CIA Was Authorized to Keep Prisoners Awake for 11 Days

Human Rights

By Agence France-Presse


WASHINGTON – More than 25 of the CIA's war-on-terror prisoners were subjected to sleep deprivation during the administration of former president George W. Bush, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Citing memoranda made public by the Justice Department, the newspaper said that at one point, the Central Intelligence Agency was allowed to keep prisoners awake for as long as 11 days.

However, the limit was later reduced to just over a week, the report said.

Sleep deprivation had been one of the most important elements in the CIA's interrogation program, used to help break dozens of suspected terrorists, the paper said.

The technique is now prohibited by President Barack Obama's ban on harsh interrogation methods issued in January, although a task force is reviewing its use along with other interrogation methods, The Times said.

But the Justice Department memos released last month indicate the method involved forcing chained prisoners to stand, sometimes for days on end, the report said.

The prisoners had their feet shackled to the floor and their hands cuffed close to their chins, The Times said.

Detainees were clad only in diapers and not allowed to feed themselves. A prisoner who started to drift off to sleep would tilt over and be caught by his chains, according to the report.

Medical personnel were to make sure prisoners weren't injured. But a 2007 Red Cross report on the CIA program said detainees' wrists and ankles bore scars from their shackles, The Times said.

When detainees could no longer stand, they could be laid on the prison floor with their limbs "anchored to a far point on the floor in such a manner that the arms cannot be bent or used for balance or comfort," the paper said, citing a May 10, 2005, memo.

"The position is sufficiently uncomfortable to detainees to deprive them of unbroken sleep, while allowing their lower limbs to recover from the effects of standing," the report quotes the document as saying.

Within the CIA, sleep deprivation was seen as a method with the unique advantage of eroding prisoners' will to resist without causing lasting harm, The Times noted.

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