The U.S. policy, details of which have not been previously disclosed, was approved in early September, shortly after an Army general sent from Washington completed his inspection of the Abu Ghraib jail and then returned to brief Pentagon officials on his ideas for using military police there to help implement the new high-pressure methods.
The documents obtained by The Washington Post spell out in greater detail than previously known the interrogation tactics Sanchez authorized, and make clear for the first time that, before last October, they could be imposed without first seeking the approval of anyone outside the prison. That gave officers at Abu Ghraib wide latitude in handling detainees...
The list of interrogation options in the document closely matches a menu of options developed for use on detainees held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay and approved in a series of memos signed by top Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. In January 2002, for example, Rumsfeld approved the use of dogs to intimidate prisoners there; although officials have said dogs were never used at Guantanamo, they were used at Abu Ghraib.
Then, in April 2003, Rumsfeld approved the use in Guantanamo of at least five other high-pressure techniques also listed on the Oct. 9 Abu Ghraib memo, none of which was among the Army's standard interrogation methods. This overlap existed even though detainees in Iraq were covered, according to the administration's policy, by Geneva Convention protections that did not apply to the detainees in Cuba.
The documents obtained by The Post, which include memos from Abu Ghraib and statements made by prison officials for the Army's investigation, make clear that this overlap was no accident. No formalized rules for interrogation existed in Iraq before the policy imposed on Sept. 10, one day after Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller -- who was then in charge of the Guantanamo site -- departed from Iraq. He was accompanied on the Iraq visit by at least 11 senior aides from Guantanamo, including officials from the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency.
The circumstantial evidence against the administration's claim that the Abu Ghraib incidents were the work of just a few "bad apples" has always been strong. Sure, some of the problems at Abu Ghraib might be attributable to lax discipline; apparently alcohol use was common at Abu Ghraib, and there may even have been a vigorous sex trade between U.S. soldiers and Iraqi prostitutes. Incompetence surely played a part as well; due to technical errors and lack of information systems for processing missing persons' claims, U.S. forces have lost track of dozens of detainees at Abu Ghraib and others are detained with their whereabouts unknown to their families. But there is plenty of evidence that what happened at Abu Ghraib was a deliberate policy that's been spreading throughout military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo.
For instance, not all the "lost" detainees are lost. In at least one case, according to documents obtained by U.S. News, Sanchez ordered a prisoner be hid from Red Cross inspectors and his name kept off official rosters of detainees. And last month Editor and Publisher printed excerpts from a report by Reuters' Baghdad bureau chief describing what happened to three of his Iraqi employees when they were arrested near Fallujah:
When they were taken individually for interrogation, they were interrogated by two American soldiers and an Arab interpreter. All three shouted abuse at them. They were accused of shooting down the helicopter. Salem, Ahmad, and Sattar all reported that for their first interrogation they were told to kneel on the floor with their feet raised off the floor and with their hands raised in the air.
If they let their feet or hands drop they were slapped and shouted at. Ahmad said he was forced to insert a finger into his anus and lick it. He was also forced to lick and chew a shoe. For some of the interrogation tissue paper was placed in his mouth and he had difficulty breathing and speaking. Sattar too said he was forced to insert a finger into his anus and lick it. He was then told to insert this finger in his nose during questioning, still kneeling with his feet off the ground and his other arm in the air. The Arab interpreter told him he looked like an elephant. . . .
Ahmad and Sattar both said that they were given badges with the letter "C" on it. They did not know what the badges meant but whenever they were being taken from one place to another in the base, if any soldier saw their badge they would stop to slap them or hurl abuse.
"Different soldiers, different unit, different base; and yet," according to journalist Mark Danner who cited this account in his important article "The Logic of Torture" in the current edition of the New York Review of Books,
These policies aren't the improvised creations of low-level soldiers on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are the directives of high-ranking officials, and according to the Telegraph, this week we may know who in the Bush administration approved the policy:
The Telegraph understands that four confidential Red Cross documents implicating senior Pentagon civilians in the Abu Ghraib scandal have been passed to an American television network, which is preparing to make them public shortly.
According to lawyers familiar with the Red Cross reports, they will contradict previous testimony by senior Pentagon officials who have claimed that the abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison was an isolated incident.
"There are some extremely damaging documents around, which link senior figures to the abuses," said Scott Horton, the former chairman of the New York Bar Association, who has been advising Pentagon lawyers unhappy at the administration's approach. "The biggest bombs in this case have yet to be dropped."
The torture at Abu Ghraib isn't simply the fault of a few bad apples; it's the fault of the people at the Pentagon and the White House who put those apples in a rotten barrel.