Sleep deprivation has drawn fresh scrutiny with President Obama's release of secret CIA memos on interrogation methods, reports the Los Angeles Times. Depriving detainees of sleep was a central strategy in drawing information from suspected terrorists, and is one of the banned tactics that the CIA tried hardest to keep. While sleep deprivation has long been considered less objectionable than techniques like waterboarding, the memos suggest that it is more troubling than previously realized.
The memos reveal that prisoners were forced to stand for days at a time, wearing diapers and handcuffed, and the Red Cross reported injuries from the ankle shackles used. The CIA considers sleep deprivation a way to wear down prisoners' wills without long-term physical harm. But even if there is less apparent physical damage, it "does not mean that the mental anguish is not as bad," warned a scientist.