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The Washington Post is reporting this morning on one of the documents released on Monday night. This must read article outlines the Central Intelligence Agency's own guidelines interrogating the so-called "high value al Qaeda detainees," which provides, in the words of the WaPo, "the first detailed description of the step-by-step procedures used to systematically crush a detainee's will to resist by eliciting stress, exhaustion and fear. The guidelines were written by an agency lawyer whose name was redacted from all documents.

The referenced document can be viewed in PDF format on the Washington Post's website here. A directory of other documents released on Monday by the Justice Department is also available on the Washington Post website here.

I recommend heading over there and reading the whole article, but let's take a look at a just a few excerpts of what the WaPo says about this disturbing document.

First, here's an image of a permissible interrogation, under the guidelines:

As the session begins, the detainee stands naked, except for a hood covering his head. Guards shackle his arms and legs, then slip a small collar around his neck. The collar will be used later; according to CIA guidelines for interrogations, it will serve as a handle for slamming the detainee's head against a wall.

After removing the hood, the interrogator opens with a slap across the face -- to get the detainee's attention -- followed by other slaps, the guidelines state. Next comes the head-slamming, or "walling," which can be tried once "to make a point," or repeated again and again.

"Twenty or thirty times consecutively" is permissible, the guidelines say, "if the interrogator requires a more significant response to a question." And if that fails, there are far harsher techniques to be tried.

Let's stop for a moment and let that sink in: interrogators were advised to slam detainees "twenty or thirty times consecutively" against the wall, using a collar as a handle, if they didn't receive the answer that they were looking for. I can only assume that the agency considered any wall slamming in excess of 30 consecutive times to be too much. Ostensibly to prevent the "walling" from inflicting too much damage, it was supposed to be performed using a wall that was covered in plywood, to provide some meager measure of padding. I doubt that upon the 30th slam the plywood covering made much of a difference.

Of course, if wall slamming wasn't enough, the guidelines talk about other techniques that could be employed. It was standard to use nudity, diapers, blindfolds, and sleep deprivation (which was authorized to last up to 180 consecutive hours -- for those of you at home without a calculator handy, that's 7.5 days straight without any sleep), as well as differently named hitting techniques, including the "insult slap" and "abdominal slap." And if that wasn't enough:

Each failure would be met with increasingly harsher tactics. After slamming a detainee's head against the plywood barrier multiple times, the interrogator could douse him with water; deprive him of toilet facilities and force him to wear a soiled diaper; or make him stand or kneel for long periods while shackled in a painful position. The captive could also be forced into a wooden box for up to 18 hours at a stretch.

If you've read the previous torture memos already, then a lot of those techniques will sound familiar to you. Those are techniques that Jay Bybee had authorized already. This CIA document seems to be a translation of the OLC guidelines for the benefit of CIA personnel.

Eventually the Office of Medical Services did raise some concerns, especially about waterboarding, and due to that and more attention from Congress, the guidelines were revised to encompass less techniques. However, the CIA requested that it still be allowed to use, as reported by the WaPo, "dietary manipulation, sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours, the facial hold, the attention grasp, the abdominal slap and the insult slap." So it meant less torture, but not no torture.

Again, I recommend checking out the full article and making sure that, on this day that we are mourning the loss of Senator Kennedy, that an issue of major concern to him is still kept in the forefront. Senator Kennedy was a passionate critic of CIA torture and was willing to call a spade a spade. He was a strong proponent of making the interrogation guidelines of the Army Field Manual (which forbid torture) the law of the land, and he pressed Michael Mukasey to call waterboarding torture and strongly criticized him when he refused to do so at his confirmation hearings. Pushing for accountability for torture is one way that we can honor the legacy of Senator Kennedy's life's work.

To me it is impossible to read over these documents without feeling the need for accountability more than ever. We've got to keep up the push for Attorney General Holder to take this all the way to the top. For more ideas on what we can do to take action, I recommend visiting the ACLU's Accountability for Torture page. And consider throwing some support their way, if you can: it's safe to say that, if it weren't for the tireless efforts of the ACLU, a lot of the truth about torture would still be hidden.

Originally posted to Lost Left Coaster on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 08:18 AM PDT.


Do you think Holder's inquiry into CIA torture will go far enough?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for truth about torture (18+ / 0-)

    Let's honor Senator Kennedy's legacy of standing against torture by taking a stand for accountability.

    It came to me in a dream, and then I forgot it in another dream.

    by Lost Left Coaster on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 08:18:45 AM PDT

    •  Cia 's John Brennan is back (0+ / 0-)

      Obama chooses him to oversee the New Interrogation Corps.

      Thank you for your diary. It is so important that we keep this going every day. Everytime I read these horrific accounts, my stomach just starts jumping, not to say what happens to my soul.


      Obama chooses John Brennan, who was at the heart of Bush's intelligence effort, to play a key role in interrogation policies. White House refused to discuss Brennan’s exact role in the new interrogation policy. But a former CIA official familiar with the situation said Brennan — Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser — will head up a National Security Council team overseeing a new Justice Department interrogation corps, specifically chosen to interrogate the most important terror detainees.

      This isn’t the first time Brennan has drawn controversy. When Brennan’s name was floated as a leading candidate for CIA director during Obama’s transition, liberal activists loudly questioned the possible choice, and Brennan later withdrew. Several former CIA officials said Brennan, a former senior aide to CIA director George Tenet and later head of a national center to coordinate intelligence, was clearly in the loop when the so-called Enhanced Interrogation Techniques were approved in 2002. At the time, Brennan served as the CIA’s deputy executive director.

      Brennan’s critics contend assigning him to oversee future interrogation policy is the wrong approach for an administration trying to signal a clear break from the previous White House’s approach. "He supported everything with great enthusiasm—apparently he did make claims in house...against waterboarding, but he was defending detentions, defending extraordinary renditions, enhanced interrogation techniques and secret prisons," said Melvin Goodman, a former intelligence analyst who spent 20 years at the CIA. "Giving it to him shows that Obama is politically deaf or doesn’t care...Everything about this is wrong."

      Read more:

      "Justice is truth in action." - Disraeli

      by allenjo on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 03:45:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Holder is taking one baby step. (4+ / 0-)

    The work that needs to be done for justice to prevail is daunting, so we have to keep hollering. Your diary is a good start. Thanks.

    There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. --Rumi

    by rb137 on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 08:26:19 AM PDT

  •  True, and let me suggest that the torture (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandino, imabluemerkin

    of detainees is just the most egregious example of a culture of deprivation--i.e. one that subjects millions of people to conditions that are just short of death.  
    Our current health care system is part of that culture of deprivation.  So, it may well be worth while to delay just a little on revamping health care, if we can address the principle of deprivation itself.

    I imagine that people who feel empowered by the right to determine who lives and who dies--i.e. the commitment to capital punishment--consider deprivation a "lesser-included" punishment that can be assessed without the legal niceties.  This would seem to make sense, if one assumes that the obligation to be obedient is preeminent and that anyone who does not obey is guilty and deserving of punishment.

    How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

    by hannah on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 08:35:07 AM PDT

  •  Where are the trials? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Garrett, Lost Left Coaster

    The hell with preliminary investigations. These reports have been out there for years and official government documents from the rule of the crusaders do not need to be reviewed at length. They should serve as evidence that what was designed and approved at the VERY TOP of government was illegal under both U.S. law and international law. There MUST be immediate consequences. I am just afraid there will be these investigations for years and in the end a few prison guards and interrogators will go to jail while Darth Cheney and Turd Blossom will be living it up and giving interviews what a disgrace that is to punish these patriots and that Obama is letting the terrorists win.

    We don't inherit the world from the past. We borrow it from the future.

    by minorityusa on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 08:40:01 AM PDT

    •  Agreed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Garrett, Nightprowlkitty

      And I am very nervous that this is going to turn into meting out punishment for the low-level offenders, while the top people skate. Personally, I think that Holder's initial effort here is showing signs of inadequacy.

      And we are swimming in evidence now. For everything that the ACLU has dug up, there is even more out there that a prosecutor could dig up.

      It came to me in a dream, and then I forgot it in another dream.

      by Lost Left Coaster on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 08:47:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, but the fact is that the policy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lost Left Coaster

      people don't actually do anything.  They're like the Mafia capo who was very difficult to convict until we passed RICO legislation.  The additional difficulty here is that there's no measurable benefit that the torturers derived, although one has to assume a certain interest in gratifying sadistic inclinations had to be present.

      Getting people to feel virtuous while doing your dirty work is a significant accomplishment.  What we do to counteract it, I don't know.

      How do we deal with, much less prevent, abuse of power at the highest levels?
      It's a criminal conspiracy that may be beyond the competence of our courts to handle.

      I do still like the theft of honest services charge.  There may be a particular irony in convicting a high mucketymuck of crimes with which petty criminals are charged.

      How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

      by hannah on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 08:57:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good point (0+ / 0-)

        I'm no expert on the law, but I'm hopeful that prosecutions could in fact take place under the actual US torture statutes. But I'm not sure if these statutes can be used against the lawyers that wrote these policies or the higher ups that approved them. But you're definitely right that making these kind of charges stick under these circumstances will be very difficult.

        It came to me in a dream, and then I forgot it in another dream.

        by Lost Left Coaster on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 09:06:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  so let's assume I am your supervisor or even (0+ / 0-)

        further up the chain of command, and I give you an order (written) to torture someone and you follow the order. Does that mean I am not in legal jeopardy because I only gave the order? Of course you should be accountable, but those formulating the policy as well (and plausibly more so because the number of victims affected by the latter's actions is much greater). The lawyers can probably not be sent to prison, but should be at least fired if not disbarred for their complicity in this.

        We don't inherit the world from the past. We borrow it from the future.

        by minorityusa on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 11:16:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Every time I read stuff, I am astounded at this.. (0+ / 0-)

    We are the USA and what does the Statue of Liberty say, "Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

    These people need to go to jail.

    Dems=Majority now. Pass HCR because excuses are like assholes, everybody has one.

    by jdmorg on Wed Aug 26, 2009 at 09:59:07 AM PDT

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