"In 2002, the training program, known as SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape, became a source of interrogation methods both for the C.I.A. and the military. In what critics describe as a remarkable case of historical amnesia, officials who drew on the SERE program appear to have been unaware that it had been created as a result of concern about false confessions by American prisoners.
Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said after reviewing the 1957 article that “every American would be shocked” by the origin of the training document.
“What makes this document doubly stunning is that these were techniques to get false confessions,” Mr. Levin said. “People say we need intelligence, and we do. But we don’t need false intelligence.”
A Defense Department spokesman, Lt. Col Patrick Ryder, said he could not comment on the Guantánamo training chart. “I can’t speculate on previous decisions that may have been made prior to current D.O.D. policy on interrogations,” Colonel Ryder said. “I can tell you that current D.O.D. policy is clear — we treat all detainees humanely.”
Mr. Biderman’s 1957 article described “one form of torture” used by the Chinese as forcing American prisoners to stand “for exceedingly long periods,” sometimes in conditions of “extreme cold.” Such passive methods, he wrote, were more common than outright physical violence. Prolonged standing and exposure to cold have both been used by American military and C.I.A. interrogators against terrorist suspects. " NY Times
I wrote some years ago in these pages that I thought the methods in use at Gitmo and other places sounded a lot like the resistance to interrogation training that had been done in the ’60s in the US armed forces. The supposedly sophisticated methods of psychological manipulation then said to have been used against French POWs in Indochina and Americans in Korea inspired a lot of that kind of that training.
SERE training was intended to prepare people for the illegal bestialities that were expected to be inflected on American prisoners if they fell into the hands of the communist enemy. The armed forces had been horrified at the number of "collaborators" who emerged among American prisoners in Korea. This kind of training and the adoption of the "Code of Conduct" were seen as specifics against a recurrence. An exagerated fear of the "Manchurian Candidate" phenomenon was widespread.
It was clearly understood that such methods were to be expected of an enemy devoid of decency. I experienced such training and it was no fun at all.
The methods of interrogation authorized and thought productive by US forces were very different from that. They stressed what was essentially a process of seduction similar to that used in recruiting foreign agents.
The US armed forces have no peacetime mission to interrogate prisoners. Discussion of methods in the context of peacetime military life is a completely abstract subject.
The national intelligence agencies debrief defectors from foreign countries of interest but this is not a hostile process. The defectors want asylum and for that reason are normally eager to tell what they know.
Clearly, some sadist or group of sadists with a vivid imagination took advantage of the national trauma of 9/11 to use the old communist enemies’ methods as a model.
Whoever did that inflicted a grave injury and disgrace on the United States. The culprits should be punished as an example to future generations of sadists. pl