Jason Leopold and Michael Kearns


This recording is from the KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles broadcast of March 25th. The KPFK archive is here.

Investigative reporter Jason Leopold and retired Air Force Capt. Michael Kearns discuss the Truthout article “CIA Psychologist’s Notes Reveal True Purpose Behind Bush’s Torture Program;” how psychologically exploited prisoners were used to generate terror-war propaganda, make false confessions and “collaborate” with interrogators; how torture program architect Dr. Bruce Jessen “reverse engineered” defense-oriented SERE training programs to break down prisoners; Sen. Carl Levin’s incomplete torture investigation; and the creation of SERE during the Korean War to combat the mistreatment of US POW’s.

MP3 here. (27:57)

Michael Kearns, retired Air Force Capt., was a “master” SERE instructor and decorated veteran who held high-ranking positions within the Air Force Headquarters Staff and Department of Defense (DoD).

Jason Leopold is an investigative reporter and the Deputy Managing Editor of Truthout. His in-depth coverage includes the US Attorney firing scandal, the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilsion and the Bush administration’s torture program. He is a two-time winner of the Project Censored award for his investigative work on Halliburton and Enron, and in March 2008, was awarded the Thomas Jefferson award by The Military Religious Freedom Foundation for a series of stories on the rise of Christian fundamentalism in the US military.

Leopold also received the Dow Jones Newswires Journalist of the Year Award in 2001 for his reporting on Enron and the California energy crisis. He has worked as an editor and reporter at the Los Angeles Times and was Los Angeles bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires. He is the author of the Los Angeles Times bestseller, News Junkie, a memoir.


10 thoughts on “Jason Leopold and Michael Kearns”

  1. Which is pretty much what Saddam Hussain Obama is doing to Bradley Manning, who was motivated to release the cables to Wikileaks because his unit was rounding up Iraqi civilians and turning them over to Iraqi authorities who were torturing them with electrical shocks and power drills.

  2. The USG is sooo inefficient at torture

    For all the effort they've put into it, the output in the form of false confessions, propaganda, experiments, is really minuscule.

    And the amount of time the USG put into "reverse engineering" is ludicrous. As Kearns said, everyone knows what torture is. As near as the public knows, all the manhours that have gone into this program have learned nearly nothing new.

    In fact, it seems that regular kidnappers are far more skilled & efficient than USG, in the sense of Stockholm syndrome reports.

    Which brings me to my main point: 99% of torture is about revenge & sadism. All the rest: false confessions, propaganda, experiments, is just a rationale.

    Just for hoots, there was at least one pop culture episode on extracting real intelligence has been aired. http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/2007/10/15/Crimin

    1. Also :
      <blockquote cite="">Common misconceptions about torture do not hold up to evidence obtained from human rights organizations, international monitoring agencies, and documented testimonies of survivors, which suggest a more sinister scenario. While torture may be utilized for a variety of purposes (for example, to punish, to obtain information, or to coerce a third party), a primary reason for its use is as a means of social control. Governments employ torture as part of state policy in order to deter real or suspected dissidents. Regimes use torture as part of a continuum of repressive measures and suppression of democratic rights. Rarely, if ever, is torture practiced alone; it has become a constituent part of mechanisms for domination.

      Torture is not intended to kill the body, but the soul. Doctors and medical personnel participate during torture sessions so as to ensure that the victim will live long enough for the strategy to be effective. Khmer Rouge documents compiled by David Hawk of the Cambodia Documentation Commission underscore this point. The Tuol Sleng Prison Interrogator's Manual states that torture is used
      "…to break them [psychologically] and to make them lose their will. It's not something that's done out of individual anger, or for self-satisfaction. Thus we beat them to make them afraid but absolutely not to kill them. When torturing it is necessary to examine their state of health first and necessary to examine the whip."</blockquote cite=""> http://www.ccvt.org/simalchik.html

  3. My problem with all this reporting on U.S. torture is that there's no historical perspective. This has been going on for all of human history, and it didn't take me long to figure it out as soon as it was made public.

    Reporting would be valuable in the sense of documentation, IF you thought that any U.S.ian would ever get prosecuted (except for some low level scapegoat). But that won't happen.

    By way of historic perspective, U.S torture in Philippine insurrection after Spanish-American war was to stuff bamboo down prisoners' throats, pour water down until bellies swelled, then jump on swollen bellies. Source: Kinzer in Overthrow. 110+ years ago.

    1. And no US 'settler' ever tortured an american indian that fell into their hands.

      The Pilgrims practiced waterboarding. They'd tie people to a chair on a pole and then see how close to drowning them the could go.

      Not to excuse brutal, nasty behavior that must be stopped. Just to expose this myth of a 'good' America that somehow never tortured as the total BS that it is. America is a nasty, brutal country and has been for a long, long time. Ask any black in the south a hundred years ago when the guys in sheets came around. So, lets not hear about American exceptionalism and how we have somehow through our goodness and purity earned some holy right to go around the world killing and maiming and torturing other people in the name of some holy goodness that we are supposed to have found and now want to spread.

  4. Yes there is a history of torture in the US. That is part of the point. Anti-War does a great job of presenting the countervailing point to the idea that torture is not something the US does (and never has). There is too much of an attitude that the US is above doing such dispicable activity. We have to be exposed to the ugly side of our military and government, because they represent us.

    Another representation of us that is very interesting (disturbing) is the idea of the economic hit-men. Scott can you have John Perkins of "Confesssions of an Economic Hitman" on the program. It seems like a great (in your wheel-house) example of the American Empirialism run amok.

  5. I'm shocked, absolutely shocked, to hear of torture programs and policies condoned and practiced by the United States!!!!

  6. Try reading The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, if you haven't already.

    It would be on my short list of books to read if you want to understand this brutal world we live in.

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