Torture – psychological interrogation techniques

Published on October 23, 2020 by

After September 11, 2001, the USA used torture as an interrogation method in the fight against terrorism. Less well known is that the CIA began researching torture methods shortly after the Second World War – with the help of renowned universities.

Allen Dulles, then the new director of the CIA, described the “abhorrent torture methods of the Soviets” at an alumni meeting at Princeton University in 1953. What he did not tell his former fellow students in his lecture, however, was that he himself was already planning an extensive research program at that time that would make it possible to achieve mind control during interrogations.

Today’s psychological interrogation techniques, such as torture through sensory deprivation, are based on the results of this work. They are called “white” or “clean torture” because, unlike physical torture, they leave no visible traces.

Using archive material and current documents, as well as interviews not only with historians, intelligence experts and political scientists, but also with victims of medical torture experiments, the documentary examines the history of the first research programs at McGill University up to the use of the practices in Afghanistan, Iraq and now also within the US. The film highlights the torture scandal in Abu Ghraib prison and the practice of solitary confinement in Guantanamo, where prisoners had to live in cages for years without seeing daylight.


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