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Ex-Pentagon Lawyer Says He Researched ‘Real Manchurian Candidate Stuff’

Posted Jun 17, 2008 9:38 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A former Pentagon lawyer scheduled to testify today before the Senate Armed Forces Committee told the New York Times he researched psychological studies about the effects of interrogation after his superiors expressed frustration about Guantanamo detainees withholding information.

The lawyer, Richard Schiffrin, said the information he obtained included studies of North Koreans’ attempted mind-control experiments on American prisoners during the Korean War. “It was real Manchurian Candidate stuff,” he told the Times.

The revelation comes amid disclosures that Pentagon lawyers played a more active and earlier role than previously disclosed in developing aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo, the story says.

The Washington Post reports that new evidence appears to contradict previous statements by former Defense Department general counsel William Haynes II about the timing of research into enhanced techniques. Haynes previously said research was done at the request of Guantanamo jailers in October 2002. But memos and e-mail show Haynes was soliciting interrogation ideas as early as July that year, the story says.

Military lawyers raised strong concerns about the legality of enhanced techniques in November 2002, a month before they were approved, according to the Post.

Then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved enhanced interrogation techniques in December 2002, but he rescinded his order allowing the harshest methods a month later, the Times says. The military never authorized interrogations as harsh as those carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency, which used waterboarding until the end of 2003.

The techniques approved for use at Guantanamo included stress positions and sleep deprivation. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., contends in a statement that research into aggressive techniques by senior officials helped pave the way for Abu Ghraib abuses.

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