Created on Friday, 13 June 2008 19:10
Written by Jason Leopold
DOJ Official: Rumsfeld Personally Approved of Brutal Interrogations
by Jason Leopold
ormer Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld personally authorized the use of brutal interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay despite warnings from the FBI that the methods amounted to inhumane treatment, was possibly illegal, and would not produce reliable intelligence, a Department of Justice inspector general testified Tuesday.
"The FBI believed that these techniques were not getting actionable information, that they were unsophisticated and unproductive," said Glenn Fine, the DOJâ€™s inspector general, in testimony Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. "They raised their concerns with the Department of Defense, but the Department of Defense, from what we were told, dismissed those concerns and that no changes were made in the Department of Defense's strategy."
umsfeld, who resigned immediately after the 2006-midterm
elections, has vehemently denied that he approved of torture. The
Justice Departmentâ€™s Office of Legal Counsel provided the Defense
Department with legal guidelines that authorized techniques such as
waterboarding, the use of military dogs, and â€œslapsâ€ and concluded that
as long as â€œorgan failureâ€ did not occur the methods could not be
construed as torture.
Fine issued a 437-page report last
month on the Bush administrationâ€™s interrogation policies, which found
that White House officials ignored FBI concerns about the treatment of
His testimony comes on the heels of a letter signed
by 56 House Democrats that was sent to Attorney General Michael Mukasey
last week Friday requesting that he appoint a special prosecutor to
investigate whether White House officials, including President Bush,
violated the War Crimes Act when they allowed interrogators to use
brutal interrogation methods against detainees suspected of ties to
- â€œThe Bush administration may have
systematically implemented, from the top down, detainee interrogation
policies that constitute torture or otherwise violate the law," the
letter to Mukasey says. â€œWe believe that these serious and significant
revelations warrant an immediate investigation to determine whether
actions taken by the President, his Cabinet, and other Administration
officials are in violation of the War Crimes Act, the Anti-Torture Act,
and other U.S. and international laws.â€
In October 2002, Fine
said, FBI agents raised concerns with Marion Bowman, the Justice
Departmentâ€™s deputy general counsel in charge of national security,
about the methods used during interrogations at Guantanamo Bay. An FBI
agent stationed at Guantanamo then sent the agency an analysis on
November 27, 2002 calling into question the legality of the
interrogation techniques, stating that the methods used appeared to
violate the U.S. Torture statute. Bowman then alerted Jim Haynes, the
DODâ€™s general counsel.
The same day Bowman raised concerns with
Haynes, Haynes advised Rumsfeld to approve of the â€œenhanced
interrogationâ€ methods, according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D-Calif.),
who chaired Tuesdayâ€™s committee hearing.
- â€œAccording to Mr.
Bowman, Haynes claimed he didn't know anything about the coercive
interrogation techniques that were occurring at Guantanamo, despite the
fact that he recommended on November 27, 2002, that Secretary Rumsfeld
formally approve the very techniques that were being used at
Guantanamo,â€ Feinstein said.
Rumsfeld, Fine told the committee,
ignored FBI agentsâ€™ warnings and on Dec. 2, 2002 signed an action
memorandum approving the use of â€œenhanced techniquesâ€ against prisoners
at Guantanamo, concluding that the tactics stopped short of torture.
werenâ€™t a few bad apples on the night shift, as weâ€™ve been told,â€ said
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in response to Fineâ€™s
On Nov. 23, 2002, four day before the FBI agent
alerted the DOJ about interrogation tactics he witnessed, Rumsfeld
verbally authorized interrogators to used harsh methods during their
interrogation of Mohammed al-Qhatani, the so-called 20th hijacker, who
was being held at Guantanamo. Al-Qahtani was sentenced to death earlier
this year, but the Pentagon dropped war-crimes charges against him last
The harsh treatment of al-Qahtani was
catalogued in an 84-page log of his interrogation that was leaked in
2006. The so-called â€œtorture logâ€ shows that beginning in November 2002
and continuing well into January 2003, al-Qahtani was subjected to
sleep deprivation, interrogated in 20-hour stretches, poked with IVâ€™s,
and left to urinate on himself.
If al-Qahtaniâ€™s case had gone
forward, the U.S. government would have been forced to reveal its own
violations of the Geneva Convention, anti-torture statutes and the laws
of war, according to lawyers representing al-Qahtani.
- â€œAll of
the [incriminating] statements Mohammad al-Qahtani made or is alleged
to have made were the result of torture or made under the threat of
torture and that is in my view why the government decided to dismiss
his case at this point,â€ said Vince Warren, executive director of the
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York.
CCR has been
representing Mohammed al-Qahtani since 2005 and has led the legal
battle for the human rights of detainees incarcerated at Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba, for the last six years.
Army IG Report Fingers Rumsfeld
20, 2005, Army Inspector General Report relating to the capture and
interrogation of al-Qahtani included a sworn statement by Lt. Gen.
Randall M. Schmidt. It said Secretary Rumsfeld was â€œpersonally
involvedâ€ in the interrogation of al-Qahtani and spoke â€œweeklyâ€ with
Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the commander at Guantanamo, about the
status of the interrogations between late 2002 and early 2003.
S. Gutierrez, an attorney with CCR, said in a sworn declaration that
his client, imprisoned at Guantanamo, was subjected to months of
torture based on verbal and written authorizations from Rumsfeld.
GuantÃ¡namo, Mr. al-Qahtani was subjected to a regime of aggressive
interrogation techniques, known as the â€˜First Special Interrogation
Plan,â€™ that were authorized by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld,â€ Gutierrez said.
- â€œThose techniques were implemented
under the supervision and guidance of Secretary Rumsfeld and the
commander of GuantÃ¡namo, Major General Geoffrey Miller. These methods
included, but were not limited to, 48 days of severe sleep deprivation
and 20-hour interrogations, forced nudity, sexual humiliation,
religious humiliation, physical force, prolonged stress positions and
prolonged sensory over-stimulation, and threats with military dogs.â€
to the Schlesinger report, orders signed by Bush and Rumsfeld in 2002
and 2003 authorizing brutal interrogations â€œbecame policyâ€ at
Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
Rumsfeld, as well as other senior Bush administration officials,
expressed outrage in the first week of the Iraq War when Iraqi TV
interviewed several captured American soldiers saying such behavior
violated the Geneva Conventions. At a March 25, 2003, press briefing
about progress in the US.-led invasion, Secretary Rumsfeld said,
war is an act of self defense, to be sure, but it is also an act of
humanity. â€¦ In recent days, the world has witnessed further evidence of
their [Iraqi] brutality and their disregard for the laws of war. Their
treatment of coalition POWs is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.â€
record now shows that during the same week in March 2003 â€“ when
Rumsfeld was publicly berating Iraq for violating the Geneva Convention
by broadcasting footage of American POWâ€™s â€“ he was engaged in drafting
a top-secret plan that would give military interrogators at Guantanamo
wide latitude to use harsher techniques to obtain information from
Rumsfeld signed off on the plan on April 2, 2003,
according to documents declassified and turned over to the American
Civil Liberties Union last month in response to a Freedom of
Information Act lawsuit.
Though some of the more extreme
techniques were dropped as the list was winnowed down to 24 from 35,
the final set of interrogation methods Rumsfeld approved still included
tactics for isolating and demeaning a detainee, known as "pride and ego
- â€œThe most commonly reported technique used by non-FBI
interrogators on detainees at Guantanamo was sleep deprivation or
disruption,â€ Fine testified Tuesday. â€œSleep
adjustmentâ€ was explicitly approved for use by the military at
Guantanamo under the policy approved by the Secretary of Defense in
April 2003. Numerous FBI agents told the OIG that they witnessed the
militaryâ€™s use of a regimen known as the â€œfrequent flyer programâ€ to
disrupt detaineesâ€™ sleep in an effort to lessen their resistance to
questioning and to undermine cell block relationships among detainees.â€
Fine said, â€œProlonged short-shackling, in which a detaineeâ€™s hands were
shackled close to his feet to prevent him from standing or sitting
comfortably, was another of the most frequently reported techniques
observed by FBI agents at Guantanamo. This technique was sometimes used
in conjunction with holding detainees in rooms where the temperature
was very cold or very hot in order to break the detaineesâ€™ resolve.
positions were prohibited at Guantanamo under DOD policy beginning in
January 2003. However, these FBI agentsâ€™ observations confirm that
prolonged short-shackling continued at Guantanamo for at least a year
after the revised DOD policy took effect.
Such degrading tactics would appear to contravene the Geneva Convention, which bars abusive or demeaning treatment of captives.
even after the programs governing interrogations were exposed, Rumsfeld
made sure that a loophole in a new Defense Department policy issued in
November 2005, which barred torture and called for the "humane"
treatment of detainees, gave him and his deputy the authority to
- "Intelligence interrogations will be conducted in
accordance with applicable law, this directive and implementing plans,
policies, orders, directives, and doctrine developed by DoD components
and approved by USD (I), unless otherwise authorized, in writing, by
the secretary of defense or deputy secretary of defense," the policy
says. "USD (I)" refers to the undersecretary of defense for