Abu Ghraib abuse
Abu Ghraib abuse
Statue of Liberty waterboarding

Governments’ long history of employing torture was brought to the forefront again during the allied forces’ occupation of Iraq when Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and military personnel were placed under investigation after graphic photographs of the abuse surfaced in April 2004. Many of the images depicted sensory deprivation and the Soviet’s KGB-style self-inflicted pain of standing until cooperating. Other images depicted even worse acts meant to degrade and humiliate prisoners. The Seattle Times reports:

The [George W.] Bush administration drafted amendments to the War Crimes Act that would retroactively protect policymakers from possible criminal charges for authorizing any humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees.1

“The Pentagon has denied torturing Iraqi prisoners, but it has admitted using sleep deprivation and playing loud rock music to break prisoners’ resistance,” reports BBC News Online Magazine. “Sleep deprivation…is a form of torture.… Going without sleep is intensely stressful, with unpredictable short and long-term effects. People lose the ability to act and think coherently.… Hallucinations, paranoia, disorientation — these are some of the symptoms of sleeplessness.”

“It is such a standard form of torture that basically everybody has used it at one time or another,” says Andrew Hogg, of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.2

Phillip Adams, in “Torture as American as apple pie” for The Australian, paraphrases Alfred McCoy’s A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation from the Cold War to the War on Terror:

[In the 1950s,] Donald Hebb found a form of torture far more effective than drugs or beatings. He could induce a state of psychosis within 48 hours, even in the healthy, well-adjusted students who volunteered to be guinea pigs. “By sitting them in a cubicle with goggles, gloves and headphones, cut off from their senses and sensory stimulation, they soon suffered hallucinations and then breakdown.”

Combining the KGB technique with Hebb’s discoveries produced a distinctively American style of torture, detailed by the CIA in their KUBARK counterintelligence manual. Refined in the field during the Kennedy years, in Central America and Southeast Asia, the approach was marketed by John F. Kennedy’s Office of Public Safety. By 1971 over a million police officers in 47 nations had been trained, including 85,000 in South Vietnam and 100,000 in Brazil.

“Confessions elicited through beatings are notoriously unreliable,” Adams relates. “The sympathetic ‘I’m your pal’ approach is far more effective.” 3

Officials deny it is American policy to torture, and point to their interrogation handbook, which interestingly enough condoned “waterboarding,” or partial drowning. The prison Mind Control methods used by the U.S. in Southwest Asia included soldiers raping Iraqi children while their parents were forced to watch.

Related links

1 Pete Yost (The Associated Press), “Retroactive changes to War Crimes Act?” The Seattle Times, 10 August 2006, at (retrieved: 13 March 2011).

2 Megan Lane and Brian Wheeler, “The real victims of sleep deprivation,” BBC News Online Magazine, 8 January 2004, at (retrieved: 12 February 2012).

3 Phillip Adams, “Torture as American as apple pie,” The Australian, at,5744,18538972%255E12272,00.html (retrieved: March 2006); See also Phillip Adams, “Torture as American as apple pie,”, at (retrieved: 12 February 2012).

See also

Kevin Crosby, “Torture,”, at (retrieved: 13 March 2011).

“Torture,”, at (retrieved: 9 June 2008).

“Donald Hebb,”, at (retrieved: 9 June 2008).

CIA Tradecraft (news group),, at (retrieved:
13 March 2011).

Related videos

“Putting Torture Behind Us,” CBS video at, (retrieved: 12 February 2012). (Watch it here)

“McCain on Torture,” tvpro1 video at, (retrieved: 12 February 2012). (Watch it here)

“‘I Was a Big Supporter of Waterboarding’ — Dick Cheney, February 14, 2010,” mmflint video at, (retrieved: February 2012). (Watch it here)

“Disabled Boy Held Down And Tortured By Laughing Teachers 2012,” D.O.T.S. video at, (retrieved: 8 January 2013). (Watch it here)

Related books

Leave a Reply

Stop censorship