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Military Defense: What are Enhanced Interrogation Techniques?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Utah chapter.

What are Enhanced Interrogation Techniques?

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT) is a form of systematic torture that is afflicted onto detainees by the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense of Intelligence Agency (DIA), and other various fragments of the United States’ Armed Forces at undisclosed military defense locations around the world, which include Bagram, Guantanamo Bay and Abu Gharib.  

EITs were heavily introduced after the 9/11 attacks during George W. Bush’s presidency. The objective of the techniques were to acquire information from suspects. Once Barack Obama took Presidency, in 2009, he condemned the CIA interrogation program as “dark and unethical” and signed an executive order banning the techniques. However, President-elect Donald Trump, is revisiting the scheme and is openly defending the use of these tactics for the future. 

Now you may be wondering what EITs consist of. Well, they include multiple forms of physical and psychologial abuse. Below is a list of common tactics used in efforts of uncovering information from detainees with descriptions of the tactics.

Enhanced Interrogation Techiniques:

1. Abdominal Slap — The purpose was to cause the detainee to feel fear and despair, to punish certain behavior and humiliate or insult the detainee, according to a description in government documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2009. The interrogator stands about a foot from the detainee’s stomach, and slaps the detainee with the back of his hand. The interrogator’s hand is held with the fingers together and straight and slaps the detainee’s abdomen. The CIA was using this technique prior to 2004 without approval by the Justice Department.

2. Attention Grasp — The interrogator grabbed the detainee by the collar, with two hands, and pulled him closer in, according to a description of the technique by former CIA acting general counsel John Rizzo.

3. Cramped Confinement — The interrogator would put the detainee in a box, sometimes big enough to stand in, for up to 18 hours, or one only big enough to curl up in for up to two hours.

4. Dietary Manipulation — This technique involved switching from solid foods to liquid.

5. The Facial Hold — The interrogator would hold the detainee’s head so it couldn’t move and put one hand on each side of the detainee’s face, keeping fingertips away from the detainee’s eyes.

6. The Facial Slap/Insult Slap — The interrogator would slap the detainee in the face, with fingers spread, striking between the chin and earlobe.

7. Nudity — This technique was used with others. For instance, a detainee would be forced to stand for prolonged periods while nude.

8. Stress Positions — The purpose of these techniques were to stimulate mild discomfort from extended muscle use, according to a description in a government document obtained by the ACLU.

9. Sleep Deprivation — Detainees were kept awake for up to 180 hours, often standing or in a stress position, the Senate report said. Sometimes, the detainees’ hands would be shackled above their heads. At least five detainees had “disturbing hallucinations” during this technique, and in two of those cases, the CIA continued the practice.

10. Wall Standing — A detainee faced a wall, standing about four feet away. The interrogator had the detainee reach out his arms toward the wall so that his fingers were touching it. The detainee would have to hold that position indefinitely.

11. Walling — Interrogators would slam detainees against a wall.

12. Waterboarding — The detainee was strapped to a board or bench, and water was poured over the detainees face to simulate drowning. According to the Senate report, the technique brought on convulsions and vomiting, immediate fluid intake, and involuntary leg, chest, and arm spasms.

13. Water Dousing — Naked detainees were held down on a tarp on the floor, according to the Senate report. The tarp would be pulled up around them to make a bathtub. Cold or refrigerated water would be poured on them. In some cases, detainees were hosed down over and over again as they were naked and shackled, standing in a sleep deprivation pose.

The Controversy behind EITs

When it comes to Enhanced Interrogation techniques, questions are raised concerning the United States’ morality and utilitarianism. Preceding the attacks from 9/11 and so-on, the War on Terror has managed to develop an on-going debate on torture as a way of diminishing terrorists. The argument is divided between those who are for EITs and those who are against. Those who are for, argue that though the torture is immoral, it should be legalized for the use of defending the United States and to fight off terrorism in general. Torture is defined by the US legal code as an action “specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering” while the US Constitution bans; “cruel and unusual punishment.” During the Bush Administration, multiple claims were made by human rights groups and several foreign governments stating that the CIA program did include torture. But The US government at the time did disagree and then made a clear distinction between “torture” and “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Overall

When it comes to politics concerning military defense like such, much controversy and a lot of pseudo-science can be interperted causing various opinions to flood the field. Overall, however, EITs were orginally introduced in hopes of gaining more information from suspects. The ethics behind the clause was though the effectiveness of many of these methods may be in dispute, nothing should be taken off the table when American lives are at stake.  

What are your opinions on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques? Are EITs unethical? Do EITs infringe on American Morality and Utilitarianism? Or, are they vital for the safety of the American people?


Editor’s Note: All articles for Her Campus at the University of Utah are the opinions and beliefs of the writers and do not reflect Her Campus at the University of Utah, the University of Utah or Her Campus as an international magazine.

Her Campus Utah Chapter Contributor