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Counter Resistance Strategy Meeting Minutes, 2002 Oct 2

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Counter Resistance Strategy Meeting Minutes

Persons in Attendance:

COL Cummings, LTC Phifer, CDR Bridges, LTC Beaver, MAJ Burney, MAJ Leso, Dave Becker, John Fredman, 1LT Seek, SPC Pimentel

The following notes were taken during the aforementioned meeting at 1340 on October 2, 2002. All questions and comments have been paraphrased:

BSCT Description of SERE Psych Training (MAJ Burney and MAJ Leso)

  • Identify trained resisters
  • Al Qaeda Training
  • Methods to overcome resistance
  • Rapport building (approach proven to yield positive results)
  • Friendly approach (approach proven to yield positive results)
  • Fear Based Approaches are unreliable, ineffective in almost all cases
  • What's more effective than fear based strategies are camp-wide environmental strategies designed to disrupt cohesion and communication among detainees
  • Environment should foster dependence and compliance
LTC Phifer Harsh techniques used on our service members have worked and will work on some, what about those?
MAJ Leso Force is risky, and may be ineffective due to the detainees' frame of reference. They are used to seeing much more barbaric treatment.
Becker Agreed

-> At this point a discussion about ISN 63 ensued, recalling how he has responded to certain types of deprivation and psychological stressors. After short discussion the BSCT continued to address the overall manipulation of the detainees' environment.


BSCT continued:

  • Psychological stressors are extremely effective (ie, sleep deprivation, withholding food, isolation, loss of time)
COL Cummings We can't do sleep deprivation
LTC Beaver Yes, we can - with approval.


  • Disrupting the normal camp operations is vital. We need to create an environment of "controlled chaos"


LTC Beaver We may need to curb the harsher operations while ICRC is around. It is better not to expose them to any controversial techniques. We must have the support of the DOD.
Becker We have had many reports from Bagram about sleep deprivation being used.
LTC Beaver True, but officially it is not happening. It is not being reported officially. The ICRC is a serious concern. They will be in and out, scrutinizing our operations, unless they are displeased and decide to protest and leave. This would draw a lot of negative attention.
COL Cummings The new PSYOP plan has been passed up the chain
LTC Beaver It's at J3 at SOUTHCOM.
Fredman The DOJ has provided much guidance on this issue. The CIA is not held to the same rules as the military. In the past when the ICRC has made a big deal about certain detainees, the DOD has "moved" them away from the attention of the ICRC. Upon questioning from the ICRC about their whereabouts, the DOD's response has repeatedly been that the detainee merited no status under the Geneva Convention. The CIA has employed aggressive techniques on less than a handful of suspects since 9/11.
Under the Torture Convention, torture has been prohibited by international law, but the language of the statutes is written vaguely. Severe mental and physical pain is prohibited. The mental part is explained as poorly as the physical. Severe physical pain described as anything causing permanent damage to major organs or body parts. Mental torture described as anything leading to permanent, profound damage to the senses or personality. It is basically subject to perception. If the detainee dies you're doing it wrong. So far, the techniques we have addressed have not proven to produce these types of results, which in a way challenges what the BSCT paper says about not being able to prove whether these techniques will lead to permanent damage. Everything on the BSCT white paper is legal from a civilian standpoint. [Any questions of severe weather or temperature conditions should be deferred to medical staff.] Any of the techniques that lie on the harshest end of the spectrum must be performed by a highly trained individual. Medical personnel should be present to treat any possible accidents. The CIA operates without military intervention. When the CIA has wanted to use more aggressive techniques in the past, the FBI has pulled their personnel from theatre. In those rare instances, aggressive techniques have proven very helpful.
LTC Beaver We will need documentation to protect us
Fredman Yes, if someone dies while aggressive techniques are being used, regardless of cause of death, the backlash of attention would be extremely detrimental. Everything must be approved and documented.
Becker LEA personnel will not participate in harsh techniques
LTC Beaver There is no legal reason why LEA personnel cannot participate in these operations

-> At this point a discussion about whether or not to video tape the aggressive sessions, or interrogations at all ensued.

Becker Videotapes are subject to too much scrutiny in court. We don't want the LEA people in aggressive sessions anyway.
LTC Beaver LEA choice not to participate in these types of interrogations is more ethical and moral as opposed to legal.
Fredman The videotaping of even totally legal techniques will look "ugly".
Becker (Agreed)
Fredman The Torture Convention prohibits torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. The US did not sign up on the second part, because of the 8th amendment (cruel and unusual punishment), but we did sign the part about torture. This gives us more license to use more controversial techniques.
LTC Beaver Does SERE employ the "wet towel" technique?
Fredman If a well-trained individual is used to perform [sic] this technique it can feel like you're drowning. The lymphatic system will react as if you're suffocating, but your body will not cease to function. It is very effective to identify phobias and use them (ie, insects, snakes, claustrophobia). The level of resistance is directly related to person's experience.
MAJ Burney Whether or not significant stress occurs lies in the eye of the beholder. The burden of proof is the big issue. It is very difficult to disprove someone else's PTSD.
Fredman These techniques need involvement from interrogators, psych, medical, legal, etc.
Becker Would we blanket approval or would it be case by case?
Fredman The CIA makes the call internally on most of the types of techniques found in the BSCT paper, and this discussion. Significantly harsh techniques are approved through the DOJ.
LTC Phifer Who approves ours? The CG? SOUTHCOM CG?
Fredman Does the Geneva Convention apply? The CIA rallied for it not to.
LTC Phifer Can we get DOJ opinion about these topics on paper?
LTC Beaver Will it go from DOJ to DOD?
LTC Phifer Can we get to see a CIA request to use advanced aggressive techniques?
Fredman Yes, but we can't provide you with a copy. You will probably be able to look at it.
An example of a different perspective on torture is Turkey. In Turkey they say that interrogation at all, or anything you do to that results in the subject betraying his comrades is torture.
LTC Beaver In the BSCT paper it says something about "imminent threat of death",...
Fredman The threat of death is also subject to scrutiny, and should be handled on a case by case basis. Mock executions don't work as well as friendly approaches, like letting someone write a letter home, or providing them with an extra book.
Becker I like the part about ambient noise.

-> At this point a discussion about the ways to manipulate the environment ensued, and the following ideas were offered:

  • Medical visits should be scheduled randomly, rather than on a set system
  • Let detainee rest just long enough to fall asleep and wake him up about every thirty minutes and tell him it's time to pray again
  • More meals per day induce loss of time
  • Truth serum; even though it may not actually work, it does have a placebo effect.

Meeting ended at 1450.