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Thursday, July 17, 2008


by Phyllis Wax

The time was December 2002.
They were being trained to interrogate
prisoners at Guantanamo.

They saw the chart of techniques
and their effects on prisoners:
sleep deprivation, prolonged
constraint, exposure.

The Defense Department spokesman said
he couldn’t comment on the training chart.

They talked about all the variants,
the shadings of techniques:
isolation, semi-starvation,
darkness or bright light.

They learned how to get information
from the prisoners: filthy, infested surroundings;
demeaning punishments; exploitation
of wounds. Our enemies would confess.

The Defense Department spokesman said
he couldn’t comment on the chart.

Who found the chart?
Who copied the chart?
Who withheld its source—a 1957 paper
entitled Communist Attempts to Elicit
False Confessions from Air Force
Prisoners of War?*

In 2008 Senator Carl Levin, chairman
of the Senate Armed Forces Committee,
said that “every American would be shocked”
at the origins of the document.

The Defense Department spokesman
wouldn’t comment.

*from interviews with American prisoners of war held by the North Koreans

Phyllis Wax follows the news from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Most recently, she has been published in and will soon be published again in Out of Line and Free Verse. Her work has appeared on New Verse News six times.