Monday, May 9, 2011

Room 101 Revisited

The architecture of interrogation - past and present.
       
The brief film below is an exposition on the psychology of confined space. Among other things, it references information regarding the use of specially designed rooms by British military engineers for sensory deprivation and mind control tactics against communist insurgent detainees during the Malaysian Emergency, 1948-1960. The rooms built to house the detainees contained no horizontal or vertical surfaces, in order to create a sense of disorientation and illusion. The overall psychological warfare operations utilized during this campaign were considered very effective in quelling the insurgency.


Extra Room from Bernd Hopfengaertner on Vimeo.

Documents disclosed in 2009 suggested that interrogation tactics utilized by the Bush Administration may have been inspired by British author George Orwell's writings of dystopia. As stated in a Harper's article regarding the findings, "Here, we discover that Room 101 of the Ministry of Love (was) faithfully recreated by the Bush Team. In Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Room 101 contained whatever a prisoner feared most, which would be let loose against him in an act calculated to inspire pure terror in the victim, to break him as an individual and to produce human material suitable for reconditioning."

Orwell's society. Via wikipedia
These revelations of Bush's Orwellian methods of interrogation and torture caused a rebuke within various sectors the Mass Society. Dissent eventually cycled into the greater stratosphere of the national collective mind until a general consensus of condemnation of the methods evolved.

Recent events have brought the debate to the forefront once again. At the core of this schism is the question of which methods of torture and abuse, if any, have led to the desired result. To some degree, the debate, itself, is a model of Orwellian mind control tactics, evidenced by Mass Media's euphemistic relabeling of torture and abuse as Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT). This attempt at re-engineering the mass consensus via contemporary forms of Thinkpol and Newspeak has led to instances of cognitive dissonance in individuals, and widespread occurrences of societal doublethink, groupthink, and on some occasions, mass hysteria.


Effectiveness of methodology questioned.

A statement issued by four former interrogators and intelligence officials last week downplays the effectiveness of EIT:

"Reports say that Khalid Sheik Muhammed and Abu Faraq al-Libi did not divulge the nom de guerre of a courier during torture, but rather several months later, when they were questioned by interrogators who did not use abusive techniques.

This is not surprising. Our experience is that torture is a poor way to develop useful, accurate information.

We know from experience that it is very difficult to elicit information from a detainee who has been abused. The abuse often only strengthens their resolve and makes it that much harder for an interrogator to find a way to elicit useful information.

We believe that the U.S. would have learned more from Khalid Sheik Muhammed and other high value detainees if, from the beginning, professional interrogators had a chance to question them using the sophisticated, yet humane, approaches approved by U.S. law."  (Huffington Post 5/4/11).

This notion implies that substantive detective work by the current government and military apparatus was more significant than methods employed through EIT (formerly known as torture and abuse). If that indication prevails, it marks a possible leveraging of civility and universal human rights, and signals the realization of a more effective and efficient means in the fight against global terror.--D.A. DeMers.
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