Torture is once again on the front page today, as the New York Times reveals that the "coercive methods" (including sleep deprivation, stress positions, and exposure to extreme temperatures) currently used on "terrorism suspects" at U.S.-controlled secret prisons around the world were "copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners."
(Note to the NYT: when the Chinese did these things, I'm pretty sure they were called "torture", not "coercive methods". And a significant number of U.S.-held detainees are not "terrorism suspects" at all. Many, in fact, have no credible evidence against them.)
There's sure to be a lot of hand-wringing about this (how low we've fallen!), but one important aspect that will probably be missed is that, according to the Air Force article, the Chinese torturers who first implemented these techniques were FULLY AWARE that they were eliciting false confessions. Therefore, it's fair to conclude that the higher-ups who initiated these techniques in U.S.-controlled prisons knew they were bound to produce, uh, bullshit.
Why would the U.S. government want to deliberately extract false confessions from its detainees? To create the impression of a vast horde of terrorists who are out to get us, thus justifying ongoing war and occupation all over the Middle East, perhaps?