Editor’s Note: The disclosure that Army Pvt. Bradley Manning was subjected to seven hours of forced nudity on Wednesday – amid new pressures aimed at getting him to identify others involved in the WikiLeaks case – recalled how the Bush administration used nudity and other abusive tactics to break down “war on terror” detainees.
In 2004, the CIA told President George W. Bush’s lawyers how useful forced nudity was for instilling “learned helplessness” in prisoners, though the repeated emphasis on nudity took on a lewd and sadistic quality, as Robert Parry reported in this article from the archives:
The CIA shared with George W. Bush’s Justice Department the details of how an interrogation strategy – with an emphasis on forced nudity and physical abuse – could train prisoners in “learned helplessness” and demonstrate “the complete control of Americans.”
The 19-page document, entitled “Background Paper on CIA’s Combined Use of Interrogation Techniques” and dated Dec. 30, 2004, contains repeated references to keeping suspected al-Qaeda captives – called “high-value detainees” or HVDs – naked as part of the strategy for breaking down their resistance.