Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Learning from the best

File this under too good to be true. And by good, I mean horribly, horribly wrong:

WASHINGTON — The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners, including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”

What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.

The recycled chart is the latest and most vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at the base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and by the Central Intelligence Agency. [...]

The only change made in the chart presented at Guantánamo was to drop its original title: “Communist Coercive Methods for Eliciting Individual Compliance.”

This caught my attention because I've been reading recently a very unflattering biography of Mao called Mao: The Unknown Story. I haven't gotten to the part about the Korean War yet, though it's already been one of the most educational books I've ever read. I didn't know much about Soviet support of the Nationalists and Communists in China, the Asian half of World War II, or the Chinese Civil War, but now I feel like I understand them much better than any history book ever told it. I suppose that's the peril of trying to sound unbiased – sometimes, the radicals happen to be right.

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