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Author Topic: Department of Justice delays releasing Torture Reports.  (Read 929 times)

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Offline ElayneTopic starter

Department of Justice delays releasing Torture Reports.
« on: July 21, 2009, 12:18:57 AM »
A little article that came out earlier this month that a colleague and I were discussing.

Torture reports delayed.

New Yorker article on SERE and how it's being used.

SERE's something that we're studying where I work, trying to determine how much damage is actually inflicted and if any real benefits occur.  I'd love to get any opinions from anyone here who's ever done SERE training before.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2009, 12:23:29 AM by Elayne »

Offline kylie

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Re: Department of Justice delays releasing Torture Reports.
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2009, 02:01:00 AM »
Two cents:  Full disclosure, get on with it.  Prosecute where appropriate. 

The "loyal opposition" among Congress is delaying and slashing everything wherever possible, as things are.  I don't believe going for real accountability is going to be the death of national health care or any other priority.  If it does, then it should quickly become obvious whose fault it is and what their rationales are.  On the other hand: Not having an open accounting is simply going to dog our heels and sap our already beaten legitimacy over and over around the world.  This stuff doesn't go away because you don't release papers.  It haunts us more this way in the long run, because one can always point to the shell game.

I don't know about SERE. 
I think the more direct reference to it (a quote within the actual article) is in the first link, actually?


Offline Destiny Ascension

Re: Department of Justice delays releasing Torture Reports.
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2009, 10:39:25 PM »
Well, if by SERE you mean Survival Evasion Resistance Escape, then I think its 100% necessary and useful. If you wanna know how its being used against our enemy, then I can't say anything on that, but how its effectively used on US troops is a matter I can chip in on.

First thing to know, SERE is extremely brutal. Its a physical and mental, more so mental, nightmare. Cold, hot, humid or whatever the temperature, it all becomes nonexistant as the harshness sets in. Lack of sleep, your body shuts down because your not getting enough intake, and of course pain and exhaustion becomes a factor. I took a version of SERE, I did 2 separate tours in Iraq between 2004 and 2008. Actually, most of 2004-2008. I never had to put what I learned into effect, but the point still exists.

The part I'm assuming your interested in, withstanding interrogation, was one of the harder parts. There is no training to give students the ability to torture or interrogate, but I can't say whether or not they could turn the tables and use the tactics to gain information. I never went through the worst of anything, but I neared the breaking point several times. Either way, its useful for US troops. The only thing I can think of thats worse than being captured, is being captured WITHOUT having gone through SERE.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2009, 10:44:41 PM by Destiny Ascension »

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Department of Justice delays releasing Torture Reports.
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2009, 10:41:52 AM »
If you wonder about the effectiveness of SERE training, look into what the folks in Vietnam got done to them by the North Vietnamese. This includes folks like Senator John McCain. And let me point out something. Very few organizations we are currently dealing with would even begin to think of honoring the Geneva Convention.

Do I think that some of the stuff that went down under our last president was shady? Sure. Do I think we can get the job done if we keep our hands lilly white? No. I think if you look into the way things were done by a LOT of governments (including ours) before the onset of 'Politically Correct' thinking, you'll find a lot of things were able to be done because of 'enhanced interrogations' that make what was done and proposed look like a joke. Be that as it may, that is not my concern.

SERE is to prepare servicemen to the handling they will get at the hands of the enemy.  You get caught by insurgents, the Taliban or Al Kaeda (sp??) and you're going to hurt. They aren't going to feed you milk and dates. You will be beaten, you will be kicked around and stuffed in a small hole or even killed on tape as a 'message' to the great satan.

SERE is needed, because..well.. the bad guys don't play by any rules but their own. And that is the truth folks. Whatever you do with the issue on prisoners, and I find it ironic that all these politicians who wanted gitmo shut down suddenly don't want suspects in THEIR districts, but we have to prepare our men and women for what the enemy will do to them.

Offline kylie

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Re: Department of Justice delays releasing Torture Reports.
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2009, 06:54:50 AM »
Do I think that some of the stuff that went down under our last president was shady? Sure. Do I think we can get the job done if we keep our hands lilly white? No. I think if you look into the way things were done by a LOT of governments (including ours) before the onset of 'Politically Correct' thinking, you'll find a lot of things were able to be done because of 'enhanced interrogations' that make what was done and proposed look like a joke. Be that as it may, that is not my concern.

There's a difference in my mind between being tough and being shady.  Torture simply isn't effective.  It generates false or distorted information...  Particularly when we're shown to have been torturing people who had none to give. 

On top of that, it's against a set of principles the US claims some right to "enforce" on the rest of the world. You can try to lead on principle, or you can expect to get hit harder and from more directions when you're shown to be hypocritical.  You can't have it both ways.  There are many parties that will only become enemies when your systems and forces don't do as you advertise.     

Offline Jude

Re: Department of Justice delays releasing Torture Reports.
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2009, 07:08:08 AM »
I for one would love to see the evidence that enhanced interrogation techniques worked.  Unfortunately, I know there probably isn't any.  Not to say it didn't work with absolute certainty, just the sort of statistical data which would be necessary to prove such probably doesn't exist.  Even if there's evidence that we received information by using said techniques, there would have to be some way to show the information couldn't have been received using other methods.  And in the case of the few people we actually did use those methods on, most of them were interrogated with normal methods beforehand and we received actionable intelligence from it.

Sure, if you look at the situation with a fair mind, I have no doubt that the truth will shine through that the enhanced methods were not effective enough to justify the moral sins and hypocrisy.  But all the defenders of them need is enough of a shadow over the truth to claim otherwise.  And Cheney knows he has that.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2009, 07:10:16 AM by RandomNumber »

Offline ElayneTopic starter

Re: Department of Justice delays releasing Torture Reports.
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2009, 10:13:29 PM »
Destiny, you've touched on pretty much exactly what we're studying.  I work at a university up doing psychology research.

Basically, since the United States obviously doesn't train people in torture techniques, when they in the position of having to interrogate the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the common hypothesis is that they in fact used SERE based techniques as the basis for their interrogation methods.  A number of SERE instructors were reassigned to Guantanamo and a number of behavioral psychologists were also assigned down there to improve the methodology.

What we're researching is possible long term effects of exposure.  Basically, because alot of the SERE methodology is based on things like Sleep Deprivation (which can lead to deep seated mental trauma) and prolonged exposure to stress and fear, some doctors believe that the Guantanamo detainees will be effected permanently.

There's a couple of theories.

1)  Long term exposure to sleep deprivation and isolation has been known to induce psychosis so one theory is that the Guantanamo detainees will suffer from psychotic breaks and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and thereby been unable to function when released.

2)  Because stress and fear release hormones that have physiological effects, a second theory is that detainees will emerge from Guantanamo being adapted to fear and stress (effectively trained to be completely immune) and will be even more dangerous.  Kind of like how criminals become adapted in prison and are even more likely to commit crimes upon being released.

3)  The third theory is that the detainees might emerge with no lasting ill effects and be able to return to society normally.  That's what my team was trying researching, and we thought that since American troops had received SERE training (with exposure to waterboarding and sleep deprivation) and then were able to return to normal society, that it would stand to reason that the detainees wouldn't necessarily be negatively affected.

We were actually researching it to make a recommendation on whether or not to accept Guantanamo detainees up here when they are released.  But it's kind of a moot point, the detainees are already being released to Algeria, Bermuda, Palau, and a few other places that were willing to take them.

Offline kylie

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Re: Department of Justice delays releasing Torture Reports.
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2009, 05:19:14 AM »
2)  Because stress and fear release hormones that have physiological effects, a second theory is that detainees will emerge from Guantanamo being adapted to fear and stress (effectively trained to be completely immune) and will be even more dangerous.  Kind of like how criminals become adapted in prison and are even more likely to commit crimes upon being released.

Along with that...  If you find it, I would also be interested in also hearing about whether it's likely to inspire people who previously had no proven criminal record, to acquire one. 

The culture of civilian prisons in the United States has its own sort of black market, gang and/or abusive masculinist (for instance, sexually objectifying) reasoning in wide swaths.  That's been known to leave some people less normative in or sometimes, practically unable to return to everyday life.  Not sure how comparable military prisons are, but then add in torture...  I would guess that the system is not only exacerbating what hostility was there originally, but also inspiring new opposition/counteraction ("crime" is all relative) through both 1) common socialization in that culture and 2) deeper psychological resentments and instability associated with torture.

« Last Edit: July 26, 2009, 05:21:02 AM by kylie »

Offline ElayneTopic starter

Re: Department of Justice delays releasing Torture Reports.
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2009, 03:02:14 PM »
Quote
Pentagon: Gitmo detainees returning to fight
At least 61 are believed to have signed up for terror missions upon release
   
WASHINGTON - Terrorism suspects who have been held but released from Guantanamo Bay are increasingly returning to the fight against the United States and its allies, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Sixty-one detainees released from the U.S. Navy base prison in Cuba are believed to have rejoined the fight, said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, citing data from December. That's up from 37 as of March 2008, Morrell said.

The new figures come as President-elect Barack Obama prepares to issue an executive order during his first week in office to close the controversial prison. It's unlikely, however, that the Guantanamo detention facility will be closed anytime soon as Obama weighs what to do with the estimated 250 al-Qaida, Taliban or other foreign fighter suspects still there.

About 520 Guantanamo detainees have been released from custody or transferred to prisons elsewhere in the world.

Morrell said more than 100 detainees have been transferred or otherwise released over the last year alone.

"There clearly are people who are being held at Guantanamo who are still bent on doing harm to America, Americans, and our allies," Morrell told reporters at the Pentagon. "So there will have to be some solution for the likes of them, and that is among the thorny issues that the president-elect and his new team are carefully considering."

Morrell said the new numbers showed a "pretty substantial increase" in detainees returning to terror missions from 7 percent to 11 percent.

Terrorist activity difficult to determine
He said intelligence, photographs and forensic evidence like fingerprints and DNA were used to tie the detainees to terrorist activity. He did not know where they had been released, or what missions they are now believed to have rejoined.

Human rights activists and defense lawyers for the detainees argue that many Guantanamo prisoners pose no security risk and should be released.

In a recent report, the Brookings Institution examined hundreds of pages of declassified military documents, and ultimately said it couldn't tell whether many of the prisoners held for years without charges are terrorists or innocent.

The Washington think-tank concluded that only 87 of the 250 detainees described having any relationship with al-Qaida, the Taliban or other armed groups considered hostile to the United States.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28642784/

That's from MSNBC and there's a similar article on the Washington Post, as of January 9, 2009.

The problem with coming up with a real analysis is that the situation really has no precedent and the time frame is too short to gather good data.  So we're kind of having to look at similar situations (Prisons, Vietnam POWs, SERE trained US soldiers) and try to come up with a recommendation.

« Last Edit: July 26, 2009, 03:10:06 PM by Elayne »

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Department of Justice delays releasing Torture Reports.
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2009, 09:20:18 AM »
There's a difference in my mind between being tough and being shady.  Torture simply isn't effective.  It generates false or distorted information...  Particularly when we're shown to have been torturing people who had none to give. 

On top of that, it's against a set of principles the US claims some right to "enforce" on the rest of the world. You can try to lead on principle, or you can expect to get hit harder and from more directions when you're shown to be hypocritical.  You can't have it both ways.  There are many parties that will only become enemies when your systems and forces don't do as you advertise.     

True.. Very valid points. And if most of the commentary against torture came from that point it would be a little less .. worrisome to me. Thing is the 'anti-torture' folks are not doing it ) Some of the anti-torture folks I met in Maine before my retirement seemed to think if we stopped doing it that 'They' would to.

Do I think we should be 'better' than the other guy? Hell yes. Do I think sleep dep and positioning people in certain positions is torture.. not so much. Honestly been 'meh' on the waterboarding bits myself, but most of my prior comment is due to the same folks in Maine wanting it not demonstrated on our SERE students. They seem to think we don't need to prepare our guys for the type of treatement they will get.


Offline kylie

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Re: Department of Justice delays releasing Torture Reports.
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2009, 10:18:41 PM »
True.. Very valid points. And if most of the commentary against torture came from that point it would be a little less .. worrisome to me. Thing is the 'anti-torture' folks are not doing it ) Some of the anti-torture folks I met in Maine before my retirement seemed to think if we stopped doing it that 'They' would to.

Do I think we should be 'better' than the other guy? Hell yes. Do I think sleep dep and positioning people in certain positions is torture.. not so much. Honestly been 'meh' on the waterboarding bits myself, but most of my prior comment is due to the same folks in Maine wanting it not demonstrated on our SERE students. They seem to think we don't need to prepare our guys for the type of treatement they will get.

     I see.  Well not having the experience, I'd be willing to allow that there is (I hope) a significant difference between simulating a "sample" and actually receiving much of the techniques that have come under scrutiny.  I'm not clear on how well the sample actually serves to prepare people for the "real thing," as it were.  But, yeah, I could imagine there should be a difference of intensity and effect.

     I'm not sure which experience the sleep deprivation and positioning you refer to is about actually.  At Abu Ghraib, according to an HBO documentary, it was sometimes done for days or weeks on end (and as a means of softening up for more face-to-face techniques, but not concerned about that with SERE I suppose).  Interrogation specialists on that program said psychological torture from things like constant sleep deprivation and humiliation can actually add up to be more lasting in impact than the physical torture.  So, I hope you'll understand if I hesitate a little to agree that sleep deprivation or positioning per se is necessarily a milder regime.  Again, though: Yes, I'd assume training is different from what went on at Abu Ghraib or for McCain (though I haven't really read up on him) or various other, more actually hostile situations.