Tuesday, March 14, 2017

CIA Interrogations - Enhanced, or Torture

Enhanced Interrogation:  AKA - TORTURE

We've noted the circulation of what purports to be a CIA public service announcement regarding the value of "Enhanced Interrogation" of "Terrorist Prisoners" which allegedly produced extraordinary and actionable Intelligence.
[We've attached an extract of this report at the bottom of this blog post.]

Much of the published information is true, but it was definitely not produced from enhanced interrogation, but rather via different sourcing, much of it from unclassified, open-source newspaper accounts.  So, you may discount the origin of the data.

We are very familiar with all forms of interrogation and have conducted hundreds of interrogations, both tactical and strategic in war zones and  special facilities, as well as CounterIntelligence interrogations to determine espionage threats..  

We never had a prisoner who couldn't be broken -- and turned, to include NVA Political Officers and hardened guerrilla fighters.  And they were tougher than Taliban. At no time did we ever have to use other than normal interrogation techniques, and at no time, did we ever have to use torture to obtain results.  Essentially, torture routinely gives false results and misleading information -- and bad intelligence.

Successful interrogations come from sophisticated conversations, rather than beating information out of a prisoner.  Most prisoners willingly provide as much information as is requested or demanded, and a professional interrogator is prepared with background and confirmed data to determine how truthful the subject is.  

Essentially, there are three forms of interrogation:

1)  Simple debriefing is for prisoners who have no resistance training.  They'll be happy to chatter away and disclose everything they know, and often, information they were unaware they have/had.  Handled properly, they can be enormously helpful.  In one case, a teenager, illiterate and fairly simple, provided the location of the master logistics center for the Spring Offensive - allowing us to capture it, and essentially ending that war, at least for a while.

2)  Professional interrogations, which require the interrogator to be  trained in psychology and who looks for nuances in the subject's eyes, facial movements, body moisture, voice rhythms, etc., to determine attempts to mislead the interrogator.  The interrogator begins with a number of folders on his/her desk, and accepts the prisoner who, through psychological manipulation, assumes and fears torture.  The folders contain parameters of verified information to answer key questions which can lead to new questions and sophisticated [though non-violent] techniques.  For the most part, the subject is unaware of the true objectives of the interrogation.

3)  Hostile interrogations are used to break down the  subject through disorientation, fear of the unknown, various forms of psychological techniques, and special manipulation techniques, augmented by input from HUMINTIMINT, SIGINT, COMINT, ELINT, etc.  
Again, opening folders with information the subject believes was provided by other prisoners weakens his/her resistance.   Add in fear of being caught lying, and the fear of the unknown becomes far more effective than actual torture.  
[See Room 101 in the Orwell's book, 1984].  This process requires a great deal of sophistication and education on the part of the Interrogator, but, again, includes absolutely NO TORTURE.]

FITD [Forscom Intelligence Training Detachment] - the unit we formed at Ft Bragg [1976] trained all USFORSCOM [Forces Command] tactical units and strategic Reserve units in proper interrogation methods; we created SOPs and manuals, most of which were incorporated years later in TRADOC [Training & Doctrine Command]. 
FITD was later converted to the 111th MI Brigade which took over the mission.

[Notably, Enhanced Interrogation techniques were legalized, and added to the Army's Field Manual, though still regarded as extreme, and unnecessary for the most part]

Unfortunately, as we learned from many years of association with, and assignments to the CIA, their approach to interrogations was unique.  

Since they lacked professional interrogators, they would draw on the Military for both SpecOps and mundane things like interrogations.  Unfortunately, the CIA would secretly coordinate with the Pentagon for untrained Warm Bodies to conduct these ops, and they would frequently end up with unskilled Marines or Army Infantry troops unskilled in interrogation, but who learned their trade by watching TV programs like Jack Bauer's skill sets in 24, in which torture was routinely used -- with very poor results.  Although the Military had trained, linguistically skilled professional interrogators, the CIA would ignore them and frequently depend on local nationals who had knowledge of either psychology or interrogation skills.

The greatest issue we have with the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" technique is that other countries [hostile and friendly] follow our lead.  If the US does it, it must be OK.  Worse, our adversaries/enemies look at us as the penultimate bad guys reflected in their propaganda themes, and use those techniques when interrogating US soldiers.  We were briefly captive of the Pathet Lao in southern Laos near the end of the war and were not amused by these techniques, which included fairly crude attempts at torture, before we found a way to exit the situation.  Later, we were interrogating an NVA captain at one point and asked him why the NVA treated our soldiers so viciously when they were captured.  He was astonished at the question and admonished me, saying, 

"We simply imitate your atrocities. Why, your troops mutilate our troops!  Your newspaper - Stars & Stripes herald such actions of one of your colonels."

Hatchet Hank Emerson
We were astonished, but placed a secure call to Saigon to a trusted friend at MACSOG who verified the torture and mutilation, and even shipped a copy of the Stars & Stripes which headlined this local hero, Lt Col Henry Emerson, thus affirming that we were, in fact, bad guys, leading to the torture of our own soldiers.  Such incidents continue today where we have fought.

We have enough enemies around the world now; we don't need more but we create enemies with the concept of torture.

In short, we do not support "enhanced" interrogation, a technique of negative value falsely touted by the CIA as a productive tool. We guarantee Enhanced Interrogation techniques will be/has been used against US PWs as a retaliatory measure.  

Ultimately, we are not labeling the US as the BAD GUY; but, we very much wish to see the CIA removed from such operations, particularly from controlling our Special Operations forces and Military Intelligence operations -- the actual trained Professionals in Military Operations and Human Intelligence programs!  

Below is an extract of the CIA's claim to intelligence production gained through, and which they claim justifies "Enhanced Interrogation".  
Keep in mind that virtually all of this information was 
published in the US News Media or on the Internet.