Monday, November 21, 2005

We Learned The Torture Tactics of Commie Regimes -- On Purpose

This article/commentary -- until the last paragraph, it's hard to say which -- from the NYTimes lays out the Cliffs Notes history of how we started torturing detainees, and it's even worse than you thought. To whit: we weren't after methods that would get people to give us information, if such methods even exist. We were after methods we knew would so freak people out that they'd say anything to get us to stop. Yeah. Us. The Americans.

Fearful of future terrorist attacks and frustrated by the slow progress of intelligence-gathering from prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Pentagon officials turned to the closest thing on their organizational charts to a school for torture. That was a classified program at Fort Bragg, N.C., known as SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. Based on studies of North Korean and Vietnamese efforts to break American prisoners, SERE was intended to train American soldiers to resist the abuse they might face in enemy custody.

The Pentagon appears to have flipped SERE's teachings on their head, mining the program not for resistance techniques but for interrogation methods. At a June 2004 briefing, the chief of the United States Southern Command, Gen. James T. Hill, said a team from Guantánamo went "up to our SERE school and developed a list of techniques" for "high-profile, high-value" detainees. General Hill had sent this list - which included prolonged isolation and sleep deprivation, stress positions, physical assault and the exploitation of detainees' phobias - to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who approved most of the tactics in December 2002.

Some within the Pentagon warned that these tactics constituted torture, but a top adviser to Secretary Rumsfeld justified them by pointing to their use in SERE training, a senior Pentagon official told us last month.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I wish Rumsfeld would resign and spare the country any further shame and humiliation.


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