Posts tagged KGB

wired:

In this special WIRED edition of Science Friction, Rusty Ward breaks down the real science behind brainwashing.

Reminds me of a couple of points an x-KGB counterintelligence officer made clear to me, which differ slightly… and then expand on what Rusty says here. 

1) Relationship. The brainwashing experiment he did on me was considered “great success” when I agreed with him on simple matters, or did a very simple favor. He said that was already getting me on his side, groundwork for a relationship, changing the way I thought about communicating with the “enemy”, which to the KGB equaled a form of mind control. Brainwashing to him was more of a subtly motivated friendship, than the in your face, stereotypical threats/thought breaking/torture tactics the CIA uses. He couldn’t stress enough that when you have to get physical with the informant, you are weak, you are not a professional. Beating the mind > beating the body. 

The thing is, I considered my agreeability on simple matters a form of manipulation as well, in order to see where the line of questioning was going, what was he really after and what could I get away with, in order to estimate my behavior & his response moving forward. He strongly disagreed, which made me think this possibly hints at a cultural difference in what it meant to change someone’s way of thinking vs their behavior. In the end, if I answered the way he wanted, he called it a win. 

2) Nurturing.  Paying large sums does wonders to keep an assest coming back was also key, and he repeatedly remarked how cheap the US is with assets and that’s why our intel is balls. Constant monitoring and contact tells the assest they are free to an extent, but they are indeed on someone else’s leash, dependent on them for the small degree of freedom they will have until they are no longer of use.

3) Punishment. This isn’t to suggest that baby steps and playing house is what he’s saying works. The threat of torture or death, was always looming, as an understood consequence of the power dynamic  It felt like the mood could shift drastically and in a very bad way, if you didn’t do what they wanted. Food, sleep and drug manipulation was of course used, but again - the more you had to manipulate the mind with tools, the quality of the intel decreased. This aslo diminished your reputation and made you look incompetent. Making someone think they are doing something freely, is where it’s at, always. That was his teaching moment to me.

4) Repetition. Focusing on direct methods is the norm, but if you are doing your job, repeating efforts in indirect methods of control can lessen the work load tremendously.  With only a little more effort on the upstart reconnaissance-wise, the same thing they are threatening the asset with, they could do to their significant others to a harsher degree. Keeping tabs on family, loved ones, and mistresses was going to happen. Suddenly, it seems you really have no choice but to get along. Sustaining yourself to protect others. 

The cultural differences between brainwashing and psychological coercion may be different enough that depending on the desired outcome, the investment and long term quality of the methods used will be indicative of the short term return. Something the US has trouble demonstrating an understanding of on several levels.

“Interviews with interrogators”
Vaughan Bell over at Mind Hacks posted a bunch of fantastic links of interviews with interrogators (CIA, U.S. Army, MI5, MI6, and British Intelligence Corps) that were used for the book Brainwash by Dominic Streatfeild.
If you are familiar with the Science of the KGB interviews, then this will be up your alley. 

Interviews with interrogators

Vaughan Bell over at Mind Hacks posted a bunch of fantastic links of interviews with interrogators (CIA, U.S. Army, MI5, MI6, and British Intelligence Corps) that were used for the book Brainwash by Dominic Streatfeild.

If you are familiar with the Science of the KGB interviews, then this will be up your alley. 

Science of the KGB 
Sprinkled in our conversation was his time as a sniper. Here he talks about how that work breaks down:
xKGB: “Kremlin” operation I was working alone - we can talk about it more. Sniper goes into 4 categories: first, military sniper - he works with a partner, who’s looking for the targets using optics.
Woman are the best snipers (they usually have lower blood pressure than man and they pay more attention to details. In Chechnya, Russian small Muslim republic where terrorists fight for independence since 1993, they pay women -snipers (soldiers of fortune) from former Soviet Baltic republics (Litva, Estonia) to fight Russian army. Every woman has 2 helpers - they count the dead bodies and keep an eye on the sniper.
Then there are mafia snipers - work mostly as a team. Next are espionage (gov) agency snipers - might be a solo, might be a team, depends. Last are “lonely wolves” - psychos who just shoot people in the street through a hole in a van, from the roof, etc.”
Then noticing we aren’t talking about him anymore, he redirects and with the driest of all humor, and half truths, he says, “I prefer to work alone.”
Above: Female Russian sniper [via]

Sprinkled in our conversation was his time as a sniper. Here he talks about how that work breaks down:

xKGB: “Kremlin” operation I was working alone - we can talk about it more. Sniper goes into 4 categories: first, military sniper - he works with a partner, who’s looking for the targets using optics.

Woman are the best snipers (they usually have lower blood pressure than man and they pay more attention to details. In Chechnya, Russian small Muslim republic where terrorists fight for independence since 1993, they pay women -snipers (soldiers of fortune) from former Soviet Baltic republics (Litva, Estonia) to fight Russian army. Every woman has 2 helpers - they count the dead bodies and keep an eye on the sniper.

Then there are mafia snipers - work mostly as a team. Next are espionage (gov) agency snipers - might be a solo, might be a team, depends. Last are “lonely wolves” - psychos who just shoot people in the street through a hole in a van, from the roof, etc.”

Then noticing we aren’t talking about him anymore, he redirects and with the driest of all humor, and half truths, he says, “I prefer to work alone.”

Above: Female Russian sniper [via]

scienceofthekgb:

So you want you to experience what it’s like to be interrogated/tourtured by a Soviet KBG officer in 1984?  Well, there’s a “theme park” for that.
You can go for a 3 hour tour in an underground 2 level bunker where you’re transported back in time to be yelled at, hit and pushed around in a “quasi-theatrical experience in a genuine Soviet bunker in the middle of the Lithuanian forest; imagine Punchdrunk Theatre Company run by retired KGB officers.” Basically,it’s where history comes alive and scares the shit out of you.

 ”Someone always faints – our record is five people fainting in one show,” she explained matter-of-factly, re-assuring me that my translator will have smelling salts handy. “But be sure to answer the guards’ questions promptly and clearly. They are mostly actors, but they can get stuck in that time and forget they are actors. We had to fire some of them because they were a little too hard on people. It’s very easy to break people’s will – once you are down there, six metres underground, you feel like you can’t get out.”  VIA


Finishing up part II of the interviews with my ex KGB source re: interrogations and tortures, I came across this lil nugget. (Part I here)

scienceofthekgb:

So you want you to experience what it’s like to be interrogated/tourtured by a Soviet KBG officer in 1984?  Well, there’s a “theme park” for that.

You can go for a 3 hour tour in an underground 2 level bunker where you’re transported back in time to be yelled at, hit and pushed around in a “quasi-theatrical experience in a genuine Soviet bunker in the middle of the Lithuanian forest; imagine Punchdrunk Theatre Company run by retired KGB officers.” Basically,it’s where history comes alive and scares the shit out of you.

 ”Someone always faints – our record is five people fainting in one show,” she explained matter-of-factly, re-assuring me that my translator will have smelling salts handy. “But be sure to answer the guards’ questions promptly and clearly. They are mostly actors, but they can get stuck in that time and forget they are actors. We had to fire some of them because they were a little too hard on people. It’s very easy to break people’s will – once you are down there, six metres underground, you feel like you can’t get out.”  VIA

Finishing up part II of the interviews with my ex KGB source re: interrogations and tortures, I came across this lil nugget. (Part I here)