Declassified manual details the methods used in Honduras; Agency denials refuted
By Gary Cohn, Ginger Thompson, and mark Matthews, The Baltimore Sun, Monday 27 January 1997, Final Edition
"Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual -- 1983" was released Friday in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by The Sun on May 26, 1994.
The CIA also declassified a Vietnam-era training manual called "KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation -- July 1963," which also taught torture and is believed by intelligence sources to have been a basis for the 1983 manual.
Torture methods taught in the 1983 manual include stripping suspects naked and keeping them blindfolded. Interrogation rooms should be windowless, dark and soundproof, with no toilet.
The 1983 manual was altered between 1984 and early 1985 to discourage torture after a furor was raised in Congress and the press about CIA training techniques being used in Central America. Those alterations and new instructions appear in the documents obtained by The Sun, support the conclusion that methods taught in the earlier version were illegal.
A cover sheet placed in the manual in March 1985 cautions:
The Sun's 1994 request for the manuals was made in connection with the newspaper's investigation of kidnapping, torture and murder committed by a CIA-trained Honduran military unit during the 1980s. The CIA turned over the documents -- with passages deleted -- only after The Sun threatened to sue the agency to obtain the documents.
Human rights abuses by the Honduran unit known as Battalion 316 were most intense in the early 1980s at the height of the Reagan administration's war against communism in Central America. They were documented by The Sun in a four-part series published from June 11 to 18, 1995.
The methods taught in the 1983 manual and those used by Battalion 316 in the early 1980s show unmistakable similarities.
The manual advises an interrogator to
In The Sun's series, Florencio Caballero, a former member of Battalion 316, said CIA instructors taught him to discover what his prisoners loved and what they hated.
In 1983, Caballero attended a CIA "human resources exploitation or interrogation course," according to declassified testimony by Richard Stolz, then-deputy director for operations, before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June 1988.
The "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual -- 1983" suggests that the interrogator show the prisoner letters from home to convey the impression that the prisoner's relatives are suffering or in danger.
In The Sun's series, Jose Barrera, a former member of Battalion 316 who said he was taught interrogation methods by U.S. instructors in 1983, recalled using the technique:
The manual suggests that prisoners be deprived of food and sleep, and made to maintain rigid positions, such as standing at attention for long periods.
Ines Consuelo Murillo, who spent 78 days in Battalion 316's secret jails in 1983, told The Sun that she was given no food or water for days, and that to keep her from sleeping, one of her captors entered her room every 10 minutes and poured water over her head.
Mark Mansfield, a CIA spokesman, declined to comment on the manuals. However, asked about agency policy on the use of force and torture, he referred to Stolz's 1988 testimony before the Senate intelligence committee.
In testimony declassified at The Sun's request, Stolz confirmed that the CIA trained Hondurans.
"The course consisted of three weeks of classroom instruction followed by two weeks of practical exercises, which included the questioning of actual prisoners by the students.
Beyond that reference, Mansfield said only:
He was referring to an internal CIA investigation ordered in 1995, after publication of The Sun series on Battalion 316, to determine whether CIA officials acted improperly in Honduras during the 1980s.
The Clinton administration promised more than a year ago that CIA, State Department and Defense Department documents relevant to the time of Battalion 316's abuses would be turned over to Honduran government human rights investigators. To date, no CIA documents have been sent to the Hondurans.
The Honduran judge overseeing his country's human rights investigation welcomed the release of the CIA training manuals.
In releasing the training manuals, the CIA declined to say whether either document was used in Honduras. However, a declassified 1989 report prepared for the Senate intelligence committee, obtained earlier by The Sun, says the 1983 manual was developed from notes of a CIA interrogation course in Honduras.
The most graphic part of the 1983 manual is a chapter dealing with "coercive techniques."
The manual discourages physical torture, advising interrogators to use more subtle methods to threaten and frighten the suspect.
Forms of coercion explained in the interrogation manual include: Inflicting pain or the threat of pain:
A later section states: "The pain which is being inflicted upon him from outside himself may actually intensify his will to resist. On the other hand, pain which he feels he is inflicting upon himself is more likely to sap his resistance.
Inducing dread: The manual says a breakdown in the prisoner's will can be induced by strong fear, but cautions that if this dread is unduly prolonged,
Getting a confession: Once a confession is obtained,
Solitary confinement and other types of sensory deprivation: Depriving a subject of sensory stimulation induces stress and anxiety, the manual says.
It cites the results of experiments conducted on volunteers who allowed themselves to be suspended in water while wearing blackout masks. They were allowed to hear only their own breathing and faint sounds from the pipes. "The stress and anxiety become almost unbearable for most subjects," the manual says.
Hypnosis and drugs: The 1983 manual suggests creating "hypnotic situations," using concealed machinery, and offers ways of convincing a subject that he has been drugged. Giving him a placebo "may make him want to believe that he has been drugged and that no one could blame him for telling his story now," the manual says.
Arrest: The most effective way to make an arrest is to use the element of surprise, achieving "the maximum amount of mental discomfort."
Cells: Prisoners' cells should have doors of heavy steel.
The manual says
The 1983 manual suggests that prisoners be blindfolded, stripped and given a thorough medical examination, "including all body cavities."
Between 1984 and 1985, after congressional committees began questioning training techniques being used by the CIA in Latin America, "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual -- 1983" underwent substantial revision.
Passages were crossed out and written over by hand to warn that the methods they described were forbidden. However, in the copy obtained by The Sun, the original wording remained clearly visible beneath the handwritten changes.
Among the changes was this sentence in the section on coercion: "The use of most coercive techniques is improper and violates policy."
In another, the editor crossed out descriptions of solitary confinement experiments and wrote:
A third notation says that inducing unbearable stress
To an instruction that "heat, air and light" in an interrogation cell should be externally controlled is added "but not to the point of torture."
The 1983 interrogation manual was discussed at a closed hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June 1988. Then-Sen. William S. Cohen said that the interrogation manual raised disturbing questions, even with the revisions. Cohen is now the secretary of defense.
A second document obtained by The Sun, the 1963 KUBARK manual, shows that, at least during the 1960s, agents were free to use coercion during interrogation, provided they obtained approval in advance.
It offers a list of interrogation techniques, including threats, fear,
Like the 1983 manual, the KUBARK manual describes the effectiveness of arresting suspects early in the morning, keeping prisoners blindfolded and taking away their clothes.
"Usually his own clothes are taken away," the manual explains, "because familiar clothing reinforces identity and thus the capacity for resistance." The KUBARK manual also cautions against making empty threats, and advises interrogators against directly inflicting pain.
It contains one direct and one oblique reference to electrical shocks.
The introduction warns that approval from headquarters is required if the interrogation is to include bodily harm or
A passage on preparing for an interrogation contains this advice:
An intelligence source told The Sun:
While it remains unclear whether the KUBARK manual was used in Central America, the 1963 manual and the 1983 manual are similar in organization and descriptions of certain interrogation techniques and purposes.
The KUBARK manual is mentioned in a 1989 memorandum prepared by the staff of the Senate intelligence committee on the CIA's role in Honduras, and some members of the intelligence community during that period believe it was used in training the Hondurans. One said that some of the lessons from the manual were recorded almost verbatim in notes by CIA agents who sat in on the classes.
THE BALTIMORE SUN