Imperial Torture Memo Declassified
And now for something completely frivolous.
Galactic Empire Imperial Security Bureau
Office of Legal Counsel
MEMORANDUM TO CENTCOM ISB
Re: Interrogation Branch Treatment of Rebel Combatants
You have commanded this Office to examine the legal standards governing interrogations of terrorist “rebel” combatants in Imperial custody. You have specifically directed that we examine both current Imperial law and former Republic law that might apply.
An earlier draft of this memorandum, recommending the humane treatment of prisoners for the combined purposes of propaganda and more reliable intelligence, was rejected prior to submission. (See incident report, D. Vader, anoxic demise of Cpt. Jorad 2/5/03.)
It is the conclusion of this Office that the Emperor’s protections generously extended to his adoring subjects do not extend to rebel combatants, who have rejected those protections. This may at first seem contrary to the principle of general applicability, that the Emperor’s laws apply to all within the galaxy, whether they consent to such laws or not. However, that would be a misconstruction when applied to the interrogation of enemy combatants during an ongoing armed conflict. Detaining and interrogating enemy combatants is an important element of the Emperor’s authority to defend the Empire, its institutions and its subjects.
The Emperor enjoys complete discretion over the conduct of war, and so no law can infringe on his ultimate authority. We presume that none seek to provoke a confrontation with the Emperor over the scope of this authority. Therefore, the law must be construed in such a way as to avoid any such conflict, by determining a reasonable alternative interpretation consistent with the Emperor’s sole authority in wartime. The Emperor therefore has the authority to adopt the recommendations contained herein, and any others he deems appropriate.
The situation in which these issues arise is unprecedented in galactic history. Several coordinated terrorist attacks took place in rapid succession three years ago, resulting in the destruction of a critical government edifice known as the Death Star. These attacks were brought about by a small but highly motivated organization of religious fundamentalists, purporting to serve a higher “force.” The attacks caused an unprecedented level of destruction, killing thousands of civilian workers, disrupting political and commercial activity for nearly seven days, and resulting in economic costs still being assessed. These attacks were merely the latest in a violent campaign that had been continuing for several years.
Under all standards of intergalactic law, the Death Star attack triggered the Empire’s right to use force in self defense. (See, e.g., Article 51 of the nonbinding Local Group Charter.) The galaxy is now in a state of war.
Leaders of the Rebellion remain at large, with access to active terrorist cells, suspected former “Jedi Knights,” and other resources. It has been reported that they are regrouping for another coordinated strike against an Imperial government edifice, as yet unspecified. (See interrogation minutes, XXXXCLASSIFIEDXXXX.)
Given the ongoing threat of Rebel terrorist attacks, the capture and interrogation of Rebel operatives is imperative to our Imperial security and defense. Because of the asymmetric nature of terrorist operations, information is perhaps the most critical weapon for defeating the Rebel Alliance. The Rebel Alliance is not a governmental entity, and has no fixed planetary system as its base of operations. It has no fixed, large-scale military or civilian infrastructure. It deploys personnel, materiel and finances covertly, and it attacks without warning using unconventional weapons and methods. (See appendix C, “The Force: Jedi and Sith Weaponry.”)
As the Death Star attack and subsequent events demonstrate, it seeks to launch terror attacks against purely civilian targets, and seeks to acquire weapons of mass destruction for such attacks. (See appendix B, news accounts of incents on Mimban, Hoth and Bespin.) Because of the secret nature of rebel operations, obtaining advance information about the identity of Alliance operatives and their plans may prove to be the only way to prevent direct attacks on Imperial systems. Interrogation of captured rebel operatives is often the only way to obtain such information.
Current interrogation practices have not been particularly effective. Mind probes and truth sera are flawless when used properly, but the staggeringly high incidence of improper use and reporting (see analysis report of interrogation of L. Organa) have led to their abandonment in favor of more direct techniques. Unfortunately, due to the previous reliance on mind probe technologies, few are trained in effective personal interrogation. Current practices of haranguing, wheedling and cajoling are just as ineffective as the (equally common) blaster shot in the head.
It is recommended that Interrogation Branch institute practices involving actual physical discomfort and pain. Although these have until now been avoided by Imperial forces — and in fact are prohibited by the current Army and Fleet manuals — the use of torture to extract intelligence is necessary and lawful in order to prevent another tragedy like the Death Star.
We understand that the word “torture” is loaded with negative connotations, but will leave the official formulation up to the Propaganda Branch. We could spend dozens of pages in tortuous reasoning to justify not calling it torture, but we believe that would be counterproductive. It would merely invite further criticism from enemies and undermine the credibility of this report.
“Torture” is defined as:
an act committed by an Imperial official with the intent to inflict severe, non-routine pain, either physical or mental, for the purpose of defeating another’s free will.
Clearly, that is precisely what is required here. Captured rebels are not divulging their compatriots’ whereabouts and plans, precisely because they choose not to. This free will must be overcome, if we are to gain intelligence critical to galactic security. Interrogation officers must therefore be trained in methods of inflicting pain so as to defeat the free will of their prisoners.
This Office proposes the construction of a special facility, a chamber in each Imperial Fleet flagship and in each major surface installation, specifically designed for the infliction of “torture.” This chamber, which this Office has begun referring to informally as the “Star” Chamber, would be equipped with various devices capable of inflicting pain without — and this is crucial — without killing the captive or otherwise rendering him incapable of divulging intelligence.
A research team was dispatched to the Hutt lord Rokko, widely reputed to be a master of torture. We are still awaiting the team’s return, now long overdue. In the meantime, we suggest that each “Star” Chamber be equipped with the following, and that officers be trained in their use. (We recommend that D. Vader be trained first, given his dismal interrogation record.)
1) Binders and other restraints, to ensure the prisoner’s immobility. Escape during interrogation is embarrassing enough. Escape during torture would defeat the whole purpose. There is anecdotal evidence that the current “one size fits all” binders do not, in fact, fit all. Special designs are probably required.
2) Nerve stimulators. Whether using electricity, fire, force fields or other sources of energy, an array of stimulators could be placed in a bed-like arrangement. The prisoner’s body could then be moved into contact with the bed, so that pain receptors on the body would be highly stimulated, creating the sensation of suffering without any actual physical harm. The stimulators could be applied to the entire body, or to specific body parts, at the discretion of the interrogator.
3) Sensory overload devices. Some species are acutely sensitive to particular senses, to the extent that a sensory overload can cause enough discomfort to override free will. Wookiees, for example, have ears particularly sensitive to high-pitched noises (though for some reason the whine of spacecraft engines and weaponry are actually soothing, more research is needed there).
4) “Shaming” staff. Some cultures in the galaxy are more averse to shame and disgrace than they are to physical pain. It is therefore recommended that each “Star” Chamber employ staff specially trained in the arts of finger wagging, insults, aspersions, slander, and sexual assault.
Other recommendations are welcome. It must be noted, however, that “waterboarding” is not to be used, because it is not torture.