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  • “24’s” phony history exposed: The dark history of a CIA “black site”

    Diego Garcia has been mythologized by American pop culture. Its true story is stranger (and bleaker) than fiction

    “24’s” phony history exposed: The dark history of a CIA “black site”
    This piece originally appeared on TomDispatch.
    First, they tried to shoot the dogs. Next, they tried to poison them with strychnine. When both failed as efficient killing methods, British government agents and U.S. Navy personnel used raw meat to lure the pets into a sealed shed. Locking them inside, they gassed the howling animals with exhaust piped in from U.S. military vehicles. Then, setting coconut husks ablaze, they burned the dogs’ carcasses as their owners were left to watch and ponder their own fate.

    The truth about the U.S. military base on the British-controlled Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia is often hard to believe. It would be easy enough to confuse the real story with fictional accounts of the island found in the Transformers movies, on the television series 24, and in Internet conspiracy theories about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

    While the grim saga of Diego Garcia frequently reads like fiction, it has proven all too real for the people involved. It’s the story of a U.S. military base built on a series of real-life fictions told by U.S. and British officials over more than half a century. The central fiction is that the U.S. built its base on an “uninhabited” island. That was “true” only because the indigenous people were secretly exiled from the Chagos Archipelago when the base was built. Although their ancestors had lived there since the time of the American Revolution, Anglo-American officials decided, as one wrote, to “maintain the fiction that the inhabitants of Chagos [were] not a permanent or semi-permanent population,” but just “transient contract workers.” The same official summed up the situation bluntly: “We are able to make up the rules as we go along.”

    And so they did: between 1968 and 1973, American officials conspired with their British colleagues to remove the Chagossians, carefully hiding their expulsion from Congress, Parliament, the U.N., and the media. During the deportations, British agents and members of a U.S. Navy construction battalion rounded up and killed all those pet dogs. Their owners were then deported to the western Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles, 1,200 miles from their homeland, where they received no resettlement assistance. More than 40 years after their expulsion, Chagossians generally remain the poorest of the poor in their adopted lands, struggling to survive in places that outsiders know as exotic tourist destinations.

    During the same period, Diego Garcia became a multi-billion-dollar Navy and Air Force base and a central node in U.S. military efforts to control the Greater Middle East and its oil and natural gas supplies. The base, which few Americans are aware of, is more important strategically and more secretive than the U.S. naval base-cum-prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Unlike Guantánamo, no journalist has gotten more than a glimpse of Diego Garcia in more than 30 years. And yet, it has played a key role in waging the Gulf War, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, and the current bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

    Following years of reports that the base was a secret CIA “black site” for holding terrorist suspects and years of denials by U.S. and British officials, leaders on both sides of the Atlantic finally fessed up in 2008. “Contrary to earlier explicit assurances,” said Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband, Diego Garcia had indeed played at least some role in the CIA’s secret “rendition” program.

    Last year, British officials claimed that flight log records, which might have shed light on those rendition operations, were “incomplete due to water damage” thanks to “extremely heavy weather in June 2014.” A week later, they suddenly reversed themselves, saying that the “previously wet paper records have been dried out.” Two months later, they insisted the logs had not dried out at all and were “damaged to the point of no longer being useful.” Except that the British government’s own weather data indicates that June 2014 was an unusually dry month on Diego Garcia. A legal rights advocate said British officials “could hardly be less credible if they simply said ‘the dog ate my homework.’”

    And these are just a few of the fictions underlying the base that occupies the Chagossians’ former home and that the U.S. military has nicknamed the “Footprint of Freedom.” After more than four decades of exile, however, with a Chagossian movement to return to their homeland growing, the fictions of Diego Garcia may finally be crumbling.

    No “Tarzans”

    The story of Diego Garcia begins in the late eighteenth century. At that time, enslaved peoples from Africa, brought to work on Franco-Mauritian coconut plantations, became the first settlers in the Chagos Archipelago. Following emancipation and the arrival of indentured laborers from India, a diverse mixture of peoples created a new society with its own language, Chagos Kreol. They called themselves the Ilois — the Islanders.

    While still a plantation society, the archipelago, by then under British colonial control, provided a secure life featuring universal employment and numerous social benefits on islands described by many as idyllic. “That beautiful atoll of Diego Garcia, right in the middle of the ocean,” is how Stuart Barber described it in the late 1950s. A civilian working for the U.S. Navy, Barber would become the architect of one of the most powerful U.S. military bases overseas.

    Amid Cold War competition with the Soviet Union, Barber and other officials were concerned that there was almost no U.S. military presence in and around the Indian Ocean. Barber noted that Diego Garcia’s isolation — halfway between Africa and Indonesia and 1,000 miles south of India — ensured that it would be safe from attack, yet was still within striking distance of territory from southern Africa and the Middle East to South and Southeast Asia.

    Guided by Barber’s idea, the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson convinced the British government to detach the Chagos Archipelago from colonial Mauritius and create a new colony, which they called the British Indian Ocean Territory. Its sole purpose would be to house U.S. military facilities.

    During secret negotiations with their British counterparts, Pentagon and State Department officials insisted that Chagos come under their “exclusive control (without local inhabitants),” embedding an expulsion order in a polite-looking parenthetical phrase. U.S. officials wanted the islands “swept” and “sanitized.” British officials appeared happy to oblige, removing a people one official called “Tarzans” and, in a racist reference toRobinson Crusoe, “Man Fridays.”

    “Absolutely Must Go”

    This plan was confirmed with an “exchange of notes” signed on December 30, 1966, by U.S. and British officials, as one of the State Department negotiators told me, “under the cover of darkness.” The notes effectively constituted a treaty but required no Congressional or Parliamentary approval, meaning that both governments could keep their plans hidden.

    According to the agreement, the United States would gain use of the new colony “without charge.” This was another fiction. In confidential minutes, the United States agreed to secretly wipe out a $14 million British military debt, circumventing the need to ask Congress for funding. In exchange, the British agreed to take the “administrative measures” necessary for “resettling the inhabitants.”

    Those measures meant that, after 1967, any Chagossians who left home for medical treatment or a routine vacation in Mauritius were barred from returning. Soon, British officials began restricting the flow of food and medical supplies to Chagos. As conditions deteriorated, more islanders began leaving. By 1970, the U.S. Navy had secured funding for what officials told Congress would be an “austere communications station.” They were, however, already planning to ask for additional funds to expand the facility into a much larger base. As the Navy’s Office of Communications and Cryptology explained, “The communications requirements cited as justification are fiction.” By the 1980s, Diego Garcia would become a billion-dollar garrison.

    In briefing papers delivered to Congress, the Navy described Chagos’s population as “negligible,” with the islands “for all practical purposes… uninhabited.” In fact, there were around 1,000 people on Diego Garcia in the 1960s and 500 to 1,000 more on other islands in the archipelago. With Congressional funds secured, the Navy’s highest-ranking admiral, Elmo Zumwalt, summed up the Chagossians’ fate in a 1971 memo of exactly three words: “Absolutely must go.”

    The authorities soon ordered the remaining Chagossians — generally allowed no more than a single box of belongings and a sleeping mat — onto overcrowded cargo ships destined for Mauritius and the Seychelles. By 1973, the last Chagossians were gone.

    “Abject Poverty”

    At their destinations, most of the Chagossians were literally left on the docks, homeless, jobless, and with little money. In 1975, two years after the last removals, a Washington Post reporter found them living in “abject poverty.”

    Aurélie Lisette Talate was one of the last to go. “I came to Mauritius with six children and my mother,” she told me. “We got our house… but the house didn’t have a door, didn’t have running water, didn’t have electricity. And then my children and I began to suffer. All my children started getting sick.”

    Within two months, two of her children were dead. The second was buried in an unmarked grave because she lacked money for a proper burial. Aurélie experienced fainting spells herself and couldn’t eat. “We were living like animals. Land? We had none… Work? We had none. Our children weren’t going to school.”

    Today, most Chagossians, who now number more than 5,000, remain impoverished. In their language, their lives are ones of lamizer (impoverished misery) and sagren (profound sorrow and heartbreak over being exiled from their native lands). Many of the islanders attribute sickness and even death tosagren. “I had something that had been affecting me for a long time, since we were uprooted,” was the way Aurélie explained it to me. “This sagren, this shock, it was this same problem that killed my child. We weren’t living free like we did in our natal land.”

    Struggling for Justice

    From the moment they were deported, the Chagossians demanded to be returned or at least properly resettled. After years of protest, including five hunger strikes led by women like Aurélie Talate, some in Mauritius received the most modest of compensation from the British government: small concrete houses, tiny plots of land, and about $6,000 per adult. Many used the money to pay off large debts they had accrued. For most, conditions improved only marginally. Those living in the Seychelles received nothing.

    The Chagossian struggle was reinvigorated in 1997 with the launching of alawsuit against the British government. In November 2000, the British High Court ruled the removal illegal. In 2001 and 2002, most Chagossians joined new lawsuits in both American and British courts demanding the right to return and proper compensation for their removal and for resettling their islands. The U.S. suit was ultimately dismissed on the grounds that the judiciary can’t, in most circumstances, overrule the executive branch on matters of military and foreign policy. In Britain, the Chagossians were more successful. In 2002, they secured the right to full U.K. citizenship. Over 1,000 Chagossians have since moved to Britain in search of better lives. Twice more, British courts ruled in the people’s favor, with judges calling the government’s behavior “repugnant” and an “abuse of power.”

    On the government’s final appeal, however, Britain’s then highest court, the Law Lords in the House of Lords, upheld the exile in a 3-2 decision. The Chagossians appealed to the European Court of Human Rights to overturn the ruling.

    A Green Fiction

    Before the European Court could rule, the British government announced the creation of the world’s largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Chagos Archipelago. The date of the announcement, April Fool’s Day 2010, should have been a clue that there was more than environmentalism behind the move. The MPA banned commercial fishing and limited other human activity in the archipelago, endangering the viability of any resettlement efforts.

    And then came WikiLeaks. In December 2010, it released a State Departmentcable from the U.S. Embassy in London quoting a senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office official saying that the “former inhabitants would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue their claim for resettlement on the islands if the entire Chagos Archipelago were a marine reserve.” U.S. officials agreed. According to the Embassy, Political Counselor Richard Mills wrote, “Establishing a marine reserve might, indeed… be the most effective long-term way to prevent any of the Chagos Islands’ former inhabitants or their descendants from resettling.”

    Not surprisingly, the main State Department concern was whether the MPA would affect base operations. “We are concerned,” the London Embassy noted, that some “would come to see the existence of a marine reserve as inherently inconsistent with the military use of Diego Garcia.” British officials assured the Americans there would be “no constraints on military operations.”

    Although the European Court of Human Rights ultimately ruled against the Chagossians in 2013, this March, a U.N. tribunal found that the British government had violated international law in creating the Marine Protected Area. Next week, Chagossians will challenge the MPA and their expulsion before the British Supreme Court (now Britain’s highest) armed with the U.N. ruling and revelations that the government won its House of Lords decision with the help of a fiction-filled resettlement study.

    Meanwhile, the European Parliament has passed a resolution calling for the Chagossians’ return, the African Union has condemned their deportation as unlawful, three Nobel laureates have spoken out on their behalf, and dozens of members of the British Parliament have joined a group supporting their struggle. In January, a British government “feasibility study” found no significant legal barriers to resettling the islands and outlined several possible resettlement plans, beginning with Diego Garcia. (Notably, Chagossians are not calling for the removal of the U.S. military base. Their opinions about it are diverse and complicated. At least some would prefer jobs on the base to lives of poverty and unemployment in exile.)

    Of course, no study was needed to know that resettlement on Diego Garcia and in the rest of the archipelago is feasible. The base, which has hosted thousands of military and civilian personnel for more than 40 years, has demonstrated that well enough. In fact, Stuart Barber, its architect, came to the same conclusion in the years before his death. After he learned of the Chagossians’ fate, he wrote a series of impassioned letters to Human Rights Watch and the British Embassy in Washington, among others, imploring them to help the Chagossians return home. In a letter to Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, he said bluntly that the expulsion “wasn’t necessary militarily.”

    In a 1991 letter to the Washington Post, Barber suggested that it was time “to redress the inexcusably inhuman wrongs inflicted by the British at our insistence.” He added, “Substantial additional compensation for 18-25 past years of misery for all evictees is certainly in order. Even if that were to cost $100,000 per family, we would be talking of a maximum of $40-50 million, modest compared with our base investment there.”

    Almost a quarter-century later, nothing has yet been done. In 2016, the initial 50-year agreement for Diego Garcia will expire. While it is subject to an automatic 20-year renewal, it provides for a two-year renegotiation period, which commenced in late 2014. With momentum building in support of the Chagossians, they are optimistic that the two governments will finally correct this historic injustice. That U.S. officials allowed the British feasibility study to consider resettlement plans for Diego Garcia is a hopeful sign that Anglo-American policy may finally be shifting to right a great wrong in the Indian Ocean.

    Unfortunately, Aurélie Talate will never see the day when her people go home. Like others among the rapidly dwindling number of Chagossians born in the archipelago, Aurélie died in 2012 at age 70, succumbing to the heartbreak that is sagren.

    TUESDAY, JUN 16, 2015 10:45 AM +0200

    Find this story at 16 June 2015

    Copyright © 2015 Salon Media Group, Inc.

    Diego Garcia: UK Delays Publication of Flight Records Which May Hold Truth About CIA Activities

    The UK Foreign Office (FCO) has further delayed publication of flight records for Diego Garcia, following disclosures by a senior Bush administration official that interrogations took place at a CIA black site on the British island.

    FCO officials are “still assessing the suitability of the full flight records for publication”, nine months after they were first requested from the government by human rights NGO Reprieve.

    Campaigners believe that the logs — written records of all flights landing on and leaving the atoll — could provide crucial, previously undisclosed details of flights involved in the intelligence agency’s post-9/11 rendition and torture program.

    ‘It is now over seven years since the UK government was forced to admit that CIA torture flights were allowed to use the British territory of Diego Garcia, yet we still seem no closer to the publication of flight records which could provide crucial evidence of what went on.’
    However, the UK government has so far declined to publish the logs, and has dismissed the new claims made by a former senior Bush administration official — published by VICE News — that the CIA did in fact detain prisoners on Diego Garcia, despite years of assurances from British ministers to the contrary.

    “We have responded publicly in recent years to previous claims,” wrote Hugo Swire, the FCO minister of state, in a letter to Reprieve. “However, Colonel Wilkerson has not presented any new evidence to support his allegation that detainees were held on Diego Garcia.”

    Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, told VICE News in January that the island was home to “a transit site where people were temporarily housed, let us say, and interrogated from time to time.” His information came from four well-placed CIA and intelligence sources, he said.

    Related: Exclusive: CIA interrogations took place on British territory of Diego Garcia, Senior Bush administration official says. Read more here

    Swire said that the British government “seeks regular reassurance from the US government” on renditions, in the letter dated March 3.

    “All previous assurances on transfer of detainees provided by the US government since 2008 remain valid and correct,” Swire wrote.

    “Whilst I am not able to make public the details of diplomatic correspondence, I can confirm that the most recent assurances were received this month.”

    Swire did not explain whether the FCO contacted the US in direct response to Wilkerson’s disclosures, but did say that the most recent assurances were made “after Colonel Wilkerson’s claims were made.”

    Donald Campbell of Reprieve said the publication of the flight logs was necessary to reassure the public that Britain is not involved in a cover-up of torture evidence.

    “It is now over seven years since the UK government was forced to admit that CIA torture flights were allowed to use the British territory of Diego Garcia,” he said, “yet we still seem no closer to the publication of flight records which could provide crucial evidence of what went on.

    “Last summer, after the records reportedly suffered ‘accidental’ water damage, ministers promised that they were ‘assessing their suitability for publication.’ Eight months later, they say they are still ‘assessing.’ It is hard to see how such a long delay could be justified.”

    It is far from the first time that Diego Garcia’s role in the CIA’s post-9/11 rendition and torture program has been disputed.

    The tiny atoll in the Indian Ocean, which has been leased to the US for use as a military base since 1966, has been the subject of CIA torture program claims and counter-claims stretching back more than a decade. The release of the Senate Intelligence Committee torture report in December confirmed that the CIA did operate a post-9/11 global rendition and torture program, with secret prisons all over the world — but the heavily redacted document did not reveal whether Diego Garcia was a part of the CIA’s international network of black sites.

    The UK’s changing position on Diego Garcia’s unpublished flight records

    The British government says it has received repeated assurances from the US that no CIA rendition flights landed on Diego Garcia — bar two rendition planes which stopped briefly to refuel in 2002.

    The government has been slow to release flight logs for the atoll, however, and the position of the Foreign Office in relation to the records has shifted as pressure for them to be released has grown.

    February 21 2008: The UK admits that two rendition flights stopped over on Diego Garcia to refuel.

    David Miliband, then the foreign secretary, tells parliament he is “very sorry indeed” to report that contrary to earlier assurances, two rendition flights carrying a single detainee each did, in fact, land on Diego Garcia.

    July 2008: … but the UK claims that records on these two flights — and for the whole of 2002 — are no longer held.

    Miliband tells the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) that records “are unfortunately no longer held for the period when the two cases of rendition occurred [2002],” because they are generally only held for up to five years.

    June 26 2014: NGO Reprieve asks the foreign secretary whether flight records from 2002 onwards are held…

    Reprieve writes to William Hague, who has by then taken over as foreign secretary, asking: “Can you confirm whether the government holds monthly statistics of flights through D[iego] G[arcia] from January 2002 onwards; daily logs from October 2002 onwards; and general aviation reports from January 2004 onwards? And can you confirm that all planes and flights recorded in all these logs and statistics have been investigated, and discounted as being possible rendition flights?”

    July 8 2014: …and the Foreign Office says they are held, but 2002 flight records are incomplete due to ‘water damage.’

    Mark Simmonds, a Foreign Office minister, tells members of parliament (MPs) that “though there are some limited records from 2002, I understand they are incomplete due to water damage.”

    July 14 2014: … but then the foreign secretary says he believes that there’s actually a complete set of flight logs for 2002.

    Hague replies to Reprieve’s letter saying that actually only a small number of flight records have been irretrievably damaged: “I am satisfied that for the period you are asking about, we have a complete set of information about types of aircraft, passenger and crew numbers landing and departing Diego Garcia.”

    July 15 2014: The Foreign Office confirms that the water damaged 2002 flight records have not been lost after all — because they’ve “dried out.”

    Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds tells MPs that water-damaged records have “dried out”: “Since my answer of 8 July, BIOT [British Indian Ocean Territory] immigration officials have conducted a fuller inspection, and previously wet paper records have been dried out. They report that no flight records have been lost as a result of the water damage.”

    He says that “a small number of immigration arrival cards from 2004” have been damaged, however.

    August 19 2014: The Foreign Office says that not all flight records from 2002 onwards are complete, but they should be able to get a full set anyway.

    Responding to a letter from Reprieve asking for clarification on which flight records are damaged, Philip Hammond, now foreign secretary, writes: “The Administration of the British Indian Ocean Territory holds several different types of record about flights entering the territory, though not all of these are complete for the period you are referring to. By combining different types of records, we are confident we can establish what types of aircraft landed on a particular day, and passenger and crew numbers on these aircraft, for the period since 2002.”

    September 4 2014: It turns out the heavy weather that damaged the records wasn’t so heavy after all…

    VICE News obtains the government’s own records which show that the so-called “extremely heavy weather” in June 2002 amounted to 3.25 inches of rainfall — considerably less than the average for that month.

    “I don’t think it’s very helpful for us to have a discussion about how much rain is a lot of rain,” a FCO spokesperson told VICE.

    By Ben Bryant
    April 8, 2015 | 1:15 pm

    Find this story at 8 April 2015

    Copyright https://news.vice.com/

    CIA interrogated suspects on Diego Garcia, says Colin Powell aide

    Lawrence Wilkerson is the latest of a number of US officials to say British territory was used in CIA rendition programme

    The UK government is facing renewed pressure to make a full disclosure of its involvement in the CIA’s post-9/11 kidnap and torture programme after another leading Bush-era US official said suspects were held and interrogated on the British territory of Diego Garcia.

    Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to Colin Powell at the US state department, said the Indian Ocean atoll was used by the CIA as “a transit site where people were temporarily housed, let us say, and interrogated from time to time”.

    In an interview with Vice News, Wilkerson said three US intelligence sources had informed him that the CIA used Diego Garcia for what he described as “nefarious activities”, with prisoners being held for weeks at a time.

    “What I heard was more along the lines of using it as a transit location when perhaps other places were full or other places were deemed too dangerous or insecure, or unavailable at the moment,” said Wilkerson, who served under Powell from 2002 to 2005.

    “So you might have a case where you simply go in and use a facility at Diego Garcia for a month or two weeks or whatever and you do your nefarious activities there.”

    Donald Campbell, spokesman for the legal rights group Reprieve, said: “We already know Diego Garcia was used for CIA renditions, yet over a decade on the British government has yet to own up to the full part the island played in the CIA’s torture programme.

    “Ministers have consistently claimed that no CIA detainees were held on the island, but Col Wilkerson’s account suggests that either they are lying or they have been lied to. It is high time the British government came clean over the part UK territory played in the CIA’s shameful torture programme.”

    Diego Garcia’s population was removed during the late 1960s and early 70s and forced to settle on the Seychelles and Mauritius. Since then the atoll has been leased by the UK to the US for use as a military base.

    Wilkerson is the latest of a number of well-placed officials who have said that after 9/11 the atoll was also used in the CIA rendition programme.

    Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star American general, has twice spoken publicly about the use of Diego Garcia to detain suspects.

    Manfred Nowak, a former United Nations special rapporteur on torture, has said he has heard from reliable sources that the US held prisoners on ships in the Indian Ocean.

    Dick Marty, a Swiss senator who led a Council of Europe investigation into the CIA’s use of European territory and air space, said he received confirmation of the use of the atoll. He later said he received the assistance of some CIA officers during his investigation.

    There also is a wealth of circumstantial evidence to suggest that Diego Garcia was used in the so-called rendition programme.

    There have been reports that an al-Qaida terrorist known as Hambali, who was suspected of involvement in the 2002 Bali bombing in which 202 people died, was taken to Diego Garcia to be interrogated following his capture in August 2003. A report in Time magazine quoted a regional intelligence official as saying he was being interrogated there two months after his detention.

    An American detention facility of some sort is known to exist on Diego Garcia. In 1984 a review by the US government’s general accounting office of construction work on the atoll reported that a detention facility had been completed the previous December.

    According to answers given to parliamentary questions, British military officials – who are nominally in command of the atoll – re-designated another building as a prison three months after the September 11 attacks.

    In the past, Tony Blair, as prime minister, and Jack Straw, as foreign secretary, both denied the use of the atoll during the rendition programme, but these denials were contradicted by David Miliband, one of Straw’s successors, who told parliament in February 2008 that information had “just come to light” to show that two rendition flights stopped there to refuel.

    That statement was made after human rights organisations obtained flight data showing that two aircraft closely involved in the CIA’s rendition programme had flown into and out of Diego Garcia.

    A number of sources in the US have said there were a number of references to the CIA’s use of Diego Garcia in the report on the agency’s use of torture that was published last month by the US Senate intelligence committee.

    Since then the UK Foreign Office has evaded a series of media inquiries about Diego Garcia and about the report, and has instead responded with a stock response.

    Asked about Wilkerson’s comments, a spokesperson issued the same statement: “The US government has assured us that apart from the two cases in 2002 there have been no other instances in which US intelligence flights landed in the UK, our overseas territories, or the crown dependencies with a detainee on board since 11 September 2001.”

    The Foreign Office has also performed a number of twists and turns when asked questions about the fate of flight and immigration records relating to Diego Garcia.

    Last July the Foreign Office minister Mark Simmonds told Andrew Tyrie, the Tory MP who has been investigating the UK’s involvement in the rendition programme for almost a decade, that daily records were “incomplete” due to water damage.

    The following day, however, a Foreign Office official was photographed in Whitehall carrying a batch of emails that showed that Scotland Yard detectives had taken possession of “monthly log showing flight details” and “daily records [obscured] month of alleged rendition”.

    A few days later, Simmonds told MPs that “previously wet paper records have been dried out”, and that “no flight records have been lost as a result of the water damage”.

    Two months after that, the Foreign Office told the Commons foreign affairs committee that a number of immigration records relating to civilians landing on Diego Garcia “have been damaged to the point of no longer being useful”.

    Ian Cobain
    Friday 30 January 2015 17.11 GMT Last modified on Saturday 31 January 2015 00.08 GMT

    Find this story at 30 January 2015

    © 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited

    MI5 says rendition of Libyan opposition leaders strengthened al-Qaida

    Intelligence assessment concludes abduction of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi allowed dissident group to be taken over by exponents of al-Qaida
    Abdel Hakim Belhaj

    A secret UK-Libyan rendition programme in which two Libyan opposition leaders were kidnapped and flown to Tripoli along with their families had the effect of strengthening al-Qaida, according to an assessment by the UK security service, MI5.

    Prior to their kidnap, Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi had ensured that their organisation, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), focused on the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi, the classified assessment says. Once handed over to the Gaddafi regime, their places at the head of the LIFG were taken by others who wanted to bring the group closer to al-Qaida.

    The two men were seized in Thailand and Hong Kong in March 2004 with the assistance of the UK’s intelligence service MI6, and were “rendered” to Tripoli along with Belhaj’s pregnant wife and Saadi’s wife and four children, the youngest a girl aged six.

    In an assessment made 11 months later, MI5 concluded that the capture of the pair had cast the group “into a state of disarray”, adding: “While these senior-ranking members have always jealously guarded the independence of the LIFG, providing it with a clear command structure and set goals, the group is now coming under pressure from outside influences.

    “In particular, reporting indicates that members including Abu Laith al-Libi and Abdallah al-Ghaffar may be pushing the group towards a more pan-Islamic agenda inspired by AQ [al-Qaida].”

    Two years after MI5 made this assessment, Libi announced the LIFG had formally joined forces with al-Qaida. He became a leading member of the merged organisation and is believed to have orchestrated a series of suicide bomb attacks across Afghanistan, including one in 2007 that killed 23 people at Bagram airfield north of Kabul during a visit by then US vice-president Dick Cheney. Libi was killed in a drone strike the following year.

    The classified MI5 intelligence assessment was among hundreds of highly sensitive Libyan and British files that were discovered in official buildings that had been abandoned during the 2011 revolution that led to the overthrow and death of Muammar Gaddafi.

    The end of his 42-year dictatorship was hastened by Nato air strikes, and was followed by a period of brief and heady optimism. At a rally in Benghazi in the east of the country in September 2011, the British prime minister, David Cameron, and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, addressed enormous crowds waving their countries’ flags. “It’s great to be here in free Benghazi and in free Libya,” Cameron told them.

    But Libya’s new leadership was already struggling to impose its authority on the country. And since then, the country has descended into violence and economic instability, with rival militias shelling residential areas and destroying infrastructure in their fight for supremacy.

    Fears that Islamist militants would fill the yawning power vacuum appeared to be realised on Tuesday when gunmen claiming allegiance to Islamic State said that they were responsible for an attack on a Tripoli hotel in which at least five guards and five foreigners were killed.

    The papers that were recovered during the revolution show that Britain’s intelligence agencies engaged in a series of joint operations with Gaddafi’s government and that some of the information extracted from victims of rendition was used as evidence during control-order and deportation proceedings in UK courts.

    They also show that in 2006, Libyan intelligence agents were invited to operate on British soil, where they worked alongside MI5 and allegedly intimidated a number of Gaddafi opponents who had been granted asylum in the UK.

    Another of the recovered documents is a letter that Tony Blair wrote to Gaddafi in April 2007, and whose existence publicly emerged last week. Addressed “Dear Mu’ammar”, Blair expressed his regret that the British government had failed in its attempts to have a number of Gaddafi’s opponents deported from the UK, and thanked the dictator for his intelligence agencies’ “excellent co-operation” with their British counterparts.

    The classified MI5 document was prepared in advance of a five-day visit to Tripoli by senior agency staff in February 2005. Marked “UK/Libya Eyes Only – Secret”, it explains that members of the LIFG had been permitted to settle in the UK in the 1990s. This was at a time when Gaddafi, whom the group was plotting to overthrow, was considered to be an enemy of Britain.

    The document adds that MI5 reassessed the LIFG’s UK-based members following the change in the group’s leadership that resulted from the detention of Belhaj and Saadi.

    “We are actively investigating key individuals in the UK and are seeking to disrupt their activities,” the document says. This action was part of a new strategy “for countering the threat from the LIFG to the UK and its allies” – allies which, by 2005, included the Libyan dictatorship.

    Accompanying the document was a list of questions that MI5 wanted Libyan interrogators to put to Belhaj and Saadi. A total of more than 1,600 questions were sent from the UK to Tripoli, in four batches, with MI6 at one point thanking the Libyan intelligence agents for “kindly agreeing” to pass the questions to their “interview team”.

    Belhaj and Saadi both say they were beaten, whipped, subjected to electric shocks, deprived of sleep and threatened while being held at Tajoura prison outside Tripoli.

    They say they were also interrogated by British intelligence officers, and Belhaj says he made it clear, by sign language, that he was being tortured.

    After one of these encounters, he says, he agreed to sign a statement about his associates in the UK to avoid being subjected to a form of torture called the Honda, which involved being locked in a box-like structure whose ceiling and walls could be shrunk.

    The discovery of the documents that exposed the existence of the UK-Libyan rendition operations had caused widespread dismay in Westminster, even before the emergence of the latest report, which makes clear that one consequence of these operations was that the terrorist organisation that posed the greatest threat to the UK at that time was strengthened.

    A criminal investigation into the affair was opened in January 2012 after Dominic Grieve, the then attorney general, wrote to the Metropolitan police commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe. After a three-year investigation codenamed Operation Lydd, detectives handed their report to the Crown Prosecution Service last month.

    Jack Straw, who was foreign secretary at the time, is among the people who have been questioned by police. His office says he was interviewed as a witness.

    The rendition operations also led to damages claims being brought by Saadi – who received £2.2m in compensation from the British government – and by Belhaj. Belhaj is claiming damages on behalf of himself and his wife. She was four-and-a-half months pregnant when the couple were kidnapped, and Belhaj says she was taped, head to foot, to a stretcher for the 17-hour flight to Tripoli, before being jailed for several months.

    Belhaj says he would settle his claim for just £3, as long as he and his wife also receive an apology. With the CPS currently considering the police file, this is unlikely to happen.

    Ian Cobain
    Thursday 29 January 2015 11.27 GMT Last modified on Friday 30 January 2015 00.05 GMT

    Find this story at 29 January 2015

    © 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited

    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

    ‘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

    © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    CIA torture report: The doctors who were the unlikely architects of the CIA’s programme

    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
    1 of 12
    September 2001
    September 2001 October 2001January 20022002 and 2003June 2004May 2005December 2005February 2006December 2007January 2009December 2013December 2014
    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

    © independent.co.uk

    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

    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.
    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.

    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)

    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.

    “Torture Paper”

    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


    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.”


    Find this story at 15 December 2014

    Copyright firstlook.org/theintercept/

    Torture report: CIA interrogations chief was involved in Latin American torture camps

    Senior agent in torture programme was recommended for censure decades earlier for “inappropriate use of interrogation techniques”

    The CIA officer tasked with interrogating the most important prisoners in America’s secret detention programme allegedly abused captives during the agency’s covert operations in Latin America in the 1980s, it has emerged.
    The US Senate’s three-year inquiry into the CIA’s use of torture after September 11 reveals that a senior agent involved in the programme was recommended for censure decades earlier for “inappropriate use of interrogation techniques”.
    The unnamed officer was appointed to head the CIA’s “high value detainee” team in autumn 2002, shortly after the agency began waterboarding a prisoner at secret detention centre in Afghanistan.
    Human rights groups said that the agent’s promotion despite his track record of abusing prisoners was evidence that that the CIA did not hold its officers accountable for torture.
    “We should all be afraid that many of these agents are still at the CIA and used in the same sorts of operations when they have already shown they cannot be trusted,” said Katherine Hawkins of OpenTheGovernment.org, a pro-transparency group.

    According to the 480-page report, the CIA had engaged in torture during the Cold War, when Soviet defector Yuri Nosenko was detained for three years and subjected to the sensory deprivation and forced standing techniques that would later be used against al-Qaeda detainees.
    During testimony to Congress in 1978 one former officer charged with investigating Nosenko’s torture described his treatment as an “abomination”.
    The techniques used against Nosenko were taken from the CIA’s “KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation Manual” drawn up by the CIA in 1963, which served as the basis of the so-called ’torture manuals’ that were provided by the CIA to at least seven Latin American countries in the 1980s.
    According to the report, the agent who would become the CIA’s chief of interrogations beginning in 2002 “was involved in training and conducted interrogations” in Latin America during that era. The report goes on to say that “the CIA inspector general later recommended that he be orally admonished for inappropriate use of interrogation techniques.”

    Additionally, the report claims that in 2005 senior CIA officers, including Jose Rodriguez who ran the entire interrogation programme, objected to a proposal that the CIA should actively “vet and review” the records of interrogating officers in order to give itself better legal protection.
    The proposal suggested that the “unusual measures” – ie enhanced interrogation techniques – could be considered “lawful only when practised correctly by personnel whose records clearly demonstrate their suitability for that role.”
    Despite this, the report found that “numerous CIA interrogators and other CIA personnel…had either suspected or documented personal and professional problems that raised questions about their judgement and CIA employment.
    “This group of officers included individuals who, among other issues, had engaged in inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues, and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault.”
    In a heavily redacted footnote to the report, the Committee noted “that among the abuses [officer name deleted] had engaged in ‘Russian Roulette’ with a detainee” according to a 1984 internal memo to the CIA Inspector General.
    The report is too heavily redacted to determine whether this is the same officer who was selected to head the interrogation programme in 2002.
    Among the many objections by civil rights groups is that the CIA demand for heavy redactions to the report was intended not to protect officers’ lives in the field but to obscure the fact that many CIA officers involved in torture have remained at the agency and been promoted.

    By Peter Foster, Washington7:00AM GMT 11 Dec 2014

    Find this story at 11 December 2014

    © Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2014

    CIA ‘Torture’ Practices Started Long Before 9/11 Attacks

    Filed Under: U.S., Torture, torture report, CIA, U.S. Foreign Policy, Barack Obama, George Bush, Dianne Feinstein, 9/11, Cold War
    “The CIA,” according to the Senate Intelligence Committee, had “historical experience using coercive forms of interrogation.” Indeed, it had plenty, said the committee’s report released Tuesday: about 50 years’ worth. Deep in the committee’s 500-page summary of a still-classified 6,700-page report on the agency’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” after 9/11 there is a brief reference to KUBARK, the code name for a 1963 instruction manual on interrogation, which was used on subjects ranging from suspected Soviet double agents to Latin American dissidents and guerrillas.

    The techniques will sound familiar to anybody who has followed the raging debate over interrogation techniques adopted by the CIA to break Al-Qaeda suspects in secret prisons around the world. When the going got tough, the CIA got rough.

    The 1963 KUBARK manual included the “principal coercive techniques of interrogation: arrest, detention, deprivation of sensory stimuli through solitary confinement or similar methods, threats and fear, debility, pain, heightened suggestibility and hypnosis, narcosis and induced regression,” the committee wrote.

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    Many such methods were used on a Cold War-era Soviet defector whom a few CIA officials suspected of being a double agent. They came to light in a congressional investigation over 25 years ago. “In 1978, [CIA Director] Stansfield Turner asked former CIA officer John Limond Hart to investigate the CIA interrogation of Soviet KGB officer Yuri Nosenko using the KUBARK methods—to include sensory deprivation techniques and forced standing,” the committee reported.

    Hart found the methods repugnant, he told a congressional committee investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. “It has never fallen to my lot to be involved with any experience as unpleasant, in every possible way as…the investigation of this [Nosenko] case and…the necessity of lecturing upon it and testifying,” Hart told the committee. “To me, it is an abomination, and I am happy to say that it is not in my memory typical of what my colleagues and I did in the agency during the time I was connected with it.”

    But the CIA reached for KUBARK when U.S.-backed Latin American military regimes were faced with human rights protests, left-wing subversion and armed insurgencies. “Just five years” after Hart expressed his dismay about torture on Capitol Hill, “in 1983 a CIA officer incorporated significant portions of the KUBARK manual into the Human Resource Exploitation (HRE) Training Manual, which the same officer used to provide interrogation training in Latin America in the early 1980s,” the Intelligence Committee report said. The new HRE manual was also “used to provide interrogation training to” a party whose name was censored in the committee’s report but was almost certainly the Nicaraguan Contras, a rebel group the CIA created to overthrow the Marxist revolutionary government in Managua.

    “A CIA officer was involved in the HRE training and conducted interrogations” that may have gone overboard, the committee’s report said. “The CIA inspector general later recommended that he be orally admonished for inappropriate use of interrogation techniques.” While it’s not clear whether the officer was disciplined, he was sufficiently rehabilitated so that two decades later, “in the fall of 2002, [he] became the CIA’s chief of interrogations in the CIA’s Renditions Group, the officer in charge of CIA interrogations.”

    According to the report, an unnamed head of the interrogation program—possibly the same man—threatened to quit over ethical concerns about CIA methods. “This is a train [wreck] waiting to happen and I intend to get the hell off the train before it happens,” the CIA officer wrote in an email to colleagues obtained by the committee. He said he had notified the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center of his impending resignation and cited a “serious reservation” about “the current state of affairs.”

    Other veterans of the Latin American counterinsurgency wars were key players in the questionable post-9/11 interrogation practices exposed by the Senate committee, although they went unmentioned in its report because they were not CIA officers.

    Retired Army Colonel James Steele, along with another retired army colonel, James H. Coffman, helped the Iraqi government set up police commando units and “worked…in detention centres that were set up with millions of dollars of U.S. funding,” the London-based Guardian newspaper and the BBC reported in a joint project in 2013.

    Steele had been commander of the U.S. military advisory group in El Salvador during its 1980s civil war, a struggle remembered chiefly for the “death squads” the regime used against nuns and priests allied with the poor. Steele had previously been decorated for his service in South Vietnam as a U.S. Army reconnaissance patrol leader.

    Oddly, the CIA’s vast interrogation experience from the Vietnam War gets scant mention in those parts of the Senate committee report dealing with the methods’ origins. It notes only that in May 2013, “a senior CIA interrogator would tell personnel from the CIA’s Office of Inspector General” that the harsh methods being adopted by the agency after 9/11 originated in a practice used by North Vietnamese Communist interrogators to extract “confessions for propaganda purposes” from U.S. prisoners “who possessed little actionable intelligence.” The CIA, the interrogator believed, “need[ed] a different working model for interrogating terrorists where confessions are not the ultimate goal.”

    The CIA’s Vietnam interrogation centers, jointly run in most cases with its South Vietnamese counterparts, were chiefly designed to extract information from captured Communist guerrillas, spies and suspected underground political agents, in order to launch attacks. Sometimes, however, a confession was used to then parade an apostate through South Vietnamese-controlled neighborhoods, like a trophy.

    And prisoner abuse, including torture in so-called “tiger cages,” was common, according to many witnesses and other sources over the years. In 1969, the Army filed murder charges against the commander of the Green Berets in Vietnam and seven of his men after they used hallucinogenic drugs on a suspected double agent and killed him after he failed to confess. The charges were eventually dropped after a fierce lobbying campaign by then-CIA director Richard Helms, who feared a trial would expose abuses under the agency’s secret Phoenix assassination program.

    After Vietnam and El Salvador, Steele went on to work in Baghdad under General David Petraeus, according to the account by the Guardian and BBC. He took Coffman with him. Petraeus commanded CIA and military special ops groups working jointly against Al-Qaeda in Iraq. “They worked hand in hand,” an Iraqi general, Muntadher al-Samari, said of Steele and Coffman. “I never saw them apart in the 40 or 50 times I saw them inside the detention centres. They knew everything that was going on there…the torture, the most horrible kinds of torture.” Steele and Coffman could not be reached for comment.

    “Every single detention centre would have its own interrogation committee,” added al-Samari, whose account was buttressed by others. “Each one was made up of an intelligence officer and eight interrogators. This committee [would] use all means of torture to make the detainee confess, like using electricity or hanging him upside down, pulling out their nails, and beating them on sensitive parts.”

    Coffman was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, “for exceptionally valorous conduct while assigned as the Senior Advisor to the 1st Iraqi Special Police Commando Brigade” during the battle for Mosul, Iraq, in 2004, “during which the unit likely would have been overrun were it not for the courageous leadership of Colonel Coffman and the one Commando officer not wounded.”

    The prison abuses in Iraq, however, turned out to be the loose strings in the otherwise tightly wound U.S. interrogation program. When the photos of the abuses at Abu Ghraib exploded in the media in April 2004, at least one American ambassador in an unidentified country demanded to know if the CIA was doing anything similar under his roof that he didn’t know about. The Senate Intelligence Committee was disturbed enough by the Abu Ghraib revelations to arrange a classified briefing. “The media reports caused members of the Committee and individuals in the executive branch to focus on detainee issues,” the committee’s report said. Top CIA officials were summoned to Capitol Hill.

    Their testimony was basically: That’s the Army, not us.

    “The CIA used the Abu Ghraib abuses as a contrasting reference point for its detention and interrogation activities,” the committee’s report said. “In a response to a question from a Committee member, CIA Deputy Director [John] McLaughlin said, ‘We are not authorized in [the CIA program] to do anything like what you have seen in those photographs.’”

    One member of the committee was soothed. “I understand,” the senator said, that the “norm” of CIA interrogations was “transparent law enforcement procedures [that] had developed to such a high level…that you could get pretty much what you wanted” without torture.

    “The CIA did not correct the Committee member’s misunderstanding,” Tuesday’s report said, “that CIA interrogation techniques were similar to techniques used by U.S. law enforcement.”
    That understanding would come later.

    BY JEFF STEIN 12/10/14 AT 5:29 PM

    Find this story at 10 December 2014

    © 2014 NEWSWEEK LLC

    CIA paid Poland to ease qualms over secret prison: Senate report

    (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)

    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

    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.’

    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

    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.

    Czech Republic
    Hong Kong
    Saudi Arabia
    South Africa
    Sri Lanka
    United Arab Emirates (UAE)
    United Kingdom

    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.

    CIA ’torture’ report: The 54 countries that will be worried by controversial revelations

    World prepares for moment America comes clean on its ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ – with which much of the world is complicit

    After years of waiting, the US is about to publish a report exposing the “enhanced” interrogation techniques used by its intelligence service around the world – in other words, what many class as CIA torture.
    The implications of the report stretch around the whole world, with much of the most controversial activity taking place off US soil. The map above shows just how many countries were participants in the CIA programme, according to the George Soros’ Open Society Foundation’s 2013 report.

    Though unofficial, that very detailed probe concluded that 54 countries around the world assisted the CIA’s programme – 25 of them in Europe.

    Today’s report, actually a 480-page summary of a 6,000-page investigation from the Senate Intelligence Committee, is expected to include graphic details about sexual threats, waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques meted out to captured militants since the 9/11 terror attacks.

    Preparing for a worldwide outcry, and possibly even violence, from the publication of such graphic details, the White House and U.S. intelligence officials said on Monday they had taken steps to shore up security of US facilities worldwide.

    But what is the report? And how much light will it shine on almost a decade and a half of secretive, possibly illegal Government activity.

    CIA-Getty.jpgWhat is the report?

    The report, which took years to produce, is the first independent assessment of the CIA’s “Rendition, Detention and Interrogation” program, which George Bush authorised after 9/11.

    Bush ended many aspects of the program before leaving office, and Obama swiftly banned so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which critics say are torture, after his 2009 inauguration.

    Senate Intelligence Committee staff reportedly reviewed around six million pages of information, while the report itself has over 38,000 footnotes citing CIA documents.

    CIA ’torture’ report: Timeline from 9/11 to Dianne Feinstein’s findings

    What details will it reveal?

    Sources say the overall findings of the report are expected to be that the CIA programme did not deliver life-saving intelligence, that its techniques were more brutal than previously admitted, and that CIA officials misled the White House as to the extent of their activities.

    More specifically, the report is said to describe how senior al-Qaeda operative Abdel Rahman al Nashiri, suspected mastermind of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, was threatened by his interrogators with a buzzing power drill. The drill was never actually used on Nashiri.

    Barack-Obama.jpgIn another instance, the report documents how at least one detainee was sexually threatened with a broomstick, sources told the Reuters news agency.

    Other methods, such as sleep deprivation, confinement in small spaces and waterboarding, will be described as having gone beyond what was “legally allowable”, CBS News reported.

    Cases in which CIA interrogators threatened one or more detainees with mock executions – a practice never authorised by Bush administration lawyers – are documented in the report, the Reuters sources said.

    Why has it taken so long to be published?

    It has taken three separate bipartisan votes to create, approve and finally declassify the report – in 2009, 2012 and 2014 respectively.

    Republicans have fiercely opposed the publication, suggesting it will be to the detriment of national security, and critiques from Republican committee members and CIA officials are expected to be included in the release.

    Abdul-Hakim-Belhadj.jpgWith negotiations over how much could be released complete, Secretary of State John Kerry had earlier asked the committee to “consider” changing the timing of the report.

    But that request has been denied – the committee does not want to risk not coming out under this Government, giving a potential new Republican government the chance to bury it altogether.

    How will the world respond?

    Preparing for a worldwide outcry, and possibly even violence, from the publication of such graphic details, the White House and US intelligence officials said on Monday that they had taken steps to shore up security of US facilities worldwide.

    “There are some indications that the release of the report could lead to greater risk that is posed to US facilities and individuals all around the world,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

    web-kerry-getty.jpgBut because so much of the CIA programme appears to have involved activity away from US soil, many other countries around the world will be concerned.

    Among them is the UK which, it has been claimed, provided assistance to the CIA in the illegal rendition of Abdelhakim Belhadj, an anti-Gaddafi rebel leader who was returned to Libya reportedly via CIA custody.

    The US State Department has warned all overseas posts to be prepared for a “range of reactions” in the wake of the report.

    And the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, has been outspoken in his opposition. “I think this is a terrible idea,” he said on CNN. “Foreign leaders have approached the government and said, ‘You do this, this will cause violence and deaths’.”

    Adam Withnall Tuesday, 9 December 2014

    Find this story at 9 Decembe 2014

    © independent.co.uk

    Decoding the secret black sites on the Senate’s report on the CIA interrogation program

    The public version of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA detention program refers to the agency’s post-Sept.11 “black sites” as color-themed codes. Other details in the report, however, help indicate the locations of the secret prisons.

    Note: This does not include Morocco, which was not a CIA-controlled facility.

    By Adam Goldman and Julie Tate December 9

    Find this story at 9 December 2014
    Interactive: 119 detainees held in secret CIA prisons
    View timeline: CIA’s use of harsh interrogation

    Copyright washingtonpost.com


    The Media Is Focusing On the WRONG Senate Torture Report (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.

    For example:

    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
    Details here.

    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)

    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.”

    Sam Stein
    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)

    (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.

    Don’t Miss
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    ‘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)

    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.)

    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)

    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 [2002] 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


    “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

    Committee Study of the ClA’s Detention and lnterrogation Program (2014)

    #1: The CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.

    #2: The CIA’s justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation  techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.

    #3: The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.

    #4: The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.

    #5: The CIA repeatedly  provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

    #6: The CIA bas actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.

    #7:  The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.

    #8: The CIA ’s operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.

    #9: The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA ’s Office of Inspector General.

    #10: The CIA coordinated the release of classified information to the media, including inaccurate information concerning the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.

    #ll: The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after  being granted detention authorities.

    #12: The CIA’s management and operation of its Detention and Interrogation  Program was deeply flawed tbrough out the program’s duration, particularly so in 2002 and early 2003.

    #13: Two contract psychologists devised the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques and played a central  role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA ’s Detention and Interrogation Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly  outsourced operations related  to the program.

    #14: CIA detainees  were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorized by CIA

    #15: The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number  of individuals it detained, and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention. The CIA’s claims about the number of detainees held and subjected  to its enhanced  interrogation techniques were inaccurate.

    #16:  The CIA failed  to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques.

    #17: The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management failures.

    #18: The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the  CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.

    #19: The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program  was inherently  unsustainable and had effectively ended by 2006 due to unauthorized press disclosures, reduced  cooperation from other  nations, and legal and oversight concerns.

    #20: The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program damaged  the United States’ standing in the world, and resulted in other significant  monetary  and non-monetary costs.

    Find the report at 9 December 2014
















    I interrogated the top terrorist in US custody. Then the CIA came to town

    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

    © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.


    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.”


    Find this story at 10 December 2014

    Copyright firstlook.org/theintercept/


    In the fall of 2006, Nathaniel Raymond, a researcher with the advocacy group Physicians for Human Rights, got a call from a man professing to be a CIA contractor. Scott Gerwehr was a behavioral science researcher who specialized in “deception detection,” or figuring out when someone was lying. Gerwehr told Raymond “practically in the first five minutes” that he had been at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo in the summer of 2006, but had left after his suggestion to install video-recording equipment in detainee interrogation rooms was rejected. “He said, ‘I wouldn’t operate at a facility that didn’t tape. It protects the interrogators and it protects the detainees,’” Raymond recalls.

    Gerwehr also told Raymond that that he had read the CIA inspector general’s report on detainee abuse, which at the time had not been made public. But “he didn’t behave like a traditional white knight,” Raymond told The Intercept. Though he had reached out to Raymond and perhaps others, he didn’t seem like a prototypical whistleblower. He didn’t say what he was trying to do or ask for help; he just dropped the information. Raymond put him in touch with a handful of reporters, and their contact ended in 2007.

    In 2008, at the age of 40, Gerwehr died in a motorcycle accident on Sunset Boulevard. Years after Gerwehr died, New York Times reporter James Risen obtained a cache of Gerwehr’s files, including emails that identify him as part of a group of psychologists and researchers with close ties to the national security establishment. Risen’s new book, Pay Any Price, uses Gerwehr’s emails to show close collaboration between staffers at the American Psychological Association (APA) and government officials, collaboration that offered a fig leaf of health-professional legitimacy to the CIA and military’s brutal interrogations of terror suspects.

    Risen describes Gerwehr as “living a highly compartmentalized life.” A Santa Monica liberal who “expressed distaste for George Bush,” he was nonetheless tightly connected to people involved in the administration’s interrogation program. He had top secret/sensitive compartmented information clearance, according to Risen, and a psychologist told Risen “he seemed optimistic about the possibilities of testing out psychological theories on interrogation issues.” Indeed, in a 2005 New York Times op-ed that reads as almost naïve in the wake of the Abu Ghraib revelations, he and a co-author wrote that the idea “that harsh treatment of prisoners can be less effective than showing compassion…now deserves a test in Iraq.” Treating prisoners well “would help reverse the terrible propaganda defeat suffered with the revelations of torture at Abu Ghraib,” he wrote, and “prisoners released by our forces would return to their communities with stories of American generosity and tolerance.”

    scott-gerwehr Risen says that Gerwehr’s files don’t contain “explosive bombshells,” or indicate “the extent of his knowledge of the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs.” But they narrate a period in 2004 and 2005 when the APA was being forced to respond to revelations about detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and the role of psychologists in designing and condoning brutal questioning tactics. (Subsequent government investigations and reporting would show the foundational role of psychology, and in particular, two psychologists and CIA contractors, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.)
    The APA in 2002 famously revised its ethics code to permit a psychologist to follow “governing legal authority” even if it clashed with the APA’s own code of ethics. It was, essentially, the Nuremberg Defense of “just following orders.” (In 2010 the APA definitively disavowed it.) As Risen writes, the 2002 change allowed psychologists to be involved in CIA and military interrogations, and “helped the lawyers in the Justice Department to argue that the enhanced interrogation program was legal because health professionals were monitoring the interrogations to make sure they stayed within the limits established by the Bush administration.”

    In 2005, after the revelations of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib, the APA put together a task force on ethics and national security, which, while affirming the organization’s opposition to torture, determined that psychologists could be involved with interrogations “to assist in ensuring that such processes are safe and ethical for all participants.”

    Gerwehr was copied on emails discussing a confidential APA lunch meeting in July 2004, attended by psychologists from the CIA, Department of Defense, and other agencies. (The invited CIA psychologist, Kirk Hubbard, wrote that “all the DOD shrinks will be tied up…I will represent both of us.”) The draft proposal creating the task force was circulated to Gerwehr and others invited to the meeting before it was given to APA members. Other members of the task force later complained it was stacked in favor of the government, with six of the panel’s ten members having ties to the military or intelligence.

    After the task force recommendation went public in 2005, the APA’s Mumford wrote an email thanking Hubbard for his “personal contribution…in getting this effort off the ground,” and mentioned that Susan Brandon, a Bush White House official, had “helped craft some language related to research” for the report. (Hubbard says that “I was not directly involved in the task force itself, though I know it was reported that I provided some input.” Brandon is now head of the research unit for the FBI’s high value detainee interrogation group, according to her bio for an upcoming conference. The FBI did not respond to a request for comment from Brandon. In a statement responding to Risen’s book, the APA said those contacts were “not in any manner unusual or inappropriate” and allowed “for frank discussion of the ethical and practice challenges facing psychologists working in national security settings.”)

    Gerwehr’s emails about the APA also caught the interest of the FBI. In 2010, after learning of Gerwehr’s death and believing that he might have had critical information, Raymond sought out a meeting with John Durham, the assistant U.S. attorney who was leading the criminal probe related to CIA detention and interrogation. Durham had also been specifically tasked with looking into the CIA’s destruction of interrogation videotapes. (Raymond now directs the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s Signal Program on Human Security and Technology, which applies satellite imagery analysis and other technical approaches to humanitarian crises. He is mentioned as a researcher for an unnamed human rights group in Risen’s book, but his conversations with Gerwehr and the FBI are being reported for the first time here.)

    Raymond and PHR’s then-Washington director, John Bradshaw, met with Durham at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., in September 2010. Raymond and Bradshaw noted that they weren’t in the visitor logs, and Durham took them up a back elevator to a briefing room, Raymond recalls. Besides talking about Gerwehr, Durham’s team said that they had read PHR’s recent report “Experiments in Torture,” which concluded that medical personnel’s involvement in the CIA’s interrogation program constituted illegal medical research and experimentation. Durham’s team seemed “interested in the broader architecture of the legal heat shield” on torture, Raymond said. In Bradshaw’s recollection, “Durham was not particularly forthcoming in saying that he accepted our conclusions. But they were interested and had read our work.” (Durham did not respond to a request for comment.)

    Two years later, Durham’s overall probe ended with no charges. At that point, Raymond reached out to Durham’s office again, to ask if anyone had looked into the information about the APA from Gerwehr’s emails, which Raymond by then had access to. Durham directed him to an agent from the FBI’s public corruption unit, who asked for a memo gathering what he had—Gerwehr’s correspondence and additional emails and interview notes from other sources, including former APA and CIA officials—which Raymond believed could amount to evidence of criminal racketeering. In an email, the agent said she had discussed the issue with Durham, and they thought that the alleged criminal activity fell outside a five-year statute of limitation, but would forward information to the FBI’s Washington field office.

    Neither Raymond nor anyone at PHR heard anything more of it, until a law enforcement official confirmed to The Intercept that the FBI in Washington received material, and “did review it,” but “did not find any criminal violations, and therefore did not open any investigation.”

    Raymond told The Intercept that the FBI’s decision not to investigate was unsurprising, given the overall lack of criminal charges related to CIA torture.

    “The response of the U.S. government, given the whole raft of revelations about torture in the post-9/11 world, has been to deny, and then to use the language that we’re going to move forward, we’re going to move on,” said Widney Brown, director of programs for Physicians for Human Rights. “But even setting aside the legal concerns, we feel very strongly as a voice for physicians that there’s no compromise on this issue of medical professionals’ involvement in torture. And it’s very clear in Risen’s book that the APA was very involved in discussions with the government on this issue.”

    In the book, Risen suggests that the APA’s close relationship with the government was motivated at least in part by financial concerns, saying the profession was “so eager for CIA and Pentagon contracts that they showed few qualms about getting involved” with interrogation programs.

    The APA, in its statement, said that any suggestion that “that APA had a financial motivation” to support U.S. detainee policies “is absurd.” The CIA declined to comment on Gerwehr or the allegations raised from his emails.

    “I can’t confirm that he was at Gitmo when he says he was. But I believe that Gerwehr encountered something deeply disturbing,” said Raymond. “I think that there needs to be a serious and robust federal investigation into Gerwehr’s past in terms of whistleblowing.”

    Update: Added comment from Hubbard. October 17th, 3:30 pm EST.

    BY CORA CURRIER 10/17/2014

    Find this story at 17 October 2014

    Copyright firstlook.org/theintercept/

    How the CIA tortured its detainees Waterboarding, confinement, sleep deprivation

    The CIA, and the Senate intelligence committee, would rather avoid the word “torture,” preferring euphemisms like “enhanced interrogation techniques” and “rendition, detention and interrogation program”. Many of the techniques employed by the CIA after capturing high-value targets have been documented in CIA memos released by the Obama administration, and in numerous leaks, including a report written by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

    Here are some of the techniques known to have been used, and the effects on detainees:

    Rectal feeding and rehydration

    The torture report contains new information on the CIA’s use of rectal feeding and rehydration. At least five detainees were subjected to the process, the report states. The report details how accused USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was placed “in a forward facing position (Trendelenburg) with head lower than torso”, whilst undergoing rectal feeding.

    Another detainee, Majid Khan, a legal resident of the United States and accused confident of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was also subjected to rectal feeding. According to a CIA cable released in the report, his “‘lunch tray’ consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins was ‘pureed and rectally infused’”.

    Mohammed was also subjected to rectal rehydration “without a determination of medical need”. Mohammed’s chief interrogator described use of the process as emblematic of their “total control over the detainee”.

    Confinement in a box

    Placing the subject inside a confined box to restrict their movement was approved by the Bush administration in the case of Abu Zubaydah.

    Zubaydah says he was placed in a number of different confinement boxes in an intense period of interrogation in Afghanistan in 2002. He told the ICRC that the boxes made it difficult to breathe and reopened wounds in his legs. He could not recall how long he spent in each confinement box, and believes he may have passed out inside.

    The use of insects inside the box was also approved, to exploit a phobia Abu Zubaydah had. This element was not ultimately used, according to memos.

    The use of cold water

    A number of those interviewed by the ICRC said they were often subjected to dousings in cold water during interrogation. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad’s co-defendant Walid bin Attash said that for the first two weeks of his detention in Afghanistan his naked body was wrapped in plastic after being doused, and kept inside the cold envelope of water for several minutes.

    In November 2002, a suspected Afghan militant, Gul Rahman, died of hypothermia inside a CIA black site north of Kabul known as the Salt Pit. Rahman had been left in a cold cell, stripped from the waist down and had been doused in water, according to reports from the Associated Press.

    The torture report contains more details on Rahman’s death, including details of the CIA’s interrogation methodology used. This included “48 hours of sleep deprivation, auditory overload, total darkness, isolation a cold shower and rough treatment”. The CIA Headquarters did not approve these methods in advance, the report says. But the day before Rahman’s death, one CIA officer ordered that Rahman be shackled to the wall of his cell and sat on the cold floor whilst naked from the waist down. CIA headquarters had approved the use of “enhanced measures” at this point.

    The CIA officer who sent these instructions received no reprimand. Instead, four months later, he was given a $2,500 cash reward for his “consistently superior work”.


    The process of suffocation by water involves strapping the individual to a tilted board, with legs above their head, placing a cloth over their face, covering their nose and mouth. Water is then poured continuously over the cloth to prevent breathing, simulate drowning and induce panic.

    The process is carried out for about 40 seconds and is known to have been repeated a number of times during interrogation.

    The process was carried out on three detainees, Bush administration officials have said. But the number could be higher, according to a 2012 report from Human Rights Watch.

    One of those, Abu Zubaydah, a suspected senior Bin Laden lieutenant, told the ICRC: “I struggled without success to breathe. I thought I was going to die. I lost control of my urine.” He underwent the process 83 times, while another of the CIA’s highest-value detainees, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, said to be the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks, was subjected to waterboarding 183 times.

    Beatings and threats

    Many detainees have reported being beaten by interrogators, and the CIA memo mentions a number of approved methods of physical contact, including “facial holds”, “insult slaps” and “attention grasps”.

    Most of those interviewed by the ICRC alleged that these beatings often occurred in the immediate aftermath of their capture, often multiple times in the day.

    One detainee said: “I was punched and slapped in the face and on the back, to the extent that I was bleeding. While having a rope round my neck and being tied to a pillar, my head was banged against the pillar repeatedly.”

    Six of the detainees said they were slammed into walls after having a collar placed around their necks. The CIA called it “walling”: a fake, flexible wall is constructed and a detainee is thrown against it, creating a loud noise. The noise is designed to make the detainee believe they are injured.

    Detainees also reported threats of severe violence and sexual assault made against them and their families. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told the ICRC he was threatened with being brought to the “verge of death and back again”.

    The torture report notes that at least three detainees were threatened with harm to their families. Interrogators implied to Nashiri that his mother would be brought in front of him and sexually abused. The report also notes one detainee was told his mother’s throat would be cut. It is not clear which detainee this references.

    The torture report confirms that Nashiri was threatened with a pistol placed near his head and a cordless drill that was operated near his body. Nashiri was blindfolded at the time.

    “Al-Nashiri did not provide any additional threat information during, or after, these interrogations,” the report concludes.

    Stress positions

    A variety of stress positions were used by the CIA. Ten terror suspects alleged to the ICRC that these included beingtold to stand upright and shackled to the ceiling for up to three days, and in some cases at intervals for over three months. Other stress positions included being shackled to the floor with arms stretched over the head.

    Three detainees interviewed by the ICRC said they were forced to urinate and defecate on themselves in these positions, and were left standing in their own excrement.

    The use of stress positions was designed to cause muscle fatigue, physical discomfort and exhaustion.

    Sleep deprivation

    Sleep deprivation was employed routinely and was seen as a key tool in enhanced interrogations. Many of these techniques overlap with other interrogation procedures – the use of stress positions, and in particular shackling a standing detainee with his hands in front of his body.

    Among the most infamous was the use of loud music and white noise, sometimes played for 24 hours a day on short loops. Cells were also reportedly kept deliberately cold to prevent detainees falling asleep. The agency was authorized to keep a detainee awake for up to 180 hours – about a week – but told the Justice Department it only kept three detainees awake for 96 hours maximum.

    Eleven of the 14 detainees interviewed by the ICRC said they had been subjected to sleep deprivation. One said: “If I started to fall asleep a guard would come and spray water in my face.”

    The torture report reveals that four detainees, each with “medical complications in their lower extremities”, including two with broken feet, were placed in shackled standing positions for “extended periods of time” to induce sleep deprivation.
    The men with broken feet, Abu Hazim and Abd al-Karim who sustained the injuries whilst trying to escape capture, were also subjected to walling, stress positions and cramped confinement, despite recommendations that their injuries prevented this form of interrogation.

    Forced nudity and restricted diets

    The CIA viewed certain techniques as “conditioning” measures, designed to get detainees used to their helplessness rather than yielding any intelligence value on their own. Sleep deprivation was in this category. So was stripping a detainee naked, which a 2005 memo from the Justice Department to the CIA said carried the benefit of “reward[ing] detainees instantly with clothing for cooperation.” (While keeping a detainee naked “might cause embarrassment,” a Justice Department lawyer wrote, it did not itself constitute “sexual abuse” or the threat of sexual abuse.)

    Another “conditioning” technique involved feeding a detainee “a bland, commercial liquid meal” instead of normal food. The CIA set caloric intake guidelines – a recommended minimum was 1,500 calories daily – and relied on medical personnel, who are sworn to do no harm to their patients, to ensure detainees did not lose more than 10% of their body weight. A Justice Department memo understood the dietary manipulation could “increase the effectiveness of other techniques, such as sleep deprivation.”

    • This article was amended on 9 December 2014 to correct a sentence that stated the CIA authorized a detainee to be kept awake for up to 180 hours – “about a week and a half.” It should have said “about a week.”

    Oliver Laughland
    Tuesday 9 December 2014 23.35 GMT

    Find this story at 9 December 2014

    © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Rectal rehydration and waterboarding: the CIA torture report’s grisliest findings

    Parts of the CIA interrogation programme were known, but the catalogue of abuse is nightmarish, especially knowing much more will never be revealed

    CIA’s brutal and ineffective use of torture revealed in landmark report
    Trevor Timm: America tortured more than ‘some folks’ – and covered it up

    Detainees were forced to stand on broken limbs for hours, kept in complete darkness, deprived of sleep for up to 180 hours, sometimes standing. Photograph: Bob Strong/Reuters
    The full horror of the CIA interrogation and detention programmes launched in the wake of the September 11 terror attack was laid bare in the long-awaited Senate report released on Tuesday.

    While parts of the programme had been known – and much more will never be revealed – the catalogue of abuse is nightmarish and reads like something invented by the Marquis de Sade or Hieronymous Bosch.

    Detainees were forced to stand on broken limbs for hours, kept in complete darkness, deprived of sleep for up to 180 hours, sometimes standing, sometimes with their arms shackled above their heads.

    Prisoners were subjected to “rectal feeding” without medical necessity. Rectal exams were conducted with “excessive force”. The report highlights one prisoner later diagnosed with anal fissures, chronic hemorrhoids and “symptomatic rectal prolapse”.

    The report mentions mock executions, Russian roulette. US agents threatened to slit the throat of a detainee’s mother, sexually abuse another and threatened prisoners’ children. One prisoner died of hypothermia brought on in part by being forced to sit on a bare concrete floor without pants.

    The dungeon

    The CIA began the establishment of a specialised detention centre, codenamed DETENTION SITE COBALT, in April 2002. Although its location is not identified in the report it has been widely identified as being in Afghanistan. Conditions at the site were described in the report as poor “and were especially bleak early in the program”.

    The CIA chief of interrogations described COBALT as “a dungeon”. There were 20 cells, with blacked-out windows. Detainees were “kept in complete darkness and constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud music and only a bucket to use for human waste”. It was cold, something the report says likely contributed to the death of a detainee.

    Prisoners were walked around naked or were shackled with their hands above their heads for extended periods of time. About five CIA officers would engage in what is described as a “rough takedown”. A detainee would be shouted at, have his clothes cut off, be secured with tape, hooded and dragged up and down a long corridor while being slapped and punched.

    A CIA photograph shows a waterboard at the site, surrounded by buckets and a bottle of an unknown pink solution and a watering can resting on the beams of the waterboard. The CIA failed to provide a detailed explanation of the items in the photograph.

    Frozen to death

    Gul Rahman
    Gul Rahman died in the early hours of 20 November 2002, after being shackled to a cold concrete wall in a secret CIA prison. Photograph: AP
    At COBALT, the CIA interrogated in 2002 Gul Rahman, described as a suspected Islamic extremist. He was subjected to “48 hours of sleep deprivation, auditory overload, total darkness, isolation, a cold shower and rough treatment”.

    CIA headquarters suggested “enhanced measures” might be needed to get him to comply. A CIA officer at COBALT ordered Rahman be “shackled to the wall of his cell in a position that required the detainee to rest on the bare concrete floor”.

    He was only wearing a sweatshirt as a CIA officer has ordered his clothes to be removed earlier after judging him to be uncooperative during an interrogation.

    The next day, guards found Rahman dead. An internal CIA review and autopsy assessed he likely died from hypothermia – “in part from having been forced to sit on the bare concrete floor without pants”. An initial CIA review and cable sent to CIA headquarters after his death included a number of misstatements and omissions.

    Shackled to the wall

    The CIA in the first half of 2003 interrogated four detainees described as having “medical complications in their lower extremities”: two had a broken foot, one had a sprained ankle and one a prosthetic leg.

    CIA officers shackled each of them in a standing position for sleep deprivation for extended periods until medical staff assessed they could no longer maintain that position.

    “The two detainees that each had a broken foot were also subjected to walling, stress positions and cramped confinement, despite the note in their interrogation plans that these specific enhanced interrogation techniques were not requested because of the medical condition of the detainees,” the report says.

    ‘Rectal feeding’

    CIA operatives subjected at least five detainees to what they called “rectal rehydration and feeding”.

    One CIA cable released in the report reveals that detainee Majid Khan was administered by enema his “‘lunch tray’ consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins was ‘pureed and rectally infused’”. One CIA officer’s email was in the report quoted as saying “we used the largest Ewal [sic] tube we had”.

    Rectal feeding is of limited application in actually keeping a person alive or administering nutrients, since the colon and rectum cannot absorb much besides salt, glucose and a few minerals and vitamins. The CIA administered rectal rehydration to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed “without a determination of medical need” and justified “rectal fluid resuscitation” of Abu Zubaydah because he “partially refus[ed] liquids”. Al-Nashiri was given an enema after a brief hunger strike.

    Risks of rectal feeding and rehydration include damage to the rectum and colon, triggering bowels to empty, food rotting inside the recipient’s digestive tract, and an inflamed or prolapsed rectum from carless insertion of the feeding tube. The report found that CIA leadership was notified that rectal exams may have been conducted with “Excessive force”, and that one of the detainees, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, suffered from an anal fissure, chronic hemorrhoids and symptomatic rectal prolapse.

    The CIA’s chief of interrogations characterized rectal rehydration as a method of “total control” over detainees, and an unnamed person said the procedure helped to “clear a person’s head”.

    Waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah and KSM

    The report suggests Abu Zubaydah was a broken man after his extensive interrogations. In CIA documents he is described as having become so compliant that “when the interrogator raised his eyebrows” he would walk to the “water table” and sit down. The interrogator only had to snap his fingers twice for Abu Zabaydah to lie down, ready for water-boarding, the report says.

    “At times Abu Zubaydah was described as ‘hysterical’ and ‘distressed to the level that he was unable effectively to communicate’. Waterboarding sessions ‘resulted in immediate fluid intake and involuntary leg, chest and arm spasms’ and ‘hysterical pleas’. In at least one waterboarding session, Abu Zubaydah ‘became completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth’ … Abu Zubaydah remained unresponsive until medical intervention, when he regained consciousness and ‘expelled copious amounts of liquid’.”

    The CIA doctor overseeing the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said that the prisoner was ingesting so much water that he or she was no longer concerned that regurgitated gastric acid was likely to damage his oesophagus. But, the doctor warned, the CIA should start using saline, because his electrolytes were becoming too diluted.

    The forgotten man chained to a wall

    One CIA interrogator at COBALT reported that “‘literally, a detainee could go for days or weeks without anyone looking at him’, and that his team found one detainee who ‘as far as we could determine’, had been chained to a wall in a standing position for 17 days’.’ Some prisoners were said to be like dogs in kennels: “When the doors to their cells were pened, ‘they cowered.’”

    In April 2006, during a CIA briefing, President George W Bush, expressed discomfort at the “image of a detainee, chained to the ceiling, clothed in a diaper, and forced to go to the bathroom on himself”. This man is thought to be Ridha al-Najjar, who was forced to spend 22 hours each day with one or both wrists chained to an overhead bar, for two consecutive days, while wearing a diaper. His incarceration was concealed from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

    Sleep deprivation

    Sleep deprivation involved keeping detainees awake for up to 180 hours, usually standing or in stress positions, at times with their hands shackled above their heads. At least five detainees experienced disturbing hallucinations during prolonged sleep deprivation and, in at least two of those cases, the CIA nonetheless continued the sleep deprivation.” One of the prisoners forced to say awake for seven-and-a-half days was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Most of this time he was forced to stand. The report says that former CIS director Michael Hayden was aware that Mohammed had been deprived of sleep for this period.

    Guantanamo Bay
    At the direction of the White House, the secretaries of state and defence – both principals on the National Security Council – were not briefed on the programme’s specifics until September 2003 Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
    CIA lied to officials

    The White House, National Security Council (NSC) and others were given “extensive amounts of inaccurate and incomplete information” related to the operation and effectiveness of the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme. No CIA officer briefed the president on the specific CIA enhanced interrogation techniques before April 2006. The CIA did not inform two secretaries of state of the locations of CIA detention facilities, despite the foreign policy implications and the fact that the political leaders of host countries were generally informed of their existence. FBI director Robert Mueller was denied access to CIA detainees that the FBI believed was necessary to understand domestic threats.

    The White House kept key members of its team in the dark

    At the direction of the White House, the secretaries of state and defence – both principals on the National Security Council – were not briefed on the programme’s specifics until September 2003. An internal CIA email from July 2003 noted that the White House was “extremely concerned” that secretary of state Colin Powell “would blow his stack if he were to be briefed on what’s been going on.”

    Wrongfully detained

    Among its findings, the report says that: “The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained, and held individuals who did not meet its own legal standard for detention.”

    The CIA acknowledged to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) in February 2006 that it had wrongly detained five individuals throughout the course of its detention programme. The report’s review of CIA records indicates that at least 21 additional individuals, or a total of 26 of the 119 (22%), of detainees identified did not meet the CIA’s standard for detention.

    The report calls the number “a conservative calculation” and notes it does not include “individuals about whom there was internal disagreement within the CIA over whether the detainee met the standard or not, or the numerous detainees who, following their detention and interrogation, were found not to ‘pose a continuing threat of violence or death to US persons and interests’ or to be ‘planning terrorist activities’.

    With one exception, the reports says there are no CIA records that indicate that anyone was held accountable for “the detention of individuals the CIA itself determined were wrongfully detained.”

    CIA misled the press

    The CIA gave inaccurate information to journalists in background briefings to mislead the public about the efficacy of its interrogation programme, the report reveals.

    “In seeking to shape press reporting … CIA officers and the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs (OPA) provided unattributed background information on the program to journalists for books, articles and broadcasts, including when the existence of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program was still classified,” the report said.

    It also added that when this still-classified information was published, the CIA did not, as a matter of policy, submit crime reports – highlighting a gulf between officially sanctioned leaks and non-sanctioned whistleblowing, the latter of which is often heavily prosecuted.

    The report refers to Ronald Kessler’s book The CIA At War. An unidentified party at the CIA – the name and office is redacted – decided not to open an investigation into the publication of classified information by Kiessler “because ‘OPA provided assistance with the book.’”

    An article by Douglas Jehl in the New York Times also contained “significant classified information,” which was also not investigated because it was based on information provided by the CIA.

    Both the book and the article, the report continues, contained inaccurate information about the effectiveness of CIA interrogation programs, and untrue accounts of interrogations.

    Many of the inaccuracies the CIA fed to journalists, the report says, were consistent with inaccurate information being provided by the agency to policymakers at the time.

    • This article was amended on 10 December 2014. Colin Powell was secretary of state in the Bush administration, not defence secretary as an earlier version said.

    Dominic Rushe, Ewen MacAskill, Ian Cobain , Alan Yuhas and Oliver Laughland
    The Guardian, Wednesday 10 December 2014

    Find this story at 10 December 2014

    © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Senate report on CIA program details brutality, dishonesty

    The Washington Post’s Greg Miller lists the important takeaways from the CIA interrogation report and explains why it is being released now. (The Washington Post)
    By Greg Miller, Adam Goldman and Julie Tate December 9
    An exhaustive five-year Senate investigation of the CIA’s secret interrogations of terrorism suspects renders a strikingly bleak verdict on a program launched in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, describing levels of brutality, dishonesty and seemingly arbitrary violence that at times brought even agency employees to moments of anguish.

    The report by the Senate Intelligence Committee delivers new allegations of cruelty in a program whose severe tactics have been abundantly documented, revealing that agency medical personnel voiced alarm that waterboarding methods had deteriorated to “a series of near drownings” and that agency employees subjected detainees to “rectal rehydration” and other painful procedures that were never approved.

    The 528-page document catalogues dozens of cases in which CIA officials allegedly deceived their superiors at the White House, members of Congress and even sometimes their peers about how the interrogation program was being run and what it had achieved. In one case, an internal CIA memo relays instructions from the White House to keep the program secret from then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell out of concern that he would “blow his stack if he were to be briefed on what’s been going on.”

    A declassified summary of the committee’s work discloses for the first time a complete roster of the 119 prisoners held in CIA custody and indicates that at least 26 were held because of mistaken identities or bad intelligence. The publicly released summary is drawn from a longer, classified study that exceeds 6,000 pages.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s interrogation program listed, for the first time, the names of the 119 detainees who went through the agency’s secret prison system. VIEW GRAPHIC
    [View timeline: The CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation]

    The report’s central conclusion is that harsh interrogation measures, deemed torture by program critics including President Obama, did not work. The panel deconstructs prominent claims about the value of the “enhanced” measures, including that they produced breakthrough intelligence in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and dismisses them all as exaggerated if not utterly false — assertions that the CIA and former officers involved in the program vehemently dispute.

    In a statement from the White House, Obama said the Senate report “documents a troubling program” and “reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as [a] nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests.” Obama praised the CIA’s work to degrade al-Qaeda over the past 13 years but said the agency’s interrogation program “did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners.”

    The CIA issued a 112-page response to the Senate report, acknowledging failings in the interrogation program but denying that it intentionally misled the public or policymakers about an effort that it maintains delivered critical intelligence.

    “The intelligence gained from the program was critical to our understanding of al-Qa’ida and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day,” CIA Director John Brennan, who was a senior officer at the agency when it set up secret prisons for al-Qaeda suspects, said in a written statement. The program “did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives,” he said.

    The release of the report comes at an unnerving time in the country’s conflict with al-Qaeda and its offshoots. The Islamic State has beheaded three Americans in recent months and seized control of territory across Iraq and Syria. Fears that the report could ignite new overseas violence against American interests prompted Secretary of State John F. Kerry to appeal to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Senate committee, to consider a delay. The report has also been at the center of intense bureaucratic and political fights that erupted this year in accusations that the CIA surreptitiously monitored the computers used by committee aides involved in the investigation.

    Many of the most haunting sections of the Senate document are passages taken from internal CIA memos and e-mails as agency employees described their visceral reactions to searing interrogation scenes. At one point in 2002, CIA employees at a secret site in Thailand broke down emotionally after witnessing the harrowing treatment of Abu Zubaida, a high-profile facilitator for ­al-Qaeda.

    Almost 13 years after the CIA established secret prisons to hold and interrogate detainees, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the CIA’s programs. The report lists 20 key findings. VIEW GRAPHIC
    “Several on the team profoundly affected,” one agency employee wrote at the time, “. . . some to the point of tears and choking up.” The passage is contrasted with closed-door testimony from high-ranking CIA officials, including then-CIA Director Michael V. Hayden, who when asked by a senator in 2007 whether agency personnel had expressed reservations replied: “I’m not aware of any. These guys are more experienced. No.”

    The investigation was conducted exclusively by the Senate committee’s Democratic staff. Its release Tuesday is certain to stir new debate over a program that has been a source of contention since the first details about the CIA’s secret prison network began to surface publicly a decade ago. Even so, the report is unlikely to lead to new sanctions or structural change.

    The document names only a handful of high-ranking CIA employees and does not call for any further investigation of those involved or even offer any formal recommendations. It steers clear of scrutinizing the involvement of the White House and Justice Department, which two years ago ruled out the possibility that CIA employees would face prosecution.

    Instead, the Senate text is largely aimed at shaping how the interrogation program will be regarded by history. The inquiry was driven by Feinstein and her frequently stated determination to foreclose any prospect that the United States might contemplate such tactics again. Rather than argue their morality, Feinstein set out to prove that they did not work.

    In her foreword to the report, Feinstein does not characterize the CIA’s actions as torture but says the trauma of 9/11 led the agency to employ “brutal interrogation techniques in violation of U.S. law, treaty obligations, and our values.” The report should serve as “a warning for the future,” she says.

    “We cannot again allow history to be forgotten and grievous past mistakes to be repeated,” Feinstein says.

    The reaction to the report, however, only reinforced how polarizing the CIA program remains more than five years after it was ordered dismantled by Obama.

    Over the past year, the CIA assembled a lengthy and detailed rebuttal to the committee’s findings that argues that all but a few of the panel’s conclusions are unfounded. Hayden and other agency veterans have for months been planning a similarly aggressive response.

    The report also faced criticism from Republicans on the Intelligence Committee who submitted a response to the report that cited alleged inaccuracies and faulted the committee’s decision to base its findings exclusively on CIA documents without interviewing any of the operatives involved. Democrats have said they did so to avoid interfering with a separate Justice Department inquiry.

    The program’s start
    At its height, the CIA program included secret prisons in countries including Afghanistan, Thailand, Romania, Lithuania and Poland — locations that are referred to only by color-themed codes in the report, such as “COBALT,” to preserve a veneer of secrecy.

    The establishment of the “black sites” was part of a broader transformation of the CIA in which it rapidly morphed from an agency focused on intelligence-gathering into a paramilitary force with new powers to capture prisoners, disrupt plots, and assemble a fleet of armed drones to carry out targeted killings of al-Qaeda militants.

    The report reveals the often haphazard ways in which the agency assumed these new roles. Within days of the 9/11 attacks, for example, President George W. Bush had signed a secret memorandum giving the CIA new authority to “undertake operations designed to capture and detain persons who pose a continuing, serious threat of violence or death to U.S. persons and interests.”

    But the memo made no reference to interrogations, providing no explicit authority for what would become an elaborately drawn list of measures — including sleep deprivation, slams against cell walls and simulated drowning — to get detainees to talk. The Bush memo was a murky point of origin for a program that is portrayed throughout the Senate report as chaotically mismanaged.

    One of the most lengthy sections describes the interrogation of the CIA’s first prisoner, Abu Zubaida, who was detained in Pakistan in March 2002. Abu Zubaida, badly injured when he was captured, was largely cooperative when jointly questioned by the CIA and FBI but was then subjected to confusing and increasingly violent interrogation as the agency assumed control.

    After being transferred to a site in Thailand, Abu Zubaida was placed in isolation for 47 days, a period during which the presumably important source on al-Qaeda faced no questions. Then, at 11:50 a.m. on Aug. 4, 2002, the CIA launched a round-the-clock interrogation assault — slamming him against walls, stuffing him into a coffin-size box and waterboarding him until he coughed, vomited, and had “involuntary spasms of the torso and extremities.”

    The treatment continued for 17 days. At one point, the waterboarding left Abu Zubaida “completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.” CIA memos described employees who were distraught and concerned about the legality of what they had witnessed. One said that “two, perhaps three” were “likely to elect transfer.”

    The Senate report suggests top CIA officials at headquarters had little sympathy. When a cable from Thailand warned that the Abu Zubaida interrogation was “approach[ing] the legal limit,” Jose Rodriguez, then chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, cautioned subordinates to refrain from such “speculative language as to the legality” of the interrogation. “Such language is not helpful.”

    Through a spokesman, Rodriguez told The Washington Post that he never instructed employees not to send cables about the legality of interrogations.

    Abu Zubaida, also known as Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, was waterboarded 83 times and kept in cramped boxes for nearly 300 hours. In October 2002, Bush was informed in his daily intelligence briefing that Abu Zubaida was still withholding “significant threat information,” despite views from the black site that he had been truthful from the outset and was “compliant and cooperative,” the report said.

    The document provides a similarly detailed account of the interrogation of the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who fed his interrogators a stream of falsehoods and intelligence fragments. Waterboarding was supposed to simulate suffocation with a damp cloth and a trickle of liquid. But with Mohammed, CIA operatives used their hands to form a standing pool of water over his mouth. KSM, as he is known in agency documents, was ingesting “a LOT of water,” a CIA medical officer wrote, saying that the application had been so altered that “we are basically doing a series of near drownings.”

    The CIA has maintained that only three prisoners were subjected to waterboarding, but the report alludes to evidence that it may have been used on others, including photographs of a well-worn waterboard at a black site where its use was never officially recorded. The committee said the agency could not explain the presence of the board and water-dousing equipment at the site, which is not named in the report but is believed to be the “Salt Pit” in Afghanistan.

    There are also references to other procedures, including the use of tubes to administer “rectal rehydration” and feeding. CIA documents describe a case in which a prisoner’s lunch tray “consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins was ‘pureed’ and rectally infused.” At least five CIA detainees were subjected to “rectal rehydration” or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity.

    At times, senior CIA operatives voiced deep misgivings. In early 2003, a CIA officer in the interrogation program described it as a “train [wreck] waiting to happen” and that “I intend to get the hell off the train before it happens.” The officer, identified by former colleagues as Charlie Wise, subsequently retired and died in 2003. He had been picked for the job despite being reprimanded for his role in other troubled interrogation efforts in the 1980s in Beirut, former officials said.

    The agency’s records of the program were so riddled with errors, according to the report, that the CIA often offered conflicting counts of how many prisoners it had.

    In 2007, then-CIA Director Hayden testified in a closed-door session with the Senate panel that “in the history of the program, we’ve had 97 detainees.” In reality, the number was 119, according to the report, including 39 who had been subjected to harsh interrogation methods.

    Two years later, when Hayden was preparing to deliver an early intelligence briefing for senior aides to newly elected President Obama, a subordinate noted that the actual count was significantly higher. Hayden “instructed me to keep the detainee number at 98,” the employee wrote to himself in an e-mail, “pick whatever date i needed to make that happen but the number is 98.”

    Hayden comes under particularly pointed scrutiny in the report, which includes a 38-page table comparing his statements to often conflicting agency documents. The section is listed as an “example of inaccurate CIA testimony.”

    In an e-mail to The Post, Hayden said the discrepancy in the prisoner numbers reflected the fact that detainees captured before the start of the interrogation program were counted separately from those held at the black sites. “This is a question of booking, not a question of deception,” Hayden said. He also said he directed the analyst who had called the discrepancy to his attention to confirm the revised accounting and then inform the incoming CIA director, Leon E. Panetta, that there was a new number and that the figure should be corrected with Congress.

    Hayden said he would have explained this to the committee if given the chance. “Maybe if the committee had talked to real people and accessed their notes we wouldn’t have to have this conversation,” he said, describing the matter as an “example of [committee] methodology. Take a stray ‘fact’ and claim its meaning to fit the desired narrative (mass deception).”

    The report cites other cases in which CIA officials are alleged to have obscured facts about the program. In 2003, when David Addington, a lawyer who worked for Vice President Richard B. Cheney, asked whether the CIA had videotaped interrogations of Abu Zubaida, CIA General Counsel Scott Muller informed agency colleagues that he had “told him that tapes were not being made.” Muller apparently did not mention that the CIA had recorded dozens of interrogation sessions or that some in the agency were eager to have them destroyed.

    The tapes were destroyed in 2005 at the behest of Rodriguez, a move that triggered a Justice Department investigation. The committee also revealed that a 21-hour section of recordings — which depicted the waterboarding of Abu Zubaida — had gone missing years earlier when then-CIA Inspector General John Hel­gerson’s office sought to review them as part of an inquiry into the interrogation program.

    Helgerson would go on to find substantial problems with the program. But, in contrast to the Senate panel’s findings, his report concluded that the agency’s “interrogation of terrorists has provided intelligence that has enabled the identification and apprehension of other terrorists and warned of terrorist plots planned for the United States and around the world.”

    Intelligence claims
    A prominent section of the Senate report is devoted to high-profile claims that the interrogation program produced “unique” and otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped thwart plots or led to the capture of senior al-Qaeda operatives.

    Senate investigators said none of the claims held up under scrutiny, with some unraveling because information was erroneously attributed to detainees subjected to harsh interrogations, others because the CIA already had information from other sources. In some cases, according to the panel, there was no viable terrorist plot to disrupt.

    A document prepared for Cheney before a March 8, 2005, National Security Council meeting noted in a section titled “Interrogation Results” that “operatives Jose Padilla and Binyam Mohammed planned to build and detonate a ‘dirty bomb’ in the Washington DC area.”

    But according to an April 2003 CIA e-mail, Padilla and Mohammed had apparently taken seriously a “ludicrous and humorous” article about building a dirty bomb in a kitchen by swinging buckets of uranium to enrich it.

    KSM dismissed the idea, as did a government assessment of the proposed plot: “CIA and Lawrence Livermore National Lab have assessed that the article is filled with countless technical inaccuracies which would likely result in the death of anyone attempting to follow the instructions, and definitely would not result in a nuclear explosion,” noted another CIA e-mail in April 2003. The agency nonetheless continued to directly cite the “dirty bomb” plot while defending the interrogation program until at least 2007, the report notes.

    The report also deconstructs the timeline leading to the identification of Padilla and his alleged accomplice. It notes that in April 2002, Pakistani authorities who detained Padilla suspected he was an al-Qaeda member. A few days later, Abu Zubaida described two individuals who were pursuing what was described as a “cockamamie” dirty-bomb plot. The connection was made by the CIA immediately, months before the use of harsh interrogation on Abu Zubaida.

    Some within the CIA were derisive of the continuing exploitation of the dirty-bomb plot by the agency. “We’ll never be able to successfully expunge Padilla and the ‘dirty bomb’ plot from the lore of disruption, but once again I’d like to go on the record that Padilla admitted that the only reason he came up with so-called ‘dirty bomb’ was that he wanted to get out of Afghanistan and figured that if he came up with something spectacular, they’d finance him,” wrote the head of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear group at the CIA Counterterrorism Center. “Even KSM says Padilla had a screw loose.”

    In the CIA’s rebuttal, which was delivered in 2013 to the Senate but released publicly on Tuesday for the first time, the agency acknowledged that it took “too long to stop making references to his infeasible ‘Dirty Bomb’ plot” but said Padilla was a legitimate threat and “a good example of the importance of intelligence derived from the detainee program.”

    In another high-profile case, the CIA credited the interrogation program with the capture of Hambali, a senior member of the Southeast Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiah and the suspected mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombing, which killed more than 200 people. In a briefing for the president’s chief of staff, for instance, the CIA wrote, “During [KSM’s] interrogation we acquired information that led to the capture of Hambali.” But the Senate found that information from KSM played no role in Hambali’s capture and that, in fact, information leading to his detention came from signals intelligence, a CIA source, and investigations by the Thai authorities.

    Similarly, the CIA said the interrogation program led to the discovery of the “Second Wave” attacks, a plan by KSM to employ non-Arabs to use airplanes to hit targets on the West Coast. Associated with this in CIA reporting was the identification of al-Ghuraba, a cell of Jemaah Is­lamiah.

    In a November 2007 briefing for Bush on “Plots Discovered as a Result of EITs,” or “enhanced interrogation techniques,” the CIA said it “learned” about the Second Wave and al-Ghuraba “after applying the waterboard along with interrogation techniques.” But the Senate report says the plot was disrupted by a series of arrests and interrogations that had nothing to do with the CIA program.

    Even the hunt for bin Laden was accompanied by exaggerations of the role of brutal interrogation techniques, according to the report. In particular, the committee found that the interrogations played no meaningful role in the identification of a courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, who would lead the agency to bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

    Games – Click Here for More!
    The CIA’s document reiterates its claim that coercive measures helped, saying the tactics led two detainees in agency custody, Ammar al-Baluchi and Hassan Ghul, to provide important clues to the courier. Baluchi was the first to identify Kuwaiti as bin Laden’s messenger, and did so only “after undergoing enhanced interrogation techniques.”

    Ghul, who was captured in Iraq, went even further, confirming under coercive pressure that Kuwaiti had delivered a letter from bin Laden to another al-Qaeda operative and had vanished along with the al-Qaeda chief in 2002.

    But the committee cited CIA records showing that Ghul’s revelations came before he was subjected to harsh measures. In an interview with the CIA inspector general’s office, a CIA officer familiar with Ghul’s case said that he “sang like a tweetie bird. He opened up right away and was cooperative from the outset.”

    Steven Rich and Swati Sharma contributed to this report.

    By Greg Miller, Adam Goldman and Julie Tate December 9 2014

    Find this story at 9 December 2014

    Copyright washingtonpost.com

    CIA not in contempt over interrogation tapes, judge says (2011)

    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.


    Investigators mapped flight paths of private contractor planes that stopped in Djibouti, a suspected CIA ‘black site’

    New evidence culled from a court case involving CIA contractors has revealed flight paths through Djibouti that appear to indicate the country’s role as a hub of the CIA’s rendition network in Africa, according to documents released by the U.K.-based human rights group Reprieve and New York University’s Global Justice Clinic.

    The documents could support the case of Mohammad al-Asad, a former CIA detainee who is suing the government of Djibouti for its alleged role in hosting CIA “black sites” — specifically the one where he says he was detained and tortured for two weeks between December 2003 and January 2004. A Senate investigation into the agency’s “detention and interrogation program” had previously confirmed that several individuals had in fact been detained in Djibouti, according to two officials who read the still-classified report and spoke to Al Jazeera.

    Investigators behind the document release combed through contracts, invoices and letters put into evidence for a court case — which involved CIA contractors and was separate from the Djibouti allegations — and pieced together a series of rendition circuits, or flight paths, between 2003 and 2004. They include legs through Djibouti — even though the Horn of Africa did not appear to be a convenient stopover between the United States and Afghanistan, the circuits’ endpoints.

    “Djibouti was not on the way, it was a destination,” said Margaret Satterthwaite, al-Asad’s attorney and a professor at the Global Justice Clinic. “That’s kind of a telltale sign of a rendition circuit.”

    The evidence also implicated private companies — including Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC), DynCorp Systems and Solutions (which was purchased by CSC in 2003 and later divested), Richmor Aviation and First Flight — in the Africa rendition program for the first time.

    “These documents provide further evidence of how U.S. corporations played a crucial role in the CIA’s torture network, rendering people to torture around the world far from public scrutiny and even further from the rule of law,” said Kevin Lo, corporate social responsibility advocate at Reprieve.

    A spokesman for Computer Sciences Corp. said his company did not comment on “speculation about its clients or their activities” but added in an email to Al Jazeera: “CSC has had the privilege for over fifty years of supporting governments and private sector organizations worldwide, and has done so within the law.”

    Richmor Aviation and First Flight did not respond to Al Jazeera’s requests for comment in time for publication.

    Al-Asad’s case is currently under consideration by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, al-Asad, who is now 54 years old, said he was taken from his home in Tanzania to Djibouti, where he was detained for two weeks. He was then rendered to Afghanistan, where he says he was tortured at various points over the course of more than a year at several CIA black site prisons.

    Djibouti has vehemently denied “knowing” participation in any U.S. rendition or torture programs in the country. Its ambassador to the U.S., Roble Olhaye, called al-Asad a “liar.”

    “Everything about his case relies on hearsay and conjecture. There were no flights that came to Djibouti on that day he said he was brought to my country from Tanzania,” Olhaye said. “That was checked by our lawyers.”

    Human rights researchers say that after the 9/11 attacks, dozens of suspects captured by the U.S. were secretly detained, interrogated and tortured in Djibouti. Although President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2009 banning the CIA’s use of black-site prisons, the order states that it does “not apply to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis.”

    And while Djibouti says it is not aware the CIA had ever operated a black-site prison on its soil, Olhaye pointed out: “If something was done in the context of the American base there, how would we know?”

    Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, which hosts the Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa, is a known hub for U.S. drone operations against Al-Qaeda in Yemen and Al-Shabab in Somalia.

    Satterthwaite said the choice of Djibouti for a black site is logical not only because the country has been a strategic partner in the U.S. “war on terror” for more than a decade, but also because the country has a long history of silencing human rights advocates and journalists. “It’s not hard to keep things secret there,” she said.

    May 9, 2014 9:15AM ET
    by Michael Pizzi @michaelwpizzi

    Find this story at 9 May 2014

    © 2014 Al Jazeera America, LLC.


    Horn of Africa nation has denied hosting secret prison facilities for US, but classified document may undermine claim

    The legal case of a former CIA detainee suing the government of Djibouti for hosting the facility where he says he was detained could be helped by the contents of a still-classified Senate report. Djibouti, a key U.S. ally, has denied for years that its territory has been used to keep suspected Al-Qaeda operatives in secret captivity. But the Senate investigation into the agency’s “detention and interrogation program” concluded that several people had been secretly detained in the tiny Horn of Africa state, two U.S. officials who read an early draft of the report told Al Jazeera.

    Official confirmation of Djibouti’s role in hosting “black sites” used in the CIA’s rendition program would be welcomed by Mohammad al-Asad, a Yemeni arrested at his home in Tanzania on Dec. 27, 2003, blindfolded and flown to a location he insists was Djibouti. Two U.S. officials who read an early draft of the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation — and who requested anonymity because the report remains classified — were unaware of whether al-Asad’s case was specifically cited in the document. But they confirmed that the report found that several detainees had been held in Djibouti, and that at least two of them had been wrongfully detained.

    Djibouti’s Ambassador to the U.S., Roble Olhaye, told Al Jazeera his country was not a “knowing participant” in the CIA’s rendition program and he rejected claims by al-Asad that he was temporarily imprisoned there.

    However, Olhaye said, “If something was done in the context of the American base there how would we know?” But, he said, Djibouti’s agreement with the U.S. precluded the base from being used to house prisoners.

    Al-Asad said that after his arrival in the country he alleges was Djibouti, he was held in a prison cell and tortured. He said he was interrogated by an American woman about his connections to the now-defunct Saudi charity Al-Haramain. The group, later accused by the U.S. Treasury of supporting terrorism, had in 1994 rented apartment space from al-Asad in a building he owned in Tanzania.

    Yemeni citizen Mohammad al-Asad
    In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, al-Asad, now 54 years old, said he was detained for about two weeks in Djibouti and then rendered to Afghanistan, where he says he was tortured at various points over the course of more than a year at several CIA black site prisons.

    Before he was released in 2005 and sent back to Yemen, he said, he received a visitor from Washington.

    “What I remember through the interpreter was that he said, ‘I am the head of the prison, and you will be the first one at the top of the list of the people we are going to release because we have nothing on you,’” al-Asad told Al Jazeera. “The interpreter said that he was the director of all the prisons.”

    Al-Asad was never charged with terrorism or related crimes, but he pleaded guilty in Yemen to making false statements and using forged documents to obtain his Tanzanian travel papers.

    Al-Asad, who still lives in Yemen, has been trying since his release to hold Djibouti officials accountable for his detention. In 2009, he sought redress from the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, a quasi-judicial body that has jurisdiction over Djibouti and other countries that approved the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. In the coming days, that commission, which is based in Gambia, is expected to decide whether it will take up al-Asad’s case.

    Olhaye called al-Asad a “liar”, adding, “Everything about his case relies on hearsay and conjecture. There were no flights that came to Djibouti on that day he said he was brought to my country from Tanzania. That was checked by our lawyers.”

    But John Sifton, the Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, who has spent more than a decade investigating the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program testified before the commission last year and said “the fact that the flight records of CIA aircraft that are public do not include a flight that matches Mr. al-Asad’s trajectory is not indicative of anything in and of itself.”

    Sifton said the CIA could “easily circumvent data collection” and “aircraft used by the CIA could easily be rendered untraceable while flying in and around Djibouti.”

    Al-Asad has based his legal case on flight records, collected by Human Rights Watch and the U.K.-based human rights charity Reprieve, demonstrating CIA-linked aircraft flying in and out of Djibouti (PDF).

    His lawyers have also obtained documents from Tanzanian immigration officials stating that al-Asad was sent to Djibouti on a Tanzanair aircraft after his 2003 arrest.

    “This is one of the most direct pieces of evidence we have showing that Djibouti is where our client was held before being handed to the rendition team on the tarmac,” said Margaret Satterthwaite, al-Asad’s attorney and a professor at New York University’s Global Justice Clinic.

    Al-Asad, who still lives in Yemen, has been trying since his release to hold Djibouti officials accountable for his detention.
    If the case proceeds, it will mark the first such investigation into the workings of the rendition program in Africa, and could open the door to additional legal challenges by former “war on terror” captives.

    A handful of similar cases are already pending before the European Court of Human Rights. However, U.S. courts — citing state secrecy — have rejected attempts by detainees to hold their former captors accountable.

    Al Jazeera’s sources noted that in addition to 6 million pages of CIA records, Senate committee investigators obtained some information about the wrongful detentions from people they characterized as “whistleblowers.” The U.S. officials declined to elaborate.

    Djibouti, a former French colony, has been one of the key U.S. counterterrorism partners for more than a decade, hosting the Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonnier. The U.S. Air Force also reportedly uses Djibouti as a base for a fleet of drones to strike at Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabab suspects in Yemen and Somalia.

    According to human rights researchers, after 9/11 dozens of suspects captured by the U.S. were secretly detained, interrogated and tortured in Djibouti.

    The Obama administration, as recently as August 2012, reportedly continued to render suspects to Djibouti for short-term detention. Although President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2009 banning the CIA’s use of black-site prisons, the order states that it does “not apply to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis.”

    Confirmation by the Senate Intelligence Committee of Djibouti’s role in the rendition program would be a “critical” development, said Satterthwaite.

    “The cooperation of countries all over the world — including Djibouti — was central to the operation of the U.S. rendition, secret detention, and torture program,” Satterthwaite said. “While the role of European partners such as Poland and Romania has been the subject of much reporting and investigation, the assistance of countries such as Djibouti has yet to be scrutinized. Further, as the home of a fleet of U.S. drones, Djibouti is an enormously important partner but has not received adequate scrutiny for its role in facilitating U.S. abuses.”

    The cooperation of countries all over the world — including Djibouti — was central to the operation of the U.S. rendition, secret detention, and torture program.
    Margaret Satterthwaite
    Al-Asad’s attorney
    Jonathan Horowitz, who works on national security and legal issues at the Open Society Justice Initiative, said al-Asad’s case provides the African human rights commission with an opportunity “to state that African governments can’t collude with other governments to abuse human rights, and they can’t use the fight against terrorism to justify violating people’s rights.”

    Last year, Open Society issued a report, Globalizing Torture, which found that 54 countries, including Djibouti, were complicit in the extraordinary rendition of 136 CIA prisoners. The nonpartisan Constitution Project also produced a Detainee Task Force report identifying Djibouti as a CIA rendition partner and focused heavily on al-Asad’s case to support its conclusions.

    “One of the things that is really important to recognize here is that the CIA torture and rendition program couldn’t have gone global without the assistance from other countries,” Horowitz said.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to work on strengthening its counterterrorism relationship with Djibouti. Next week, Djibouti’s president, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, will travel to the U.S. to meet with President Obama at the White House. Ambassador Olhaye does not believe the Senate’s report, if it is ever released, will identify his country as a rendition partner.

    “I don’t believe the Senate report will say anything about my government,” he said. “Maybe about the American base. Our prisons have not been participating in that kind of thing.” Olhaye said neither he nor anyone from his country has had any discussions with U.S. officials about the Senate’s report.

    May 2, 2014 5:00AM ET
    by Jason Leopold @JasonLeopold

    Find this story at 2 May 2014

    © 2014 Al Jazeera America, LLC.


    Senate investigators want public reckoning of torture tactics under Bush admin., despite CIA attempts to obstruct

    The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted 11-3 Thursday to declassify parts of a secret report on Bush-era interrogations of terrorism suspects.
    “The purpose of this review was to uncover the facts behind this secret program, and the results were shocking. The report exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation. It chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the committee, said in a statement. “This is not what Americans do.”
    Now that the 15-member panel votes has approved the declassification of a 400-page summary and the key findings of its report, the onus is on the Central Intelligence Agency and a reluctant White House to speed the release of one of the most definitive accounts about the government’s actions after the 9/11 attacks.

    The CIA will now start scanning the report’s contents for any passages that compromise national security.

    That has led to fears that the CIA, already accused of illegally monitoring the Senate’s investigation and deleting files, could sanitize key elements of what Senate investigators aim to be the fullest public reckoning of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” used on Al-Qaeda suspects in CIA-run prisons abroad. Feinstein has urged the White House to get involved.
    Thumbnail image for Senate CIA torture report could throw Gitmo hearings into chaos
    Senate CIA torture report could throw Gitmo hearings into chaos
    Release of study on detention program might further disrupt military commissions for terrorist suspects at Guantánamo

    Congressional aides and outside experts familiar with the document say it is highly critical of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods, and concludes among other things that such practices provided no key evidence in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. The CIA disputes many of the conclusions in the report.

    “It’s important to tell the world, ‘Yes, we made a mistake and we’re not going to do it again,'” said Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who planned to vote for the summary’s release.

    Human rights groups and advocates too believe the release of the report crucial to ensuring that similar tactics are never adopted again and that the debate over torture is settled once and for all.
    “This information has been kept secret from the American people and from policymakers for years and keeping it secret just perpetuates the false impression that torture is effective and works,” said Laura Pitter, senior national security researcher at Human Rights Watch. “In fact, is is immoral, illegal and ineffective and never should be employed, and was a terrible mistake that the U.S. needs to reckon with on so m any levels.”

    But some in the intelligence community said the Senate report, which was written by the committee’s Democratic staff, was missing a key element: the voices of key CIA officials.

    Those missing include former Bush administration officials involved in authorizing the use of waterboarding and other harsh questioning methods, or managing their use in secret “black site” prisons overseas.

    “Neither I or anyone else at the agency who had knowledge was interviewed,” said Jose Rodriguez, the CIA’s chief clandestine officer in the mid-2000s, who had operational oversight over the detention and interrogation program. “They don’t want to hear anyone else’s narrative,” he said of the Senate investigation. “It’s an attempt to rewrite history.”

    Rodriguez himself is a key figure in the Senate report, not least for his order in 2005 to destroy 92 videotapes showing waterboarding of terror suspects and other harsh techniques.

    Rodriguez said the Senate’s report would be a “travesty” without input from him and officials such as former CIA directors Michael Hayden and Porter Goss. Congressional aides said the CIA’s own field reports, internal correspondence, cables and other documents described day-to-day handling of interrogations and the decision-making and actions of Rodriguez and others.

    Senate investigators have griped for years about what they contend is the CIA’s failure to be held accountable for the harsh methods used during the George W. Bush administration’s war on terror.

    Bad blood between Senate aides and the CIA ruptured into the open last month when Feinstein took to the Senate floor to accuse the agency of improperly monitoring the computer use of Senate staffers and deleting files, undermining the Constitution’s separation of powers. The CIA alleges the Senate panel illegally accessed certain documents. The Justice Department is reviewing criminal complaints against each side.

    Feinstein said this week she had “no idea” how long a declassification process would take, but expressed hope that it could be resolved in a matter of weeks.

    Amid all the distrust, Senate Democrats are pressing for President Barack Obama to step into the fray.

    Obama, who outlawed waterboarding after taking office, sought closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and released long-secret, Bush-era legal documents on harsh interrogations. He has publicly supported declassification of at least the findings of the Senate committee’s report “so that the American people can understand what happened in the past, and that can help guide us as we move forward.”

    Still, the president has so far declined to weigh in publicly on Congress’ dispute with the CIA.

    April 3, 2014 12:19PM ET Updated 3:26PM ET
    Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

    Find this story at 3 April 2014

    © 2014 Al Jazeera America, LLC.

    UK urged to admit that CIA used island as secret ‘black site’ prison

    Human rights group representing Gaddafi opponent rendered to Libya via Diego Garcia says Britain must ‘come clean’ over role
    Jamie Doward

    The government is under mounting pressure to “come clean” about the role of an overseas UK territory leased to the US and allegedly used as a secret “black site” detention centre.

    An opponent of Colonel Gaddafi who was rendered in a joint MI6-CIA operation, and a leading human rights group representing him, have demanded that the foreign secretary, William Hague, clarify the UK’s position on Diego Garcia, an atoll in the Indian Ocean leased to the US until 2016. The Senate’s intelligence security committee is preparing to declassify a file that reportedly confirms that the CIA detained “high-value suspects on Diego Garcia” and that “the black site arrangement on the atoll was made with the ‘full cooperation’ of the British government”.

    The revelations are hugely troubling for the government and threaten to raise awkward questions about the UK’s relationship with the US, its closest security ally. They strengthen claims made by Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, a rebel military commander and opponent of Gaddafi, who was arrested in Malaysia and rendered with his pregnant wife to Libya, allegedly via Diego Garcia, in a joint US-UK intelligence operation.

    Papers discovered in Tripoli in 2011 show that the British security services were instrumental in helping Libya to seize Belhaj, who says he was tortured during his rendition and during his subsequent four-and-a-half-year incarceration by the Gaddafi regime. A flight plan confirmed the CIA had intended to render him via Diego Garcia.

    Belhaj, who unsuccessfully tried to bring a case against former foreign secretary Jack Straw, former senior MI6 official Sir Mark Allen, the security services and the Foreign Office, told the Observer that the Senate report raised new questions about the role played by the British overseas territory in facilitating the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme.

    “The first time I heard that I had gone through a place called Diego Garcia was when I was told by the head of the Libyan intelligence, Moussa Koussa, during my first interrogation session in a prison outside Tripoli,” Belhaj said.

    “He was running the interrogation and was angry that it had taken a long time for me to arrive in Libya. I told him that the plane had stopped somewhere on the way from Bangkok. He told me that he knew, and that the plane had landed on an island in the Indian Ocean called Diego Garcia.

    “Perhaps he was showing off, or perhaps he had been given wrong information, I don’t know. I just know that the flight stopped somewhere. I was chained up in a very painful position and had no means to know where I was, or even whether my pregnant wife – who had been kidnapped at the same time – was with me.”

    Although the British government admitted in 2008 that two rendition flights carrying detainees had stopped for refuelling on Diego Garcia in 2002, it has consistently denied that detainees were held on it.

    “Each year the US government reaffirms to us during our official political-military discussions that all previous assurances since 2008 on this subject remain correct,” Mark Simmonds, the minister for overseas territories, wrote in a letter last month to Richard Ottaway, the chairman of parliament’s foreign affairs select committee. “Namely that, apart from two instances in Diego Garcia during 2002, there have been no other instances in which US intelligence flights landed in the United Kingdom, UK overseas territories or crown dependencies, with a detainee on board since 11 September 2001.”

    Polly Rossdale, deputy director at human rights group Reprieve, which has acted for Belhaj, said: “The government must come clean about the UK’s role in this dirty affair.”

    A spokesman for the Foreign Office declined to add any comment to what ministers had already told parliament.

    The Observer, Sunday 13 April 2014

    Find this story at 13 April 2014

    © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Senate Asks C.I.A. to Share Its Report on Interrogations

    WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the C.I.A. for an internal study done by the agency that lawmakers believe is broadly critical of the C.I.A.’s detention and interrogation program but was withheld from congressional oversight committees.

    The committee’s request comes in the midst of a yearlong battle with the C.I.A. over the release of the panel’s own exhaustive report about the program, one of the most controversial policies of the post-Sept. 11 era.

    The Senate report, totaling more than 6,000 pages, was completed last December but has yet to be declassified. According to people who have read the study, it is unsparing in its criticism of the now-defunct interrogation program and presents a chronicle of C.I.A. officials’ repeatedly misleading the White House, Congress and the public about the value of brutal methods that, in the end, produced little valuable intelligence.

    Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, disclosed the existence of the internal C.I.A. report during an Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday. He said he believed it was begun several years ago and “is consistent with the Intelligence’s Committee’s report” although it “conflicts with the official C.I.A. response to the committee’s report.”

    “If this is true,” Mr. Udall said during a hearing on the nomination of Caroline D. Krass to be the C.I.A.’s top lawyer, “this raises fundamental questions about why a review the C.I.A. conducted internally years ago — and never provided to the committee — is so different from the C.I.A.’s formal response to the committee study.”

    The agency responded to the committee report with a vigorous 122-page rebuttal that challenged both the Senate report’s specific facts and its overarching conclusions. John O. Brennan, one of Mr. Obama’s closest advisers before taking over the C.I.A. this year — and who denounced the interrogation program during his confirmation hearing — delivered the agency’s response to the Intelligence Committee himself.

    It is unclear what the agency specifically concluded in its internal review.

    Mr. Udall, whose public criticisms of the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone data has raised his profile in Congress and won him praise from privacy advocates, said he would not support Ms. Krass’s nomination until the C.I.A. provided more information to the committee about the interrogation program.

    Ms. Krass did not respond directly to Mr. Udall’s statements about the internal C.I.A. review. Dean Boyd, an agency spokesman, said the agency was “aware of the committee’s request and will respond appropriately.”

    Mr. Boyd said that the C.I.A. agreed with a number of the conclusions of the voluminous Senate investigative report, but found “significant errors in the study.”

    “C.I.A. and committee staff have had extensive dialogue on this issue, and the agency is prepared to work with the committee to determine the best way forward on potential declassification,” he said.

    Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who is the Intelligence Committee’s chairwoman, said recently that her committee would soon vote to adopt the report’s executive summary and conclusion, which would then be subject to a formal declassification process before it was publicly released.

    Republican members of the committee, angry about what they see as a biased and shoddy investigation by their Democratic colleagues, are planning to make public a rebuttal of their own.

    The Senate report, which took years to complete and cost more than $40 million to produce, began as an attempt to document what was perhaps the most divisive of the Bush administration’s responses to the Sept. 11 attacks. But it has since become enmeshed in the complex politics of the Obama administration.

    President Obama ended the detention program as one of his first acts in the Oval Office, and has repeatedly denounced the C.I.A.’s interrogation methods under the program. During a speech in May, he said that the United States had “compromised our basic values by using torture to interrogate our enemies, and detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law.”

    And yet Mr. Obama has repeatedly resisted demands by human rights groups to seek prosecutions for the lawyers who approved the interrogation methods or the people who carried them out, and the White House has been mostly silent during the debate over the past year about declassifying the Senate report.

    For all his criticisms of the counterterrorism excesses during the Bush administration, Mr. Obama has put the C.I.A. at the center of his strategy to kill militant suspects in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere.

    Human rights groups have tried to pressure the White House to intervene to get the Senate report declassified.

    “Whether it’s stalling or concealing, the C.I.A. is trying to avoid reckoning with its past abuse,” said Naureen Shah of Amnesty International USA. “And that’s what makes declassifying the Senate’s report so crucial right now.”

    Ms. Krass is a career government lawyer who works at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, the arm of the department that advises the White House on the legality of domestic and foreign policies.

    The office was particularly controversial during the Bush administration, when lawyers there wrote lengthy memos approving C.I.A. interrogation methods like waterboarding and sleep deprivation, as well as signing off on the expansion of surveillance by the National Security Agency.

    Under Mr. Obama, the office has approved other controversial practices, including the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric living in Yemen who was an American. Mr. Awlaki was killed in September 2011 by a C.I.A. drone strike, launched from a secret base in Saudi Arabia.

    Much of Tuesday’s hearing was consumed by a debate about whether the White House should be forced to share Justice Department legal memos.

    Under polite but persistent questioning by members of both parties, Ms. Krass repeatedly said that while the two congressional intelligence committees need to “fully understand” the legal basis for C.I.A. activities, they were not entitled to see the Justice Department memos that provide the legal blueprint for secret programs.

    The opinions “represent pre-decisional, confidential legal advice that has been provided,” she said, adding that the confidentiality of the legal advice was necessary to allow a “full and frank discussion amongst clients and policy makers and their lawyers within the executive branch.”

    Senator Feinstein appeared unmoved. “Unless we know the administration’s basis for sanctioning a program, it is very hard to oversee it,” she said.

    Still, it is expected that the committee will vote to approve Ms. Krass.

    December 17, 2013

    Find this story at 17 December 2013

    © 2013 The New York Times Company

    British spies ‘knew of detainee abuse’

    Aborted inquiry found that British spies knew detainees were abused, deprived of sleep and made to wear hoods.

    The Obama Administration has repeatedly said it wishes to close the Guantanamo detention facility [AP]

    British spies knew about detainee abuse but were told they did not have to intervene because they might damage relations with the US, a senior British judge has found.

    The report, from Peter Gibson, comes from an inquiry intended to examine whether Britain was implicated in the mistreatment of detainees following the 9/11 attacks.

    But it was scrapped earlier this year after Libya alleged that Britain was complicit in “rendition” – capturing people suspected of terrorism and transferring them to third countries without legal process.

    Gibson found evidence that British spies had been aware of physical assault, sleep deprivation and the use of hoods.

    “Officers were advised that, faced with apparent breaches of Geneva Convention standards, there was no obligation to
    intervene,” he said in the report.

    Britain had been reluctant to complain about the ill-treatment of detainees for fear of damaging relations with allies, including the US, the report said.

    Allegations of torture

    In some cases, British officials failed to raise objections about renditions when they should have, while ministers were unaware of the operations.
    Britain’s MI6 linked to Libya torture scandal

    After reviewing 20,000 documents, Gibson said he had found 27 issues that needed further investigation, including allegations of torture.

    “Documents indicate that in some instances UK intelligence officers were aware of inappropriate interrogation techniques,” the report said.

    “(The) government or its agencies may have become inappropriately involved in some cases of rendition.”

    In response the British government said on Thursday that a parliamentary committee would take over from Gibson’s role and look at Gibson’s outstanding concerns.

    Cabinet minister Ken Clarke said the inquiry’s findings showed Britain’s spy agencies had struggled to come to terms with the threat from armed groups after the 9/11 attacks.

    Unprepared and inadequate

    “It is now clear that our agencies and their staff were in some respects not prepared for the extreme demands suddenly
    placed upon them,” Clarke told parliament.

    “Guidance regulating how intelligence officers should act was inadequate, the practices of some of our international partners should have been understood much sooner. Oversight was not robust enough.”

    The heads of MI5 and MI6, Britain’s domestic and overseas intelligence agencies, have repeatedly said they would never use, or encourage others to use, torture to gain information.

    In November 2010, however, Britain agreed to make payments to 16 former Guantanamo Bay detainees in settlements over claims they were mistreated abroad with the knowledge and in some cases complicity of British spies.

    Last updated: 19 Dec 2013 20:22

    Find this story at 19 December 2013

    Copyright Aljazeera

    Statement by the Detainee Inquiry on publication of its report on 19 December 2013

    Today the Government has published a report submitted to the Prime Minister by Sir Peter Gibson and Dame Janet Paraskeva, the Panel of the Detainee Inquiry, on the Inquiry’s work.

    The Inquiry’s Report speaks for itself. It is a rigorous, thorough and independent piece of work. It reveals more information than ever before about the workings of Government and the Agencies, on the issues highlighted in the report.

    Sir Peter said:

    “There are matters which deserve further investigation. That is what the documents have disclosed and we explain why in our report.”

    Dame Janet said:

    “We have worked hard to put as much as possible into the public domain. I do hope the Government will decide to build on our work in a future Inquiry and give the detainees a chance to have their say.”

    The library of documents, the analysis of information and preliminary identification of potential witnesses the Inquiry carried out, will save any subsequent Inquiry a huge amount of time and resource.

    The report does not find facts or reach conclusions. It is based on the scrutiny of documents, no witness has yet had the opportunity to explain or add to this information. But the Inquiry has shone a bright light onto issues which might be investigated further by a future Inquiry or on which the Government can take action now.

    The Inquiry covered four separate themes: interrogation and treatment issues, rendition, training and guidance as well as policy and communications. Its work revealed 27 separate issues the Inquiry would like to have investigated further and which might be followed up by a future Inquiry.

    In summary the report says:

    Interrogation and Treatment issues:
    Documents indicate that in some instances UK intelligence officers were aware of inappropriate interrogation techniques and mistreatment or allegations of mistreatment of some detainees by liaison partners from other countries.

    Documents indicate that Government or its Agencies may have become inappropriately involved in some cases of rendition.

    Training and Guidance
    No reason to doubt that instruction to personnel was that detainees must be treated humanely and consistently with UK’s international legal obligations. But officers on the ground needed clear guidance on when and with whom to raise concerns.

    Policy and Communications
    Documents raise the question whether the Agencies could have identified possible patterns of detainee mistreatment more quickly and whether or not sufficient information was given to the ISC to enable it to perform its duties.

    Notes for editors:

    The Inquiry’s original task was set out by the Prime Minister when he announced its establishment on 6 July 2010, to: “….look at whether Britain was implicated in the improper treatment of detainees, held by other countries, that may have occurred in the aftermath of 9/11”

    On 18 January 2012, the then Justice Secretary, told the House: “….. following consultations with Sir Peter Gibson, the chair of the Inquiry we have decided to bring the work of his Inquiry to a conclusion. We have agreed with Sir Peter that the Inquiry should provide Government with a report on its preparatory work to date, highlighting particular themes or issues which might be the subject of further examination. The Government are clear that as much of this report as possible will be made public.”

    As the Justice Secretary made clear in his statement to the House, the CPS’ announcement of new criminal investigations to be carried out by the Metropolitan Police meant that the Inquiry start its mandate as originally envisaged.

    The Inquiry examined some 20,000 documents and as a result has raised a number of robust questions for a future Inquiry to investigate further and a number of areas where the Government can act now. The vast majority of the documents the Inquiry examined were highly classified.

    For more information including the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference, Protocol, biographies of Sir Peter Gibson and Dame Janet Paraskeva, and a link to the report please visit: www.detaineeinquiry.org.uk

    Find this story at 19 December 2013

    Find the report at

    © UK Crown Copyright 2013

    MI6 officers told to ignore Geneva convention breaches, Gibson report finds

    British intelligence officers were told to ignore evidence of breaches of the Geneva convention when detainees from Iraq and Afghanistan were being interrogated in 2002, a report by the aborted inquiry into alleged British complicity in torture has found.
    The inquiry was axed earlier this year after fresh criminal investigations were launched into allegations involving Libyan victims Photo: EPA

    British intelligence officers were told to ignore evidence of breaches of the Geneva convention when detainees from Iraq and Afghanistan were being interrogated in 2002, a report by the aborted inquiry into alleged British complicity in torture has found.

    The orders from MI6’s head quarters to intelligence officers came as Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, was telling MPs that anyone who is captured “should be treated humanely in accordance with the Geneva Convention”.

    The report published by Sir Peter Gibson disclosed that in 2002 spies working for MI6 overseas were told to turn a “blind eye” to any evidence they witnessed of breaches of the Convention, which sets out how prisoners should be treated.

    Documents uncovered by the inquiry showed that “officers were advised that, faced with apparent breaches of Geneva Convention standards, there was no obligation to intervene”, the report said.

    “Officers were also advised that such conduct should only be raised with the detaining authority ‘if circumstances allow’. Officers were not advised to cease any interview immediately if they felt that the detainee was not being treated in accordance with the appropriate standards.”
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    MI6 spies died in battle against al-Qaeda, Hague to say 16 Nov 2011

    Mr Blair had told MPs on January 16, 2002 : “I totally agree that anybody who is captured by American troops, British troops or anyone else should be treated humanely in accordance with the Geneva Convention and proper international norms.”

    Yet two days later, Mr Blair wrote on the bottom of a Number 10 note about detainees in Guantanamo: “The key is to find out how they are being treated.

    “Though I was initially sceptical about claims of torture, we must make clear to the US that any such action wd be totally unacceptable & v. quickly establish that it isn’t happening” [sic].

    The partly-redacted report recommended 27 areas which should be examined further, adding that it “would also want to put on its recognition of the extreme harshness of the conditions and the treatment experienced by the detainees”.

    One area it wanted to examine was whether “UK officers may have turned a blind eye to the use of specific, inappropriate techniques or threats used by others and used this to their advantage when resuming an interview session with a now compliant detainee”.

    The inquiry was axed earlier this year after fresh criminal investigations were launched into allegations involving Libyan victims. The report also found that Britain “may have become inappropriately” involved in some cases of rendition of suspected terrorists.

    The heads of both MI5 and MI6 have been asked to give their responses to MPs on the Intelligence and Security Committee, which is investigating the claims, by February.

    Ken Clarke, the Cabinet Office minister in charge of the inquiry, said the report “finds no evidence in the documents to support any allegation that UK intelligence officers were directly responsible for the mistreatment of detainees held by other countries overseas”.

    He added that it was important when considering the report to bear in mind it was a period “when we and our international partners were suddenly adapting to a completely new scale and type of threat from fundamentalist religious extremists.

    Mr Clarke said: “It is now clear that our agencies and their staff were in some respects not prepared for the extreme demands suddenly placed on them.”

    He said: “There is some damage to our reputation which prides itself as a beacon of justice, human rights and the rule of law. If failures and mistakes were made in this period that is a matter of sincere regret.”

    Jack Straw, who was Labour foreign secretary at the time, flatly denied that he knowingly facilitated the torture of British citizens by US authorities, even though he authorised their transfer to Guantanamo Bay.

    By Christopher Hope, Senior Political Correspondent
    4:34PM GMT 19 Dec 2013

    Find this story at 19 December 2013

    © Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2013

    Gibson report: British role in al-Qa’ida renditions exposed

    MI6 agents in Afghanistan were told they were not obliged to intervene if they witnessed suspected terrorists being harmed by their American captors, an official inquiry into allegations Britain was complicit in torture has disclosed.

    It also concluded that UK operatives “may have become inappropriately” involved in some cases of rendition of captives who were believed to be al-Qa’ida fighters.

    Sir Peter Gibson’s investigation listed 27 areas he believed needed further inquiry, including whether the Government should have done more to obtain the release of UK nationals locked up at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

    It suggested that the Labour minister Jack Straw should have asked more questions when he was Foreign Secretary about the UK’s possible involvement in activities in breach of the Geneva Convention.

    Documents released by Sir Peter, a former High Court judge, showed an MI6 officer reported back to headquarters in London what he had seen as American officers interrogated captives at Bagram airbase, near Kabul, in January 2002.

    A telegram he received in reply read: “It appears from your description that they may not be being treated in accordance with the appropriate standards. Given that they are not within our custody or control, the law does not require you to intervene to prevent this.”

    He was reminded that the “Americans understand that we cannot be party to such ill treatment nor can we be seen to condone it”.

    But the telegram made clear there was no automatic requirement to intervene if UK officers witnessed inhuman treatment of captives. It said: “If circumstances allow, you should consider drawing this to the attention of a suitably senior US official locally.”

    No official complaint over the episode was passed to the American authorities and seven days later Tony Blair reassured MPs that detainees in the US detention camp of Guantanamo were being treated humanely.

    Sir Peter said he wished he has been able to investigate further “whether in some cases, UK officers may have turned a blind eye to the use of specific, inappropriate techniques or threats used by others and used this to their advantage when resuming an interview session with a now compliant detainee”.

    The inquiry was set up two and a half years ago by David Cameron but was heavily criticised by human rights lawyers who abandoned co-operation.

    It was scrapped last year and responsibility for examining alleged complicity transferred to a parliamentary committee. Human rights groups denounced the decision as a “whitewash”.

    Sir Peter on Thursday published an interim report setting out the reasons he believed his inquiry should be re-established.

    In a damaging finding, he said: “A theme that runs through a number of the lead cases considered by the inquiry is whether treatment issues – such as sleep deprivation, hooding and media reports of waterboarding – were raised appropriately with the relevant liaison partner responsible for the detention and treatment in question”.

    He said the inquiry had received papers suggesting that in “some instances there was a reluctance to raise treatment issues” for fear of harming relations with the United States.

    The inquiry also found that while no formal request was put to the UK, records show the Government was aware that US officials were considering the use of Diego Garcia, an island in the British Indian Ocean Territory, for holding or transiting detainees between November 2001 and January 2002.”

    The report said: “There is an issue as to whether the Government and the Agencies may have become inappropriately involved in some cases of rendition.”

    Mr Straw told MPs on Thursday: “As Foreign Secretary I acted at all times in a manner which was fully consistent with my legal duties with national and international law. And I was never in any way complicit with the unlawful rendition or detention of individuals by the United States or any other state.”

    Nigel Morris
    Thursday, 19 December 2013

    Find this story at 19 December 2013

    © independent.co.uk

    Britain’s MI6 linked to Libya torture scandal

    Al Jazeera investigates how information gathered through torture of Gaddafi dissidents was used to track Libyans in UK.
    Last updated: 18 Dec 2013 18:04

    Intelligence extracted by torture in Tripoli’s notorious Abu Salim prison has been linked to arrests of Libyan dissidents in the United Kingdom, an investigation by Al Jazeera’s People and Power has revealed.

    In this exclusive report, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, the leader of the anti-Gaddafi resistance group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), explains that he and fellow leader Sami al-Saadi were subjected to torture by his Libyan interrogators, which forced them to give up the names of innocent residents in the UK.

    Al-Saadi and Belhaj also claim foreign agents, including British agents, questioned them in Abu Salim prison. These allegations form the basis of a lawsuit against the British government.

    According to Belhaj’s lawyers, the men and their families were pawns in a deal struck by Britain in 2004.

    After Gaddafi’s fall, the role played by British intelligence agencies was discovered.

    “When the rebels came to Tripoli they ransacked all sorts of buildings … associated with Gaddafi’s old regime,” said Al Jazeera’s Juliana Ruhfus, who was involved in the investigation.

    “It was in the office of spy chief Moussa Koussa that they found a stash of documents that revealed, in startling detail, the collaboration between British and Libyan intelligence services.”

    Belhaj says he was pressured by Gaddafi’s interrogators to give up information about Libyans living in Britain.

    “Sometimes they would come to me with the questions and answers already done and force me to sign it. They would mention names to me and say that these people supported armed activities,” he said.

    One of the men named under torture was Ziad Hashem, a Libyan who obtained asylum in the UK after Belhaj’s rendition. Hashem claims he was arrested in Britain without any charges: “We were just put in prison arbitrarily without any explanation.”

    Hashem is part of yet another law suit against the British government. One of the things he is hoping to reveal is the flow of information between Libyan and British intelligence agencies which led to his detention.

    The British government says it is committed to investigating allegations of mistreatment, that it stands firmly against torture and that it never asks any other country to carry it out.

    But the dissidents accuse the British government of being complicit in their rendition into Gaddafi’s prisons, showing Al Jazeera documents from MI6 tipping off Gaddafi’s intelligence apparatus about their flight movements.

    Libya: Renditions airs on People & Power on Al Jazeera English from Wednesday 18 December at 10.30pm London time (22.30 GMT) and is available online at aje.me/libyarenditions


    Find this story at 18 December 2013
    Copyright Al Jazeera

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