Hvem fant på at USA skulle benytte tortur overfor fanger? Den amerikanske hæren har hatt svært strenge regler for fangeavhør. Det skulle derfor svært mye til at man forlot en slik linje. Svaret ligger i SERE, et senter ved Fort Bragg i North Carolina, hvor man trente amerikanske soldater til å motstå nordkoreansk og vietnamesisk tortur.
Man hadde opplevd at amerikanske soldater knakk sammen under forhør i kommunistland. SERE står for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. Soldatene ble utsatt for psykisk press, for bedre å kunne klare seg i en virkelig situasjon.
Noen fikk den lyse ideen å overta kommunistlandenes forhørsmetoder og gjøre dem til sine. Det skriver M. Gregg Bloche, jusprofessor ved Georgetown University og Jonathan H. Marks, advokat og stipendiat i bioetikk ved Georgetown and Johns Hopkins-universitet.
Teknikken ble godkjent på øverste hold i Pentagon, dvs. ved Rumsfelds kontor.
Fearful of future terrorist attacks and frustrated by the slow progress of intelligence-gathering from prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Pentagon officials turned to the closest thing on their organizational charts to a school for torture. That was a classified program at Fort Bragg, N.C., known as SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. Based on studies of North Korean and Vietnamese efforts to break American prisoners, SERE was intended to train American soldiers to resist the abuse they might face in enemy custody.
The Pentagon appears to have flipped SERE’s teachings on their head, mining the program not for resistance techniques but for interrogation methods. At a June 2004 briefing, the chief of the United States Southern Command, Gen. James T. Hill, said a team from Guantánamo went «up to our SERE school and developed a list of techniques» for «high-profile, high-value» detainees. General Hill had sent this list – which included prolonged isolation and sleep deprivation, stress positions, physical assault and the exploitation of detainees’ phobias – to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who approved most of the tactics in December 2002.
Some within the Pentagon warned that these tactics constituted torture, but a top adviser to Secretary Rumsfeld justified them by pointing to their use in SERE training, a senior Pentagon official told us last month.
SERE methods are classified, but the program’s principles are known. It sought to recreate the brutal conditions American prisoners of war experienced in Korea and Vietnam, where Communist interrogators forced false confessions from some detainees, and broke the spirits of many more, through Pavlovian and other conditioning. Prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, painful body positions and punitive control over life’s most intimate functions produced overwhelming stress in these prisoners. Stress led in turn to despair, uncontrollable anxiety and a collapse of self-esteem. Sometimes hallucinations and delusions ensued. Prisoners who had been through this treatment became pliable and craved companionship, easing the way for captors to obtain the «confessions» they sought.