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The American Inquisition Was Willing to Use Insects on Detainees

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Released memos on CIA torture tactics that the Obama Administration considered keeping secret have been released. The memos highlight many of the techniques used on detainees.

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As one portion of the released memos reads:

“You would like to employ ten techniques that you believe will dislocate his expectations regarding the treatment he believes he will receive and encourage him to disclose crucial information mentioned above. These ten techniques are: (1) attention grasp (2) walling (3) facial hold (4) facial slap (insult slap) (5) cramped confinement (6) wall standing (7) stress positions (8) sleep deprivation (9) insects placed in a confinement box and (10) waterboard. You have informed us that the use of these techniques would be on an as-needed basis and that not all of these techniques will necessarily be used." [emphasis added]

It goes on to explain each of these techniques and what the technique entails. A few examples…

Attention grasp involves “grasping the individual with both hands, one hand on each side of the collar opening, in a controlled and quick motion.” (Exactly how that is supposed to get information out of so-called terrorists, I don’t know.)

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Facial hold “is used to hold the head immobile. One open palm is placed on either side of the individual’s face. The fingertips are kept well away from the individual’s eyes.”

The facial slap involves slapping “the individual’s face with fingers slightly spread.”

“The hand makes contact with the area directly between the tip of the individual’s chin and the bottom of the corresponding earlobe. The interrogator invades the individual’s personal space. The goal of the facials slap is not to inflict physical pain that is severe or lasting. Instead, the purpose of the facial slap is to induce shock, surprise, and/or humiliation.” [emphasis added]

Walling involves the construction of “a flexible false wall.” The individual’s heels touch the wall. The interrogator “pulls the individual forward and then quickly and firmly pushes the individual into the wall. It is the individual's shoulder blades that hit the wall.”


"During this motion, the head and neck are supported with a rolled hood or towel that provides a c-collar effect to help prevent whiplash. To further reduce the probability of injury, the individual is allowed to rebound from the flexible wall. You have orally informed us that the false wall is in part constructed to create a loud sound when the individual hits it, which will further shock or surprise in the individual. In part, the idea is to create a sound that will make the impact seem far worse than it is and that will be far worse than any injury that might result from the action."

This action is justified:

“While walling involves what might be characterized as rough handling, it does not involve the threat of imminent death or, as discussed above, the infliction of severe physical pain. Moreover, once again we understand that use of this technique will not be accompanied by any specific verbal threat that violence will ensue absent cooperation. Thus, like the facial slap, walling can only constitute a threat of severe physical pain if a reasonable person would infer such a threat from the use of the technique itself. Walling does not in and of itself inflict severe pain or suffering.”

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The most startling part of the memos, however, is the fact that Bush Administration officials considered using insects on detainees.

It is tough to grapple with the reality that our military, with the support and consent of psychologists and medics and government officials, thought that using insects could help us in our effort to “win” the so-called “war on terror.”

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com

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