He was questioned under blinding lights by the voices of
invisible men.

—The Report on Lawlessness in Law Enforcement, 19311


3
Lights, Heat, and Sweat

In 1953, CIA director Allen Dulles hired two noted doctors, Harold Wolff and Lawrence Hinkle, to study Communist “brainwashing.” Dulles had seen films in which American pilots held prisoner in Korea had recited unbelievable confessions, apparently voluntarily. Had the Communists developed special new techniques for mind control, techniques that apparently left no marks? Dulles wanted to know.

The Wolff-Hinkle report is the definitive U.S. government work on “brainwashing.”2 The CIA gave Wolff and Hinkle classified files. It helped them interview former interrogators from the Soviet NKVD and former prisoners from the Soviet Union and China. The report covers techniques used for the Soviet show trials, in China, and during the Korean War. Wolff and Hinkle concluded flatly that there were no special methods: no drugs, hypnotic tricks, secret machines, or new psychological techniques. Rather, the methods used “were known to police systems all over the world, and many of them are still in use at the present day.”3

What the report does not say is what these background practices were. That is what I describe in this chapter. The common police practice, in Europe and the United States, was this: Detectives took turns interrogating the suspect for hours, or even days. They aimed bright lights at the suspect's eyes, aggravating suspects and preventing them from sleeping. The light and bodies heated the room. The atmosphere was stifling. In the end, most people confessed.

I shall call this practice sweating,4 European police sometimes supplemented sweating with bruising beatings. In the United States, police beat as well, but they learned earlier than most other police forces how to use tech-

-69-

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Torture and Democracy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xv
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • Torture and Democracy xxv
  • Introduction 1
  • I - Torture and Democracy 33
  • 1: Modern Torture and Its Observers 35
  • 2: Torture and Democracy 45
  • II - Remembering Stalinism and Nazism 65
  • 3: Lights, Heat, and Sweat 69
  • 4: Whips and Water 91
  • 5: Bathtubs 108
  • III - A History of Electric Stealth 121
  • 6: Shock 123
  • 7: Magnetos 144
  • 8: Currents 167
  • 9: Singing the World Electric 190
  • 10: Prods, Tasers, and Stun Guns 225
  • 11: Stun City 239
  • IV - Other Stealth Traditions 259
  • 12: Sticks and Bones 269
  • 13: Water, Sleep, and Spice 279
  • 14: Stress and Duress 294
  • 15: Forced Standing and Other Positions 316
  • 16: Fists and Exercises 334
  • 17: Old and New Restraints 347
  • 18: Noise 360
  • 19: Drugs and Doctors 385
  • V - Politics and Memory 403
  • 20: Supply and Demand for Clean Torture 405
  • 21: Does Torture Work? 446
  • 22: What the Apologists Say 480
  • 23: Why Governments Don't Learn 519
  • 24: The Great Age of Torture in Modern Memory 537
  • A - A List of Clean Tortures 553
  • B - Issues of Method 557
  • C - Organization and Explanations 566
  • D - A Note on Sources for American Torture During the Vietnam War 581
  • Notes 593
  • Selected Bibliography 781
  • Index 819
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