January 18, 2015

1963: KUBARK Counterintelligence Manual — CIA’s User Guide to Torture


KUBARK is a cryptonym for CIA itself. The top secret KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogatiom Manual codified extensively tested psychological torture methods which are the foundation for the CIA’s sinister counter-insurrectional tactics. The authors of the KUBARK Manual are anonymous; but were keen to take credit by emphasizing the debt to psychological research: “one could not mention interrogation techniques without reference to the psychological research conducted in the past decade.” The anonymous authors explicitly referred to Dr. Hebb’s (McGill) and Dr. Wexler’s (Harvard) experiments to suggest that “deprivation of sensory stimuli induces regression” and that “calculated provision of stimuli during interrogation [strengthens] the subject’s tendencies toward compliance.” Several of Albert Biderman’s writings were also cited in the Manual’s bibliography. (Cotton. Poisonous Pedagogy, 2013)

The KUBARK Manual has served as the basic framework for CIA’s technique for torturing prisoners of war and was disseminated globally by the Public Safety program of the U.S. Agency for Internal Development over the next three decades. By 1967, just four years after compiling the KUBARK torture manual, the CIA was operating forty interrogation centers in South Vietnam as part of its Phoenix Program that killed over 20,000 Viet Cong suspects. (McCoy. The Hidden History of CIA Torture: America’s Road to Abu Ghraib, 2004) In 1975, Congress abolished the Public Safety program, whereupon the CIA worked through the U.S. Army Mobile Training Teams instructing military interrogators. A highly redacted version of KUBARK was released in 1997; a less redacted version was released in 2014. (Read more. . ..National Security Archive, April, 2014)

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