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Dianne Feinstein Senate
National Journal published a blog post on the still classified Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report on the CIA and allegations of torture. Aside from raising serious questions on whether SSCI chairman Dianne Feinstein and her staff are guilty of illegally disclosing classified intelligence, the claims in the National Journal blog post reveal a definition of “torture” that includes sleep deprivation.
If the allegation is accurate and the SSCI report includes sleep deprivation in its definition of torture then Feinstein and other U.S. leaders could soon find people accusing them of being guilty of indirectly or directly torturing American troops.
U.S. troops experience sleep deprivation in both training and operational environments throughout their entire careers—from the moment they enter basic combat training until they exit by way of discharge or retirement.
Basic combat training for American troops includes sleep deprivation as a doctrinal part of the training. For instance, the Army forces its recruits to serve on “fire guard” duty at night. Fire guard duty means that recruits, already on a light sleep schedule, take turns waking each other up in shifts throughout the night so they can stay awake (for an hour or two at a time) to “guard” the barracks where they live. (Fire guard duty used to mean that troops would tend to the fire used to heat a barracks to ensure that it didn’t go out or didn’t burn the building down. Now, of course, modern barracks don’t use a fire and this means that one of the main purposes of fire guard duty is to interrupt recruits’ sleep cycles and induce an element of stress into training.) Recruits might pull fire guard duty three or more times per week.
This introduction to sleep deprivation follows American troops for the rest of their careers, whether they are training stateside or working in an operational environment overseas where it is not unusual to work shifts of 12-hours, 16-hours, or longer.
Sleep deprivation is so bad in the U.S. armed forces that the Army recently expressed concern about it. The Army published, “Sleep deprivation not uncommon for Soldiers,” on April 14 and included the following:
Sleep deprivation isn’t just from insomnia or all-night partying. In the Army, lack of sleep often results from operational requirements or high-operations tempo training, said a brigade combat team commander.
Col. Dave M. Hodne, commander, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo., said he realizes the Army’s emphasis on getting adequate sleep each night – seven or eight hours – but sometimes Soldiers simply must “balance health with readiness.” . . .
“Rangers think sleep is a crutch,” he admitted. But as a Ranger commander, he said he always tried to build as much sleep time into the schedule as possible, realizing the importance of adequate sleep to mental alertness and physical endurance.
Lack of sleep, along with stress and fatigue can undermine resilience, he said.
And a buildup of stressors, like lack of sleep, may factor into post-traumatic stress and even suicidal thoughts.
Feinstein, her colleagues in Congress, and other civilian and military leaders must be well aware of American troops experiencing sleep deprivation on a regular basis. The U.S. has been at war for twelve-plus years so they surely must know how high operational tempos and other military requirements have forced troops to work without adequate sleep.
And if Feinstein and her fellow leaders actually include sleep deprivation in their definition of torture, then it only stands to reason that someone someday may choose to accuse them of being guilty of being complicit (or even participating) in the torture of American troops. It remains to be seen what will happen if that occurs.