Rumsfeld Approved Methods For Guantanamo Interrogations
By JESS BRAVIN and GREG JAFFE
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
June 10, 2004; Page A3
U.S. military interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could put prisoners in "stress positions" for as long as four hours, hood them and subject them to 20-hour-long interrogations, "fear of dogs" and "mild non-injurious physical contact," according to list of techniques Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved in December 2002.
The list, contained in a Jan. 8, 2003, memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, was in effect for about one month until complaints about the severity of the techniques from some military officers prompted Mr. Rumsfeld to request a high-level review of interrogation policy Jan. 17, 2003. The Defense Department has refused to disclose how many of the methods remained on a new list Mr. Rumsfeld approved in April 2003, a list that officials say is still in use at the offshore prison.
It isn't clear whether the rules were applied to military prisons in Iraq or elsewhere. But some of the practices disclosed this year at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where prisoners were hooded and apparently menaced with dogs, resemble methods on the December 2002 Guantanamo list.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the December list was prompted by intelligence reports during the summer and fall of 2002 suggesting that a new al Qaeda attack on the U.S. might be imminent. The national threat level was raised to "Orange," and commanders at the Guantanamo prison camp asked for official clearance to use techniques outside traditional Army doctrine in interrogations.
"Several of the detainees at Guantanamo were high-profile, high-value detainees who were assessed to have important intelligence," Mr. Whitman said.
Guantanamo officials, working with senior military officials at U.S. Southern Command, compiled a list of 20 new techniques that were forwarded to Mr. Rumsfeld's office and the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their approval, Mr. Whitman said.
In early December 2002, Mr. Rumsfeld approved 17 of the techniques for use at Guantanamo, a Pentagon official said. The Jan. 8, 2003, memo appears to include the same 17 techniques approved by Mr. Rumsfeld for use at Guantanamo in early December.
Only 10 of those techniques were ever used -- all of them on a single detainee of Saudi nationality suspected of involvement in the Sept. 11 conspiracy, according to a Pentagon official. Officials declined to say which techniques were used on the detainee, but Gen. James T. Hill, the senior commander with authority over Guantanamo Bay, said recently that interrogators at Guantanamo haven't used dogs.
Other military officials have said, however, that additional methods not described on the list, including placing underwear on prisoners' heads and, in at least one instance, threatening a recalcitrant prisoner with the deaths of his relatives, were employed before Mr. Rumsfeld ordered the January 2003 review.
The December 2002 interrogation methods ranged from "comfortable, allowed to sit" and "use of direct approach, rewards and cigarettes," to others that required approval from superiors. "Physical contact such as grabbing, poking in the chest with the finger and light pushing" could be used with approval from the commander of the Guantanamo prison and with the knowledge of Gen. Hill, who as head of the U.S. Southern Command oversees Guantanamo.
Interrogators faced with uncooperative prisoners could disguise themselves as linked "to a country with a reputation for harsh treatment," according to the list, or yell at them, although "not directly in ear or to the level it would cause physical pain."
Another set of methods required permission of the officer in charge of Guantanamo interrogations. Those methods included "use of stress positions (like standing) for a maximum of four hours," "isolation facility for up to 30 days unless [commanding general] approves extension" and "20-hour interrogations." Other such techniques were "deprivation of light and sound," "use of hood as long as it does not restrict breathing and under direct observation," "removal of clothing" and "forced grooming (i.e., shaving of facial hair)."
The interrogation group's commander also would have to approve "using individual phobias (e.g., fear of dogs) to induce stress" and "removal of comfort items, including religious items."
Mark Jacobson, a former Pentagon official who worked on the interrogation policy, said that "fear of dogs does not mean dogs attacking, it means a properly muzzled dog with a handler." He said that officials later decided not to remove religious items and that several harsh methods weren't included in the April 2003 list.
A military intelligence official said that "humiliation techniques" were a longstanding part of interrogations, where "domination is the name of the game."
Portions of a March 2003 draft of the Pentagon's April interrogation report, disclosed by the Journal on Monday, also included a legal analysis contending that President Bush had the constitutional authority to disregard laws prohibiting torture if he believed national security was in jeopardy. Mr. Whitman described that portion as a "scholarly" exercise and said that currently used interrogation methods are humane.
Write to Jess Bravin at email@example.com and Greg Jaffe at firstname.lastname@example.org