Name: Futility

Source: FM 34-52

Description: This approach adopts the motto of Star Trek's fictional Borgresistance is futile. On a conventional battlefield, an interrogator might try to convince a detainee that his side has no hope, and therefore he should talk to help the U.S. win quickly so more of his buddies' lives will be spared. At a detention facility like Guantanamo, the futility approach means making detainees think they will be held forever unless they tell the Americans what they know. As the Army's manual puts it, "making the situation appear hopeless allows the source to rationalize his actions, especially if that action is cooperating with the interrogator."

Physical, Psychological, or Other Effects: The futility approach itself has no effects, but detainees who actually believe their existence to be futile may become depressed to the point of suicide. Guantanamo detainees have made at least 460 attempts at self-injury and 34 suicide attempts since the camp opened in January 2002.

Locations Used: Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan

Legal Opinion: The futility approach does not itself offend the law. But it works best in conjunction with other law-breaking tactics, like the Bush administration's decision to hold detainees indefinitely at an island outpost with little to no legal process or contact with the outside world.