O'Reilly again falsely claimed that Army Field Manual bans making "any captured person uncomfortable in any way"

››› ››› CHRISTINE SCHWEN

Bill O'Reilly again falsely claimed that the Army Field Manual "says, quote, 'You are not to make any captured person uncomfortable in any way.' " In fact, the Army Field Manual includes an entire section on "Interrogation Operations," which includes several techniques and strategies that make detainees "uncomfortable."

On the January 6 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly again falsely claimed that the Army Field Manual "says, quote, 'You are not to make any captured person uncomfortable in any way.' " In fact, it does not say this; as Media Matters for America has noted, the Army Field Manual includes an entire section on "Interrogation Operations," as well as a chapter listing and describing "Approach Techniques and Termination Strategies" for use in interrogations of detainees, several of which make detainees "uncomfortable."

These techniques include the "Emotional Fear-Up Approach" ("identif[ying] a preexisting fear or creat[ing] a fear within the source ... then link[ing] the elimination or reduction of the fear to cooperation on the part of the source"); the "Emotional-Futility Approach" ("convinc[ing] the source that resistance to questioning is futile," which "engenders a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness on the part of the source"); the "Rapid-Fire Approach" ("ask[ing] a series of questions in such a manner that the source does not have time to answer a question completely before the next one is asked," which "confuses the source, and he will tend to contradict himself as he has little time to formulate his answers"); and the "Mutt and Jeff Approach" ("involv[ing] a psychological ploy that takes advantage of the natural uncertainty and guilt that a source has as a result of being detained and questioned").

O'Reilly's claim that the Army Field Manual states that soldiers cannot "make any captured person uncomfortable in any way" appears to refer to portions of the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, otherwise known as the Third Geneva Convention, which is cited in the Army Field Manual.

During the discussion, O'Reilly also asserted that requiring the CIA to adhere to the Army Field Manual won't result in any "intel from any captured terrorist suspects at all." O'Reilly's assertion is contradicted by the experiences of the Air Force officer who led the team of interrogators that successfully hunted down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Writing under the pseudonym Matthew Alexander in a Washington Post op-ed, he explained how he used the methods "listed in the unclassified Field Manual" to interrogate prisoners and that this "started a chain of successes that ultimately led to Zarqawi." He wrote:

Amid the chaos, four other Air Force criminal investigators and I joined an elite team of interrogators attempting to locate Zarqawi. What I soon discovered about our methods astonished me. The Army was still conducting interrogations according to the Guantanamo Bay model: Interrogators were nominally using the methods outlined in the U.S. Army Field Manual, the interrogators' bible, but they were pushing in every way possible to bend the rules -- and often break them. I don't have to belabor the point; dozens of newspaper articles and books have been written about the misconduct that resulted. These interrogations were based on fear and control; they often resulted in torture and abuse.

I refused to participate in such practices, and a month later, I extended that prohibition to the team of interrogators I was assigned to lead. I taught the members of my unit a new methodology -- one based on building rapport with suspects, showing cultural understanding and using good old-fashioned brainpower to tease out information. I personally conducted more than 300 interrogations, and I supervised more than 1,000. The methods my team used are not classified (they're listed in the unclassified Field Manual), but the way we used them was, I like to think, unique. We got to know our enemies, we learned to negotiate with them, and we adapted criminal investigative techniques to our work (something that the Field Manual permits, under the concept of "ruses and trickery"). It worked. Our efforts started a chain of successes that ultimately led to Zarqawi.

From the January 6 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: But Colonel -- and you and I have disagreed on this one before -- you know, if you're going to say that you have to do the Army Field Manual, which you know very well, which says, quote, "You are not to make any captured person uncomfortable in any way" -- if that's going to be the standard that [CIA director-designate] Leon Panetta embraces, and he told the Monterey newspaper that's exactly his vision, then I don't think we are going to get intel from any captured terrorist suspects at all. Am I wrong?

DAVID HUNT (Fox News military analyst): No. And the intel -- the Army intel manual is meant for Private Johnson in the field.

O'REILLY: Right. Right. Right. But --

HUNT: And that -- it's not a manual -- it should not be --

O'REILLY: It was clear by --

HUNT: -- adopted by the intelligence community. It should not be.

O'REILLY: It was clear by the interview that Panetta did with the Monterey newspaper that this is the standard that he believes the CIA has to adhere to.

HUNT: And then he's wrong, and so is the incoming president to even be on this issue.

Posted In
Justice & Civil Liberties, Detention, Interrogation
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Bill O'Reilly
Show/Publication
The O'Reilly Factor
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.