CIA Gave Torture Tips to Pentagon

Documents released by a Senate committee investigating the Pentagon's torture-based interrogation methods reveal that CIA advisers had a larger role in shaping the program than previously thought.

According to the Washington Post, a CIA legal expert gave the Pentagon a torture tutorial in October of 2002:


A senior CIA lawyer advised Pentagon officials about the use of harsh interrogation techniques on detainees at Guantanamo Bay in a meeting in late 2002, defending waterboarding and other methods as permissible despite U.S. and international laws banning torture, according to documents released yesterday by congressional investigators.
Torture "is basically subject to perception," CIA counterterrorism lawyer Jonathan Fredman told a group of military and intelligence officials gathered at the U.S.-run detention camp in Cuba on Oct. 2, 2002, according to minutes of the meeting. "If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong." [WaPo]
The Senate Armed Services Committee is currently holding hearings to determine how the Pentagon developed the torture program that was eventually implemented at Guantanamo Bay and other U.S. detention centers.

After many hours of testimony, a story is beginning to emerge from the hearings. In the summer of 2002, the Pentagon drew up a secret shortlist potential torture techniques (e.g., stress positions, forced nudity, sensory deprivation, solitary confinement...). The list was circulated to the military's own lawyers and to members of the CIA's legal team. The military lawyers rejected the "coercive interrogation" programs as illegal, but the CIA lawyers gave the Pentagon the green light. As you might expect, Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon sided with CIA counsel.

Committee members from both parties levied sharp criticism at the Pentagon and its accomplices in torture:
"The guidance that was provided during this period of time, I think, will go down in history as some of the most irresponsible and shortsighted legal analysis ever provided to our nation's military and intelligence communities," said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).
Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), the committee chairman, asked: "How on Earth did we get to the point where a United States government lawyer would say that . . . torture is subject to perception?" [WaPo]
Good question, Senator. Good question.

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