Friday, February 24, 2006

AlterNet: The CIA's Pain Project

/ R&D / torture /
Alfred McCoy exposes how the Bush administration gave the CIA an opportunity to perfect its research on psychological torture. Excerpts:
"From 1950 to 1962, the C.I.A. ran a massive research project, a veritable Manhattan Project of the mind, spending over $1 billion a year to crack the code of human consciousness, from both mass persuasion and the use of coercion in individual interrogation. They tried LSD, mescaline, all kinds of drugs. They tried electroshock, truth serum, sodium pentathol. None of it worked. What worked was very simple behavioral findings, outsourced to our leading universities -- Harvard, Princeton, Yale and McGill -- and the first breakthrough came at McGill...
...Dr. Donald O. Hebb of McGill University, a brilliant psychologist, had a contract from the Canadian Defense Research Board, which was a partner with the C.I.A. in this research, and he found that he could induce a state of psychosis in an individual within 48 hours. It didn't take electroshock, truth serum, beating or pain. He had student volunteers sit in a cubicle with goggles, gloves and headphones, earmuffs, so that they were cut off from their senses, denied sensory stimulation. Within 48 hours, they would suffer, first hallucinations, then ultimately breakdown. And if you look at many of those photographs, they show people with bags over their head.The photographs of the Guantanamo detainees look exactly like those student volunteers in Dr. Hebb's original cubicle.

The second major breakthrough that the C.I.A. had came here in New York City at Cornell University Medical Center, where two eminent neurologists under contract from the C.I.A. studied Soviet K.G.B. torture techniques. They found that the most effective K.G.B. technique was self-inflicted pain. You simply make somebody stand for a day or two. And as they stand, you tell them, 'You're doing this to yourself. Cooperate with us, and you can sit down.' As they stand, the fluids flow down to the legs, the legs swell, lesions form, they erupt, they suppurate, hallucinations start, the kidneys shut down.

Several of those photos you just showed, one of them with a man with a bag on his arm, his arms are straight in front of him, people are standing with their arms extended, that's self-inflicted pain. And the combination of those two techniques -- sensory disorientation and self-inflicted pain -- is the basis of the C.I.A.'s technique."

As far as CIA torture is concerned however you should just read the manuals...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I should do the right thing and google to give you the sources.. but its late, dammit, here in Australia.

One of my favourite radio programs ran a long interview with a historian who pointed out that the 1963 CIA torture manuals described all the techniques those supposedly out of control hoodlums used in Abu Ghraib.

Right, okay. Now I get it.

- barista