You are browsing the archive for Interrogation.

Serious Questions About Wikileaks’ Release of Purported Guantanamo SOP

5:17 pm in Military, Torture by Jeff Kaye

On October 25, 2012, Wikileaks began to release what they indicated would be “more than 100 classified or otherwise restricted files from the United States Department of Defense covering the rules and procedures for detainees in U.S. military custody.” They labeled the release “The Detainee Policies.”

One of the first documents released was of the purported 2002 Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). According to the accompanying press release, this was “the foundation document for Guantanamo Bay (‘Camp Delta’).” Julian Assange is quoted in the press release as saying, “This document is of significant historical importance…. how is it that WikiLeaks has now published three years of Guantanamo Bay operating procedures, but the rest of the world’s press combined has published none?”

Assange, who has been fighting extradition to Sweden, and currently resides under asylum protection at the Ecuadoran embassy in London, also challenged the press and the public to read and analyze the documents. “Publicize your findings,” he asked.

But over three months later, there has been essentially zero analysis. Even though the Wikileaks “Detainee Policies” release had extensive world-wide coverage in the press and blogosphere, outside of a few tweets, there’s been practically no follow-up investigation of these documents.

The non-coverage after the initial release is in itself astounding, but even more surprising is the fact that when examined some of the documents appear to be problematic and of doubtful provenance. (In addition, strangely, the documents do not allow cut and paste commands to accurately reproduce text, which is not typical of Wikileaks documents.)

Sadly – since a good deal of reporters, myself included, have come to rely on the accuracy of what Wikileaks has posted over the years – an examination of the Camp Delta 2002 SOP raises serious reasons as to whether it is a reliable document. At best it is a very corrupted draft of an authentic document. At worst, it is a sloppy forgery.

In addition, there are further questions about other documents released as part of “The Detainee Policies,” as well questions as to whether Wikileaks personnel understood the material they were releasing. In the past, Wikileaks has used the resources of major media like the New York Times, the UK Guardian, El Pais, etc., and independent authoritative analysts, like Andy Worthington, for outside analytic assistance.

Wikileaks has been under significant economic and legal pressure from the US government and its corporate and other governmental allies, and it is no secret that the organization operates under serious constraints as a result. According to the organization, “An extrajudicial blockade imposed by VISA, MasterCard, PayPal, Bank of America, and Western Union that is designed to destroy WikiLeaks has been in place since December 2010.”

Whatever Wikileaks has accomplished in other document releases and analysis, the failure to accurately report or vet the “Detainee Policies” documents, by either Wikileaks or the world press and blogging community, calls into dire question the accuracy of a good deal of what passes for reporting by media outlets and commentators.

The only expert I could find who had anything to say about the Camp Delta SOP document was Almerindo Ojeda, who posted a link to the purported “Standing [sic] Operating Procedures” at the website for the Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas (CSHRA), along with his caveats on the document. Ojeda’s own independent analysis largely concurred with my own.

What Did Wikileaks Release?

We cannot know the source of the documents Wikileaks released. So any analysis of the documents must rely on a close textual perusal of the documents themselves. And thanks to Wikileaks, who released the 2003 and 2004 Camp Delta SOPs a few years ago, we can contrast and compare very similar documents.

The “2002” Camp Delta SOP does not look like other DoD documents of this type. It has no markings regarding its classification status, for instance. The formatting is often erratic, with whole paragraphs published with centered rather than justified or left aligned text. There is a good deal of missing, mispaginated, and misordered text. A number of pages begin with text that does not follow logically from the preceding page.

There’s no doubt we are not looking at the SOP itself, even if we were to grant it was a genuine document. The Wikileaks document is not presented in the discrete pages of an actual document, but as a long running text document, as if from a word processor, with headings within the text indicating what page number out of 48 supposed pages a given block of text represents.

In addition, the page headers do not appear at the top or bottom of actual pages, but are interspersed within the text. The text itself does not go beyond “Page 47 of 48″. The Wikileaks description of the document itself at the home page for the “Detention Poliicies” states that the document has 33 pages.

What Wikileaks calls the “Main [2002] SOP for Camp Delta, Guantanamo” states on its first page that it is a revision dated November 11, 2002. The subsequent SOP for Camp Delta is dated March 23, 2003, approximately five and one-half months later. That SOP, according to its text, was “reorganized” from the previous SOP, so it could consolidate “all aspects of detention and security operations” so the SOP could be “more efficient for its intended users.”

Indeed, the new Wikileaks release of the purported 2002 Camp Delta SOP refers to separate SOPs for relating to detainee matters in relation to the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as one for the “Use of IRF”. IRF refers to “Internal Reaction Force,” which according to this latest Wikileaks release is a 24 hour force available for “possible emergency response situations.” Over the years, the IRF teams have been implicated in brutal beatings of prisoners and violent cell extractions.

The Wikileaks press release for the Detention Policies states, “The ’Detainee Policies’ provide a more complete understanding of the instructions given to captors as well as the ’rights’ afforded to detainees.” It also asks “lawyers, NGOs, human rights activists and the public to mine the ’Detainee Policies’” and “to research and compare the different generations of SOPs and FRAGOs to help us better understand the evolution in these policies and why they have occurred.”

Unfortunately, at least in the case of the purported 2002 Camp Delta SOP, it is unclear just what this document represents. Was it a faulty reconstruction of the original document, a draft of the SOP, a forgery based on some knowledge of the material? We can’t know.

Another problem with the initial analysis by Wikileaks concerns unfamiliarity with the larger world of relevant documents on interrogation. For instance, in their press release, Wikileaks touts one document as revealing “a formal policy of terrorising detainees during interrogations.” This 13-page interrogation policy document from 2005 describes interrogation policies “that apply to… all personnel in the Multi-National Force–Iraq (MNF–I). Wikileaks points out as examples of “exploitative techniques” the use of “‘approved’ ‘interrogation approaches’” such as “Emotional Love Approach” and “Fear Up (Harsh).”

While it is interesting to see that these interrogation techniques were applicable to the MNF-I, they are not, as the press release implies, new or unique “interrogation approaches,” but are drawn from the Army Field Manual (AFM) for Intelligence Interrogation in use at that time. That particular version of the AFM came out in 1992. The two “approaches” remain in the current AMF as well, which was significantly updated in September 2006.

While Wikileaks may be wrong about the significance of discovering the use of Fear Up and other problematic techniques, the organization is correct that these are abusive techniques. In fact, such techniques in use by the Department of Defense’s interrogation manual only got worse after it was updated, with the addition of techniques of sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation that were not allowed in the earlier AFM, nor indeed, in the MNF-I document Wikileaks released. They are, however, allowed by the current Obama administration.

Wikileaks Responds

Read the rest of this entry →

Government’s Psychological Evaluation of Manssor Arbabsiar Fails to Impress

2:31 pm in Terrorism by Jeff Kaye

Manssor Arbabsiar

Gregory B. Saathoff M.D. is the latest mental health professional to weigh in on the Manssor Arbabsiar case. Marcy Wheeler at Emptywheel has been dissecting aspects of Saathoff’s narrative of events surrounding Arbabsiar’s interrogation and confession (see here, here, and here).

I want to look more closely at the claims Saathoff makes in an October 3 “Forensic Psychiatric Evaluation” on Arbabsiar’s mental status, symptoms and diagnosis. The evaluation was dated the same day as a government memorandum arguing against a defense motion to dismiss or suppress evidence drawn from Arbabsiar’s interrogation. The reason for such dismissal or suppression? The defense presented expert opinion that Arbabsiar had been in a manic episode during the period of his interrogation, having a previously undiagnosed case of Bipolar Disorder. As a result, he was not in his right mind when he waived presentment (presentation before a judicial official) and his Miranda rights.

For those who have forgotten, Arbabsiar is Iranian-born, but a U.S. naturalized citizen, a Texas used car salesman with a cousin in the Iranian Quds force. According to U.S. prosecutors, in 2011, Arbabsiar contacted a confidential DEA informant in Mexico, and, believing he was talking to someone in a Mexican drug cartel, arranged the assassination of Saudi ambassador Adel al-Jubeir. But the assassination and other alleged terrorist plots, of course, never took place, and Arbabsiar was detained in Mexico, flown to the U.S. and interrogated by the FBI at (it turns out) an undisclosed military base from September 29 to October 10, 2011.

Here’s Saathoff quoting FBI Special Agent Shalabi about what the latter called Arbabsiar’s “erratic” behavior during his “confession” in the early morning hours of October 3:

FBI SA Shalabi recalled in a September 7, 2012 interview that after having observed Mr. Arbabsiar sleeping soundly, Mr. Arbabsiar awakened at 3 am and expressed concerns about jail. “The first thing out of his mouth was “What is jail like in the United States? How harsh are the conditions? What should I expect?” After going into the bathroom [where elsewhere we learn he "washed his shirt in the bathroom sink" - JK], Mr. Arbabsiar came back out into the living area, and FBI SA Shalabi recalled Mr. Arbabsiar’s statements and behavior:

“You know what I did?” And I said “no”. Then on his own accord, without me asking, (I decided to keep my mouth shut) he told me he was in big trouble. Had gotten involved in big politics. Wife had a lot of financial demands. Son’s pregnant girlfriend added more to the stress. So he told me that he decided to go to Iran to solicit more help for [his] family… He said that his cousin was a “big general”, [who] was “senior” with decision-making powers. [He was] Approached by cousin to then give money to kill the Saudi Ambassador. As he was telling me this, he reflected back on the whole situation. As he told me the story, [as] he said that, he looked upset and [said that he] had been used by his cousin. Then he went back to smoking [elsewhere Arbabsiar is described as smoking four packs a day - JK], tossed and turned, and then fell asleep.

For the U.S. it was a propaganda coup, for it claimed that someone in the Iranian government was planning or instigating a terrorist attack in the U.S. against a foreign diplomat. The hawks in the U.S. government squawked loudly and long.

No one ever seems to notice that the only foreign diplomat ever actually assassinated in the U.S. was former Chilean ambassador to the U.S., Orlando Letelier, murdered in Washington D.C. in 1973 by order of the government of Augusto Pinochet. The hit man was Michael Townley, an agent for Chile’s intelligence directorate (DINA) who also worked for the CIA. In 2000, it was revealed that the mastermind of the terrorist attack, which also killed Letelier’s assistant, Ronnie Moffett, was Chilean intelligence chief Manuel Contreras, and he, too, was a paid asset of the CIA.

In the case against Arbabsiar, the evidence seems sketchy. Wheeler points out that Saathoff’s report explains the DEA informant Arbabsiar is supposed to have contacted “had a younger sister with whom he had a sexual relationship in 1992, while he was married to his third wife”! What a coincidence, one might say.

But particularly damaging to the government are the questions surrounding the veracity of his confession, which was attacked by top mental health experts brought in by the defense, who stated Arbabsiar, who had waived his rights within hours of capture (while possibly jonesing terribly for a cigarette), suffered from bipolar disorder and was not able to make a reasoned decision about his rights or actions.

Bipolar Disorder with “Impaired Cognitive Functioning”

Read the rest of this entry →

Ex-Guantanamo Detainee Fights Back Against Gitmo Lies in New Wikileaks Release

9:48 am in Military, Torture by Jeff Kaye

The new release of Guantánamo documents from Wikileaks is a veritable Sargasso Sea of lies, half-truths, undigested intel, and tortured “evidence.” I do not cheer this particular release, as the energy it will take to set the record straight will be mammoth, and most of the detainees have no one in their corner to rescue the truth from U.S. government lies. One who has been fighting for years to tell the truth about the Guantánamo detainees is Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files, and I was heartened to see that Wikileaks made him the sole “partner” in their media release of the records.

A former prisoner who has been trying to get his story out is former Guantánamo internee David Hicks. Released as part of deal to plead guilty in the military commissions trials, Hicks has returned to his native Australia to heal from the years of torture he endured at the U.S. Naval Base prison. He has written a book on his experiences, but no publisher has seen fit to release it in the United States. So unless one wishes to purchase and ship it from Australia, you will have to make do with the excellent interview of Hicks by Jason Leopold at Truthout earlier this year.

After the release of Wikileaks Guantánamo Files Detainee Assessment Brief on Hicks, a group that is working to support him and clear his name released a statement last night. In the name of clarifying the lies retailed by JTF Guantánamo personnel, I’m going to post most of their document, as a matter of public record, and to give readers an opportunity to see how poisoned the Guantánamo “record” is on these prisoners.

The Hicks assessment file from Guantánamo is dated September 17, 2004. He was released from Guantanamo in May 2007, having pleaded guilty to the U.S. favorite all-purpose charge of providing “material support for terrorism.” In the Guantánamo document, Hicks is portrayed as having “direct involvement with senior Al-Qaida leadership, including Usama Bin Laden.” He is portrayed as “a highly skilled and advanced combatant, as well as a valuable asset and possible leader for extremist organizations.”

Here is the response from the Hicks camp:

The file released on the Wikileaks website only confirms the inaccuracy of information that has been released by the former U.S. administration to the public in relation to David Hicks. The incompetence of the interrogators to obtain reliable and factual information is clear – they failed get Mr Hicks’ name correct, where he was captured, or the name of their own Navy ship – even when utilising interrogation techniques tantamount to torture. Much of the inaccuracies in the file have been addressed in Mr Hicks’ book, however, following is a list for your convenience.

➢ David Hicks’ middle name is Matthew, not Michael
➢ Jama’at Al Tablighi is a peaceful Islamic organisation – this has long been confirmed
➢ Mr Hicks has at no time flown to East Timor – to engage in hostilities, or otherwise
➢ LeT ["the Pakistan-based Kashmiri separatist group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba"] was not listed as a terrorist organisation until 2002, long after Mr Hicks had been detained. The report confirms that no member of LeT had engaged in a terrorist act- they allege an intention, which there is no evidence of. As Mr Hicks explains in his book, LeT dissolved after 2001. The group that calls themselves LeT now is not the same group as it was over a decade ago as it is made up of different people.
➢ Allegations of meeting senior al-Qaeda leadership – Mr Hicks explains in his book that did not hear the word al-Qaeda until he reached Guantanamo Bay – and this was from the mouth of an interrogator. Mr Hicks has not met any people by the names of Abu-Hufs or Mohammed Atef, and the U.S. has not provided any evidence of this.
➢ Mr Hicks did not go to Bagram at all – Mr Hicks was captured by the Northern Alliance at a Taxi stand in Baglan on his way back to Australia. He was then sold to the U.S. for approximately US$5000.
➢ There is no such ship as the Pettiloo – Mr Hicks was transferred to two U.S. Navy ships, the U.S.S. Bataan and the U.S.S Peleliu- what they failed to mention in this report was the 10 hour beatings inflicted on Mr Hicks and the other detainees, and the photos depicting Hicks naked with a bleeding wound on his head due to having his head rammed into the tarmac several times.
➢ As for the report stating that Mr Hicks ‘admitted’ to being a member of al-Qaeda – Any and all statements were obtained under torture, this is why he was not taken through a regularly constituted court. In the final Military Commissions hearing, David’s legal team submitted what is called the Alford Plea. This is a US based plea in which an accused person can agree to plead guilty whilst maintaining innocence. David has always maintained his innocence and strongly denies that he was involved with any terrorist organisations- he did what he had to do to come home.
➢ The report alleges that Mr Hicks led in prayer and was held in high regard by other Guantanamo detainees – Mr Hicks cannot speak Arabic, and his knowledge of the religion would not qualify him to lead prayer. Some detainees thought that Mr Hicks was a spy, so any allegation that he was a leader is simply outrageous.
➢ Any allegation that Mr Hicks was unruly or created disturbances is simply untrue. Former Guantanamo bay guard, Brandon Neely who was on the ground with Mr Hicks has confirmed this recently (link below).
➢ As documents have revealed, detainees were forced to take medication and David was injected in the spine (see link)
➢ All charges that they quote in the document and the Military Commissions process were ruled as unconstitutional and illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court. Even the final Military Commissions Act of 2006 has been replaced by President Obama due to the unfairness of the system, and the fact that it did not establish a legitimate legal framework.
➢ The report alleges that if Mr Hicks is released, he would be a threat to the U.S. and its allies – Mr Hicks has been a free member of society for over three years, and has proven this to be completely false.

Mr Hicks has never been accused of hurting anyone, participating in, supporting, preparing for or knowing of a terrorist act. The final charge in the Military Commissions hearing was one count under the material support for terrorism charge- which was foreign to Australian and international law- that did not accuse him of personally supporting terrorism, rather, it was alleged that he supported an organisation that supported terrorism. Of note is the fact that it has never been proven that the camps he attended were in fact al-Qaeda. Mr Hicks has never gone through a fair trial process.

This document shows that even back in 2004, Mr Hicks was not suspected and/or accused of hurting any person, or involved in any terrorist acts. The Australian government has always maintained that Mr Hicks has not broken any Australian Law.

One hopes the rest of the Guantánamo detainees get such a chance to respond, and we owe a debt of gratitude to David Hicks’ supporters for showing just how mendacious and unreliable these reports out of Guantánamo are. I’ll note in passing that the Australian group also presents as evidence of forced medication an article by Jason Leopold and I on the administration of treatment doses of the controversial antimalarial drug mefloquine on all incoming detainees at Guantánamo, from January 2002 onward.

The U.S. Government Responds

Former Guantánamo guard Brandon Neely, who knew David Hicks personally, told me today that “If you didn’t know about Gitmo, and looked at these files, you’d think everyone was guilty.” And that is precisely the point about the summaries being released. They are prosecution amalgams of assorted “facts,” many of them obtained under torture, for the purpose of justifying the unjustifiable incarceration of hundreds of innocent men. If there are terrorists or criminals in this bunch, and no doubt there are some, the case against them is irrevocably soiled both for standard judicial proceedings (hence the turn to kangaroo court military commissions), and in the eyes of history.

The Defense Department and State Department have put out a joint press release of their own, stating that the Guantánamo Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs) were “obtained illegally” by Wikileaks, and that they “were written based on a range of information available” between 2002 and 2009.

The Guantanamo Review Task Force, established in January 2009, considered the DABs during its review of detainee information. In some cases, the Task Force came to the same conclusions as the DABs. In other instances the Review Task Force came to different conclusions, based on updated or other available information. The assessments of the Guantanamo Review Task Force have not been compromised to WikiLeaks. Thus, any given DAB illegally obtained and released by WikiLeaks may or may not represent the current view of a given detainee.

The press release concludes that the U.S. government “will continue to work with allies and partners around the world to mitigate threats to the U.S. and other countries and to work toward the ultimate closure of the Guantanamo detention facility, consistent with good security practices and our values as a nation.”

The mendaciousness of this statement cannot be overemphasized. In fact, the U.S. has given up on its attempts to close Guantánamo, and there is to be no accounting for the torture done in its “work with allies and partners around the world,” nor for the torture and mistreatment meted out by the CIA and Department of Defense. The ACLU has written in a press release today that the Wikileaks document release “underscores the need for independent judicial review of the cases of men being held at Guantánamo.”

Perhaps if nothing else, the Wikileaks release will put the lies and crimes of the U.S. government back into the headlines for a time, and the issue of investigations and prosecutions for crimes of torture and murder will again touch the public mind. If only this time, something at long last would be done to address these crimes.

For more on the Wikileaks release, Marcy Wheeler is dissecting their strange concatenation of lies over at Emptywheel. ProPublica has also posted a review of some other ways in which the public record on Guantánamo and the CIA black sites is being distorted and rewritten.

I’ve written an article now posted at Truthout that looks at an otherwise little commented-upon aspect of the Wikileaks document release: Guantanamo Detainee Reports Hint at Psychological Research, Production of False Intel and Informing as “Areas of Potential Exploitation”.

Update, 5/16/11: The group of Hicks’s supporters campaigning for “an independent investigation into the David Hicks case, with special consideration given to allegations of torture and the political interference associated with his eventual plea deal,” have a website, The Justice Campaign. The group was formed by The Hon John Dowd AO QC, President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Australia.

AP Repeats Fable: “CIA never had been in the interrogation and detention business”

5:29 pm in Military, Torture by Jeff Kaye

In an otherwise interesting article summarizing much of what is wrong with the non-accountability policies of the U.S. state when it comes to punishing its torturers, Associated Press reporters Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo repeat in passing an old canard about the CIA’s previous activities in regards to interrogation.

The CIA had never been in the interrogation and detention business, so agency lawyers, President George W. Bush’s White House and the Justice Department were writing the rules as they went.

While the comment may have been made in passing, and Goldman and Apuzzo mindlessly accepted a piece of history they were told, the significance of the statement is of more than passing interest, as it provides the framework for understanding the entire episode of torture and detention in the Bush II years, not to mention what is happening now under President Obama, at least in regards to the CIA. The article doesn’t mention that key Pentagon officials, not least Donald Rumsfeld, who has a self-serving and well-publicized biography just published, and many generals, admirals, and other officers, as well as officials of the Defense Intelligence Agency and JSOC, have also escaped punishment for their actions in the Defense Department torture and detention scandal.

As the article points out, a number of key CIA officials in the Obama administration were themselves key actors in the rendition and torture program of the CIA. Marcy Wheeler has nicely summarized Goldman and Apuzzo’s list. But the intrepid AP reporters — they spend a couple of paragraphs explaining why they took the supposedly courageous step of mentioning the first names of CIA agents (pseudonyms anyway, at least in one case that I know of) — are off the mark in believing this non-accountability is something new. The promotions and the rewards are standard operating procedure for a government that has used the CIA as a praetorian guard and shock troops for U.S. control abroad.

Not in the Interrogation Business? How About KUBARK?

There have been a number of excellent histories of CIA research into and operational use of torture. One of the most recent was Professor Alfred McCoy’s A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror. Another excellent resource is H.P. Albarelli’s long investigation into the CIA killing of DoD Special Operations Division researcher Frank Olson, published last year. (Albarelli also was the fascinating subject of an FDL Book Salon last year, too.)

These authors, and there are plenty of others as well, detail the decades-long research project into coercive interrogation and torture that was undertaken by the CIA and the Defense Department, going back to the immediate post-World War II period. The research undertaken in such programs as Project Bluebird, Project Artichoke, MKULTRA, MKSEARCH, MKCHICKWIT and others, utilized both CIA and academic contract researchers to study the effects of drugs like mescaline and LSD, sensory deprivation, isolation (such as inflicted upon alleged Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning), stress positions, dietary and environmental manipulation, and numerous psychological and physical stressors on prisoners under their control.

The research was well-advanced by the early 1960s, when the CIA produced their secret manual of “Counterintelligence Interrogation.” Known as by its CIA in-house acronym KUBARK, one section of the manual is specifically dedicated to a discussion of “coercive counterintelligence interrogation of resistant sources.” CIA noted that “detention in a controlled environment and perhaps for a lengthy period is frequently essential to a successful counterintelligence interrogation of a recalcitrant source,” and mentions techniques such as “bodily harm”, “deprivation of sensory stimuli,” hypnosis, use of threats and fear, as well as situations where “medical, chemical, or electrical methods or materials are to be used to induce acquiescence.”

Even the use of photography in the torture of prisoners was discussed in the KUBARK manual, which noted “The interrogation room affords ideal conditions for photographing the interrogatee without his knowledge by concealing a camera behind a picture or elsewhere.”

The KUBARK methods were later used, along with Army manuals compiled from the U.S. military’s Vietnam experience — part of a still quite secretive “Project X” — into a “Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual” distributed by U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) to military and intelligence organizations in five Latin American countries (Peru, Columbia, Ecudaor, El Salvador, and Guatemala) in the 1980s. The Project X material had been stored at the Army intelligence center at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona.

The torture techniques were also taught, even as late as 1991, to military and intelligence officers from throughout Latin America at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia. For reference, see the DoD 1992 report on the Exploitation manuals delivered to then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney (PDF).

In 2002, SOUTHCOM became the military command responsible for oversight of the detention and torture policies at the new Guantanamo detention facilities. The provenance of the Guantanamo techniques from within the CIA can be clearly established, although military research and experimentation also played a significant role. The use of military torture survival schools (known today as SERE school) as laboratories for studying such techniques can be documented back to the 1950s.

CIA Detention Centers Predate the “War on Terror”

The CIA has had extensive experience in running detention centers, and was well-known for assisting and helping staff foreign military and intelligence services’ interrogation and detention centers. No full history of this activity is available, but there are plenty of references sprinkled about. An article by investigative journalist Douglas Valentine report quotes John Patrick Muldoon, “the first director of the CIA’s PIC [Province Intelligence Committee] Program in Vietnam,” that “[t]here was a joint KCIA-CIA interrogation center in Yon Don Tho, outside Seoul.”

The PIC program itself revolved around detention centers set up by the CIA in the hundreds across South Vietnam. The PICs became an integral part of the U.S. Phoenix Program, which tortured and murdered tens of thousands of people during its reign of terror in Vietnam.

In December 1970, U.S. and South Vietnamese forces captured a high North Vietnamese security officer, Nguyen Tai. According to the story as it is related on the CIA’s own website, Tai was tortured by the South Vietnamese, and resistant to this brutal treatment, he was taken into custody by the CIA, where he was held in CIA control for a number of years. His chief interrogator was “Peter Kapusta, a veteran CIA Soviet/Eastern Europe counterintelligence specialist with close ties to the famed and mysterious chief of CIA counter-intelligence, James Jesus Angleton.”

In early 1972, Tai was informed he was being taken to another location to be interrogated by the Americans. After being blindfolded, he was transported by car to an unknown location and placed in a completely sealed cell that was painted all in white, lit by bright lights 24 hours a day, and cooled by a powerful air-conditioner (Tai hated air conditioning, believing, like many Vietnamese, that cool breezes could be poisonous). Kept in total isolation, Tai lived in this cell, designed to keep him confused and disoriented, for three years without learning where he was.

The CIA has been involved in vetting and help establish entire intelligence establishments, from the Korean CIA to the former SAVAK of the Shah, to innumerable Latin American agencies. As John Marks has documented, the CIA even sent its psychologists to vet the operatives for use in these establishments.

On a smaller scale, the CIA has run a series of so-called “safe houses” that included small detention facilities. The recent reports concerning secret CIA prisons in Poland and Lithuania appear to describe facilities that are not much more than slightly elaborated or enlarged safe houses. For instance, the description of the New York and San Francisco “safe houses” used in the CIA’s MKULTRA experiment, Operation Midnight Climax, are highly suggestive of the kinds of regimes set up by the CIA in Thailand, Poland and elsewhere, complete with two-way mirrors, recording and bugging equipment, drugging facilities, etc.

Some researchers have charged the CIA with the use of “terminal experiments” at its various detention facilities, though this is hard to document (even if the discussion did reach the pre-9/11 pages of the New York Times).

It is very hard, if not impossible, to square the myth of CIA incompetence and inexperience with interrogation and running detention centers with the historical record. Goldman and Apuzzo are only repeating the establishment line concerning the CIA scandal, albeit, perhaps with good intentions, and with the aim of bringing some accountability to bear upon the process. But they and other reformers will be forever confused and stymied by the policies by high government officials protecting these torturers. In this, we see that responsibility for torture goes to the highest levels of the U.S. political establishment.

Soros’ Foundation Links AFM’s Appendix M to U.S. Torture in Afghanistan

8:23 pm in Uncategorized by Jeff Kaye

Last week, George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSF) published an important policy brief, “Confinement Conditions at a U.S. Screening Facility on Bagram Air Base.” The report has been widely described in the press, as in this article by AFP:

The US military is mistreating detainees — and violating its own rules — at a secret prison in Afghanistan, a US think tank said Friday in a report.

The 16-page report by the Open Society Foundation said Afghans call the secret site “Tor Jail,” or “Black Jail,” and that consistent accounts from detainees refer to being kept without adequate shelter or food or other basic rights.

The independent investigation by OSF is consistent with news reports of torture and abuse at secret black sites run by JSOC in Afghanistan, including articles by the New York Times and Washington Post. Last May, BBC reported that they received confirmation on the existence of the black site from a Red Cross spokesman, while Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic described the JOSC black site as being “manned by intelligence operatives and interrogators who work for the DIA’s Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center (DCHC)… [performing] interrogations for a sub-unit of Task Force 714, an elite counter-terrorism brigade.” The spate of news articles led Physicians for Human Rights to opine last May whether it was “possible that officials were relying on Appendix M of the 2006 Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations (AFM),” noting that the “appendix authorizes the use of two of the tactics — sleep deprivation and isolation — allegedly being applied to detainees.”

In an article for The Seminal, also posted last May, I noted that the Chief for Research for the DCHC’s Behavioral Science Program, psychologist Susan Brandon, was a primary organizer of a CIA/American Psychological Assocation/Rand Corporation workshop on “deception” in July 2003. This workshop asked questions about how to use sensory overload techniques and truth drugs to “overwhelm the senses” of prisoners, in order to detect deception. Scott Horton also picked up the connection between Brandon and the torture reports from Afghanistan. In a major investigative report at Truthout last week, Jason Leopold and I reported that changes in a DOD directive on human subjects experimentation protections signed by Paul Wolfowitz in March 2002 were implicated in “a top-secret Special Access Program at the Guantanamo Bay prison, which experimented on ways to glean information from unwilling subjects and to achieve ‘deception detection.’”

There is most likely much more to the detention story in Afghanistan than we know thus far, but the new OSF report is a welcome corroboration of most unwelcome and brutal facts about U.S. prisoner abuse and counterinsurgency practice in Afghanistan. But whether it’s AFP, AP, Reuters, BBC, or even Aljazeera, with only one exception, no press article on the OSF report indicated that as one of the OSF report’s “main findings” the abuse in the Bagram secret prison derives from the use of the Army Field Manual’s Appendix M. Appendix M is a portion of AFM dealing with prisoners who are held in other than Prisoner of War status. Appendix M techniques, concentrating on isolation, sleep and sensory deprivation, use of fear techniques, and ambiguous “prohibitions” on “extreme” environmental manipulations, amount to torture and/or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and they are in use today. Only my fellow psychologist and anti-torture activist, Stephen Soldz, noted this most salient finding of the OSF investigation.

A link to the Army Field Manual, with its Appendix M, can be downloaded in PDF format here.

Jonathan Horowitz, author of the OSF report (PDF), described how he determined the use of Appendix M techniques:

The interviewees consistently described being held in a location where they were interrogated and held in small single person cells that prohibited verbal and visual communication with other detainees. This strongly suggests that the detainees were “screened” and subjected to interrogation methods described in Appendix M of the U.S. Army’s Human Intelligence Collector Operations Field Manual 2-22.3, which allows detaining authorities to physically separate detainees from other detainees and the outside world for the purposes of intelligence gathering—a technique known as “separation.”

Horowitz’s mention of Appendix M is not incidental. It is mentioned on fifteen different occasions in the text of the report’s 16 pages. OSF is very specific about its concerns regarding the current Army Field Manual on interrogation:

Despite the government’s insistence that Appendix M meets the minimum requirements for the protection of detainees under international law, analysts from the Open Society Foundations have expressed concerns with Field Manual 2-22.3 prior to this research, especially with regard to its authorization of sleep deprivation, refusing to classify stress positions as torture, and the deletion of key policy statements that, prior to the 2006 update of the manual, had informed interrogators that “[e]xperience shows that the use of prohibited techniques is not necessary to gain the cooperation of interrogation sources.”14 As this report demonstrates, additional concerns with the Field Manual 2-22.3 are warranted….

Field Manual 2-22.3 states, “[w]hile using legitimate interrogation techniques, certain applications of approaches and techniques may approach the line between permissible actions and prohibited actions. It may often be difficult to determine where permissible actions end and prohibited actions begin.”

The report notes that the totality of conditions and interrogation abuses at the Tor (or “Black”) prison at Bagram call into question whether fair assessment of enemy status can be made by the new-fangled Detainee Review Boards, meaning God knows how many innocent people are being picked up and held as prisoners, awaiting the day that a viable Afghan court system can supposedly try these “insurgents”.

The Detainee Review Boards taking place at the DFIP [Detention Facility in Parwan] prohibit the submission of information and evidence obtained through the use of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. If detainees are being held in conditions at an interrogation facility that rises to this level of abuse, the information obtained from those detainees should be rejected by the Detainee Review Boards.

I have been writing on the serious, indeed criminal, problems with the Army Field Manual since the new version was introduced in September 2006. I wrote a major piece on the problems with it for AlterNet in January 2009, and have followed up with reporting at Firedoglake (see here and here, for example; also coverage at this site by Emptywheel/Marcy Wheeler and bmaz).

But this kind of exposure, and the work of others, like Matthew Alexander, Stephen Rickard, Physicians for Human Rights and Center for Constitutional Rights, among other, has not been enough to fix the centrality of the use of Appendix M torture in the general political consciousness of the population. This can be largely attributed to the massive silence by politicians on this issue, and the assurances of the Obama administration that the AFM and Appendix M are safe, legal, and humane. So when a complacent and cowardly press and blogosphere are faced with the truth of the situation emanating from an establishment source such as the Open Society Foundations, what do they do? They ignore the truth.

Such is America in 2010, lost, rudderless, obsessed with trivia, as a monstrous war/intelligence/surveillance apparatus lurches on to either conquest or disaster (or maybe both) in its overseas campaigns, oblivious to how many are killed (the U.S. claims it doesn’t keep track of the killed in Afghanistan), maimed, displaced, lives destroyed and national ideals trampled.

It’s time the campaign against Appendix M went mainstream.

Washington Post Rehabilitates Abu Zubaydah Torturer

9:32 pm in Uncategorized by Jeff Kaye

I haven’t been blogging much of late, as I’m working on a few big investigative pieces. The first, due out later this week at Truthout, will take up the issue of the involuntary drugging of detainees, previously the subject of a big Washington Post exposé in April 2008. Another article, on the build-up to the torture and experimentation program inside the Department of Defense in 2001-2002 (co-written with Jason Leopold) also will be out soon. Meanwhile, the news scans by, and while I can count on Marcy, Spencer, Leopold, Jim White, Jeff Stein and others to catch and comment on the most egregious stories, others simply scroll onwards without comment.

One such story concerns an article by Walter Pincus in the Washington Post at the end of last month. Entitled "Guide tells how terrorism suspect became informant," Pincus related the tale of a pre-9/11 interrogation described in "a newly disclosed 2009 teaching guide for government interrogators by the director of national intelligence’s Intelligence Science Board [ISB]." The guide recounts, among other examples, the interrogation of Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-Owhali, a suspect in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya that killed 218 people. Al-Owhali was later convicted for his part in the terrorist action, and sentenced to life without parole in May 2001.

The ISB study (PDF) was initially linked at Secrecy News, where Steven Aftergood calls the ISB "an official advisory group to the Director of National Intelligence." (A note at the Intelligence & Security Academy website describes the ISB as serving under the Director of Central Intelligence.) The purpose of the teaching study was to ostensibly examine "important recent examples of effective, non-coercive intelligence interviewing with high value detainees."

And non-coercive it certainly appears to be, as Pincus reports it. The FBI interrogator hands out butterscotch candy to suspects to build rapport. He shows a "’demonstrated appreciation’ for the Muslim beliefs of the suspect and the interpreter." He shares meals with Al-Owhali, and even when the interrogation falls into a "good cop, bad cop" pattern, the occurrence is supposedly unplanned. In the end, the hardened Al Qaeda terrorist gives in, telling his captors, "If you promise I’ll be tried in the United States, I’ll tell you everything. America is my enemy, not Kenya. I will tell you all about involvement with the bombings, bin Laden and al-Qaeda."

There are two things about the Pincus story that I thought important. For one thing, Pincus selectively chose the Al-Owhali case and ignored the other major "teaching" example, which involved initial physical torture, and three subsequent years of isolation and sensory deprivation of a prisoner. And then, as a second fact of some note, Pincus chose the story of Al-Owhali interrogator FBI Special Agent Stephen Gaudin without once mentioning the latter’s dubious role in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah.

A Tale of Two (FBI) Interrogators

The story of the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah in Thailand has been told now many times, in more than one version, and even still all the facts are not known. The Zubaydah interrogation was made famous as the purported experimental test case for the new "enhanced interrogation techniques" (EIT) of the CIA. The famous "second" Yoo/Bybee memo of August 1, 2002 was meant to authorize torture techniques on Zubaydah. The EITs, which included waterboarding, wall slamming, sleep deprivation, stress positions, insects in a confinement box, and more, were derived via reverse-engineering the torture techniques taught in the the "Resistance to Interrogation" classes of the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, or SERE survival schools.

One version of the story comes from the testimony of Ali Soufan, one of the FBI agents present at the Zubaydah interrogation. According to his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2009, he and his FBI compatriot (who turned out to be Stephen Gaudin), who had supposed great success eliciting information from Zubaydah using standard interrogation techniques, were appalled when James Mitchell and the Counter-Terrorism Center team arrived, and began to implement their harsh form of interrogation. Gaudin, Soufan and "a top CIA interrogator who was working with [them]" protested to their superiors, and the FBI pulled Soufan out. Gaudin stayed for a month or so longer, though Soufan never mentioned that. (Soufan’s testimony also touts as "successful" the elicitation of the supposed "dirty bomb" plot of Binyam Mohamed and Jose Padilla, intelligence that was later discredited, and Mohamed, at least, was released from Guantanamo last year.)

The 2008 Senate Armed Services Committee report (PDF) on detainee abuse was the product of the biggest and longest investigation of U.S. torture outside the Pentagon or the Executive Branch. In their report, Senator Carl Levin’s investigators gave a very different view of what went down in Thailand:

The FBI Special Agent [Soufan] told the DoJ Inspector General that he also "raised objections to these techniques to the CIA and told the CIA it was ‘borderline torture." According to the unclassified DoJ Inspector General’s report, a second FBI agent present [Gaudin] did not have a "’moral objection’" to the techniques and noted that he had "undergone comparable harsh interrogation techniques as part of the U.S. Army Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training."

[One short paragraph redacted]

(U) According to the DoJ Inspector General’s report, FBI Counterterrorism Assistant Director Pat D’Amuro gave the instruction to both FBI agents to "come home and not participate in the CIA interrogation." The first FBI Special Agent left immediately, but the other FBI agent remained until early June 2002.

In Jane Mayer’s version of events, recounted in her book, The Dark Side, she gives what is essentially Soufan’s version, and even states that both FBI agents, being appalled, left the interrogation, unable to stop the "experiment" that was the EITs. Even so, the SASC’s version is more authoritative, drawing as it does on the May 2008 Department of Justice Inspector General’s report (PDF) on "the FBI’s Involvement in and Observations of Detainee Interrogations in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq."

The DoJ IG Report is revealing about the actions of Soufan and Gaudin, called Thomas and Gibson in the report, respectively. Not only were these FBI agents present when the CIA arrived, but they participated in interrogations of Zubaydah when he had already been subjected to sleep deprivation, shackling, and stress positions. Indeed, the FBI had been instructed by their superiors when they arrived not to give Zubaydah any Miranda warnings. Even more, Gibson/Gaudin was singled out in the report for participating in the CIA’s use of the EITs, having been assured by the CIA that the techniques were "approved ‘at the highest levels’ and that [he] would not get in any trouble."

Yet, in the end, the IG report absolved Gibson/Gaudin of his participation in CIA torture, noting that at the time of the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah Gibson/Gaudin had received "no guidance" regarding participation in the CIA’s "non-FBI techniques". Instead he had been told that regular FBI procedure was not to be followed (no Miranda warning, no FD-302 interview summaries). As a result, the IG concluded that "under these circumstances, there was insufficient basis to conclude that Gibson’s cooperation with the CIA while the CIA was using non-FBI techniques on Zubaydah violated clear FBI policy." (See pp. 321-324 of the DoJ IG report.)

None of all this, of course, is mentioned in Pincus’s bright and glowing review of the al-Owhali interrogation. But even more, there’s nothing about this in the ISB’s own document, which presents the al-Owhali interrogation as a teaching exercise. That the ISB is disingenous about really reforming U.S. interrogation is made manifest by the other major interrogation case study presented in the report.

The ISB presents the story of Nguyen Tai, "the most senior North Vietnamese officer ever captured during the Vietnam War." After months of brutal torture by the South Vietnamese government — without the production of useful intelligence — Tai is turned over to U.S. interrogators, who keep Tai imprisoned in total isolation for three years, his room "painted all in white, lit by bright lights 24 hours a day, and cooled by a powerful air-conditioner." When some useful intel is finally "educed" out of Mr. Tai, the ISB commentary chalks this up to "the skillful questions and psychological ploys" of the American interrogators, never mentioning the deleterious effects that three years of psychological torture may have produced in the prisoner. Instead, the ISB intones there was no "physical infliction of pain," and leaves the student interrogator to ponder the wonders of "non-coercive" interrogation.

The ISB has been linked to the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, or HIG, that the Obama administration implemented as a supposed reform of Bush-era interrogation abuses. While the worst elements of the EITs may have ended — I’ve heard no further reports of waterboarding, for instance — terrible abuses and torture, with roots in the sensory deprivation research of the CIA and military in the 1950s-1970s, and fully implemented in the KUBARK CIA interrogation manual of the 1960s, continue to this day. In fact, we can see that such techniques as isolation, sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation are still a staple of U.S. interrogation, as evidenced by the special techniques reserved for non-POWs in Appendix M of the current Army Field Manual.

One wonders what impulse directed Walter Pincus and the Washington Post to consider rehabilitating the image of an FBI agent heavily criticized in two government investigations of detainee abuse. I suppose one wishes to take care of one’s own, and following the non-accountability orders of the Obama administration, who asks us not to look back at the crimes of the past, that is just what the Post is doing. Or is it? The account of the al-Owhali interrogation is precisely a look back at a sanitized past, which is exactly the kind of past the current administration appears willing to allow. The relative disinterest of many progressive commentators, the press, and Democratic politicians in pursuing an investigation of not just past crimes, but undertaking an examination of the forces at work today in constructing interrogation policy, only ensures that abuses will continue.

Did Abu Zubaydah Have Dissociative Identity Disorder? And Why It Matters

5:58 pm in Military, Torture by Jeff Kaye

Last week, Jason Leopold got an important scoop in his interview with former CIA officer John Kiriakou. Kiriakou first became known when he revealed the CIA had indeed used waterboarding. He was also the agent known for capturing supposed Al Qaeda mastermind, Abu Zubaydah. His interview with Leopold is fascinating and bears re-watching, as he also touches on other subjects, including his role in the Plame affair.

Marcy Wheeler has noted the inconsistency between Kiriakou’s claims in the video that Abu Zubaydah’s diaries were not, as portrayed by Ron Suskind in his book, The One Percent Doctrine, the diaries of a mentally ill individual, but simply those of a creative mind, since the government relies on these diaries as supporting material in its terrorism case against Zubaydah. (See also this earlier story by Leopold.)

According to Kiriakou (Marcy’s transcription):

Those weren’t diaries…. They were journals and doodle books. He would write these letters to himself. They weren’t really letters to himself. It was like a work of fiction.

Well, were they letters or not, John?

The quick switch (they were, they weren’t) is highly suggestive of lying and the use of a cover story. The preponderance of the reports from third parties suggest that Zubaydah has a mental disorder. The use of different personalities would suggest that disorder could be Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), one of the dissociative syndromes listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV-TR, otherwise known as the DSM.

Could Abu Zubaydah simply have been a singularly creative fellow, a Muslim belles-lettrist? For one thing, that side of his personality never surfaced in the psychological profile written up on him in July 2002. While this psychological profile is full of lies, half-truths, and other material aimed at allowing for a decision to use advanced EITs on him (like waterboarding), there is no reason to think that it would have left out a significant aspect of his functioning regarding what was in his diaries. Instead, it likely points to the fact that the CIA cover story on Abu Zubaydah was not yet fully developed by the summer of 2002, or that is would have to change significantly in the following years.

The existence of a DID profile for Zubaydah (if that were to be true, and there is some indication that it might be) is also notable because the artificial creation of dissociated personalities was a primary aim of CIA interrogation research for decades. This article by Dr. Colin Ross, past president of the International Society for the Study of Dissociation, describes some of this history, beginning with Projects Bluebird and Artichoke, and including the "psychic driving" experiments of Ewan Cameron (as described, among other places, in Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine). Over the years, the subject was relegated to conspiracy websites, haunted by a combination of schizophrenic, paranoiacs, and dedicated would-be historians, in addition to real victims of former government experiments.

I say relegated, because discussion of this topic has long not been considered respectable. (This might change now that the current Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Cass Sunstein, has stated that MKULTRA was a "true" conspiracy (PDF).) There is only one successful, mainstream book, which has been in print for 30 years or so now, that even treats the subject of government-created dissociated personalities, and that is John D. Marks’ Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control – The Secret History of the Behavioral Sciences. (This is not to belittle the other excellent authors who have published on the subject.)

Marks, who was once staff assistant to the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, wrote his book utilizing 16,000 documents obtained painstakingly via FOIA, as well as interviews with psychologists and CIA officers. He blew the whistle on the mind control programs, which had been partly revealed by the Rockefeller Commission and Congressional investigation.

DID is a relatively rare psychiatric disorder. If Abu Zubaydah has this disorder, it certainly could have been developed in the course of his life. On the other hand, it would also be quite a coincidence that the man trumpeted by the government as an Al Qaeda mastermind, close to Osama bin Laden, who later turned out to be no such thing, and who was a key experimental guinea pig in the CIA’s EIT program, should also turn out to have DID.

It should be noted, too, that the study of dissociative phenomenon among SERE trainees has been a primary focus of military and CIA researchers, as evidenced by this report (PDF), and this journal article. An article at Truthout last year explored the links between one of the key researchers of these studies and the CIA.

The Man Who Was Almost There

According to an article by Ron Suskind in Time Magazine, Zubaydah’s diaries, "which the government refuses to release, is written in three voices over 10 years and is filled with page after page of quotidian nonsense about housekeeping, food and types of tea." The diaries, discovered in the safehouse where Zubaydah was captured, are thousands of pages long. In a Washington Post review of Suskind’s book, Barton Gellman went into more detail:

Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries "in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" — a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI’s top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."

But according to George W. Bush, in a statement made as late as September 6, 2006, Zubaydah was "a senior terrorist leader and a trusted associate of Osama bin Laden" (H/T Blueness at Daily Kos). Who was this man captured by Kiriakou and his associates? There are only so many scenarios here that fit the known facts.

1) Abu Zubaydah was a lower-level jihadist who was the victim of bad intel and tortured. He was also a creative individual who wrote "doodle" notebooks to himself using multiple narrators as representing himself, mostly to amuse himself. Nevertheless, some good intel came from his interrogations.(Kiriakou’s narrative)

2) Abu Zubaydah was a high-level jihadist, worked with OBL. Was captured and tortured, and the U.S. obtained valuable intel that stopped terrorist attacks. His diaries contain evidence of his crimes. While they show evidence of "cognitive impairment," such impairment, or even any possible evidence re "multiple voices" is not relevant to the case against him. (Official U.S. government narrative)

3) Abu Zubaydah was thought to be a high-level jihadist, but upon examination wasn’t really too important. In fact, he appeared mentally ill, and wrote his diaries in multiple voices (three of them). He was inadvisedly used as a subject of the CIAs EIT program. (FBI interrogators’ and Ron Suskind narrative)

4) The biography of Abu Zubaydah is only partial known. He was a jihadist in the anti-Soviet war, and was badly wounded there. At some point he developed DID, or a DID syndrome was produced within him by government action. The government had a good deal of interest in experimenting on someone with DID, as it would have been valuable to them to know if the physiological variables they were testing (e.g., cortisol, catecholamines, etc.) would vary under "uncontrollable stress" (torture); in addition, if a learned helplessness syndrome could vary under different personalities. He was a very unusual and valuable guinea pig to them. It is also not impossible that they intended at some point to use him as a double agent, testing the use of dissociated personality "Manchurian Candidates" in dangerous Muslim extremist circles. (This is my quite speculative, hypothetical narrative, but grounded in reports of his possible mental illness, and in known practices and ambitions of the U.S. defense and intelligence agencies.)

By the way, Kiriakou’s assertion that Zubaydah did not seem schizophrenic or "mentally retarded," so therefore could not have multiple personalities shows his naivete or ignorance regarding DID. Someone with multiple personalities can appear quite normal and logical in some or all of these personalities. It is the dissociated or separate nature of the different personalities, far beyond the different tendencies or ways of operating publicly vs privately that is in all of us, that makes it unique and pathological. That and the fact that some of these personalities can be unconscious of the existence of other personalities. Remember, this is a rare phenomenon.

There are surely plenty of readers who believe this kind of analysis to be "far-out" there. Yet my hypothesis is quite possible. I won’t say it is probably true, because I don’t have enough information. Those still thinking that Zubaydah as a dissociated guinea pig is some sort of science fiction hokum should read more deeply into the history of U.S. mind control programs. One could start with an article by H.P. Albarelli and myself that reviewed the "Lyle case," an example of the CIA using Artichoke techniques to "re-condition" and "re-orient" a person through the use of drugs and hypnosis.

The attempt to control and predict human behavior, which was a cardinal principle of modern behaviorist psychology, has joined up with the imperial ambitions of post-Hiroshima America, and what it has produced are outlandish schemes and programs aimed at the control of individuals through psychological and physiological techniques that can only be called torture. Whether Abu Zubaydah was a potential Manchurian Candidate or not, the experiments done upon him and others to create an all-powerful form of coercive interrogation will go down as one of the horrors of modern times.

APA Scrubs Pages Linking It to CIA Torture Workshops

12:49 am in Terrorism, Torture by Jeff Kaye

Like a modern-day Ministry of Truth, the American Psychological Association (APA) has scrubbed the webpage describing "deception scenarios" workshops that were part of a conference it conducted with the CIA and Rand Corporation on July 17-18, 2003. In addition, the APA erased the link to the page, and even all mention of its existence, from another story at its July 2003 Science Policy Insider News website that briefly described the conference.

In May 2007, in an article at Daily Kos, I noted that the workshops were describing "new ways to utilize drugs and sensory bombardment techniques to break down interrogatees." Quoting from the APA’s description (and note, the link is to an archived version of the webpage; emphasis is added):

  • How do we find out if the informant has knowledge of which s/he is not aware?
  • How important are differential power and status between witness and officer?
  • What pharmacological agents are known to affect apparent truth-telling behavior?….
  • What are sensory overloads on the maintenance of deceptive behaviors? How might we overload the system or overwhelm the senses and see how it affects deceptive behaviors?

In August 2007, in a landmark article at Vanity Fair, journalist Katherine Eban revealed that SERE psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were participants at the APA/CIA/Rand affair. Mitchell and Jessen have since been linked with the implementation of the CIA’s "enhanced interrogation techniques" in 2001-2002.

Just last November, in an article at Firedoglake, I recalled the issue of the 2003 conference and asked Who Will Investigate CIA/RAND/APA Torture “Workshop”? I wrote at that time:

The APA and CIA have a very long history of working together on interrogation techniques, in particular on sensory deprivation and use of drugs like LSD and mescaline in interrogations, and other methods of breaking down the mind and the body of prisoners.

Use of drugs to influence interrogations, in addition to sensory deprivation, distortion and overload or bombardment were signal techniques in a decades-long interrogation research program that came to be known by its most famous moniker, MKULTRA (although these torture techniques were studied and tested by the CIA even earlier, in its 1950s projects Bluebird and Artichoke). Such techniques were codified by the early 1960s in a CIA Counterinsurgency Interrogation Manual, also known by its codename, KUBARK.

The story on the APA/CIA/Rand workshop received a good deal of dissemination on the Internet, and one can imagine that the description of the abusive techniques explored there were an embarrassment to the honchos of the APA, who strive to maintain an organizational aura of liberalism and scientific respectability, while at the same time selling its wares to the Defense Department and intelligence agencies in promoting the "war on terror" and "homeland security."

The URL for the former webpage — — now brings up a message that "the page is not available." A search of the APA site and a Google search does not retrieve a link to the original page, which can now be accessed, thankfully, only through a web archive search engine.

The same is true for the webpage for the APA’s July 2003 "Spin" newsletter, which has a story entitled "APA Works with CIA and RAND to Hold Science of Deception Workshop". Listed at the end of the story is a link telling readers to "View the thematic scenarios from the workshop." (See archived version.) The old URL —– brings up another "page not available" message. However, the bulk of the webpage now resides at a new address — — with the former link now missing from the story.

While the scrubbing of the page describing truth drugs and sensory overload could be attributed to some normal archiving decision, or the victim of a web do-over (and APA does appear to have redesigned their site), the excision of the text and link to the site on the referring page cannot be an accident.

What is APA up to?

Recently, APA has made some noises about finally respecting the decision of its membership in a September 2008 referendum that decisively repudiated "the APA leadership’s long-standing policy encouraging psychologist participation in interrogations and other activities in military and CIA detention facilities that have repeatedly been found to violate international law and the Constitution." The referendum voted to prohibit psychologist participation in settings where human rights violations take place. This policy took dead aim against use of psychologists in the Behavioral Science Consultation Teams (or BSCTs) used at Guantanamo and elsewhere.

To date, however, the referendum has had no effect, although the Public Interest Task Force for the APA recently has told APA members involved in passage of the referendum that it is gathering information on offending sites in order to implement the new policy, over a year and a half since the vote on the referendum took place. I will hope, though I have little trust, that APA will take the necessary steps.

But APA has a history of bad faith on such issues. Recently, they rewrote a problematic section of their ethical code, dubbed the Nuremberg loophole by some, which allowed psychologists to violate their ethical rules if done to comply with "law, regulations, or other governing legal authority." As Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) described it, "The new language restores the 1992 version of the code, which prohibits use of the standard ‘to justify or defend violating human rights.’"

But PHR also noted:

Section 1.02 was inserted into the APA ethics code in August 2002, and was used by both the APA and the Bush Administration to allow the participation of psychologists in the "enhanced interrogation" program, in which detainees were systematically abused and tortured under the supervision of health professionals. PHR is calling for the APA to also reform section 8.05 of the 2002 ethics code, which allows research on human subjects without their consent if such research comports with law or regulations.

Section 8.05 allows psychologists to dispense with the use of informed consent in research experiments where "permitted by law or federal or institutional regulations." The use of informed consent guarantees the voluntary participation of human subjects in research done upon them, and is considered a bedrock of ethical research.

The gyrations of the APA remind one of the razzle-dazzle misdirection of the Obama administration, which trumpets "transparency," but recently told the Supreme Court to turn down Maher Arar’s appeal of his rendition-torture lawsuit. In addition, President Obama’s own secret black site prisons have now been revealed, over a year since Obama made a big deal out of closing down the CIA black sites. When it comes to hiding the crime of torture, the U.S. government and its contracting agencies have made a fetish out of secrecy, and the promise of an end to torture after the hideous Bush/Cheney years is revealed to be a chimera.