U.S. Government Used COMMUNIST Torture Techniques Specifically Designed to Produce FALSE Confessions

George Washington's picture

As I noted in 2009:

Senator Levin, in commenting on the Senate Armed Services Committee report on torture declassified today, drops the following bombshell:

With
last week's release of the Department of Justice Office of Legal
Counsel (OLC) opinions, it is now widely known that Bush administration
officials distorted Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape "SERE"
training - a legitimate program used by the military to train our troops
to resist abusive enemy interrogations - by authorizing abusive
techniques from SERE for use in detainee interrogations. Those decisions
conveyed the message that abusive treatment was appropriate for
detainees in U.S. custody. They were also an affront to the values
articulated by General Petraeus.

 

In SERE training, U.S. troops
are briefly exposed, in a highly controlled setting, to abusive
interrogation techniques used by enemies that refuse to follow the
Geneva Conventions. The techniques are
based on tactics used by Chinese Communists against American soldiers
during the Korean War for the purpose of eliciting
false confessions for propaganda purposes.
Techniques used in SERE training include stripping trainees of their
clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their
heads, subjecting them to face and body slaps, depriving them of sleep,
throwing them up against a wall, confining them in a small box,
treating them like animals, subjecting them to loud music and flashing
lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures. Until recently, the
Navy SERE school also used waterboarding. The purpose of the SERE
program is to provide U.S. troops who might be captured a taste of the
treatment they might face so that they might have a better chance of
surviving captivity and resisting abusive and coercive interrogations.

Senator
Levin then documents that SERE techniques were deployed as part of an
official policy on detainees, and that SERE instructors helped to
implement the interrogation programs.

 

The senior Army SERE
psychologist warned in 2002 against using SERE training techniques
during interrogations in an email to personnel at Guantanamo Bay,
because:

[T]he use of physical pressures brings with it
a large number of potential negative side effects... When individuals
are gradually exposed to increasing levels of discomfort, it is more
common for them to resist harder... If individuals are put under enough
discomfort, i.e. pain, they will eventually do whatever it takes to
stop the pain. This will increase the amount of information they tell
the interrogator, but it does not mean the information is accurate. In
fact, it usually decreases the
reliability of the information because the person will say whatever he
believes will stop the pain... Bottom line: the likelihood that the use
of physical pressures will increase the delivery of accurate
information from a detainee is very low
. The likelihood that the
use of physical pressures will increase the level of resistance in a
detainee is very high... (p. 53).

I also pointed out:

McClatchy fills in some of the details:

Former
senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation
issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq
collaboration...

 

For most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld,
especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida
and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had
told them were there."

 

It was during this period that CIA
interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees
repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid
Sheik Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 — according to a newly released
Justice Department document...

 

When people kept coming up empty,
they were told by Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people to push harder," he
continued."Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people were told repeatedly, by CIA .
. . and by others, that there wasn't any reliable intelligence that
pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam . . .

 

A
former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army
investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,
detention facility were under "pressure" to produce evidence of ties
between al Qaida and Iraq.

 

"While we were there a large part of
the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida
and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al
Qaida and Iraq," Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. "The
more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . .
. there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might
produce more immediate results."

 

"I think it's obvious that the
administration was scrambling then to try to find a connection, a link
(between al Qaida and Iraq)," [Senator] Levin said in a conference call
with reporters. "They made out links where they didn't exist."

 

Levin
recalled Cheney's assertions that a senior Iraqi intelligence officer
had met Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, in the Czech
Republic capital of Prague just months before the attacks on the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon.

 

The FBI and CIA found that no such meeting occurred.

 

In
other words, top Bush administration officials not only knowingly lied
about a non-existent connection between Al Qaida and Iraq, but they
pushed and insisted that interrogators use special torture methods aimed
at extracting false confessions to attempt to create such a false
linkage.

Writing about this today, Paul Krugman says:

Let’s
say this slowly: the Bush administration wanted to use 9/11 as a
pretext to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So
it tortured people to make them confess to the nonexistent link.

There’s a word for this: it’s evil.

The Washington Post reported the same year:

Despite
what you've seen on TV, torture is really only good at one thing:
eliciting false confessions. Indeed, Bush-era torture techniques, we
now know, were cold-bloodedly modeled after methods used by Chinese
Communists to extract confessions from captured U.S. servicemen that
they could then use for propaganda during the Korean War.

So as
shocking as the latest revelation in a new Senate Armed Services
Committee report may be, it actually makes sense -- in a nauseating way.
The White House started pushing the use of torture not when faced
with a "ticking time bomb" scenario from terrorists, but when officials
in 2002 were desperately casting about for ways to tie Iraq to the
9/11 attacks -- in order to strengthen their public case for invading a
country that had nothing to do with 9/11 at all.

***

Gordon
Trowbridge writes for the Detroit News: "Senior Bush administration
officials pushed for the use of abusive interrogations of terrorism
detainees in part to seek evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq,
according to newly declassified information discovered in a
congressional probe.

I wrote last month:

One
of the two senior instructors from the Air Force team which taught
U.S. servicemen how to resist torture by foreign governments when used
to extract false confessions has blown the whistle on the true purpose behind the U.S. torture program.

 

Truth Out reported yesterday:

Jessen's notes were provided to Truthout by retired Air Force Capt. Michael

Kearns, a "master" SERE instructor and decorated veteran who has previously held high-ranking positions within the Air Force Headquarters Staff and Department of Defense (DoD).

 

Kearns
and his boss, Roger Aldrich, the head of the Air Force Intelligence's
Special Survial Training Program (SSTP), based out of Fairchild Air
Force Base in Spokane, Washington, hired Jessen in May 1989. Kearns,
who was head of operations at SSTP and trained thousands of service
members, said

Jessen was brought into the program due to an increase in
the number of new SERE courses being taught and "the fact that it
required psychological expertise on hand in a full-time basis."

 

Jessen,
then the chief of Psychology Service at the US Air Force Survival
School, immediately started to work directly with Kearns on "a new
course for special mission units (SMUs), which had as its goal
individual resistance to terrorist exploitation."

 

The
course, known as SV-91, was developed for the Survival Evasion
Resistance Escape (SERE) branch of the US Air Force Intelligence
Agency, which acted as the Executive Agent Action Office for the Joint
Chiefs of Staff. Jessen's notes formed the basis for one part of
SV-91, "Psychological Aspects of Detention."

 

***

 

Kearns
was one of only two officers within DoD qualified to teach all three
SERE-related courses within SSTP on a worldwide basis, according to a
copy of a 1989 letter written Aldrich, who nominated him officer of the year.

 

***

 

The
Jessen notes clearly state the totality of what was being
reverse-engineered - not just 'enhanced interrogation techniques,' but
an entire program of exploitation of prisoners using torture as a
central pillar," he said. "What I think is important to note, as an
ex-SERE Resistance to Interrogation instructor, is the focus of Jessen's
instruction. It is exploitation, not specifically interrogation. And
this is not a picayune issue, because if one were to
'reverse-engineer' a course on resistance to exploitation then what
one would get is a plan to exploit prisoners, not interrogate
them. The CIA/DoD torture program appears to have the same goals as
the terrorist organizations or enemy governments for which SV-91 and
other SERE courses were created to defend against: the full
exploitation of the prisoner in his intelligence, propaganda,
or other needs held by the detaining power, such as the recruitment
of informers and double agents. Those aspects of the US detainee
program have not generally been discussed as part of the torture story
in the American press."

 

***

 

Jessen
wrote that cooperation is the "end goal" of the detainer, who wants
the detainee "to see that [the detainer] has 'total' control of you
because you are completely dependent on him, and thus you must comply
with his wishes. Therefore, it is absolutely inevitable that you must
cooperate with him in some way (propaganda, special favors, confession, etc.)."

 

***

 

Kearns
said, based on what he has read in declassified government documents
and news reports about the role SERE played in the Bush
administration's torture program, Jessen clearly "reverse-engineered" his lesson plan and used resistance methods to abuse "war on terror" detainees.

So
we have the two main Air Force insiders concerning the genesis of the
torture program confirming - with original notes - that the whole
purpose of the torture program was to extract false confessions.

Indeed, it worked ... producing false confessions, and delaying by years our ability to obtain actionable intelligence: