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January 20, 2015

U.S. Develops New 'Soft' Techniques To End Torture

This is an excerpt from Newsweek

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On 16 January 1991, Colonel Steven Kleinman, a senior intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force, flew to Saudi Arabia to interrogate an Iraqi combat engineer captured just before the launch of Operation Desert Storm. Kleinman’s task was to find out the location of land mines surrounding a U.S. Army base. Hours later, he had a detailed map of the hidden mines.

“I don’t know now – nor did I then – what methods, strategies, or ploys ultimately proved successful in obtaining the Iraqi officer’s cooperation,” says Kleinman. “I was successful, but that was, at best, only a matter of pure luck. What if I hadn’t been lucky that day? Answer: hundreds of dead soldiers.”

Kleinman, who became director of the Air Force Combat Interrogation Course the following year, had always rejected the use of psychological or physical coercion in his interrogations. However, he also recognised that his self-taught strategies of seeking cooperation and trust from detainees were fallible, and this particularly high-risk interrogation proved a turning point. When he returned from Iraq, he resolved to help develop evidence-based interrogation techniques to replace traditional methods. “I realised that too much was at stake to be muddling through yet another war in this fashion.”