May 28, 2015
Senate Panel’s Report on U.S. Torture Abuse
Posted on Dec 12, 2008
(U) Interrogation techniques used by the Special Mission Unit Task Force eventually made their way into Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued for all U.S. forces in Iraq. In the summer of 2003, Captain Wood, who by that time was the Interrogation Officer in Charge at Abu Ghraib, obtained a copy of the Special Mission Unit interrogation policy and submitted it, virtually unchanged, to her chain of command as proposed policy.
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 Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel was presented with a “short stack” of OLC opinions that were described to him as problematic. Included in that short stack were the Bybee memos of August 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 late December 2003, Mr. Goldsmith notified Mr. Haynes that DoD could no longer rely on Mr. Yoo’s memo in determining the lawfulness of interrogation techniques. The change in OLC guidance, however, did not keep JPRA from making plans to continue their support to interrogation operations. In fact, it is not clear that the agency was even aware of the change.
Senate Armed Services Committee Conclusions
Square, Site wide
Conclusion 1: On February 7, 2002, President George W. Bush made a written determination that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, did not apply to al Qaeda or Taliban detainees. Following the President’s determination, techniques such as waterboarding, nudity, and stress positions, used in SERE 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 in meetings inside the White House in 2002 and 2003 where specific interrogation techniques were discussed. National Security Council Principals reviewed the CIA’s interrogation program during that period.
Conclusions on SERE Training Techniques and Interrogations
Conclusion 3: The use of techniques similar to those used in SERE resistance training—such as stripping students of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, and treating them like animals—was at odds with the commitment to humane treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. 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 used were based, in part, on Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to elicit false confessions.
Conclusion 4: The use of techniques in interrogations derived from SERE resistance training created a serious risk of physical and psychological harm to detainees. The SERE schools employ strict controls to reduce the risk of physical and psychological harm to students during training. Those controls include medical and psychological screening for students, interventions by trained psychologists during training, and code words to ensure that students can stop the application of a technique at any time should the need arise. Those same controls are not present in real world interrogations.
Conclusions on Senior Official Consideration of SERE Techniques for Interrogations
Conclusion 5: In July 2002, the Office of the Secretary of Defense General Counsel solicited information from the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) on SERE techniques for use during interrogations. That solicitation, prompted by requests from Department of Defense General Counsel William J. Haynes II, reflected the view that abusive tactics similar to those used 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 least one SERE training technique, waterboarding. Senior Administration lawyers, including Alberto Gonzales, Counsel to the President, and David Addington, Counsel to the Vice President, were consulted on the development of legal analysis of CIA interrogation techniques. Legal opinions subsequently issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) interpreted legal obligations under U.S. anti-torture laws and determined the legality of CIA interrogation techniques. Those OLC opinions distorted the meaning and intent of anti-torture laws, rationalized the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody and influenced Department of Defense determinations as to what interrogation techniques were legal for use during interrogations conducted by U.S. military personnel.
Conclusions on JPRA Offensive Activities
Conclusion 7: Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) efforts in support of “offensive” interrogation operations went beyond the agency’s knowledge and expertise. JPRA’s support to U.S. government interrogation efforts contributed to detainee abuse. JPRA’s offensive support also influenced the development of policies that authorized abusive interrogation techniques for use 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 Colonel Randy Moulton’s authorization of SERE instructors, who had no experience in detainee interrogations, to actively participate in Task Force interrogations using SERE resistance training techniques was a serious failure in judgment. The Special Mission Unit Task Force Commander’s failure to order that SERE resistance training techniques not be used in detainee interrogations was a serious failure in leadership that led to the abuse of detainees in Task Force custody. Iraq is a Geneva Convention theater and techniques used in SERE school are inconsistent with the obligations of U.S. personnel under the Geneva Conventions.
Conclusion 9: Combatant Command requests for JPRA “offensive” interrogation support and U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) authorization of that support led to JPRA operating outside the agency’s charter and beyond its expertise. Only when JFCOM’s Staff Judge Advocate became aware of and raised concerns about JPRA’s support to offensive interrogation operations 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 formal policy stating that support to offensive interrogation operations was outside JPRA’s charter.
New and Improved Comments