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President acknowledges his inability to stop investigations into torture as latest review is released.
The Senate report confirms the content of the Bush Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinions that were released last week, and chronicles how physical and psychological techniques, developed by the Chinese Communists in the Korean War, have been applied in recent years to U.S. soldiers as part of their survival training — and then how they were adopted, after Sept. 11., 2001, by the United States for use in the war on terror.
These “Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape” techniques 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, Navy SERE trainees also were subjected to waterboarding, in which captives are made to feel they are drowning.
After 9/11, the report says, military interrogators and behavioral scientists at Guantanamo Bay felt pressure from superiors to come up with tougher interrogation regimes. Over the objections of some military lawyers, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the use of a list of harsh SERE techniques for Guantanamo Bay in December 2002.
The report details how Rumsfeld’s authorization served as justification for applying these methods in Afghanistan, and then Iraq, where they were used, and eventually exposed, at the prison in Abu Ghraib.
From the beginning, in October 2002, military psychologists warned that the SERE techniques brought “a large number of potential negative side effects.” At first, such actions “will increase the level of resistance in a detainee,” one officer wrote. Later, “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 psychologist concluded.
Another unnamed officer pointed out the “need to really stress the difference between what instructors do at SERE school (done to INCREASE RESISTANCE capability in students) versus what is taught at interrogator school (done to gather information.)"
The officer pointed out that, “What is done by SERE instructors is by definition ineffective interrogator conduct.” He added: “Simply stated, SERE school does not train you on how to interrogate, and things you 'learn' there by osmosis about interrogations are probably wrong.”
But former Vice President Dick Cheney argued in a television interview on Fox News last weekend that the Obama administration selectively released the Bush administration memos, and withheld those that “showed the success of the effort.” Liberal critics, and some Democratic senators, are also pressuring Obama for full disclosure and, if warranted, prosecution and punishment of those involved.