The Dark Art Of Interrogation
January 19, 2004 10:12 AM   Subscribe

The Dark Art Of Interrogation Excellent article on the ongoing science of interrogation in the post 9/11 United States. For further reading, please consider the following seminal manuals by the CIA: The Kubark Manual [1963], and the Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual [1983 - otherwise known as the Honduras Manual]
posted by patrickje (6 comments total)
Agreed, a very interesting article.

The only thing that soured me was the author's op-ed in the last two paragraphs. He could have allowed the readers to make up their own minds about whether or not torture, in whatever sense, is justified.
posted by lowlife at 12:09 PM on January 19, 2004

I read it a few months ago when I got the issue and my reaction was much the same as lowlife's. The author of the piece essentially boils the whole debate down to "they should do it and not tell anyone because we need to be safe (!!) and people who don't like should keep protesting against it because that's good too and then we won't go too far." Then again, it was fairly clear he had that agenda from the beginning of the article so it wasn't surprising--I just don't think the evidence he suggested was altogether compelling or in any way supported the conclusions he seemed to draw from them.

The Atlantic Monthly occasionally has some really good feature articles (the recent one about anarcy at sea is a great example), but all too often recently it has been reduced to being a mouthpiece for the upper class, defending American actions at all costs. That was likely a product of their former editor's support for the war, which he based on Friedman-esque logic (doesn't matter why it happens, it's good.)

The editor-in-question was killed in Iraq, I believe during a humvee accident, before many of the indiscrepencies about the war came to light; by came to light, I of course mean in the mass media sense, since many of us knew about it well before that.
posted by The God Complex at 12:48 PM on January 19, 2004

I thought he did better than that, TCG.
The basic point was this: You can't control this by legislating what's OK to do. You control it by outlawing it. If an interrogator feels they must torture in a particular situation, they should know that they could go to court and defend their actions.

He's got several examples (the German kid who was left to suffocate, and the Israeli 'moderate physical force' law) to back his point.

I do agree that he does seem to have a bit of a pointed agenda, but I thought he made his case relatively well.

Plus, an interesting read...
posted by daver at 2:32 PM on January 19, 2004

If an interrogator feels they must torture in a particular situation, they should know that they could go to court and defend their actions.

And it's abundantly clear that they hardly, if ever, do go to court for these things, since none of the information about exactly what the interrogators are doing is ever made public (see: Guantanamo Bay). He doesn't really address that and goes on to draw the conclusions that it's still for the best if the government takes these things under its own discretion--secretly, even--because us mere citizens aren't equipped to deal with the nastiness of the real world. I agree that some of the arguments during the first 2/3 of the article are at least reasonable and worth examining, but they're worth examining in a more evenhanded way.
posted by The God Complex at 4:28 PM on January 19, 2004

Truly creepy. According to an unnamed CIA agent, one of the many Gitmo-like camps established by the US for "terrorists", and one of the nastier ones, is called "The Hotel California." This gives horrible torture and murder double-entendres to almost every line in the song. You can let your morbid imagination run wild...

(Don't think about this too much if you like the song.)


On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
There she stood in the doorway;
I heard the mission bell
And I was thinking to myself,
'This could be Heaven or this could be Hell'
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say...

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year, you can find it here

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes Benz
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, that she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

So I called up the Captain,
'Please bring me my wine'
He said, 'We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine'
And still those voices are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say...

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely face
They livin' it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise, bring your alibis

Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said 'We are all just prisoners here, of our own device'
And in the master's chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can't kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
'Relax,' said the night man,
We are programmed to receive.
You can checkout any time you like,
but you can never leave!
posted by kablam at 5:04 PM on January 19, 2004

This post deserves more comments.
posted by troutfishing at 9:54 PM on January 20, 2004

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