"Why Bush’s ‘Enhanced Interrogation’ Program Failed"
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I. TORTURE DOES NOT YIELD ACCURATE INTELLIGENCE
• Gen. Petraeus: Torture yields information ‘of questionable value.’
“Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. That would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor necessary. Certainly, extreme physical action can make someone ‘talk;’ however, what the individual says may be of questionable value.” [Gen. David Petraeus, Letter to Multi-National Force-Iraq, 5/10/07]
• FBI warns military interrogators: Enhanced techniques are ‘of questionable effectiveness.’
Defense Department interrogators “were being encouraged at times to use aggressive interrogation tactics in GTMO which are of questionable effectiveness and subject to uncertain interpretation based on law and regulation. Not only are these tactics at odds with legally permissible interviewing techniques used by U.S. law enforcement agencies in the United States, but they are being employed by personnel in GTMO who appear to have little, if any, experience eliciting information for judicial purposes. The continued use of these techniques has the potential of negatively impacting future interviews by FBI agents as they attempt to gather intelligence and prepare cases for prosecution.” [FBI memo, 5/30/03]
• FBI cites ‘lack of evidence of [enhanced techniques’] success.’
“The differences between DHS and FBI interrogation techniques and the potential legal problems which could arise were discussed with DHS officials. However, they are adamant that their interrogation strategies are the best ones to use despite the lack of evidence of their success.” [FBI memo, 5/30/03]
• Army JAG: ‘I don’t think [torture] is all that effective.’
“If you torture somebody, they’ll tell you anything. I don’t know anybody that is good at interrogation, has done it a lot, that will say that that’s an effective means of getting information. … So I don’t think it’s effective.” [Major General Thomas Romig, former Army JAG, 11/19/07]
• Special Ops Interrogator: ‘Enhanced’ interrogation causes detainees to ‘shut up.’
“When I was in Iraq, the few times that I saw people use harsh methods, it was always counterproductive. Because the person hunkered down, they were expecting us to do that, and they just shut up. And then I’d have to send somebody in and build back up rapport, reverse that process, and it’d take us longer to get that information.” [Matthew Alexander, leader of a Special Operations interrogation team in Iraq, 12/8/08]
• FBI Special Agent Jack Cloonan: Rapport-building method yields better results.
“It is my belief, based on a 27 year career as a Special Agent and interviews with hundreds of subjects in custodial settings, including members of al Qaeda, that the use of coercive interrogation techniques is not effective. The alternative approach, sometimes referred to as ‘rapport building’ is more effective, efficient and reliable. Scientists, psychiatrists, psychologists, law enforcement and intelligence agents, all of whom have studied both approaches, have came to the same conclusion. The CIA’s own training manual advises its agents that heavy-handed techniques can impair a subject’s ability to accurately recall information and, at worst, produce apathy and complete withdrawal.” [FBI special agent Jack Cloonan, testimony to Congress 6/10/08]
• Military’s Joint Personnel Recovery Agency [JPRA] cautioned enhanced program produces unreliable intelligence.
“The [Dec. 2001] memo [to the Department of Defense General Counsel] cautioned, however, that while ‘[p]hyisical deprivations can and do work in altering the prisoners’ mental state to the point where they will say things they normally would not say,” use of physical deprivations has “several major downfalls.’ JPRA warned that physical deprivations were ‘not as effective’ a means of getting information as psychological pressures, that information gained from their use was ‘less reliable,’ and that their use ‘tends to increase resistance postures when deprivations are removed.’” [Senate Armed Services Report on Detainee Treatment and Abuse, Nov. 2008, p.38]
• Army Intelligence Officer Col. Herrington: Enhanced techniques endanger intelligence collection.
“COL Herrington also warned that certain security procedures in place at the time could have a negative impact on intelligence collection, stating: ‘The austere nature of the facilities and the rigorous security movement procedures (shackles, two MPs with hands on the detainee, etc.) reinforces to detainees that they are in prison, and detracts from the flexibility that debriefers require to accomplish their mission…These views have nothing to do with being “soft” on the detainees. Nor do they challenge the pure security gains from such tight control. The principal at work is that optimal exploitation of a detainee cannot be done from a cell.’” [Senate Armed Services Report on Detainee Treatment and Abuse, Nov. 2008, p.44]
• Army psychologist: Enhanced techniques ‘do not work’ in intelligence-gathering.
“It was stressed to me time and time again that psychological investigations have proven that harsh interrogations do not work. At best it will get you information that a prisoner thinks you want to hear to make the interrogation stop, but that information is strongly likely to be false.” [MAJ Paul Burney, Army’s Behavior Science Consulting Team psychologist, statement to Committee, 8/21/07. Senate Armed Services Report, p.78]
• Army psychologist: Rapport techniques produce better intelligence.
“Experts in the field of interrogation indicate the most effective interrogation strategy is a rapport-building approach. Interrogation techniques that rely on physical or adverse consequences are likely to garner inaccurate information and create an increased level of resistance…There is no evidence that the level of fear or discomfort evoked by a given technique has any consistent correlation to the volume or quality of information obtained.” [Maj. Burney, BSCT Psychiatrist, Oct. 2002 memo to JTF-170. Senate Armed Services Report, p.83]
• FBI to Gitmo Commander: Gitmo techniques are ‘highly skeptical.’
“Many of [JTF-GTMO’s] methods are considered coercive by Federal Law Enforcement and UCMJ standards. Not only this, but reports from those knowledgeable about the use of these coercive techniques are highly skeptical as to their effectiveness and reliability.” [Nov. 22, 2002 memo to MG Geoffrey Miller, who commanded JTF Gitmo. Senate Armed Services Report, p.115]
• SERE specialist: Stress positions ‘are not effective’ for gaining intelligence.
“According to his testimony, ‘history has shown us that physical pressures are not effective for compelling an individual to give information or to do something’ and are not effective for gaining accurate, actionable intelligence.” [Terrence Russell, JPRA’s manager for research and development and a SERE specialist, testimony to Committee, 8/3/07. Senate Armed Services Report, p.209]
• FBI Director Robert Meuller: Enhanced techniques haven’t prevented any attacks.
“So far as he is aware, have any attacks on America been disrupted thanks to intelligence obtained through what the administration still calls ‘enhanced techniques’? ‘I’m really reluctant to answer that,’ Mueller says. He pauses, looks at an aide, and then says quietly, declining to elaborate: ‘I don’t believe that has been the case.’” [Vanity Fair, 12/16/08]
• Former CIA Interrogator: Information from torture is unreliable.
“[Coercive techniques] didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information…Everyone was deeply concerned and most felt it was un-American and did not work.” [Glenn L. Carle, a retired C.I.A. officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002, New York Times, 5/03/11]
• FBI’s Jack Cloonan: Zubaydah and KSM gave only ‘pabulum.’
“The proponents of torture say, ‘Look at the body of information that has been obtained by these methods.’ But if K.S.M. and Abu Zubaydah did give up stuff, we would have heard the details,” says FBI agent Jack Cloonan. “What we got was pabulum.” [Vanity Fair, 12/16/08]
• CIA Official: CIA interrogations of KSM produced ‘total f*cking bullsh*t.’
“But according to a former senior C.I.A. official, who read all the interrogation reports on K.S.M., ’90 percent of it was total f*cking bullsh*t.’ A former Pentagon analyst adds: ‘K.S.M. produced no actionable intelligence. He was trying to tell us how stupid we were.’” [Vanity Fair, 12/16/08]
• FBI Interrogator Ali Soufan: Torturing Zubaydah was unnecessary.
“I’ve kept my mouth shut about all this for seven years,” Soufan says. But now, with the declassification of Justice memos and the public assertions by Cheney and others that “enhanced” techniques worked, Soufan feels compelled to speak out. “I was in the middle of this, and it’s not true that these [aggressive] techniques were effective,” he says. “We were able to get the information about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a couple of days. We didn’t have to do any of this [torture]. We could have done this the right way.” [Newsweek, 5/4/09]
• Zubaydah revealed KSM’s Identity BEFORE being tortured.
“He [Zubaydah] was transferred from Pakistan to Thailand, where Soufan and Gaudin immediately sought to gain his trust by nursing his wounds. … During this time, Soufan and Gaudin also began the questioning; it became a ‘mental poker game.’ At first, Abu Zubaydah even denied his identity, insisting that his name was ‘Daoud.’ But Soufan had poured through the bureau’s intelligence files and stunned Abu Zubaydah when he called him ‘Hani’ – the nickname that his mother used for him. Soufan also showed him photos of a number of terror suspects who were high on the bureau’s priority list. Abu Zubaydah looked at one of them and said, ‘That’s Mukhtar.’ Now it was Soufan who was stunned. The FBI had been trying to determine the identity of a mysterious ‘Mukhtar,’ whom bin Laden kept referring to on a tape he made after 9/11. Now Soufan knew: Mukhtar was the man in the photo, terror fugitive Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and, as Abu Zubaydah blurted out, ‘the one behind 9/11.’ … Soon enough, Abu Zubaydah offered up more information – about the bizarre plans of a jihadist from Puerto Rico to set off a ‘dirty bomb’ inside the country. This information led to Padilla’s arrest in Chicago by the FBI in early May.” [Newsweek, 5/4/09]
• CIA enhanced techniques ‘changed the tenor’ of Zubaydah’s interrogation.
“But the tenor of the Abu Zubaydah interrogations changed a few days later, when a CIA contractor showed up. Although Soufan declined to identify the contractor by name, other sources (and media accounts) identify him as James Mitchell, a former Air Force psychologist who had worked on the U.S. military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training – a program to teach officers how to resist the abusive interrogation methods used by Chinese communists during the Korean War. Within days of his arrival, Mitchell – an architect of the CIA interrogation program – took charge of the questioning of Abu Zubaydah. He directed that Abu Zubaydah be ordered to answer questions or face a gradual increase in aggressive techniques. One day Soufan entered Abu Zubadyah’s room and saw that he had been stripped naked; he covered him with a towel.” [Newsweek, 5/4/09]
• FBI’s Soufan: CIA’s ‘enhanced interrogation’ destroyed progress with Zubaydah; traditional methods provided ‘important actionable intelligence.’
“Abu Zubaydah was making progress before torture techniques. One of the most striking parts of the memos is the false premises on which they are based. The first, dated August 2002, grants authorization to use harsh interrogation techniques on a high-ranking terrorist, Abu Zubaydah, on the grounds that previous methods hadn’t been working. The next three memos cite the successes of those methods as a justification for their continued use. It is inaccurate, however, to say that Abu Zubaydah had been uncooperative. Along with another F.B.I. agent, and with several C.I.A. officers present, I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August. Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence.” [Ali Soufan, New York Times op-ed, 4/23/09]
• Soufan: Enhanced techniques on Zubaydah produced ‘no actionable intelligence.’
“Nothing gained from torture of Abu Zubaydah produced information that wouldn’t have come from traditional techniques. We discovered, for example, that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Abu Zubaydah also told us about Jose Padilla, the so-called dirty bomber. This experience fit what I had found throughout my counterterrorism career: traditional interrogation techniques are successful in identifying operatives, uncovering plots and saving lives. There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics.” [Ali Soufan, New York Times op-ed, 4/23/09]
• Soufan: Padilla, KSM, other plots disclosed through regular interrogation, NOT torture.
“Claims that torture led to disclosure of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad is false. Defenders of these techniques have claimed that they got Abu Zubaydah to give up information leading to the capture of Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a top aide to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and Mr. Padilla. This is false. The information that led to Mr. Shibh’s capture came primarily from a different terrorist operative who was interviewed using traditional methods. As for Mr. Padilla, the dates just don’t add up: the harsh techniques were approved in the memo of August 2002, Mr. Padilla had been arrested that May.” [Ali Soufan, New York Times op-ed, 4/23/09]
• Zubaydah made false confessions after enhanced interrogation.
“The tribunal president, a colonel whose name is redacted, asked him: ‘So I understand that during this treatment, you said things to make them stop and then those statements were actually untrue, is that correct?’ Abu Zubaydah replied: ‘Yes.’” [Vanity Fair, 12/16/08]
• Enhanced techniques led to false Iraq/AQ link claims.
“There was much more, says the analyst who worked at the Pentagon: ‘I first saw the reports soon after Abu Zubaydah’s capture. There was a lot of stuff about the nuts and bolts of al-Qaeda’s supposed relationship with the Iraqi Intelligence Service. The intelligence community was lapping this up, and so was the administration, obviously. Abu Zubaydah was saying Iraq and al-Qaeda had an operational relationship. It was everything the administration hoped it would be.’” [Vanity Fair, 12/16/08]
• Interrogators resorted to ‘enhanced techniques’ after ‘pressure’ to find Iraq/Al Qaeda link.
“’While we were there [at Guantanamo] 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,’ [BCST psychologist Maj. Paul] 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.’” [McClatchy on Senate Armed Services Report, 4/21/09]
II. TORTURE MAKES AMERICANS LESS SAFE
• FBI’s Jack Cloonan: ‘Revenge in the form of a catastrophic attack’ is possible.
“Based on my experience in talking to Al Qaida members, I am persuaded that revenge in the form of a catastrophic attack on the homeland is coming; that a new generation of jihadist martyrs, motivated in part by the images from Abu Ghraib, is, as we speak, planning to kill Americans; and that nothing gleaned from the use of coercive interrogation techniques will be of any significant use in forestalling this calamitous eventuality.” [FBI special agent Jack Cloonan, testimony to Congress, 6/10/08]
• Sen. McCain: Torture is al Qaeda’s best recruitment tool.
“And most importantly, it serves as a great propaganda tool for those who recruit people to fight against us. And I’ve seen concrete examples of that talking to former high-ranking al-Qaeda individuals in Iraq.“ [Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Fox News, 4/20/09]
• Adm. Mike Mullen: Torture is a recruiting symbol.
“Well, the concern I’ve had about Guantanamo in these wars is it has been a symbol, and one which has been a recruiting symbol for those extremists and jihadists who would fight us.” [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, ABC’s This Week 5/24/09]
• Special Ops Interrogator: Use of torture inspired anti-American fighters to Iraq.
“I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq.” [Matthew Alexander, leader of a Special Operations interrogation team in Iraq, 11/30/08]
• Colin Powell: Remove the recruitment incentive.
“I think we ought to remove this incentive that exists in the presence of Guantanamo to encourage people and to give radicals an opportunity to say, you see, this is what America is all about. They’re all about torture and detention centers.” [Ret. Gen. Colin Powell, former Joint Chiefs Chairman and Secretary of State, 2/21/10]
• Special Operations interrogator: Torture policies ‘directly and swiftly recruiting’ al Qaeda fighters.
“I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. … It’s no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me – unless you don’t count American soldiers as Americans.” [Matthew Alexander, Washington Post op-ed, 11/30/08]
• Army JAG: Enhanced techniques ‘has not made it safer’ for captured U.S. soldiers.
“I don’t know how you could say we’re safer and more secure. If you torture somebody, they’ll tell you anything. I don’t know anybody that is good at interrogation, has done it a lot, that will say that that’s an effective means of getting information. … So I don’t think it’s effective. To that extent I don’t see how it’s made it safer. It has not made it safer for our soldiers when they’re captured.” [Major General Thomas Romig, former Army JAG, 11/19/07]
• Navy general counsel: Torture is 1st and 2nd cause of death for U.S. troops.
“[T]here are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq — as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat — are, respectively the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.” [Former Navy general counsel Aberto Mora, testimony to Congress, 6/17/08]
• JAGs: Enhanced techniques endangers U.S. soldiers.
“Employment of exception techniques may have a negative effect on the treatment of U.S. POWs by their captors and raises questions about the ability of the U.S. to call others to account for mistreatment of U.S. servicemembers.” [memos from Deputy JAG of Air Force Jack Rives, Navy JAG Michael Lohr, and Staff JAG to the Commandant of the Marine Corps Kevin Sandkuhler, to Air Force General Counsel Mary Walker, Feb. 2003. Senate Armed Services Report, p.158]
• Joint Forces Command JAG: Enhanced techniques threatens soldiers in the field.
“I fail to see how anyone can reasonably say that employing such techniques against those in our custody is worthy of the United States, no matter how much we may need the information. In my view, for the U.S. to do this ‘lowers the bar’ and ensures, if there is any doubt, that similar techniques will be employed against any US personnel captured by our enemies.” [E-mail from Capt. Daniel Donavan JFCOM (Joint Forces Command) Staff Judge Advocate, to ADM Giambastiani, LTG Wagner, and Maj Gen Soligan, 5/13/04. Senate Armed Services Report, p.258]
• Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): Torture increases danger to U.S. troops.
“While our intelligence personnel in Abu Ghraib may have believed that they were protecting U.S. lives by roughing up detainees to extract information, they have had the opposite effect. Their actions have increased the danger to American soldiers, in this conflict and in future wars.” [Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Foreign Affairs, 6/01/04]
• Torture rebuilt ‘Chinese wall’ between FBI and CIA, making Americans less safe.
FBI’s Ali Soufan: “Torture techniques hinders intelligence by driving wedge deeper between CIA and FBI. One of the worst consequences of the use of these harsh techniques was that it reintroduced the so-called Chinese wall between the C.I.A. and F.B.I., similar to the communications obstacles that prevented us from working together to stop the 9/11 attacks. Because the bureau would not employ these problematic techniques, our agents who knew the most about the terrorists could have no part in the investigation. An F.B.I. colleague of mine who knew more about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed than anyone in the government was not allowed to speak to him.” [Ali Soufan, New York Times op-ed, 4/23/09]
• Enhanced interrogation destroys reputation of CIA, making Americans less safe.
“Not only are torture methods ineffective, they harm future effectiveness of any techniques because they harm US reputation. As we move forward, it’s important to not allow the torture issue to harm the reputation, and thus the effectiveness, of the C.I.A. The agency is essential to our national security.” [Ali Soufan, New York Times op-ed, 4/23/09]
• Enhanced techniques program created wedge between military officials and Bush administration/CIA.
The policy was anathema to military people, starting with Colin Powell, a retired general and secretary of state in the first Bush term. Says Mr. Mora [Alberto Mora, general counsel of the U.S. Navy in 2001]: “I never met a senior military officer that didn’t object to these policies. They caused the senior military to hold the Bush administration in contempt.” [New York Times, 5/3/09]
• Bad intelligence wastes FBI’s time following false leads.
“At the F.B.I., says a seasoned counterterrorist agent, following false leads generated through torture has caused waste and exhaustion. ‘At least 30 percent of the F.B.I.’s time, maybe 50 percent, in counterterrorism has been spent chasing leads that were bullshit. There are “lead squads” in every office trying to filter them. But that’s ineffective, because there’s always that “What if?” syndrome.” [Vanity Fair, 12/16/08]
• Enhanced tactics strain alliances and threatens intelligence-sharing.
“There is another variable in the intelligence equation: the help you lose because your friends start keeping their distance. When I worked at the State Department, some of America’s best European allies found it increasingly difficult to assist us in counterterrorism because they feared becoming complicit in a program their governments abhorred. This was not a hypothetical concern.” [Philip Zelikow, former deputy to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, New York Times op-ed, 4/24/09]
• FBI: Torture makes allies less willing to work with us.
“Torture degrades our image abroad and complicates our working relationships with foreign law enforcement and intelligence agencies.” [FBI special agent Jack Cloonan, testimony to Congress 6/10/08]
• Air Force Colonel: U.S. lacks credibility abroad because of torture.
“[T]he lack of expertise at the senior level in managing and conducting interrogation was a single point of failure that facilitated introduction of SERE techniques into the repertoire of allowable interrogation methods. As a result, adversaries and allies alike have accused this nation of gross violations of the Geneva Convention and of violating the basic human rights of those in detention. The geostrategic consequences are likely to last decades.” [Colonel Steven M. Kleinman, USAFR, Former Director of Intelligence Personnel Recovery Academy, Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, Senate testimony, 9/25/08]
• Gen. Petraeus: U.S. must occupy ‘the moral high ground.’
“Adherence to our values distinguishes us from our enemy. This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we – not our enemies – occupy the moral high ground.” [Gen. David Petraeus, Letter to Multi-National Force-Iraq, 5/10/07]
• Military Intelligence Officer: ‘We need to…remember who we are.’
“As for ‘the gloves need to come off…’ we need to take a deep breath and remember who we are. Those gloves are most definitely NOT based on Cold War or WWII enemies – they are based on clearly established standards of international law to which we are signatories and in part the originators. Those in turn derive from practices commonly accepted as morally correct, the so-called ‘usages of war.’ It comes down to standards of right and wrong — something we cannot just put aside when we find it inconvenient…BOTTOM LINE: We are American soldiers, heirs to a long tradition of staying on the high ground. We need to stay there.” [Maj. Nathan Hoepner, Operations Officer of 501st MI Battalion e-mail, 8/14/03. Senate Armed Services Report, p.200]
• Army JAG: U.S. has always set the moral standard.
“The United States had always taken the high road and set the standard internationally on treatment. There had never been any doubt. We had always set the standard. And now the danger is there’s going to be a perception that, ‘Well, the United States doesn’t live to that standard — why should we?’” .” [Major General Thomas Romig, former Army JAG, 11/19/07]
• Colin Powell: Torture has made people ‘question whether we’re following our own high standards.’
“If you just look at how we are perceived in the world and the kind of criticism we have taken over Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and renditions…whether we believe it or not, people are now starting to question whether we’re following our own high standards.” [Washington Post, 9/17/06]
• America’s negative reputation ‘strengthens the hand of our enemies.’
“The fact that America is seen in a negative light by so many complicates our ability to attract allies to our side, strengthens the hand of our enemies, and reduces our ability to collect intelligence that can save lives.” [Conclusion of Senate Armed Services Report, p.27]
• Former U.S. Navy General Counsel: Torture violates our founding values.
“[O]ur Nation’s policy decision to use so- called ‘harsh interrogation techniques’ during the war on terror was a mistake of massive proportions. It damaged, and continues to damage, our Nation. This policy, which may aptly be labeled a policy of cruelty, violated our founding values, our constitutional system, and the fabric of our laws, our overarching foreign policy interests, and our National security. The net effect of this policy of cruelty has been to weaken our defenses, not to strengthen them. All of these factors contributed to the difficulties our Nation has experienced in forging the strongest possible coalition to fight the war, but the damage to our National security also occurred down at the tactical or operational level.” [Alberto Mora, Former General Counsel, United States Navy, Senate testimony, 6/17/08]
• Bush official forced to suspect suspect’s trial after deeming he was tortured.
“We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution. [Washington Post, 1/14/09]
• Enhanced interrogations make Guantanamo detainees ineligible for prosecution.
The fear that some Guantanamo cases are not prosecutable in federal court has sharpened debate within the Obama administration about the need to maintain military commissions, in which the rules of evidence are less stringent, according to sources involved in the discussions. … Responding to complaints from military groups that Marri’s sentence is too short, a Justice Department spokesman said the possible 15-year term was the best deal the government could strike, given concerns about the release of classified evidence and the impact of possible testimony regarding Marri’s mental state after prolonged solitary confinement. [Washington Post, 5/4/09]
III. HISTORICAL LESSONS CAUTION AGAINST ENHANCED TECHNIQUES
• Enhanced techniques taken from Communists’ methods that had ‘wrung false confessions’ from Americans.
“According to several former top officials involved in the discussions seven years ago, they did not know that the military training program, called SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, had been created decades earlier to give American pilots and soldiers a sample of the torture methods used by Communists in the Korean War, methods that had wrung false confessions from Americans. … They did not know that some veteran trainers from the SERE program itself had warned in internal memorandums that, morality aside, the methods were ineffective.” [New York Times, 4/21/09]
• 1950s study concluded techniques made prisoners ‘malleable and suggestible.’
“A little research on the origin of those methods would have given reason for doubt. Government studies in the 1950s found that Chinese Communist interrogators had produced false confessions from captured American pilots not with some kind of sinister ‘brainwashing’ but with crude tactics: shackling the Americans to force them to stand for hours, keeping them in cold cells, disrupting their sleep and limiting access to food and hygiene. … Worse, the study found that under such abusive treatment, a prisoner became ‘malleable and suggestible, and in some instances he may confabulate.’” [New York Times, 4/21/09]
• Whole purpose of SERE training was to resist Communist tactics.
“Using those techniques for interrogating detainees was also inconsistent with the goal of collecting accurate intelligence information, as the purpose of SERE resistance training is to increase the ability of U.S. personnel to resist abusive interrogations and the techniques were based, in part, on Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to elicit false confessions.” [Senate Armed Services Report, p.28]
• British understood that physical violence was ‘unintelligent’ and useless in gaining information.
“[Colonel Robin ‘Tin Eye’] Stephens [commander of Camp 020, the British spy prison] did not eschew torture out of mercy. This was no squishy liberal: the eye was made of tin, and the rest of him out of tungsten. (Indeed, he was disappointed that only 16 spies were executed during the war.) His motives were strictly practical. ‘Never strike a man. It is unintelligent, for the spy will give an answer to please, an answer to escape punishment. And having given a false answer, all else depends upon the false premise.’” [“The Truth that Tin Eye saw,” Times of London, 2/10/06]