Insects and Interrogation

Bed Bug

Underside of Immature Bed Bug

The United State Senate issued a report on the Detention and Interrogation Program of the CIA. The news media has raced to report the most shocking details. Buried in the report are mentions of insects. Reporters are debating what insects and how insects were intend to be used. In a document released by the Obama administration yesterday, we learn that President GW Bush approved the use of “insects placed in a confinement box”. According to another memo, the insects were never used.

Insects have historically been used to inflict pain and suffering (torture) on prisoners for a variety of reasons such as intimidation, interrogation and even as a means of execution (too gruesome for this weblog). In The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn describes the use of bed bugs by the Former Soviet Union.

The bedbug-infested box has already been mentioned. In the dark closet made of wooden planks, there were hundreds, maybe even thousands, of bedbugs, which had been allowed to multiply. The guards removed the prisoner’s jacket or field shirt, and immediately the hungry bedbugs assaulted him, crawling onto him from the walls or falling off the ceiling. At first he waged war with them strenuously, crushing them on his body and on the walls, suffocated by their stink. But after several hours he weakened and let them drink his blood without a murmur.

Perhaps this is the insect interrogation method approved by President GW Bush? A speech by Senator John McCain, who was himself tortured as a prisoner of war, makes a case against the use of such methods:

I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence. I know that victims of torture will offer intentionally misleading information if they think their captors will believe it. I know they will say whatever they think their torturers want them to say if they believe it will stop their suffering.

– Senator John McCain

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Bed Bugs, by jjneal, News, Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Insects and Interrogation

  1. Don in Va. says:

    Thank you Jonathan. For more details on insects and war (including some sickening details), see the book “Six-Legged Soldiers” by Jeffrey Lockwood. My review of it is here:

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