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Please begin with an informative title:

You can read Powell's memo and attachment here:

Bush disregarded Powell's opinion to follow the Geneva Convention.

On February 7, 2002 Bush issues his memorandum stating that al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners will not be protected under the laws and treaties of the Geneva Convention III (GPW).

Torture was on the table with the Decider's memo.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Powell did participate and he advised Bush to follow the Geneva Convention law; however, General Powell, the only member of the President's high level cabinet with an extensive record serving in the military, was disregarded.

Powell was in the loop and fully aware of the conversation to declare that al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners would not be protected under Geneva III.  And why have that discussion?  I can see no other reason than to have their OLC fabricated legal grounds to torture al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners.

 In response to John Yoo's January 9, 2002 "Geneva Convention III doesn't apply to AQ and Taliban memo which you can read here:

And in response to Alberto Gonzales' memo which you can read here:

And in which Gonzales states

The Secretary of State has requested that you reconsider that decision.
Collin Powell writes a memo to Gonzales and Stephen Hadley, dated January 26, 2002.  Here's a quote:
disputing the January 25 Gonzales memo urging President Bush to reconsider adhering to the GPW .  Hadley, you may recall, is responsible for keeping the claim about Iraq’s quest for nuclear weapons material in Bush’s January 28, 2003 State of the Union Address.
You can read Powell's memo and attachment here:

Also, if you go to page xv of this Senate Armed Services Report, it is stated that the President's cabinet was involved in the discussion in the early spring of 2002:

Mr. Haynes was not the only senior official considering new interrogation techniques for use against detainees.  Members of the President's Cabinet and other senior officials attended meetings in the White House where specific interrogation techniques were discussed.

President Bush, the Decider and Commander-in-Chief decides to disregard Powell's opinion and writes his "Disregard Geneva Convention III" memo on February 7, 2002.


February 7, 2002 President Bush signed a memorandum stating that the Third Geneva Convention did not apply to the conflict with al Qaeda and concluding that Taliban detainees were not entitled to prisoner of war status or the legal protections…(p. xiii, paragraph 3)

With the Bush Commander-in-Chief memo in hand, DOD accepts the SERE interrogation techiniques proposal from James Mitchell and Bruce Jesson:


The two men wrote an initial recommendation of measures designed to break the resistance of al-Qaida prisoners. On Feb. 12, 2002 they sent the paper to JPRA Commander Colonel John "Randy" Moulton who forwarded it to his chain of command at JFCOM.


And why were they pushing to finalize the decision to disregard Geneva III and have the enhanced SERE interrogation methods in place?  Speculating, I believe it is because they had intel on the whereabouts of Abu Zubaydah and needed the policy in place before they moved to capture him.  Reading the documents and timeline, is it reasonble to also speculate the decision to torture Abu Zubaydah was made prior to his capture?  Which they did:

At 2 a.m., FBI agents and Pakistani police units raided a two-story house on the outskirts of the city, arresting Abu Zubaydah, an al-Qaida logistics expert. The Americans had their most important prisoner to date. At the time, they believed that Abu Zubaydah was the number-four man in the al-Qaida hierarchy.

The arrest of Abu Zubaydah was the source of great nervousness in Washington. "Now that we had an undoubted resource in our hands -- the highest-ranking al-Qaida official captured to date -- we opened discussions within the National Security Council as to how to handle him, since holding and interrogating large numbers of al-Qaida operatives has never been part of our plan," former CIA Director George Tenet later wrote in his memoir:

On March 29, 2002, a day after the Zubaydah arrest, the retired SERE torture resistence instructor, James Mitchell, closed his new business.   He and the SERE Senior Psychologist, Bruce Jesson, who would resign from military service a few months later, founded a new company.  The men became contractors for the CIA, charging a rate of $1,000 (€746) a day, not including special fees.

In April, 2002 Mitchell and Jesson presented their first draft, "The Exploitation Draft Plan," of a new interrogation program to the CIA and proposed that an "exploitation facility" should be established (GITMO?)  As of April, 2002 Jesson is still working at SERE, Spokane, Washington.  Tab #2

SERE inquiries began in December, 2001.
(see page xiii, paragraph 2 of the www.scribd.com doc below)

Between December, 2001 and April, 2002 a program was pursued, policies to disregard Geneva were finalized with President Bush's February 7, 2002 memo, a draft SERE interrogation program was submitted by Mitchell and Jesson on February 12, 2002, and the final draft was submitted in April, 2002 shortly after Zubaydah's capture.

Finalization of the program wasn't completed until August, 2002 with the Bybee memo:

Thereafter, according to the NY Times, The C.I.A. officers used waterboarding at least 83 times in August 2002 against Abu Zubaydah, according to a 2005 Justice Department legal memorandum.

There is no official record before October, 2002 of Rumsfeld signing off on the SERE interrogation techniques yet:

OCTOBER 11, 2002  -  Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld Approves Aggressive Techniques (U)

  With respect to GTMO’s October 11, 2002 request to use aggressive interrogation
techniques, Mr. Haynes said that “there was a sense by the DoD Leadership that this decision was taking too long” and that Secretary Rumsfeld told his senior advisors “I need a recommendation.”

On December 2, 2002, Secretary Rumsfeld signed Mr. Haynes’s recommendation,
adding a handwritten note that referred to limits proposed in the memo on the use of stress positions: “I stand for 8-10 hours a day.  Why is standing limited to 4 hours?”  

DoD Working Group Ignores Military Lawyers and Relies on OLC (U)
On January 15, 2003, the same day he rescinded authority for GTMO to use
aggressive techniques, Secretary Rumsfeld directed the establishment of a “Working Group” to review interrogation techniques.

For the next few months senior military and civilian lawyers tried, without success, to have their concerns about the legality of aggressive techniques reflected in the Working Group’s report.  Their arguments were rejected in favor of a legal opinion from  the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) John Yoo.

Mr. Yoo’s opinion, the final version of which was dated March 14, 2003, had been requested by Mr. Haynes at the initiation of the Working Group process, and repeated much of what the first Bybee memo had said six months earlier.  

In mid-August 2003, an email from staff at Combined Joint Task Force 7 (CJTF-7) headquarters in Iraq requested that subordinate units provide input for a “wish list” of interrogation techniques, stated that “the gloves are coming off,” and said “we want these detainees broken.”

On September 14, 2003 the Commander of CJTF-7, Lieutenant General Ricardo
Sanchez, issued the first CJTF-7 interrogation SOP.  That SOP authorized interrogators in Iraq to use stress positions, environmental manipulation, sleep management, and military working dogs in interrogations.  Lieutenant General Sanchez issued the September 14, 2003 policy with the knowledge that there were ongoing discussions about the legality of some of the approved techniques.

If you recall, after the release of the Abu Ghraib pictures, Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez was ‘shifted and the officer in charge of the jail had been suspended”
In his report of his investigation into Abu Ghraib, Major General George Fay said that the policy approved by the Secretary of Defense on December 2, 2002 contributed to the use of aggressive interrogation techniques at Abu Ghraib in late 2003.

Conclusion 19:  The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own.  Interrogation techniques such as stripping detainees of their clothes, placing them in stress positions, and using military working dogs to intimidate them appeared in Iraq only after they had been approved for use in Afghanistan and at GTMO.  

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s December 2, 2002 authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody.  What followed was an erosion in standards dictating that detainees be treated humanely.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to War on Error on Sun May 24, 2009 at 10:48 AM PDT.

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