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.