'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Experiment 

This weekend I finally got around to reading Jane Mayer's "The Experiment", a New Yorker piece arguing that the US is using Gitmo as a laboratory in which to test out interrogation techniques. Mayer interviewed the anonymous source that wrote to Juan Cole several months ago about the similarities between the descriptions of the abuse at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo and the pretend abuse that US personnel are subjected to in the military's secretive SERE program. SERE stands for "Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape" -- it's a weird program in which American forces are subjected to mock detention by a hostile state to prepare them in case they ever actually are captured by some enemy.

Anyway in December I transcribed a heavily redacted document in which the FBI criticized the interrogation techniques being used at Gitmo, and wondered about one of the redacted words -- my thought was that the missing word was probably "torture". Well, Mayer mentions a similar document but she seems to have seen a less redacted version: she saw a document in which the FBI complains of the use of SERE techniques. Here's the relevant paragraph:

The Pentagon has argued that Qahtani’s treatment was rough but always “humane.” However, documents released by the A.C.L.U. reveal that F.B.I. officials were disturbed when they learned of it. In May, 2004, for instance, an F.B.I. memo entitled “Detainee Interviews (Abusive Interrogation Issues)” noted the Bureau’s “concerns” and “objections” to “sere techniques to interrogate prisoners.”

I now wonder if the redaction I speculated about last winter was "SERE"...

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