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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.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Percentage increase in the annual number of polio cases in Pakistan since 2005:
A bowl of 4,000-year-old noodles was found in northwestern China; and a spokesman for the Chinese Academy of Sciences said that “this is the earliest empirical evidence of noodles ever found.”
A federal judge sentenced the journalist Barrett Brown to 63 months in prison for sharing a link to information stolen from the private-intelligence firm Stratfor by a hacker in 2011. “Good news!” Brown said in a statement. “They’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”