Thursday, May 20, 2004

Soviet interrogation tactics ... and ours
by Lee Penn
Sounds like this is worth taking more seriously than Red Dawn.

LP: I recently got a Cold War book, written in 1984 by Robert Conquest and Jon Manchip White, titled What to Do When the Russians Come: A Survivor's Guide. It describes what would happen to the US in the event of an enemy takeover, and is based on the historical experience of the Baltic Republics and Eastern Europe under Soviet rule. (Robert Conquest is a well-known historian of Communism and its crimes).

On page 41, the book says:

The Soviet secret police use three main methods to obtain confessions. If you are, as is unlikely, important enought to be marked down for a show trial, the long-term system of breaking your personality, which has become known as 'brainwashing,' will be applied. This involves a minimum of about three months with every possible physical and psychological pressure. especially inadequate food, inadequate sleep, inadequare warmth, and constant interrogation. Evzen Loebl, one of the Czech prisoners who confessed in the notorious Slansky trial and had the luck not to be hanged, describes having to be on his feet eighteen hours a day, of which sixteen were under interrogation, and during the six-hour sleep period having to get up and report every ten minutes when the warden banged on the door. After two or three weeks, he ached all over, and even washing became a torture. Finally he confessed and was allowed food and rest, but by this time, as he put it, 'I was quite a normal person - only I was no longer a person.'

The chances, however, are that you will be made to confess by more time-saving methods. These are (often in combination) beating and the 'conveyor' (that is, continuous interrogation without sleep for periods of five or six days). These methods are not infallible, and there always have been a few prisoners whom they did not break (and many more who, although confessing under these pressures, repudiated the confession when they recovered.)

Compare these tactics with what is now being reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, other CIA prisons and Guantánamo Bay. Recall that some of the soldiers involved in the abuse are prison guards in the US.

My conclusion: when totalitarianism comes to America, there will be plenty of recruits for the jobs of camp guards and interrogators. And these recruits will have highly experienced trainers to teach them what Atlantic Monthly has called "the dark art of interrogation."

(Revisit the articles, if you wish:

The Atlantic | October 2003 | The Dark Art of Interrogation | Bowden


Atlantic Unbound | Interviews | 2003.09.11) [End.]

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