I feel like I've never followed the minute details of the torture debate (sort of shows where we've gotten to, that there's a 'torture debate) as much as I'd like to or should have. But be sure to check out this piece on the Times OpEd page today which looks into the backstory of how we got here. I'm curious how widely this has been reported before. But, in brief, we built our current (literal and figurative) torture manual by going back and studying how wartime enemy regimes have tortured our soldiers in the past.
As the article explains, there was a "classified program at Fort Bragg, N.C., known as SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. Based on studies of North Korean and Vietnamese efforts to break American prisoners, SERE was intended to train American soldiers to resist the abuse they might face in enemy custody."
As the piece goes on to explain, "The Pentagon appears to have flipped SERE's teachings on their head, mining the program not for resistance techniques but for interrogation methods. At a June 2004 briefing, the chief of the United States Southern Command, Gen. James T. Hill, said a team from GuantÃ¡namo went 'up to our SERE school and developed a list of techniques' for 'high-profile, high-value' detainees."
In a sense we can take some solace these days from the fact that the enablers and justifiers of torture seem more and more isolated and embattled. But it still appears to be our standing policy. And this almost novelistic detail just makes the story all the more grim.