Monday, August 29, 2005

Getting the truth

Six months before the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison broke into public view, a small and fairly obscure private association of United States Marine Corps members posted on its Web site a document on how to get enemy POWs to talk.

The document described a situation very similar to the one the United States faces in the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan: a fanatical and implacable enemy, intense pressure to achieve quick results, a brutal war in which the old rules no longer seem to apply.

Marine Major Sherwood F. Moran, the report's author, noted that despite the complexities and difficulties of dealing with an enemy from such a hostile and alien culture, some American interrogators consistently managed to extract useful information from prisoners. The successful interrogators all had one thing in common in the way they approached their subjects. They were nice to them.
From Stephen Budiansky's article "Truth Extraction," in the Atlantic Monthly, June 2005.

Link: "Truth Extraction"

Link: Sherwood F. Moran's "Suggestions for Japanese Interpreters" (available as a .pdf download from the page) The document is no longer available.

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