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Glenn Carle and the CIA

Glenn Carle worked for the CIA for 33 years. He spent most of his career working on counterterrorism. After 9/11, the CIA had him interrogate a detainee. That interrogation is the subject of the book he wrote.

The detainee

After interrogating his detainee for a while, Carle determined that his detainee was telling him the truth. But the organization Carle worked for – the CIA – wasn’t. The CIA assessment of this so-called terrorist was not accurate. The assessment claimed that his detainee was “a senior involved person in or with Al Qaeda.”

“I found that this wasn’t true,” said Carle. “I found that fundamentally he was answering my questions not entirely accurately all the time. But fundamentally I assessed him to be speaking the truth.”

He was “not a jihadist, not ideologically, theologically similar to or identifying with the views of Al Qaeda.” He was “not even intentionally, willingly complicit” in his dealings with other members of Al Qaeda. However, Carle did say there were “some exceptions.”

“He wasn’t simon-pure,” said Carle.

He described the way his detainee interacted with Al Qaeda as follows.

If a member of Al Qaeda “bought a train ticket in Grand Central Station to go to Long Island … does that make the ticket taker complicit?” said Carle. “I think not. And this was, I came to feel, very broadly the situation with my detainee.”

Carle did say that some of the information provided by his detainee was useful for the CIA. So presumably, his detainee did have some sort of weak relationship with Al Qaeda.

The interrogation

Carle tortured his detainee. There is a technical term for what he tried to do. He tried to “psychologically dislocate” his detainee. Here is Carle explaining the rationale behind what he did:

“We all know that gravity pulls us down, that the sky is up. The sky is blue. The sun rises in the East. We tend to sleep once a day, for a set period of time. We have a regular series of meals. Sound is at certain levels. That’s how we perceive the world. That’s how we have a sense of ourselves. That’s how we then have rational thoughts and interact with the environment.”

“Psychologically dislocating someone is designed to change all of that so that you don’t know not only where you are or what’s going on but who you are. You lose your sense of self, become detached from your body, from your senses. It’s astounding. It’s shockingly rapid that one can have this happen.”

Carle had firsthand experience with this technique. The CIA psychologically dislocated him during his training. According to Carle, this “was a relevant, useful part” of his training. The training taught him how to deal with those psychological dislocations. CIA officers need this training because they need to know how to react if they are captured, interrogated, and tortured. And in order to learn how to cope with psychological dislocations, trainees must themselves be psychologically dislocated.

To psychologically dislocate his detainee, Carle did several things. He blasted his detainee with “noise of all different sorts” in order to make it hard for him to think. He raised and lowered the room temperature in which his detainee was located “as a way to manipulate” his “sense of self and wellbeing.” The lighting of the room was raised and lowered. Often he would subject his detainee to “total darkness.” He also manipulated his sleeping patterns and his diet.

Carle claims that the U.S. government decided to use these techniques to extract information from their detainees. He is lying. These techniques are not used to extract information from detainees. One victim of the U.S. mind control program put it best: people have known since Galileo that you don’t torture people to get information out of them. You torture people to put information into them.

Project Bluebird

According to declassified government documents, in the fifties the CIA had a program called Project Bluebird. The project got its name from the phrase “sing like a bird.” As the phrase suggests, the goal of the program was to find ways to make detainees spill their guts during an interrogation. But this was not the only goal of the project. In fact, the other, and perhaps more important goal of the project was to control the subjects after the interrogation was over. The CIA put it this way, “Can a man be made to commit acts useful to us under post-hypnotic suggestion?” Apparently, the CIA wanted to hypnotize their detainees during an interrogation and in doing so, gain control of them.

The CIA had a term for this kind of interrogation. They called it a “special interrogation” (SI). To conduct these so-called “special interrogations,” each interrogation team had experts in medicine, hypnosis, electric shock, the EEG, and the polygraph.

Before Project Bluebird began, a group of CIA officials went to Western Europe to determine if Russia was using drugs and hypnosis during their interrogations. One of the officials who went on this trip was Morse Allen (who would later lead Project Bluebird). Ironically, to discover if Russia was using drugs and hypnosis, a group of suspected Russian agents were drugged and hypnotized while being interrogated. As these interrogations were conducted in Western Europe, presumably the officials who conducted these interrogations were European officials. Declassified documents imply that the CIA officials who attended these interrogations did not how to interrogate suspects using drugs and hypnosis.

“In four different cases, suspected Communist agents were processed by drugs and the establishing of the state of hypnosis for interrogation purposes,” said the CIA. “(It was interesting to note that Polygraph tests could be run and the hypnotic state could be established and maintained through the use of an interpreter.)“

That European officials were able to do these things (while we apparently were not), is an indication that America got its “special interrogation” program from Europe.

During that trip, the CIA determined that the Russians were using “drug interrogation to a considerable extent.” The CIA also determined that Russia was using “hypnosis in special and important instances.”

“It would seem that the Russians are not, at this time, utilizing hypnosis operationally in their espionage set up,” said the CIA. “It is, although, interesting to note that the Russians definitely do possess the know-how of such operations, should they care to utilize these techniques.”

Well, heck. If the Russian have this technology and we don’t have this technology then clearly we must develop this technology, right? This is the justification that America used to engage in its egregious behavior: well, it may be evil but if the Russians are doing it then we need to do or else we will be screwed.

If the Russians were holding back for some reason in the late forties, they wouldn’t hold back for long. A couple of years later, the story changed. Then, Britain told America that Russia was training its own special interrogation teams. These interrogators were bombarding their detainees with sounds and lights. They (or at least some of them) were trained by a Swedish psychiatrist who was an expert in sensory deprivation and fatigue.

And so America embarked on its own mind control program, Project Bluebird. In February of 1951, Morse Allen and his Bluebird team received hypnosis training from an expert. The training went extremely well.

“Certain fundamental questions were specifically answered in the course of the instruction,” said Allen.

One of the questions answered was, “What percent of subjects can be subjected successfully to hypnosis techniques?” And the answer was “85% to 95%.” Another question was, “Can a person under hypnosis commit an act against his religious or moral scruples or against his training or upbringing?” And the answer to this question was, “Yes. Anything could be done by a person under hypnosis, including murder.”

Soon after this, the CIA changed the name of Project Bluebird to Project Artichoke. It appears that this project was successful. For example, a June 12, 1952 cable from an Artichoke Team in Germany read, “Team considers case most successful in their experience.” The cable also said that the subject of the interrogation “experienced complete amnesia.”

Inducing amnesia in the subjects was very important. According to the CIA, ideally every Artichoke subject would have “a complete and perfect amnesia.” Presumably, this was to prevent the subject from remembering what the CIA did to them. And so the CIA looked for drugs that induced amnesia. One such drug was scopolamine. According to Morse Allen, that drug “produces amnesia fairly regularly.”

By the end of the year, the Artichoke Team in Germany was using drugs during their interrogations. And in February of 1953, the CIA said Project Artichoke was progressing well ahead of schedule.

In 1954, Morse Allen was able to hypnotize a secretary into sleeping. He then hypnotized another woman and told her that if she could not wake the sleeping secretary she would be so outraged that she would not hesitate to kill that secretary. Allen placed a pistol nearby. The woman picked up the gun, pointed it at the sleeping secretary, and pulled the trigger. The gun was unloaded. But the woman didn’t know that. After bringing the woman out of her trance, she denied ever shooting the secretary.

By 1954, Allen was working on hypnotizing people into becoming counteragents. And for whatever reason, the CIA was hypnotizing one of its officials into harming another one of its officials (which he did on several occasions).

This is the story of Project Bluebird and Project Artichoke as told by the documents that the CIA has declassified. Actually, I tend to question whether America really “discovered” these special interrogation techniques during the fifties as part of Project Bluebird and Project Artichoke. I say this because other documents indicate that America was using these techniques during World War II.

During the war, the OSS was administering drugs to its detainees during their interrogations. What’s more, both the OSS and British intelligence used hypnotists during the war. Sidney Gottlieb, who would later head the CIA mind control program called MKULTRA, noted that the U.S. government had done something with hypnosis before Project Bluebird.

“The origins of CIA interest in hypnotism began before I arrived at the Agency with [Morse] Allen and others in SRS who recognized the practice as a possible means for eliciting information,” said Gottlieb. “Apparently there was earlier interest in the subject with the OSS, but I’m unaware of the details or extent of that.”

So why would the CIA lie about how they got their mind control program? I believe they are trying to hide the fact that they got their mind control program from Britain. So they invented a cover story, the idea that we got our mind control program from the Russians (and from former Nazi scientists).

This is the story that Glenn Carle told when commenting on the origins of the psychological dislocation program he used. He claimed that the CIA learned these techniques from the Communists, from what they did to U.S. soldiers during the Korean War and from what they did to Jewish intellectuals during the thirties. He is lying again. If the Communists had our mind control techniques before we did, they would not have lost the Cold War.

Britain and the IRA

In fact, almost everything the Bush administration did to its detainees in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay was exactly the same thing that Britain did to its Irish Republican Army (IRA) detainees three decades prior. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the evidence.

First, let’s examine what America did. Don Rumsfeld infamously agreed to force Gitmo detainees to stand for hours on end. The detainees were hooded when they were flown to Gitmo and when they were at the facility. When detainees refused to behave their heads were banged against the wall. In Abu Ghraib, our soldiers stuck an object in the anus of at least one detainee.

Now let’s compare that to what happened in Britain three decades prior. On October 17, 1971, the Sunday Times reported that Britain was brainwashing its detainees in Northern Ireland. The Times reported that Britain was blindfolding these detainees and transporting them by helicopter while still hooded. While detained, Britain stood these men against the wall and made them stand spread-eagled. The room in which these men were standing was filled with a high-pitched throbbing sound which drove the detainees mad. Of course, this media report caused an uproar and an investigation was launched. The results of that investigation were published in a report, the Compton Report.

According to the report, the detainees were forced to stand. When they collapsed, they were picked up and forced to stand again.

The report contained a list of allegations made by the detainees. Several detainees, including James Auld, Kevin Hannaway, and Joseph Clarke, said their heads were banged against the wall. Patrick Joseph McClean said his head was slammed against the floor. Brian Turley said his head was slammed against the door. Sean McKenna, Gerald McKerr, Brian Turley, and Kevin Hannaway said they were beaten if they refused to stand correctly. Joseph Clarke said he was beaten until he collapsed. Patrick Joseph McClean said he was beaten and kicked in the genitals. Michael Joseph Donnelly said he was struck in the genitals and an object was shoved into his anus.

The inquiry said they found no evidence of injury to support these statements...with the exception of the injuries suffered by Joseph Clarke. Oh, and they did find bruising on the body of Joseph McClean. And Kevin Hannaway had a black eye. But other than that, no evidence. Really.

The Compton Report said there were some cases of ill-treatment but no brutality, a lie that was parroted by the British media. The Times of London said that British officials did nothing approaching brutality.

“The picture that emerges from the committee’s examination of complaints of the first type is of occasional examples of unnecessary roughness by particular soldiers or policemen,” said the Times of London.

Apparently, this was not the first time Britain did something like this to their detainees. They did something very similar in Aden in 1964. This is how the Time of London described Britain’s behavior in Aden, “Such behaviour was regrettable, but alas occasionally understandable.”

Britain even had its own version of Dick Cheney. Reginald Maudling, a Conservative MP, told the House of Commons that the information gained from the interrogations saved civilian lives.

Now let’s fast forward thirty years. Did the torture Carle imposed on his detainee make him reveal more information? No. According to Carle, the psychological dislocations he imposed on his detainee did not make him “more willing to share information.” It merely made him “unhappy and angry and miserable.” The key word there is angry. The CIA wanted to make their detainees angry.

What documents?

Carle did other things to make his detainee angry. During the interrogation, he asked his detainee a question. His detainee said he could answer the question if Carle gave him the documents he had with him at the time when he was arrested. So Carle asked the CIA to send him these documents. The CIA told him that they would send these documents to headquarters (which was 6,000 miles away from where Carle was located). And he was told that the documents would arrive in six to eight weeks.

“I tried to explain that I wasn’t at headquarters and that I needed them [immediately],” said Carle.

But the CIA refused to send him the documents. Carle said he considered sending one of his staff to get the documents but he decided that he couldn’t do that. He said he considered going to grab the documents himself but he said he couldn’t do that because “the interrogation would grind to a halt.” And so he never got the documents. Apparently, this charade made his detainee very angry.

“Of course the detainee became progressively disdainful of me … because he thought, ‘Of course you’re doing this on purpose to me just to harass me,’” said Carle.

Once again, the detainee was telling the truth. Once again, Carle and the CIA were trying to make their detainee angry. They wanted him to hate the CIA. They wanted him to hate America. They wanted to turn him into a terrorist. The CIA assessment of him wasn’t so much a reflection of the truth – it was more of an aspiration. Don’t believe me that the CIA tortures people in order to turn them into terrorists? Let’s consider another case, the case of the Unabomber.

The Unabomber

Many of the mind control techniques used by the U.S. government are based on reverse psychology. A good example of reverse psychology is what Henry Murray did to the Unabomber at Harvard. During World War II, Murray was the chief psychologist for the OSS, which was the precursor to the CIA. He was interested in both brainwashing and the use of drugs. After the war, Murray became a professor at Harvard, where he conducted a series of “experiments” which were in fact exercises in brainwashing. The goal of these “experiments” was to indoctrinate people with a certain outlook on life.

For these “experiments,” Murray used second year undergraduate students at Harvard. Murray had a reason for using sophomores. Most sophomores do not have a “personal philosophy of life.” If you asked a college sophomore to write down their “personal philosophy of life,” they would probably just regurgitate some of the ideas they learned during their first year in college.

In fact, this was the first stage of the “experiment” – having the participants write down their “personal philosophy of life.” Presumably, many of participants, for want of something better, wrote down the “philosophy” they learned during their first year at Harvard.

At this time, Harvard was indoctrinating its students with an anti-technology outlook on life. Presumably, this is the philosophy the Unabomber wrote down. But at this point, the Unabomber probably didn’t have a strong attachment to these beliefs. They were just something he learned over the past year. To make the Unabomber a full-fledged zealot, Murray would have to do something more than just have the Unabomber attend a few classes. Because if all you are doing is lecturing people, they may remember what you told them for a while, but eventually they will probably forget what you said.

For stage two of his “experiment,” Murray put the Unabomber into an interrogation room and he had an “interrogator” belittle the Unabomber and make fun of his “personal philosophy of life.” Needless to say, this experience was very upsetting for the Unabomber. The reason Murray had the “interrogator” attack the Unabomber and his beliefs was not to convince the Unabomber that he was wrong. It was to convince the Unabomber that he was right. If you attack someone verbally without cause or justification, there is no chance they will agree with what you are telling them. Instead, they will be more likely to return fire and take the opposite position. And that was what Murray was counting on in his brainwashing “experiment.” In fact, I would bet that during the interrogation, Murray drugged the Unabomber with something that heightened his anger even further.

The traumatic experience of this “experiment” left a life-long impression on the people who had to suffer through it. And I imagine that it left them with a desire to prove that the beliefs they brought before their interrogator were the truth and not just the silly ramblings of some kooky college professor. If so, Murray succeeded in brainwashing his subjects. He certainly succeeded in brainwashing the Unabomber. Not only did he succeed in making him adopt the anti-technology outlook that Harvard was teaching him, he also turned the Unabomber into an angry, hateful individual. Such a person, needless to say, would be capable of committing acts of terrorism, which is what the Unabomber did after he left Harvard.

Who’s lying?

Glenn Carle and the CIA did other things to anger their detainee. When the detainee couldn’t answer certain questions (because he was not the person the CIA assessed him to be), CIA headquarters told Carle that his detainee was lying.

“The fact that he is not answering, proves that he is guilty,” said headquarters.

Apparently, this was the policy the CIA had for all its interrogations.

“The formal approach in our interrogations at that time was to instruct the interrogators that the lack of response was proof of guilt and withholding information,” said Carle.

And when confronted with this situation, the interrogators were told to “use stronger measures.” These stronger measures, of course, probably made the detainees hate America even more.

While his detainee was suffering, Carle seemed to be not too upset about the whole situation.

“It became funny to talk about and I would make black humor jokes with my colleagues,” said Carle.

The U.S. government held his detainees for eight years. At the end of that period, the government released him and gave him a “muted apology.” It would be interesting to find out if he became the person the CIA originally assessed him to be.

No accountability

Glenn Carle does not want the government to prosecute any of the officials responsible for the Bush torture program. He argues that prosecuting those officials would be “divisive.” According to him, such an act would be “perceived as an act of vengeance.” To justify his position, he cites the Civil War as an example. After the war, the North did not persecute the people in the South.

“I think things may have been dramatically worse had the North been vindictive and punished people more directly,” said Carle. “We would have then probably had a guerilla war.”

We prosecuted the people who waterboarded U.S. soldiers during World War II. We prosecuted U.S. soldiers for waterboarding detainees during the Vietnam War. Those prosecutions did not result in a civil war in Japan or America so why would prosecuting people result in a civil war now?

What he seems to be saying is, “If you come after people like me, we’re going to start a civil war.”

The fact that we tortured detainees has badly damaged our image abroad. This has real consequences. Muslims are joining Al Qaeda because they are outraged at what we have done. It does not help that the people who supported torturing detainees are using the legal theories of Carl Schmitt, the former Nazi, to justify their positions. Unless we hold the torturers accountable, Muslims will continue to believe that America is anti-Islamic and they will continue to join Al Qaeda. But that, of course, is the reason why we tortured those detainees in the first place.

If we don’t hold people accountable, there is nothing to deter people from torturing others in the future.

Carle pretends like he is all torn up about what he did. But if that were true, why didn’t he just quit the CIA? Not only did he agree to torture his detainee, after he finished torturing his detainee, he continued on with the CIA for several more years. In fact, he finished his career as the Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Transnational Threats at the National Intelligence Council. According to the New America Foundation, that position is “the pinnacle of our national intelligence community.” Would our government have appointed him to that position if he fundamentally opposed the Bush torture program?

So how does one become the Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Transnational Threats? You need to have the right pedigree.

“I’m a central casting New England Yankee WASP,” said Carle. “My ancestors go back to 1700. Most of them were loyalists actually. One was actually convicted for spying against the Americans. He was a British spy.”

Perhaps Britain controls Carle just liked they controlled his ancestor. One could argue that the CIA has been doing a better job of protecting European interests than American interests (for more information on this, read some of my other writings).

Carle is not the only U.S. official who got his position based on his ancestry. Frank G. Wisner, the former U.S. ambassador to Zambia, Egypt, the Philippines, and India, is the son of Frank Wisner, the former head of the OSS. John P. Clay, who worked for the Army Chemical Division and was apparently the U.S. official who sixty years ago discovered that Europe had this great new drug called LSD, was a descendant of Henry Clay and John Clay (Henry Clay was the former Speaker of the House of Representatives and John Clay was one of the original Virginia settlers who came to America four hundred years ago). And of course, our current president, Barack Obama comes from the same line as George Washington (they are both descendants of Laurence Washington).

If anyone tells you that America is a classless society, they don’t know what they are talking about.

Decades ago, when one U.S. official heard about what we were trying to do in Project Artichoke, that official said the following.

“What in God’s name are we proposing here? Does it not strike anyone but a few that these projects may be immoral and unethical, and that they may fly in the face of international laws? What really are we attempting to accomplish? Where does respect for life and human dignity come into play?”


Articles about how Britain tortured IRA detainees. All articles published by the Times of London.

(10/18/1971) “Inquiry on ‘brain washing’”

(11/17/1971) “A legacy of interrogation”

(11/17/1971) “Maudling denial of brutality”

(11/17/1971) “Ill-treatment but no Ulster brutality”

(11/17/1971) “Issues of the Compton Report”

(11/18/1971) “Interrogation disclosures saved civilians, Mr Maudling tells House”

For references on Project Bluebird and Project Artichoke, read “A Terrible Mistake” by H.P. Albarelli Jr. In particular, read the chapters “Bluebird” and “Artichoke.”

To learn more about what Henry Murray did to the Unabomber at Harvard, read this:

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