The ISB comprises experts from private industry and academia representing a broad spectrum of expertise and experiences across many intelligence disciplines. The ISB provides linkages among the intelligence, business, and scientific communities, performs special studies, and assists the Office of the DNI in addressing and recommending solutions to priority national intelligence problems.Anyway, this advisory panel just released a 374-page long study on interrogation called "Educing Information - Interrogation: Science and Art - Foundations for the Future." It's about what works, what doesn't, the history of interrogation, and even a little bit of epistemology thrown in there too. It brought together people from all over the US intelligence community - FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency, DHS, the different military intelligence branches, and three members from Counterintelligence Field Activity, the Pentagon counterintelligence outfit that has been collecting vast amounts of information on ordinary Americans in the name of protecting military bases. It was a little surprising that there was nobody from the CIA involved in this study, seeing as how the CIA are the ones that have actually had all the "practice" with interrogation recently.
The conclusions of this study are only surprising when contrasted with the actual behavior of the intelligence community - the study concludes (among many other things) torture doesn't work. Here's an excerpt:
And what are we to make of “public opinion”? Unfortunately, that is a relatively easy question. Prime-time television increasingly offers up plot lines involving the incineration of metropolitan Los Angeles by an atomic weapon or its depopulation by an aerosol nerve toxin. The characters do not have the time to reflect upon, much less to utilize, what real professionals know to be the “science and art” of “educing information.” They want results. Now. The public thinks the same way. They want, and rightly expect, precisely the kind of “protection” that only a skilled intelligence professional can provide. Unfortunately, they have no idea how such a person is supposed to act “in real life.”
Is there a theme here? Yes, a simple one. Prime time television is not just entertainment. It is “adult education.” We should not be surprised when the public (and many otherwise law-abiding lawyers) applaud when an actor threatens the “hostile du jour” with pain or mayhem unless he or she answers a few, pointed questions before the end of the episode. The writers craft the script using “extreme” measures because they assume, as our own government has, that police-state tactics studied for defensive purposes can be “reverse engineered” and morphed into cost-effective, “offensive” measures.
Though eminently understandable, such reactions are incredibly short-sighted and profoundly unethical. We don’t need just any answers, we need good answers. Our health and safety, and our posterity, depend on it.