Interrogators without Pliers, Radio 4, Monday
Hallucination: Through the Doors of Perception, Radio 4, Wednesday
You'll find out more by being nice than nasty
Morality aside, the big question hanging over the "enhanced interrogation techniques" rolled out in a corner of Cuba is whether they work. Ali Soufan, FBI special agent and Guantanamo Bay operative, thinks not.
In Interrogators without Pliers, he told Julian Putkowski that being nice works better. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al-Qa'ida bigwig, was waterboarded 183 times, he observed, and coughed up nothing but water. He recalled interrogating Osama bin Laden's driver, who had been wholly unco-operative. Soufan found he'd been promised a phone call to his wife, which hadn't happened. He took him outside, asked for the number, dialled it on a satellite phone and handed the phone over. Back inside, "he looked at me and, from the way he looked, I knew that there were no more walls between us".
The approach was inspired by Hanns Scharff, master interrogator of the Luftwaffe, who gave US airmen the impression that he pretty much already knew what he needed to and that they were just chatting. "In the course of genial conversation he might reveal [something] without even knowing what he said," Scharff explained in one of the post-war lectures he gave to US Air Force pilots. "Plain human spirit breaks down resistance … brutality you can resist."
There were revelations, too, in Hallucination: Through the Doors of Perception, such as that, in the Middle Ages, they didn't mark you down as mad for "seeing things" but as being in touch with the invisible world. There are also many causes other than mental illness.
Geoff Watts met Doris, whose eyesight is failing through macular degeneration. She sees anything from baskets of flowers to disembodied faces. "Sometimes they sit by the bed, but they never look at me, and they're pretty peaceful." Watts also spoke to a "healthy hallucinator", a Dutch nurse who hears voices, and who recalled first riding a bicycle. "The voices were there, saying, 'We're behind you, don't be afraid'."
"I call my voices my friends," she said. "When I want to know something ... I ask them, and get an answer." We could all do with hallucinations like that.
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Kidnapped boy may have been abused and murdered by VIP paedophile ring,' say police
- 2 Ridley Scott on Exodus, Gods and Kings casting: 'I'm not going to get it financed if my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such'
- 3 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 4 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 5 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' close to camp
This house and dental clinic 'piled up like bricks on the brink of collapsing' is why Japan wins at architecture
Ridley Scott on Exodus, Gods and Kings casting: 'I'm not going to get it financed if my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such'
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Bollywood actress Veena Malik sentenced to 26 years in jail for blasphemy after appearing in mock TV wedding scene