Document a Day: “We Need to Take a Deep Breath”

This remarkable email chain is from April 14, 2003. The original message, from a military interrogator in Iraq to all concerned (ALCON), announces “The gloves are coming off gentlemen regarding these detainees, [redacted] has made clear it wants these individuals broken,” and asks for “wish lists” of interrogation techniques. Someone forwards this message, commenting simply, “Sounds crazy, but we’re passing this on.”

The thread is picked up by a military interrogator who insists those now in U.S. custody “understand force, not psychological mind games or incentives,” and advocates the use of several techniques used in the U.S. military’s SERE training programs.

In the last message in the chain—another of the countless examples in the documents where Americans raised objections to what they were seeing—the writer begins, “As for ‘the gloves need to come off…’ we need to take a deep breath and remember who we are.” This final email in particular is a must-read.






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