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Friday, August 10, 2012

CIA, KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation


CIA, KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation


CIA, KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation, July 1963
Part 1 (pp. 1-60) - Part II (pp. 61-112) - Part III (pp. 113-128)
This 127-page report, classified Secret, was drafted in July 1963 as a comprehensive guide for training interrogators in the art of obtaining intelligence from "resistant sources." KUBARK--a CIA codename for itself--describes the qualifications of a successful interrogator, and reviews the theory of non-coercive and coercive techniques for breaking a prisoner. Some recommendations are very specific. The report recommends, for example, that in choosing an interrogation site "the electric current should be known in advance, so that transformers and other modifying devices will be on hand if needed." Of specific relevance to the current scandal in Iraq is section nine,"The Coercive Counterintelligence Interrogation of Resistant Sources," (pp 82-104). Under the subheading, "Threats and Fears," the CIA authors note that "the threat of coercion usually weakens or destroys resistance more effectively than coercion itself. The threat to inflict pain, for example, can trigger fears more damaging than the immediate sensation of pain." Under the subheading "Pain," the guidelines discuss the theories behind various thresholds of pain, and recommend that a subject's "resistance is likelier to be sapped by pain which he seems to inflict upon himself" such rather than by direct torture. The report suggests forcing the detainee to stand at attention for long periods of time. A section on sensory deprivations suggests imprisoning detainees in rooms without sensory stimuli of any kind, "in a cell which has no light," for example. "An environment still more subject to control, such as water-tank or iron lung, is even more effective," the KUBARK manual concludes.
===================================
KUBARK COUNTERINTELLIGENCE
INTERROGATION


July 1963



TABLE OF CONTENTS


I. INTRODUCTION 1-3

A. Explanation of Purpose 1-2
B. Explanation of Organization 3

II . DEFINITIONS 4-5

III. LEGAL AND POLICY CONSIDERATIONS 6-9

IV. THE INTERROGATOR 10-14

V. THE INTERROGATEE 15-29

A. Types of Sources: Intelligence Categories 15-19
B. Types of Sources: Personality Categories 19-28
C. Other Clues 28-29

VI. SCREENING AND OTHER PRELIMINARIES 30-37

A. Screening 30-33
B. Other Preliminary Procedures 33-37
C. Summary 37

VII. PLANNING THE COUNTERINTELLIGENCE INTERROGATION 38-51

A. The Nature of Counterintelligence Interrogation 38-42
B. The Interrogation Plan 42-44
C. The Specifics 44-51

VIII. THE NON-COERCIVE COUNTERINTELLIGENCE INTERROGATION 52-81

A. General Remarks 52-53
B. The Structure of the Interrogation 53-65
1. The Opening 53-59
2. The Reconnaissance 59-60
3. The Detailed Questioning 60-64
4. The Conclusion 64-65
C. Techniques of Non-Coercive Interrogation of Resistant Sources 65-81

IX. THE COERCIVE COUNTERINTELLIGENCE
INTERROGATION OF RESISTANT SOURCES
 82-104

A. Restrictions 82
B. The Theory of Coercion 82-85
C. Arrest 85-86
D. Detention 86-87
E. Deprivation of Sensory Stimuli 87-90
F. Threats and Fear 90-92
G. Debility 92-93
H. Pain 93-95
I. Heightened Suggestibility and Hypnosis 95-98
J. Narcosis 98-100
K. The Detection of Malingering 101-102
L. Conclusion 103-104

X. INTERROGATOR'S CHECK LIST 105-109

XI. DESCRIPTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY 110-122
=======================

IX. Coercive Counterintelligence Interrogation of Resistant Sources
A. Restrictions

The purpose of this part of the handbook is to present basic information about coercive techniques available for use in the interrogation situation. It is vital that this discussion not be misconstrued as constituting authorization for the use of coercion at field discretion . As was noted earlier, there is no such blanket authorization.

[approx. 10 lines deleted]

For both ethical and pragmatic reasons no interrogator may take upon himself the unilateral responsibility for using coercive methods. Concealing from the interrogator's superiors an intent to resort to coercion, or its unapproved employment, does not protect them. It places them, and KUBARK, in unconsidered jeopardy.

B. The Theory of Coercion

Coercive procedures are designed not only to exploit the resistant source's internal conflicts and induce him to wrestle with himself but also to bring a superior outside force to bear upon the subject's resistance. Non-coercive methods are not

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likely to succeed if their selection and use is not predicated upon an accurate psychological assessment of the source. In contrast, the same coercive method may succeed against persons who are very unlike each other. The changes of success rise steeply, nevertheless, if the coercive technique is matched to the source's personality. Individuals react differently even to such seemingly non-discriminatory stimuli as drugs. Moreover, it is a waste of time and energy to apply strong pressures on a hit-or-miss basis if a tap on the psychological jugular will produce compliance.

All coercive techniques are designed to induce regression. As Hinkle notes in "The Physiological State of the Interrogation Subject as it Affects Brain Function"(7), the result of external pressures of sufficient intensity is the loss of those defenses most recently acquired by civilized man: "... the capacity to carry out the highest creative activities, to meet new, challenging, and complex situations, to deal with trying interpersonal relations, and to cope with repeated frustrations. Relatively small degrees of homeostatic derangement, fatigue, pain, sleep loss, or anxiety may impair these functions." As a result, "most people who are exposed to coercive procedures will talk and usually reveal some information that they might not have revealed otherwise."

One subjective reaction often evoked by coercion is a feeling of guilt. Meltzer observes, "In some lengthy interrogations, the interrogator may, by virtue of his role as the sole supplier of satisfaction and punishment, assume the stature and importance of a parental figure in the prisoner's feeling and thinking. Although there may be intense hatred for the interrogator, it is not unusual for warm feelings also to develop. This ambivalence is the basis for guilt reactions, and if the interrogator nourishes these feelings, the guilt may be strong enough to influence the prisoner's behavior.... Guilt makes compliance more likely...."(7).

Farber says that the response to coercion typically contains "... at least three important elements: debility, dependency, and dread." Prisoners "... have reduced viability, are helplessly dependent on their captors for the

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satisfaction of their many basic needs, and experience the emotional and motivational reactions of intense fear and anxiety.... Among the [American] POW's pressured by the Chinese Communists, the DDD syndrome in its full-blown form constituted a state of discomfort that was well-nigh intolerable." (11). If the debility-dependency-dread state is unduly prolonged, however, the arrestee may sink into a defensive apathy from which it is hard to arouse him.

Psychologists and others who write about physical or psychological duress frequently object that under sufficient pressure subjects usually yield but that their ability to recall and communicate information accurately is as impaired as the will to resist. This pragmatic objection has somewhat the same validity for a counterintelligence interrogation as for any other. But there is one significant difference. Confession is a necessary prelude to the CI interrogation of a hitherto unresponsive or concealing source. And the use of coercive techniques will rarely or never confuse an interrogatee so completely that he does not know whether his own confession is true or false. He does not need full mastery of all his powers of resistance and discrimination to know whether he is a spy or not. Only subjects who have reached a point where they are under delusions are likely to make false confessions that they believe. Once a true confession is obtained, the classic cautions apply. The pressures are lifted, at least enough so that the subject can provide counterintelligence information as accurately as possible. In fact, the relief granted the subject at this time fits neatly into the interrogation plan. He is told that the changed treatment is a reward for truthfulness and an evidence that friendly handling will continue as long as he cooperates.

The profound moral objection to applying duress past the point of irreversible psychological damage has been stated. Judging the validity of other ethical arguments about coercion exceeds the scope of this paper. What is fully clear, however, is that controlled coercive manipulation of an interrogatee may impair his ability to make fine distinctions but will not alter his ability to answer correctly such gross questions as "Are you a Soviet agent? What is your assignment now? Who is your present case officer?"

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When an interrogator senses that the subject's resistance is wavering, that his desire to yield is growing stronger than his wish to continue his resistance, the time has come to provide him with the acceptable rationalization: a face-saving reason or excuse for compliance. Novice interrogators may be tempted to seize upon the initial yielding triumphantly and to personalize the victory. Such a temptation must be rejected immediately. An interrogation is not a game played by two people, one to become the winner and the other the loser. It is simply a method of obtaining correct and useful information. Therefore the interrogator should intensify the subject's desire to cease struggling by showing him how he can do so without seeming to abandon principle, self-protection, or other initial causes of resistance. If, instead of providing the right rationalization at the right time, the interrogator seizes gloatingly upon the subject's wavering, opposition will stiffen again.

The following are the principal coercive techniques of interrogation: arrest, detention, deprivation of sensory stimuli through solitary confinement or similar methods, threats and fear, debility, pain, heightened suggestibility and hypnosis, narcosis, and induced regression. This section also discusses the detection of malingering by interrogatees and the provision of appropriate rationalizations for capitulating and cooperating.

C. Arrest 

The manner and timing of arrest can contribute substantially to the interrogator's purposes. "What we aim to do is to ensure that the manner of arrest achieves, if possible, surprise, and the maximum amount of mental discomfort in order to catch the suspect off balance and to deprive him of the initiative. One should therefore arrest him at a moment when he least expects it and when his mental and physical resistance is at its lowest. The ideal time at which to arrest a person is in the early hours of the morning because surprise is achieved then, and because a person's resistance physiologically as well as psychologically is at its lowest.... If a person cannot be arrested in the early hours..., then the next best time is in the evening....

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[approx. 10 lines deleted]" (1)

D. Detention

If, through the cooperation of a liaison service or by unilateral means, arrangements have been made for the confinement of a resistant source, the circumstances of detention are arranged to enhance within the subject his feelings of being cut off from the known and the reassuring, and of being plunged into the strange. Usually his own clothes are immediately taken away, because familiar clothing reinforces identity and thus the capacity for resistance. (Prisons give close hair cuts and issue prison garb for the same reason.) If the interrogatee is especially proud or neat, it may be useful to give him an outfit that is one or two sizes too large and to fail to provide a belt, so that he must hold his pants up.

The point is that man's sense of identity depends upon a continuity in his surroundings, habits, appearance, actions, relations with others, etc. Detention permits the interrogator to cut through these links and throw the interrogatee back upon his own unaided internal resources.

Little is gained if confinement merely replaces one routine with another. Prisoners who lead monotonously unvaried lives "... cease to care about their utterances, dress, and cleanliness. They become dulled, apathetic, and depressed."(7) And apathy can be a very effective defense against interrogation. Control of the source's environment permits the interrogator to

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determine his diet, sleep pattern, and other fundamentals. Manipulating these into irregularities, so that the subject becomes disorientated, is very likely to create feelings of fear and helplessness. Hinkle points out, "People who enter prison with attitudes of foreboding, apprehension, and helplessness generally do less well than those who enter with assurance and a conviction that they can deal with anything that they may encounter.... Some people who are afraid of losing sleep, or who do not wish to lose sleep, soon succumb to sleep loss...." (7)

In short, the prisoner should not be provided a routine to which he can adapt and from which he can draw some comfort -- or at least a sense of his own identity. Everyone has read of prisoners who were reluctant to leave their cells after prolonged incarceration. Little is known about the duration of confinement calculated to make a subject shift from anxiety, coupled with a desire for sensory stimuli and human companionship, to a passive, apathetic acceptance of isolation and an ultimate pleasure in this negative state. Undoubtedly the rate of change is determined almost entirely by the psychological characteristics of the individual. In any event, it is advisable to keep the subject upset by constant disruptions of patterns.

For this reason, it is useful to determine whether the interrogattee has been jailed before, how often, under what circumstances, for how long, and whether he was subjected to earlier interrogation. Familiarity with confinement and even with isolation reduces the effect.

E. Deprivation of Sensory Stimuli 

The chief effect of arrest and detention, and particularly of solitary confinement, is to deprive the subject of many or most of the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and tactile sensations to which he has grown accustomed. John C. Lilly examined eighteen autobiographical accounts written by polar explorers and solitary seafarers. He found "... that isolation per se acts on most persons as a powerful stress.... In all cases of survivors of isolation at sea or in the polar night, it was the first exposure which caused

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the greatest fears and hence the greatest danger of giving way to symptoms; previous experience is a powerful aid in going ahead, despite the symptoms. "The symptoms most commonly produced by isolation are superstition, intense love of any other living thing, perceiving inanimate objects as alive, hallucinations, and delusions." (26)

The apparent reason for these effects is that a person cut off from external stimuli turns his awareness inward, upon himself, and then projects the contents of his own unconscious outwards, so that he endows his faceless environment with his own attributes, fears, and forgotten memories. Lilly notes, "It is obvious that inner factors in the mind tend to be projected outward, that some of the mind's activity which is usually reality-bound now becomes free to turn to phantasy and ultimately to hallucination and delusion."

A number of experiments conducted at McGill University, the National Institute of Mental Health, and other sites have attempted to come as close as possible to the elimination of sensory stimuli, or to masking remaining stimuli, chiefly sounds, by a stronger but wholly monotonous overlay. The results of these experiments have little applicability to interrogation because the circumstances are dissimilar. Some of the findings point toward hypotheses that seem relevant to interrogation, but conditions like those of detention for purposes of counterintelligence interrogation have not been duplicated for experimentation.

At the National Institute of Mental Health two subjects were "... suspended with the body and all but the top of the head immersed in a tank containing slowly flowing water at 34.5 [degrees] C (94.5 [degrees] F)...." Both subjects wore black-out masks, which enclosed the whole head but allowed breathing and nothing else. The sound level was extremely low; the subject heard only his own breathing and some faint sounds of water from the piping. Neither subject stayed in the tank longer than three hours. Both passed quickly from normally directed thinking through a tension resulting from unsatisfied hunger for sensory stimuli and concentration upon the few available sensations to private reveries and fantasies and eventually to visual imagery somewhat resembling hallucinations.

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"In our experiments, we notice that after immersion the day apparently is started over, i. e., the subject feels as if he has risen from bed afresh; this effect persists, and the subject finds he is out of step with the clock for the rest of the day."

Drs. Wexler, Mendelson, Leiderman, and Solomon conducted a somewhat similar experiment on seventeen paid volunteers. These subjects were "... placed in a tank-type respirator with a specially built mattress.... The vents of the respirator were left open, so that the subject breathed for himself. His arms and legs were enclosed in comfortable but rigid cylinders to inhibit movement and tactile contact. The subject lay on his back and was unable to see any part of his body. The motor of the respirator was run constantly, producing a dull, repetitive auditory stimulus. The room admitted no natural light, and artificial light was minimal and constant." (42) Although the established time limit was 36 hours and though all physical needs were taken care of, only 6 of the 17 completed the stint. The other eleven soon asked for release. Four of these terminated the experiment because of anxiety and panic; seven did so because of physical discomfort. The results confirmed earlier findings that (1) the deprivation of sensory stimuli induces stress; (2) the stress becomes unbearable for most subjects; (3) the subject has a growing need for physical and social stimuli; and (4) some subjects progressively lose touch with reality, focus inwardly, and produce delusions, hallucinations, and other pathological effects.

In summarizing some scientific reporting on sensory and perceptual deprivation, Kubzansky offers the following observations:

"Three studies suggest that the more well-adjusted or 'normal' the subject is, the more he is affected by deprivation of sensory stimuli. Neurotic and psychotic subjects are either comparatively unaffected or show decreases in anxiety, hallucinations, etc." (7)

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These findings suggest - but by no means prove - the following theories about solitary confinement and isolation:

1. The more completely the place of confinement eliminates sensory stimuli, the more rapidly and deeply will the interrogatee be affected. Results produced only after weeks or months of imprisonment in an ordinary cell can be duplicated in hours or days in a cell which has no light (or weak artificial light which never varies), which is sound-proofed, in which odors are eliminated, etc. An environment still more subject to control, such as water-tank or iron lung, is even more effective.

2. An early effect of such an environment is anxiety. How soon it appears and how strong it is depends upon the psychological characteristics of the individual.

3. The interrogator can benefit from the subject's anxiety. As the interrogator becomes linked in the subject's mind with the reward of lessened anxiety, human contact, and meaningful activity, and thus with providing relief for growing discomfort, the questioner assumes a benevolent role. (7)

4. The deprivation of stimuli induces regression by depriving the subject's mind of contact with an outer world and thus forcing it in upon itself. At the same time, the calculated provision of stimuli during interrogation tends to make the regressed subject view the interrogator as a father-figure. The result, normally, is a strengthening of the subject's tendencies toward compliance.

F. Threats and Fear

The threat of coercion usually weakens or destroys resistance more effectively than coercion itself. The threat to inflict pain, for example, can trigger fears more damaging than the immediate sensation of pain. In fact, most people underestimate their capacity to withstand pain. The same principle holds for other fears: sustained long enough, a strong fear of anything vague or unknown induces regression,

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whereas the materialization of the fear, the infliction of some form of punishment, is likely to come as a relief. The subject finds that he can hold out, and his resistances are strengthened. "In general, direct physical brutality creates only resentment, hostility, and further defiance." (18)

The effectiveness of a threat depends not only on what sort of person the interrogatee is and whether he believes that his questioner can and will carry the threat out but also on the interrogator's reasons for threatening. If the interrogator threatens because he is angry, the subject frequently senses the fear of failure underlying the anger and is strengthened in his own resolve to resist. Threats delivered coldly are more effective than those shouted in rage. It is especially important that a threat not be uttered in response to the interrogatee's own expressions of hostility. These, if ignored, can induce feelings of guilt, whereas retorts in kind relieve the subject's feelings.

Another reason why threats induce compliance not evoked by the inflection of duress is that the threat grants the interrogatee time for compliance. It is not enough that a resistant source should placed under the tension of fear; he must also discern an acceptable escape route. Biderman observes, "Not only can the shame or guilt of defeat in the encounter with the interrogator be involved, but also the more fundamental injunction to protect one's self-autonomy or 'will'.... A simple defense against threats to the self from the anticipation of being forced to comply is, of course, to comply 'deliberately' or 'voluntarily'.... To the extent that the foregoing interpretation holds, the more intensely motivated the [interrogatee] is to resist, the more intense is the pressure toward early compliance from such anxieties, for the greater is the threat to self-esteem which is involved in contemplating the possibility of being 'forced to' comply...." (6) In brief, the threat is like all other coercive techniques in being most effective when so used as to foster regression and when joined with a suggested way out of the dilemma, a rationalization acceptable to the interrogatee.

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The threat of death has often been found to be worse than useless. It "has the highest position in law as a defense, but in many interrogation situations it is a highly ineffective threat. Many prisoners, in fact, have refused to yield in the face of such threats who have subsequently been 'broken' by other procedures." (3) The principal reason is that the ultimate threat is likely to induce sheer hopelessness if the interrogatee does not believe that it is a trick; he feels that he is as likely to be condemned after compliance as before. The threat of death is also ineffective when used against hard-headed types who realize that silencing them forever would defeat the interrogator's purpose. If the threat is recognized as a bluff, it will not only fail but also pave the way to failure for later coercive ruses used by the interrogator.

G. Debility

No report of scientific investigation of the effect of debility upon the interrogatee's powers of resistance has been discovered. For centuries interrogators have employed various methods of inducing physical weakness: prolonged constraint; prolonged exertion; extremes of heat, cold, or moisture; and deprivation or drastic reduction of food or sleep. Apparently the assumption is that lowering the source's physiological resistance will lower his psychological capacity for opposition. If this notion were valid, however, it might reasonably be expected that those subjects who are physically weakest at the beginning of an interrogation would be the quickest to capitulate, a concept not supported by experience. The available evidence suggests that resistance is sapped principally by psychological rather than physical pressures. The threat of debility - for example, a brief deprivation of food - may induce much more anxiety than prolonged hunger, which will result after a while in apathy and, perhaps, eventual delusions or hallucinations. In brief, it appears probable that the techniques of inducing debility become counter-productive at an early stage. The discomfort, tension, and restless search for an avenue of escape are

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followed by withdrawal symptoms, a turning away from external stimuli, and a sluggish unresponsiveness.

Another objection to the deliberate inducing of debility is that prolonged exertion, loss of sleep, etc., themselves become patterns to which the subject adjusts through apathy. The interrogator should use his power over the resistant subject's physical environment to disrupt patterns of response, not to create them. Meals and sleep granted irregularly, in more than abundance or less than adequacy, the shifts occuring on no discernible time pattern, will normally disorient an interrogatee and sap his will to resist more effectively than a sustained deprivation leading to debility.

H. Pain

Everyone is aware that people react very differently to pain. The reason, apparently, is not a physical difference in the intensity of the sensation itself. Lawrence E. Hinkle observes, "The sensation of pain seems to be roughly equal in all men, that is to say, all people have approximately the same threshold at which they begin to feel pain, and when carefully graded stimuli are applied to them, their estimates of severity are approximately the same.... Yet... when men are very highly motivated... they have been known to carry out rather complex tasks while enduring the most intense pain." He also states, "In general, it appears that whatever may be the role of the constitutional endowment in determining the reaction to pain, it is a much less important determinant than is the attitude of the man who experiences the pain." (7)

The wide range of individual reactions to pain may be partially explicable in terms of early conditioning. The person whose first encounters with pain were frightening and intense may be more violently affected by its later infliction than one whose original experiences were mild. Or the reverse may be true, and the man whose childhood familiarized him with pain may dread

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it less, and react less, than one whose distress is heightened by fear of the unknown. The individual remains the determinant.

It has been plausibly suggested that, whereas pain inflicted on a person from outside himself may actually focus or intensify his will to resist, his resistance is likelier to be sapped by pain which he seems to inflict upon himself. "In the simple torture situation the contest is one between the individual and his tormentor (.... and he can frequently endure). When the individual is told to stand at attention for long periods, an intervening factor is introduced. The immediate source of pain is not the interrogator but the victim himself. The motivational strength of the individual is likely to exhaust itself in this internal encounter.... As long as the subject remains standing, he is attributing to his captor the power to do something worse to him, but there is actually no showdown of the ability of the interrogator to do so." (4)

Interrogatees who are withholding but who feel qualms of guilt and a secret desire to yield are likely to become intractable if made to endure pain. The reason is that they can then interpret the pain as punishment and hence as expiation. There are also persons who enjoy pain and its anticipation and who will keep back information that they might otherwise divulge if they are given reason to expect that withholding will result in the punishment that they want. Persons of considerable moral or intellectual stature often find in pain inflicted by others a confirmation of the belief that they are in the hands of inferiors, and their resolve not to submit is strengthened.

Intense pain is quite likely to produce false confessions, concocted as a means of escaping from distress. A time-consuming delay results, while investigation is conducted and the admissions are proven untrue. During this respite the interrogatee can pull himself together. He may even use the time to think up new, more complex "admissions" that take still longer to disprove. KUBARK is especially vulnerable to such tactics because the interrogation is conducted for the sake of information and not for police purposes.

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If an interrogatee is caused to suffer pain rather late in the interrogation process and after other tactics have failed, he is almost certain to conclude that the interrogator is becoming desperate. He may then decide that if he can just hold out against this final assault, he will win the struggle and his freedom. And he is likely to be right. Interrogatees who have withstood pain are more difficult to handle by other methods. The effect has been not to repress the subject but to restore his confidence and maturity.


I. Heightened Suggestibility and Hypnosis

In recent years a number of hypotheses about hypnosis have been advanced by psychologists and others in the guise of proven principles. Among these are the flat assertions that a person connot be hypnotized against his will; that while hypnotized he cannot be induced to divulge information that he wants urgently to conceal; and that he will not undertake, in trance or through post-hypnotic suggestion, actions to which he would normally have serious moral or ethical objections. If these and related contentions were proven valid, hypnosis would have scant value for the interrogator.

But despite the fact that hypnosis has been an object of scientific inquiry for a very long time, none of these theories has yet been tested adequately. Each of them is in conflict with some observations of fact. In any event, an interrogation handbook cannot and need not include a lengthy discussion of hypnosis. The case officer or interrogator needs to know enough about the subject to understand the circumstances under which hypnosis can be a useful tool, so that he can request expert assistance appropriately.

Operational personnel, including interrogators, who chance to have some lay experience or skill in hypnotism should not themselves use hypnotic techniques for interrogation or other operational purposes. There are two reasons for this position. The first is that hypnotism used as an operational tool by a practitioner who is not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or M.D. can produce irreversible psychological damage. The

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lay practitioner does not know enough to use the technique safely. The second reason is that an unsuccessful attempt to hypnotize a subject for purposes of interrogation, or a successful attempt not adequately covered by post-hypnotic amnesia or other protection, can easily lead to lurid and embarrassing publicity or legal charges.

Hypnosis is frequently called a state of heightened suggestibility, but the phrase is a description rather than a definition. Merton M. Gill and Margaret Brenman state, "The psychoanalytic theory of hypnosis clearly implies, where it does not explicitly state, that hypnosis is a form of regression." And they add, "...induction [of hypnosis] is the process of bringing about a regression, while the hypnotic state is the established regression." (13) It is suggested that the interrogator will find this definition the most useful. The problem of overcoming the resistance of an uncooperative interrogatee is essentially a problem of inducing regression to a level at which the resistance can no longer be sustained. Hypnosis is one way of regressing people.

Martin T. Orne has written at some length about hypnosis and interrogation. Almost all of his conclusions are tentatively negative. Concerning the role played by the will or attitude of the interrogates, Orne says, "Although the crucial experiment has not yet been done, there is little or no evidence to indicate that trance can be induced against a person's wishes." He adds, "...the actual occurrence of the trance state is related to the wish of the subject to enter hypnosis." And he also observes, "...whether a subject will or will not enter trance depends upon his relationship with the hyponotist rather than upon the technical procedure of trance induction." These views are probably representative of those of many psychologists, but they are not definitive. As Orne himself later points out, the interrogatee "... could be given a hypnotic drug with appropriate verbal suggestions to talk about a given topic. Eventually enough of the drug

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would be given to cause a short period of unconsciousness. When the subject wakes, the interrogator could then read from his 'notes' of the hypnotic interview the information presumably told him." (Orne had previously pointed out that this technique requires that the interrogator possess significant information about the subject without the subject's knowledge.) "It can readily be seen how this... maneuver... would facilitate the elicitation of information in subsequent interviews." (7) Techniques of inducing trance in resistant subjects through preliminary administration of so-called silent drugs (drugs which the subject does not know he has taken) or through other non-routine methods of induction are still under investigation. Until more facts are known, the question of whether a resister can be hypnotized involuntarily must go unanswered.

Orne also holds that even if a resister can be hypnotized, his resistance does not cease. He postulates "... that only in rare interrogation subjects would a sufficiently deep trance be obtainable to even attempt to induce the subject to discuss material which he is unwilling to discuss in the waking state. The kind of information which can be obtained in these rare instances is still an unanswered question." He adds that it is doubtful that a subject in trance could be made to reveal information which he wished to safeguard. But here too Orne seems somewhat too cautious or pessimistic. Once an interrogatee is in a hypnotic trance, his understanding of reality becomes subject to manipulation. For example, a KUBARK interrogator could tell a suspect double agent in trance that the KGB is conducting the questioning, and thus invert the whole frame of reference. In other words, Orne is probably right in holding that most recalcitrant subjects will continue effective resistance as long as the frame of reference is undisturbed. But once the subject is tricked into believing that he is talking to friend rather than foe, or that divulging the truth is the best way to serve his own purposes, his resistance will be replaced by cooperation. The value of hypnotic trance is not that it permits the interrogator to impose his will but rather that it can be used to convince the interrogatee that there is no valid reason not to be forthcoming.

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A third objection raised by Orne and others is that material elicited during trance is not reliable. Orne says, "... it has been shown that the accuracy of such information... would not be guaranteed since subjects in hypnosis are fully capable of lying." Again, the observation is correct; no known manipulative method guarantees veracity. But if hypnosis is employed not as an immediate instrument for digging out the truth but rather as a way of making the subject want to align himself with his interrogators, the objection evaporates.

Hypnosis offers one advantage not inherent in other interrogation techniques or aids: the post-hypnotic suggestion. Under favorable circumstances it should be possible to administer a silent drug to a resistant source, persuade him as the drug takes effect that he is slipping into a hypnotic trance, place him under actual hypnosis as consciousness is returning, shift his frame of reference so that his reasons for resistance become reasons for cooperating, interrogate him, and conclude the session by implanting the suggestion that when he emerges from trance he will not remember anything about what has happened.

This sketchy outline of possible uses of hypnosis in the interrogation of resistant sources has no higher goal than to remind operational personnel that the technique may provide the answer to a problem not otherwise soluble. To repeat: hypnosis is distinctly not a do-it-yourself project. Therefore the interrogator, base, or center that is considering its use must anticipate the timing sufficiently not only to secure the obligatory headquarters permission but also to allow for an expert's travel time and briefing.

J. Narcosis

Just as the threat of pain may more effectively induce compliance than its infliction, so an interrogatee's mistaken belief that he has been drugged may make him a more useful interrogation subject than he would be under narcosis. Louis A. Gottschalk cites a group of studies as indicating "that 30 to 50 per cent of individuals are placebo reactors, that is, respond

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with symptomatic relief to taking an inert substance." (7) In the interrogation situation, moreover, the effectiveness of a placebo may be enhanced because of its ability to placate the conscience. The subject's primary source of resistance to confession or divulgence may be pride, patriotism, personal loyalty to superiors, or fear of retribution if he is returned to their hands. Under such circumstances his natural desire to escape from stress by complying with the interrogator's wishes may become decisive if he is provided an acceptable rationalization for compliance. "I was drugged" is one of the best excuses.

Drugs are no more the answer to the interrogator's prayer than the polygraph, hypnosis, or other aids. Studies and reports "dealing with the validity of material extracted from reluctant informants... indicate that there is no drug which can force every informant to report all the information he has. Not only may the inveterate criminal psychopath lie under the influence of drugs which have been tested, but the relatively normal and well-adjusted individual may also successfully disguise factual data." (3) Gottschalk reinforces the latter observation in mentioning an experiment involving drugs which indicated that "the more normal, well-integrated individuals could lie better than the guilt-ridden, neurotic subjects." (7)

Nevertheless, drugs can be effective in overcoming resistance not dissolved by other techniques. As has already been noted, the so-called silent drug (a pharmacologically potent substance given to a person unaware of its administration) can make possible the induction of hypnotic trance in a previously unwilling subject. Gottschalk says, "The judicious choice of a drug with minimal side effects, its matching to the subject's personality, careful gauging of dosage, and a sense of timing... [make] silent administration a hard-to-equal ally for the hypnotist intent on producing self-fulfilling and inescapable suggestions... the drug effects should prove... compelling to the subject since the perceived sensations originate entirely within himself." (7)

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Particularly important is the reference to matching the drug to the personality of the interrogatee. The effect of most drugs depends more upon the personality of the subject than upon the physical characteristics of the drugs themselves. If the approval of Headquarters has been obtained and if a doctor is at hand for administration, one of the most important of the interrogator's functions is providing the doctor with a full and accurate description of the psychological make-up of the interrogatee, to facilitate the best possible choice of a drug.

Persons burdened with feelings of shame or guilt are likely to unburden themselves when drugged, especially if these feelings have been reinforced by the interrogator. And like the placebo, the drug provides an excellent rationalization of helplessness for the interrogatee who wants to yield but has hitherto been unable to violate his own values or loyalties.

Like other coercive media, drugs may affect the content of what an interrogatee divulges. Gottschalk notes that certain drugs "may give rise to psychotic manifestations such as hallucinations, illusions, delusions, or disorientation", so that "the verbal material obtained cannot always be considered valid." (7) For this reason drugs (and the other aids discussed in this section) should not be used persistently to facilitate the interrogative debriefing that follows capitulation. Their function is to cause capitulation, to aid in the shift from resistance to cooperation. Once this shift has been accomplished, coercive techniques should be abandoned both for moral reasons and because they are unnecessary and even counter-productive.

This discussion does not include a list of drugs that have been employed for interrogation purposes or a discussion of their properties because these are medical considerations within the province of a doctor rather than an interogator.

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K. The Detection of Malingering

The detection of malingering is obviously not an interrogation technique, coercive or otherwise. But the history of interrogation is studded with the stories of persons who have attempted, often successfully, to evade the mounting pressures of interrogation by feigning physical or mental illness. KUBARK interrogators may encounter seemingly sick or irrational interrogatees at times and places which make it difficult or next-to-impossible to summon medical or other professional assistance. Because a few tips may make it possible for the interrogator to distinguish between the malingerer and the person who is genuinely ill, and because both illness and malingering are sometimes produced by coercive interrogation, a brief discussion of the topic has been included here.

Most persons who feign a mental or physical illness do not know enough about it to deceive the well-informed. Malcolm L. Meltzer says, "The detection of malingering depends to a great extent on the simulator's failure to understand adequately the characteristics of the role he is feigning.... Often he presents symptoms which are exceedingly rare, existing mainly in the fancy of the layman. One such symptom is the delusion of misidentification, characterized by the... belief that he is some powerful or historic personage. This symptom is very unusual in true psychosis, but is used by a number of simulators. In schizophrenia, the onset tends to be gradual, delusions do not spring up full-blown over night; in simulated disorders, the onset is usually fast and delusions may be readily available. The feigned psychosis often contains many contradictory and inconsistent symptoms, rarely existing together. The malingerer tends to go to extremes in his portrayal of his symptoms; he exaggerates, overdramatizes, grimaces, shouts, is overly bizarre, and calls attention to himself in other ways....

"Another characteristic of the malingerer is that he will usually seek to evade or postpone examination. A study

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of the behavior of lie-detector subjects, for example, showed that persons later 'proven guilty' showed certain similarities of behavior. The guilty persons were reluctant to take the test, and they tried in various ways to postpone or delay it. They often appeared highly anxious and sometimes took a hostile attitude toward the test and the examiner. Evasive tactics sometimes appeared, such as sighing, yawning, moving about, all of which foil the examiner by obscuring the recording. Before the examination, they felt it necessary to explain why their responses might mislead the examiner into thinking they were lying. Thus the procedure of subjecting a suspected malingerer to a lie-detector test might evoke behavior which would reinforce the suspicion of fraud." (7)

Meltzer also notes that malingerers who are not professional psychologists can usually be exposed through Rorschach tests.

An important element in malingering is the frame of mind of the examiner. A person pretending madness awakens in a professional examiner not only suspicion but also a desire to expose the fraud, whereas a well person who pretends to be concealing mental illness and who permits only a minor symptom or two to peep through is much likelier to create in the expert a desire to expose the hidden sickness.

Meltzer observes that simulated mutism and amnesia can usually be distinguished from the true states by narcoanalysis. The reason, however, is the reverse of the popular misconception. Under the influence of appropriate drugs the malingerer will persist in not speaking or in not remembering, whereas the symptoms of the genuinely afflicted will temporarily disappear. Another technique is to pretend to take the deception seriously, express grave concern, and tell the "patient" that the only remedy for his illness is a series of electric shock treatments or a frontal lobotomy.

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L. Conclusion 

A brief summary of the foregoing may help to pull the major concepts of coercive interrogation together:

1. The principal coercive techniques are arrest, detention, the deprivation of sensory stimuli, threats and fear, debility, pain, heightened suggestibility and hypnosis, and drugs.

2. If a coercive technique is to be used, or if two or more are to be employed jointly, they should be chosen for their effect upon the individual and carefully selected to match his personality.

3. The usual effect of coercion is regression. The interrogatee's mature defenses crumbles as he becomes more childlike. During the process of regression the subject may experience feelings of guilt, and it is usually useful to intensify these.

4. When regression has proceeded far enough so that the subject's desire to yield begins to overbalance his resistance, the interrogator should supply a face-saving rationalization. Like the coercive technique, the rationalization must be carefully chosen to fit the subject's personality.

5. The pressures of duress should be slackened or lifted after compliance has been obtained, so that the interrogatee's voluntary cooperation will not be impeded.

No mention has been made of what is frequently the last step in an interrogation conducted by a Communist service: the attempted conversion. In the Western view the goal of the questioning is information; once a sufficient degree of cooperation has been obtained to permit the

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interrogator access to the information he seeks, he is not ordinarily concerned with the attitudes of the source. Under some circumstances, however, this pragmatic indifference can be short-sighted. If the interrogatee remains semi-hostile or remorseful after a successful interrogation has ended, less time may be required to complete his conversion (and conceivably to create an enduring asset) than might be needed to deal with his antagonism if he is merely squeezed and forgotten.

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The CIA's Secret Manual on Coercive Questioning
by Jon Elliston
ParaScope Dossier Editor
pscpdocs@aol.com

Faced with a FOIA lawsuit, the Central Intelligence Agency recently released an interrogation manual to the Baltimore Sun that details brutal methods of extracting information from resistant sources. The "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation" manual does more than simply outline various psychological and physical torture tactics: it demonstrates a real-world application of the CIA's mind control research and offers clues on the agency's role in human rights abuses around the world. This report examines the historical context of the interrogation manual, the MKULTRA connection, and the manual itself, presented here verbatim for the first time online.

(c) Copyright 1997 ParaScope, Inc. 




  • 1: The CIA and Torture, On the Record
  • 2: The Coercion Continuum
  • 3: The Mind Control Connection
  • 4: The Terror Trade
  • Document: KUBARK Interrogation Manual Transcript
  • Sources
  • Available Now: ParaScope's Reprint of the KUBARK Manual

==============================
The CIA and Torture,
On the Record


The release of a Central Intelligence Agency guidebook on interrogation would be an important and publicized event in any context, but as it happens, this manual arrives in the public domain at an especially crucial juncture in the long-standing debate over the agency's role and mission. The CIA turns 50 in September of this year, and the circumstances surrounding the January 1997 declassification of this document suggest that the anniversary will be marked by a determined effort by historians, activists, and public officials to reevaluate the conduct of this secretive agency.

This June 1963 document, titled "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation" (KUBARK is a code-word referring to CIA), should be a key piece of evidence in such attempts to assess the agency's operations. The manual, which explores methods of extracting information from resistant sources and advises torture techniques that were not officially renounced until the mid-1980s, provides a fitting departure point from which to launch an investigation of the CIA's role in advancing the scientific basis for brutal questioning methods and promoting their use throughout the world.

These methods have recently come back to haunt the CIA, as a stream of media and official reports has exposed extensive agency assistance to foreign killers. In several countries where U.S. intelligence maintained working relationships with repressive security forces, victims and victimizers have gone on record with accounts of how the United States, though the CIA, has promoted grave human rights abuses. In two of the more prominent recent cases -- the CIA's involvement in Guatemala and Honduras -- pressure from human rights groups and some members of Congress has risen to the point where the agency has been compelled to conduct internal reviews, submit its conduct to the scrutiny of outside investigators, and shed some notorious criminals from its payroll.

In Guatemala, a country that endured decades of dictatorship following the CIA's 1954 operation to overthrow the government of elected president Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, the agency employed until very recently military officers who were responsible for "serious human rights violations such as assassination, extrajudicial execution, torture, or kidnapping while they were [CIA] assets," according to a 1996 report by President Clinton's Intelligence Oversight Board. (1) A March 1997 report by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee confirmed the IOB's findings. (2)

Increased attention was brought to these matters in March 1995 when it was revealed that CIA Guatemalan assets were involved in the murders of American citizen Michael Devine, who ran a back-country inn, and Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, a guerrilla leader married to an American woman, Jennifer Harbury. (3) Fasts and vigils by Harbury and Sister Diana Ortiz, an American nun who was kidnapped, raped and tortured by Guatemalan security forces in 1989, built interest in the issue and prompted White House assurances that the CIA's involvement in Guatemala would be closely examined and that all relevant government documents on the subject would be made public. None of the materials released to date have identified "Alejandro," an American who, according to Ortiz, advised the Guatemalan military team who brutalized her.(4)

The ordeal of Sister Ortiz, whose body bears the scars of 111 cigarette burns inflicted during her detention, was experienced by thousands of Guatemalans during the 1980s, when a massive program of political torture and murder gripped the country. The military and police agencies responsible received continual assistance from the CIA. In April 1995, investigative journalist Allan Nairn reported that the CIA "has systematic links to Guatemalan Army death squad operations that go far beyond the disclosures" of the previous month. According to current and former officials from the United States and Guatemala interviewed by Nairn, "CIA operatives work inside a Guatemalan Army unit [the G-2] that maintains a network of torture centers and has killed thousands of Guatemalan civilians," and "at least three of the recent G-2 chiefs have been paid by the CIA." A former U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) official in Guatemala told Nairn the involvement was so extensive that "it would be an embarrassing situation if you ever had a roll call of everybody in the Guatemalan Army who ever collected a CIA paycheck." (5)

At least one government official has gone to bat against the CIA's conduct in Guatemala, despite the risks of doing so. In March of 1995 Richard Nuccio, then a White House aide, shared information with Congress about CIA ties to Guatemalan military officers implicated in the murders of Devine and Bamaca. In retaliation, the CIA successfully lobbied to have Nuccio's security clearance revoked, effectively destroying his eligibility for high government office. As the conflict came to a head, Nuccio said he was "being hounded out of government service by the CIA for telling Congress what it had a right to know." (6)

In late February 1997 Nuccio, who had been moved to a low-level position at the State Department, resigned to return to work as a congressional aide. In a letter to President Clinton announcing his decision to quit, Nuccio wrote that the CIA has employed agents guilty of "systematic human rights violations," and warned that "if you do not take decisive steps to bring the agency under control, far graver damage will result to our democracy than the denial of a clearance to one individual." (7)

Nuccio was not the only job casualty of the CIA's Guatemala controversy. In early March of 1997, the Washington Post reported that as a result of the outcry over the CIA's involvement with Guatemalan rights abusers, the agency conducted an "agent scrub" -- a purge of foreign informants on the CIA payroll with criminal backgrounds -- beginning in 1994. Since then, about 100 informants have been dropped for human rights problems. A disproportionately high number -- about 50 -- were involved in the CIA's operations in Latin America. (8)

Though the Post report did not identify the countries where the CIA reformed its ranks, the agency's Honduras station was almost certainly the locus of many of the firings. In the early 1980s, the CIA played an instrumental role in setting up a Honduran military intelligence unit, Battalion 316, that wreaked havoc on the human rights front. In a June 1995 investigative series, Baltimore Sun reporters Gary Cohn and Ginger Thompson described in detail how the CIA, in concert with Argentine military experts fresh from a decade of "dirty war" against dissidents in their country, instructed Battalion 316 in intelligence matters including surveillance and interrogation. Cohn and Thompson uncovered close CIA ties to the Honduran officers who maintained secret prisons, directed torture sessions, and commanded death squads that killed hundreds of suspected "subversives," including many union and student leaders. (9)

The Sun series is heavily documented, drawing on scores of interviews with former U.S. officials and members and surviving victims of Battalion 316. Cohn and Thompson also tracked the U.S. government paper trail on assistance to the unit, and discovered that secret CIA manuals were consulted in training the Hondurans advanced methods of interrogation. In May of 1994, the Sun filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the CIA seeking release of the documents.

Cohn says the CIA responded to the request with "an awful lot of delay," even though the Sun had provided the names and dates of the manuals. Not until more than two years later, when the Sun threatened legal action, did the CIA release the manuals. (10) One of the documents, titled "Human Resources Exploitation Manual - 1983," summarized the CIA interrogation training given to military personnel from several Latin American countries and repeated many of the psychological torture strategies outlined in the 1963 manual. (In the mid-1980s these tactics were scribbled out in the manual in the aftermath of the scandal over another CIA manual, a primer on psychological operations prepared for the Nicaraguan contras).

Reading the disturbing methods detailed in the manuals, its easy to see why the CIA preferred that the documents remain classified. Documentary disclosures about such agency abuses are all too rare, and the Sun's success with the FOIA is a significant reminder of how persistent investigators can take advantage of the law to shed light on hidden government improprieties.

At the same time, the case illustrates the shortcomings of the FOIA when it comes to potentially scandalous documents like the interrogation manuals. The CIA relinquished the materials because the Sun committed to a legal challenge -- an option not readily available to the average FOIA requester. Only when the agency was confronted with the specter of an embarrassing court battle did the FOIA yield results "as it should for any citizen," observes Cohn.

In evaluating this victory for disclosure, another caveat deserves mention: while most of the 1963 manual is now available to the public, significant portions were censored by the CIA prior to release. For example, 8 of the 42 bibliographical entries are completely deleted, as are 4 of the 50 items on the "Interrogator's Check List." On several pages, discussion of the CIA's policy on the use of forcible detention (which the agency has no legal authority for) are deleted (see pp. 6-843-4586). The CIA's public affairs staff also refused this author's request to provide translations of the numerous code-words used in the document, making it difficult to discern the full meaning of passages where these words are used.

Despite these omissions, "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation" contains valuable information on several secret CIA endeavors, including the agency's mind control research. Like the recent media reports on the CIA's ties to murderous security forces, the manual fills significant gaps in the history of U.S. foreign policy. As no previously released document has done, this manual places the CIA's hostile interrogation strategies on the record. The manual was designed to root out the secrets of interogatees, but now that its contents can be widely read, it is the CIA who has many questions to answer.
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The Mind Control Connection

Though certainly this is a remarkable document, its science-based approach to interrogation demonstrates a perspective common among national security officials when the manual was written. The manual was one of thousands of government efforts to apply behavioral science expertise to military and intelligence objectives deemed crucial in the early years of the Cold War.

In her survey of "the career of Cold War psychology," Ellen Herman reports that "between 1945 and the mid-1960s, the U.S. military was by far the country's major institutional sponsor of psychological research," spending at least $15.7 million on psychological studies in fiscal year 1961 alone. (13) The research explored topics ranging from the psychological traits of insurgents to the mental defenses against interrogation. The government made a similarly massive effort to enlist the field of communication studies to perfect U.S. propaganda and counterinsurgency programs. (14)

By 1963, when the manual was authored, the CIA counterintelligence staff had a sizable foundation of government-funded psychological research on which to base their guidebook. The manual's introduction states that "a principal source of aid [to interrogators] today is scientific findings. The intelligence service which is able to bring pertinent, modern knowledge to bear upon its problems enjoys huge advantages over a service which conducts its clandestine business in eighteenth century fashion." In fact, the manual argued, this knowledge "is of sufficient importance and relevance that it is no longer possible to discuss interrogation significantly without reference to the psychological research conducted in the past decade" (p. 2).

Accordingly, the manual explains, "a major purpose of this document is to focus relevant scientific findings upon CI [counterintelligence] interrogation." The manual does not explain that many of the "relevant scientific findings" that had become so useful for interrogators were the product of covert funding from the CIA. The bibliography of source materials for the manual is laced with the names of scientists involved with Project MKULTRA, the agency's secretive, multi-million dollar program of experiments in mind and behavior control. At this time it is impossible to state definitively how many of the authors in this bibliography were recipients of MKULTRA funds, as the CIA has destroyed and withheld many of their records on the program. (15) Other specialists listed in the bibliography received Pentagon grants for similar mind control research.

The published works of some of the CIA's most experienced and relied upon scientific contacts were put to use in the interrogation manual. Among this group were two noted Cornell University medical researchers, Harold Wolff and Lawrence Hinkle, who authored the CIA's first major study on the indoctrination of prisoners of war. During the 1950s, "the team of Wolff and Hinkle became the chief brainwashing studiers for the U.S. government," according to John Marks, author of the definitive account of the CIA's mind control program. (16) Two of the most enthusiastic academic participants in MKULTRA, Wolff and Hinkle were the president and vice-president, respectively, of the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology, a CIA front organization.

Posing as a non-governmental scientific foundation, between 1955 and 1965 Human Ecology channeled CIA funds into dozens of MKULTRA studies. One researcher financed by Human Ecology, Harvard's Martin Orne, examined potential applications of hypnosis in interrogation. (17) A chapter summarizing his research forms the basis of the CIA manual's discussion of the uses of hypnosis (see pp. 96-98). Another Human Ecology grant went to Air Force researcher Albert Biderman to fund his study of "Social Psychological Needs and 'Involuntary' Behavior as Illustrated by Compliance in Interrogation" -- another article referred to in the manual. (18)

In another effort to improve its interrogation methods, the CIA sought help from John Lilly, a prominent researcher of the effects of sensory deprivation. (19) Lilly declined the offer of an MKULTRA contract, but one of his studies is cited in the interrogation manual nonetheless (see pp. 87-88).

Further evidence of the CIA's leading role in applying modern psychological research to interrogation is found in the manual's list of "other bibliographies" (p. 121). A 1960 report used to prepare the manual, "Brainwashing: A Guide to the Literature," was published by none other than the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology.

A prized product of the CIA's mind control research was the agency's Personality Assessment System (PAS), a means of measuring and classifying the mental makeup of individuals of interest to U.S. intelligence. Developed by CIA psychologist John Gittinger, the PAS was used to assess the intentions of foreign leaders and in selecting personnel for U.S.-backed security forces in countries including South Korea, Vietnam and Uruguay. (20)

An oblique reference in the interrogation manual suggests that the PAS, or a variant of the system, also had a role in the CIA's efforts to match interrogation methods with the particular psychological traits of interrogatees. The index of the manual lists a reference to an "Independent Assessment Program" on p. 30, but on that page all references to the program are deleted. The paragraph following the deleted portion begins with the words "Other psychological testing aids" -- suggesting that a PAS-like system is discussed in the text directly above. Given the manual's repeated instructions to probe and exploit the individual mindframe of the subject -- to place "a tap on the psychological jugular" -- it would not be surprising to find that yet another MKULTRA project, the PAS, was incorporated into CIA interrogation strategies.

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The Terror Trade 

The CIA was loath to release its manuals to the American public, but the agency has readily shared its expert opinions on interrogation with military and intelligence forces around the world. In numerous cases both the CIA and the Defense Department have been implicated in the international dissemination of torture and other political terror tactics. The tricks of the trade were often exported to governments who turned the brutal methods against their own civilians. There are too many cases on record to recount them all here, but a review of some frequently cited examples suggests that U.S. involvement in this terror trade has been so widespread that its effects can accurately be described as global in scope.

Most recently the CIA has come under scrutiny for its training of abusive officers in Guatemala and Honduras. These cases are but a sampling of the agency's experience in promoting the use of political terror in Central America. During the 1980s one of the agency's major covert operations, the contra war against Nicaragua, was repeatedly plunged into scandal due to its reliance on tactics that blatantly contradicted President Reagan's public praise of the contra guerrillas, whom he described as a force of "freedom fighters." A CIA-produced manual, Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare, schooled the contras on the use of "implicit terror," kidnapping and assassinations. (21)

U.S. Army instruction programs that spread similar methods in the region are also attracting criticism. According to declassified documents and recently issued Defense Department reports, the Army's "Project X," a set of intelligence courses taught since the 1960s in countries throughout Central and South America, included instruction on how to surveil, infiltrate, and undermine dissident groups. The training covered the use of kidnapping, blackmail, and executions. The materials were later consulted in the preparation of manuals used at the Army's School of the Americas (SOA), a Ft. Benning, Georgia, facility that trains Latin American military officers. Among the objectionable tactics later found in the SOA manuals were instructions on the use of hypnotism and "truth serum" drugs in interrogation. (22)

Representative Joseph Kennedy, a longtime congressional critic of the SOA, remarked that the manuals "taught tactics that come right out of a Soviet gulag and have no place in civilized society -- they certainly have no place in any course taught with taxpayer dollars on U.S. soil by the members of our own military." (23) Amnesty International issued a statement calling for full disclosure of the history of Project X and commenting that "it seems highly unlikely that it is merely a coincidence that some of the most widespread and systematic human rights violations have taken place in precisely those countries, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Peru, where these materials were most widely used." (24)

By virtue of their proximity to the United States, these countries bore the brunt of the abuses that accompanied U.S. counterinsurgency aid -- but the manuals and lesson plans that shared such tactics were extensively distributed outside this hemisphere as well. In March 1997 the Washington Post reported that according to Army documents and former Pentagon officials, the Project X materials "were used much more widely, by U.S. personnel working in a variety of countries," including Vietnam, Japan and Iran. (25)

CIA ties to torturers have likewise reached to every corner of the globe. The agency created and guided oppressive security programs in several Southeast Asian countries, most notably Vietnam, where the United States ran its most intensive counterinsurgency campaign. During the late 1960s, in South Vietnam the CIA set up the infamous Phoenix Program, an effort to eradicate the Viet Cong infrastructure. Phoenix is largely remembered as an assassination program (at least 20,000 suspects were murdered), but the operation also established a network of "Provincial Interrogation Centers" that often served as torture chambers. (26)

In the years that followed, the advanced counterinsurgency tactics of Phoenix were shared with thousands of foreign police officers trained by CIA instructors in various programs run by the State Department's Agency for International Development, including the Office of Public Safety and the International Police Academy. (27)

The CIA has also been directly linked to torture training in the Middle East, where the agency for two and a half decades reinforced the repressive state of Shah Mohammed Pahlevi, the dictator of Iran. Shortly before the Shah's overthrow in 1979, New York Times journalist Seymour Hersh reported that "a senior CIA official was involved in instructing officials in the Savak [the Iranian secret police] on torture techniques." Jesse J. Leaf, a former head Iran analyst for the CIA, told Hersh, "I do remember seeing and being told of [CIA personnel] who were there seeing the rooms and being told of torture. And I know that the torture rooms were toured and it was all paid for by the U.S.A." (28)

The human rights abuses promoted by the Pentagon and CIA are compounded by the abuses of government secrecy that continue to conceal many important records on these operations from public scrutiny. In the case of the Project X program, the Defense Department says it has destroyed almost all of the original documentation, purportedly to prevent further dissemination of such unacceptable tactics.

When such crucial records are wiped out of existence, our ability to document the history of U.S. military assistance and training programs is seriously impaired. Fragmentary media reports based on the recollections of former Pentagon officials are no substitute for a complete accounting of Project X. Likewise, neither the CIA's declassification of a couple incriminating manuals nor its "scrub" of its motley band of foreign assets is a substitute for a comprehensive congressional investigation of CIA cooperation with regimes that regularly employed terror tactics.

Currently there is little determination on Capitol Hill to unearth this disturbing history. For the time being, if the facts on the U.S. role in developing and exporting these tactics are to be established, they will be extracted from documents such as this interrogation manual. The document joins the steadily growing stack of declassified records that offer clues on the nature and extent of the CIA's complicity with state terror in other countries. Though much of the documentary evidence on the terror trade remains shielded by official secrecy, a close reading of this manual reveals the value of the pieces of the paper trail that we can currently examine.
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