Saturday, June 23, 2007

Torture in the News

Holy Grail of Torture?

The Pentagon is set to start issuing a new nonlethal weapon, the "Active Denial System" (ADS) to troops. ADS is a cutting edge "crowd control" weapon that shoots out millimeter rays (similar to microwaves, but smaller) which penetrate the first 1/64th of an inch of skin. They cause intense pain to the target, but (according to the weapon's developers) no longterm damage. David Hambling, who monitors nonlethal weaponry, worries that there are all sorts of ways--aka torture--that a gizmo like this could be "misused."
(Hat tip to Pandagon)

Fort Bragg Meets Gitmo
There's now some hard evidence to link Fort Bragg's Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) school and Gitmo. In a document obtained by the ACLU through the Freedom of Information Act, the former chief of interrogation at Gitmo (whose name has been blacked-out) says that his guys and gals were taught interrogation techniques by SERE instructors. This is a big deal, because SERE is a training program in which students (usually Army Rangers) are "captured" and "interrogated" by mock bad guys. The training is supposed to harden up future combat soldiers who one day might be captured by real enemies, and it includes techniques such as sleep deprivation, stress positions, and sexual humiliation. Carol Darby, spokesperson for Fort Bragg's Army Special Ops Command, denies that SERE teaches interrogation techniques, but admits that the SERE school training is "sensitive"--meaning that what goes on in it is secret.
(Hat tip to Salon)

Psychologists Do Their Bit for Freedom
A couple of psychologists working for the CIA and associated with SERE have been teaching how to "reverse-engineer" the "survival skills" taught at SERE--which basically means how to apply what's been learned about how to crack people through torture to the interrogation of "terrorists," "insurgents," and other enemies. Dozens of civilian psychologists have sent an official complaint to the American Psychological Association about the participation of these two members of the profession in "the development and migration of abusive interrogation techniques, techniques which the International Committee of the Red Cross has labeled 'tantamount to torture.'"
(Hat tip again to Salon)