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.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 4 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 5 Northern Lights in the UK: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
Cruel Woman in Black prank sees cinema-goers terrified by movie poster - watch their reactions
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Christmas TV guide 2014: The best shows to watch from Doctor Who to Downton Abbey
Merry Xmas Everybody: Slade tops 'most-streamed' Spotify Christmas tunes of 2014
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever