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Former SERE Instructor: ‘We Created’ An ‘Al Qaeda SERE School’

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"Former SERE Instructor: ‘We Created’ An ‘Al Qaeda SERE School’"

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Many conservatives, including Liz Cheney, who is the daughter of Vice President Cheney, have been defending the Bush administration’s torture regime arguing that many of the techniques authorized were derived from U.S. special forces training called Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Evasion (SERE) and were used on American troops.

While the situations are clearly not analogous (mainly because the circumstances in which techniques are applied are “very different“), former master instructor and chief of training at Navy’s SERE school Malcolm Nance said last night on MSNBC that that argument is “ridiculous on its face” and he called those making it “torture apologists”:

Host Rachel Maddow then asked Nance if he would use SERE techniques in the “faulty” premise of a “ticking time bomb scenario.”

MADDOW: In the case of an actual ticking time bomb scenario, which is a faulty premise because things don’t work out this way in the real world, would you do SERE, these techniques on a prisoner in that scenario? [...]

NANCE: No of course not, because one, it defeats the ticking time bomb scenario, in that all the prisoner has to do is not answer the question or, better yet, the prisoner will lie. And once the prisoner lies, especially with al Qaeda members. Let me tell you something, their ideology — they have a concept within their ideology called “al-warrah el barrah” (sp) and that is absolute devotion to their god, but absolute disavowal and hatred of anything that’s not their god.

Nance added that when these techniques were used, detainees knew they were were giving “gibberish,” thus seeing “that as a victory.” “[W]hat we’ve done is we created al Qaeda SERE school for them,” Nance said. Watch it:

Incidently, “torture apologist” Liz Cheney also made this ticking time bomb argument earlier this week: “We are talking about a situation in which there are imminent threats to the United States so if you say to me, this guy’s got information that’s gonna save my kids’ lives and your kids lives that’s going to keep this country safe but we gotta waterboard them to get it, I got no problem with that.”

Transcript:

MADDOW: In terms of the argument that SERE-based techniques, these techniques, reverse engineered as you say what was done by totalitarian regimes, reverse engineering figured out in the ’50s, the argument has been made that because we do it to American troops as part of training it can’t be torture, because then people like you who were an instructor could be charged with torture.

MALCOLM NANCE: That’s ridiculous on its face. Listen, there’s a whole class of people who I call torture apologists and their full-time job is to go out and find spurious arguments in order to justify exactly why they violated, you know, U.S. legal code. And, of course, the standing order from general George Washington to treat prisoners with dignity. And so it’s ridiculous. What we’re doing is we’re allowing a service member the opportunity to practice in a controlled environment over a few moments how to behave and how to react in order to act like Abu Zubaydah, in order for them to become resistant and for them to make sure that the techniques being applied to them don’t work. […]

MADDOW: In the case of an actual ticking time bomb scenario, which is a faulty premise because things don’t work out this way in the real world, would you do SERE, these techniques on a prisoner in that scenario?

NANCE: Of course not.

MADDOW: Any of them?

NANCE: No of course not, because one, it defeats the ticking time bomb scenario, in that all the prisoner has to do is not answer the question or, better yet, the prisoner will lie. And once the prisoner lies, especially with al Qaeda members. Let me tell you something, their ideology — they have a concept within their ideology called “al-warrah el barrah” (sp) and that is absolute devotion to their god, but absolute disavowal and hatred of anything that’s not their god.

Therefore, anything that they do to foil you is well within their plan, and they take great pride in that. And I’m sure when he was brought back to his little cage or to his holding cell, he saw every time that he defeated us, every time he didn’t get an answer out of us or got some gibberish out of us, he saw that was a victory.

MADDOW: Yeah, so you got to out wit them.

NANCE: Well what we’ve done is we created al Qaeda SERE school for them.

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