Washington D.C. May 12, 2004: CIA interrogation manuals written in the 1960s and 1980s described “coercive techniques” such as those used to mistreat detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, according to the declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive. The Archive also posted a secret 1992 report written for then Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney warning that U.S. Army intelligence manuals that incorporated the earlier work of the CIA for training Latin American military officers in interrogation and counterintelligence techniques contained “offensive and objectionable material” that “undermines U.S. credibility, and could result in significant embarrassment.”
The two CIA manuals, “Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual-1983” and “KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation-July 1963,” were originally obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Baltimore Sun in 1997 (The CIA released a less censored version of the KUBARK document in February 2014, following a FOIA request by Jeffrey Kaye using the Muckrock FOIA service – see here.). The KUBARK manual includes a detailed section on “The Coercive Counterintelligence Interrogation of Resistant Sources,” with concrete assessments on employing “Threats and Fear,” “Pain,” and “Debility.” The language of the 1983 “Exploitation” manual drew heavily on the language of the earlier manual, as well as on Army Intelligence field manuals from the mid 1960s generated by “Project X”-a military effort to create training guides drawn from counterinsurgency experience in Vietnam. Recommendations on prisoner interrogation included the threat of violence and deprivation and noted that no threat should be made unless the questioner “has approval to carry out the threat.” The interrogator “is able to manipulate the subject’s environment,” the 1983 manual states, “to create unpleasant or intolerable situations, to disrupt patterns of time, space, and sensory perception.”
Plus ca change.