Friday, February 24, 2006

Degrading Interrogation Outlined

By Drew Brown
Miami Herald
February 24, 2006

WASHINGTON - Military interrogators posing as FBI agents at the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, wrapped terrorism suspects in an Israeli flag and forced them to watch pornography under strobe lights during interrogation sessions that lasted as long as 18 hours, according to one of a batch of FBI memos released Thursday.

FBI agents working at the prison complained about the military interrogators' techniques in e-mails to their superiors from 2002 to 2004, 54 e-mails released by the American Civil Liberties Union showed. The agents tried to get the military interrogators to follow a less coercive approach and warned that the harsh methods could hinder future criminal prosecutions of terrorists because information gained illegally is inadmissible in court.

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who was in charge of the prison at the time, overrode the FBI agents' protests, according to the documents.

The memos offer some of the clearest proof yet that the abuses and torture of prisoners in U.S. military custody weren't the isolated actions of low-ranking soldiers but a result of policies approved by senior officials, the ACLU said.

''We think this should provide further reason to hold senior officials, not just low-ranking soldiers, accountable for the torture of prisoners,'' said Jameel Jaffer, an ACLU lawyer.

Lt. Cmdr. J.D. Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, called the ACLU's release of the documents ''another example of recycling old information.'' The Pentagon has conducted 12 major investigations and reviews and has never found a ''DoD policy that ever encouraged or condoned abuse of detainees at Guantánamo,'' he said.

The FBI memos originally were released in 2004 under the Freedom of Information Act as part of a lawsuit by the ACLU, but were largely censored. The latest batch contained extensive information that had been blocked out.

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