Innocent people are sometimes induced to confess to crimes they did not commit as a function of certain dispositional vulnerabilities or the use of overly persuasive interrogation tactics.
Among these tactics, described by the journal of Legal and Criminological Psychology, is the use of solitary confinement–a method recently found to be openly encouraged among FBI interrogators. In Version 5 of the Cross Cultural, Rapport-Based Interrogation primer given to agents, advice is drawn repeatedly from two CIA torture manuals, the 1963 KUBARK Counter-intelligence Manual and the 1983 Human Exploitation Resource Manual.
Officially, the FBI forbids the use of cruel interrogation techniques such as prolonged isolation. However, the recently publicized primer reveals that FBI agents are directed to, as the ACLU reports, “request that detainees in foreign or military custody be put in isolation to prolong the detainee’s fear for interrogation purposes. . . in some cases causing extreme psychological trauma.” Is it right for the FBI to be able to ask foreign agencies or governments to participate in human rights violations that its own agents are prohibited from engaging in?
The ACLU doesn’t think so. In a letter to the Director of the FBI, they ask that the agency reassert it’s commitment to preserving human dignity by expressly forbidding the use of isolation in interrogation.
[The ACLU] urges the FBI to immediately cease using the primer, investigate how it came to be used, and to provide remedial training for any agents previously provided the primer. The FBI must send an unequivocal message to its agents and its international partners that it is committed to non-coercive interrogations and will not tolerate prisoner abuse.
This is a commitment that should be shared by all citizens of the United States, as well as the Federal Agencies that represent them. Torture, in any of its forms, goes against international, domestic, and universal law. It should never be excused.
Let alone taught in a manual.