Sunday, July 10, 2005


There's an extremely troubling article in the New Yorker alleging involvement by medical personnel in the interrogation of detainees at Gitmo. Unfortunately the article isn't available online, but here are two interviews with the writer, Jane Mayer, one from the New Yorker website and another from Democracy Now!

Here's Mayer in the New Yorker interview:
The chief focus of the U.S. military detention center in Guantánamo Bay is to gain "actionable intelligence" by interrogating the detainees. Everything there is geared towards this end. The reason that some critics have called it a giant psychological experiment is that U.S. military officials have deployed Behavioral Science Consultation Teams, or BSCTs, to help devise and implement interrogation strategies—a melding of psychology and military intelligence. The psychologists and psychiatrists who work in these BSCTs apparently develop individually tailored psychological approaches aimed at creating rapport with—or, if necessary, breaking the resistance of—each detainee. The techniques they have employed, I was told, follow very closely the techniques studied and perfected by behavioral scientists working in a different capacity for the military since the Cold War.


Before 9/11, many of these behavioral scientists were affiliated with SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) schools, where they used their knowledge to train U.S. soldiers how to resist coercive interrogations. But since 9/11, several sources told me, these same behavioral scientists began to "reverse engineer" the process. Instead of teaching resistance, they used their skills to help overcome resistance in U.S.-held detainees.

Mayer's article also mentions that one of the techniques for breaking prisoner resistance is prolonged exposure to various "noxious" noises, including, and I wish this were a joke, the music of Yoko Ono. Friends, it just keeps getting worse.

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