No Comment — June 3, 2010, 11:54 am

At What Cost Intelligence?

In an article just out in Military Review, (PDF) Major Douglas Pryer describes the struggle of the TF 1AD, an elite military intelligence unit serving in Iraq, with Bush-era torture techniques:

Importantly, interrogators at the facility never employed enhanced interrogation techniques, even during the brief period in which CJTF-7 explicitly approved such techniques. In fact, across Baghdad, Brigade S2s [intelligence officers] and 501st MI Battalion leaders refused to allow their interrogators to employ these techniques. Chief Warrant Officer 3 John Groseclose, who was in charge of HUMINT operations at TF 1AD’s 3d Brigade before taking charge of interrogation operations at the TF 1AD detention facility, said the following: “When that memo [CJTF-7’s 14 September 2003, interrogation policy] first came out, I went to Major Crisman, the S2 at the brigade, and showed the memo to him. I told him that I thought this memo was a very bad idea. It just didn’t look right to me. He agreed. So, we never used those techniques. I didn’t see any purpose for them.”

Groseclose’s counterpart at TF 1AD’s 1st Brigade, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Kenneth Kilbourne, echoed Groseclose’s comments. “This memo was idiotic,” Kilbourne said. “It was like providing a new, dangerous piece of equipment to a Soldier and telling him that he is authorized to use it, but you don’t have an instruction manual to give him to show him how to operate it.”

These experienced HUMINT leaders believed that it was not only wrong for American Soldiers to employ enhanced interrogation techniques on real world enemies, but that such techniques were largely ineffective. “For an interrogator to resort to techniques like that [techniques derived from SERE schools] is for that interrogator to admit that they don’t know how to interrogate,” said Groseclose, who was awarded the U.S. Defense Department’s HUMINT Collector of the Year Award for 2003. He added, “Our interrogations produced results.”

As Pryer notes, the intelligence officers managing the task force’s operations decided to take guidance from the standards laid out by General George Washington during the Revolutionary War, starting with his injunction to “treat prisoners with humanity.” Pryer’s study shows that those units that simply rejected the invitation to torture actually yielded the best results in human intelligence gathering–putting the lie once more to the arguments of torture apologists like Republican publicist and Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

December 2016

With Child

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Standing Rock Speaks

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Prose by Any Other Name

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The New Red Scare

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Separated at Birth

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Priest in the Trees

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
With Child·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. 'Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.'"
Photograph (detail) by Lara Shipley
Article
Swat Team·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"As we shall see, for the sort of people who write and edit the opinion pages of the Post, there was something deeply threatening about Sanders and his political views."
Illustration (detail) by John Ritter
Article
Escape from The Caliphate·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"When Matti invited me on a tour of the neighborhood, I asked about security. 'The message has already been passed to ISIS that you’re here,' he said. 'But don’t worry. I guarantee I could bring even you in and out of the Islamic State.'"
Photograph (detail) by Alice Martins
Article
In This One·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. 'Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.'"
Illustration (detail) by Shonagh Rae
Article
“Don’t Touch My Medicare!”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Medicare’s popularity, however, comes with almost no understanding of what the program is and how it works."
Illustration (detail) by Nate Kitch

Estimated number of people who watched a live Webcast of a hair transplant last fall:

8,000

A rancher in Texas was developing a system that will permit hunters to kill animals by remote control via a website.

A man in Japan was arrested for stealing a prospective employer’s wallet during a job interview, and a court in Germany ruled that it is safe for a woman with breast implants to be a police officer.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Who Goes Nazi?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."

Subscribe Today