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August 27, 2009

Army Field Manual Gives Interrogators All the Tools They Need to Extract Information... Except, Um, Lying to Terrorists

Seriously. When I saw this in Hot Air's headlines, I thought there was some lunatic debate over this.

No. Per the rules, you're not permitted to lie.

Well, you can tell a number of specifically-defined lies. It tells you what lies are permitted. It's not as if a terrorist is going to get that list or anything and realize if an interrogator is telling Authorized Lie Number Three -- which is, and I'm not making this up, claiming to already "know everything" and parading about a deceptively thick dossier loaded with mostly-blank pages to convince a subject you have a fat file on him (did I mention I'm not making that up? That is one of the permissible lies) -- that a terrorist is going to recognize it as Authorized Lie Number Three.

But apart from not allowing any kind of bodily contact like a slap, or any kind of threat, or even any kind of lie except a couple of hoary old cop-lies that are so old few cops bother with them anymore -- yeah, the Army Field Manual is really all we need.

"The Army Field Manual is very, very restrictive in what it can do," said Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House intelligence committee. "For high-value detainees, it's a joke. ... In theory, it sounds great."

The guidelines are all psychological in nature. The methods include good cop-bad cop, the silent treatment, and a trick in which interrogators can pretend to be from another country.

The silent treatment.

Oh.

My.

God.

But the administration, which is establishing a special unit for questioning high-value detainees, is now indicating it is open to examining new methods -- even as Attorney General Eric Holder launches a probe into alleged prisoner abuse under the Bush administration.

Critics say the field manual guidelines just might not be enough to shake a hardened terrorist.

Hoekstra said he believes a lot of the intelligence obtained from high-value detainees over the past several years would not have been uncovered if interrogators were limited to the field manual all along. He said going forward, interrogators should be allowed to do more, since the approved techniques are "not going to break anybody."

There are 19 approved techniques in the manual, last updated in 2006. The manual, which Obama designated as the standard for interrogations when he took office, prohibits techniques like waterboarding, electric shock, forced nudity, mock executions and other acts.

It permits interrogators to ask questions in a "rapid fire" sequence; repeat questions over and over; try to break the prisoner by focusing on his emotional anxieties or personal fears; change the environment in which the prisoner is being questioned; and, under very specific circumstances, keep a detainee separated from others.

...

Charles Stimson, who as the former deputy assistant defense secretary for detainee affairs worked on the 2006 revision of the field manual, said the administration is expected to consider other techniques.

While Stimson defended the field manual guidelines as effective in many cases, he said there are others that could be put to good use.

"We will be constraining ourselves, inappropriately so, if we confined the CIA (or HIG) to the 19 techniques in the Army Field Manual," he said. "Our enemy trains to our protocol, studies our protocol ... (They) will know how to resist."

...

While "lying" might seem like an obvious interrogation method, the Army Field Manual only approves it in very specific circumstances.

Under the "we know all approach," interrogators are allowed to "subtly" convince the prisoner that they know what he or she knows. This can be complemented by the "file and dossier" approach, in which interrogators present a "file" to a prisoner that appears to be much bigger than it really is, by being "padded with extra paper" and other decorations.

Other methods are mild enough to be authorized in any school principal's office.

One method, the "direct approach," is simply when the interrogator asks questions. Another involves creating incentives for cooperation. The "emotional pride" approach is when the interrogator flatters the prisoner into cooperating by appealing to his ego. The "silent approach" is also relatively mild.

"When employing this technique, the (interrogator) says nothing to the source, but looks him squarely in the eye, preferably with a slight smile on his face," the guide says, urging the interrogator not to be the first to break eye contact.

Wow. Tough stuff. That's almost as cruel as the dreaded "Homo says what?" technique (pioneered by the North Vietnamese in 1952, of course).


The Obama Administration, which lies to the American public on a daily basis, is said to be keeping an "open mind" (seriously, this is not a joke) about "expanding" the range of options to include controversial, innovative new techniques such as lying to suspects.

Daniel Henniger is right -- the war on terror is dead. In fact, so is even "The routine police work against terror."

So let's stop pretending and make it official. The terrorists won; America lost; Obama (with an assist from McCain) have decided that it's contrary to American principles to so much as lie to a terrorist.


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posted by Ace at 12:47 PM

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