Saturday, April 25, 2009

Military Agency Warned Against Torture in July of 2002

The Washington Post has obtained a memo written in 2002 by the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), the military agency which provides advice on interrogation techniques.

This memo, written in July before the August, 2002 Bybee memo, uses the word "torture" when describing techniques that would apply "extreme duress" to those under interrogation and warns:

In essence, physical and/or psychological duress are viewed as an alternative to the more time consuming conventional interrogation process. The error inherent in this line of thinking is the assumption that, through torture, the interrogator can extract reliable and accurate intelligence. History and a consideration of human behavior would appear to refute this assumption.
(NOTE: The application of physical and or psychological duress will likely result in physical compliance. Additionally, prisoners may answer and/or comply as a result of threats of torture. However, the reliability and accuracy information must be questioned.)

The memo also goes on to warn of operational concerns associated with these interrogation methods:

In numerous cases, interrogation has been used as a tool of mass intimidation by oppressive regimes. Often, the interrogators operate from the assumption (often incorrect) that a prisoner possesses information of interest. When the prisoner is not forthcoming, physical and psychological pressures are increased. Eventually, the prisoner will provide answers that they feel the interrogator is seeking. In this instance, the information is neither reliable nor accurate

In addition to the warnings about the quality of information obtained by torture, JPRA also warns that the use of torture techniques by the United States could provide justification for other regimes who may capture U.S. personnel, to use torture techniques.

The memo concludes:

The application of extreme physical and/or psychological duress (torture)has some serious operational deficits, most notably, the potential to result in unreliable information. This is not to say that the manipulation of the subject's environment in an effort to dislocate their expectations and induce emotional responses is not effective. On the contrary, systematic manipulation of the subject's environment is likely to result in a subject that can be exploited for intelligence information and other national strategic concerns.

Note that the word "extreme" is underlined in the original document.

While the memo is newly released, the information which it warns against has been known by many, but with so many torture apologists coming out in defense of law breaking, this memo is worthy of review. You can read the full Washington Post article by clicking here.

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