The CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” weren’t all old intelligence-community techniques dusted off for the post-9/11 world.
Two contract psychologists developed some of them for the CIA in the summer of 2002, according to a report on the agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program.
Grayson Swigert and Hammond Dunbar had past experience with the US Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) school, established at the end of the Korean War to minimize the risk of sensitive intelligence falling into enemy hands.
A manual used in training soldiers to withstand brutal interrogation techniques if captured also served as a foundation for the US’ own interrogation methods.
The Senate report states: “Neither psychologist had any experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialised knowledge of al-Qa’ida, a background in counterterrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise.”
Still, the psychologists not only created interrogation techniques, but personally applied them and assessed their effectiveness. They also gauged whether certain detainees’ psychological state “allowed for the continued use” of the techniques.
In 2005, the psychologists formed a company with the sole purpose of continuing this type of work with the CIA. “Shortly thereafter, the CIA outsourced virtually all aspects of the program,” and in 2007 it covered the company with a multi-year indemnification agreement, protecting the contract employees from legal liability for their work, for which the company received $US81 million before the contract’s termination in 2009.
The report notes that contractors made up 85% of the workforce for detention and interrogation operations.
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