Monday, November 14, 2005

Where we learned to torture -- from Maoist China

The NYT details how the US developed its torture methodologies. We took a program called "SERE" that was used to instruct military personnel on how to resist Korean and Vietnamese torture. We then inverted the methods to create our own torture program:
Doing Unto Others as They Did Unto Us - New York Times

...SERE methods are classified, but the program's principles are known. It sought to recreate the brutal conditions American prisoners of war experienced in Korea and Vietnam, where Communist interrogators forced false confessions from some detainees, and broke the spirits of many more, through Pavlovian and other conditioning. Prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, painful body positions and punitive control over life's most intimate functions produced overwhelming stress in these prisoners. Stress led in turn to despair, uncontrollable anxiety and a collapse of self-esteem. Sometimes hallucinations and delusions ensued. Prisoners who had been through this treatment became pliable and craved companionship, easing the way for captors to obtain the 'confessions' they sought.
It's very American to learn from the best, and Maoist China drew on thousands of years of experience with torture. Our refined techniques are a credit to a long line of historic torturers. The next step will be to define a career path for the most capable torturers, perhaps one that leads to a cabinet level position and a presidential "Medal of Honor". Perhaps someone who will head the "Ministry of Comfort"?

PS. Where's Margaret Atwood these days?

No comments: