I would like to believe our country didn’t used to behave this way. Scott Shane writes in today’s New York Times:

The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners, including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”

What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.

The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency.

I say I would like to believe that our country didn’t used to behave this way. I was brought up thinking that everything we stood for was, um, against this. Maybe I was naive.

(Of course, you know what righties will say. It’s not torture. It used to be torture when Communists did it, but now it isn’t because it’s us doing it.)

See also “Truth Is Out on CIA and Torture” and the Talking Dog.

12 thoughts on “Shame

  1. My father was a Cold Warrior and he tells me that one of the big differences between us and the Soviets was that we didn’t torture people like the Soviets did. At least, that’s what he was taught by his military trainers. He’s pretty upset to see what’s happened since.

  2. The righties would say it’s not torture because we only use it on the deserving terrorists. Guilt is, of course, assumed away, since they are accused and thus convicted by the Great Leader.

    These folks would have been very comfortable in the Soviet Union in 1945-50 … as long as they weren’t one of the unfortunates who where accused by the Great Leader and thus guilty, and “disappeared” into the Gulag. How they can think this way so soon after their precious Saint Reagan defeated Soviet Communism simply baffles me. There must not be two brain cells among them.

  3. “Some times you have to work the dark side,” Dick Cheney’s policy on interrogation. Working the dark side does not yield viable information. Is Cheney ignorant of this well-known fact?
    Doubtful. That he is a sadist seems beyond doubt.

  4. The US-as-torturer didn’t start with Guantanamo Bay, nor with the SERE documents.
    The School of the Americas trained select US military and thousands of our western-hemisphere proxies in torture and terrorism techniques starting in 1946, and at Fort Benning Georgia from 1984 to 1991. (That’s under every American President from Truman onward except Clinton, for those of you keeping score.) Extraordinary rendition is not a Bush innovation. And the Reagan-era “contras” were not altogether scrupulous about means and ends.

    So as a nation, we were hypocrites from WW II until 1991. More recently, George W. Bush has decided to forgo the pretense of morality and to openly declare that our official policy is to torture anyone we feel like if it seems useful to the President. I give Mr. Bush considerable credit for publicly advocating and fighting for this policy, instead of saying one thing and doing another. It is rare that outright evil is so visibly championed.

  5. It’s also important to get people to realize that these techniques were NEVER intended to get information. They were intended to elicit false confessions, not gain ‘actionable intelligence’. Jack Bauer is a fiction, and the use of these techniques probably makes it harder, not easier, to get useful information.

  6. Biggerbox – As an example of just how unfathomable this whole ‘torture’ issue is, originally we were told that out tortures had to be kept secret because if known, the ‘enemies’ would train their ranks in how to combat them, in other words not succumb to them.

    Then, without explanation it was decided that our methods were to be made public to deter would-be terrorists from practicing their trade lest they be caught and tortured. So much for the ‘stories’ we’re fed.

    By the way, according to those professionals trained in counter-intelligence, torture almost never results in useful information.

  7. Re: “I give Mr. Bush considerable credit for publicly advocating and fighting for this policy” – he’s may be fighting for a policy, but his can by no means be said to be publicly advocating for this policy. He keeps claims, the US does not torture. In reality, all the US has done is redefine what it believes to be torture such that now the tools and techniques we used to train US forces to resist “torture” are used offensively under the moniker of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” W, Cheney and all the others who ok’d this little monstrosity are hypocrites and afraid to defend their “policy” in public. They hide behind obfuscation, half-truths and outright lies. There is nothing to be proud of in W’s public pronouncements on this subject. Nothing at all. He just makes the entire nation look like a bunch of fools.

  8. I think the sickest part is the use of euphemisms that try to make torture seem civilized…like it’s really not as brutal and inhumane as one might think. I once ran across a picture ( which I should have saved to disk) of an SS officer smiling away for the camera, while in the background was a death camp inmate suspended on a post by his arms tied behind his back..A perfect example of stress positioning. It’s not exactly having to stand at attention with your arms parallel to the ground for a few minutes like basic military training exercises.

    I know Cheney and Bush are the ones who brought this disgrace on America, but I think that Rumsfeld was the one who really got off on torturing in a kinky sado-masochistic sexual way. I’d love to see that sick bastard pay for his inhumanity disguised as patriotism.

    Gee, the torture thing doesn’t seem to want to go away..I wonder why? Could it be that it’s the antithesis of justice?

  9. I do not know where Scott Shane got his info, but in Philippe Sands “Torture Team” there is nary a mention of where the 15 or 18 techniques came from, except several mentions of the U.S. Navy’s SERE training as a possible source.

    Mr. Sands appears to have been very thorough.

  10. Shorter John McCain on Guantanamo and Abu Grahib:

    “This time, WE’RE running the Hanoi Hilton.”

    Is this an example of Stockholm syndrome?

  11. Nah, when the leftys were running America they never would have stooped to dunking a terrorist’s head under water.

    Dropping atomic bombs on cities and killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians, yes, frying German saboteurs in the electric chair, definitely, but dunk a terrorist’s head under water…no way.

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