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General News    H3'ed 6/23/08

Marketing Torture

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On June 22, the NY Times ran an article by Scott Shane entitled "Inside a 9/11 Mastermind's Interrogation."


Almost immediately in his article, Mr Shane indirectly justifies torture and paints a fantastic picture of the interrogator:

"Mr. Martinez came in after the rough stuff, the ultimate good cop with the classic skills: an unimposing presence, inexhaustible patience and a willingness to listen to the gripes and musings of a pitiless killer in rambling, imperfect English."


He then goes on to describe the "rapport" that Martinez built up with KSM, as well as the "ad-hoc nature of the [CIA interrogation ] program," and even painting the CIA as "nearly devoid of expertise in detention and interrogation."


The rest of this article is more of the same. He gives a brief bio of Martinez that sounds like it might have been plagiarized from a Clancey novel's introductory bio of Jack Ryan. Next, he goes on to describe, in glowing fashion, Martinez' work - even concluding the article by describing Martinez doing "more lucrative work with government contractors" at "a consulting company run by former military psychologists who advised the C.I.A. on the use of harsh tactics in the secret program."


Mr Shane never mentions the CIA Kubark manual from 1963, which encourages the use of psychological torture, nor the updated version from the 1980s that was widely used in Central America. The CIA's knowledge of "detention and interrogation" goes back to at least 1950, when they started funding academic studies - and it can easily be argued that it goes back to the end of WWII when they were still the OSS recruiting Nazi scientists.


Mr Shane never mentions that the CIA manuals say that "all coercive techniques are designed to induce regression" and that:

"The deprivation of stimuli induces regression by depriving the subject's mind of contact with an outer world and thus forcing it in upon itself. At the same time, the calculated provision of stimuli during interrogation tends to make the regressed subject view the interrogator as a father-figure. The result, normally, is a strengthening of the subject's tendencies toward compliance."


It's clear to me that Mr. Martinez was playing the role of the "father-figure" here. The idea that Martinez is some kind of hero because "He chose to leave the infliction of pain and panic to others, the gung-ho paramilitary types whom the more cerebral interrogators called “knuckledraggers”," is absurd. Martinez, intentionally or not, was playing a role in a method of interrogation that has been laid out by the CIA for over 40 years!


I didn't look all of this up after I read the NYT article - it has been freely available for years. The CIA manuals have been public since 1997, and there has been plenty of analysis by folks far more knowledgeable than myself. Stephen Soldz has written many understandable-to-the-layman articles discussing both the psychological and moral aspects, both on OEN and his own blog. For those with short attention spans (like myself), there was this article published almost two years ago on KOS that explained the basics of CIA torture!

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Dave is a freethinker currently living in Colorado. He promises to someday make his bio either more informative or more entertaining.
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