Professor Shane O’Mara, Director of the Trinity College – Dublin Neuroscience Lab, is having his new book published. A very powerful message to the Bush OLC Lawyers who looked into SERE technuques… they damage the brain when applied over time.
Torture is banned because it is cruel and inhumane. But as Shane O’Mara writes in this account of the human brain under stress, another reason torture should never be condoned is because it does not work the way torturers assume it does. …
For ethical reasons, there are no scientific studies of torture. But neuroscientists know a lot about how the brain reacts to fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, and immersion in freezing water, all tools of the torturer’s trade. …
…if we want information that we can depend on to save lives, O’Mara writes, our model should be Napoleon: “It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile.”
ROBERT STEELE: Every CIA professional and every contractor involved in the CIA torture projects (and everyone in the counterpart JSOG projects) is indictable for crimes against humanity — and within the old Marine Corps rules, for being stupid at government expense. I was one of the first case officers assigned terrorism as a full-time target (in the 1980’s) and among the few who have actually studied revolution in depth. Apart from lacking ethics, torture took off within CIA for two reasons: a) you could throw money at it without being challenged by more intelligent experienced people — or lawyers; and b) the US Government does not communicate success stories across bureaucratic boundaries. The single most successful counterintelligence officer I know, now in retirement, has been brought in by the US Army at each conflict in the past 20 years to supervise exploitation of high-value prisoners. He sets up the equivalent of a Marriot Courtyard in the desert (or jungle, wherever), treats everyone with respect, and gets the gold without the moral immolation.
Note: this book is a PRE-ORDER, scheduled for release in November 2015. It focuses on the brain, not on prisoner interrogation success stories, for that we are going to have to wait for a Director of Central Intelligence actually committed to getting Human Intelligence (HUMINT), including Counterintelligence and Open Source Intelligence, to its full potential, including public disclosure and engagement as appropriate to the 80% or more that is not, should not be, secret.