These Interrogation Methods are the Norm at Guantanamo

In an LA Times article Matthew Alexander discusses how an interrogator in Iraq gleaned more valuable information from a subject by simply talking than he would have through fear and intimidation techniques. Although not specifically focused on interrogation at Guantanamo, it is illustrative of what the real processes of interrogation at the facility are all about.

So-called “enhanced interrogation methods” were used only in a brief 6-week period in late 2002-early 2003, then were rescinded by the Pentagon. Subsequently a range of approved methods, published in open-source documents and available for the public to read, have been the standard procedure in Guantanamo.

On several of my visits to the facility I had frequent opportunities to observe interrogations (unknown to the interrogators) and to interview interrogators. I saw, and was told repeatedly, that the most effective way to persuade a subject to talk was to win rapport, gain mutual respect, and show that it was in the subject’s best interests to speak openly.

While the procedures are not generally recognized by an activist community bent on painting as vile a portrait of Guantanamo as possible, they are, in fact, the norm.

Released detainees – which includes about 2/3 of those originally held – often vociferously complain of abusive treatment and torture at the facility. They have been instructed to do so by al Qaeda training manuals captured in England.

Some others, including a large number of Afghanis – speak of the humane treatment they received including medical and dental treatment, English language lessons, and good food.

Ultimately the command at Guantanamo is forced to prove a negative: how does it prove that there is no torture going on? Only by full transparency, and the Guantanamo facility is the most open, frequently inspected such facility in the world.

In the final analysis, you can read Inside Gitmo and draw your own conclusions.


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