The CIA tortured Abu Zubaydah, my client. Now charge him or let him go Abu Zubaydah has now been held incommunicado for 12 years without trial. This is gross injustice
16 december 2014
‘Abu Zubaydah is exhibit A of the Senate’s report. He is mentioned no less than 1,001 times.’ Photograph: AP
Even for those accustomed to the horrors of the CIA’s secret detention, torture and extraordinary rendition regime, the summary of the US Senate select committee on intelligence report makes chilling reading. It chronicles a systematic programme of prisoner torture and abuse, led by the CIA, but with the involvement of all levels of government and a multitude of other states. But it also reveals the extent of the misinformation surrounding the programme, and the pervasive sense of impunity that made it possible.
The report is the latest but not the last in a line of developments that are gradually prising open the truth about rendition. I am one of the legal representatives of Abu Zubaydah, a victim of that programme, in his proceedings against Poland and Lithuania before the European court of human rights. In a decision of 24 July, that court found Poland responsible for torture and secret detention by the CIA at a “black site” on its territory, and for failing to investigate and hold those responsible to account.
Abu Zubaydah might now be described as exhibit A in the week’s Senate report. He has the regrettable distinction of being the first victim of the CIA detention programme for whom, as the report makes clear, many of the torture (or “enhanced interrogation”) techniques were developed, and the only prisoner known to have been subject to all of them. With no less than 1,001 references to Abu Zubaydah specifically, the Senate report confirms the Strasbourg court’s findings regarding the horrific conditions of detention and interrogation techniques to which he and others were subject.
Among them were “wallings” (slamming prisoners against a wall), cramped confinement in boxes, sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours, usually nude and in stress positions, and waterboarding (which induced convulsions and vomiting). The waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah, to which the court notes he was subjected 83 times in one month alone, was authorised at the highest levels of government. It notes how “Abu Zubaydah became completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth”. The report concludes that “brutal” interrogations were far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.
Beyond the torture itself, the report reveals how misinformation has been generated to justify the dehumanisation of “high-value detainees” including Abu Zubaydah. Several of the exorbitant CIA claims, in some cases reiterated long after they were known to be false, are rejected point by point in the report. Despite repeated assertions that Abu Zubaydah was “the third or fourth man in al-Qaida”, the report notes that the “CIA later concluded that Abu Zubaydah was not a member of al-Qaida”. Likewise, it refutes claims regarding his involvement in 9/11, that the interrogating team was “certain he was withholding information” and claims, widely publicised, that his torture led to valuable actionable intelligence. The rejection of the last of these claims as unsupported by CIA records led to the Committee’s overall finding that “based on a review of CIA interrogation records … the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation”.
Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.
Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Today, 12 years after he was captured and subjected to this torture by the CIA, Abu Zubaydah, our client, remains in unlawful detention at Guantánamo Bay. He has had no review of the lawfulness of his detention, no criminal charges laid against him, no trial (despite his US counsel making a plea for him to be tried, noting that even trial by military justice is better than no trial at all), and he is not slated for trial. Instead, the US baldly asserts the right to detain him indefinitely under supposed “law of war” detention. The Senate report notes that, after taking custody of Abu Zubaydah, CIA officers concluded that he “should remain incommunicado for the remainder of his life”. Thus far, that is effectively what has happened. Despite evidence of his torture and secret detention, there has been no meaningful criminal investigation, no one has been held to account, and until the ECHR judgment this year, there has been no recognition of the violations of his rights.
Regrettably, the Senate report is heavily redacted so that the names of the states involved are withheld. But it is not difficult to identify the state to which he was transferred in December 2002, the date on which the ECHR found he had been transferred to Poland. Like the ECHR judgment, the Senate report reflects the existence of a “memorandum of understanding” between this state and the US to house a detention site. It records the state’s discomfort at one point, but says it later became “flexible with regard to the number of CIA detainees at the facility” following the intervention of the US ambassador and the transfer of millions of dollars. It records that officials of the state were upset, not at the discovery of unlawful detention or torture on its territory, but at the CIA’s “inability to keep secrets”.
In a galling twist, Poland has recently asked the ECHR to set aside its judgment and to refer the case to the court’s grand chamber, because it disputes the existence of a detention site. Throughout, it has maintained a policy of denial, refusing to cooperate with the court on secrecy grounds.
Since the Senate report, Poland’s position has begun to shift, with acknowledgments of the site but not what happened, exposing its disingenuity towards the court. The detailed and careful analysis by the Strasbourg judges of what the Warsaw government knew, and when, is already enough to demonstrate the implausible nature of Poland’s latest position. But the report throws Polish protestations (and those of other states) into much harsher relief. The court should dismiss Poland’s attempt to delay and obstruct justice for rendition victims.
Not only does Poland have an obligation to investigate and prosecute those responsible for rendition. For the other states which facilitated the practice, including the UK, where information pointing to knowledge and responsibility continues to emerge, investigation and prosecution is an international legal obligation not a policy alternative. It is time for victims of rendition such as Abu Zubaydah to be brought within the legal framework, to be either tried or released, to have the wrongs again them redressed, and for those responsible to be held to account.
Justice is best done by the states responsible. But where national courts fail, there is a continuing role for human rights courts to determine state responsibility, for courts in other states to judge individuals under universal jurisdiction, and ultimately also for the international criminal court. Truth, justice and accountability for these crimes against humanity are essential, not just for the individuals involved, but to reassert the relevance of the rule of law.
Helen Duffy, lawyer for Abu Zubaydah
The Guardian, Monday 15 December 2014 18.45 GMT
Find this story at 15 December 2014
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CIA torture report: The doctors who were the unlikely architects of the CIA’s programme
15 december 2014
The doctors subjected American soldiers to ‘coercive interrogation techniques’
They are the most unlikely architects of the CIA’s programme of torture. Two psychologists who swore to heal not harm.
Now it has been revealed that two doctors, identified by the pseudonyms Dr Grayson Swigert and Dr Hammond Dunbar, were paid $81 million by the CIA to help develop and implement a seven-year programme that included “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding, placing detainees in stress positions and sleep deprivation.
Until now, little was known about the pair, who the New York Times has named as James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.
According to the declassifed documents, they created the programme in 2002 when the CIA took custody of Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi arrested in Pakistan and suspected of being an al-Qaeda lieutenant.
He was taken to an unnamed country, reportedly Thailand, where a prison – “detention site green” – became an experimental laboratory for Swigert and Dunbar to perfect the techniques they had learned at the US Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (Sere) school where they were based before.
Dr. Bruce Jessen refused to talk with ABC News in 2009, citing a confidentiality agreement with the government. Dr. James Mitchell refused to talk with ABC News in 2009 It was at the elite school, often used to train Special Forces troops, that the doctors subjected American soldiers to “coercive interrogation techniques that they might be subjected to if taken prisoner by countries that did not adhere to Geneva protections”.
CIA ’torture’ report: Timeline from 9/11 to Dianne Feinstein’s findings
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Neither doctor had any experience as an interrogator; neither had knowledge of al-Qaeda. Swigert, however, had reviewed literature on “learned helplessness in which individuals might become passive and depressed in response to adverse or uncontrollable events”.
Such helplessness, he imagined before joining the CIA’s programme, could “encourage a detainee to cooperate and provide information”.
After the detention of Zubaydah, the doctors’ programme – authorised by Justice Department lawyers – was expanded with detainees taken to secret prisons in Poland, Romania, Lithuania and other countries, or “partners” as they are referred to in the report.
CIA suspect Abu Zubaydah CIA suspect Abu Zubaydah (AP) During Swigert’s pitch for the programme he described 12 SERE techniques that could prove useful to the CIA. They were: “The attention grasp, walling, facial hold, facial slap, cramped confinement, standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation, water-board, use of diapers, use of insects, and mock burial.”
A year after Swigert and Dunbar began the torture (or “enhanced interrogation techniques”), a senior CIA interrogator would tell colleagues that their model at SERE was “based on resisting North Vietnamese physical torture” and “designed to extract confessions”.
Indeed, the interrogation was prioritised over the health of the detainee. One declassified cable says the interrogation team understood that “interrogation process takes precedence over preventative medical procedures”.
Four years after it began, the programme was at an end when George W Bush ordered detainees to be taken to Guantanamo Bay, and another form of torture began.
But Swigert and Dunbar had by that time realised their invention was lucrative and formed a company to conduct their work with the CIA.
The CIA’s contract with that company was in excess of $180million and the pair received in excess of $81m before the deal was terminated in 2009.
Before that, the CIA had provided a “indemnification agreement” to “protect the company and its employees from legal liability arising out of the programme”.
But by then, the doctors had completed their work.
SAM MASTERS Tuesday 09 December 2014
Find this story at 9 December 2014
Kings of torture who made £50m inflicting pain: The incredible story of how two Mormons with no expertise conned the CIA Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen paid $81m to devise torture techniques
15 december 2014
They told CIA to use waterboarding, stress positions and sleep deprivation Senate report says ‘enhanced’ techniques did not thwart terrorist plots But Mitchell says the report is a politically-motivated ‘load of hooey’ Doctors charged as much as $1,800 for their help with interrogations CIA contract was worth $180million but was cancelled by Obama in 2009 Mitchell is currently retired and living in Florida
Jessen has lived a private life in Spokane, Washington.
He was appointed a Mormon bishop in his hometown, but had to resign when church members found out about his past
Their names appear again and again in the U.S. Senate’s shocking report on CIA torture — two clinical psychologists who dreamt up ever more brutal ways to inflict humiliation and pain on uncharged prisoners kept in secret prisons.
Often they would do interrogations themselves, subjecting Al Qaeda suspects to endless waterboardings, beatings and week-long sleep deprivation with a gusto that even shocked hardened CIA agents. And all the time they were raking in millions as they convinced their CIA paymasters — against all evidence — that their illegal, immoral methods were getting results.
The 528-page Senate Intelligence Committee report published on Tuesday identifies the pair — who earned $81 million (£52 million) masterminding the CIA’s disastrous ‘enhanced interrogation’ programme from 2002 to 2009 — as Dr Grayson Swigert and Dr Hammond Dunbar.
These are pseudonyms. U.S. media have named them as James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, two retired air force psychologists who learnt their trade when they helped to teach U.S. servicemen how to avoid capture and survive interrogation.
As part of the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) programme at the elite Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington State, they subjected U.S. airmen to mock ‘interrogation techniques that they might be subjected to if taken prisoner by countries that did not adhere to Geneva protections’.
They struck gold when they convinced a gullible CIA that these techniques should be used in deadly earnest on terror suspects.
No matter that the men were almost comically ill-equipped to be interrogation masterminds. As the Senate report witheringly observes: ‘Neither psychologist had any experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialised knowledge of Al Qaeda, a background in terrorism, or any relevant cultural or linguistic expertise.’
What they did have was some aggressive ideas on how to grill suspected terrorists that perfectly suited the CIA’s grim mood after the 9/11 attacks on New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, in 2001.Mitchell, now 63, had just retired from the military but saw an opportunity to display his gung-ho patriotism and make some money. He already had CIA contacts from his role at the airbase and he approached them with a plan, backed by impressive-sounding psychobabble, for ‘enhanced’ interrogation.
Base: Psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were given the huge sum to develop the ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques used at facilities such as Guantanamo Bay (pictured)
Ironically, Mitchell borrowed his central theory — called ‘learned helplessness’ — from an expert on happiness. Psychologist Martin Seligman studied depression and discovered research from the 1960s in which dogs given persistent small electric shocks eventually became listless and didn’t bother to escape.
Mitchell adapted this research for his own ends. He claimed that if Al Qaeda suspects were made to face ‘persistent adversity’ they would be pushed into hopelessness and co-operate.
It didn’t seem to matter that other psychologists and experienced interrogators disagreed, arguing that there was no scientific evidence for Mitchell’s theory and that experience had shown brutal interrogation techniques did not work: prisoners would just say whatever they thought their interrogators wanted to hear.
Within two months of 9/11, desperate CIA bosses had recruited Mitchell to study an Al Qaeda manual, seized in the UK, which coached members on how to resist interrogations. How could the CIA get around such resistance and elicit intelligence from captives, they asked.
For help with the answer, Mitchell recruited Jessen, now 65, an old friend from the airbase who shared his Mormon background.
They put together a 12-point interrogation programme based on the techniques they had used on U.S. servicemen in SERE training. These included slaps to the face, cramped confinement, agonising stress positions, prolonged sleep deprivation, forced nudity, slamming prisoners into the wall, making them soil themselves while wearing nappies, and waterboarding.
The pair admitted they had never tried waterboarding but insisted it was an ‘absolutely convincing technique’.
The SERE methods they taught were based on tactics first used by the Chinese to extract confessions from U.S. prisoners during the Korean War. Now they would be used by the Americans.
The irony that now it was the U.S. that would be flouting the Geneva Conventions seemed lost on everyone.
Mitchell reportedly told CIA chiefs that interrogations required ‘a comparable level of fear and brutality to flying planes into buildings’. Some of their proposals, such as mock burials, were too extreme even for the CIA, which rejected them.
CIA chief admits some interrogation techniques were abhorrent
‘Our goal was to reach the stage where we have broken any will or ability of subject to resist or deny providing us information (intelligence) to which he had access,’ Mitchell and Jessen said in a cable published in the Senate report.
The cold-blooded pair — Jessen the son of an Idaho potato farmer, Mitchell raised in straitened circumstances by his grandmother in Tampa, Florida — got their first chance to try out their ideas when the CIA captured Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah in 2002.
He was spirited to a secret CIA prison, or ‘black site’, in Thailand. Although FBI interrogators used conventional, non-violent ‘rapport-building’ techniques to get crucial information from him, the CIA flew in with Mitchell and he got to work. The psychologist had the prisoner stripped, placed in a freezing cold all-white room and blasted with rock music to prevent him sleeping.
Jessen soon joined his friend in Thailand and, according to the Senate report, FBI agents there complained that the psychologists had ‘acquired tremendous influence’ over the CIA.
Yet even after being waterboarded for two-and-a-half hours and put in a coffin-sized ‘confinement box’ for more than 11 days out of 20, Zubaydah offered no more useful information.
Some CIA interrogators were so disturbed by his treatment they were on the point of tears. Even the agency’s interrogations chief was dismayed, emailing colleagues to say the unending brutality towards prisoners was a train wreck ‘waiting to happen and I intend to get the hell off the train before it happens’.
Dismissive: Despite being bound by a non-disclosure agreement to not reveal any details of their work with the CIA, Mitchell yesterday labelled the Senate’s findings as a ‘load of hooey’
A CIA doctor warned that the pair’s ‘arrogance and narcissism’ — believing ‘their way is the only way’ — could prove seriously counterproductive.
Yet the influence of ‘the Mormon Mafia’, as they were nicknamed, merely increased as their methods were used on at least 27 more prisoners, and interrogators across the U.S. were trained in their tactics.
Under their lucrative CIA contract they toured black sites across the world, briefing senior politicians including Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and conducting interrogations themselves, often training CIA staff ‘on the job’.
And who was given responsibility for checking on the psychological state of those being interrogated? Amazingly, it was Mitchell and Jessen.
In 2003 they were summoned to a black site in Poland to interrogate another Al Qaeda big fish — 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. When he resisted, says the report, Jessen promised to ‘go to school on this guy’.
Techniques: A detainee from Afghanistan is carried on a stretcher after being interrogated in 2002
Techniques: A detainee from Afghanistan is carried on a stretcher after being interrogated in 2002
They not only threatened his children — a new low — but upped the unpleasantness of his waterboarding (which Mohammed was subjected to 183 times) by waiting for him to open his mouth to talk before pouring water over it.
It was, of course, Mitchell and Jessen who then assessed the state of the suspect. They concluded that interrogation should continue — conducted by them.
Mitchell and Jessen were getting very rich from the CIA’s patronage, each being paid about $1,800 (£1,146) a day — four times what other interrogators were getting. The Senate report reveals that by 2005 the CIA had almost fully outsourced its detention and interrogation programme. The pair were the chief beneficiaries.
WHY DID DR MITCHELL DECIDE TO OFFER HIS SERVICES TO THE CIA?
In an emotional interview with Vice News, Dr Mitchell, a former military man, explained how the September 11 attacks inspired him to help America get revenge on Al Qaeda.
He said: ‘It was horrific that people had to choose between burning to death and jumping off of buildings.
‘I don’t think that should happen to anybody. So I called up one of the people who was managing one of my contracts and said, ‘I want to be part of the solution’, really not knowing anything about anything other than, like anyone who watched [the attacks] who has a background in the military, we all wanted to be part of the solution.’
That year, they formed a company — Mitchell Jessen and Associates — specifically for their work for the CIA. It operated from an unmarked office in Spokane, Washington State. In 2006 its contract with the agency was worth a potential $180 million; by 2007 it was employing 60 people, including senior ex-CIA and FBI staff.
Mitchell was wealthy enough to buy a BMW and build a $1 million dream house in Florida.
By the time the contract was terminated in 2009, when the Obama Administration shut the black sites and stopped contractors doing interrogations, they had earned $81 million (£51 million) of taxpayers’ money, the Senate report reveals. Mitchell and Jessen shut up shop overnight, leaving no forwarding address, and have largely disappeared from public sight. The CIA has agreed to cover any legal expenses for them until 2021.
Neither has ever publicly expressed any regret, citing a non-disclosure agreement with the CIA. But Mitchell defended the CIA’s record within hours of the Senate report coming out.
‘It’s like somebody backed up your driveway and dumped a steaming pile of horse crap,’ he growled to U.S. broadcaster ABC. He described the report as politically motivated ‘bull****’ that had relied on ‘cherry-picked’ facts.
The Senate report said there was no evidence that enhanced interrogation ever worked. Other experts say it probably did the opposite, bolstering prisoners’ resolve or producing a string of false leads from people talking just to get the pain to stop.
The U.S. Justice Department has declined to prosecute anyone accused of interrogation abuses — but outrage over the revelations has led to demands from human rights groups, senators and even the United Nations for the guilty to be held accountable.
Many hope that, as the most easily identifiable offenders in the Senate report, Mitchell and Jessen will soon be the ones sweating it out in the glare of the interrogator’s spotlight.
By TOM LEONARD IN NEW YORK FOR THE DAILY MAIL
PUBLISHED: 11:49 GMT, 11 December 2014 | UPDATED: 00:37 GMT, 12 December 2014
Find this story at 12 December 2014
© Associated Newspapers Ltd
EXCLUSIVE: CIA Psychologist’s Notes Reveal True Purpose Behind Bush’s Torture Program (2011)
15 december 2014
Dr. Bruce Jessen’s handwritten notes describe some of the torture techniques that were used to “exploit” ”war on terror” detainees in custody of the CIA and Department of Defense.
Bush administration officials have long asserted that the torture techniques used on “war on terror” detainees were utilized as a last resort in an effort to gain actionable intelligence to thwart pending terrorist attacks against the United States and its interests abroad.
But the handwritten notes obtained exclusively by Truthout drafted two decades ago by Dr. John Bruce Jessen, the psychologist who was under contract to the CIA and credited as being one of the architects of the government’s top-secret torture program, tell a dramatically different story about the reasons detainees were brutalized and it was not just about obtaining intelligence.
Jason Leopold interviews Jessen’s former SERE colleague, retired Air Force Capt. Michael Kearns.
Rather, as Jessen’s notes explain, torture was used to “exploit” detainees, that is, to break them down physically and mentally, in order to get them to “collaborate” with government authorities. Jessen’s notes emphasize how a “detainer” uses the stresses of detention to produce the appearance of compliance in a prisoner.
Click to view notes larger.
Click to view larger.
Indeed, a report released in 2009 by the Senate Armed Services Committee about the treatment of detainees in US custody said Jessen was the author of a “Draft Exploitation Plan” presented to the Pentagon in April 2002 that was implemetned at Guantanamo and at prison facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. But to what degree is unknown because the document remains classified. Jessen also co-authored a memo in February 2002 on “Prisoner Handling Recommendations” at Guantanamo, which is also classified.
Moreover, the Armed Services Committee’s report noted that torture techniques approved by the Bush administration were based on survival training exercises US military personnel were taught by individuals like Jessen if they were captured by an enemy regime and subjected to “illegal exploitation” in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
Jessen’s notes, prepared for an Air Force survival training course that he later “reverse engineered” when he helped design the Bush administration’s torture program, however, go into far greater detail than the Armed Services Committee’s report in explaining how prisoners would be broken down physically and psychologically by their captors. The notes say survival training students could “combat interrogation and torture” if they are captured by an enemy regime by undergoing intense training exercises, using “cognitive” and “exposure techniques” to develop “stress inoculation.” [Click here to download a PDF file of Jessen’s handwritten notes. Click here to download a zip file of Jessen’s notes in typewritten form.]
The documents stand as the first piece of hard evidence to surface in nine years that further explains the psychological aspects of the Bush administration’s torture program and the rationale for subjecting detainees to so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
Jessen’s notes were provided to Truthout by retired Air Force Capt. Michael Kearns, a “master” SERE instructor and decorated veteran who has previously held high-ranking positions within the Air Force Headquarters Staff and Department of Defense (DoD).
Kearns and his boss, Roger Aldrich, the head of the Air Force Intelligence’s Special Survial Training Program (SSTP), based out of Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington, hired Jessen in May 1989. Kearns, who was head of operations at SSTP and trained thousands of service members, said Jessen was brought into the program due to an increase in the number of new survival training courses being taught and “the fact that it required psychological expertise on hand in a full-time basis.”
“Special Mission Units”
Jessen, then the chief of Psychology Service at the US Air Force Survival School, immediately started to work directly with Kearns on “a new course for special mission units (SMUs), which had as its goal individual resistance to terrorist exploitation.”
The course, known as SV-91, was developed for the Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) branch of the US Air Force Intelligence Agency, which acted as the Executive Agent Action Office for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Jessen’s notes formed the basis for one part of SV-91, “Psychological Aspects of Detention.”
Special mission units fall under the guise of the DoD’s clandestine Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and engage in a wide-range of highly classified counterterrorist and covert operations, or “special missions,” around the world, hundreds of who were personally trained by Kearns. The SV-91 course Jessen and Kearns were developing back in 1989 would later become known as “Special Survival for Special Mission Units.”
Before the inception of SV-91, the primary SERE course was SV-80, or Basic Combat Survival School for Resistance to Interrogation, which is where Jessen formerly worked. When Jessen was hired to work on SV-91, the vacancy at SV-80 was filled by psychologist Dr. James Mitchell, who was also contracted by the CIA to work at the agency’s top-secret black site prisons in Europe employing SERE torture techniques, such as the controlled drowning technique know as waterboarding, against detainees.
While they were still under contract to the CIA, the two men formed the “consulting” firm Mitchell, Jessen & Associates in March 2005. The “governing persons” of the company included Kearns’ former boss, Aldrich, SERE contractor David Tate, Joseph Matarazzo, a former president of the American Psychological Association and Randall Spivey, the ex-chief of Operations, Policy and Oversight Division of JPRA.
Mitchell, Jessen & Associates’ articles of incorporation have been “inactive” since October 22, 2009 and the business is now listed as “dissolved,” according to Washington state’s Secretary of State website.
Capt. Michael Kearns (left) and Dr. Bruce Jessen at Fort Bragg’s Nick Rowe SERE Training Center, 1989. Photo courtesy of retired Air Force Capt. Michael Kearns.
Lifting the “Veil of Secrecy”
Kearns was one of only two officers within DoD qualified to teach all three SERE-related courses within SSTP on a worldwide basis, according to a copy of a 1989 letter written by Aldrich, who nominated Kearns officer of the year.
He said he decided to come forward because he is outraged that Jessen used their work to help design the Bush administration’s torture program.
“I think it’s about time for SERE to come out from behind the veil of secrecy if we are to progress as a moral nation of laws,” Kearns said during a wide-ranging interview with Truthout. “To take this survival training program and turn it into some form of nationally sanctioned, purposeful program for the extraction of information, or to apply exploitation, is in total contradiction to human morality, and defies basic logic. When I first learned about interrogation, at basic intelligence training school, I read about Hans Scharff, a Nazi interrogator who later wrote an article for Argosy Magazine titled ‘Without Torture.’ That’s what I was taught – torture doesn’t work.”
What stands out in Jessen’s notes is that he believed torture was often used to produce false confessions. That was the end result after one high-value detainee who was tortured in early 2002 confessed to having information proving a link between the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, according to one former Bush administration official.
It was later revealed, however, that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, had simply provided his captors a false confession so they would stop torturing him. Jessen appeared to be concerned with protecting the US military against falling victim to this exact kind of physical and psychological pressure in a hostile detention environment, recognizing that it would lead to, among other things, false confessions.
In a paper Jessen wrote accompanying his notes, “Psychological Advances in Training to Survive Captivity, Interrogation and Torture,” which was prepared for the symposium: “Advances in Clinical Psychological Support of National Security Affairs, Operational Problems in the Behavioral Sciences Course,” he suggested that additional “research” should be undertaken to determine “the measurability of optimum stress levels in training students to resist captivity.”
“The avenues appear inexhaustible” for further research in human exploitation, Jessen wrote.
Such “research” appears to have been the main underpinning of the Bush administration’s torture program. The experimental nature of these interrogation methods used on detainees held at Guantanamo and at CIA black site prisons have been noted by military and intelligence officials. The Armed Services Committee report cited a statement from Col. Britt Mallow, the commander of the Criminal Investigative Task Force (CITF), who noted that Guantanamo officials Maj. Gen. Mike Dunleavy and Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller used the term “battle lab” to describe the facility, meaning “that interrogations and other procedures there were to some degree experimental, and their lessons would benefit [the Department of Defense] in other places.”
What remains a mystery is why Jessen took a defensive survival training course and assisted in turning it into an offensive torture program.
Truthout attempted to reach Jessen over the past two months for comment, but we were unable to track him down. Messages left for him at a security firm in Alexandria, Virginia he has been affiliated with were not returned and phone numbers listed for him in Spokane were disconnected.
A New Emphasis on Terrorism
SV-91 was developed to place a new emphasis on terrorism as SERE-related courses pertaining to the cold war, such as SV-83, Special Survival for Sensitive Reconnaissance Operations (SRO), whose students flew secret missions over the Soviet Union, Eastern Bloc, and other communist countries, were being scaled back.
The official patch of the Special Survival Training ProgramThe official coin of the Special Survival Training Program
The official patch and coin of the Special Survival Training Program. (Photo courtesy of retired Air Force Capt. Michael Kearns)
SSTP evolved into the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), the DoD’s executive agency for SERE training, and was tapped by DoD General Counsel William “Jim” Haynes in 2002 to provide the agency with a list of interrogation techniques and the psychological impact those methods had on SERE trainees, with the aim of utilizing the same methods for use on detainees. Aldrich was working in a senior capacity at JPRA when Haynes contacted the agency to inquire about SERE.
The Army also runs a SERE school as does the Navy, which had utilized waterboarding as a training exercise on Navy SERE students that JPRA recommended to DoD as one of the torture techniques to use on high-value detainees.
Kearns said the value of Jessen’s notes, particularly as they relate to the psychological aspects of the Bush administration’s torture program, cannot be overstated.
“The Jessen notes clearly state the totality of what was being reverse-engineered – not just ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ but an entire program of exploitation of prisoners using torture as a central pillar,” he said. “What I think is important to note, as an ex-SERE Resistance to Interrogation instructor, is the focus of Jessen’s instruction. It is exploitation, not specifically interrogation. And this is not a picayune issue, because if one were to ‘reverse-engineer’ a course on resistance to exploitation then what one would get is a plan to exploit prisoners, not interrogate them. The CIA/DoD torture program appears to have the same goals as the terrorist organizations or enemy governments for which SV-91 and other SERE courses were created to defend against: the full exploitation of the prisoner in his intelligence, propaganda, or other needs held by the detaining power, such as the recruitment of informers and double agents. Those aspects of the US detainee program have not generally been discussed as part of the torture story in the American press.”
Ironically, in late 2001, while the DoD started to make inquiries about adapting SERE methods for the government’s interrogation program, Kearns received special permission from the US government to work as an intelligence officer for the Australian Department of Defence to teach the Australian Special Air Service (SAS) how to use SERE techniques to resist interrogation and torture if they were captured by terrorists. Australia had been a staunch supporter of the invasion of Afghanistan and sent troops there in late 2001.
Kearns, who recently waged an unsuccessful Congressional campaign in Colorado, was working on a spy novel two years ago and dug through boxes of “unclassified historical materials on intelligence” as part of his research when he happened to stumble upon Jessen’s notes for SV-91. He said he was “deeply shocked and surprised to see I’d kept a copy of these handwritten notes as certainly the originals would have been destroyed (shredded)” once they were typed up and made into proper course materials.
“I hadn’t seen these notes for over twenty years,” he said. “However, I’ll never forget that day in September 2009 when I discovered them. I instantly felt sick, and eventually vomited because I felt so badly physically and emotionally that day knowing that I worked with this person and this was the material that I believe was ‘reverse-engineered’ and used in part to design the torture program. When I found the Jessen papers, I made several copies and sent them to my friends as I thought this could be the smoking gun, which proves who knew what and when and possibly who sold a bag of rotten apples to the Bush administration.”
Kearns was, however, aware of the role SERE played in the torture program before he found Jessen’s notes, and in July 2008, he sent an email to the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin, who was investigating the issue and offered to share information with Levin about Jessen and the SERE program in general. The Michigan Democrat responded to Kearns saying he was “concerned about this issue” and that he “needed more information on the subject,” but Levin never followed up when Kearns offered to help.
“I don’t know how it went off the tracks, but the names of the people who testified at the Senate Armed Services, Senate Judiciary, and Select Intelligence committees were people I worked with, and several I supervised,” Kearns said. “It makes me sick to know people who knew better allowed this to happen.”
Levin’s office did not return phone calls or emails for comment. However, the report he released in April 2009, “Inquiry Into the Treatment of Detainees in US Custody,” refers to SV-91. The report includes a list of acronyms used throughout the report, one of which is “S-V91,” identified as “the Department of Defense High Risk Survival Training” course. But there is no other mention throughout the report of SV-91 or the term “High Risk Survival Training,” possibly due to the fact that sections of the report where it is discussed remain classified. Still, the failure by Levin and his staff to follow up with Kearns–the key military official who had retained Jessen’s notes and helped develop the very course those notes were based upon that was cited in the report–suggests Levin’s investigation is somewhat incomplete.
Control and Dependence
A copy of the syllabus for SV-91, obtained by Truthout from another source who requested anonymity, states that the class was created “to provide special training for selected individuals that will enable them to withstand exploitation methods in the event of capture during peacetime operations…. to cope with such exploitation and deny their detainers useable information or propaganda.”
Although the syllabus focuses on propaganda and interrogation for information as the primary means of exploiting prisoners, Jessen’s notes amplify what was taught to SERE students and later used against detainees captured after 9/11 . He wrote that a prisoner’s captors seek to “exploit” the prisoner through control and dependence.
“From the moment you are detained (if some kind of exploitation is your Detainer’s goal) everything your Detainer does will be contrived to bring about these factors: CONTROL, DEPENDENCY, COMPLIANCE AND COOPERATION,” Jessen wrote. “Your detainer will work to take away your sense of control. This will be done mostly by removing external control (i.e., sleep, food, communication, personal routines etc. )…Your detainer wants you to feel ‘EVERYTHING’ is dependent on him, from the smallest detail, (food, sleep, human interaction), to your release or your very life … Your detainer wants you to comply with everything he wishes. He will attempt to make everything from personal comfort to your release unavoidably connected to compliance in your mind.”
Jessen wrote that cooperation is the “end goal” of the detainer, who wants the detainee “to see that [the detainer] has ‘total’ control of you because you are completely dependent on him, and thus you must comply with his wishes. Therefore, it is absolutely inevitable that you must cooperate with him in some way (propaganda, special favors, confession, etc.).”
Jessen described the kinds of pressures that would be exerted on the prisoner to achieve this goal, including “fear of the unknown, loss of control, dehumanization, isolation,” and use of sensory deprivation and sensory “flooding.” He also included “physical” deprivations in his list of detainer “pressures.”
“Unlike everyday experiences, however, as a detainee we could be subjected to stressors/coercive pressures which we cannot completely control,” he wrote. “If these stressors are manipulated and increased against us, the cumulative effect can push us out of the optimum range of functioning. This is what the detainer wants, to get us ‘off balance.’”
“The Detainer wants us to experience a loss of composure in hopes we can be manipulated into some kind of collaboration…” Jessen wrote. “This is where you are most vulnerable to exploitation. This is where you are most likely to make mistakes, show emotions, act impulsively, become discouraged, etc. You are still close enough to being intact that you would appear convincing and your behavior would appear ‘uncoerced.’”
Kearns said, based on what he has read in declassified government documents and news reports about the role SERE played in the Bush administration’s torture program, Jessen clearly “reverse-engieered” his lesson plan and used resistance methods to abuse “war on terror” detainees.
The SSTP course was “specifically and intentionally designed to assist American personnel held in hostile detention,” Kearns said. It was “not designed for interrogation, and certainly not torture. We were not interrogators we were ‘role-players’ who introduced enemy exploitation techniques into survival scenarios as student learning objectives in what could be called Socratic-style dilemma settings. More specifically, resistance techniques were learned via significant emotional experiences, which were intended to inculcate long-term valid and reliable survival routines in the student’s memory. The one rule we had was ‘hands off.’ No (human intelligence) operator could lay hands on a student in a ‘role play scenario’ because we knew they could never ‘go there’ in the real world.”
But after Jessen was hired, Kearns contends, Aldrich immediately trained him to become a mock interrogator using “SERE harsh resistance to interrogation methods even though medical services officers were explicitly excluded from the ‘laying on’ of hands in [resistance] ‘role-play’ scenarios.”
Aldrich, who now works with the Center for Personal Protection & Safety in Spokane, did not return calls for comment.
The companion paper Jessen wrote included with his notes, which was also provided to Truthout by Kearns, eerily describes the same torturous interrogation methods US military personnel would face during detention that Jessen and Mitchell “reverse engineered” a little more than a decade later and that the CIA and DoD used against detainees.
Indeed, in a subsection of the paper, “Understanding the Prisoner of War Environment,” Jessen notes how a prisoner will be broken down in an attempt to get him to “collaborate” with his “detainer.”
“This issue of collaboration is ‘the most prominent deliberately controlled force against the (prisoner of war),” Jessen wrote. “The ability of the (prisoner of war) to successfully resist collaboration and cope with the obviously severe approach-avoidance conflict is complicated in a systematic and calculated way by his captors.
“These complications include: Threats of death, physical pressures including torture which result in psychological disturbances or deterioration, inadequate diet and sanitary facilities with constant debilitation and illness, attacks on the mental health via isolation, reinforcement of anxieties, sleeplessness, stimulus deprivation or flooding, disorientation, loss of control both internal and external locus, direct and indirect attack on the (prisoner of war’s) standards of honor, faith in himself, his organization, family, country, religion, or political beliefs … Few seem to be able to hold themselves completely immune to such rigorous behavior throughout all the vicissitudes of long captivity. Confronted with these conditions, the unprepared prisoner of war experiences unmanageable levels of fear and despair.”
“Specific (torture resistance) techniques,” Jessen wrote, “taught to and implemented by the military member in the prisoner of war setting are classified” and were not discussed in the paper he wrote. He added, “Resistance Training students must leave training with useful resistance skills and a clear understanding that they can successfully resist captivity, interrogation or torture.”
Kearns also declined to cite the specific interrogation techniques used during SERE training exercises because that information is still classified. Nor would he comment as to whether the interrogations used methods that matched or were similar to those identified in the August 2002 torture memo prepared by former Justice Department attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee.
However, according to the Senate Armed Services Committee report “SERE resistance training … was used to inform” Yoo and Bybee’s torture memo, specifically, nearly a dozen of the brutal techniques detainees were subjected to, which included waterboarding, sleep deprivation, painful stress positions, wall slamming and placing detainees in a confined space, such as a container, where his movement is restricted. The CIA’s Office of Technical Services told Yoo and Bybee the SERE techniques used to inform the torture memo were not harmful, according to declassified government documents.
Many of the “complications,” or torture techniques, Jessen wrote about, declassified government documents show, became a standard method of interrogation and torture used against all of the high-value detainees in custody of the CIA in early 2002, including Abu Zubaydah and self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, as well as detainees held at Guantanamo and prison facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The issue of “collaborating” with one’s detainer, which Jessen noted was the most important in terms of controlling a prisoner, is a common theme among the stories of detainees who were tortured and later released from Guantanamo.
For example, Mamdouh Habib, an Australian citizen who was rendered to Egypt and other countries where he was tortured before being sent to Guantanamo, wrote in his memoir, “My Story: the Tale of a Terrorist Who Wasn’t,” after he was released without charge, that interrogators at Guantanamo “tried to make detainees mistrust one another so that they would inform on each other during interrogation.”
Binyam Mohamed, am Ethiopian-born British citizen, who the US rendered to a black site prison in Morocco, said that a British intelligence informant, a person he knew and who was recurited, came to him in his Moroccan cell and told him that if he became an intelligence asset for the British, his torture, which included scalpel cuts to his penis, would end. In December 2009, British government officials released documents that show Mohamed was subjected to SERE torture techniques during his captivity in the spring of 2002.
Abdul Aziz Naji, an Algerian prisoner at Guantanamo until he was forcibly repatriated against his wishes to Algeria in July 2010, told an Algerian newspaper that “some detainees had been promised to be granted political asylum opportunity in exchange of [sic] a spying role within the detention camp.”
Mohamedou Ould Salahi, whose surname is sometimes spelled “Slahi,” is a Mauritanian who was tortured in Jordan and Guantanamo. Investigative journalist Andy Worthington reported that Salahi was subjected to “prolonged isolation, prolonged sleep deprivation, beatings, death threats, and threats that his mother would be brought to Guantanamo and gang-raped” unless he collaborated with his interrogators. Salahi finally decided to become an informant for the US in 2003. As a result, Salahi was allowed to live in a special fenced-in compound, with television and refrigerator, allowed to garden, write and paint, “separated from other detainees in a cocoon designed to reward and protect.”
Still, despite collaborating with his detainers, the US government mounted a vigorous defense against Salahi’s petition for habeas corpus. His case continues to hang in legal limbo. Salahi’s fate speaks to the lesson Habib said he learned at Guantanamo: “you could never satisfy your interrogator.” Habib felt informants were never released “because the Americans used them against the other detainees.”
Jessen’s and Mitchell’s mutimillion dollar government contract was terminated by CIA Director Leon Panetta in 2009. According to an Associated Press report, the CIA agreed to pay – to the tune of $5 million – the legal bills incurred by their consulting firm.
Recently a complaint filed against Mitchell with the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists by a San Antonio-based psychologist, an attorney who defended three suspected terrorists imprisoned at Guantanamo and by Zubaydah’s attorney Joseph Margulies. Their complaint sought to strip Mitchell of his license to practice psychology for violating the board’s rules as a result of the hands-on role he played in torturing detainees, was dismissed due to what the board said was a lack of evidence. Mitchell, who lives in Florida, is licensed in Texas. A similar complaint against Jessen may soon be filed in Idaho, where he is licensed to practice psychology.
Kearns, who took a graduate course in cognitive psychotherapy in 1988 taught by Jessen, still can’t comprehend what motivated his former colleague to turn to the “dark side.”
“Bruce Jessen knew better,” Kearns said, who retired in 1991 and is now working on his Ph.D in educational psychology. “His duplicitous act is appalling to me and shall haunt me for the rest of my life.”
Tuesday, 22 March 2011 14:29
By Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye, Truthout | Investigative Report
Find this story at 22 March 2011
© 2014 Truthout
THE CHARMED LIFE OF A CIA TORTURER: HOW FATE DIVERGED FOR MATTHEW ZIRBEL, AKA CIA OFFICER 1, AND GUL RAHMAN
15 december 2014
Matthew Zirbel’s home in Great Falls, Virginia is filled with oriental carpets, perhaps collected from his time spent working in countries like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The million dollar home has “LOTS of “WOW!” You will “Oooh & Ahhh”, says this recent description on Zillow.
This isn’t the first time Zirbel’s surroundings have wowed someone. Over a decade ago, Zirbel, then a junior CIA officer, was in charge of the Salt Pit, a “black site” in Afghanistan referred to in the recent Senate torture report as “Cobalt,” where detainees were routinely brutalized and which one visitor described as a “dungeon.” A delegation from the Federal Bureau of Prisons was “WOW’ed” by the Salt Pit’s sensory deprivation techniques, and a CIA interrogator said that prisoners there “literally looked like [dogs] that had been kenneled,” according to the report.
In fact, one of the most horrifying stories – and there are many – in the Senate report on torture takes place in the Salt Pit, where Gul Rahman was murdered by the U.S. government in November 2002
Rahman, an Afghan, was rendered to the Salt Pit in the fall of 2002 after being apprehended in Pakistan. At that time the torture center was being run by a man referred to as “CIA Officer 1” in the Senate report. News outlets have not named him in covering the report but he has previously been identified as Zirbel, after the government accidentally included his name in a report that had been declassified.
Zirbel was on his first foreign tour for the CIA and colleagues, according to the Senate report, had recommended that he not be allowed access to classified material due to his “lack of honesty, judgment, and maturity,” according to the Senate report. A Senate aide who briefed reporters about Zirbel said the CIA officer had “issues” in his background, the Daily Beast reported, and should never have been hired by the CIA.
The CIA officer deemed Rahman “uncooperative,” and ordered that the detainee be “shackled to the wall of his cell in a position that required him to rest on the bare concrete floor.” The following morning Rahman, who was wearing only a sweatshirt, was found dead of hypothermia. He’d frozen to death in his cell, where the temperature hovered around 36 degrees Fahrenheit.
Zirbel’s initial cable to CIA headquarters about the case was riddled with lies — “misstatements and omissions,” as the Senate report put it. Four months later, a superior at the agency recommended Zirbel for a $2,500 bonus for “consistently superior work.”
The CIA successfully covered up Rahman’s death until 2010 — his wife and four daughters were never notified — when Adam Goldman and Kathy Gannon of the AP revealed his identity. The Senate report identifies Rahman as one of 26 detainees who did not meet the “standard for detention”; Footnote 32 calls his a case of “mistaken identity.”
In 2005, the CIA’s “Accountability Board” suggested that Zirbel be suspended without pay for ten days. But the agency’s then-Executive Director — Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, who later received a prison term of about three years for defrauding the government in a case involving bribes paid to former congressman Randy Cunningham — decided that was excessive, and ruled that no disciplinary action was merited.
A few years later a limited probe of the torture program by the Department of Justice recommended that Rahman’s death be the subject of a full criminal investigation. Attorney General Eric Holder, who was busy not prosecuting Wall Street firms for collapsing the global economy, eventually closed the case.
President Obama still can’t decide whether the CIA got carried away with its interrogation program and former Vice President Dick Cheney and General Michael Hayden are on cable news defending “rectal rehydration” as a dietary aid. But for most people the revelations in the Senate report were appalling. “You interrogate people to get information, not revenge,” Frank Anderson a former CIA Chief of the Near East and South Asia Division, told me. “Torture is counterproductive, illegal and morally repugnant.”
Rec Room in Basement -We know what became of Rahman, but what happened to Zirbel?
There’s very little in the public record about him, which suggests he prefers to keep a low profile. However, a notice in the Congressional Record in 2004 shows that he received an executive appointment that year as a State Department foreign service officer, a post that’s often used as CIA cover.
Seven years after his orders led to Rahman’s death, Zirbel, who has been described as unfit for CIA employment, was working for one U.S. government agency or another in Saudi Arabia. In 2009, U.S. Customs records show that Zirbel shipped 26 containers of “House Hold Goods & Personal Effect” from the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah to a home in Great Falls.
Several news accounts in 2010 said that Zirbel — whom the stories described but did not name — was still working for the agency.
It’s not clear if Zirbel currently works for the CIA, or government, but wherever he is, he certainly doesn’t appear to he hurting for money. Public records show he owns several properties, including the house in Great Falls, which he bought in 2006 for $1.3 million and still owns. The house sits on five wooded acres and is apparently being rented for $4,500 per month, so Zirbel lives elsewhere.
In the meantime, renters get to enjoy views of a stocked pond (“feel free to fish!” the ad says). There’s also an “invisible fence,” which is typically used to keep dogs from wandering off the property by delivering an electric shock through a collar.
Incidentally, Zirbel’s estate in Virginia is about 200 miles southeast of Loretto, Pennsylvania. That’s where CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, the only person ever sentenced to prison time over the torture program, is currently shacked up at a federal correctional institute.
Zirbel did not respond to attempts to reach him at phone numbers listed in public records and via Skype.
“We have no comment on the individual you reference or claims you make about his purported affiliation,” a CIA spokesman said in reply to questions about Zirbel. He said “significant improvements” had been implemented following Rahman’s death, “including far more stringent standards governing interrogations and safety.” Further refinements have been made in response to concerns raised in the Senate report, the spokesman said.
The spokesman also pointed to the CIA’s response to the Senate report, which said that it had been a mistake to delegate management of Salt Pit — the name of the “facility” is redacted in the response — to a junior officer “given the risks inherent in the program.”
“The Agency could have and should have brought in a more experienced officer to assume these responsibilities,” the CIA response said. “The death of Rahman, under conditions that could have been remediated by Agency officers, is a lasting mark on the Agency’s record.”
BY KEN SILVERSTEIN @KenSilverstein1 AN HOUR AGO
Find this story at 15 December 2014
CIA paid Poland to ease qualms over secret prison: Senate report
15 december 2014
(Reuters) – Poland threatened to halt the transfer of al Qaeda suspects to a secret CIA jail on its soil 11 years ago, but became more “flexible” after the Central Intelligence Agency gave it a large sum of money, according to a U.S. Senate report.
U.S. President Barack Obama discussed the report’s forthcoming publication during a telephone call on Monday with Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, administration officials and the Polish government said.
The heavily redacted report does not mention Poland. But it is clear it refers to the country because details such as the names of three detainees and the dates they were transferred match other documents, including a European Court of Human Rights ruling relating to a CIA-run “black site” in Poland.
The details also match interviews with people with knowledge of a Polish investigation into the alleged facility.
The CIA declined to comment on the Senate report, and Polish officials have always denied the CIA ran a jail in Poland.
A Polish government spokeswoman did not answer calls to her mobile phone seeking comment on the Senate report, or reply to emailed questions. A foreign ministry spokesman asked for questions in writing, but did not immediately respond when they were sent. A spokesman for Leszek Miller, who was Polish Prime Minister at the time the alleged CIA jail was running, declined to comment.
According to a ruling by the Strasbourg-based European Court, between 2002 and 2003 the CIA operated a facility near the northeast Polish village of Stare Kiejkuty, one of a network of sites around the world where al Qaeda suspects were held and subjected to interrogation techniques human rights groups say amounted to torture.
The report published on Tuesday by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence described how seriously the CIA’s rendition program strained relations with Poland, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization member and one of Washington’s staunchest European allies.
People close to the Polish authorities at the time say Poland felt an obligation to protect its relationship with Washington, even as it knew hosting the facility was open to legal challenge.
“The agreement to host a CIA detention facility in Country  created multiple, ongoing difficulties between Country  and the CIA,” the report said. All mentions of the name of the country were blacked out.
It said the country proposed drawing up a written memorandum of understanding defining the CIA’s roles and responsibilities at the facility, but the agency refused.
The host country’s government then refused to accept the planned transfer of new detainees, who the report said included Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities.
“The decision was reversed only after the U.S. ambassador intervened with the political leadership of Country  on the CIA’s behalf. The following month, the CIA provided $ million” to the country, the report said, blacking out the amount of money handed over.
The report did not name the ambassador. The U.S. ambassador to Poland at the time was Christopher Hill. A woman who answered the telephone in his office at the University of Denver, where he now works, said he was not reachable until Wednesday afternoon.
After the money changed hands, officials speaking for the country’s political leadership indicated the country “was now flexible with regard to the number of CIA detainees at the facility and when the facility would eventually be closed,” according to the report.
Years later, officials in the country were “extremely upset” when details of the detention program began to emerge from U.S. government sources, and were disappointed not to have had more warning before President George W. Bush publicly acknowledged the program existed in 2006, it said.
Adam Bodnar, vice-president of the Warsaw-based Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, said of the Polish authorities at the time: “They betrayed the Polish constitution for money, to a great extent, and all the values that are associated with the Polish constitution.”
The Polish constitution states that no one can be subjected to torture, or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.
Bodnar said the diplomatic tensions outlined in the report explain why Obama telephoned the Polish Prime Minister on the eve of the report’s publication.
The two leaders “expressed hope that the publication of this report will not have a negative effect on Polish-U.S. relations,” according to a statement from the Polish prime minister’s office.
Senior U.S. administration officials confirmed the subject of the Senate report came up during Obama’s call with Kopacz.
A Polish foreign ministry spokesman, Marcin Wojciechowski, said on Tuesday he hoped the Senate report would shed new light on allegations there was a CIA jail in Poland, and that it would give new impetus to an investigation into the allegations by Polish prosecutors that has been running since 2008.
“The Polish state’s intention is to investigate and establish the truth in this case.” he said.
The Washington Post newspaper reported in January this year, citing unnamed former CIA officials, that the agency paid $15 million to Poland for use of the facility, handing over the cash in two cardboard boxes.
At the time of the newspaper’s report, Polish officials did not respond directly to questions about whether they had received the cash. The United States has never disclosed which countries hosted the CIA detention centers overseas.
Representatives of the European Court of Human Right did not respond to calls on Tuesday evening seeking comment about the Senate report.
(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and Julia Edwards in Washington and Marcin Goettig in Warsaw. Editing by Andre Grenon)
BY CHRISTIAN LOWE AND WIKTOR SZARY
WARSAW Tue Dec 9, 2014 8:09pm EST
Find this story at 9 December 2014
Copyright Thomson Reuters
‘CIA paid me to use airstrip as rendition zone… and to look the other way’: Former airport director reveals secret Polish staging post for U.S. torture programme
15 december 2014
Detailed picture of how CIA flew terror suspects to Szymany has emerged
Officials later flew them to a nearby ‘dark site’ for brutal interrogations
Mariola Przewlocka says anonymous officials paid six times the landing fee
Believes she witnessed arrival of 9/11 ‘mastermind’ on CIA Gulfstream jet
Cars with darkened windows secretly took travellers to Polish military base
Airport staff were banned from approaching aircraft and basic safety rules were sometimes flouted, she says
Deep in north-eastern Poland, a neglected airstrip has been identified as a key staging post in the CIA’s clandestine torture programme.
For the first time, a detailed picture of how the CIA flew terror suspects into Szymany and on to a nearby ‘dark site’ for brutal interrogations has emerged.
In an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, the airport’s former managing director Mariola Przewlocka reveals:
Mysterious flights arrived with little notice – and up to six times the landing fees were paid by anonymous officials
Military cars with darkened windows took passengers from the plane in secret and off to a Polish military intelligence base
She believes she witnessed the arrival of September 11 ‘mastermind’ Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on a CIA Gulfstream jet – which later landed in Glasgow
Airport staff were forbidden to approach the aircraft
A quiet American woman, said to be ‘from the embassy’, once watched as a transfer took place
Basic safety rules were sometimes flouted.
Known by its codename ‘Detention Site Blue’, Szymany airport – which is 100 miles from Warsaw – was the destination for several terror suspects on unmarked civilian planes. They were hooded, handcuffed and shackled for ‘enhanced interrogation’ at nearby Stare Kiejkuty base.
The detainees would arrive, sometimes in the dead of night, in aircraft owned by CIA ‘shell companies’.
Some of the most brutal torture sessions in the CIA’s murky war against terror took place near this forbidding spot.
Mrs Przewlocka, who ran Szymany airport at the time, told of her shock at discovering she may have seen the arrival of the CIA’s most high-value prisoner, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Known as KSM to the CIA, he was waterboarded no fewer than 183 times by his captors, both during his six months in Poland and at other CIA facilities.
The Mail on Sunday has learned that the Gulfstream executive jet which ‘dropped off’ KSM in Poland then went on to stay overnight at Glasgow airport, where it stopped for 24 hours, presumably to allow the flight crew to rest.
The role of Szymany airport was highlighted in last week’s US Senate Intelligence Committee on CIA renditions. After being flown here, prisoners were transferred 13 miles on near-deserted roads to Stare Kiejkuty, where they were tortured.
Mrs Przewlocka realised the clandestine activity signified some kind of undercover operations being conducted but had no idea the facility was being used for ‘extraordinary rendition’.
The 57-year-old grandmother became suspicious after traffic to the airport suddenly picked up in late 2002. ‘The airport wasn’t doing well economically, operations were being run down,’ she recalled.
From December 2002, however, as President George W. Bush’s ‘war on terror’ escalated, the small planes she was used to seeing gave way to much bigger jets which thundered dangerously down the runway.
‘On one occasion the airport director told me a “special” flight was due to arrive the next day and it had to be given landing permission at any cost. I told him that wouldn’t be possible as there had been a lot of snow.
‘He said something like, “Don’t worry about that, bring in an outside contractor. However much it costs, we will pay”. When the plane touched down, it turned out to be an American-owned Gulfstream jet, which we’d never seen before at the airport. The customs staff were told to go home and a border police unit was brought in for the day, which was extremely unusual.
‘Two military cars from the intelligence base at Stare Kiejkuty drove up to the aircraft and after a few minutes returned to the airport building and then went out through the main gate. We couldn’t see what was going on because the cars had darkened windows. I assumed the flight was bringing in secret agents.’
KSM told a US military tribunal he saw snow when the plane bringing him from Afghanistan stopped over in Europe. Mrs Przewlocka now believes she may have been at Szymany when the Al Qaeda terrorist’s plane touched down. She is unsure of the date, but independent records show his flight almost certainly arrived at Szymany on March 7, 2003. ‘I have my suspicions that this was the flight which we were under orders to accept at any cost,’ she said. ‘Everything was hidden from us.’
Mrs Przewlocka recalled a Polish civilian official who would always take care of landing fees in cash. ‘They would pay up to six times the normal charge for a civilian aircraft and we were instructed to keep away and ask no questions.’
The normal landing fee of around £380 could soar up to £2,300 for the flights, she said. On one occasion, Mrs Pzewlocka noticed a quiet American woman in the background when a flight came in. She recalled: ‘She was smartly dressed and didn’t speak to us but we were told she was from the American embassy. She waited near the office in the airport building and didn’t go near the planes. It was as if she didn’t want to know too much about what was going on.’
On September 22, 2003, a Boeing 737 was given permission to land at Szymany, although the runway was unsuitable for an aircraft of this size. Mrs Przewlocka said the flight plan indicated it had come from Kabul and was scheduled to refuel at Warsaw’s main civilian airport before going on to Guantanamo Bay. ‘This was inexplicable because if it could get to Szymany why couldn’t it fly directly to Warsaw which is only 100 miles or so away?
‘We should not have accepted the flight – there weren’t even any firefighters on duty, which is illegal – but we were given no choice. Once again, two military vehicles went out to meet it, waited for a few moments at the aircraft steps and then headed in the direction of Stare Kiejkuty. I saw several more 737s after that.’ The Senate report reveals the Polish authorities initially refused to allow KSM into the country, claiming they had accepted enough prisoners on behalf of the Americans already.
But their stance crumbled when the US ambassador personally intervened with the government in Warsaw, followed by a CIA delivery of $15 million in cash, after which Polish officials assured the Americans they would be more flexible.
Research by the Rendition Project, a collaboration between academics at Kent and Kingston universities, has pieced together the journey followed by the plane almost certainly carrying KSM – a Gulfstream V jet, code-number N379P and owned by a CIA company.
Records show that on March 7, the plane arrived at Szymany with two passengers and two crew. It stayed on the ground for two and a half hours, then flew to Prague, stopping for an hour, before flying to Glasgow where it stopped for over 24 hours. On the morning of March 9, the aircraft left for Washington. Mrs Przewlocka said: ‘I feel a deep sense of shame that politicians let this to happen. This has left a terrible stain on my country.’
By MARTIN DELGADO IN SZCZYTNO, POLAND FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
PUBLISHED: 22:47 GMT, 13 December 2014 | UPDATED: 12:29 GMT, 14 December 2014
Find this story at 13 December 2014
© Associated Newspapers Ltd
More Than A Quarter Of The World’s Countries Helped The CIA Run Its Torture Program
15 december 2014
WASHINGTON — For several months before the Senate Intelligence Committee released a summary of its controversial report on the CIA’s torture program on Tuesday, Senate Democrats were locked in a well-publicized battle with the executive branch over whether to redact the aliases used for CIA officials used in the document.
But even as the White House and the CIA engaged in this dispute with the Senate, a separate, and potentially more serious, set of revelations was at stake.
According to several U.S. officials involved with the negotiations, the intelligence community has long been concerned that the Senate document would enable readers to identify the many countries that aided the CIA’s controversial torture program between 2002 and roughly 2006. These countries made the CIA program possible in two ways: by enabling rendition, which involved transferring U.S. detainees abroad without due legal process, and by providing facilities far beyond the reach of U.S. law where those detainees were subjected to torture.
The officials all told The Huffington Post in recent weeks that they were nervous the names of those countries might be included in the declassified summary of the Senate report.
The names of the countries ultimately did not appear in the summary. This represents a last-minute victory for the White House and the CIA, since Senate staff was pushing to redact as little as possible from its document.
The various sites in foreign countries are now only identified in the report by a color code, with each detention facility corresponding to a color, such as “Detention Site Black.”
cia foreign governments
But immediately after the document was released, journalists began to crack the code by cross-referencing details in the Senate study with previous reports about the CIA’s activities in different countries.
Readers of the report can also learn how the agency managed its relationship with foreign governments, offering monetary payments for their silence and undermining more public U.S. diplomatic efforts by explicitly telling their foreign contacts not to talk to U.S. ambassadors about the torture program.
cia foreign governments
The officials interviewed by HuffPost believe the Senate report takes a major risk by enabling the identification of these countries. They pointed out that the countries participated with the understanding that their involvement would remain secret. And while many of the countries have already been identified publicly by investigations in Europe, reports from outside analysts and stories in the press, the U.S. government’s tacit exposure of their involvement is still likely to have a dramatic impact abroad.
There’s precedent for this: Defenders of the executive branch’s position can point to the fact that even though much of the information exposed by Wikileaks about Middle East regimes’ collusion with the U.S. was not a surprise, seeing the evidence in official U.S. cables helped spark outrage throughout the region and fuel the Arab Spring protests. In that sense, the intelligence community, by managing to obscure the names of the countries even though they are easily identifiable, scored a significant victory in its dispute with the Senate.
Secretary of State John Kerry indicated before the Senate document was released that he is worried about the global outrage that could follow the report. For Kerry and other diplomats, the evidence revealed in the Senate document could prove critically embarrassing for friendly governments, vindicate the narrative that the U.S.’s human rights record is no better than those of its foes, and show that the U.S. is willing to throw partner nations under the bus.
On Friday, Kerry called Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the Senate Intelligence Committee chair, to request that she delay the release of the report in light of its potential global ramifications. Feinstein did not honor the request, likely out of concern that, were the report’s release to be delayed any further, the Senate’s new Republican majority would bury the investigation once they took control of the intelligence panel.
Transparency advocates who defend the report believe that the administration’s critiques are flawed. If the report makes countries less willing to cooperate on such projects in the future, they argue, that’s a benefit, not a cost, because the program was illegal and immoral. The report may actually boost the pressure on foreign governments to make amends, even as the prospects for accountability seem low in the U.S. Four countries — Canada, Sweden, Australia and the United Kingdom — have previously given compensation to victims of the program, and Canada has also issued an apology to a victim.
Here are the countries involved.
Countries with secret CIA prisons
The Washington Post decoded the report to reveal countries that were home to secret CIA-controlled prisons.
Afghanistan (4 sites)
Note: According to a 2013 report by the Open Society Justice Initiative, U.S. facilities in Bosnia-Herzegovina were used to “process” detainees, but it is unclear whether the U.S. agency running that operation was the CIA or the Department of Defense.
Countries with proxy CIA prisons
A number of other foreign partners (including two governments that the U.S. has since disavowed, those of Libya and Syria) permitted the CIA to conduct enhanced interrogation in their own facilities, through what are called proxy CIA prisons. Here’s a list, drawn from reports by the ACLU and the Open Society Justice Initiative:
Countries that enabled renditions
This list features countries that proved amenable to at least some CIA measures that were only questionably legal. It is a curious mix of prominent Western nations and nations with which the U.S. has long has difficulties. The governments’ assistance ranged from passing along information about suspects, including those countries’ own citizens, to serving as a transit point for flights to countries where enhanced interrogation was taking place.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
CORRECTION: Earlier versions of the infographic failed to include Macedonia and Hong Kong as states that participated in the rendition program (Hong Kong took part as an autonomous region of China able to enter some international agreements on its own) and to include Thailand as a country that hosted a secret CIA prison and enabled rendition. Macedonia was also wrongly excluded from the list of “countries that enabled renditions” in the text of the story. The infographic earlier misidentified Norway and Kosovo as countries that enabled rendition and misidentified Myanmar as a country that hosted a secret CIA prison and enabled rendition. None of these three countries has been shown to be part of the CIA’s program. The graphic also misidentified the geographical position of Malawi and excluded areas of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Posted: 12/09/2014 8:34 pm EST Updated: 12/11/2014 11:59 am
Akbar Shahid Ahmed Ryan Grim Lauren Weber
Find this story at 11 December 2014
Copyright ©2014 TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.
The Media Is Focusing On the WRONG Senate Torture Report (2014)
15 december 2014
The Big Story Torture Everyone Is Missing
While the torture report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee is very important, it doesn’t address the big scoop regarding torture.
Instead, it is the Senate Armed Services Committee’s report that dropped the big bombshell regarding the U.S. torture program.
Senator Levin, commenting on a Armed Services Committee’s report on torture in 2009, explained:
The techniques are based on tactics used by Chinese Communists against American soldiers during the Korean War for the purpose of eliciting FALSE confessions for propaganda purposes. Techniques used in SERE training include stripping trainees of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, subjecting them to face and body slaps, depriving them of sleep, throwing them up against a wall, confining them in a small box, treating them like animals, subjecting them to loud music and flashing lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures [and] waterboarding.
McClatchy filled in important details:
Former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration…
For most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.”
It was during this period that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 — according to a newly released Justice Department document…
When people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people to push harder,” he continued.” Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn’t any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam . . .
A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under “pressure” to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.
“While we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq,” Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. “The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”
“I think it’s obvious that the administration was scrambling then to try to find a connection, a link (between al Qaida and Iraq),” [Senator] Levin said in a conference call with reporters. “They made out links where they didn’t exist.”
Levin recalled Cheney’s assertions that a senior Iraqi intelligence officer had met Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, in the Czech Republic capital of Prague just months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The FBI and CIA found that no such meeting occurred.
The Washington Post reported the same year:
Despite what you’ve seen on TV, torture is really only good at one thing: eliciting false confessions. Indeed, Bush-era torture techniques, we now know, were cold-bloodedly modeled after methods used by Chinese Communists to extract confessions from captured U.S. servicemen that they could then use for propaganda during the Korean War.
So as shocking as the latest revelation in a new Senate Armed Services Committee report may be, it actually makes sense — in a nauseating way. The White House started pushing the use of torture not when faced with a “ticking time bomb” scenario from terrorists, but when officials in 2002 were desperately casting about for ways to tie Iraq to the 9/11 attacks — in order to strengthen their public case for invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 at all.
Gordon Trowbridge writes for the Detroit News: “Senior Bush administration officials pushed for the use of abusive interrogations of terrorism detainees in part to seek evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq, according to newly declassified information discovered in a congressional probe.
Colin Powell’s former chief of staff (Colonel Larry Wilkerson) wrote in 2009 that the Bush administration’s “principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qaeda.”
Indeed, one of the two senior instructors from the Air Force team which taught U.S. servicemen how to resist torture by foreign governments when used to extract false confessions has blown the whistle on the true purpose behind the U.S. torture program.
As Truthout reported:
[Torture architect] Jessen’s notes were provided to Truthout by retired Air Force Capt. Michael Kearns, a “master” SERE instructor and decorated veteran who has previously held high-ranking positions within the Air Force Headquarters Staff and Department of Defense (DoD).
The Jessen notes clearly state the totality of what was being reverse-engineered – not just ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ but an entire program of exploitation of prisoners using torture as a central pillar,” he said. “What I think is important to note, as an ex-SERE Resistance to Interrogation instructor, is the focus of Jessen’s instruction. It is EXPLOITATION, not specifically interrogation. And this is not a picayune issue, because if one were to ‘reverse-engineer’ a course on resistance to exploitation then what one would get is a plan to exploit prisoners, not interrogate them. The CIA/DoD torture program appears to have the same goals as the terrorist organizations or enemy governments for which SV-91 and other SERE courses were created to defend against: the full exploitation of the prisoner in his intelligence, propaganda, or other needs held by the detaining power, such as the recruitment of informers and double agents. Those aspects of the US detainee program have not generally been discussed as part of the torture story in the American press.”
In a subsequent report, Truthout notes:
Air Force Col. Steven Kleinman, a career military intelligence officer recognized as one of the DOD’s most effective interrogators as well a former SERE instructor and director of intelligence for JPRA’s teaching academy, said …. “This is the guidebook to getting false confessions, a system drawn specifically from the communist interrogation model that was used to generate propaganda rather than intelligence” …. “If your goal is to obtain useful and reliable information this is not the source book you should be using.”
Interrogators also forced detainees to take drugs … which further impaired their ability to tell the truth.
And one of the two main architects of the torture program admitted this week on camera:
You can get people to say anything to stop harsh interrogations if you apply them in a way that does that.
And false confessions were, in fact, extracted.
A humanitarian aid worker said: torture only stopped when I pretended I was in Al Qaeda
Under torture, Libyan Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi falsely claimed there was a link between Saddam Hussein, al-Qaida and WMD
President Bush mentioned Abu Zubaydah as a success story, where torture saved lives. Zubaydah was suspected of being a high-ranking al-Qaida leader. Bush administration officials claimed Zubaydah told them that al-Qaida had links with Saddam Hussein. He also claimed there was a plot to attack Washington with a “dirty bomb”. Both claims are now recognized to be false, even by the CIA, which also admits he was never a member of al-Qaida.
One of the Main Sources for the 9/11 Commission Report was Tortured Until He Agreed to Sign a Confession that He Was NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO READ
The so-called 9/11 mastermind said: “During … my interrogation I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear” (the self-confessed 9/11 “mastermind” falsely confessed to crimes he didn’t commit)
And the 9/11 Commission Report was largely based on a third-hand account of what tortured detainees said, with two of the three parties in the communication being government employees. And the government went to great lengths to obstruct justice and hide unflattering facts from the Commission.
According to NBC News:
Much of the 9/11 Commission Report was based upon the testimony of people who were tortured
At least four of the people whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators information as a way to stop being “tortured.”
The 9/11 Commission itself doubted the accuracy of the torture confessions, and yet kept their doubts to themselves
Today, Raymond McGovern – a 27-year CIA veteran, who chaired National Intelligence Estimates and personally delivered intelligence briefings to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, their Vice Presidents, Secretaries of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many other senior government officials – provides details about one torture victim (Al-Libi) at former Newsweek and AP reporter Robert Parry’s website:
But if it’s bad intelligence you’re after, torture works like a charm. If, for example, you wish to “prove,” post 9/11, that “evil dictator” Saddam Hussein was in league with al-Qaeda and might arm the terrorists with WMD, bring on the torturers.
It is a highly cynical and extremely sad story, but many Bush administration policymakers wanted to invade Iraq before 9/11 and thus were determined to connect Saddam Hussein to those attacks. The PR push began in September 2002 – or as Bush’s chief of staff Andrew Card put it, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”
By March 2003 – after months of relentless “marketing” – almost 70 percent of Americans had been persuaded that Saddam Hussein was involved in some way with the attacks of 9/11.
The case of Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, a low-level al-Qaeda operative, is illustrative of how this process worked. Born in Libya in 1963, al-Libi ran an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan from 1995 to 2000. He was detained in Pakistan on Nov. 11, 2001, and then sent to a U.S. detention facility in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was deemed a prize catch, since it was thought he would know of any Iraqi training of al-Qaeda.
The CIA successfully fought off the FBI for first rights to interrogate al-Libi. FBI’s Dan Coleman, who “lost” al-Libi to the CIA (at whose orders, I wonder?), said, “Administration officials were always pushing us to come up with links” between Iraq and al-Qaeda.
CIA interrogators elicited some “cooperation” from al-Libi through a combination of rough treatment and threats that he would be turned over to Egyptian intelligence with even greater experience in the torture business.
By June 2002, al-Libi had told the CIA that Iraq had “provided” unspecified chemical and biological weapons training for two al-Qaeda operatives, an allegation that soon found its way into other U.S. intelligence reports. Al-Libi’s treatment improved as he expanded on his tales about collaboration between al-Qaeda and Iraq, adding that three al-Qaeda operatives had gone to Iraq “to learn about nuclear weapons.”
Al-Libi’s claim was well received at the White House even though the Defense Intelligence Agency was suspicious.
“He lacks specific details” about the supposed training, the DIA observed. “It is possible he does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers. Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest.”
Meanwhile, at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, Maj. Paul Burney, a psychiatrist sent there in summer 2002, told the Senate, “A large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq and we were not successful. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link … there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”
President Bush relied on al-Libi’s false Iraq allegation for a major speech in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, 2002, just a few days before Congress voted on the Iraq War resolution. Bush declared, “We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and deadly gases.”
And Colin Powell relied on it for his famous speech to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, declaring: “I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these [chemical and biological] weapons to al-Qaeda. Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told his story.”
Al-Libi’s “evidence” helped Powell as he sought support for what he ended up calling a “sinister nexus” between Iraq and al-Qaeda, in the general effort to justify invading Iraq.
For a while, al-Libi was practically the poster boy for the success of the Cheney/Bush torture regime; that is, until he publicly recanted and explained that he only told his interrogators what he thought would stop the torture.
You see, despite his cooperation, al-Libi was still shipped to Egypt where he underwent more abuse, according to a declassified CIA cable from early 2004 when al-Libi recanted his earlier statements. The cable reported that al-Libi said Egyptian interrogators wanted information about al-Qaeda’s connections with Iraq, a subject “about which [al-Libi] said he knew nothing and had difficulty even coming up with a story.”
According to the CIA cable, al-Libi said his interrogators did not like his responses and “placed him in a small box” for about 17 hours. After he was let out of the box, al-Libi was given a last chance to “tell the truth.” When his answers still did not satisfy, al-Libi says he “was knocked over with an arm thrust across his chest and fell on his back” and then was “punched for 15 minutes.”
After Al-Libi recanted, the CIA recalled all intelligence reports based on his statements, a fact recorded in a footnote to the report issued by the 9/11 Commission. By then, however, the Bush administration had gotten its way regarding the invasion of Iraq and the disastrous U.S. occupation was well underway.
Intensive investigations into these allegations – after the U.S. military had conquered Iraq – failed to turn up any credible evidence to corroborate these allegations. What we do know is that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were bitter enemies, with al-Qaeda considering the secular Hussein an apostate to Islam.
Al-Libi, who ended up in prison in Libya, reportedly committed suicide shortly after he was discovered there by a human rights organization. Thus, the world never got to hear his own account of the torture that he experienced and the story that he presented and then recanted.
Hafed al-Ghwell, a Libyan-American and a prominent critic of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime at the time of al-Libi’s death, explained to Newsweek, “This idea of committing suicide in your prison cell is an old story in Libya.”
Paul Krugman eloquently summarized the truth about the torture used:
Let’s say this slowly: the Bush administration wanted to use 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So it tortured people to make them confess to the nonexistent link.
There’s a word for this: it’s evil.
Torture Program Was Part of a Con Job
As discussed above, in order to “justify” the Iraq war, top Bush administration officials pushed and insisted that interrogators use special torture methods aimed at extracting false confessions to attempt to create a false linkage between between Al Qaida and Iraq. And see this and this.
But this effort started earlier …
5 hours after the 9/11 attacks, Donald Rumsfeld said “my interest is to hit Saddam”.
He also said “Go massive . . . Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”
And at 2:40 p.m. on September 11th, in a memorandum of discussions between top administration officials, several lines below the statement “judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [that is, Saddam Hussein] at same time”, is the statement “Hard to get a good case.” In other words, top officials knew that there wasn’t a good case that Hussein was behind 9/11, but they wanted to use the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to justify war with Iraq anyway.
Moreover, “Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the [9/11] attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda”.
And a Defense Intelligence Terrorism Summary issued in February 2002 by the United States Defense Intelligence Agency cast significant doubt on the possibility of a Saddam Hussein-al-Qaeda conspiracy.
And yet Bush, Cheney and other top administration officials claimed repeatedly for years that Saddam was behind 9/11. See this analysis. Indeed, Bush administration officials apparently swore in a lawsuit that Saddam was behind 9/11.
Moreover, President Bush’s March 18, 2003 letter to Congress authorizing the use of force against Iraq, includes the following paragraph:
(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
Therefore, the Bush administration expressly justified the Iraq war to Congress by representing that Iraq planned, authorized, committed, or aided the 9/11 attacks.
Indeed, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind reports that the White House ordered the CIA to forge and backdate a document falsely linking Iraq with Muslim terrorists and 9/11 … and that the CIA complied with those instructions and in fact created the forgery, which was then used to justify war against Iraq. And see this.
Suskind also revealed that “Bush administration had information from a top Iraqi intelligence official ‘that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion.’ ”
Cheney made the false linkage between Iraq and 9/11 on many occasions.
For example, according to Raw Story, Cheney was still alleging a connection between Iraq and the alleged lead 9/11 hijacker in September 2003 – a year after it had been widely debunked. When NBC’s Tim Russert asked him about a poll showing that 69% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein had been involved in 9/11, Cheney replied:
It’s not surprising that people make that connection.
And even after the 9/11 Commission debunked any connection, Cheney said that the evidence is “overwhelming” that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein’s regime , that Cheney “probably” had information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not ‘doing their homework’ in reporting such ties.
Again, the Bush administration expressly justified the Iraq war by representing that Iraq planned, authorized, committed, or aided the 9/11 attacks. See this, this, this.
Even then-CIA director George Tenet said that the White House wanted to invade Iraq long before 9/11, and inserted “crap” in its justifications for invading Iraq.
Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill – who sat on the National Security Council – also says that Bush planned the Iraq war before 9/11.
Top British officials say that the U.S. discussed Iraq regime change even before Bush took office.
And in 2000, Cheney said a Bush administration might “have to take military action to forcibly remove Saddam from power.” And see this.
The administration’s false claims about Saddam and 9/11 helped convince a large portion of the American public to support the invasion of Iraq. While the focus now may be on false WMD claims, it is important to remember that, at the time, the alleged link between Iraq and 9/11 was at least as important in many people’s mind as a reason to invade Iraq.
So the torture program was really all about “justifying” the ultimate war crime: launching an unnecessary war of aggression based upon false pretenses.
Postscript: It is beyond any real dispute that torture does not work to produce any useful, truthful intelligence. Today, the following question made it to the front page of Reddit:
Why would the CIA torture if torture “doesn’t work”? Wouldn’t they want the most effective tool to gather intelligence?
The Senate Armed Services Committee report gave the answer.
Posted on December 12, 2014 by WashingtonsBlog
Find this story at 12 December 2014
© 2007 – 2014 Washington’s Blog
KSM Questioned About al Qaeda-Iraq Ties During Waterboarding (2011)
15 december 2014
Some of the first questions asked of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed upon his capture and during the time during which he was waterboarded were about possible connections between al Qaeda and Iraq, according to a review of several reports on U.S. intelligence operations.
The mastermind of the September 11 attacks was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on March 1, 2003, and according to Office of Legal Counsel memos released last month, was waterboarded 183 times that same month.
The substance of the intelligence that was being sought from him has been an object of some speculation, with several defenders of the interrogation practice arguing that the goal was to prevent an impending attack on America. But a line buried on page 353 of the July 2004 Select Committee on Intelligence report on pre-Iraq war intelligence strongly suggests that the interrogation was just as centered on a possible Iraq-al-Qaeda link as terrorist activity.
“CTC [Counter Terrorist Center] noted that the questions regarding al-Qaida’s ties to the Iraqi regime were among the first presented to senior al-Qaida operational planner Khalid Shaikh Muhammad following his capture.”
Revelations that KSM was questioned about possible al Qaeda ties to Iraq at roughly the same time that he was undergoing waterboarding provides some key insight into the purpose of the CIA interrogations. A recently de-classified Senate Armed Services Committee report quoted army psychologist Maj. Paul Burney as saying that a large part of his time on a Behavioral Science Consultation Team was “focused on trying to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq.” McClatchy newspapers, meanwhile, published an article last month citing a former intelligence official acknowledging that the Bush administration had pressured interrogators to use harsh techniques to produce evidence connecting the terrorist organization and Iraq’s regime.
The efforts at establishing a link never bore fruit. Burney went on to note that “we were not being successful in establishing a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq.” Meanwhile, earlier in the July 2004 Select Committee on Intelligence report, it is noted that KSM was “unaware of any collaborative relationship between al-Qaida and the former Iraqi regime, citing ideological disagreements as an impediment to closer ties. In addition, he was unable to corroborate reports that al-Qada associate Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi had traveled to Iraq to obtain medical treatment for injuries sustained in Afghanistan.”
That said, reports showing that waterboarding would be used as a means of establishing a link between Iraq and al Qaeda does appear to diffuse the notion that so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” were only being used in “ticking time bomb” scenarios.
Some former senior Bush administration officials have publicly echoed this version of events. “[W]hat I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002 — well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion — its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S.,” wrote former Colin Powell chief of staff and prominent Bush critic, Lawrence Wilkerson, on the Washington Note, “but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa’ida.”
Posted: 06/15/2009 5:12 am EDT Updated: 05/25/2011 1:20 pm
Find this story at 25 May 2011
Copyright ©2014 TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.
Powell aide says torture helped build Iraq war case (2009)
15 december 2014
(CNN) — Finding a “smoking gun” linking Iraq and al Qaeda became the main purpose of the abusive interrogation program the Bush administration authorized in 2002, a former State Department official told CNN on Thursday.
The allegation was included in an online broadside aimed at former Vice President Dick Cheney by Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff for then-Secretary of State Colin Powell. In it, Wilkerson wrote that the interrogation program began in April and May of 2002, and then-Vice President Cheney’s office kept close tabs on the questioning.
“Its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at preempting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al Qaeda,” Wilkerson wrote in The Washington Note, an online political journal.
Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel, said his accusation is based on information from current and former officials. He said he has been “relentlessly digging” since 2004, when Powell asked him to look into the scandal surrounding the treatment of prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.
“I couldn’t walk into a courtroom and prove this to anybody, but I’m pretty sure it’s fairly accurate,” he told CNN.
Most of Wilkerson’s online essay criticizes Cheney’s recent defense of the “alternative” interrogation techniques the Bush administration authorized for use against suspected terrorists. Cheney has argued the interrogation program was legal and effective in preventing further attacks on Americans.
Critics say the tactics amounted to the illegal torture of prisoners in U.S. custody and have called for investigations of those who authorized them.
Representatives of the former vice president declined comment on Wilkerson’s allegations. But Wilkerson told CNN that by early 2002, U.S. officials had decided that “we had al Qaeda pretty much on the run.”
“The priority had turned to other purposes, and one of those purposes was to find substantial contacts between al Qaeda and Baghdad,” he said.
CIA denies Cheney request on interrogations
‘Enhanced interrogations’ don’t work, ex-FBI agent says
The argument that Iraq could have provided weapons of mass destruction to terrorists such as al Qaeda was a key element of the Bush administration’s case for the March 2003 invasion. But after the invasion, Iraq was found to have dismantled its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs, and the independent commission that investigated the 2001 attacks found no evidence of a collaborative relationship between the two entities.
Wilkerson wrote that in one case, the CIA told Cheney’s office that a prisoner under its interrogation program was now “compliant,” meaning agents recommended the use of “alternative” techniques should stop.
At that point, “The VP’s office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods,” Wilkerson wrote.
“The detainee had not revealed any al Qaeda-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, ‘revealed’ such contacts.”
Al-Libi’s claim that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s government had trained al Qaeda operatives in producing chemical and biological weapons appeared in the October 2002 speech then-President Bush gave when pushing Congress to authorize military action against Iraq. It also was part of Powell’s February 2003 presentation to the United Nations on the case for war, a speech Powell has called a “blot” on his record.
Al-Libi later recanted the claim, saying it was made under torture by Egyptian intelligence agents, a claim Egypt denies. He died last week in a Libyan prison, reportedly a suicide, Human Rights Watch reported.
Stacy Sullivan, a counterterrorism adviser for the U.S.-based group, called al-Libi’s allegation “pivotal” to the Bush administration’s case for war, as it connected Baghdad to the terrorist organization behind the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
And an Army psychiatrist assigned to support questioning of suspected terrorists at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba told the service’s inspector-general that interrogators there were trying to connect al Qaeda and Iraq.
“This is my opinion,” Maj. Paul Burney told the inspector-general’s office. “Even though they were giving information and some of it was useful, while we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between aI Qaeda and Iraq and we were not being successful in establishing a link between aI Qaeda and Iraq. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish this link … there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”
Burney’s account was included in a Senate Armed Services Committee report released in April. Other interrogators reported pressure to produce intelligence “but did not recall pressure to identify links between Iraq and al Qaeda,” the Senate report states.
Cheney criticized Powell during a television interview over the weekend, saying he no longer considers Powell a fellow Republican after his former colleague endorsed Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
Wilkerson said he is not speaking for his former boss and does not know whether Powell shares his views.
May 14, 2009 — Updated 0311 GMT (1111 HKT)
By Matt Smith
Find this story at 14 May 2009
© 2009 Cable News Network. A Time Warner Company
Report: Abusive tactics used to seek Iraq-al Qaida link (2009)
15 december 2014
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.
Such information would’ve provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush’s main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003. In fact, no evidence has ever been found of operational ties between Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network and Saddam’s regime.
The use of abusive interrogation — widely considered torture — as part of Bush’s quest for a rationale to invade Iraq came to light as the Senate issued a major report tracing the origin of the abuses and President Barack Obama opened the door to prosecuting former U.S. officials for approving them.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney and others who advocated the use of sleep deprivation, isolation and stress positions and waterboarding, which simulates drowning, insist that they were legal.
A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration.
“There were two reasons why these interrogations were so persistent, and why extreme methods were used,” the former senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity.
“The main one is that everyone was worried about some kind of follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.”
It was during this period that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 — according to a newly released Justice Department document.
“There was constant pressure on the intelligence agencies and the interrogators to do whatever it took to get that information out of the detainees, especially the few high-value ones we had, and when people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people to push harder,” he continued.
“Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn’t any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties were likely because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies.”
Senior administration officials, however, “blew that off and kept insisting that we’d overlooked something, that the interrogators weren’t pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information,” he said.
A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under “pressure” to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.
“While we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq,” Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. “The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”
Excerpts from Burney’s interview appeared in a full, declassified report on a two-year investigation into detainee abuse released on Tuesday by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., called Burney’s statement “very significant.”
“I think it’s obvious that the administration was scrambling then to try to find a connection, a link (between al Qaida and Iraq),” Levin said in a conference call with reporters. “They made out links where they didn’t exist.”
Levin recalled Cheney’s assertions that a senior Iraqi intelligence officer had met Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, in the Czech Republic capital of Prague just months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The FBI and CIA found that no such meeting occurred.
A senior Guantanamo Bay interrogator, David Becker, told the committee that only “a couple of nebulous links” between al Qaida and Iraq were uncovered during interrogations of unidentified detainees, the report said.
Others in the interrogation operation “agreed there was pressure to produce intelligence, but did not recall pressure to identify links between Iraq and al Qaida,” the report said.
The report, the executive summary of which was released in November, found that Rumsfeld, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and other former senior Bush administration officials were responsible for the abusive interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo and in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rumsfeld approved extreme interrogation techniques for Guantanamo in December 2002. He withdrew his authorization the following month amid protests by senior military lawyers that some techniques could amount to torture, violating U.S. and international laws.
Military interrogators, however, continued employing some techniques in Afghanistan and later in Iraq.
Bush and his top lieutenants charged that Saddam was secretly pursuing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in defiance of a United Nations ban, and had to be overthrown because he might provide them to al Qaida for an attack on the U.S. or its allies.
(John Walcott and Warren P. Strobel contributed to this article.)
BY JONATHAN S. LANDAY
McClatchy Newspapers April 21, 2009
Find this story at 21 April 2009
Copyright McClatchy DC
Senate Floor Statement on the Report of the Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody (2009)
15 december 2014
Today were releasing the declassifed report [PDF] of the Senate Armed Services Committees investigation into the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. The report was approved by the Committee on November 20, 2008, and has, in the intervening period, been under review at the Department of Defense for declassification.
In my judgment, the report represents a condemnation of both the Bush administrations interrogation policies and of senior administration officials who attempted to shift the blame for abuse such as that seen at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and Afghanistan to low ranking soldiers. Claims, such as that made by former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz that detainee abuses could be chalked up to the unauthorized acts of a few bad apples, were simply false.
The truth is that, early on, it was senior civilian leaders who set the tone. On September 16, 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney suggested that the United States turn to the dark side in our response to 9/11. Not long after that, after White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales called parts of the Geneva Conventions quaint, President Bush determined that provisions of the Geneva Conventions did not apply to certain detainees. Other senior officials followed the President and Vice Presidents lead, authorizing policies that included harsh and abusive interrogation techniques.
The record established by the Committees investigation shows that senior officials sought out information on, were aware of training in, and authorized the use of abusive interrogation techniques. Those senior officials bear significant responsibility for creating the legal and operational framework for the abuses. As the Committee report concluded, authorizations of aggressive interrogation techniques by senior officials resulted in abuse and conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody.
In a May 10, 2007, letter to his troops, General David Petraeus said that what sets us apart from our enemies in this fight& is how we behave. In everything we do, we must observe the standards and values that dictate that we treat noncombatants and detainees with dignity and respect. While we are warriors, we are also all human beings. With last weeks release of the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinions, it is now widely known that Bush administration officials distorted Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape SERE training a legitimate program used by the military to train our troops to resist abusive enemy interrogations by authorizing abusive techniques from SERE for use in detainee interrogations. Those decisions conveyed the message that abusive treatment was appropriate for detainees in U.S. custody. They were also an affront to the values articulated by General Petraeus.
In SERE training, U.S. troops are briefly exposed, in a highly controlled setting, to abusive interrogation techniques used by enemies that refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions. The techniques are based on tactics used by Chinese Communists against American soldiers during the Korean War for the purpose of eliciting false confessions for propaganda purposes. Techniques used in SERE training include stripping trainees of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, subjecting them to face and body slaps, depriving them of sleep, throwing them up against a wall, confining them in a small box, treating them like animals, subjecting them to loud music and flashing lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures. Until recently, the Navy SERE school also used waterboarding. The purpose of the SERE program is to provide U.S. troops who might be captured a taste of the treatment they might face so that they might have a better chance of surviving captivity and resisting abusive and coercive interrogations.
SERE training techniques were never intended to be used in the interrogation of detainees in U.S. custody. The Committees report, however, reveals troubling new details of how SERE techniques came to be used in interrogations of detainees in U.S. custody.
Influence of SERE on Military Interrogations at Guantanamo Bay
The Committees investigation uncovered new details about the influence of SERE techniques on military interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO). According to newly released testimony from a military behavioral scientist who worked with interrogators at GTMO, By early October  there was increasing pressure to get tougher with detainee interrogations at GTMO. (p. 50). As a result, on October 2, 2002, two weeks after attending interrogation training led by SERE instructors from the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), the DoD agency that oversees SERE training, the behavioral scientist and a colleague drafted a memo proposing the use of aggressive interrogation techniques at GTMO. The behavioral scientist said he was told by GTMOs intelligence chief that the interrogation memo needed to contain coercive techniques or it wasnt going to go very far. (p. 50).
Declassified excerpts from that memo indicate that it included stress positions, food deprivation, forced grooming, hooding, removal of clothing, exposure to cold weather or water, and scenarios designed to convince a detainee that he might experience a painful or fatal outcome. On October 11, 2002, Major General Michael Dunlavey, the Commander of JTF-170 at GTMO requested authority to use aggressive techniques. MG Dunlaveys request was based on the memo produced by the behavioral scientists.
MG Dunlaveys request eventually made its way to Department of Defense (DoD) General Counsel Jim Haynes desk. Notwithstanding serious legal concerns raised by the military service lawyers, Haynes recommended that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld approve 15 of the interrogation techniques requested by GTMO. On December 2, 2002, Secretary Rumsfeld approved Haynes recommendation, authorizing such techniques as stress positions, removal of clothing, use of phobias (such as fear of dogs), and deprivation of light and auditory stimuli.
The Committees investigation revealed that, following Secretary Rumsfelds authorization, senior staff at GTMO drafted a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the use of SERE techniques, including stress positions, forcibly stripping detainees, slapping, and walling them. That SOP stated that The premise behind this is that the interrogation tactics used at U.S. military SERE schools are appropriate for use in real-world interrogations. Weeks later, in January 2003, trainers from the Navy SERE school travelled to GTMO and provided training to interrogators on the use of SERE techniques on detainees. (pp. 98-104).
Impact of Secretary Rumsfelds Authorization on Interrogations in Iraq and Afghanistan
The influence of Secretary Rumsfelds December 2, 2002, authorization was not limited to interrogations at GTMO. Newly declassified excerpts from a January 11, 2003, legal review by a Special Mission Unit (SMU) Task Force lawyer in Afghanistan state that SECDEFs approval of these techniques provides us the most persuasive argument for use of advanced techniques as we capture possible [high value targets] & the fact that SECDEF approved the use of the& techniques at GTMO, [which is] subject to the same laws, provides an analogy and basis for use of these techniques [in accordance with] international and U.S. law. (p.154).
The Committees report also includes a summary of a July 15, 2004, interview with CENTCOMs then-Deputy Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) about Secretary Rumsfelds authorization and its impact in Afghanistan. The Deputy SJA said: the methodologies approved for GTMO& would appear to me to be legal interrogation processes. [The Secretary of Defense] had approved them. The General Counsel had approved them. .. I believe it is fair to say the procedures approved for Guantanamo were legal for Afghanistan. (p. 156).
The Committees report provides extensive details about how the aggressive techniques made their way from Afghanistan to Iraq. In February 2003, an SMU Task Force designated for operations in Iraq obtained a copy of the SMU interrogation policy from Afghanistan that included aggressive techniques, changed the letterhead, and adopted the policy verbatim. (p. 158) Months later, the Interrogation Officer in Charge at Abu Ghraib obtained a copy of the SMU interrogation policy and submitted it, virtually unchanged, through her chain of command to Combined Joint Task Force 7 (CJTF-7), led at the time by Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez. On September 14, 2003, Lieutenant General Sanchez issued an interrogation policy for CJTF-7 that authorized interrogators to use stress positions, environmental manipulation, sleep management, and military working dogs to exploit detainees fears in their interrogations of detainees.
The Committees investigation uncovered documents indicating that, almost immediately after LTG Sanchez issued his September 14, 2003, policy, CENTCOM lawyers raised concerns about its legality. One newly declassified email from a CENTCOM lawyer to the Staff Judge Advocate at CJTF-7 sent just three days after the policy was issued warned that Many of the techniques [in the CJTF-7 policy] appear to violate [Geneva Convention] III and IV and should not be used . . . (p. 203). Even though the Bush administration acknowledged that the Geneva Conventions applied in Iraq, it was not until nearly a month later that CJTF-7 revised that policy.
Not only did SERE techniques make their way to Iraq, but SERE instructors did as well. In September 2003, JPRA sent a team to Iraq to provide assistance to interrogation operations at an SMU Task Force. The Chief of Human Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the Task Force testified to the Committee in February 2008 that JPRA personnel demonstrated SERE techniques to SMU personnel including so-called walling and striking a detainee as they do in SERE school. (p. 175). As we heard at our September 2008 hearing, JPRA personnel were present during abusive interrogations during that same trip, including one where a detainee was placed on his knees in a stress position and was repeatedly slapped by an interrogator. (p. 176). JPRA personnel even participated in an interrogation, taking physical control of a detainee, forcibly stripping him naked, and giving orders for him to be kept in a stress position for 12 hours. In August 3, 2007, testimony to the Committee, one of the JPRA team members said that, with respect to stripping the detainee, we [had] done this 100 times, 1000 times with our [SERE school] students. The Committees investigation revealed that forced nudity continued to be used in interrogations at the SMU Task Force for months after the JPRA visit. (pp. 181-182).
Over the course of the investigation, the Committee obtained the statements and interviews of scores of military personnel at Abu Ghraib. These statements reveal that the interrogation techniques authorized by Secretary Rumsfeld in December 2002 for use at GTMO including stress positions, forced nudity, and military working dogs were used by military intelligence personnel responsible for interrogations.
The Interrogation Officer in Charge in Abu Ghraib in the fall of 2003 acknowledged that stress positions were used in interrogations at Abu Ghraib. (p. 212).
An Army dog handler at Abu Ghraib told military investigators in February 2004 that someone from [military intelligence] gave me a list of cells, for me to go see, and pretty much have my dog bark at them& Having the dogs bark at detainees was psychologically breaking them down for interrogation purposes. (p. 209).
An intelligence analyst at Abu Ghraib told military investigators in May 2004 that it was common that the detainees on [military intelligence] hold in the hard site were initially kept naked and given clothing as an incentive to cooperate with us. (p. 212).
An interrogator told military investigators in May 2004 that it was common to see detainees in cells without clothes or naked and says it was one of our approaches. (p. 213).
The investigation also revealed that interrogation policies authorizing aggressive techniques were approved months after the CJTF-7 policy was revised to exclude the techniques, and even after the investigation into detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib had already begun. For example, an interrogation policy approved in February 2004 in Iraq included techniques such as use of military working dogs and stress positions. (p. 220).
A policy approved for CJTF-7 units in Iraq in March 2004 also included aggressive techniques. While much of the March 2004 policy remains classified, newly declassified excerpts indicate that it warned that interrogators should consider the fact that some interrogation techniques are viewed as inhumane or otherwise inconsistent with international law before applying each technique. These techniques are labeled with a [CAUTION]. Among the techniques labeled as such were a technique involving power tools, stress positions, and the presence of military working dogs. (pp. 220-221).
Warnings about Using SERE Techniques in Interrogations
Some have asked why, if it is okay for our own U.S. personnel to be subjected to physical and psychological pressures in SERE school, what is wrong with using those SERE training techniques on detainees? The Committees investigation answered that question.
On October 2, 2002, Lieutenant Colonel Morgan Banks, the senior Army SERE psychologist warned against using SERE training techniques during interrogations in an email to personnel at GTMO, writing that:
[T]he use of physical pressures brings with it a large number of potential negative side effects& When individuals are gradually exposed to increasing levels of discomfort, it is more common for them to resist harder& If individuals are put under enough discomfort, i.e. pain, they will eventually do whatever it takes to stop the pain. This will increase the amount of information they tell the interrogator, but it does not mean the information is accurate. In fact, it usually decreases the reliability of the information because the person will say whatever he believes will stop the pain& Bottom line: the likelihood that the use of physical pressures will increase the delivery of accurate information from a detainee is very low. The likelihood that the use of physical pressures will increase the level of resistance in a detainee is very high& (p. 53).
Likewise, the Deputy Commander of DoDs Criminal Investigative Task Force at GTMO told the Committee in 2006 that CITF was troubled with the rationale that techniques used to harden resistance to interrogations would be the basis for the utilization of techniques to obtain information. (p. 69).
Other newly declassified emails reveal additional warnings. In June 2004, after many SERE techniques had been authorized in interrogations and JPRA was considering sending its SERE trainers to interrogation facilities in Afghanistan, another SERE psychologist warned: [W]e need to really stress the difference between what instructors do at SERE school (done to INCREASE RESISTANCE capability in students) versus what is taught at interrogator school (done to gather information). What is done by SERE instructors is by definition ineffective interrogator conduct& Simply stated, SERE school does not train you on how to interrogate, and things you learn there by osmosis about interrogation are probably wrong if copied by interrogators. (p. 229).
If we are to retain our status as a leader in the world, we must acknowledge and confront the abuse of detainees in our custody. The Committees report and investigation makes significant progress toward that goal. There is still the question, however, of whether high level officials who approved and authorized those policies should be held accountable. I have recommended to Attorney General Holder that he select a distinguished individual or individuals either inside or outside the Justice Department, such as retired federal judges to look at the volumes of evidence relating to treatment of detainees, including evidence in the Senate Armed Services Committees report, and to recommend what steps, if any, should be taken to establish accountability of high-level officials including lawyers.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Find this story at 21 April 2009
INQUIRY INTO THE TREATMENT OF DETAINEES IN U.S. CUSTODY (2008)
15 december 2014
“What sets us apart from our enemies in this fight … is how we behave. Ineverything we do, we must observe the standards and values that dictate that wetreat noncombatants and detainees with dignity and respect. While we arewarriors, we are also all human beings. “– General David PetraeusMay 10,2007(U) The collection oftimely and accurate intelligence is critical to the safety of U.S.personnel deployed abroad and to the security ofthe American people here at home. Themethods by which we elicit intelligence information from detainees in our custody affect notonly the reliability ofthat information, but our broader efforts to win hearts and minds and attractallies to our side.(U) AI Qaeda and Taliban terrorists are taught to expect Americans to abuse them. Theyare recruited based on false propaganda that says the United States is out to destroy Islam.Treating detainees harshly only reinforces that distorted view, increases resistance tocooperation, and creates new enemies. In fact, the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate”Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States” cited “pervasive anti U.S.sentiment among most Muslims” as an underlying factor fueling the spread ofthe global jihadistmovement. Former Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora testified to the Senate Armed ServicesCommittee in June 2008 that “there are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the fITstand second identifiable causes of U. S. combat deaths in Iraq – as judged by their effectiveness inrecruiting insurgent fighters into combat – are, respectively the symbols of Abu Ghraib andGuantanamo.”(U) The abuse ofdetainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of”a few bad apples” acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United Statesgovernment solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law tocreate the appearance oftheir legality, and authorized their use against detainees. Those effortsdamaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the handofour enemies, and compromised our moral authority. This report is a product oftheCommittee’s inquiry into how those unfortunate results came about.UNCLASSIFIEDxiiUNCLASSIFIEDPresidential Order Opens the Door to Considering Aggressive Techniques (U)(U) On February 7,2002, President Bush signed a memorandum stating that the ThirdGeneva Convention did not apply to the conflict with al Qaeda and concluding that Talibandetainees were not entitled to prisoner of war status or the legal protections afforded by the ThirdGeneva Convention. The President’s order closed off application ofCommon Article 3 oftheGeneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, toal Qaeda or Taliban detainees. While the President’s order stated that, as “a matter ofpolicy, theUnited States Armed Forces shall continue to treat detainees humanely and, to the extentappropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles ofthe Geneva Conventions,” the decision to replace well established military doctrine, i.e., legalcompliance with the Geneva Conventions, with a policy subject to interpretation, impacted thetreatment of detainees in U.S. custody.(U) In December 2001, more than a month before the President signed his memorandum,the Department of Defense (DoD) General Counsel’s Office had already solicited information ondetainee “exploitation” from the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), an agency whoseexpertise was in training American personnel to withstand interrogation techniques consideredillegal under the Geneva Conventions.(U) JPRA is the DoD agency that oversees military Survival Evasion Resistance andEscape (SERE) training. During the resistance phase of SERE training, U.S. military personnelare exposed to physical and psychological pressures (SERE techniques) designed to simulateconditions to which they might be subject if taken prisoner by enemies that did not abide by theGeneva Conventions. As one JPRA instructor explained, SERE training is “based on illegalexploitation (under the rules listed in the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment ofPrisoners of War) of prisoners over the last 50 years.” The techniques used in SERE school,based, in part, on Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean war to elicit falseconfessions, include stripping students oftheir clothing, placing them in stress positions, puttinghoods over their heads, disrupting their sleep, treating them like animals, subjecting them to loudmusic and flashing lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures. It can also include faceand body slaps and until recently, for some who attended the Navy’s SERE school, it includedwaterboarding.(U) Typically, those who play the part of interrogators in SERE school neither are trainedinterrogators nor are they qualified to be. These role players are not trained to obtain reliableintelligence information from detainees. Their job is to train our personnel to resist providingreliable infonnation to our enemies. As the Deputy Commander for the Joint Forces Command(JFCOM), JPRA’s higher headquarters, put it: “the expertise ofJPRA lies in training personnelhow to respond and resist interrogations – not in how to conduct interrogations.” Given JPRA’srole and expertise, the request from the DoD General Counsel’s office was unusual. In fact, theCommittee is not aware ofany similar request prior to December 2001. But while it may havebeen the fast, that was not the last time that a senior government official contacted JPRA forUNCLASSIFIEDxiiiUNCLASSIFIEDadvice on using SERE methods offensively. In fact, the call from the DoD General Counsel’soffice marked just the beginning of JPRA’s support of U.S. government interrogation efforts.Senior Officials Seek SERE Techniques and Discuss Detainee Interrogations (U)(U) Beginning in the spring of 2002 and extending for the next two years, JPRAsupported U.S. government efforts to interrogate detainees. Duringthat same period, seniorgovernment officials solicited JPRA’s knowledge and its direct support for interrogations. Whilemuch ofthe information relating to JPRA’s offensive activities and the influence of SEREtechniques on interrogation policies remains classified, unclassified information provides awindow into the extent ofthose activities.(U) JPRA’s Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Baumgartner testified that in late2001 or early 2002, JPRA conducted briefings of Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) personnelon detainee resistance, techniques, and information on detainee exploitation.(U) On April 16, 2002, Dr. Bruce Jessen, the senior SERE psychologist at JPRA,circulated a draft exploitation plan to JPRA Commander Colonel Randy Mouhon and othersenior officials at the agency. The contents ofthat plan remain classified but Dr. Jessen’sinitiative is indicative ofthe interest of JPRA’s senior leadership in expanding the agency’s role.(U) One opportunity came in July 2002. That month, DoD Deputy General Counsel forIntelligence Richard Shiffrin contacted JPRA seeking information on SERE physical pressuresand interrogation techniques that had been used against Americans. Mr. Shiffiin called JPRAafter discussions with William “Jim” Haynes II, the DoD General Counsel.(U) In late July, JPRA provided the General Counsel’s office with several documents,including excerpts from SERE instructor lesson plans, a list ofphysical and psychologicalpressures used in SERE resistance training, and a memo from a SERE psychologist assessing thelong-term psychological effects of SERE resistance training on students and the effects ofwaterboarding. The list of SERE techniques included such methods as sensory deprivation,sleep disruption, stress positions, waterboarding, and slapping. It also made reference to asection ofthe JPRA instructor manual that discusses “coercive pressures,” such as keeping thelights on at all times, and treating a person like an animal. JPRA’s Chief of Staff, LieutenantColonel Daniel Baumgartner, who spoke with Mr. Shiffiin at the time, thought the GeneralCounsel’s office was asking for the information on exploitation and physical pressures to usethem in interrogations and he said that JFCOM gave approval to provide the agency theinformation. Mr. Shiffiin, the DoD Deputy General Counsel for Intelligence, confmned that apurpose ofthe request was to “reverse engineer” the techniques. Mr. Haynes could not recallwhat he did with the information provided by JPRA.(U) Memos from Lieutenant Colonel Baumgartner to the Office of Secretary ofDefenseGeneral Counsel stated that JPRA would “continue to offer exploitation assistance to thosegovernment organizations charged with the mission of gleaning intelligence from enemyUNCLASSIFIEDUNCLASSIFIEDdetainees.” Lieutenant Colonel Baumgartner testified that he provided another governmentagency the same information he sent to the DoD General Counsel’s office.(U) Mr. Haynes was not the only senior official considering new interrogation techniquesfor use against detainees. Members ofthe President’s Cabinet and other senior officials attendedmeetings in the White House where specific interrogation techniques were discussed. Secretaryof State Condoleezza Rice, who was then the National Security Advisor, said that, “in the springof2002, CIA sought policy approval from the National Security Council (NSC) to begin aninterrogation progTam for high-level al-Qaida terrorists.” Secretary Rice said that she askedDirector of Central Intelligence George Tenet to briefNSC Principals on the program and askedthe Attorney General John Ashcroft “personally to review and confrrm the legal advice preparedby the Office of Legal Counsel.” She also said that Secretary ofDefense Donald Rumsfeldparticipated in the NSC review ofthe CIA’s program.(U) Asked whether she attended meetings where SERE training was discussed, SecretaryRice stated that she recalled being told that U.S. military personnel were subjected in training to”certain physical and psychological interrogation techniques.” National Security Council (NSC)Legal Advisor, John Bellinger, said that he was present in meetings “at which SERE training wasdiscussed.”Department of Justice Redermes Torture (D)(U) On August 1, 2002, just a week after JPRA provided the DoD General Counsel’soffice the list of SERE techniques and the memo on the psychological effects of SERE training,the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issued two legal opinions. Theopinions were issued after consultation with senior Administration attorneys, including thenWhiteHouse Counsel Alberto Gonzales and then-Counsel to the Vice President DavidAddington. Both memos were signed by then-Assistant Attorney General for the Office ofLegalCounsel Jay Bybee. One opinion, commonly known as the first Bybee memo, was addressed toJudge Gonzales and provided OLe’s opinion on standards of conduct in interrogation requiredunder the federal torture statute. That memo concluded:[F]or an act to constitute torture as defmed in [the federal torture statute], it mustinflict pain that is difficult to endure. Physical pain amounting to torture must beequivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such asorgan failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death. For purely mentalpain or suffering to amount to torture under [the federal torture statute], it mustresult in significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting formonths or even years.(U) In his book The Terror Presidency, Jack Goldsmith, the former Assistant AttorneyGeneral ofthe OLC who succeeded Mr. Bybee in that job, described the memo’s conclusions:UNCLASSIFIEDxvUNCLASSIFIEDViolent acts aren’t necessarily torture; if you do torture, you probably have adefense; and even if you don’t have a defense, the torture law doesn’t apply if youact under the color of presidential authority.(U) The other OLC opinion issued on August 1,2002 is known commonly as the SecondBybee memo. That opinion, which responded to a request from the CI~ addressed the legalityof specific interrogation tactics. While the full list oftechniques remains classified, a publiclyreleased CIA document indicates that waterboarding was among those analyzed and approved.CIA Director General Michael Hayden stated in public testimony before the Senate IntelligenceCommittee on February 5, 2008 that waterboarding was used by the CIA And Steven Bradbury,the current Assistant Attorney General ofthe OLC, testified before the House JudiciaryCommittee on February 14,2008 that the CIA’s use of waterboarding was “adapted from theSERE training program.”(U) Before drafting the opinions, Mr. Y00, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for theOLC, had met with Alberto Gonzales, Counsel to the President, and David Addington, Counselto the Vice President, to discuss the subjects he intended to address in the opinions. In testimonybefore the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Y00 refused to say whether or not he ever discussedor received information about SERE techniques as the memos were being drafted. When askedwhether he had discussed SERE techniques with Judge Gonzales, Mr. Addington, Mr. Yoo, Mr.Rizzo or other senior administration lawyers, DoD General Counsel Jim Haynes testified that he”did discuss SERE techniques with other people in the administration.” NSC Legal AdvisorJohn Bellinger said that “some ofthe legal analyses ofproposed interrogation techniques thatwere prepared by the Department ofJustice… did refer to the psychological effects ofresistancetraining.”(U) In fact, Jay Bybee the Assistant Attorney General who signed the two OLC legalopinions said that he saw an assessment ofthe psychological effects ofmilitary resistancetraining in July 2002 in meetings in his office with John Yoo and two other OLC attorneys.Judge Bybee said that he used that assessment to inform the August 1, 2002 OLC legal opinionthat has yet to be publicly released. Judge Bybee also recalled discussing detainee interrogationsin a meeting with Attorney General John Ashcroft and John Y00 in late July 2002, prior tosigning the OLC opinions. Mr. Bellinger, the NSC Legal Advisor, said that “the NSC’sPrincipals reviewed CIA’s proposed program on several occasions in 2002 and 2003” and that he”expressed concern that the proposed CIA interrogation techniques comply with applicable U. S.law, including our international obligations.”JPRA and CIA Influence Department of Defense Interrogation Policies (U)(U) As senior government lawyers were preparing to redefine torture, JPRA – respondingto a request from U.S. Southern Command’s Joint Task Force 170 (JTF-170) at Guantanamo Bay(GTMO) – was finalizing plans to train JTF-170 personnel. During the week of September 16,2002, a group ofinterrogators and behavioral scientists from GTMO travelled to Fort Bragg,North Carolina and attended training conducted by instructors from JPRA’s SERE school. OnSeptember 25, 2002, just days after GTMO staffreturned from that training, a delegation ofUNCLASSIFIEDxviUNCLASSIFIEDsenior Administration lawyers, including Mr. Haynes, Mr. Rizzo, and Mr. Addington, visitedGTMO.(U) A week after the visit from those senior lawyers, two GTMO behavioral scientistswho had attended the JPRA-Ied training at Fort Bragg drafted a memo proposing newinterrogation techniques for use at GTMO. According to one ofthose two behavioral scientists,by early October 2002, there was “increasing pressure to get ’tougher’ with detaineeinterrogations.” He added that ifthe interrogation policy memo did not contain coercivetechniques, then it “wasn’t going to go very far.”(U) JPRA was not the only outside organization that provided advice to GTMO onaggressive techniques. On October 2, 2002, Jonathan Fredman, who was chief counsel to theCIA’s CounterTerrorist Center, attended a meeting ofGTMO staff. Minutes ofthat meetingindicate that it was dominated by a discussion ofaggressive interrogation techniques includingsleep deprivation, death threats, and waterboarding, which was discussed in relation to its use inSERE training. Mr. Fredman’s advice to GTMO on applicable legal obligations was similar tothe analysis ofthose obligations in OLC’s first Bybee memo. According to the meeting minutes,Mr. Fredman said that ”the language ofthe statutes is written vaguely … Severe physical paindescribed as anything causing permanent damage to major organs or body parts. Mental torture[is] described as anything leading to permanent, profound damage to the senses or personality.”Mr. Fredman said simply, “It is basically subject to perception. If the detainee dies you’re doingit wrong.”(U) On October 11,2002, Major General Michael Dunlavey, the Commander ofJTF-170at Guantanamo Bay, sent a memo to General James Hill, the Commander of US. SouthernCommand (SOUfHCOM) requesting authority to use aggressive interrogation techniques.Several ofthe techniques requested were similar to techniques used by lPRA and the militaryservices in SERE training, including stress positions, exploitation of detainee fears (such as fearof dogs), removal of clothing, hooding, deprivation of light and sound, and the so-called wettowel treatment or the waterboard. Some ofthe techniques were even referred to as “those usedin US. military interrogation resistance training.” Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver, GTMO’sStaffJudge Advocate, wrote an analysis justifYing the legality ofthe techniques, though sheexpected that a broader legal review conducted at more senior levels would follow her own. OnOctober 25, 2002, General Hill forwarded the GTMO request from Major General Dunlavey toGeneral Richard Myers, the Chairman ofthe Joint Chiefs of Staff. Days later, the Joint Staffsolicited the views ofthe military services on the request.(U) Plans to use aggressive interrogation techniques generated concerns by some atGTMO. The Deputy Commander ofthe Department of Defense’s Criminal Investigative TaskForce (CITF) at GTMO told the Committee that SERE techniques were “developed to betterprepare U.S. military personnel to resist interrogations and not as a means of obtaining reliableinformation” and that “CITF was troubled with the rationale that techniques used to hardenresistance to interrogations would be the basis for the utilization oftechniques to obtaininformation.” Concerns were not limited to the effectiveness ofthe techniques in obtainingreliable information; GTMO’s request gave rise to significant legal concerns as well.UNCLASSIFIEDxviiUNCLASSIFIEDMilitary Lawyers Raise Red Flags and Joint Staff Review Quashed (D)(U) In early November 2002, in a series of memos responding to the Joint Staff’s call forcomments on GTMO’s request, the military services identified serious legal concerns about thetechniques and called for additional analysis.(U) The Air Force cited “serious concerns regarding the legality of many ofthe proposedtechniques” and stated that “techniques described may be subject to challenge as failing to meetthe requirements outlined in the military order to treat detainees humanely…” The Air Forcealso called for an in depth legal review ofthe request.(U) CITF’s Chief Legal Advisor wrote that certain techniques in GTMO’s October 11,2002 request “may subject service members to punitive articles ofthe [Uniform Code of MilitaryJustice],” called “the utility and legality of applying certain techniques” in the request”questionable,” and stated that he could not “advocate any action, interrogation or otherwise, thatis predicated upon the principle that all is well ifthe ends justify the means and others are notaware ofhow we conduct our business.”(U) The Chief ofthe Army’s International and Operational Law Division wrote thattechniques like stress positions, deprivation of light and auditory stimuli, and use of phobias toinduce stress “crosses the line of ‘humane’ treatment,” would “likely be consideredmaltreatment” under the UCMJ, and “may violate the torture statute.” The Army labeledGTMO’s request “legally insufficient” and called for additional review.(U) The Navy recommended a “more detailed interagency legal and policy review” oftherequest. And the Marine Corps expressed strong reservations, stating that several techniques inthe request “arguably violate federal law, and would expose our service members to possibleprosecution.” The Marine Corps also said the request was not “legally sufficient,” and like theother services, called for “a more thorough legal and policy review.”(U) Then-Captain (now Rear Admiral) Jane Dalton, Legal Counsel to the Chairman ofthe Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that her staff discussed the military services’ concerns with theDoD General Counsel’s Office at the time and that the DoD General Counsel Jim Haynes wasaware ofthe services’ concerns. Mr. Haynes, on the other hand, testified that he did not knowthat the memos from the military services existed (a statement he later qualified by stating that hewas not sure he knew they existed). Eliana Davidson, the DoD Associate Deputy GeneralCounsel for International Affairs, said that she told the General Counsel that the GTMO requestneeded further assessment. Mr. Haynes did not recall Ms. Davidson telling him that.(U) Captain Dalton, who was the Chairman’s Legal Counsel, said that she had her ownconcerns with the GTMO request and directed her staffto initiate a thorough legal and policyreview ofthe techniques. That review, however, was cut short. Captain Dalton said that GeneralMyers returned from a meeting and advised her that Mr. Haynes wanted her to stop her review,UNCLASSIFIEDxviiiUNCLASSIFIEDin part because of concerns that people were going to see the GTMO request and the militaryservices’ analysis of it. Neither General Myers nor Mr. Haynes recalled cutting short the Daltonreview, though neither has challenged Captain Dalton’s recollection. Captain Dalton testifiedthat this occasion marked the only time she had ever been told to stop analyzing a request thatcame to her for review.Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld Approves Aggressive Techniques (U)(U) With respect to GTMO’s October 11, 2002 request to use aggressive interrogationtechniques, Mr. Haynes said that “there was a sense by the DoD Leadership that this decisionwas taking too long” and that Secretary Rumsfeld told his senior advisors “I need arecommendation” On November 27, 2002, the Secretary got one. Notwithstanding the seriouslegal concerns raised by the military services, Mr. Haynes sent a one page memo to theSecretary, recommending that he approve all but three ofthe eighteen techniques in the GTMOrequest. Techniques such as stress positions, removal of clothing, use ofphobias (such as fear ofdogs), and deprivation oflight and auditory stimuli were all recommended for approval.(U) Mr. Haynes’s memo indicated that he had discussed the issue with Deputy SecretaryofDefense Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary ofDefense for Policy Doug Feith, and GeneralMyers and that he believed they concurred in his recommendation. When asked what he reliedon to make his recommendation that the aggressive techniques be approved, the only writtenlegal opinion Mr. Haynes cited was Lieutenant Colonel Beaver’s legal analysis, which seniormilitary lawyers had considered “legally insufficient” and “woefully inadequate,” and whichLTC Beaver herself had expected would be supplemented with a review by persons with greaterexperience than her own.(U) On December 2,2002, Secretary Rumsfeld signed Mr. Haynes’s recommendation,adding a handwritten note that referred to limits proposed in the memo on the use of stresspositions: “I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?”(U) SERE school techniques are designed to simulate abusive tactics used by ourenemies. There are fundamental differences between a SERE school exercise and a real worldinterrogation. At SERE school, students are subject to an extensive medical and psychologicalpre-screening prior to being subjected to physical and psychological pressures. The schoolsimpose strict limits on the frequency, duration, and/or intensity of certain techniques.Psychologists are present throughout SERE training to intervene should the need arise and tohelp students cope with associated stress. And SERE school is voluntary; students are evengiven a special phrase they can use to immediately stop the techniques from being used againstthem.(U) Neither those differences, nor the serious legal concerns that had been registered,stopped the Secretary ofDefense from approving the use ofthe aggressive techniques againstdetainees. Moreover, Secretary Rumsfeld authorized the techniques without apparentlyproviding any written guidance as to how they should be administered.UNCLASSIFIEDxixUNCLASSIFIEDSERE Techniques at GTMO (U)(U) Following the Secretary’s December 2, 2002 authorization, senior staff at GTMObegan drafting a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) specifically for the use ofSEREtechniques in interrogations. The draft SOP itself stated that “The premise behind this is that theinterrogation tactics used at U.S. military SERE schools are appropriate for use in real-worldinterrogations. These tactics and techniques are used at SERE school to ‘break’ SERE detainees.The same tactics and techniques can be used to break real detainees during interrogation” Thedraft “GTMO SERE SOP” described how to slap, strip, and place detainees in stress positions. Italso described other SERE techniques, such as “hooding,” “manhandling,” and “walling”detainees.(U) On December 30,2002, two instructors from the Navy SERE school arrived atGTMO. The next day, in a session with approximately 24 interrogation personnel, the twoSERE instructors demonstrated how to administer stress positions, and various slappingtechniques. According to two interrogators, those who attended the training even broke off intopairs to practice the techniques.(U) ExemplifYing the disturbing nature and substance ofthe training, the SEREinstructors explained “Biderman’s Principles” – which were based on coercive methods used bythe Chinese Communist dictatorship to elicit false confessions from U.S. POWs during theKorean War – and left with GTMO personnel a chart ofthose coercive techniques. Three daysafter they conducted the training, the SERE instructors met with GTMO’s Commander, MajorGeneral Geoffrey Miller. According to some who attended that meeting, Major General Millerstated that he did not want his interrogators using the techniques that the Navy SERE instructorshad demonstrated. That conversation, however, took place after the training had alreadyoccurred and not all ofthe interrogators who attended the training got the message.(U) At about the same time, a dispute over the use ofaggressive techniques was raging atGTMO over the interrogation ofMohammed al-Khatani, a high value detainee. Personnel fromCITF and the Federal Bureau ofInvestigations (FBI) had registered strong opposition, tointerrogation techniques proposed for use on Khatani and made those concerns known to theDoD General Counsel’s office. Despite those objections, an interrogation plan that includedaggressive techniques was approved. The interrogation itself, which actually began onNovember 23,2002, a week before the Secretary’s December 2,2002 grant ofblanket authorityfor the use ofaggressive techniques, continued through December and into mid-January 2003.(U) NSC Legal Advisor John Bellinger said that, on several occasions, Deputy AssistantAttorney General Bruce Swartz raised concerns with him about allegations of detainee abuse atGTMO. Mr. Bellinger said that, in tum, he raised these concerns “on several occasions withDoD officials and was told that the allegations were being investigated by the Naval CriminalInvestigative Service.” Then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said that Mr.Bellinger also advised her “on a regular basis regarding concerns and issues relating to DoDdetention policies and practices at Guantanamo.” She said that as a result she convened a “seriesUNCLASSIFIED:1:1:UNCLASSIFIEDofmeetings ofNSC Principals in 2002 and 2003 to discuss various issues and concerns relatingto detainees in the custody ofthe Department of Defense.”(U) Between mid-December 2002 and mid-January 2003, Navy General Counsel AlbertoMora spoke with the DoD General Counsel three times to express his concerns aboutinterrogation techniques at GTMO, at one point telling Mr. Haynes that he thought techniquesthat had been authorized by the Secretary ofDefense “could rise to the level oftorture.” OnJanuary 15,2003, having received no word that the Secretary’s authority would be withdrawn,Mr. Mora went so far as to deliver a draft memo to Mr. Haynes’s office memorializing his legalconcerns about the techniques. In a subsequent phone call, Mr. Mora told Mr. Haynes he wouldsign his memo later that day unless he heard defmitively that the use ofthe techniques wassuspended. In a meeting that same day, Mr. Haynes told Mr. Mora that the Secretary wouldrescind the techniques. Secretary Rumsfeld signed a memo rescinding authority for thetechniques on January 15,2003.(U) That same day, GTMO suspended its use ofaggressive techniques on Khatani.While key documents relating to the interrogation remain classified, published accounts indicatethat military working dogs had been used against Khatani. He had also been deprived ofadequate sleep for weeks on end, stripped naked, subjected to loud music, and made to wear aleash and perform dog tricks. In a June 3, 2004 press briefing, SOUTHCOM CommanderGeneral James Hill traced the source oftechniques used on Khatani back to SERE, stating: “Thestaff at Guantanamo working with behavioral scientists, having gone up to our SERE school anddeveloped a list oftechniques which our lawyers decided and looked at, said were OK.” GeneralHill said “we began to use a few ofthose techniques … on this individuaL.”(U) On May 13, 2008, the Pentagon announced in a written statement that the ConveningAuthority for military commissions “dismissed without prejudice the sworn charges againstMohamed al Khatani.” The statement does not indicate the role his treatment may have playedin that decision.DoD Working Group Ignores Military Lawyers and Relies on OLC (D)(U) On January 15, 2003, the same day he rescinded authority for GTMO to useaggressive techniques, Secretary Rumsfeld directed the establishment ofa “Working Group” toreview interrogation techniques. For the next few months senior military and civilian lawyerstried, without success, to have their concerns about the legality ofaggressive techniques reflectedin the Working Group’s report. Their arguments were rejected in favor ofa legal opinion fromthe Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) John Yoo. Mr. Yoo’s opinion, thefinal version of which ‘was dated March 14,2003, had been requested by Mr. Haynes at theinitiation ofthe Working Group process, and repeated much of what the first Bybee memo hadsaid six months earlier.(U) The first Bybee memo, dated August 1, 2002, had concluded that, to violate thefederal torture statute, physical pain that resulted from an act would have to be “equivalent inintensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment ofUNCLASSIFIEDxxiUNCLASSIFIEDbodily function, or even death.” Mr. Yoo’s March 14, 2003 memo stated that criminal laws,such as the federal torture statute, would not apply to certain military interrogations, and thatinterrogators could not be prosecuted by the Justice Department for using interrogation methodsthat would otherwise violate the law.(U) Though the final Working Group report does not specifically mention SERE, the listofinterrogation techniques it evaluated and recommended for approval suggest the influence ofSERE. Removal of clothing, prolonged standing, sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation,hooding, increasing anxiety through the use ofa detainee’s aversions like dogs, and face andstomach slaps were all recommended for approval.(U) On April 16, 2003, less than two weeks after the Working Group completed itsreport, the Secretary authorized the use of24 specific interrogation techniques for use at GTMO.While the authorization included such techniques as dietary manipulation, environmentalmanipulation, and sleep adjustment, it was silent on many ofthe techniques in the WorkingGroup report. Secretary Rumsfeld’s memo said, however, that “If, in your view, you requireadditional interrogation techniques for a particular detainee, you should provide me, via theChairman ofthe Joint Chiefs of Staff, a written request describing the proposed technique,recommended safeguards, and the rationale for applying it with an identified detainee.”(U) Just a few months later, one such request for “additional interrogation techniques”arrived on Secretary Rumsfeld’s desk. The detainee was Mohamedou QuId Slahi. Whiledocuments relating to the interrogation plan for Slahi remain classified, a May 2008 report fromthe Department of Justice Inspector General includes declassified information suggesting theplan included hooding Slahi and subjecting him to sensory deprivation and “sleep adjustment.”The Inspector General’s report says that an FBI agent who saw a draft ofthe interrogation plansaid it was similar to Khatani’s interrogation plan. Secretary Rumsfeld approved the Slahi planon August 13, 2003.Aggressive Techniques Authorized in Afghanistan and Iraq (U)(U) Shortly after Secretary Rumsfeld’s December 2,2002 approval ofhis GeneralCounsel’s recommendation to authorize aggressive interrogation techniques, the techniquesandthe fact the Secretary had authorized them – became known to interrogators in Mghanistan.A copy ofthe Secretary’s memo was sent from GTMO to Mghanistan. Captain Carolyn Wood,the Officer in Charge ofthe Intelligence Section at Bagram Airfield in Mghanistan, said that inJanuary 2003 she saw a power point presentation listing the aggressive techniques that had beenauthorized by the Secretary.(U) Despite the Secretary’s January 15,2003 rescission ofauthority for GTMO to useaggressive techniques, his initial approval six weeks earlier continued to influence interrogationpolicies.(U) On January 24, 2003, nine days after Secretary Rumsfe1d rescinded authority for thetechniques at GTMO, the StaffJudge Advocate for Combined Joint Task Force 180 (CJTF-180),UNCLASSIFIEDxxiiUNCLASSIFIEDu.s. Central Command’s (CENTCOM) conventional forces in Afghanistan, produced an”Interrogation techniques” memo. While that memo remains classified, unclassified portions ofa report by Major General George Fay stated that the memo “recommended removal of clothing- a technique that had been in the Secretary’s December 2 authorization” and discussed”exploiting the Arab fear ofdogs” another technique approved by the Secretary on December 2,2002.(U) From Afghanistan, the techniques made their way to Iraq. According to theDepartment of Defense (DoD) Inspector General (lG), at the beginning ofthe Iraq war, specialmission unit forces in Iraq “used a January 2003 Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) which hadbeen developed for operations in Afghanistan.” According to the DoD IG, the Afghanistan SOPhad been:[I]nfluenced by the counter-resistance memorandum that the Secretary of Defenseapproved on December 2, 2002 and incorporated techniques designed fordetainees who were identified as unlawful combatants. Subsequent battlefieldinterrogation SOPs included techniques such as yelling, loud music, and lightcontrol, environmental manipulation, sleep deprivation/adjustment, stresspositions, 20-hour interrogations, and controlled fear (muzzled dogs) …(U) Techniques approved by the Secretary of Defense in December 2002 reflect theinfluence ofSERE. And not only did those techniques make their way into official interrogationpolicies in Iraq, but instructors from the JPRA SERE school followed. The DoD IG reported thatin September 2003, at the request ofthe Commander ofthe Special Mission Unit Task Force,JPRA deployed a team to Iraq to assist interrogation operations. During that trip, which wasexplicitly approved by U.S. Joint Forces Command, JPRA’s higher headquarters, SEREinstructors were authorized to participate in the interrogation ofdetainees in U.S. militarycustody using SERE techniques.(U) In September 2008 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, ColonelSteven Kleinman, an Air Force Reservist who was a member ofthe interrogation support teamsent by JPRA to the Special Mission Unit Task Force in Iraq, described abusive interrogations hewitnessed, and intervened to stop, during that trip. Colonel Kleinman said that one ofthoseinterrogations, which took place in a room painted all in black with a spotlight on the detainee,the interrogator repeatedly slapped a detainee who was kneeling on the floor in front oftheinterrogator. In another interrogation Colonel Kleinman said the two other members oftheJPRA team took a hooded detainee to a bunker at the Task Force facility, forcibly stripped himnaked and left him, shackled by the wrist and ankles, to stand for 12 hours.(U) Interrogation techniques used by the Special Mission Unit Task Force eventuallymade their way into Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued for all U.S. forces in Iraq. Inthe summer of2003, Captain Wood, who by that time was the Interrogation Officer in Charge atAbu Ghraib, obtained a copy ofthe Special Mission Unit interrogation policy and submitted it,virtually unchanged, to her chain ofcommand as proposed policy.UNCLASSIFIEDxxiiiUNCLASSIFIED(U) Captain Wood submitted her proposed policy around the same time that a messagewas being conveyed that interrogators should be more aggressive with detainees. In mid-August2003, an email from staffat Combined Joint Task Force 7 (CJTF-7) headquarters in Iraqrequested that subordinate units provide input for a “wish list” of interrogation techniques, statedthat “the gloves are coming off,” and said “we want these detainees broken.” At the end ofAugust 2003, Major General Geoffrey Miller, the GTMO Commander, led a team to Iraq toassess interrogation and detention operations. Colonel Thomas Pappas, the Commander ofthe20Sth Military Intelligence Brigade, who met with Major General Miller during that visit, saidthat the tenor ofthe discussion was that “we had to get tougher with the detainees.” A ChiefWarrant Officer with the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) said that during Major General Miller’s tourofthe ISG’s facility, Major General Miller said the ISG was “running a country club” fordetainees.(U) On September 14,2003 the Commander ofCJTF-7, Lieutenant General RicardoSanchez, issued the fIrst CJTF-7 interrogation SOP. That SOP authorized interrogators in Iraq touse stress positions, environmental manipulation, sleep management, and military working dogsin interrogations. Lieutenant General Sanchez issued the September 14, 2003 policy with theknowledge that there were ongoing discussions about the legality ofsome ofthe approvedtechniques. Responding to legal concerns from CENTCOM lawyers about those techniques,Lieutenant General Sanchez issued a new policy on October 12,2003, eliminating many ofthepreviously authorized aggressive techniques. The new policy, however, contained ambiguitieswith respect to certain techniques, such as the use of dogs in interrogations, and led to confusionabout which techniques were permitted.(U) In his report of his investigation into Abu Ghraib, Major General George Fay saidthat interrogation techniques developed for GTMO became “confused” and were implemented atAbu Ghraib. For example, Major General Fay said that removal of clothing, while not includedin CJTF-Ts SOP, was “imported” to Abu Ghraib, could be ”traced through Mghanistan andGTMO,” and contributed to an environment at Abu Ghraib that appeared “to condone depravityand degradation rather than humane treatment of detainees.” Major General Fay said that thepolicy approved by the Secretary ofDefense on December 2,2002 contributed to the use ofaggressive interrogation techniques at Abu Ghraib in late 2003.OLC Withdraws Legal Opinion – JFCOM Issues Guidance on JPRA “Offensive” Support(U)(U) As the events at Abu Ghraib were unfolding, Jack Goldsmith, the new Assistant AttorneyGeneral for the Office of Legal Counsel was presented with a “short stack” of0 Le opinions thatwere described to him as problematic. Included in that short stack were the Bybee memos ofAugust 1,2002 and Mr. Yoo’s memo of March 2003. After reviewing the memos, Mr.Goldsmith decided to rescind both the so-called fIrst Bybee memo and Mr. Yoo’s memo. In lateDecember 2003, Mr. Goldsmith notifIed Mr. Haynes that DoD could no longer rely on Mr.Yoo’s memo in determining the lawfulness ofinterrogation techniques. The change in OLeguidance, however, did not keep JPRA from making plans to continue their support tointerrogation operations. In fact, it is not clear that the agency was even aware ofthe change.UNCLASSIFIEDxxivUNCLASSIFIED(U) In 2004, JPRA and CENTCOM took steps to send a JPRA training team toAfghanistan to assist in detainee interrogations there. In the wake ofthe public disclosure ofdetainee abuse at Abu Ghraib, however, that trip was cancelled and JFCOM subsequently issuedpolicy guidance limiting JPRA’s support to interrogations.(U) On September 29, 2004 Major General James Soligan, JFCOM’s Chief of StatI,issued a memorandum referencing JPRA’s support to interrogation operations. Major GeneralSoligan wrote:Recent requests from [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] and the CombatantCommands have solicited JPRA support based on knowledge and informationgained through the debriefing of former U.S. POWs and detainees and theirapplication to U.S. Strategic debriefmg and interrogation techniques. Theserequests, which can be characterized as ‘offensive’ support, go beyond thechartered responsibilities of JPRA… The use of resistance to interrogationknowledge for ‘offensive’ purposes lies outside the roles and responsibilities ofJPRA(U) Lieutenant General Robert Wagner, the Deputy Commander ofJFCOM, later calledrequests for JPRA interrogation support “inconsistent with the unit’s charter” and said that suchrequests “might create conditions which tasked JPRA to engage in offensive operationalactivities outside ofJPRA’s defensive mission.”(U) Interrogation policies endorsed by senior military and civilian officials authorizingthe use of harsh interrogation techniques were a major cause ofthe abuse of detainees in U.S.custody. The impact ofthose abuses has been significant. In a 2007 international BBC poll,only 29 percent of people around the world said the United States is a generally positiveinfluence in the world. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have a lot to do with that perception. Thefact that America is seen in a negative light by so many complicates our ability to attract allies toour side, strengthens the hand of our enemies, and reduces our ability to collect intelligence thatcan save lives.(U) It is particularly troubling that senior officials approved the use ofinterrogationtechniques that were originally designed to simulate abusive tactics used by our enemies againstour own soldiers and that were modeled, in part, on tactics used by the Communist Chinese toelicit false confessions from U.S. military personnel. While some argue that the brutality anddisregard for human life shown by al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists justifies us treating themharshly, General David Petraeus explained why that view is misguided. In a May 2007 letter tohis troops, General Petraeus said “Our values and thelaws governing warfare teach us to respecthuman dignity, maintain our integrity, and do what is right. Adherence to our valuesdistinguishes us from our enemy. This fight depends on securing the population, which mustunderstand that we – not our enemies – occupy the moral high ground.”UNCLASSIFIEDxxvUNCLASSIFIEDSenate AImed Services Committee ConclusionsConclusion 1: On February 7,2002, President George W. Bush made a written determinationthat Common Article 3 ofthe Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimumstandards for humane treatment, did not apply to al Qaeda or Taliban detainees. Following thePresident’s determination, techniques such as waterboarding, nudity, and stress positions, used inSERE training to simulate tactics used by enemies that refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions,were authorized for use in interrogations of detainees in U.S. custody.Conclusion 2: Members of the President’s Cabinet and other senior officials participated inmeetings inside the White House in 2002 and 2003 where specific interrogation techniques wered~scussed. National Security Council Principals reviewed the CIA’s interrogation programduring that period.Conclusions on SERE Training Techniques and InterrogationsConclusion 3: The use oftechniques similar to those used in SERE resistance training – suchas stripping students oftheir clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over theirheads, and treating them like animals – was at odds with the commitment to humane treatment ofdetainees in U.S. custody. Using those techniques for interrogating detainees was alsoinconsistent with the goal of collecting accurate intelligence information, as the purpose of SEREresistance training is to increase the ability of U. S. personnel to resist abusive interrogations andthe techniques used were based, in part, on Chinese Communist techniques used during theKorean War to elicit false confessions.Conclusion 4: The use oftechniques in interrogations derived from SERE resistance trainingcreated a serious risk of physical and psychological harm to detainees. The SERE schoolsemploy strict controls to reduce the risk of physical and psychological harm to students duringtraining. Those controls include medical and psychological screening for students, interventionsby trained psychologists during training, and code words to ensure that students can stop theapplication ofa technique at any time should the need arise. Those same controls are not presentin real world interrogations.Conclusions on Senior Official Consideration of SERE Techniques for InterrogationsConclusion 5: In July 2002, the Office ofthe Secretary of Defense General Counsel solicitedinformation from the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) on SERE techniques for useduring interrogations. That solicitation, prompted by requests from Department ofDefenseGeneral Counsel William J. Haynes II, reflected the view that abusive tactics similar to thoseused by our enemies should be considered for use against detainees in U.S. custody.’Conclusion 6: The Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) interrogation program included at leastone SERE training technique, waterboarding. Senior Administration lawyers, including AlbertoUNCLASSIFIEDxxviUNCLASSIFIEDGonzales, Counsel to the President, and David Addington, Counsel to the Vice President, wereconsulted on the development oflegal analysis ofCIA interrogation techniques. Legal opinionssubsequently issued by the Department ofJustice’s Office ofLegal Counsel (OLC) interpretedlegal obligations under u.s. anti-torture laws and determined the legality ofCIA interrogationtechniques. Those OLC opinions distorted the meaning and intent ofanti-torture laws,rationalized the abuse ofdetainees in U.S. custody and influenced Department ofDefensedeterminations as to what interrogation techniques were legal for use during interrogationsconducted by u.s. military personnel. .Conclusions on JPRA Offensive ActivitiesConclusion 7: Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) efforts in support of”offensive”interrogation operations went beyond the agency’s knowledge and expertise. JPRA’s support toU.S. government interrogation efforts contributed to detainee abuse. JPRA’s offensive supportalso influenced the development ofpolicies that authorized abusive interrogation techniques foruse against detainees in U.S. custody.Conclusion 8: Detainee abuse occurred during JPRA’s support to Special Mission Unit (SMU)Task Force (TF) interrogation operations in Iraq in September 2003. JPRA Commander ColonelRandy Moulton’s authorization ofSERE instructors, who had no experience in detaineeinterrogations, to actively participate in Task Force interrogations using SERE resistance trainingtechniques was a serious failure in judgment. The Special Mission Unit Task ForceCommander’s failure to order that SERE resistance training techniques not be used in detaineeinterrogations was a serious failure in leadership that led to the abuse ofdetainees in Task Forcecustody. Iraq is a Geneva Convention theater and techniques used in SERE school areinconsistent with the obligations of U.S. personnel under the Geneva Conventions.Conclusion 9: Combatant Command requests for JPRA “offensive” interrogation support andU.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) authorization ofthat support led to JPRA operatingoutside the agency’s charter and beyond its expertise. Only when JFCOM’s StaffJudgeAdvocate became aware ofand raised concerns about JPRA’s support to offensive interrogationoperations in late September 2003 did JFCOM leadership begin to take steps to curtail JPRA’s”offensive” activities. It was not until September 2004, however, that JFCOM issued a formalpolicy stating that support to offensive interrogation operations was outside JPRA’s charter.Conclusions on GTMO’s Request for Ageressive TechniquesConclusion 10: Interrogation techniques in Guantanamo Bay’s (GTMO) October 11, 2002request for authority submitted by Major General Michael Dunlavey, were influenced by JPRAtraining for GTMO interrogation personnel and included techniques similar to those used inSERE training to teach U.S. personnel to resist abusive enemy interrogations. GTMO StaffJudge Advocate Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver’s legal review justifying the October 11, 2002GTMO request was profoundly in error and legally insufficient. Leaders at GTMO, includingMajor General Dunlavey’s successor, Major General Geoffrey Miller, ignored warnings fromUNCLASSIFIEDxxviiUNCLASSIFIEDDoD’s Criminal Investigative Task Force and the Federal Bureau ofInvestigation that thetechniques were potentially unlawful and that their use would strengthen detainee resistance.Conclusion 11: Chairman ofthe Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers’s decision to cutshort the legal and policy review ofthe October 11,2002 GTMO request initiated by his LegalCounsel, then-Captain Jane Dalton, undermined the military’s review process. Subsequentconclusions reached by Chairman Myers and Captain Dalton regarding the legality ofinterrogation techniques in the request followed a grossly deficient review and were at odds withconclusions previously reached by the Anny, Air Force, Marine Corps, and CriminalInvestigative Task Force.Conclusion 12: Department of Defense General Counsel William 1. Haynes II’s effort to cutshort the legal and policy review ofthe October 11,2002 GTMO request initiated by thenCaptainJane Dahon, Legal Counsel to the Chairman ofthe Joint Chiefs of Staff, wasinappropriate and undermined the military’s review process. The General Counsel’s subsequentreview was grossly deficient. Mr. Haynes’s one page recommendation to Secretary of DefenseDonald Rumsfeld failed to address the serious legal concerns that had been previously raised bythe military services about techniques in the GTMO request. Further, Mr. Haynes’s reliance on alegal memo produced by GTMO’s StaffJudge Advocate that senior military lawyers called”legally insufficient” and “woefully inadequate” is deeply troubling.Conclusion 13: Secretary ofDefense Donald Rumsfeld’s authorization ofaggressiveinterrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay was a direct cause of detainee abuse there.Secretary Rumsfeld’s December 2,2002 approval of Mr. Haynes’s recommendation that most ofthe techniques contained in GTMO’s October 11, 2002 request be authorized, influenced andcontributed to the use ofabusive techniques, including military working dogs, forced nudity, andstress positions, in Afghanistan and Iraq.Conclusion 14: Department of Defense General Counsel William 1. Haynes II’s direction to theDepartment of Defense’s Detainee Working Group in early 2003 to consider a legal memo fromJohn Yoo ofthe Department of Justice’s OLC as authoritative, blocked the Working Group fromconducting a fair and complete legal analysis and resulted in a report that, in the words ofthenDepartmentofthe Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora contained “profound mistakes in itslegal analysis.” Reliance on the OLC memo resulted in a final Working Group report thatrecommended approval of several aggressive techniques, including removal of clothing, sleepdeprivation, and slapping, similar to those used in SERE training to teach U. S. personnel to resistabusive interrogations.Conclusions on Interrogations in Iraq and AfghanistanConclusion 15: Special Mission Unit (SMU) Task Force (TF) interrogation policies wereinfluenced by the Secretary ofDefense’s December 2,2002 approval ofaggressive interrogationteclmiques for use at GTMO. SMU TF interrogation policies in Iraq included the use ofaggressive interrogation techniques such as military working dogs and stress positions. SMU TFUNCLASSIFIEDxxviiiUNCLASSIFIEDpolicies were a direct cause of detainee abuse and influenced interrogation policies at AbuGhraib and elsewhere in Iraq.Conclusion 16: During his assessment visit to Iraq in August and September 2003, GTMOCommander Major General Geoffrey Miller encouraged a view that interrogators should be moreaggressive during detainee interrogations.Conclusion 17: Interrogation policies approved by Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, whichincluded the use ofmilitary working dogs and stress positions, were a direct cause of detaineeabuse in Iraq. Lieutenant General Sanchez’s decision to issue his September 14,2003 policywith the knowledge that there were ongoing discussions as to the legality of some techniques init was a serious error in judgment The September policy was superseded on October 12,2003as a result oflegal concerns raised by U.S. Central Command. That superseding policy,however, contained ambiguities and contributed to confusion about whether aggressivetechniques, such as military working dogs, were authorized for use during interrogations.Conclusion 18: U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) failed to conduct proper oversight ofSpecial Mission Unit Task Force interrogation policies. Though aggressive interrogationtechniques were removed from Combined Joint Task Force 7 interrogation policies afterCENTCOM raised legal concerns about their inclusion in the September 14, 2003 policy issuedby Lieutenant General Sanchez, SMU TF interrogation policies authorized some ofthose sametechniques, including stress positions and military working dogs.Conclusion 19: The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of afew soldiers acting on their own. Interrogation techniques such as stripping detainees oftheirclothes, placing them in stress positions, and using military working dogs to intimidate themappeared in Iraq only after they had been approved for use in Afghanistan and at GTMO.Secretary ofDefense Donald Rumsfeld’s December 2,2002 authorization ofaggressiveinterrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by seniormilitary and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation wereappropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody. What followed was an erosion instandards dictating that detainees be treated humanely.
Find this story at 20 November 2008
I interrogated the top terrorist in US custody. Then the CIA came to town
15 december 2014
The Senate report exposed an orchestrated campaign of deception and lies while I was an FBI agent. But here’s the worst part: the lies haven’t stopped
In the middle of my interrogation of the high-ranking terrorist Abu Zubaydah at a black-site prison 12 years ago, my intelligence work wasn’t just cut short for so-called enhanced interrogation techniques to begin. After I left the black site, those who took over left, too – for 47 days. For personal time and to “confer with headquarters”.
For nearly the entire summer of 2002, Abu Zubaydah was kept in isolation. That was valuable lost time, and that doesn’t square with claims about the “ticking bomb scenarios” that were the basis for America’s enhanced interrogation program, or with the commitment to getting life-saving, actionable intelligence from valuable detainees. The techniques were justified by those who said Zubaydah “stopped all cooperation” around the time my fellow FBI agent and I left. If Zubaydah was in isolation the whole time, that’s not really a surprise.
One of the hardest things we struggled to make sense of, back then, was why US officials were authorizing harsh techniques when our interrogations were working and their harsh techniques weren’t. The answer, as the long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee report now makes clear, is that the architects of the program were taking credit for our success, from the unmasking of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind of 9/11 to the uncovering of the “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla. The claims made by government officials for years about the efficacy of “enhanced interrogation”, in secret memos and in public, are false. “Enhanced interrogation” doesn’t work.
It’s maddening enough to learn that while we were working around the clock and often under dangerous circumstances, from Yemen to Afghanistan, the “enhanced” interrogators took the weeks off from interrogating the only high-value detainee in American custody. And the entire Senate report makes for painful reading. But not just because of the new details on the futility of those techniques and the orchestrated campaign of deception and lies told about their efficiency. The hardest part about the report is what it doesn’t answer: How do we prevent this from happening again?
At the time, I witnessed some CIA officials objecting to what was happening – and I watched them leave. What I learned from the report is that so many more officials were objecting to harsh interrogations through their official channels – they were just ignored. Memos in the report show that those responsible “marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program”. The report says that tears were shed, and knowing the officials who shed them, I know those were tears over lost time and lost intelligence – and lost American values.
Those responsible for the program have tried to portray this as a CIA-versus-FBI matter, or as a debate between those who will do whatever it takes to defend the homeland versus those with softer hearts. The reality is that these techniques endangered our homeland. They didn’t work. We lost valuable time – years of time. Intelligence that could have been gained wasn’t. And plots that could have been stopped weren’t.
The sad truth is that today there are more people around the world who follow the ideology Osama bin Laden espoused than there were before 9/11. America’s turn to the dark side damaged our reputation and played into our enemy’s narrative.
The responses in defense of the program are predictable. Those at the top who authorized the program, or who didn’t do the do diligence they should have, are defensive because they are embarrassed – and they should be. They really owe an apology to the American people.
These officials are so committed to their narrative they haven’t paid attention to reality.
What amuses me most about their continued defense of what they did is that they’re still wrong. Within minutes of the report’s release, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by three former CIA directors, and they still called Abu Zubaydah a senior al-Qaida operative. This error is, in many ways, a microcosm for everything that went wrong. When the agency’s contractors arrived at that black site, they said that as Abu Zubaydah was giving us information, he wasn’t fully cooperating because he wasn’t admitting to being the number three in al-Qaida.
We knew Abu Zubaydah’s background well: We had been investigating terrorist attacks in which he was involved in Jordan and terrorists who had come through his training camp. The reality is that Abu Zubaydah was an independent operator with close ties to al-Qaida, but he was never a member. He had actually tried to join earlier on in his career, but al-Qaida deemed him unstable; later, when they wanted him to join, Abu Zubaydah refused.
We pointed this out at the time, but the “enhanced” interrogators refused to listen. A few years ago, very quietly, the US government changed its claims about Abu Zubaydah, reflecting the reality that he was never a member.
If such a basic fact is still misunderstood by former directors of the CIA and others – about a terrorist subjected to America’s harsh techniques, and who was the basis for using them on others – it’s no wonder the debate isn’t closed. These officials are so committed to their narrative they haven’t paid attention to reality.
This is why reading the Senate report is so painful. What it does provide is great detail on our failures and shortcomings. What it doesn’t do is prevent them from happening again. That isn’t the responsibility of Senate investigators; that is the responsibility of the president of the United States. Upon the release of the report, President Obama pledged that it would never again happen under his watch. He’s only got two more years left on the clock. He has the responsibility to ensure something like this never happens again.
Ali Soufan, Friday 12 December 2014 12.15 GMT
Find this story at 12 December 2014
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‘A LOT OF THESE GOMERS DIDN’T KNOW SHIT’: FORMER CIA OFFICER ON TORTURE REPORT
15 december 2014
The whole question of torture could have been avoided if the military had “just killed all these guys when they were captured on the battlefield,” when no one would have noticed, a former senior CIA officer told me over lunch today.
I set up an interview a few weeks ago with him to talk about the situation in Iraq. When we met today, naturally the subject of the Senate’s report on torture came up. He’s pretty hardline on military issues, as you’d expect.
In his view, torture is worse than killing people, because it doesn’t work, which was obvious before the release of the Senate report and further confirmed by it. A person being tortured will tell you anything you want to hear, even if it’s all lies, and a lot of the victims had to lie because they didn’t have valuable information to begin with.
“It doesn’t matter what tactics you use, you’re not going to get information if people don’t know anything and most of these Gomers didn’t know shit,” he said. “Who in the leadership was stupid enough to think they would? Why would these guys have detailed knowledge about plans and targeting? Even if they were hard-core jihadis who took part in operations, that doesn’t mean they would have knowledge of upcoming attacks.”
Once the U.S. went into “the business of interrogation,” U.S. allies in the “war on terror” were encouraged to hand over suspects — and they did, no matter how flimsy the evidence. Lots of others were turned in by bounty hunters. And of course we know that a lot of people falsely dimed out their personal enemies or political rivals.
Torture grew inevitably out of the militarization of the CIA that took place after 9/11, this former CIA officer said, when the agency was tasked with obtaining information to support battlefield needs. “That’s important but it’s tactical information and the military’s intelligence agencies should handle that,” he said. “The agency became more involved in interrogation than intelligence gathering. There’s a whole generation of young officers who think that intelligence gathering is getting information out of a guy shackled to a chair.”
The former CIA officer said he personally liked George Tenet “but he was a shitty DCI” and he is responsible for many of the agency’s post-9/11 failures. “The president should’ve demanded the heads of people. But to Bush, George [Tenet] was a good guy and it wasn’t his fault,” he said. “Fine, it wasn’t all his fault but it was partly his fault and there was no way the agency could move forward when the guys at the helm were all trying to escape responsibility for 9/11.”
At the same time, he said Senate Democrats are being totally disingenuous about their own role in tacitly condoning torture. They gave Bush a blank check when it was politically convenient and now they’re pretending to be shocked about what happened: “I’m familiar with congressional oversight and there’s no way people on the intelligence committees and in the leadership didn’t generally know what was going on. There’s no conceivable circumstances under which they wouldn’t have known. It’s like that scene from Casablanca, they had no idea. They’re lying.”
BY KEN SILVERSTEIN WEDNESDAY AT 11:55 PM
Find this story at 10 December 2014
CIA not in contempt over interrogation tapes, judge says (2011)
15 december 2014
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A judge on Monday refused to find the CIA acted in contempt when it destroyed videotapes that showed harsh interrogations of two suspects.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein told a Manhattan federal court hearing that efforts by the CIA to improve how it preserves documents was enough restitution, and that it should pay legal fees to the plaintiffs, the American Civil Liberties Union.
“I don’t think a citation of contempt will add to anything,” Hellerstein said.
In December 2007, the CIA acknowledged destroying dozens of videotapes made under a detention program begun after the September 11 attacks. The interrogations, in 2002, were of alleged al Qaeda members Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
Until 2007, the CIA had publicly denied the tapes ever existed. They were destroyed in 2005.
A probe by a special federal prosecutor last year found that no CIA personnel should face criminal charges for destroying the videotapes.
Monday’s decision came after years of legal battles between the CIA and the ACLU, which first sued the agency in 2004 to obtain documents on its treatment of prisoners.
When news of the tapes surfaced, the ACLU said the CIA and its chief spy at the time had acted in contempt of court by trashing tapes that should have been preserved under a court order following the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
By destroying the tapes, the CIA showed disrespect for the court, said Lawrence Lustberg, an attorney for the ACLU.
Although the CIA failed in not disclosing and preserving the tapes, Judge Hellerstein said: “The bottom line is we are in a dangerous world. We need our spies, we need surveillance, but we also need accountability.”
As part of that accountability, the judge on Monday asked the CIA to detail the new policies it says it has implemented since the tapes were destroyed.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tara La Morte, arguing for the CIA, said the CIA’s new policies were “above and beyond” what the court required and that the ACLU was “out to exact retribution on the CIA.”
“I don’t think that’s correct,” the judge interrupted.
(Editing by Greg McCune)
Mon, Aug 1 2011
By Basil Katz
Find this story at 1 August 2011
© Thomson Reuters 2011.