NEUCHATEL, SWITZERLAND—In a damning indictment of the agency’s own social graces, the CIA came under intense scrutiny Monday after officials declassified a report detailing the foreign intelligence service’s use of abusive etiquette coaches in previously undisclosed black site finishing schools.
The long-awaited 600-page report on the secretive etiquette program included sworn medical affidavits detailing injuries sustained by former captives consistent with periods of prolonged handshaking, extreme curtsying, and waltzing for hours in uncomfortable, toe-pinching heels, activities allegedly sanctioned by a subcontracted militant headmistress known to the victims as Madame Amelia.
“Torturous scoldings from Madame Amelia were doled out primarily through a series of secret, compulsory posture lessons in which inmates were required to stand with their chin parallel to the floor and their feet turned out for more than 48 hours straight, often with a book precariously balanced on their heads,” Amnesty International inspector Dan Worthington said of the practices classified as “cruel and unusual refinement” under international law. “Sessions typically included sensory deprivation as well, the most common example being a freshly pressed hood pulled over the subject’s eyes as they were forced to listen to the same toast given over and over again at a deafening volume.”
The finishing school reportedly operated out of a hidden $445 million black site chalet complex in western Switzerland that housed hundreds of men accused of acts of extreme incivility. The document identified and contained interviews with several former prisoners who claimed to have suffered irreversible psychological trauma from being dragged at all hours of day and night to dimly lit, underground ballrooms, where they were force-fed bland, crustless sandwiches and bitter elderflower tea.
“If we made a mistake with, say, which fork we used to eat our Nutraloaf, or allowed our elbows to rest on the back of the inmate who was forced to lie down and act as the table that day, we would immediately receive a formal, written invitation to solitary confinement,” former inmate Rahim As’ad Shamon said of the excruciatingly long luncheons he attended daily. “I was expected to RSVP yes on proper stationery with beautiful calligraphy or face a rapping by Madame Amelia’s blackthorn cane.”
“To this day, every time I’m waterboarded with a cold vichyssoise, I am terrified to slurp,” continued Shamon, reportedly holding back tears at the thought that another person could be so inhumanely strict.
The report found no substantiated links between Shamon or his fellow detainees to known suitors in high society. Despite being reprimanded for over a decade, the men said they were never informed of the faux pas they were believed to have committed. Upon their sudden release, they returned to their families unrecognizably groomed and demure, with many unable to accomplish even the simplest of everyday tasks without first giving their hair 100 strokes with a coarse brush.
Reached for comment, former CIA officials have defended the controversial correctional program, calling the “enhanced etiquette techniques” a necessary means of extracting vital pleasantries from enemy combatants.