Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Refice's Cecilia

Licinio Refice is well-known in Italy, or so I understand. But in the U.S., he is practically unknown. A verismo Italian composer, following in the tradition of Puccini and Mascagni, with a dash of plainsong from church music (he was a composer for the Vatican, after all), Refice produced one sublime opera that definitely deserves production by some major U.S. opera company: Cecilia.

The great 1950s soprano Renata Tebaldi sung Refice, and here are two examples, both from the opera Cecilia. -- It doesn't more beautiful and soulful than this.

Per amor di Gesu

Grazie Sorelle

Medical Journal Raises Questions About Medical Abuse at Guantanamo

Originally published by Truthout

A new medical journal article seriously questions the US government's rationale for use of the controversial antimalaria drug mefloquine on all detainees sent to the detention center at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base.

The article cites a series of investigative reports published by Truthout, which first broke the news about the mass administration of mefloquine at Guantanamo in December 2010.

Mefloquine has been connected to a number of serious side effects, including damage to the vestibular system, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations, bizarre dreams, nausea, vomiting, sores and homicidal and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The drug was previously sold under the brand name Lariam.

According to the author of the medical journal article, Army public health physician Remington Nevin, "analysis suggests the troubling possibility that the use of mefloquine at Guantánamo may have been motivated in part by knowledge of the drug's adverse effects and points to a critical need for further investigation to resolve unanswered questions regarding the drug's potentially inappropriate use."

Nevin was quoted in Truthout's December 1, 2010, report as saying the high dosage of mefloquine Guantanamo detainees were forced to take upon arriving at the prison facility was akin to "pharmacologic waterboarding."

Nevin's journal article, "Mass administration of the antimalarial drug mefloquine to Guantánamo detainees: a critical analysis," was published in the August issue of the peer-reviewed medical journal, Tropical Medicine and International Health (TMIH). In addition to Truthout's work, Nevin also cited a separate investigation conducted by Seton Hall School of Law's Center for Policy and Research as well as Guantanamo Medical Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 2007.

Nevin is a military doctor at the Department of Preventive Medicine, Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, Ft. Polk, Louisiana, and has published on the mefloquine issue before and testified before Congress about mefloquine's dangers earlier this year.

The Department of Defense (DoD) has maintained since the use of mefloquine was uncovered that the decision to presumptively administer full treatment doses of mefloquine to all incoming detainees was intended "to prevent the possibility" of malaria "spread[ing] from an infected individual to uninfected individuals in the Guantanamo population, the guard force, the population at the Naval base or the broader Cuban population."

But as Nevin pointed out in his journal article, citing a March 2011 Truthout story by this reporter and Truthout's lead investigative reporter, Jason Leopold, "not all individuals arriving at Guantanamo received treatment consistent with MDA ["mass administration of mefloquine"]. Indeed, hundreds of workers hired by Halliburton affiliate KBR, sent to build the new prison facility at Guantanamo, were not subjected to the DoD's mefloquine protocol, even though many if not most of them came from malaria-endemic countries. US service personnel were also not given presumptive doses of mefloquine at Guantanamo.

Nevin also seriously questioned the rationale for presumptive treatment, noting that usually such treatment without diagnosis is reserved for refugees or immigrant groups, who, for instance, might arrive in the United States and "face barriers to accessing medical care after their arrival and that US clinicians may have limited clinical experience with malaria, thus contributing to delays in diagnosis."

But Nevin explained that this rationale was inapplicable at Guantanamo "where ample and timely medical care was presumably available, provided by military healthcare providers familiar with the clinical and laboratory diagnosis and management of the disease." Indeed, other government documents show that blood tests for malaria were administered to detainees.

Advised Not to Talk About "Certain Issues"

In a more technical portion of the article, Nevin also examined the medical rationale for even assuming mefloquine would be a proper drug for presumptive treatment of malaria. Additionally, he noted reporting by Leopold and Kaye, which described internal discussions in February 2002 at the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board (AFEB), where questions about malaria control at Guantanamo were raised. This AFEB meeting never mentioned the use of mefloquine, which policy had begun just the month before, although other malaria control measures and drugs were discussed.

Not mentioned in the TMIH article, but reported by Truthout in December 2010, the AFEB also met in May 2003 to discuss mefloquine's severe neuropsychiatric side effects, as the drug was often prescribed in prophylactic doses to US military personnel. No mention was made of the Guantanamo protocol at that meeting either.

Yet, evaluation of a presumptive treatment protocol was definitely on the mind of medical personnel at Guantanamo at the same time the mefloquine SOP was instituted. We know this because another drug was presumptively given to all the detainees at the same time. This drug was Albendazole, a drug that kills intestinal parasites.

According to a March 2003 Guantanamo Detainee Hospital SOP, "Medical Interventions for Helminthic Infections," stool samples were taken from all detainees upon arrival. But the samples were "not to collect clinical data on the specific detainee," but were "intended to provide epidemiological validation of the treatment protocol."

It is not known if clinical data were collected to "provide epidemiological validation" of the mefloquine treatment protocol. FOIA requests for more information on the use of mefloquine at Guantanamo are ongoing and some are under appeal.

The Nevin article also doesn't mention that Capt. Albert J. Shimkus, the former chief surgeon for Task Force 160 at Guantanamo, which administered health care to detainees, told Truthout in December 2010 that he and other military officers at Guantanamo were told not to discuss the mefloquine decision.

Shimkus, who was also commanding officer at the Guantanamo Naval Hospital until summer 2003, was the medical official who signed the policy directive to presumptively treat all Guantanamo detainees with a high dosage of mefloquine.

"There were certain issues we were advised not to talk about," Shimkus said. Shimkus has repeatedly said the mefloquine was used for clinical and public health purposes and not for any other reason.

Drugs' "Function Is to Cause Capitulation"

Nevin's TMIH article was published only a month after a DoD inspector general (IG) report on the use of "mind-altering" drugs on detainees was released. The IG found that drugs were not used to "facilitate interrogation," but nevertheless, some detainees were drugged for psychiatric reasons and also for "chemical restraints."

The report did not reference the use of mefloquine on detainees.

The IG also indicated that the drugs used by DoD, including powerful antipsychotic medications like Haldol, "could impair an individual's ability to provide accurate information." Moreover, at least one detainee, supposed "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla, was led to believe he was given a "truth drug" during interrogation.

The placebo use of "truth drugs" to trick suspects into talking was discussed at some length in a 1962 CIA interrogation manual, declassified in 1997. The use of a placebo drug, while telling a prisoner he is being given a truth drug, is meant to give the prisoner a psychological rationalization for giving information or cooperating.

But the CIA manual, known widely as the KUBARK manual, did not eschew the use of drugs themselves, though there was an issue around the accuracy of information so derived. However, according to the CIA manual, information was not always the primary goal of use of drugs.

As the CIA described the situation (bold emphases added), "Like other coercive media, drugs may affect the content of what an interrogatee divulges. Gottschalk notes that certain drugs 'may give rise to psychotic manifestations such as hallucinations, illusions, delusions, or disorientation', so that 'the verbal material obtained cannot always be considered valid'.... For this reason drugs (and the other aids discussed in this section) should not be used persistently to facilitate the interrogative debriefing that follows capitulation. Their function is to cause capitulation, to aid in the shift from resistance to cooperation. Once this shift has been accomplished, coercive techniques should be abandoned both for moral reasons and because they are unnecessary and even counter-productive."

The publication of the TMIH article also follows new revelations published at Truthout last June that, until the mid-1970s, the antimalaria drug cinchonine was illegally stockpiled by the CIA as an "incapacitating agent."

Other drugs used by the DoD on detainees are the subject of an ongoing investigation by Truthout.

Nevin's article concludes, "formal investigation may yet reveal the precise rationale and motivation for the use of mefloquine among Guantanamo detainees." However, no such investigations are known to be even in the planning stages.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Top US Psychologist: Isolation Research Meant to Study Brainwashing

Donald O. Hebb was a pioneer American psychologist. His paper "Drives and the CNS (Conceptual Nervous System)" was one of the most quoted academic papers of his time, garnering 232 academic citations even in a period from 14-22 years after its publication.

Hebb was elected president of the American Psychological Association in 1960.

But Hebb was also a major researcher for the U.S. MK-ULTRA mind-control and coercive interrogation program. His primary interest was in the study of how isolation and sensory deprivation affects mind and behavior. An excellent essay on Hebb's career in this regard is Alfred McCoy's 2007 article for the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, "Science in Dachau's Shadow: Hebb, Beecher, and the Development of CIA Psychological Torture and Modern Medical Ethics" (PDF).

But while secondary source material, and especially that of a first-class historian-researcher like McCoy, is important to get the overall context of the history, original documents can also be extremely illuminating. One such document is Hebb's 1958 American Psychologist article, "The Motivating Effects of Exteroceptive Stimulation."

The essay is a transcription of a speech Hebb gave as Chairman of a symposium held at the 1957 APA convention. The symposium on "Control of Behavior through Motivation and Reward." It is fascinating how unguarded this chief MK-ULTRA researcher could be when he was speaking in a forum of peers.

In his speech, Hebb asserted that "brainwashing," i.e., personality change or deformation, can occur "simply" -- and this "simply" is huge -- the "perceptual environment is "changed" or manipulated. By the time he gave his speech, the CIA and Pentagon were very far along their path of establishing a torture program. The "survival schools", where US soldiers were trained to endure and resist torture (later known as "SERE school"), became laboratories for the study of environmental manipulation and the application of "uncontrollable stress," the latter being the second pillar of US torture policy.

Embedded in Hebb's talk is an irony so deep, it is the Mariana Trench of irony: the Chinese did not practice "brainwashing." The term was created by a CIA-linked journalist because the U.S. was conducting psychological warfare to discredit confessions by U.S. airmen to the effect the U.S. had conducted biological warfare against the North Koreans and Chinese during the Korean War. The U.S. was also covering up the crimes of the Imperial Japanese biological human experimentation program at the same time because they had actually pardoned and brought war criminals like Ishii Shiro into the U.S. biological warfare program. The deal was made because the Japanese promised to give the U.S. the data garnered from their deadly experiments, which had killed thousands, including U.S. POWs.

As one reads the following, reflect upon the fact that this speech was given now two generations ago. It represents a portion of the history of my field -- psychology -- and of US history that is little reflected in the modern discourse on the controversies surrounding torture and interrogation. But history does not go away, and sooner or later the epigones of Hebb, Harlow, West and others must face the evaluations and attendant obloquies that will come from their failure to break from their attachment and collaboration with a torturing State.

One final word: for those who have been fighting to change the inhumane policy of use of isolation and solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, take note that in the pages of the foremost journal of the American Psychological Association over fifty years ago there were discussions about how isolation was used to break down prisoners.

From "The Motivating Effects of Exteroceptive Stimulation":
The infant-environment work shows that the adult is a product both of his heredity and physical environment (as necessary for growth) and of his perceptual experience during the growth period. Once development is complete, does the organism then become less dependent psychologically on sensory stimulation? When a man's or a woman's character is formed, his or her motivations and personality pattern established, is character or personality an entity that exists so to speak in its own right, no matter where or in what circumstances (assuming physical health and reasonable bodily welfare)?

In the Korean war the Chinese Communists gave us a shocking answer: in the form of brainwashing. The answer is No. Without physical pain, without drugs, the personality can be badly deformed simply by modifying the perceptual environment. It becomes evident that the adult is still a function of his sensory environment in a very general sense, as the child is.

I am not going to ask you to listen again to all the details of the experiments that have been done and are still being done in this country and Canada (though the Canadian experiments are over) to investigate the problem. The work of Heron, Bexton,
Scott, and Doane (2, 9, 10) began when the Defence Research Board of Canada asked us in 1952 to find out what we could about the basic phenomena, with the hope that some possibilities for protection against brainwashing might turn up. Now brainwashing, as you know, takes different forms and can involve lack of sleep, fatigue, and hunger; and it makes a lot of use of having the subject write out "confessions" (or whatever you want to call them). Only one aspect was picked out for study: isolation from the environment....
As a postscript, here is a link to the statement of Colonel Frank H. Schwable, Chinese-held POW during the Korean War, charging "U.S. Wages Germ Warfare in Korea". This is the primary example (as Schwable was the highest ranking prisoner to "confess") of the so-called "brainwashing" confessions. I doubt anyone involved in these controversies has ever read Schwable's document before. I find it quite convincing. I believe the breakdown of the prisoner was to get him to cooperate and be used for propaganda purposes. That doesn't mean the propaganda itself wasn't true in its particulars, or largely true. Read it and see what you think.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"The other night, they cast my child into the sea..."

I found online, at a blog by "scheherezhade" this this YouTube video of soprano Renata Tebaldi singing the aria "L'altra notte in fondo al mare." It was always one of my favorite arias on an old CD collection of Tebaldi's performances, but I'd never seen it on YouTube. There are other versions by other sopranos probably just as good (yes, Maria Callas fans), but this is the way I heard this magnificent piece first, and it still sends chills down my spine.
L'altra notte in fondo al mare
Il mio bimbo hanno gittato,
Or per farmi delirare dicon ch'io
L'abbia affogato.
L'aura a fredda,
Il carcer fosco,
E la mesta anima mia
Come il passero del bosco
Vola, vola, vola via.
Ah! Pieta di me!

In letargico sopore
E' mia madre addormentata,
E per colmo dell'orrore dicon ch'io
L'abbia attoscata.
L'aura a fredda,
Il carcer fosco,
E la mesta anima mia
Come il passero del bosco
Vola, vola, vola via.
Ah! Pieta di me!
Scheherezhade gives as translation: "the other night into the sea they cast my child and now to send me mad they say I drowned her. The air is cold, the prison is gloomy and my spirit like a bird in the wood flies, flies away. Ah, have pity on me. Into a lethargic slumber my mother fell sleeping and now the supreme horror they say I poisoned her. The air is cold, etc."

Of course, this famous aria is from the great opera Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Newly Released Document Shows FBI Interrogation Advice Draws on CIA Torture Manuals

A 2010 FBI interrogation “primer” (PDF), apparently a fifth version of earlier FBI manuals dealing with “Cross-cultural, Rapport-based” “intelligence-oriented interrogations in overseas environments,” repeatedly draws upon advice from two CIA torture manuals, the 1963 KUBARK Counter-intelligence Manual and the 1983 Human Exploitation Resource Manual.

According to the National Security Archive, the KUBARK manual “includes a detailed section on ‘The Coercive Counterintelligence Interrogation of Resistant Sources,’ with concrete assessments on employing ‘Threats and Fear,’ ‘Pain,’ and ‘Debility.’ “ Even so, the manual is on the FBI’s “Recommended Reading” list for agents conducting overseas interrogations.

The 1983 Human Exploitation manual, which has been connected with atrocities by Latin American governments, drew upon both KUBARK and U.S. Army Intelligence manuals, describing the interrogator as someone “‘able to manipulate the subject's environment… to create unpleasant or intolerable situations, to disrupt patterns of time, space, and sensory perception.’”

The FBI document quotes the 1983 manual twice. While not referenced by name in the body of the document, the source is noted in the footnotes. One such quote from the 1983 torture document describes “the principle of generating pressure inside the source without the application of outside force.”

“This is accomplished by manipulating [the prisoner] psychologically until his resistance is sapped and his urge to yield is fortified,” the Human Exploitation Resource manual states, and FBI agents are so advised. The quote is in bold in the FBI instructions and reproduced as such here.

Meanwhile, the KUBARK manual is repeatedly mentioned in the body of the FBI work. “There are two purposes of screening according to the KUBARK Manual,” the “primer” states. According to the FBI, the “wise Interrogator” will follow “KUBARK Manual guidance.”

According to an ACLU blog posting, the FBI document was “written by an FBI Section Chief within the counterterrorism division.”

The rehabilitation of the KUBARK document began with an essay by U.S. interrogation consultant Colonel (ret.) Steven Kleinman. The essay was published in an Intelligence Science Board (ISB) December 2006 monograph, Educing Information. Kleinman noted KUBARK’s “disturbing legacy,” but added he felt the manual contained “the potential for lessons learned that could be derived from a highly controversial document.”

The FBI “rapport-based” manual repeatedly references another ISB document. Written in 2009, Intelligence Interviewing: Teaching Papers and Case Studies, includes in its two case studies a long discussion of a case of years-long isolation of a very senior North Vietnamese military official. While the interrogator in charge, Frank Snepp, said the treatment of this official ultimately disillusioned him about what the U.S. was trying to achieve in Vietnam, the ISB authors found Snepp had been successful in establishing “some operational accord” with the prisoner.

In his essay, Kleinman seriously played down the nature of the CIA’s manual, which had drawn upon years of MKULTRA research into use of drugs, sensory deprivation and the induction of fear and debility in interrogation subjects.

“Although criticized for its discussion of coercion, the KUBARK manual does not portray coercive methods as a necessary — or even viable — means of effectively educing information,” Kleinman wrote.

But in fact the CIA manual devotes fully a fifth of its instructions to coercive interrogation techniques, or torture, including isolation, “deprivation of sensory stimuli,” induction of physical weakness, use of “fear and threats,” hypnosis, and “narcosis”, i.e., use of drugs (including use of drugs as a placebo to fool prisoners).

Kleinman is the Director for Strategic Research for The Soufan Group, an organization named after ex-FBI agent Ali Soufan, and includes ex-FBI interrogators on its list of experts. It would seem that unwittingly Kleinman’s focus on what was of use to the legal interrogator in the KUBARK manual did not stop some FBI officials from allowing certain forms of coercive interrogation, i.e., reliance on use of isolation and manipulation of human emotional needs to get information and confessions. At times this is taken to extremes that amount to torture.

Kleinman himself is on the record as opposing all coercive interrogation methods. The 2008 Senate Armed Services Committee investigation into detainee abuse described then-Col. Kleinman's efforts to stop torture occurring at a JSOC interrogation facility in Iraq. The criticism of his KUBARK essay is not meant to imply that he supports in any way the kinds of coercive techniques described therein.

[Update, 8/6/12: Furthermore, it is worth noting, and after hearing critique regarding the first version of this article from Mr. Kleinman himself, that in his  essay on the CIA manual, Kleinman specifically says  "long-term isolation"  causes "profound emotional, psychological, and physical discomfort, and that such abuse would therefore fail to measure up to the standards for the treatment of prisoners as set forth in international accords and U.S. Federal statutes" (p. 138)]

FBI Uses Isolation to Achieve “Rapport”

The FBI manual also argues for the use of isolation to achieve rapport by leveraging the isolation or solitary confinement of a detainee.  Kevin Gosztola highlighted this aspect of the FBI “primer” in an August 2 article at Firedoglake’s The Dissenter blog.

What both Gosztola and the ACLU miss in their otherwise important commentary about the coercive isolation technique (even the CIA’s KUBARK manual recognizes isolation is a coercive technique, i.e., torture) is how the FBI intends to leverage the effects of isolation to achieve effects under their “rapport” paradigm. This psychological aspect of the use of isolation has not been generally publicized.

“The need for affiliation is one of the advantages the Interrogator has if a subject has been isolated from fellow detainees, “ the FBI “primer” states.  

In this matter, the FBI is following in the footsteps of the CITF doctrine it followed in DoD interrogations under an October 2003 directive that stated, “The use of isolation facilities will not be employed as an interrogation tactic; however, on a case-by-case basis it can be used as an incentive.” Perversely, the use of isolation under this directive was supposed to be “approved” by the detainee.

The KUBARK manual describes the anxieties, emotional discomfort and psychological regression that follow from enforced isolation, and how the interrogator exploits this situation (italics added for emphasis):

“As the interrogator becomes linked in the subject's mind with the reward of lessened anxiety, human contact, and meaningful activity, and thus with providing relief for growing discomfort, the questioner assumes a benevolent role….

“At the same time, the calculated provision of stimuli during interrogation tends to make the regressed subject view the interrogator as a father figure. The result, normally, is a strengthening of the subject's tendencies toward compliance.”

The Appendix M Torture Virus Spreads to FBI Doctrine

Writing in an August 2 letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller, ACLU Director Laura Murphy and Legislative Counsel Devon Chaffee make the important connection between FBI policy on using isolation and current Department of Defense interrogation policy.

As official interrogation doctrine of the Obama administration, Army Field Manual FM 2-22.3 (AFM), Human Intelligence Collector Operations made use of isolation part of their “Separation” technique, as described in its Appendix M.

Murphy and Chaffee write:

“By recommending that FBI agents ask the U.S. military to isolate detainees in its custody, the FBI primer appears to be encouraging the application of Appendix M of the Army’s interrogation manual—a controversial, restricted appendix that allows detainee isolation only in certain circumstances not involving prisoners of war. The FBI primer states that in a Department of Defense facility ‘a formal request from the FBI must be made to isolate the detainee’ and that this request ‘must be approved by the first O-6 in the chain of command.’ Appendix M of the military’s interrogation manual (which requires O-7 level approval) permits the use of isolation—as well as the placement of goggles, blindfolds, and earmuffs on the detainee—to ‘foster a feeling of futility.’ Experienced interrogators and human rights groups, however, have called for Appendix M to be revoked, questioning the technique’s effectiveness and highlighting the risk that its use will lead to serious human rights abuses.”

The abusive techniques of Appendix M, which also includes sleep deprivation and allowed environmental manipulations, along with the AFM’s allowance for use of fear techniques and even use of drugs, were approved in a 2006 Office of Legal Counsel memorandum for the files (PDF) by torture memo author Steven Bradbury.

Although President Obama, with the advice of Attorney General Eric Holder, revoked the 2002, 2005 and a few other OLC Bush-era torture memos, the administration never revoked the memo on Appendix M.
Use of isolation was something the FBI adopted early on, and its use was in evidence even in the early days at Guantanamo, where FBI Special Agent Ali Soufan was in charge of the interrogation of Mohamed Al Qahtani. While Al Qahtani’s interrogation was later the subject of an escalation of use of torture techniques by the military, which was itself a matter of some protest within DoD and FBI circles, while the FBI was in charge, Soufan had Al Qahtani placed in harsh isolation.

Soufan went so far as to remove Al Qahtani from the usual cellblock and built a special cell for him alone, meant to duplicate the hard isolation conditions Jose Padilla had been placed into in a Charleston, South Carolina Navy brig. When Soufan, NCIS Chief Psychologist Mark Gelles, and others protested use of other techniques of physical and psychological torture on Al Qahtani, their alternate proposal was to put the already near-psychotic and ailing prisoner in months more intense isolation.

The use of isolation to break prisoners has a long history. When two former prisoners in the USSR gulags, writing under the pen names F. Beck and W. Godin, published their account of Soviet torture in 1951 in a book entitled Russian Purge and the Extraction of Confession, they described the use of isolation at the start of their detention by the Stalin secret police:

“When a man was arrested he was completely isolated from the outside world….

“Each prisoner was carefully isolated from fellow prisoners who knew him. Consultation with defense counsel was unheard of, and in the overwhelming majority of cases no defense of any kind was permitted.” (pp. 40-41)

American sociologist Albert Biderman studied the effects of coercive interrogation on prisoners. His famous “chart of coercion” was taught to interrogators at Guantanamo. With its emphasis on isolation to deprive the prisoner of all social report and the will to resist, it could be a blueprint for modern FBI interrogation, minus Biderman’s emphasis on induction of debility.

For instance, Biderman’s chart describes demonstrating interrogator “omnipotence” and the use of threats and degradation of the prisoner. The FBI manual explicitly allows AFM “techniques” that play exactly on this, including “Emotional Fear Up,” “Emotional Pride and Ego Down,” “Emotional Futility,” and “The All Seeing Eye or We Know All.”

Changes in Procedures for Law Enforcement Interviews Overseas

Unremarked by the ACLU or other commentators is the FBI manual’s Annex B, “Conducting Custodial Law Enforcement Interviews Overseas.” The first FBI concern is evidence tainted by torture (though they don’t use the word “torture” anywhere in the document, at least in its redacted form).

The FBI counterterrorism Section Chief notes, drily, “Given the extensive media coverage of interrogation activities at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Bagram and other facilities the threshold is particularly high for establishing that any statement you obtained overseas was not coerced in some way.”

Three sentences in the document are then redacted, and the text continues, “The assumption of the court may be that you used prior knowledge of the subject’s statements to obtain a statement which you are asserting is admissible even if you did not confront the subject with information he previously provided. Always keep in mind that you may one day be on the stand swearing that you had no knowledge of the subjects previous statements during intelligence interviews.” [Bold emphasis in original]

A second concern is the videotaping of interrogations. Recognizing that DoD routinely videotapes all interrogations, the FBI manual infers that the government may destroy or has destroyed such interrogation recordings.

“This creates a tremendous suppression hearing issue,” the FBI notes, “because the defense will become aware that the U.S Government (USG) taped the interview but the tape cannot be provided to the defense if a copy was not retained. The obvious accusation will be that the tape was destroyed to hide the fact that the confession was coerced. Seek out information on the videotaping policy for any facility you work in and document it.”

A third concern is the reading of rights to a subject held by a DoD or a foreign power, while emphasizing that the FBI agent has “no control” over such detainees and how they are held. While it requires the agents to document the subject’s condition, the manual does not forbid agents from interrogating subjects held in tortuous or cruel, degrading or inhuman conditions. In fact, the FBI manual’s section about “Recommended practices” regarding agents in such situations is entirely redacted.

A further distortion of normal FBI functioning concerns the advice of rights given to interrogation subjects held by DoD or another state.  The FBI uses a “modified advice of rights” form in such cases, which begins with standard wording regarding the right to remain silent, to have an attorney present.

The “modified” rights form continues:

“If you cannot afford lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning, if you wish.

“Our ability to provide you with counsel at this time, however, may be limited by the decisions of local authorities or the availability of an American or qualified attorney.”

The “modified” form concludes the same as the FBI standard form, informing the individual that even if they talk without an attorney present, they “have the right to stop answering at any time.”

The modification of procedure is necessary because, as the FBI manual states, “there is no way that a detainee in DOD or foreign custody will be allowed access to an American defense attorney…”


The FBI is often contrasted with the military and the CIA in regards to its use of abusive procedures during interrogation. While eschewing “enhanced interrogation” techniques that amount to torture, such as waterboarding, close confinement, and stress positions, the FBI relies instead on psychological manipulations of “rapport” building procedures, while using the harsh pressure of isolation and sensory deprivation to break down the prisoner psychologically.

Isolation itself is a form of sensory deprivation, and is described as such in the KUBARK manual.

This form of psychological torture is added to standard police techniques, and in particular a form of interrogation procedure known as the Reid Technique. The FBI manual references several times the 1963 work on this technique, Criminal interrogation and confessions.

A 2009 study of this kind of interrogation technique in the journal Legal and Criminological Psychology found “innocent people are sometimes induced to confess to crimes they did not commit as a function of certain dispositional vulnerabilities or the use of overly persuasive interrogation tactics.”

These are exactly the tactics the FBI uses, though they are then supercharged via use of isolation of a prisoner, which, as the FBI itself notes, “advantages” the interrogator by playing off the human need for “affiliation” or communication with others. Modern psychological and neuroscience investigators understand that this “need” is hard-wired in the brain, and deprivation of such social stimulation is a direct attack on the nervous system of the individual.

The failure to hold anyone accountable for the use of torture by U.S. officials, including accountability for those who planned and sanctioned such torture, meant that forms of torture were institutionalized in U.S. policy documents, such as the Army Field Manual.

The declassification of this FBI interrogation manual has allowed us to understand that such institutionalization has extended as well to the Department of Justice and the FBI. 

[This article has been altered to reflect feedback from Col. Steven Kleinman received after the story was first published.]

Cross-posted at MyFDL/Firedoglake

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