Saturday, February 18, 2006

VIDEO & PICS: More of new Abu Ghraib photos & how methods developed

The only place to see all of the new photos is in the real player video of the story, which includes the first video clips from inside the prison I've seen. You definitely need moving pictures to capture a guy banging his head against a door he's chained to.

The good news is that these were leaked by people in the Army who are repulsed by this and the policies that allowed it to happen, and therefore may rebel against other orders that do our country more harm than good.

The official Bush administration position is that this is old news and those who are responsible are being punished.

But consider these things:

Rumsfeld authorized these techniques:

the use hoods, stress positions, isolation, stripping naked, deprivation of light, removal of religious items, forced grooming, and menacing with dogs.

Our current attorney general approved this White House torture memo:

Torture, the memo says, "must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death."

Both definitions violate the Geneva Convention, American laws, and the Army Field Manual on Interrogations which states that the guiding principle is the Golden Rule--treat your prisoners the way you would want ours treated.

Bush himself has said we don't torture, but when John McCain wrote an amendment simply requiring the military to follow their own interrogation manual and not torture people, Bush first asked for an exception for the CIA and then, rather than make his first veto of a prohibition of torture, accompanied his signature with a signing statement saying he could ignore this law whenever he chooses.

This business of issuing signing statements that contradict the plain sense of laws Congress passes is what Samuel Alito meant when he used the term "unitary executive" in his confirmation to the Supreme Court; he meant the president can do whatever the hell he wants and it's legal. Like term limits and balanced budgets, conservatives will suddenly change their mind about this if there's a Democratic president.

The first link on this is best and you can only see some of the pics there. It requires real player though, so if the player doesn't open automatically,you may need to copy the URL and paste it into real player. The slideshow link has the same clip in flash player.




Democracy Now did three stories on these new photos. The most compelling was on the history of the development of these methods which started around the same time as the governments research into using drugs, hypnosis, electro-shock and other methods mind control. Ironically, those more exotic ones proved less effective than a couple of simpler ones: sensory deprivation, self-inflicted injury, and culturally based humiliation. One university researching sensory deprivation found they could induce psychosis within 48 hours by cutting off light, sound, and touch.

The researcher also goes into more detail of the mind control program, MKULTRA, and his research into CIA involvement in the drug trade in Southeast Asia, which is gripping stuff. Audio and video is available too.

Even these methods are relatively useless for obtaining information, but since at least 60% of the detainees at Abu Ghraib were innocent, it is far more likely this was done to incite fear in the general public or recruit informers as the guy in the famous Christ pose photo said he was pressured to become.



Friday, February 17th, 2006

Professor McCoy Exposes the History of CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror


From 1950 to 1962, the C.I.A. ran a massive research project, a veritable Manhattan Project of the mind, spending over $1 billion a year to crack the code of human consciousness, from both mass persuasion and the use of coercion in individual interrogation. And what they discovered -- they tried LSD, they tried mescaline, they tried all kinds of drugs, they tried electroshock, truth serum, sodium pentathol. None of it worked. What worked was very simple behavioral findings, outsourced to our leading universities -- Harvard, Princeton, Yale and McGill -- and the first breakthrough came at McGill. And it's in the book. And here, you can see the -- this is the -- if you want show it, you can. That graphic really shows -- that's the seminal C.I.A. experiment done in Canada and McGill University --

AMY GOODMAN: Describe it.

ALFRED McCOY: Oh, it's very simple. Dr. Donald O. Hebb of McGill University, a brilliant psychologist, had a contract from the Canadian Defense Research Board, which was a partner with the C.I.A. in this research, and he found that he could induce a state of psychosis in an individual within 48 hours. It didn't take electroshock, truth serum, beating or pain. All he did was had student volunteers sit in a cubicle with goggles, gloves and headphones, earmuffs, so that they were cut off from their senses, and within 48 hours, denied sensory stimulation, they would suffer, first hallucinations, then ultimately breakdown.

And if you look at many of those photographs, what do they show? They show people with bags over their head. If you look at the photographs of the Guantanamo detainees even today, they look exactly like those student volunteers in Dr. Hebb’s original cubicle.


Now, then the second major breakthrough that the C.I.A. had came here in New York City at Cornell University Medical Center, where two eminent neurologists under contract from the C.I.A. studied Soviet K.G.B. torture techniques, and they found that the most effective K.G.B. technique was self-inflicted pain. You simply make somebody stand for a day or two. And as they stand -- okay, you're not beating them, they have no resentment -- you tell them, “You're doing this to yourself. Cooperate with us, and you can sit down.” And so, as they stand, what happens is the fluids flow down to the legs, the legs swell, lesions form, they erupt, they separate, hallucinations start, the kidneys shut down.

Now, if you look at the other aspect of those photos, you’ll see that they're short-shackled -- okay? -- that they're long-shackled, that they're made -- several of those photos you just showed, one of them with a man with a bag on his arm, his arms are straight in front of him, people are standing with their arms extended, that's self-inflicted pain. And the combination of those two techniques -- sensory disorientation and self-inflicted pain -- is the basis of the C.I.A.'s technique.


Now, one of the things that Donald Rumsfeld did, right at the start of the war of terror, in late 2002, he appointed General Geoffrey Miller to be chief at Guantanamo, alright, because the previous commanders at Guantanamo were too soft on the detainees, and General Miller turned Guantanamo into a de facto behavioral research laboratory, a kind of torture research laboratory. And under General Miller at Guantanamo, they perfected the C.I.A. torture paradigm. They added two key techniques. They went beyond the universal sensory receptors of the original research. They added to it an attack on cultural sensitivity, particularly Arab male sensitivity to issues of gender and sexual identity.

And then they went further still. Under General Miller, they created these things called “Biscuit” teams, behavioral science consultation teams, and they actually had qualified military psychologists participating in the ongoing interrogation, and these psychologists would identify individual phobias, like fear of dark or attachment to mother, and by the time we're done, by 2003, under General Miller, Guantanamo had perfected the C.I.A. paradigm, and it had a three-fold total assault on the human psyche: sensory receptors, self-inflicted pain, cultural sensitivity, and individual fears and phobia.

AMY GOODMAN: And then they sent General Miller to, quote, "Gitmo-ize" Abu Ghraib. Professor McCoy, we’re going to break for a minute, and then we'll come back. Professor Alfred McCoy, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His latest book is called A Question of Torture: C.I.A. Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror.



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