Human Rights First has learned that soldiers currently in the field have imitated the interrogation techniques they have seen on television.
“We had no official doctrine about what to do,” said Tony Lagouranis, a U.S. Army Interrogator who was in Iraq in 2004-2005. “So people were watching movies and watching TV and they were getting their ideas from that.”
Human Rights First also learned that the portrayal of torture on television presents a serious training challenge at military training academies.
Gary Solis, a retired Marine Colonel and former Judge Advocate, taught at West Point and directed the Academy’s law of war program. He now teaches at Georgetown University.
In an interview with Human Rights First, Solis said of his Laws of War course: “When you’re discussing what constitutes torture, what you should and shouldn’t do legally, some cadets would say ‘well, whatever it takes, if it’s going to save American lives. Jack Bauer shoots this guy in the leg and gets his info immediately!’ And I have to remind them that he is television construct and that they can’t model their professional lives on a television show.”
Finally, the issue of the imitation of techniques from popular culture was mentioned in a July 2004 government report examining detention and interrogation techniques used by the U.S. Army in Iraq. The report’s author, Lieutenant General Paul T. Mikolashek, the Inspector General of the Department of the Army, wrote that a platoon leader told investigators: “Officers and NCOs [Non-Commissioned Officers] at point of capture engaged in interrogations using techniques they literally remembered from movies.”