TORTURE, INTERROGATION AND INTELLIGENCE
Alleged Lecture on torture techniques by Dr. Larry Forness of the American Military University.
What I want you to keep in
mind as you read this is that we are to assume the following situation: We have
somebody in our custody, who we believe has knowledge of an impending terrorist
attack, and we think that attack could be VERY serious, but we have less than
five days to find out what this person knows about the impending attack.
In this piece, I'm going to
specifically address using drugs known as "truth serums" as the means
by which we get the intelligence that we need. Some would call this a form of
I want you to know that I
don't glory torture for its own sake. I accept it as a means to survival.
To digress for a moment, and
to add a little humor to it, I don't get any pleasure inflicting pain on
anybody, unless you're a quarterback. I hate quarterbacks.
I was a
Quarterbacks live a charmed life.
Think about it.
never had zits as a kid. He never sweat.
He always got the best looking
cheerleader. He or his parents always had the best car. The teachers and
coaches would let him get away with murder, and yet call him a saint. He always
had his picture on the front cover of the football guide and the game-day
program. He was the class valedictorian. He never had to dig ditches in
100-degree heat in the summer to make money. Even during practice, he got to
wear a different color jersey from anybody else. He could sit down, kneel down,
slide down, fall down, lie down, down the damn ball or throw it away, and if
you even breathed on him you got penalized 15 yards for roughing the
quarterback. I ask you, when was the last time you ever saw any official at any
football game -- peewee through the pros -- ever throw flag on anybody for
roughing the linebacker?
I rest my case.
When Israel suffers a
terrorist attack, almost invariably they retaliate within 24 hours. The reason
that they can do this is that they have the world's best human intelligence
(humint), and they know how to interrogate people.
Their intelligence is so good
and they keep it so current that they know who has attacked them, and they
already have plans in existence for retaliation. Their humint sources are not
just Israelis, but actual members of the society on which they are spying.
They use humint and supplement it by signal intelligence (sigint). We do it
just ass-backwards, because we CAN'T do it the way the Israeli's do it -- we
simply do not have enough people on the ground.
It takes $500,000-1,000,000
and 3-5 years to train and put in place a good humint source (assume this is an
American hired by, say, the CIA, to try and infiltrate some terrorist group).
NOTHING that is going on at present can quickly change this equation or
situation. Forget the hearings, the posturing, the proposals, the realignments,
the debate. It's all based on the INCORRECT assumption that we already have the
tools, they just need to be rearranged. We do NOT have all the tools and no
flow chart or organization chart can change that.
The Geneva Convention was
not signed by any terrorist group. No terrorist should be provided any
protection whatsoever under the Geneva Convention.
We are supposed to be a
nation of laws.
If you are not a United States citizen, don't expect
protection of our laws.
Therefore, no terrorist --
whether running free or in custody -- is entitled to any protection under any
international law to which we are a signatory or law of the United States.
Most of what follows is what
I have learned from Israelis, South Koreans, Russians, as well as Americans.
I want to address several
fallacies of interrogation.
Fallacy #1. Torture never
works, because a prisoner will tell the interrogators whatever they want to
hear just to stop the torture.
That's based on a faulty
That faulty assumption is that, if you act on the fabricated
intelligence provided by the prisoner, and then you find out that it is not
correct, that the prisoner does not have to pay a price for lying. Before you
ask the prisoner for information, you tell that prisoner that if he or she
lies, you will torture the prisoner, the family, the friends, the parakeet,
whomever. And then do it.
Fallacy #2. Any prisoner
can outwit his or her interrogators.
This doesn't work with
interrogators who are members of a free society, and have very good to
excellent intelligence sources to confirm and verify what a prisoner says.
Part of this fallacy was
created as a result of what our American POWs told their North Vietnamese
interrogators, when those POWs were held in and around Hanoi during the Vietnam
North Vietnam was a closed
society. That society only heard and saw what their leaders wanted them to hear
and see. Our prisoners' Code of Conduct was changed in response to the brutal
torture that our POW's endured.
Our POWs held out under that
torture as long as they could.
When they could hold out no longer, they made
up something to stop the torture. Incredibly, and to show you how stupid and
uninformed the North Vietnamese were, our POWs made up names of superior
These names included General Mills (the cereal company), Major Domo,
Captain Video, etc. The North Vietnamese interrogators dutifully wrote down
this information, smiled smugly, and assumed that they had extracted critical
information from their prisoners.
In this sense, yes, the
prisoners did outwit the interrogators. In contrast, when our POWs were
interrogated by Russians, Cubans, East Germans, and Bulgarians, when they tried
to pull the same stunt as they did with the North Vietnamese, our guys were
beaten, starved, and tortured unmercifully. Our guys said that you could fool
North Vietnamese, but don't even think about trying it with those other guys.
Fallacy #3. Torture as a
means of interrogation is generally not accepted throughout the world.
In point of fact, within
the last three years, more than three-quarters of all countries in the world
have practiced torture as a means of interrogation.
This applies to their
own citizens, as well as foreigners, whether combatants or not.
Bleeding hearts just don't
get it. On the one hand, they kept telling us to allow the weapons inspectors
in Iraq more and more and more time and more and more and more time to uncover
weapons of mass destruction. On the other hand, once the President declared an
end to major combat operations in Iraq, the bleeding hearts started screeching
that the rebuilding and democratization of Iraq wasn't happening fast enough.
On the third hand, they run their hands at how quickly we had placed prisoners
into detention facilities. This herky-jerky, stop-and-go, inconsistency is
nothing more than political opportunism.
Even the ACLU got involved,
not on behalf of Americans, but on behalf of our enemies. If you didn't know
this, read this and burn it in your memory: The ACLU was founded by a card-carrying
member of the Communist Party. You should never again wonder why the ACLU is
trying to tear apart the moral and legal fiber of this country.
Fallacy #4. These things
called "truths serums" don't really work.
They do work to varying
degrees of success.
There are three primary
Here they are.
hydrobromide; first word pronounced:
known by another name -- hyoscine (hyoscine hydrobromide). It is colorless,
odorless and tasteless. Its clinical uses are primarily as a sedative, and
applied locally (directly) as a mydriatic, which causes the pupil of the eye to
When used as a sedative, the primary uses are to combat vertigo and
motion sickness. When used with morphine and pentobarbital, to a woman in
labor, it produces a "twilight sleep." It is also used as a
premedication preliminary to surgery anesthesia.
Since scopolamine completely
blocks the formation of memories, unlike most date-rape drugs used in the
United States and elsewhere, it is usually impossible for victims to ever
identify their aggressors (or interrogators, if you were a prisoner).
To use scopolamine most
effectively to get a prisoner to tell you what he or she knows, the key is
where you inject it, and in what amounts. Normally it is introduced into the
body by a transdermal patch or intravenously in the arm. However, if you
inject it into the spine (amount classified), it causes absolutely incredible
pain, accompanied by violent convulsions and seizures.
If injected into the
spine in the appropriate amount, more than 95% of all prisoners will tell the
truth -- not something fabricated to stop the pain -- within 24 hours (Source:
A far milder form of
psychological abuse involves exposing prisoners (intravenously or orally) to
sodium pentathol—commonly known as "truth serum." Sodium pentathol is
an ultra-short-acting barbiturate that depresses the central nervous system,
slows heart rate, and lowers blood pressure. In the relaxed state produced by
the drug, subjects are more susceptible to suggestion and are therefore easier
to interrogate. The drug does not actually guarantee that prisoners will tell
the truth, however. Often, it makes subjects "gabby" without
revealing any important information.
Sodium amythal, also known
as a type of "truth serum," with its clinical application in
psychoanalysis, is used primarily to help in memory recovery and dealing with
"false" memories. If you can confuse the prisoner as to what is a
real memory and what is a false memory, you might be able to crack their
resistance to telling the truth.
However, if the prisoner is smart, he or she
will simply shut up and you'll get nothing from them.
What is interesting is that
a prisoner could have been subjected to a truth serum singularly, or two or
three over enough time given the appropriate washout of the prisoner's system,
and flatly state that he or she did not tell his or her interrogators anything.
From his or her perspective, he or she is telling the
truth -- because he or she
has no memory of telling interrogators anything. That's the truth in his or her
own mind, but it is not the fact of the situation.
In terms of training
individuals to resist the three aforementioned truth serums, it is easiest to
train someone to resist the sodium amythal, followed by sodium pentathol. There
is no known training that will allow anyone to resist scopolamine, when
injected into the spine in the correct amount.
What you don't want to do is
"stack" scopolamine with sodium pentathol and sodium amythal.
"Stacking" means adding one drug on top of another before the
previous drug(s) has/have washed out of the system. You stack on somebody,
you'll kill them.
When time is not a
consideration, and when used in conjunction with skilled interrogators on a
prisoner who has not been trained to resist the effects, sodium pentathol and
sodium amythal will get you the truth in approximately 10% to one third of the
cases. When the truth absolutely positively has to be there within five days, forget
them – use scopolamine injected into the spine.
I don't honestly know if we
have used any of these truth serums on Saddam Hussein. Too bad if we didn't.
My clearance doesn't extend that high.
For those of you who don't know -- and
to oversimplify it -- there are four different levels of security clearances.
They are: secret; top-secret; top-secret/code word; beyond top-secret/code
word. The words "code word" could be something like UMBRA. So if I
had that level, I would be cleared top-secret/UMBRA, which means I would be
allowed to see or hear anything that is secret, top-secret, and -- separately
-- anything that a classified under the code word UMBRA.
1909, before World War I, there were a number of terrorist attacks on the
United States forces in the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, by Muslim
extremists. General "Black Jack" Pershing was the appointed military
governor of the Moro Province. He captured 50 terrorists and ordered them to be
tied to posts for execution. Since all the prisoners were Muslim, he asked his
men to bring two pigs and slaughter them in front of the prisoners. He then
proceeded by dipping bullets into the pig’s blood.
the process he executed 49 of the terrorists by firing squad. Then, the
soldiers dug a big hole in the ground and dumped in the terrorists’ bodies and
covered them in pig’s blood and viscera.
The last man was set free. For 42
years there was not a single Muslim attack anywhere in the world.
rationale was quite simple and effective. Since a radical Muslim is willing to
give his life for his religion in a Jihad war, killing him would not make much
difference. He would be seen as a martyr (shahada
the General knew that all Muslims believe in eternal life after death with 72
virgins waiting for them in paradise. He also knew that those that embrace
Jihad usually prepare themselves physically and spiritually in case they die in
the pig is considered forbidden food (haram
) in Islam, Pershing
introduced this variable to thwart their hopes to enter Allah’s kingdom. The
pig’s blood automatically nullified any prior purification by contaminating
interrogation technique is quite simple. I follow General Pershing’s example
and order a pig to be slaughtered near the prisoner. The blood of the
animal run's freely toward the prisoner's feet. He will immediately lift his
knees to avoid making contact with it. I fill a syringe with the pig’s blood
and threaten to inject him in the arm. The prisoner will talk -- and quickly.
Depends on your perspective. Effective? Extremely.
century ago, General Pershing’s quick thinking installed a great fear in a
large sector of the Muslim population in Mindanao putting an end to any type of
subversion in an Island that resents the presence of non-Muslims.
here are a few tips in terms of determining if who you have in custody really
is a Muslim: Since most of the concentration is on Islamic terrorism, these are
a few signs that very few people know about.
A serious Muslim that prays 5 times a day has a small dark discoloration on
If he wears jewelry, it
has to be silver and not gold -- usually a silver ring with a space inside
where there is a passage from the Koran.
Another important pointer comes from
physical anthropology, and deals with faces and body structures. A real Muslim
keeps his left hand away from his food, usually under the table.
Bottom line: there are
effective ways to get the truth from a prisoner under interrogation.
better than others. When drugs are used, both the person administering the
drug, as well as the interrogator, must be expert at their profession. When
time is the most important consideration, you're left with very few options.
Whatever the situation, KNOW YOUR ENEMY.
What I say here are my
own opinions, based upon fact. They are not to be construed as the policy or
official position of APUS. As always, you are free to accept or reject anything
I say, and verify it by any means you wish.