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The Military Communications

Hearing Voices? Could Be the Lasers 225

Posted by kdawson
from the or-maybe-the-sharks dept.
An anonymous reader sends us to Wired for a piece about some declassified Pentagon research from 1998 that has been revealed in a freedom-of-information filing. Apparently the Pentagon has investigated lasers that put voices in your head, among other non-lethal technologies such as microwave heating. The report suggests the techniques could be useful for controlling crowds or in negotiations. There is no context for the research or any indication whether it has continued, although the microwave heating bit sounds rather like the Active Denial System we have discussed recently.
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Hearing Voices? Could Be the Lasers

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  • by WarJolt (990309) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:25PM (#22482014)
    Torture isn't a reliable means to obtain information. I know...I have a great idea... Lets make them crazy.
  • obligatory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:26PM (#22482036)
    what's the frequency, Kenneth?
  • by MenTaLguY (5483) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @07:38PM (#22482172) Homepage
    Also known as "psychological torture".
  • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @08:41PM (#22482844)
    but I've never read a convincing explanation of why this would be the case. The standard arguments (e.g. "They'll say whatever you want to hear, just to make you stop") aren't particularly well reasoned - they don't really work unless you assume the torturer comes into the session knowing absolutely nothing related to the information they're trying to obtain.

    Suppose I planted some bombs and you caught me and demanded the information by torture. First I'd deny, then I'd lie, and presumably eventually I'd give up the locations and the city would be saved. hooray! right?

    The trouble is -- what if you caught my completely innocent brother instead? You'd start in on him, and he deny. And deny. And then deny some more... but if you don't let up, he'll give up and start naming places. Of course there won't be any bombs there unless he's incredibly lucky-- but really you expected him to lie. So you torture him some more, and he'll come up with some new locations.

    And all the information he'll give you will be unreliable. But he'll swear by his mothers grave its the truth everytime. until you come back tell him he lied and you want the real locations this time... and he'll come up with another set. You see? He'll just keep saying what you want to hear.

    Now if you happen to know where the bombs are, and tell him to confirm it. He'll do that too. He'll jump at the chance. And admit to planning it. Buying the explosives, etc... whatever you tell him... he'll give it back to you.

    And when you look at some of the information that's come from people who've been tortured. They rarely want anything so verifiable as the location of bombs... they want

    a) you to confess to crimes that they'll outline for you
    b) tell you name co-conspirators

    In which case you eventually do both. Except if your innocent the people you name in b) are just going to be random friends and family and acquaintenaces etc... which is unverifiable... because they all deny it... unless you torture them too, of course.

    The trouble with torture is ultimately there is no real way to tell the difference between some who is supressing information and someone who simply doesn't know. Either will deny knowing. And either will give you false information -- the former in defiance, the latter because that's all they've got, and you don't let up until they give you SOMETHING.

    And if you know the information your getting is false, well.. they must be in defiance... so you just torture them some more.
  • Re:Voices (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thegiantsnail (1242598) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @08:44PM (#22482880)
    Philip K Dick. Hell yes. My exact thought when I read this, that pink laser of enlightenment.
  • by repapetilto (1219852) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:00PM (#22483022)
    Johnston: "It appears the intel was faulty again sir" Base Cmdr. Assertion Fallacy: "Well, then we obviously haven't tortured him enough have we"
  • by MikeDX (560598) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:37PM (#22483334) Journal
    surely she *DID* do a cover then..
  • by ravenshrike (808508) on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @09:52PM (#22483452)
    Done properly, while asking the right sort of questions, torture works perfectly well. Especially if you keep torturing them until their story remains consistent. It's hard enough to build elaborate lies against interrogation alone, adding severe pain and mental anguish makes it impossible. That being said, just picking up an average Joe off the street and torturing them won't get you anything useful, because you don't know enough to ask the right sort of questions.
  • by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @10:41PM (#22483798) Homepage Journal
    On the contrary -- people who say torture works watch too many movies. Ditto for people who think lie detectors work. You do realize the CIA has admitted to never actually outing an agent with a lie detector, right?

    Torture is a useful way to justify your own actions and beliefs, and it may be a way to get information from someone IF they have that information but it is NOT a good reliable way of ascertaining if they even know that information nor if the information they give you is accurate.

    Some people you can beat half to death and they'll just let you kill them out of spite. Some people will lie from the start just to see if they can outwit you. Some will give up everything after being threatened once. Can you tell the difference? I'll tell you one thing, a lot of those doing the torturing sure can't, not to mention that you wouldn't be able to admit to having torture training in the first place.
  • by petermgreen (876956) <plugwashNO@SPAMp10link.net> on Tuesday February 19, 2008 @11:36PM (#22484114) Homepage
    Just from a guess, I'd say the "interviewers" probably tend to ask enough leading questions where in a state of panic you might make up something reasonably convincing but wrong. Or for legitimate suspects who are hardened to torture techniques they could still give mis-information based just enough on the truth to be believable.
    Sure but there are a couple techniques the torturer can use to at least partially get arround that.

    * they can check that the information is consistant with thier other sources.
    * if they have captured a group of people who are all belived to have the information they can keep torturing until they get a consistant story out of all of them.

    I'm sure there are cases where torture doesn't work but that is rather different from being useless.
  • Re:Real Genius (Score:1, Insightful)

    by sgt_doom (655561) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @12:07AM (#22484306)
    Normally, one would find this to be a funny thread but for one thing, the one thing, in fact fewer than five out of every one million Americans are aware of:

    that of the five voting machine and election systems companies which will decide the 2008 presidential election - one of them is a Pentagon-shell company, and three of the remaining four are Pentagon-financed. Why this should be a surprise to anyone - after over 823 "election irregularities" over the past four to six years - all following the exact pattern and all called "election-rigging."

    Evdidently, many Americans are oblivious to reality, thinking that although such has been the case over the preceding eight years, this time it will be different!

    What was that trite definition of insanity: doing the same exact thing over and over again, but expecting a different result.......

    And that last voting machine company, Hart Intercivic...owned partially by SAIC (meaning partially by the Pentagon, partially by Amerada Hess - through Triton Energy through Triton Venture Partners [Amerada Hess is the oil company which, in partnership with Bush's pals, the Saudi royals, put through the pipeline across the 'stans which connects to the pipeline in Afghanistan - and the oil company that Keane - that guy on the 9/11 Commission is a director of), and partially by James Baker and the Bushies.....

  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @01:03AM (#22484586)
    a twisted little beastie.

    I'm sure you'd go far with the right employers.

    Here's a question: How do torturers practice their skills? How does an agency determine the best way to exact pain? A homeless test subject scooped from the streets has nothing to confess which will stop such "explorations". --Of course, information collection is just an excuse. The real reason people torment one another is to feed, so accuracy is hardly an important issue, except to keep the self-deception spinning so long as it is necessary.

    In any case, there is little doubt that you will find yourself one day strapped to a table learning the other side of the coin, karma being what it is. Sadly, compassion is usually learned through direct exposure to suffering.

    I suspect my words must sound like babble at the moment, but I'll wish you good luck anyway.


    -FL

  • by cyphercell (843398) on Wednesday February 20, 2008 @02:51AM (#22485028) Homepage Journal

    So, lets say you spend months torturing the wrong person? Do you let them go? Let them back to their people so they can tell everyone what hideous hell awaits them whether innocent or guilty? Fuck no! you bury that shit, you either A) never let them out of prison OR B) finish it. The best case scenario here is where you have executioners and torturers in a total disconnect. The torturer thinks the innocents go free, the executioners think only the guilty are exterminated. But outside of a perfect world, the only thing that holds the soldiers' belief in upstanding behavior is denial.

    So, knowing how it works, I know that if torture is going to be used against the enemy (whether innocent or guilty) the innocent will develop plans fashioned around protecting their loved ones, and the guilty will fashion plans to look innocent. What you get is a despotic snowball where both the guilty and innocent rat out their friends in order to protect their families and co-conspirators. Forcing the interrogating force to lock up or kill more and more of the wrong people. (possibly developing a paranoia that all co-conspirators are blood related - the interrogator will sense that everyone is lying about the same thing.)

    If I were guilty I would go to the smartest innocent "friend" I have and make a deal that if either of us are captured we will protect our families. I would develop a wild goose chase complete with corroborating evidence, eventually framing my buddy or an enemy. I would instruct all of my closest recruits to do the same (creating more corroboration in a predatory fashion). Fear would drive my friend to do unspeakable things, he at the same time would assume I was under that same pressure of fear - he would be wrong. Spies often work by using people that do NOT know anything of value. Hell if I was a spy I'd set shit up and call the damn interrogators just to keep them busy. Torture is a crude tactic in the intelligence game - it only works against those that are bad at playing the game. What's more, is if your enemy is bad at playing the game, why do you need it?

Mathematicians stand on each other's shoulders. -- Gauss

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