Tuesday 22 March 2011
by: Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye, t r u t h o u t | Investigative Report

This diagram was included in a paper written by Dr. Bruce Jessen's and shows his view of the conflicting psychological pressures bearing down on a prisoner who is held captive by an enemy.

Dr. Bruce Jessen’s handwritten notes describe some of the torture techniques that were used to “exploit” “war on terror” detainees in custody of the CIA and Department of Defense.

Bush administration officials have long asserted that the torture techniques used on “war on terror” detainees were utilized as a last resort in an effort to gain actionable intelligence to thwart pending terrorist attacks against the United States and its interests abroad.

But the handwritten notes obtained exclusively by Truthout drafted two decades ago by Dr. John Bruce Jessen, the psychologist who was under contract to the CIA and credited as being one of the architects of the government’s top-secret torture program, tell a dramatically different story about the reasons detainees were brutalized and it was not just about obtaining intelligence. Rather, as Jessen’s notes explain, torture was used to “exploit” detainees, that is, to break them down physically and mentally, in order to get them to “collaborate” with government authorities. Jessen’s notes emphasize how a “detainer” uses the stresses of detention to produce the appearance of compliance in a prisoner.

Indeed, a report released in 2009 by the Senate Armed Services Committee about the treatment of detainees in US custody noted that torture techniques approved by the Bush administration were based on survival training exercises US military personnel were taught by individuals like Jessen if they were captured by an enemy regime and subjected to “illegal exploitation” by their captors. The committee’s report said Jessen wrote a “Draft Exploitation Plan” in April 2002 the US military used at Guantanamo and at prison facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jessen also co-authored a memo in February 2002 on “Prisoner Handling Recommendations” at Guantanamo. Both of those documents remain classified.

Jessen’s notes, prepared for an Air Force survival training course that he later “reverse engineered” when he helped design the Bush administration’s torture program, go into far greater detail than the Armed Services Committee’s report in explaining how prisoners would be broken down physically and psychologically by their captors. The notes say survival training students could “combat interrogation and torture” if they are captured by an enemy regime by undergoing intense training exercises, using “cognitive” and “exposure techniques” to develop “stress inoculation.” [Click here to download a PDF file of Jessen’s handwritten notes. Click here to download a zip file of Jessen’s notes in typewritten form.]

The documents stand as the first piece of hard evidence to surface in nine years that further explains the psychological aspects of the Bush administration’s torture program and the rationale for subjecting detainees to so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Click here for the rest of the article CIA Psychologist’s Notes Reveal True Purpose Behind Bush’s Torture Program