Politics

Addington, Gonzales Witnessed Gitmo Interrogations In 2002; Approved Of ‘Whatever Needs To Be Done’

addy33.gifLast month, ABC News revealed that President Bush’s most senior advisers approved the use of harsh interrogation tactics. Days later, Bush confirmed to ABC he “approved” of the tactics.

In a forthcoming book, British international law professor Philippe Sands further documents how the most extreme interrogation techniques — including stress, hooding, noise, nudity, and “dogs” — came directly from the White House and Pentagon.

Sands reveals that Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s lawyer Jim Haynes traveled to Guantanamo in 2002, witnessed an interrogation, and sent approval back to Washington. The “driving individual was Mr. Addington, who was obviously the man in control,” Sands said:

There was an extraordinary meeting held in September 2002, just before the techniques were to go up the chain of command, so to speak. [Gonzales, Addington, and Haynes] descended on Guantanamo, met with the combatant commander there Mike Dunlavey, watched some interrogations, and as I was told by Dunlavey and by his lawyer Diane Beaver, basically sent out the signal ‘do whatever needs to be done.’

Listen to the interview:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/04/sandsinterview.320.40.flv]

Sands also explained how Gen. Richard Myers, then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, was cut out of the loop by Rumsfeld. Myers did not know the administration ditched the Geneva Conventions and made use of techniques prohibited by the Army Field Manual.

Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, explained the implications of these revelations:

Haynes, Feith, Yoo, Bybee, Gonzalez and — at the apex — Addington, should never travel outside the US, except perhaps to Saudi Arabia and Israel. They broke the law; they violated their professional ethical code. In future, some government may build the case necessary to prosecute them in a foreign court, or in an international court.

Sands also notes that the interrogation records of al Qaeda suspect Mohammed al-Qahtani — the subject of the 2002 meeting at Guantanamo with Gonzales, Addington, and Haynes — were “mysteriously lost.” Cameras that “run 24 hours a day at the prison were set to automatically record over their contents, the US military admitted in court papers.”

Beaver added that the TV show 24, specifically Jack Bauer “gave people lots of ideas.” “We saw [24] on cable. … It was hugely popular.” “She believed the series contributed to an environment in which those at Guantánamo were encouraged to see themselves as being on the frontline – and to go further than they otherwise might,” Sands writes.

UPDATE

Scott Horton writes in the LA Times that Bush’s torture program may have preceded John Yoo’s 2002 and 2003 legal memos authorizing harsh interrogations. Horton writes that Yoo “may therefore have provided after-the-fact legal cover.”

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