We all know that the US never tortured prisoners of war before Bush and Cheney adopted Gestapo and Khmer Rouge techniques in secret torture camps, kept from the Red Cross. That doesn't mean legal - and often frightening - ways to get people to talk were not very much part of the tool-kit. From an obit today from the days when America was a beacon of human rights:

Serving in Army intelligence in World War II, Mr. Trefousse interrogated German prisoners of war. In addition to his fluency in German, he had a means of persuading them to reveal vital information. “We used to tell the prisoners that we had two internment camps, one in Florida and the other in Siberia,” Professor Trefousse told the Brooklyn College alumni magazine last year. “I would hang a sign around the neck of a prisoner that said ‘Russia’ and send him out into the yard. He would ask a guard what the sign meant.

Nine times out of 10 the prisoner came right back in and told us everything we wanted to know.”

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