Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Guantanamo Interrogations Unknowingly Inspired by Chinese

Special military trainers came to Guantanamo Bay in December of 2002 to teach interrogation techniques. As it turned out, the techniques they were teaching were taken from a study of how Chinese Communists interrogated Americans during the Korean War, often resulting in false confessions.

The 1957 Air Force study, "Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions From Air Force Prisoners of War," was originally used to train U.S. servicemen on ways to resist their interrogators if captured. In 2002, the 50s-era SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) program was adopted by the C.I.A. and the military in what the New York Times calls "a remarkable case of historical amnesia." The modern day officials "appear to have been unaware that it [SERE] had been created as a result of concern about false confessions by American prisoners."

Brilliant.

Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, remarked "What makes this document doubly stunning is that these were techniques to get false confessions. People say we need intelligence, and we do. But we don't need false intelligence."

Apparently the only change made to a key slide in the Guantanamo training program from the origianl 1957 report was to change the name. It was originally called "Communist Coercive Methods for Eliciting Individual Compliance."

I'm sure the source of these torture methods won't bother people who already believe that torturing terror suspects is okay in the course of protecting the homeland. But I personally don't like to think that a modern military program was inspired by Communists from 50 years ago. And if they resulted in so many false confessions out of Americans, how can we be certain the results won't be the same today with suspected terrorists?

The original NYT article can be found here.

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