other authors have determined that the former Nazi doctor Kurt Blome, tried but released at Nuremberg, and former head of the Nazi’s biological warfare program, worked as a doctor at Camp King in the early 1950s. In addition, Camp King was known for using drugs and other experimental torture methods on Soviet bloc prisoners.

The CIA, explaining they could neither confirm nor deny any records on Blome, rejected a FOIA I filed with the CIA on Blome’s activities.

Blome was also a top member of Nazi Germany’s biological warfare program. On February 28, 2014, the CIA’s Agency turned down my appeal of their non-confirmation/non-denial, or “Glomar” response, for records on the Camp King physician.

“Squeezed dry”

There is a small amount of other newly unredacted material. Much of it consists of quotations from Albert Biderman's secret 1959 report, "A Study for Development of Improved Interrogation Techniques." It is not clear why these sections were originally withheld. The new declassification still contains a number of redactions of material referenced in the KUBARK manual.

One of the restored Biderman quotes notes, “skilled and determined interrogations are almost invariably successful in eliciting some information from their sources.” Biderman continued, describing those “who abandon the ‘name, rank, [serial] number only’ rule or other injunctions of silence, are between 95 and 100 percent.”

Another new section concerns the interrogation of “penetration agents.” The discussion included the pros and cons of coercive interrogation.

"All good interrogators avoid coercive techniques whenever the necessary information can be gained without them,” the CIA manual stated. “In other words, physical or psychological duress is counter-productive when employed against a source whose voluntary cooperation can be enlisted without pressure."

But if such “coercion must be used and is successful,” the interrogator is cautioned that such action is likely to leave a victim “drained and apathetic.” "A resistant source who has been 'broken' should not be disregarded as a person when squeezed dry," the manual warns. Left to his own devices after "the use of pressure exceeding his resistance (for example, narcosis or hypnosis)... he is likely to revert to the role of antagonist and try to cause us trouble by any means available to him."

Addendum: Click here to see the final response letter from the CIA to me granting the request for new declassified material, and giving their explanation why some of the material was censored.

*Use of materials from Win Magazine comes via Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA.

Article adapted from original posting at Firedoglake/The Dissenter

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