Creators of SERE called it “torture”

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

The Washington Post just published a story about yet another memo (pdf) released by the Senate Armed Services Committee. Its from the  Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, who are responsible for the SERE program.

The military agency that helped to devise harsh interrogation techniques for use against terrorism suspects referred to the application of extreme duress as “torture” in a July 2002 document sent to the Pentagon’s chief lawyer and warned that it would produce “unreliable information.”<…>

The cautionary attachment was forwarded to the Pentagon’s Office of the General Counsel as the administration finalized the legal underpinnings to a CIA interrogation program that would sanction the use of ten forms of coercion, including waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning. The JPRA material was sent from the Pentagon to the CIA’s acting General Counsel, John Rizzo, and on to the Justice Department, according to testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.<…>

“The requirement to obtain information from an uncooperative source as quickly as possible — in time to prevent, for example, an impending terrorist attack that could result in loss of life — has been forwarded as a compelling argument for the use of torture,” the document said. “In essence, physical and/or psychological duress are viewed as an alternative to the more time-consuming conventional interrogation process. The error inherent in this line of thinking is the assumption that, through torture, the interrogator can extract reliable and accurate information. History and a consideration of human behavior would appear to refute this assumption.”

So the creators of the techniques not only called it “torture,” they warned, as early as July 2002, that it would not produce reliable intelligence.  


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  1. to argue with the creators of the program about this. But I suppose the wingers will give it a try.

    • Edger on April 25, 2009 at 02:12

    …to release dozens of photographs depicting alleged abuses at U.S. prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush White House.

    The decision will make public for the first time photos obtained in military investigations at facilities other than the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Forty-four photos that the American Civil Liberties Union was seeking in a court case, plus a “substantial number” of other images, will be released by May 28.

    US to Reveal Alleged Prison Abuse Photos, truthout

  2. how can they NOT prosecute these evil fucks?

  3. … for stealing his comment and quoting in its entirety, but I think it gives another perspective on this.

    Important news, but consider this

    We need to take some of this info with a grain of salt, and one example is the WashPost article late today about the JPRA warnings to DoD re torture. It is good to know such evidence is being found of some warnings from some officials.

    But the article itself reads like an alibi for JPRA, the agency that ran SERE. If JPRA was so much against the abusive use of SERE techniques, why were the agency pushing them, time and again, with DoD and CIA?

    The SASC report has many other quotes, perhaps from different officials (since the WashPo article quotes an unsigned document), exalting its expertise in interrogations, and offering the assistance of their own people. By the time of the “warning” cited in the WashPo article (July 2002), JPRA had already been collaborating with DoD, DIA, and CIA for roughly six months.

    IMHO, someone wants to clean up JPRA’s image, when in fact they are central actors in the torture scandal. I will soon write about this in more detail, so stay tuned.

    Meanwhile, from a diary I wrote only a few weeks back. The material discussed takes place two months after the supposed torture warning:

    The theme of JPRA promoting SERE expertise surfaces in Iraq a little less than two years after the first DoD approach. A September 9, 2003 email (warning, pdf) from Col. Randy Moulton, Commander of JPRA to Col. Mike Okita and a redacted addressee (could this be Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who, coming from his command in Guantanamo, on September 9 was just concluding his evaluation of interrogation procedures in Iraq) again makes the same point about JPRA “expertise”.

    There is a strong synergy between the fundamentals of both missions (resistance training and interrogation). Both rely heavily on environmental conditions, captivity psychology, and situation dominance and control. While I think this probably lies within DHS responsibility lines, recent history (to include discussions with DHS, USSOCOM, CIA) shows that no DoD entity has a firm grasp on any comprehensive approach to strategic debriefing/interrogation. Our subject matter experts (and certain Service SERE psychologist) have the most knowledge and depth within DoD on the captivity environment and exploitation.

    I’m getting dizzy from the stories within the stories and am enormously grateful to Valtin for his analysis.  I think it’s going to be very important for us to read critically any statements that come out from these kinds of agencies.

  4. What truly bothers me is why should there be any discussion at all about whether torture works or not?  Cheney and others are doing a good job of deflecting and diffusing the gravity of what has been done and, in measure, efforts seeking to justify torture — you know, maybe, it’s not so bad.  There are no merits to be discussed one way or the other.  Even it it “worked,” hypothetically, the crux of it all is that torture is illegal period.  There’s NO wiggle room, no matter how this person, that, this agency, that, attempt to portray it.  TORTURE IS ILLEGAL — illegal under our own statutes and illegal under the International laws.  So, any attempts to even discuss the merits of torture one way or the other should be dismissed and such efforts attacked as to the REALITY of the situation.  We tortured — torture is illegal.  End of story! And, of course, it is immoral, but one assumes that the illegality of it would include the immorality of it, as well.

    geomoo spoke of this very thing in his current diary.

  5. (Thanks for posting his comment.)

    The above was intended to follow the last sentence in the first paragraph.  

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