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Power User
Posts: 42454

« on: January 16, 2007, 03:42:12 PM »

From the Early Bird:

Washington Post
January 16, 2007
Pg. 15

Interrogation Research Is Lacking, Report Says

Few Studies Have Examined U.S. Methods

By Josh White, Washington Post Staff Writer

There is almost no scientific evidence to back up the U.S. intelligence community's use of controversial interrogation techniques in the fight against terrorism, and experts believe some painful and coercive approaches could hinder the ability to get good information, according to a new report from an intelligence advisory group.

The 374-page report from the Intelligence Science Board examines several aspects of broad interrogation methods and approaches, and it finds that no significant scientific research has been conducted in more than four decades about the effectiveness of many techniques the U.S. military and intelligence groups use regularly. Intelligence experts wrote that a lack of research could explain why abuse has been alleged at U.S. facilities in Afghanistan, Cuba and Iraq.

"Since there had been little or no development of sustained capacity for interrogation practice, training, or research within intelligence or military communities in the post-Soviet period, many interrogators were forced to 'make it up' on the fly," wrote Robert A. Fein, chairman of the study, published by the National Defense Intelligence College. "This shortfall in advanced, research-based interrogation methods at a time of intense pressure from operational commanders to produce actionable intelligence from high-value targets may have contributed significantly to the unfortunate cases of abuse that have recently come to light."

The report explores scientific knowledge on interrogation in the wake of reported abuse around the globe. The study, sponsored by the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon's Counterintelligence Field Activity, was posted yesterday on the Federation of American Scientists' Web site, at

In it, experts find that popular culture and ad hoc experimentation have fueled the use of aggressive and sometimes physical interrogation techniques to get those captured on the battlefields to talk, even if there is no evidence to support the tactics' effectiveness. The board, which advises the director of national intelligence, recommends studying the matter.

"There is little systematic knowledge available to tell us 'what works' in interrogation," wrote Robert Coulam, a research professor at the Simmons School for Health Studies in Boston. Coulam also wrote that interrogation practices that offend ethical concerns and "skirt the rule of law" may be narrowly useful, if at all, because such practices could undermine the legitimacy of government action and support for the fight against terrorism.

The Bush administration has long advocated the ability to use aggressive interrogation tactics on terrorism suspects. After abuse came to light at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and the Navy's prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Congress forced the government to limit its approaches to long-standing military doctrine but allowed a loophole that lets the CIA continue such techniques.

The Army's new field manual on intelligence, approved in September, specifically bans some of the most aggressive techniques -- such as "waterboarding," beatings, sensory deprivation and depriving a detainee of food -- and draws clear boundaries for all military personnel who participate in interrogations. Army officials abandoned more coercive techniques because of the abuse scandals and evidence that Army and contract interrogators had developed approaches in the field based on vague guidance.

The new study finds that there may be no value to coercive techniques.

"The scientific community has never established that coercive interrogation methods are an effective means of obtaining reliable intelligence information," wrote Col. Steven M. Kleinman, who has served as the Pentagon's senior intelligence officer for special survival training.

Kleinman wrote that intelligence gathered with coercion is sometimes inaccurate or false, noting that isolation, a tactic U.S. officials have used regularly, causes "profound emotional, psychological, and physical discomfort" and can "significantly and negatively impact the ability of the source to recall information accurately."
Power User
Posts: 15530

« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2007, 03:58:09 PM »

Let the testing begin! Lots of jihadis in custody for research purposes.
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2007, 12:37:15 PM »

There is a Lieutenant Colonel teaching "Terrorism and Asymmetric Warfare" in one of the classrooms I supervise here on campus. I had a long talk with him last week and one of his guest lecturers is supposed to be a former interrogator from Gitmo. Should make for an interesting question and answer period.
Power User
Posts: 42454

« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2007, 04:32:26 PM »

That sounds very interesting.  We hope you will take good notes and report back here.
Power User
Posts: 42454

« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2007, 12:47:07 PM »

In a related vein, this from the Washington Post last month:

Testimony Helps Detail CIA's Post-9/11 Reach
Europeans Told of Plans for Abductions

By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, December 16, 2006; A01

MILAN -- A few days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the CIA station chief
in Rome paid a visit to the head of Italy's military intelligence agency,
Adm. Gianfranco Battelli, to float a proposal: Would the Italian secret
services help the CIA kidnap terrorism suspects and fly them out of the

The CIA man did not identify which targets he had in mind but was "expressly
referring to the possibility of picking up a suspected terrorist in Italy,
bringing him to an airport and sending him from there to a foreign country,"
Battelli, now retired, recalled in a deposition.

This initial secret contact and others that followed, disclosed in newly
released documents, show the speed and breadth with which the CIA applied in
post-9/11 Europe a tactic it had long reserved for the Third World --
"extraordinary rendition," the extrajudicial abduction of Islamic radicals
overseas for interrogation in friendly countries.

A year after the first contact, the CIA officer held another meeting with
his Italian counterparts, this time sharing a list of more than 10
"dangerous people" the agency was tracking in Italy, Belgium, Austria and
the Netherlands, according to a deposition from Gen. Gustavo Pignero,
another high-ranking Italian military intelligence official. "It was clear
that this was an aggressive search project, that their willingness to employ
illicit means was clear," Pignero said, adding that the list was later
destroyed and he could not recall the names.

U.S. spies drew up suspect lists with the help of European intelligence
agencies and chased some of the men around the globe before putting a brake
on the operations in early 2004, about a year after the invasion of Iraq,
according to documents unearthed in criminal investigations, lawsuits and
parliamentary inquiries.

All told, the U.S. agency took part in the seizure of at least 10 European
citizens or legal immigrants, some of them from countries not cited in that
list of "dangerous people" received by the Italian spies. Four renditions
occurred on European soil: in Sweden, Macedonia and Italy. Six operations
targeted people who were traveling abroad or who had been captured in
Pakistan; European intelligence agencies provided direct assistance to the
CIA in at least five of those cases, records show.

Each prisoner was then secretly handed over to intelligence services in the
Middle East or Africa with histories of human rights abuses. Some remain
imprisoned in those countries; others have been taken to the U.S. naval
prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. One man was later released after being taken
from the Balkans to Afghanistan, the victim of an apparent case of mistaken

In the early stages, the CIA had prepared even more ambitious plans,
according to the depositions from the Italian intelligence officials, who
testified last summer during a criminal investigation into a CIA-sponsored
kidnapping of a radical Islamic cleric in Milan.

For example, Pignero said in his deposition that the CIA's Rome station
chief had offered in 2002 to abduct a fugitive leader of the Red Brigades --
a Marxist network blamed for dozens of assassinations in Italy -- who had
found refuge in South America. "The Americans would capture him and turn him
over to us, and we in return would have to 'extradite' him to Italy without
any legal proceedings," Pignero said.

In exchange, the CIA wanted help in abducting Islamic radicals living in the
Italian cities of Turin, Vercelli and Naples, Pignero said. Italian
intelligence officials rejected the offer, he added, because it was
"contrary to international laws."

Reports of clandestine CIA operations have fueled deep public anger in
Europe, where many people regard renditions as a blatant violation of
national sovereignty and international law. Since last year, prosecutors
have opened four separate criminal investigations into CIA activities in
Europe. A dozen countries have conducted legislative inquiries into whether
local spy agencies were involved.

Last month, a European Parliament committee investigating CIA operations in
Europe condemned the practice of rendition "as an illegal and systematic
instrument used by the United States" and called it "counterproductive in
the fight against terrorism."

"I think that after the 11th of September, the CIA thought that all the ways
useful to capture their enemies, the alleged terrorists, were now possible,"
Giovanni Claudio Fava, an Italian legislator who led the parliamentary
probe, said in an interview in Brussels. "They wanted to clean Europe of all
these dangerous, alleged terrorists. They didn't have faith in the quality
and capacity of our own security controls and our justice system."

In the past year, U.S. officials have sought to repair the diplomatic
damage. They have met repeatedly with their European counterparts to defuse
opposition to renditions, the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo and the
disclosure in November 2005 that the CIA had set up secret prisons for
terrorism suspects in Eastern Europe.

John B. Bellinger III, legal adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,
said U.S. diplomats have made some headway. But he added that ongoing
political disputes have "undermined cooperation and intelligence

"I'd say that many European government officials and academics acknowledge
now that there is a legal murkiness that applies to international
terrorism," he said in a telephone interview from Washington. "On the
negative side of the ledger, we do continue to have these hysterical,
inflated allegations denouncing the United States that unfortunately do fan
the flames of suspicion and anti-Americanism."

The CIA declined to comment.

'He Was Too Loud'

The most detailed disclosures about the CIA's European rendition project
have emerged from Milan, where Italian prosecutors have spent two years
investigating the disappearance of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, a militant
Egyptian-born cleric known as Abu Omar.

When Nasr vanished in February 2003, police and prosecutors in Milan thought
at first that he had slipped out of the country on his own, perhaps to join
resistance forces in Iraq in advance of the U.S.-led invasion. The CIA lent
credence to their suspicions a few months later, when it delivered an
intelligence bulletin to Rome stating that Nasr had been seen in the

In fact, prosecutors later discovered, Nasr had been grabbed on the street
in Milan as he was walking to a mosque and stuffed into a white van, which
sped to Aviano Air Base, a joint U.S.-Italian military installation. From
there, he was put on a plane to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, and onward to
Cairo, where Nasr claims he was tortured for months with electric shocks and
sexually abused.

Prosecutors in Milan have since issued arrest warrants on kidnapping charges
for 25 CIA operatives and a U.S. Air Force officer, alleging that they
conspired with Italian secret service agents to abduct Nasr. Although none
of the Americans is likely to be extradited to Italy, prosecutors have
served notice that they intend to try them in absentia and asked a judge
last month to formally indict the defendants.

Senior Italian intelligence officials have also been charged in the case,
including Gen. Nicolo Pollari, director of the Italian military intelligence
agency known as Sismi. Pignero, his former deputy, was arrested in June,
shortly after he gave his deposition to prosecutors. He died of cancer three
months later, on Sept. 11.

European investigators are still examining other mysterious cases of missing
or detained people. Among them is the disappearance a few weeks before
Nasr's kidnapping of another Egyptian-born Islamic fundamentalist.

Gamal al-Menshawi, a physician and occasional mosque preacher who knew Nasr
personally, had left his home in Graz, Austria, bound for the Islamic holy
city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. His wife was waiting for him there, but he
never arrived, according to Egyptian exiles in Austria and Italy who know

Menshawi's trail vanished after he arrived in Amman, Jordan, for a flight
connection. He later surfaced in Egypt. European Parliament investigators
have concluded he was detained there for two years without facing charges.

He was released in 2005 and is living in Alexandria, Egypt, according to
Austrian journalists. He has severed contact with friends and colleagues in
Europe, who strongly suspect he was subjected to a rendition, although they
lack proof or direct evidence of U.S. involvement.

Arman Ahmed al-Hissini, imam of the Viale Jenner mosque in Milan and an
acquaintance of Menshawi and Nasr, said both have been silenced by the
Egyptian security services.

"The Arab secret services, they give names to the CIA of people who they
want, people who are on the outside, such as Europe," said Hissini, an
Egyptian native known locally as Abu Imad. "They give the names to the CIA,
because the CIA can go to work in these countries."

There is also little doubt about Menshawi's fate among those who knew him in
Austria's Islamic community.

"I see the American government as being primarily responsible," said Mohamed
Mahmoud, chairman of a group called Islamic Group of Austria. "This is not
the first time someone has disappeared."

"The Americans look around in Europe for who is being loud, who is speaking
out, and then those people are kidnapped," he added. "He was very vocal; he
was too loud for them. He talked openly about Egypt's government, about the
U.S. government, about the Islamic community in Austria."

'They Needed Information'

About the same time, another Islamic militant from Austria disappeared
during a stopover at the Amman airport.

Masaad Omer Behari, a Sudanese citizen who had lived in Austria for more
than a decade, has said he was arrested by Jordanian secret service agents
on Jan. 12, 2003, as he was traveling home to Vienna from a trip to Sudan.

Behari told European Parliament investigators in October that he was held
for three months in a Jordanian prison, where he was interrogated about
Islamic militants in Austria and elsewhere in Europe. "On the first day I
was in prison, they told me they did not think I was a terrorist, but that
they needed information about the Islamic scene in Vienna," he said.

Documents obtained by the investigators show that Behari had been under
surveillance by Austria's domestic intelligence service since 1998, when he
was interrogated about an alleged plot to blow up the U.S. Embassy in
Vienna. Behari said he was innocent and never faced charges, but was
pressured by Austrian secret service agents to leave the country after the
Sept. 11 hijackings.

"I have experienced hard times because I did not cooperate with the security
authorities in Europe and with the Americans," Behari said, according to a
transcript of his testimony. The Austrians "threatened me that they would
cause me problems. I thought it was only 'blah-blah,' but it was the truth."

Austrian authorities said they have not opened official inquiries into the
disappearances of Menshawi or Behari, in part because neither is an Austrian

"Since the alleged abductions did not take place on Austrian soil, in an
Austrian airplane or on an Austrian ship, we see no need for action," said
Rudolf Gollia, spokesman for the Austrian Interior Ministry.

Special correspondent Shannon Smiley in Berlin contributed to this report.
Power User
Posts: 42454

« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2007, 07:59:23 PM »

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, confessed to that attack and a string of others during a military hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to a transcript released Wednesday by the Pentagon.   
Mohammed claimed responsibility for planning, financing, and training others for bombings ranging from the 1993 attack at the World Trade Center to the attempt by would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight with explosives hidden in his shoes.   
In all, Mohammed said he was responsible for planning 29 individual attacks, including many that were never executed. The comments were included in a 26-page transcript released by the Pentagon, which also blacked out some of his remarks.
Power User
Posts: 42454

« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2007, 06:12:17 AM »

This thread had languished for a while until yesterday's entry.  Coincidentally enough, here's another entry today.  I'm not sure I agree with every thing in it, but it does shed a lot of light on how things are done.
Gitmo's Guerrilla Lawyers
How an unscrupulous legal and PR campaign changed the way the world looks at Guantanamo.

Thursday, March 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

He was the first American to die in what some have called "the real war." Johnny "Mike" Spann, the 32-year-old CIA paramilitary commando, was interrogating prisoners in an open courtyard at the Qala-I-Jangi fortress in Afghanistan when the uprising of 538 hard-core Taliban and al Qaeda fighters began. Spann emptied his rifle, then his sidearm, then fought hand-to-hand as he was swarmed by raging prisoners screaming "Allahu akbar!"

The bloody siege by Northern Alliance and U.S. forces went on for several days, only ending when 86 of the remaining jihadi fighters were smoked out of a basement where they had retreated and where they murdered a Red Cross worker who had gone in to check on their condition. Spann, a former Marine, is credited with saving the lives of countless Alliance fighters and Afghan civilians by standing and firing as they ran for cover. His beaten and booby-trapped body was recovered with two bullet wounds in his head, the angle of trajectory suggesting he had been shot execution style.

One of the committed jihadis who came out of that basement, wounded and unrepentant, was "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, now serving a 20-year sentence in a federal prison. Another who was shot during the uprising and pulled out of the basement along with Lindh was Nasser Nijer Naser al-Mutairi. Today, the 29-year-old is living somewhere in Kuwait, a free man.

The true story of Mr. Mutairi's journey, from the uprising in Qala-I-Jangi to Guantanamo Bay's military detention camp to the privileged life of an affluent Kuwaiti citizen, is one that his team of high-priced lawyers and the government of Kuwait doesn't want you to know. His case reveals a disturbing counterpoint to the false narrative advanced by Gitmo lawyers and human-rights groups--which holds that the Guantanamo Bay detainees are innocent victims of circumstance, swept up in the angry, anti-Muslim fervor that followed the attacks of September 11, then abused and brutally tortured at the hands of the U.S. military.

Mr. Mutairi was among 12 Kuwaitis picked up in Afghanistan and detained at Guantanamo Bay in 2002. Their families retained Tom Wilner and the prestigious law firm of Shearman & Sterling early that same year. Arguably, it is Mr. Wilner's aggressive representation, along with the determined efforts of the Kuwait government, that has had the greatest influence in the outcome of all the enemy combatant cases, in the court of law and in the court of public opinion. The lawsuit filed on their behalf, renamed Rasul v. Bush when three cases were joined, is credited with opening the door for the blizzard of litigation that followed.

According to Michael Ratner, the radical lawyer and head of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the center received 300 pieces of hate mail when the organization filed the very first Guantanamo detainee case in February of 2002. The shocking images of 9/11 were still fresh; it would be three more months until most human remains and rubble would be cleared from ground zero. There was no interest in Guantanamo from the lawyers at premium law firms.

But by 2004, when the first of three detainee cases was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, the national climate had changed. The country was politically divided, the presidential election was in full swing, and John Kerry was talking about treating terrorism like a criminal nuisance. The Guantanamo cases gave lawyers a chance to take a swipe at the president's policies, give heroic speeches about protecting the rights of indigents, and be a part of the kind of landmark legal cases that come along once in a lifetime. The Guantanamo Bay Bar increased from a lonely band of activist lawyers operating out of a run down office in Greenwich Village to an association of 500 lawyers. Said Mr. Ratner about the blue chip firms that initially shunned these cases, "You had to beat the lawyers off with a stick."

Mr. Wilner and his colleagues at Shearman & Sterling were the exception, although he has been exceedingly coy about the true nature of his firm's role. Unlike the many lawyers who later joined in the litigation on a pro bono basis, Shearman & Sterling was handsomely paid. Mr. Wilner has repeatedly stated that the detainees' families insisted on paying Shearman & Sterling for its services and that the fees it earned have been donated to an unspecified 9/11-related charity. According to one news report, the families had spent $2 million in legal fees by mid-2004. In truth, Kuwaiti officials confirmed that the government was footing the bills.

How did Shearman & Sterling get tapped for this historic assignment? Speaking at Seton Hall Law School in fall of 2006, Mr. Wilner recounted that he visited the facility at Guantanamo Bay in 2002, months before he met the Kuwaiti 12's families. What was Mr. Wilner doing at Gitmo more than two years before Rasul established the legal basis for lawyers getting access to detainees inside the camp? One of his Gitmo legal colleagues has said that Mr. Wilner was brought into the case by an oil industry client.

It turns out that Shearman & Sterling, a 1,000-lawyer firm with offices in 19 cities all over the world, has substantial business dealings on six continents. Indeed, Shearman's client care for Middle Eastern matters has established a new industry standard: The firm's Abu Dhabi office states that it has pioneered the concept of "Shariah-compliant" financing. In Kuwait, the firm has represented the government on a wide variety of matters involving billions of dollars worth of assets. So the party underwriting the litigation on behalf of the Kuwaiti 12--from which all of the detainees have benefited--is one of Shearman & Sterling's most lucrative OPEC accounts.

Shearman & Sterling did far more than just write legal briefs and shuttle down to Gitmo to conduct interviews about alleged torture for the BBC. In addition to its legal services, the firm registered as an agent of a foreign principal under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA) as well as the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (LDA) to press the Kuwaiti detainees' cause on Capitol Hill. Shearman reported $749,980 in lobbying fees under FARA for one six-month period in 2005 and another $200,000 under the LDA over a one-year period between 2005 and 2006. Those are the precise time periods when Congress was engaged in intense debates over the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act, legislation which Shearman & Sterling and its Kuwaiti paymasters hoped would pave the way for shutting down Guantanamo permanently and setting their clients free.

Mr. Wilner, a media-savvy lawyer who immediately realized that the detainee cases posed a tremendous PR challenge in the wake of September 11, hired high-stakes media guru Richard Levick to change public perception about the Kuwaiti 12. Mr. Levick, a former attorney whose Washington, D.C.-based "crisis PR" firm has carved out a niche in litigation-related issues, has represented clients as varied as Rosie O'Donnell, Napster, and the Roman Catholic Church. Mr. Levick's firm is also registered under FARA as an agent of a foreign principal for the "Kuwaiti Detainees Committee," reporting $774,000 in fees in a one year period. After the U.S. Supreme Court heard the first consolidated case, the PR campaign went into high gear, Mr. Levick wrote, to "turn the Guantanamo tide."

In numerous published articles and interviews, Mr. Levick has laid out the essence of the entire Kuwaiti PR campaign. The strategy sought to accomplish two things: put a sympathetic "human face" on the detainees and convince the public that it had a stake in their plight. In other words, the militant Islamists who traveled to Afghanistan to become a part of al Qaeda's jihad on America had to be reinvented as innocent charity workers swept up in the war after 9/11. The committed Islamist who admitted firing an AK-47 in a Taliban training camp became a "teacher on vacation" who went to Afghanistan in 2001 "to help refugees." The member of an Islamist street gang who opened three al-Wafa offices with Suliman Abu Ghaith (Osama Bin Laden's chief spokesman) to raise al Qaeda funds became a charity worker whose eight children were left destitute in his absence. All 12 Kuwaitis became the innocent victims of "bounty hunters."

A Montreal-based marketing firm was hired to create the families' full-service Web site which fed propaganda--unsourced, unrebutted and uninvestigated by the media--aimed at the media all over the world. Creating what Mr. Levick calls a "war of pictures," the site is replete with images meant to appeal to Americans: smiling Kuwaiti families wearing T-shirts and baseball caps, cute children passing out yellow ribbons.
After the Rasul decision, the PR momentum picked up speed and the Supreme Court became, in Mr. Levick's words, their "main weapon," a "cudgel" that forced more attention in what he calls the traditional "liberal" press. Dozens of op-eds by Mr. Wilner and the family group leader (described as a U.S.-trained former Kuwaiti Air Force pilot who cherishes the memory of drinking Coca Cola) were aimed at the public and Congress.

Mr. Levick maintains that a year and a half after they began the campaign, their PR outreach produced literally thousands of news placements and that, eventually, a majority of the top 100 newspapers were editorializing on the detainees' behalf. Convinced that judges can be influenced by aggressive PR campaigns, Mr. Levick points to rulings in the detainee cases which openly cite news stories that resulted from his team's media outreach.

The Kuwaiti 12 case is a primer on the anatomy of a guerilla PR offensive, packaged and sold to the public as a fight for the "rule of law" and "America's core principles." Begin with flimsy information, generate stories that are spun from uncorroborated double or triple hearsay uttered by interested parties that are hard to confirm from halfway around the world. Feed the phonied-up stories to friendly media who write credulous reports and emotional human interest features, post them on a Web site where they will then be read and used as sources by other lazy (or busy) media from all over the world. In short, create one giant echo chamber.

Mr. Mutairi's profile is the most brazen example of Mr. Levick's confidence that the media can be easily manipulated. The Web site describes him as a member of an apolitical and peaceful sect of missionaries, and that he went to Afghanistan in October of 2000 to "minister in the small mosques and schools" in the country's poorer regions.

Everything Mr. Levick did was in partnership with Tom Wilner and the law firm of Sherman & Sterling. It was their joint litigation-PR plan, with the Guantanamo lawsuits helping the PR messaging and the PR messaging helping the lawsuits. All of this may be legal, but it is hardly ethical.

Shearman & Sterling lawyers aren't hucksters crassly promoting a cheap product; they are sworn officers of the court volunteering to represent alien enemy combatants in a time of war, interjecting themselves in cases that affect how American soldiers on the battlefield do their job. It is one thing to take these cases in order to achieve the proper balance between due process concerns and unprecedented national security issues. It is another to hire PR and marketing consultants to create image makeovers for suspected al Qaeda financiers, foot soldiers, weapons trainers and bomb makers, all of which is financed by millions of dollars from a foreign country enmeshed in the anti-American, anti-Israel elements of Middle East politics.

Although a few mistakes were made when some of the Guantanamo detainees were taken into custody in the fog of war, others were indisputably captured with AK-47s still smoking in their hands. Any one of those who have been properly classified in Combat Status Review Tribunals as an unlawful enemy combatant could be the next Mohamed Atta or Hani Hanjour, who, if captured in the summer of 2001, would have been described by these lawyers as a quiet engineering student from Hamburg and a nice Saudi kid who dreams of learning to fly.

How we deal with alien enemy combatants goes to the essence of the debate between those who see terrorism as a series of criminal acts that should be litigated in the justice system, one attack at a time, and those who see it as a global war where the "criminal paradigm" is no more effective against militant Islamists whose chief tactic is mass murder than indictments would have been in stopping Hitler's march across Europe. Michael Ratner and the lawyers in the Gitmo bar have expressly stated that the habeas corpus lawsuits are a tactic to prevent the U.S. military from doing its job. He has bragged that "The litigation is brutal [for the United States] . . . You can't run an interrogation . . . with attorneys." No, you can't. Lawyers can literally get us killed.

We may never know how many of the hundreds of repatriated detainees are back in action, fighting the U.S. or our allies thanks to the efforts of the Guantanamo Bay Bar. Approximately 20 former detainees have been confirmed as having returned to the battlefield, 12 of them killed by U.S. forces. Of the eight detainees who were rendered back to Kuwait for review of their cases, all were acquitted in criminal proceedings, including Mr. Mutairi, who has given press interviews admitting that he was shot in the November 2001 uprising at Qala-I-Jangi.

Only one Kuwaiti, Adel al-Zamel, has been sent to prison for crimes committed before his work with al-Wafa in Afghanistan. A member of an Islamist gang that stalked, videotaped and savagely beat "adulterers," he was sentenced to a year in prison in 2000 for attacking a coed sitting in her car. These are some of the men Tom Wilner was talking about when he went on national television and said with a straight face, "My guys . . . loved the United States."
The guy who really loved the United States stood and fought to protect us from radical Islamists, rather than enable them. In his job application for the CIA, Mike Spann wrote, "I am an action person that feels personally responsible for making any changes in this world that are in my power because if I don't no one else will." We owe our unqualified support and steadfastness to the warriors who take personal responsibility when no one else will.

Allowing lawyers to subvert the truth and transform the Constitution into a lethal weapon in the hands of our enemies--while casting themselves as patriots--makes a mockery of the sacrifices made by true patriots like Mike Spann. If Sens. Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter, chairman and ranking members, respectively, of the Senate Judiciary Committee succeed in their plan to turn enemy combatant cases over to the federal courts, we will sorely rue the day that we eliminated "lawyer-free zones."

Ms. Burlingame, a former attorney and a director of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, is the sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame III, the pilot of American Airlines flight 77, which was crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
Power User
Posts: 42454

« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2007, 04:49:00 PM »

PENTAGON: GITMO DETAINEE CONFESSES IN COLE BOMBING: Waleed bin Attash, a suspected key al Qaeda operative, confessed to plotting the bombings of the USS Cole and two U.S. embassies in Africa, according to a Pentagon transcript of a hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. More than 200 were killed in the simultaneous attacks on the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. And 17 sailors were killed and dozens injured when suicide bombers steered an explosives-laden boat into the guided missile destroyer Cole on October 12, 2000.

Power User
Posts: 229

« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2007, 06:35:34 PM »

Again, why don't we call this thread what it really is?  "Interrogation methods" is basically right-wing politically-correct-speak for "torture".

Maybe these confessions (no doubt extracted under what any objective court in the world would consider torture) are genuine, but we have no way of knowing really, since the tribunals are held in secret and the loose rules of evidence, lack of attorneys, etc. make it effectively impossible for them to present any kind of defense.

And I'm 100% sure it's no concidence whatsoever that these supposed confessions are being revealed right around the four-year anniversary of the Iraq war, for which public support is going subterranean among all but the most hard-core right-wingers.
Power User
Posts: 42454

« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2007, 07:35:17 PM »

Rog et al:

I chose the name for the thread that I did in order to leave open the determination of the question presented.

You are right that this is a very troubling area. 

Do you think enemy combatants in war should receive trials with all the accoutrements thereof?  What, if any, secrecy is appropriate in these matters?

« Last Edit: March 20, 2007, 02:19:47 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Power User
Posts: 15530

« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2007, 08:35:46 PM »

I interview and interrogate on a regular basis, neither involves physical coercion or (cue scary music) TORTURE.

Aside from the lurid accusations, do you actually have any knowledge of the topic, Rogt?

The Clinton administration demonstrated just how effective trying to indict al qaeda into submission worked. You can't fight 21st century asymmetrical warfare in the criminal justice system. WWII military tribunals set the standard for today's proceeding. Jihadists don't enjoy constitutional protections of citizens and as unlawful combatants are not covered by the Geneva convention. We can and should do with them as we choose. They desire martyrdom, we are giving it to them. It's really a win-win.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2007, 06:30:20 AM by G M » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2007, 01:06:33 PM »

Do you think enemy combatants in war should receive trials with all the accoutrements thereof?

Not necessarily, but let's consider the legal treatment an alleged detainee at Guantanamo gets.  He can be tortured.  He gets a US military officer for a "personal representative" instead of an attorney.  No right to call witnesses (even fellow prisoners).  Hearsay evidence against him is allowed, and he has no right to see classified evidence assembled against him.

How is any meaningful defense possible under these circumstances?

GM Writes:

Jihadists don't enjoy constitutional protections of citizens and as unlawful combatants are not covered by the Geneva convention. We can and should do with them as we choose.

Does the person have any right to contest his status as a "jihadist" (before giving him the full-on Guantanamo treatment) as far as you're concerned?

« Last Edit: March 20, 2007, 01:10:10 PM by rogt » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2007, 01:24:56 PM »

Rog, what kind of contest would you have the accused do to determine weather or not he was a "jihadist"?
I mean what would satisfy you, and what do you suggest?
Lets please be clear and frank about this..........

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« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2007, 02:03:11 PM »

Rog, what kind of contest would you have the accused do to determine weather or not he was a "jihadist"?

1) Have a civilian judge presiding over it

2) Allow the accused access to a qualified civilian attorney who will represent him in the hearing

3) Allow the accused and his attorney to see *any* evidence against him

4) No hearsay testimony admitted as evidence

Even if you had to keep the proceedings closed to the public and use civilian judges/attorneys who qualify for whatever security clearances are necessary, the above would IMO guarantee some minimal level of fairness.

For the record, I should add that the term "enemy combatant" is a complete bullshit, made-up designation not recognized as valid under any international law.

« Last Edit: March 20, 2007, 02:08:38 PM by rogt » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2007, 02:15:18 PM »

Rog, Ok forsake of argument fair enougth. What would you say be fair evidence necassary to be proven a "jihadist"? Would you say that being associated with other known jihadists was sufficent?
 Also I would agree if found innocent surley let go and sent home.
What though do we do with them if found to be guilty?
Also what to do if found guilty and found to be in knowledge of information of other jihadists or jihadists activitys ect.....?
How in other words do you suggest they be made give up their knowledgable information?

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« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2007, 04:33:03 PM »

What would you say be fair evidence necassary to be proven a "jihadist"? Would you say that being associated with other known jihadists was sufficent?

First of all, what exactly does "being a jihadist" mean?  It's one thing if you've actually attacked somebody or even planned an attack, but simply being Muslim and believing bad things about America, Israel, Christianity, etc. is not a crime.

"Being associated with" could mean pretty much anything, so no, I would not agree that this alone is evidence of anything.

Also what to do if found guilty and found to be in knowledge of information of other jihadists or jihadists activitys ect.....?
How in other words do you suggest they be made give up their knowledgable information?

How exactly would you know they had any valuable information?  This isn't like the movies, where we get to see everything the bad guy was doing before Dirty Harry got ahold of him and we know for a fact that he's guilty or knows something.

Even if you could make a convincing argument for why torture is morally justified in some cases, it wouldn't make it any more reliable a means of extracting information.  Torture somebody for long enough and they'll confess to whatever you want, so how would you know he was even telling you the truth?  It would make sense to do it if video of him saying he did it was useful somehow (maybe for propaganda purposes?), but in terms of usable intelligence it doesn't seem to make much sense.

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« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2007, 05:05:14 PM »

Ah, the left's love affair with lawfare. rolleyes


How many courtrooms do you plan on building to try the various "alleged" illegal combatants captured by US military forces? What's the projected budget for defense attorneys? How many prosecutors will we need for this as well as the rest of the legal infastructure for just a year's trials? Who will perform the psych compitency exams pre-trial? How many hours of training in rules of search and seizure will every US military member require yearly? What infastructure will need to be constructed to handle the evidence seized under combat conditions for forensic analysis and chain of custody storage? How many frontline military units do you plan to take out of rotation so they can testify in various legal proceedings?

I'm eagerly awaiting your detailed vision of how this all would be done and a rough budget that would be required for implimentation.

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« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2007, 05:33:27 PM »

April 23, 2004, 12:18 p.m.
The 4h Circuit’s Mixed Ruling
The government’s case is restored but the terrorist has gained ground.

It is a trite truism that bad cases make bad law. The federal government's prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui in connection with the September 11 attacks may be blazing the path to a new truism: Law — at least in its current form — makes bad national security.

Late Thursday a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued its much-anticipated decision on the government's appeal of district judge Leonie M. Brinkema's rulings barring the death penalty and evidence of Moussaoui's participation in the 9/11 plot. The prosecution prevailed, although only in the most bottom-line of senses: The death penalty is back on the table as is the 9/11 proof. The appellate court dealt the government some setbacks, however, and its rationale raises serious questions about whether legal proceedings that comport with our criminal-justice system's lofty standards of due process are not inimical to the national-security imperative to defeat our enemies in wartime. Further, the opinion — many important portions of which are redacted because they relate to classified intelligence derived from captured enemy combatants — suggests weaknesses in the case the government chose to bring against Moussaoui, although it also indicates there is overwhelming evidence that the defendant is surely guilty of heinous crimes.

Taking this last point first allows for recounting some important background. Moussaoui is a brazen, avowed, unapologetic member of al Qaeda who has admitted — indeed brayed — that he hates the United States and was in America intending to execute a massive terrorist attack. His "defense," if that is the right word for it, is that this would-be attack was not the 9/11 plot but rather participation in an anticipated round-two of suicide hijackings. Moreover, Moussaoui is not an American, but rather an illegal alien who was detainable because he was out of status. That detention occurred, several weeks before the 9/11 attacks, because Moussaoui, while taking flight training to prepare himself for his mission, conducted himself in ways that caused his trainers to suspect he might be a terrorist — reportedly, exhibiting a preternatural interest in the operation of cabin doors and appearing far more interested in how to steer a jumbo jet than how to take off or land in one.

All this is to say that Moussaoui should be the poster child for unlawful enemy combatants subject to military tribunals rather than civilian trials. There are no doubt cases on the margins that cause queasiness among people of good will about whether the boundaries of enemy combatancy could be stretched too widely. This, however, is not one of them. Here we have an alien operative of the foreign terrorist network with which we are engaged in active military hostilities who infiltrated our country and was secretly plotting to mass murder Americans. He is by definition an unlawful combatant and a war criminal.

The government, however, elected to do two things which were well-intentioned but highly debatable. First, it indicted him in a civilian court, thus vesting him with the full panoply of rights accorded to an American criminal defendant, including, saliently for present purposes, our lushly generous guarantees of access to witnesses and information — guarantees that implicate not only what is clearly exculpatory but include the far broader categories of that which (a) is only potentially exculpatory, (b) is relevant and potentially helpful, and (c) might induce a jury to vote against execution even if it does not suggest innocence.

Second, the government chose to charge him with complicity in the specific 9/11 attacks. Now, it must be observed that we have not seen the government's entire case, and usually it ends up being much stronger than the pundits forecast it to be before trial — just ask Martha Stewart. But it is safe to assume the following: The evidence that Moussaoui is a member of the overall al Qaeda conspiracy to make war on the United States, and that he is an operative who plotted to use a weapon of mass destruction against Americans — proof that would virtually guarantee a sentence of life imprisonment — is stronger, perhaps much stronger, than the evidence that he was a participant in the narrower 9/11 plot. That is, the proof that he was part of an al Qaeda plan to pilot planes into buildings is more certain than that he was part of the specific scheme to do so on 9/11.

So why charge him with the narrower scheme when guilt on the larger scheme will put him out of commission? The answer is threefold. First and foremost, the government is entirely correct that if Moussaoui is at all complicit in the 9/11 attacks he should be brought to justice, and the government mustn't shirk from trying to make its case just because it might be a tough case. Second, Moussaoui should be executed and, under federal capital law, the case for the death penalty is geometrically stronger if Moussaoui is proved to be directly responsible for over 3000 murders than if he is only indirectly responsible (i.e., if he was not in on the narrow 9/11 plot but was part of the al Qaeda conspiracy that bears ultimate responsibility). And third, we should not lose sight of the fact that while Moussaoui's membership in the overarching al Qaeda conspiracy and his intent to commit a terrorist attack now seem indisputable, that was not the case at the time he was indicted; instead, this has been elucidated publicly by outbursts Moussaoui has made in court and the fact that he has conceded in legal proceedings that he was plotting an operation — a concession, by the way, that could very well be a tactical maneuver to avoid the death penalty by a terrorist who in fact was a participant in the 9/11 plot.

While the government thus plainly had its reasons, its charging decision comes at a cost. Once Moussaoui stands accused of being part of the 9/11 plot and denies that this is the case, a couple of vitally important things happen. First, under our system, he is entitled to be presumed innocent at a jury trial. That is, however crazy this seems, you need to put out of your mind that you already know he is guilty of crimes that should put him away forever; he gets to go to trial with the prevailing view that he was not involved in 9/11. Second, under our judicial system, although he is a non-American and a hostile enemy, he gets rights under our Constitution to due process of law and to compel the appearance of witnesses and production of information that might be helpful to his defense. Thus, the issue of access to captured enemy combatants comes to the fore.

The government, of course, has been rolling up al Qaeda since October 2001 and has captured several top operatives, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Abu Zubaydah. The Fourth Circuit's opinion carefully and appropriately omits mention of these names and the substance of any information they may have provided. But their apprehension has been widely reported, and it is fair to infer from the proceedings in the district court and the Fourth Circuit's opinion that at least some of them have made statements that, if repeated in court, would bolster Moussaoui's claim that he was not involved in 9/11.

Applying standard rules of access to potentially exculpatory evidence, Judge Brinkema ruled that the government was obligated to make the captured combatant witnesses available to Moussaoui. The government declined. Here, the government walks a fine line — and perhaps the best thing about the Fourth Circuit's opinion is its acknowledgement that this is a proper line, not a tactical one.

Obtaining intelligence from captured combatants during wartime is critical to the security of our nation and our troops on the battlefield. Interrupting interrogations can result in the loss of information that might prevent future terrorist attacks. In the sensitive conduct of foreign relations in wartime, the president must be able to assure confidentiality — unhampered by judicial second-guessing — in order promote continued cooperation of key allies. Most importantly, as the Supreme Court has recognized, according rights to enemies in wartime — having judges undermine commanders in the field — would diminish the prestige of our military in the eyes of both foes and "wavering neutrals," and result in inter-branch conflict that would bring aid and comfort to the enemy.

Nevertheless, in our system, the Fourth Circuit held that these grave national-security considerations must give way if the government chooses to charge a defendant in a judicial proceeding and its obstinacy about disclosure has the effect of depriving that defendant of information that may be critical to his defense. The executive branch maintains the option of refusing to comply with court orders to make witnesses available, but it does so on pain of having charges or entire indictments dismissed.

In this aspect, the Fourth Circuit's decision is a defeat for the government. The Court upheld the portions of Judge Brinkema's ruling which found that the captured combatants had information that might be helpful to Maoussaoui's defense, and that there was no separation-of-powers violation of the executive's war-making function in ordering the government to interrupt the interrogation of captured combatants so that Moussaoui could take their depositions.

The Fourth Circuit, however, reversed Judge Brinkema on the central question whether, given the government's refusal to comply with her production orders, there was any adequate substitute for the combatants' deposition. This implicates the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), which established a set of rules that apply when top-secret information is relevant to key issues in a public trial. The Fourth Circuit held that Moussaoui's case does not precisely fall under CIPA for technical reasons, but agreed with the district judge that CIPA's principles provided a useful framework for deciding the access-to-combatants question.

Under CIPA, once a court finds that classified information is relevant, the government has the choice of either declassifying it so that it can be used or proposing a substitute the keeps the information secret but allows the defendant whatever benefit the information would have proved. A concrete example may be helpful here. Several years ago, I prosecuted a terrorist organization for levying war against the United States. During part of the conspiracy, the defendants were training to commit terrorist acts against the U.S. (including the 1993 WTC bombing) but they claimed in their defense that all they were really doing was preparing to support the Afghan mujahideen in its struggle to oust the Soviets (which, inconveniently, had ended in 1989 when the Soviets left Afghanistan). The defense thus demanded access to classified files that might bear on the American intelligence community's involvement in aiding the mujahideen; the facile theory was that they couldn't have been making war on the U.S. if they were doing the same thing the U.S. was doing. CIPA was invoked. As a result, my defendants were not permitted to comb through intelligence files and call sensitive witnesses, but we were required to stipulate that the government had provided economic and military support to the mujahideen through a third country. That is, the defense got the limited benefit of what the evidence would have shown, but not the evidence itself.

CIPA provides that if an adequate substitute for the classified evidence cannot be found, and the government continues to resist declassification of the evidence for use at trial, the Court may respond by dismissing charges. Where the Fourth Circuit and Judge Brinkema parted company in Moussaoui's case was on the sufficiency of a substitution. The district judge had found that no factual concession the government was willing to make was the equal, for Moussaoui's purposes, of access to the captured combatants; consequently, she dismissed the 9/11 charges and the death penalty notice.

The Fourth Circuit agreed that the government's proposals, to date, have been lacking. Nevertheless, the panel opined that an adequate substitution can be found which would communicate to the jury the exculpatory information. The court directed the parties and Judge Brinkema to work together to develop that substitution. While this revives the prosecution for now, the government does not come out unscathed. To the extent the captured combatants have made statements that are incriminating of Moussaoui, the government, consistent with a Supreme Court case decided only a few weeks ago, may not place that information before the jury. Only the defendant is permitted to benefit from this CIPA process since it is deemed to be a problem of the government's own making.

The case is thus back on track, sort of. It is not yet clear whether it will stay that way. The Fourth Circuit has provided a mixed bag, and both sides will have reason to consider an appeal to the Supreme Court. Even if there is no immediate appeal, it is a lot easier to order parties to work out a substitute than it is actually to work out a substitute. Additional long delay is certainly conceivable.

Meanwhile, Moussaoui's case, however important, is transcended by issues of far greater dimension — going to the whole notion of prosecuting terrorists as criminal defendants in judicial proceedings. Terrorists are a national-security peril: they threaten the existence of our constitutional order, and we have to wipe them out; we can't simply manage the menace. The criminal justice system is not designed to fight a battle that the government that the government must win.

To the contrary, the criminal justice is designed to insure that the government must lose unless the powerful presumption that the accused is innocent can be overcome. If we are to remain a nation dedicated to due process of law, we cannot warp our judicial system in the name of making it look like it works against terrorists — the precedents we create in so doing will damage the quality of justice Americans must be able to expect if they are accused of crimes. Yet, if we are to defeat militant Islam, mass murderers cannot be permitted to revolve out of courthouse doors by plying the very Bill of Rights it is their aim to destroy. It's time for a new paradigm.

— Andrew C. McCarthy, a former chief assistant U.S. attorney who led the 1995 terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven others, is an NRO contributor.

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« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2007, 05:38:16 PM »

Advocates for Terrorists' Rights   
By Joseph Klein | March 20, 2007
Terrorist rights advocates believe that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind “responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z,” was denied his rights to due process.  They want to throw out his confessions, read during a closed-door Combatant Status Review Tribunal hearing held last week at Guantanamo Bay to determine whether he is an “unlawful enemy combatant.”  Their rationale for possibly letting Mohammed go is that the confessions were supposedly tainted by the lingering effects of his alleged torture inflicted months or even years ago while he was held in a secret location by the CIA.
Typical in expressing such sentiments was Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, who objected to the closed door hearing in these words: "We need to know if this purported confession would be enough to convict him at a fair trial or would it have to be suppressed as the fruit of torture?" 
This is a pathetic attempt to apply all the protections afforded by the laws of modern civilization to a man who is engaged in a lawless conspiracy to destroy their very foundation.  Mohammed was the number three honcho of al Qaeda, whose leader Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States twice during the 1990’s.  Mohammed characterized himself as a warrior, saying that "[T]he language of the war is victims."  He also said, when asked, that his statements before the Tribunal were not coerced while he was in the custody of the military, whatever abusive interrogation methods he alleged had been used separately by the CIA months or years earlier.
The Combatant Status Review Tribunal hearing is not the trial of his guilt or innocence.  It was held to confirm his status as an unlawful enemy combatant who was captured abroad in the course of participating in a fight-to-the-death jihad against us.  An unlawful enemy combatant is defined in the Military Commissions Act of 2006 as “a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States . . . who is not a lawful enemy combatant.”  Unlawful enemy combatants include persons who are part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces.  It did not take any coercive interrogation to prove the indisputable fact that Mohammed was an al Qaeda leader engaged in hostilities against the United States.
The purpose of detaining Mohammed and his cohorts to date has had nothing to do with determining his guilt or innocence for what would amount to a domestic crime like murder.  The purpose has been to protect us against further invasions from a foreign enemy that has declared war on our nation.  Our basic right to live our lives in peace without fear of another 9/11 mass slaughter, or even worse, is a more fundamental human right than the right of an individual terrorist suspect to be protected from unpleasant conditions of prolonged confinement.  When the lives of our citizens continue to be threatened by an enemy determined to wipe us out if we do not submit to their ways, our government has the moral and legal obligation to use coercive interrogation techniques against fighters like Mohammed and his cohorts to extract intelligence in time to foil another attack.  Such psychological techniques, which are far short of physical torture, might legitimately include sleep deprivation, solitary confinement or exploiting "phobias" like the fear of dogs.   
The next step after confirmation of his unlawful enemy combatant status, no doubt, is to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed before another military commission for violations of the law of war.  This monster will have more procedural protections than he deserves under the Military Commissions Act, which provides that no accused terrorist “shall be required to testify against himself.”  He will have the right to counsel, to present evidence, and to cross-examine witnesses.  With some limited exceptions for classified information (which still must be summarized for the defense), the prosecutor must “disclose to the defense the existence of any evidence known to trial counsel that reasonably tends to exculpate the accused.”  His confessions before the Combatant Status Review Tribunal may be used against him at trial if the military judge finds that the totality of the circumstances renders them “reliable and possessing sufficient probative value,” “the interests of justice would best be served” and the interrogation methods used to elicit the confessions did not “violate the cruel, unusual, or inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution.”   However, the military judge will not have the last word.  Mohammed will have the right to appeal any conviction to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and to the Supreme Court on various grounds, including if he is convicted based on his confessions.
Yet all of these procedural protections for a man sworn to our destruction are not enough for the advocates of terrorists’ rights.  They want a full-blown public criminal trial which would inevitably turn into a media circus.  A public show trial is a terrorist’s best friend to show off his martyrdom, manipulate public opinion and fuel more recruitment to his cause.
What should happen if Mohammed’s confessions are ultimately thrown out on appeal and there is not enough remaining evidence acceptable under our Constitutional standards to convict him?  Should he then be released to return to his bloody jihad?  The terrorist advocates would say yes, since there would be no further grounds to hold him.  Just imagine the hue and cry on the editorial pages of the New York Times if we tried to detain Mohammed as a continuing military threat during the long duration of the War on Terror.
The best alternative would be to ship Mohammed back to his home country of Kuwait for whatever ‘welcome’ he is likely to get there, out of the eyes of the media and away from the reach of the misguided human rights activists and terrorist legal advocates who are so concerned about his welfare.  Indeed, rendition of terrorists like Mohammed back to their Islamic countries of origin sends a message to future would-be terrorists not to count on the protections of our legal system to escape the consequences of their actions under the standards of their own legal systems.  Whether their native Islamic countries will give the terrorists a ‘fair’ trial by American standards is of no legal or moral concern to us.
Of course, groups like the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International will cry foul.  Indeed, many of them support a bill, sponsored by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), which seeks to take away from the executive branch the authority that has made it possible for the Central Intelligence Agency and other US government bodies to engage in the practice of "extraordinary renditions."  42 co-sponsors joined Markey.  Described as a bill to stop the outsourcing of torture, its real effect would be to insource the protection of terrorists’ rights under our legal system, which the terrorists want to hide behind while planning to ultimately destroy it.
The terrorists’ advocates also point to the United Nations Convention Against Torture Article 3 which states that no “tate Party shall expel, return or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”  On May 19, 2006, the United Nations Committee Against Torture (the U.N. body that monitors compliance with the United Nations Convention Against Torture) recommended that the United States stop the practice of rendering prisoners to countries where they face “a real risk of torture.”  But the United States Senate ratified this treaty with certain reservations.  The Senate chose to interpret the phrase, “where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture,” as used in Article 3 of the treaty, to mean “if it is more likely than not that he would be tortured."   The United Nations’ Raporteur on Torture has yet to report on conditions one way or the other in such terrorist homelands as Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.  They cannot say with any degree of confidence that Mohammed would more likely than not be tortured in Kuwait or even that bin Laden (if caught alive) would be more likely than not tortured if returned to his homeland of Saudi Arabia.  Thus, if the terrorist’s country of origin provides us with diplomatic assurance that it will not use torture against him and there is no clear systematic pattern of torture used against detainees as certified by the United Nations’ own human rights experts, we have more than met our burden under the treaty when deporting the terrorist to his homeland.
The Supreme Court has created some additional confusion by applying certain provisions of the Geneva Conventions even to stateless terrorist groups like al Qaeda, namely common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions which requires a regularly constituted court affording all the necessary “judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples”.   The Military Commission system established by Congress, with all of the protections discussed above, should easily satisfy this standard.  But even the Supreme Court’s solicitude for terrorist suspects went only so far.  It did not apply the additional prisoner of war provisions of the Geneva Conventions to terrorists, who deliberately target innocent civilians in violation of the most elementary laws of war.   In any case, there is nothing in the Geneva Conventions that could logically argue for preventing the return of a terrorist suspect to his own home country.
The enemy we face represents a pure unconstrained evil force that recognizes no limitation on the bounds of human destruction it is willing to inflict in the name of its perverted cause.  All civilized peoples are at risk until this enemy is completely eradicated at its roots.  Indulgent regard for terrorist suspects’ so-called rights in these circumstances is self-destructive.
In the timeless words of Machiavelli:  “Which respect (for the laws) was wise and good: none the less one ought never to allow an evil to run on out of regard for a good, when that good could easily be suppressed by that evil.”
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« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2007, 05:49:12 PM »

A Duke University study found... "The death penalty costs North Carolina $2.16 million per execution over the costs of a non-death penalty murder case with a sentence of imprisonment for life." ( The costs of processing murder cases in North Carolina / Philip J. Cook, Donna B. Slawson ; with the assistance of Lori A. Gries. [Durham, NC] : Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University, 1993.)

"The death penalty costs California $90 million annually beyond the ordinary costs of the justice system - $78 million of that total is incurred at the trial level." (Sacramento Bee, March 18, 1988).

"A 1991 study of the Texas criminal justice system estimated the cost of appealing capital murder at $2,316,655. In contrast, the cost of housing a prisoner in a Texas maximum security prison single cell for 40 years is estimated at $750,000." (Punishment and the Death Penalty, edited by Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum 1995 p.109 )

"Florida spent an estimated $57 million on the death penalty from 1973 to 1988 to achieve 18 executions - that is an average of $3.2 million per execution."
(Miami Herald, July 10, 1988).

"Florida calculated that each execution there costs some $3.18 million. If incarceration is estimated to cost $17000/year, a comparable statistic for life in prison of 40 years would be $680,000."
(The Geography of Execution... The Capital Punishment Quagmire in America, Keith Harries and Derral Cheatwood 1997 p.6)

Figures from the General Accounting Office are close to these results. Total annual costs for all U.S. Prisons, State and Federal, was $17.7 billion in 1994 along with a total prison population of 1.1 million inmates. That amounts to $16100 per inmate/year.
(GOA report and testimony FY-97 GGD-97-15 )

Imagine the potential costs of "lawfare".
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« Reply #20 on: March 20, 2007, 06:01:31 PM »

Ah, the left's love affair with lawfare. rolleyes

Or love affair with evidence as a prerequisite for arrest and conviction...

How many courtrooms do you plan on building to try the various "alleged" illegal combatants captured by US military forces? What's the projected budget for defense attorneys? How many prosecutors will we need for this as well as the rest of the legal infastructure for just a year's trials? Who will perform the psych compitency exams pre-trial? How many hours of training in rules of search and seizure will every US military member require yearly? What infastructure will need to be constructed to handle the evidence seized under combat conditions for forensic analysis and chain of custody storage? How many frontline military units do you plan to take out of rotation so they can testify in various legal proceedings?

Care to explain what any of the above has to do with any points I've made in this discussion?

Something like 70% of the prisoners we held at Abu Ghraib were found to have been mistakenly swept up and had committed no wrongdoing, and the source of this information was the US military, not some "left" news source.  Our Northern Alliance buddies in Afghanistan were taking our money and handing over to us thousands of "terrorists" whom it turned out were mostly farmers and members of other rival tribes who'd done nothing wrong.  How much money and resources did we needlessly spend on dealing with these prisoners that could have been avoided if we'd bothered with the most basic of fact-checking before we hauled them in?

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« Reply #21 on: March 20, 2007, 06:15:01 PM »

Advocates for Terrorists' Rights   
By Joseph Klein | March 20, 2007
Terrorist rights advocates believe that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind “responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z,” was denied his rights to due process.  They want to throw out his confessions, read during a closed-door Combatant Status Review Tribunal hearing held last week at Guantanamo Bay to determine whether he is an “unlawful enemy combatant.”  Their rationale for possibly letting Mohammed go is that the confessions were supposedly tainted by the lingering effects of his alleged torture inflicted months or even years ago while he was held in a secret location by the CIA.

What I don't understand is why any intelligent human being wouldn't question the reliability of this confession regardless of whether you have any moral objection to torture, since 99.9% of the population would likely "confess" to the same crimes if subjected to the same condtions over a period of however many months or years.  Some evidence used to corroborate his versions of events or show that he isn't completely bullshitting might help.  But again, if reliability isn't really all that important and just having something to feed to the news to make it look like this crap is actually accomplishing something is, then it makes perfect sense.
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« Reply #22 on: March 20, 2007, 10:42:21 PM »

Ah, the left's love affair with lawfare. rolleyes

Or love affair with evidence as a prerequisite for arrest and conviction...

**No, it's as usual about using the American system to undercut America's national security. Nothing new here, it's the ACLU's core mission. Warfare isn't domestic law enforcement for a reason.**

How many courtrooms do you plan on building to try the various "alleged" illegal combatants captured by US military forces? What's the projected budget for defense attorneys? How many prosecutors will we need for this as well as the rest of the legal infastructure for just a year's trials? Who will perform the psych compitency exams pre-trial? How many hours of training in rules of search and seizure will every US military member require yearly? What infastructure will need to be constructed to handle the evidence seized under combat conditions for forensic analysis and chain of custody storage? How many frontline military units do you plan to take out of rotation so they can testify in various legal proceedings?

Care to explain what any of the above has to do with any points I've made in this discussion?

**Because you have no concept of the expense and utter impracticality of your superficial sloganeering. Using the crimal justice model because it sounds good to you is just irrational emotionalism, not rational policy.**

Something like 70% of the prisoners we held at Abu Ghraib were found to have been mistakenly swept up and had committed no wrongdoing, and the source of this information was the US military, not some "left" news source.  Our Northern Alliance buddies in Afghanistan were taking our money and handing over to us thousands of "terrorists" whom it turned out were mostly farmers and members of other rival tribes who'd done nothing wrong.  How much money and resources did we needlessly spend on dealing with these prisoners that could have been avoided if we'd bothered with the most basic of fact-checking before we hauled them in?


**You are trusting the US military as the source of your information? Which is it, the military are totalitarian torturers or a valid source of information that accurately vetted the majority of detainees and released them?**

**You said:

"How much money and resources did we needlessly spend on dealing with these prisoners that could have been avoided if we'd bothered with the most basic of fact-checking before we hauled them in?"

**But want used as a standard:

"1) Have a civilian judge presiding over it

2) Allow the accused access to a qualified civilian attorney who will represent him in the hearing

3) Allow the accused and his attorney to see *any* evidence against him

4) No hearsay testimony admitted as evidence

Even if you had to keep the proceedings closed to the public and use civilian judges/attorneys who qualify for whatever security clearances are necessary, the above would IMO guarantee some minimal level of fairness."

**So, which is it?**
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« Reply #23 on: April 18, 2007, 12:23:23 PM »

Hollywood Interrogates Al Qaeda
April 18, 2007; Page A16

CBS's hit series "Criminal Minds" recently aired an episode entitled "Lessons Learned," where FBI agents traveled to Guantanamo Bay and coaxed a confession from a known terrorist detainee that led to the prevention of an anthrax attack on a Northern Virginia shopping mall. The point of the story was that the regular interrogation tactics (pictured as brutal assaults on the prisoner) were not working, and that the military should adopt the enlightened methods of the crack interrogators from "Criminal Minds."

Having served as an Army Judge Advocate General's Corps officer in Gitmo, a legal adviser to criminal investigators pursuing leads in the war on terror, and a Military Commissions prosecutor, I have first-hand knowledge and experience about what happens there. And here is the ironic truth: The military has outlawed some of the "Criminal Minds" interrogators' tactics -- in response to pressure by the international community.

On TV, an analyst observed the detainee's behavior from an adjoining room behind two-way glass for revealing body movements and language. Subtle movements and body language signaled which statements were true and which were false, leading to a breakthrough that saved lives. In reality, when such a tactic was used at Gitmo the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called it "torture." Gitmo authorities used to employ Behavior Science Consultation Teams (BSCTs, pronounced "biscuits"), trained psychologists/psychiatrists who did exactly what the TV analyst did: used psychology to help interrogators learn the truth. But the ICRC considered their role in planning and assisting with interrogations "a flagrant violation of medical ethics." The military responded by curtailing the role of BSCTs.

On TV, CIA and FBI interrogators used the detainee's religion to gain leverage. The CIA interrogators refused to allow the detainee to pray; then the FBI allowed the prayers but adjusted them to manipulate the detainee's sense of time. Because of the manipulation, the detainee admitted responsibility for an attack that he incorrectly believed had already occurred, allowing the attack to be thwarted. In reality, the U.S. does not manipulate detainee's religious practices. In Gitmo, everything stops, including interrogations, so detainees can pray. The Islamic call to prayer is broadcast, several times a day, over loudspeakers. Everyone in and around the detention camp is forced to listen.

On TV, the interrogators give the detainee a prayer mat and point out the direction to Mecca to win his gratitude. In reality, the U.S. gives religious items such as prayer mats, prayer caps, prayer oil, prayer beads and Qurans to all detainees. They don't need anyone to point out the direction of Mecca because the U.S. paints black arrows on the ground pointing toward Mecca in every cell and around the camp.

In fact, at Camp Bucca, a U.S.-run detention camp in Iraq, the U.S. erected a tent as a makeshift mosque and designated it off-limits to prison guards so that detainees could pray in solitude. The detainees used their privacy to turn the "mosque" into a weapons cache, and then attacked the prison guards. This led to a battle for control of the camp that lasted four days.

Despite the debacle at Camp Bucca, the military still designates some items (such as the Quran) as "off-limits" to prison guards, even though detainees misuse the Quran to conceal illegal contraband, including prescription pills. U.S. forces in Gitmo go to these great lengths despite the fact that the Geneva Conventions provide for POWs to practice their religion only "on condition that they comply with the disciplinary routine prescribed by military authorities."

On "Criminal Minds," the detainee glanced toward bottles of water lining a table, and said, "They line it up to show what I cannot have." In reality, detainees at Gitmo receive ample food and water, including Halal meals and imported seasonal fruits and nuts from their native countries for special occasions.

While the crime show's creators must resort to fiction to depict interrogations, they don't have to fictionalize the contempt that most detainees show for Americans. Hollywood gets that part right. On TV, the fictional detainee said of killing innocent Americans: "There is no such thing, they were infidels . . . they hurt me by existing! The infidels will fall at the hands of the righteous, and that is when the jihad will end."

In reality, according to Gitmo's Web site, one detainee said, "The people who died on 9/11/2001 were not innocent . . . my group will shake up the U.S. and the countries who follow the U.S." Another told military police officers that he would "come to their homes and cut their throats like sheep." Yet another detainee threatened, "I will arrange for the kidnapping and execution of U.S. citizens living in Saudi Arabia. Small groups of four of five U.S. citizens will be kidnapped, held and executed. They will have their heads cut off." These real statements make one thing clear: life in Gitmo has not broken the detainees' spirits.

Hollywood sets unrealistic expectations for many things. The "Criminal Minds" episode represents one instance where truth is tamer, and many would argue stranger, than fiction.

Ms. Rotunda teaches at George Mason School of Law and is director of the law school's clinic that provides pro bono legal assistance to military families. She is currently writing a book about legal issues in the war on terror
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« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2007, 07:04:46 AM »

C.I.A. Held Qaeda Leader in Secret Jail for Months
Published: April 28, 2007
NY Times

WASHINGTON, April 27 — The Central Intelligence Agency held a captured Qaeda leader in a secret prison since last fall and transferred him last week to the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, officials said Friday.

» Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, an Iraqi Kurd who is said to have joined Al Qaeda in the late 1990s and ascended to become a top aide to Osama bin Laden, is the first terrorism suspect known to have been held in secret C.I.A. jails since President Bush announced the transfer of 14 captives to Guantánamo Bay last September.

The Pentagon announced the transfer, giving few details about his arrest or confinement.

Mr. Iraqi’s case suggests that the C.I.A. may have adopted a new model for handling prisoners held secretly — a practice that Mr. Bush said could resume and that Congress permitted when it passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Unlike past C.I.A. detainees, including the Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who was held by the agency for several years after being seized in Pakistan in 2003, Mr. Iraqi was turned over to the Pentagon after a few months of interrogation. He appears to have been taken into C.I.A. custody just weeks after Mr. Bush declared C.I.A. jails empty.

Last fall, Mr. Bush declared the agency’s interrogations “one of the most successful intelligence efforts in American history.” But its secret detention of terrorism suspects has been widely criticized by human rights organizations and foreign governments as a violation of international law that relied on interrogation methods verging on torture.

Intelligence officials said that under questioning Mr. Iraqi had provided valuable intelligence about Qaeda hierarchy and operations. It appears he gave up this information after being subjected to standard interrogation methods approved for the Defense Department — not harsher methods that the C.I.A. is awaiting approval to use.

A debate in the administration has delayed approval of the proposed C.I.A. methods.

Military and intelligence officials said the prisoner was captured last fall on his way to Iraq, where he may have been sent by top Qaeda leaders in Pakistan to take a senior position in Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. That group has claimed responsibility for some of the deadliest attacks in Iraq, including the bombing last year of the Golden Mosque in Samarra.

In a message to agency employees on Friday, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director, called the capture “a significant victory.” He said C.I.A. operatives had played “a key role in efforts to locate” Mr. Iraqi. Though American officials would not say where or when he had been captured, they said it was not in Pakistan or Iran, countries where he was known to have operated in recent years.

Human rights advocates expressed anger that the United States continued a program of secret detention, and some wondered why the C.I.A. claimed it needed harsh interrogation methods to extract information from detainees when it appeared that Mr. Iraqi had given up information using Pentagon interrogation practices.

“The C.I.A. can’t seem to get its story straight, said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch. “If they can get good intelligence without using abusive techniques, why do they so desperately need to use the abusive techniques?” But he said that there was no way to know whether Mr. Iraqi had been mistreated, because “no independent monitors have been able to see him since his arrest.”

In his message on Friday, General Hayden said that the agency always operated “in keeping with American laws and values.”

American officials have long been worried about efforts by Qaeda leadership in Pakistan to exert control over its Iraqi offshoot, known as Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and the dispatch of Mr. Iraqi to help run the Iraqi affiliate has raised concern among American military officials that the links between the groups are growing.

“We do definitely see links to the greater Al Qaeda network,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday.

But the relationship between Qaeda fighters in Iraq and the top leadership has appeared to wax and wane over the years, often over tactical disagreements.

In 2005, Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s second in command, wrote a letter to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, then the top Al Qaeda operative in Iraq, urging him to refrain from killing Shiites. But since then, terrorist experts have said that they see Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia as largely independent of the organization hub in Pakistan.
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« Reply #25 on: May 11, 2007, 05:58:06 AM »

Published: May 11, 2007
NY Times

SHIBUSHI, Japan — The suspects in a vote-buying case in this small town in western Japan were subjected to repeated interrogations and, in several instances, months of pretrial detention. The police ordered one woman to shout her confession out a window and forced one man to stomp on the names of his loved ones.

Shibushi was rocked by an inquiry into allegations of vote buying.
In all, 13 men and women, ranging in age from their early 50s to mid-70s, were arrested and indicted. Six buckled and confessed to an elaborate scheme of buying votes with liquor, cash and catered parties. One man died during the trial — from the stress, the others said — and another tried to kill himself.

But all were acquitted this year in a local district court, which found that their confessions had been entirely fabricated. The presiding judge said the defendants had “made confessions in despair while going through marathon questioning.”

The Japanese authorities have long relied on confessions to take suspects to court, instead of building cases based on solid evidence. Human rights groups have criticized the practice for leading to abuses of due process and convictions of innocent people.

But in recent months developments in this case and two others have shown just how far the authorities will go in securing confessions. Calls for reforms in the criminal justice system have increased, even as Japan is to adopt a jury-style system in 2009 and is considering allowing victims and their relatives to question defendants in court.

In Saga Prefecture in March, a high court upheld the acquittal of a man who said he had been coerced into confessing to killing three women in the late 1980s. The court found that there was no evidence against the man other than the confession, which had been extracted from him after 17 days of interrogations that went on more than 10 hours a day.

In Toyama Prefecture the police acknowledged early this year that a taxi driver who had served almost three years in prison for rape and attempted rape in 2002 was innocent, after they found the real culprit. The driver said he had been browbeaten into affixing his fingerprint to a confession drawn up by the police after three days of interrogation.

“I Just Didn’t Do It,” a new documentary by Masayuki Suo, the director of “Shall We Dance?” has also raised popular awareness of coerced confessions. The documentary is based on the real-life story of a young man who was falsely accused of groping a teenage girl on the Tokyo subway and imprisoned for 14 months. It portrays how the authorities extract confessions, whether the accused are guilty or not.

“Traditionally in Japan, confessions have been known as the king of evidence,” said Kenzo Akiyama, a lawyer who is a former judge. “Especially if it’s a big case, even if the accused hasn’t done anything, the authorities will seek a confession through psychological torture.”

The law allows the police to detain suspects for up to 23 days without an indictment. Suspects have almost no contact with the outside world and are subject to constant interrogation, a practice that has long drawn criticism from organizations like the United Nations Human Rights Committee and Amnesty International.

Suspects are strongly pressed to plead guilty, on the premise that confession is the first step toward rehabilitation.

The conviction rate in Japanese criminal cases — 99.8 percent — cannot be compared directly with that of the United States, because there is no plea bargaining in Japan and prosecutors bring only those cases they are confident of winning. But experts say that in court, where acquittals are considered harmful to the careers of prosecutors and judges alike, there is a presumption of guilt.

In Tokyo, the National Police Agency acknowledged mistakes in the vote-buying case here in Shibushi but defended the system. “We do not think that this is the kind of thing that happens all the time,” said Yasuhiro Shirakawa of the agency’s Criminal Investigation Bureau.

“It is not only about confessions,” he added. “We always inspect whether there is corroborating evidence and whether what the suspects said is true or not.”

In Shibushi, the authorities have gone unpunished, as have those in the two other cases. In a written reply, the police said they had followed the law in their investigation but seriously took the verdict to heart.

It remains unclear what set off the investigation in 2003 of the campaign of a local politician, Shinichi Nakayama, who was elected for the first time to the local assembly that year, beating the protégé of a longtime power broker.


Page 2 of 2)

The police started by accusing Sachio Kawabata — whose wife, Junko, is the assemblyman’s cousin — of giving cases of beer to a construction company in return for votes. Mr. Kawabata said he had given the beer because the company had sent guests to an inn that he owned.

Pressed by Police Mr. Kawabata soon found himself enduring nearly 15 hours of interrogation a day. Locked in a tiny room with an inspector who shouted and threatened, he refused to confess.

So on the third day, Mr. Kawabata recalled, the inspector scribbled the names of his family members on three pieces of paper. He added messages — “Grandpa, please hurry up and become an honest grandpa,” and “I don’t remember raising you to be this kind of person” — and told Mr. Kawabata to repent.

Drawing no confession after an hour, the inspector grabbed Mr. Kawabata by the ankles and made him trample on the pieces of paper.

“I was shocked,” recalled Mr. Kawabata, 61, who was hospitalized for two weeks from the stress of the interrogation. “Man, I thought, how far will the police go?”

Mr. Kawabata, who was never indicted, recently won a $5,000 judgment for mental anguish. Trampling the pieces of paper, it turned out, had its roots in a local feudal practice of ferreting out suspected Christians by forcing them to stomp on a cross.

The police then moved on to more potent alcohol. According to the trial’s verdict and interviews with 17 people interrogated by the authorities, the police concocted a description of events according to which the assemblyman spent $17,000 to buy votes with shochu, a popular distilled spirit, and gifts of cash.

One of the first to confess was Ichiko Fujimoto, 53, a former employee of the assemblyman. After a couple of days of interrogation she broke down and admitted not only to distributing shochu and cash to her neighbors, but also to giving four parties at her home to gather support for the assemblyman.

“It’s because they kept saying, ‘Confess, just confess,’ ” Ms. Fujimoto said in an interview at her home. “They wouldn’t listen to anything I said.”

Everything in her confession was made up, a court concluded. But it was enough for the police to start extracting confessions from others for supposedly receiving shochu and money at the parties. One neighbor, Toshihiro Futokoro, 58, began despairing on the third day of interrogation, even though he had yet to be formally arrested and was allowed to go home after each day’s questioning.

“They kept saying that everybody’s confessing, that there was nothing that I could do, no matter how hard I tried,” Mr. Futokoro said, adding, “I thought that nothing I said would ever convince them.”

At the end of the third day, Mr. Futokoro tried to kill himself by jumping into a river but was pulled out by a man out fishing. He then confessed.

Another man, Kunio Yamashita, 76, succumbed after a week of interrogation. The police told him that he was the lone holdout and that he could go home if he confessed. “I hadn’t done anything, but I confessed, and I told them I’d admit to whatever they said,” said Mr. Yamashita, who eventually spent three months in jail.

A woman, Eiko Hamano, 65, confessed after the police threatened to arrest her unless she cooperated. “They said that my grandson would be bullied at school, that my child would be fired from his company, that my whole family would suffer forever,” she recalled.

On the fourth day, feeling so sick that she could barely walk, Ms. Hamano confessed to accepting money. To prove that she had spent the money, the police told her to find a receipt for an $85 purchase, she said.

But when she presented the police an $85 receipt for adult diapers she had bought for her mother, they told her she was now confessing to having received $170 instead and needed a receipt for that amount. Luckily, she had just bought a sink for that amount.

“Now I can laugh about it,” said Ms. Hamano, who refused an order by the police to shout a confession out of a window. “But it was serious back then.”

Others never confessed, including the assemblyman, Mr. Nakayama, 61, who spent 395 days in jail, and his wife, Shigeko, 58, who spent 273 days.

The village postmaster, Tomeko Nagayama, 77, spent 186 days behind bars. She was held alone in a windowless cell that she was forced to clean every night after enduring a full day of interrogation.

The police said her refusal to confess was harming her family, she said. Her husband was sick and could not live alone; her daughter had to quit her job to take over the duties at the post office.

But Ms. Nagayama, a former schoolteacher, never once considered confessing.

“I felt I’d rather die,” she said. “This kind of thing just shouldn’t be tolerated in this world.”

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« Reply #26 on: June 30, 2007, 11:07:13 PM »

Pushing the Envelope on Presidential Power
Web Q&A:
» Reporter Barton Gellman, was online on Monday, June 25, to answer readers' questions about the Cheney series. Read the Q&A transcript.

By Barton Gellman and Jo Becker
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, June 25, 2007

Shortly after the first accused terrorists reached the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Jan. 11, 2002, a delegation from CIA headquarters arrived in the Situation Room. The agency presented a delicate problem to White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, a man with next to no experience on the subject. Vice President Cheney's lawyer, who had a great deal of experience, sat nearby.

The meeting marked "the first time that the issue of interrogations comes up" among top-ranking White House officials, recalled John C. Yoo, who represented the Justice Department. "The CIA guys said, 'We're going to have some real difficulties getting actionable intelligence from detainees'" if interrogators confined themselves to treatment allowed by the Geneva Conventions.

From that moment, well before previous accounts have suggested, Cheney turned his attention to the practical business of crushing a captive's will to resist. The vice president's office played a central role in shattering limits on coercion of prisoners in U.S. custody, commissioning and defending legal opinions that the Bush administration has since portrayed as the initiatives, months later, of lower-ranking officials.

Enlarge PhotoThe vice president's office pushed a policy of robust interrogation that made its way to the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, above, and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. More Cheney photos...Cheney and his allies, according to more than two dozen current and former officials, pioneered a novel distinction between forbidden "torture" and permitted use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading" methods of questioning. They did not originate every idea to rewrite or reinterpret the law, but fresh accounts from participants show that they translated muscular theories, from Yoo and others, into the operational language of government.

A backlash beginning in 2004, after reports of abuse leaked out of Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay, brought what appeared to be sharp reversals in courts and Congress -- for Cheney's claims of executive supremacy and for his unyielding defense of what he called "robust interrogation."

But a more careful look at the results suggests that Cheney won far more than he lost. Many of the harsh measures he championed, and some of the broadest principles undergirding them, have survived intact but out of public view.

Presidential Power
Dick Cheney's views on executive supremacy -- like many of his core beliefs about foreign policy and defense -- have held remarkably steady over the years. More »The vice president's unseen victories attest to traits that are often ascribed to him but are hard to demonstrate from the public record: thoroughgoing secrecy, persistence of focus, tactical flexibility in service of fixed aims and close knowledge of the power map of government. On critical decisions for more than six years, Cheney has often controlled the pivot points -- tipping the outcome when he could, engineering stalemate when he could not and reopening debates that rivals thought were resolved.

"Once he's taken a position, I think that's it," said James A. Baker III, who has shared a hunting tent with Cheney more than once and worked with him under three presidents. "He has been pretty damn good at accumulating power, extraordinarily effective and adept at exercising power."

'At Any Time and in Any Place'
David S. Addington, Cheney's general counsel, set the new legal agenda in a blunt memorandum shortly after the CIA delegation returned to Langley. Geneva's "strict limits on questioning of enemy prisoners," he wrote on Jan. 25, 2002, hobbled efforts "to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists."

No longer was the vice president focused on procedural rights, such as access to lawyers and courts. The subject now was more elemental: How much suffering could U.S. personnel inflict on an enemy to make him talk? Cheney's lawyer feared that future prosecutors, with motives "difficult to predict," might bring criminal charges against interrogators or Bush administration officials.

Geneva rules forbade not only torture but also, in equally categorical terms, the use of "violence," "cruel treatment" or "humiliating and degrading treatment" against a detainee "at any time and in any place whatsoever." The War Crimes Act of 1996 made any grave breach of those restrictions a U.S. felony [Read the act]. The best defense against such a charge, Addington wrote, would combine a broad presidential directive for humane treatment, in general, with an assertion of unrestricted authority to make exceptions.

The vice president's counsel proposed that President Bush issue a carefully ambiguous directive. Detainees would be treated "humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of" the Geneva Conventions. When Bush issued his public decision two weeks later, on Feb. 7, 2002, he adopted Addington's formula -- with all its room for maneuver -- verbatim.

In a radio interview last fall, Cheney said, "We don't torture." What he did not acknowledge, according to Alberto J. Mora, who served then as the Bush-appointed Navy general counsel, was that the new legal framework was designed specifically to avoid a ban on cruelty. In international law, Mora said, cruelty is defined as "the imposition of severe physical or mental pain or suffering." He added: "Torture is an extreme version of cruelty."

How extreme? Yoo was summoned again to the White House in the early spring of 2002. This time the question was urgent. The CIA had captured Abu Zubaida, then believed to be a top al-Qaeda operative, on March 28, 2002. Case officers wanted to know "what the legal limits of interrogation are," Yoo said.

This previously unreported meeting sheds light on the origins of one of the Bush administration's most controversial claims. The Justice Department delivered a classified opinion on Aug. 1, 2002, stating that the U.S. law against torture "prohibits only the worst forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" and therefore permits many others. [Read the opinion] Distributed under the signature of Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee, the opinion also narrowed the definition of "torture" to mean only suffering "equivalent in intensity" to the pain of "organ failure ..... or even death."

When news accounts unearthed that opinion nearly two years later, the White House repudiated its contents. Some officials described it as hypothetical, without disclosing that the opinion was written in response to specific questions from the CIA. Administration officials attributed authorship to Yoo, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley who had come to serve in the Office of Legal Counsel.

But the "torture memo," as it became widely known, was not Yoo's work alone. In an interview, Yoo said that Addington, as well as Gonzales and deputy White House counsel Timothy E. Flanigan, contributed to the analysis.

The vice president's lawyer advocated what was considered the memo's most radical claim: that the president may authorize any interrogation method, even if it crosses the line into torture. U.S. and treaty laws forbidding any person to "commit torture," that passage stated, "do not apply" to the commander in chief, because Congress "may no more regulate the President's ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield."

That same day, Aug. 1, 2002, Yoo signed off on a second secret opinion, the contents of which have never been made public. According to a source with direct knowledge, that opinion approved as lawful a long list of interrogation techniques proposed by the CIA -- including waterboarding, a form of near-drowning that the U.S. government has prosecuted as a war crime since at least 1901. The opinion drew the line against one request: threatening to bury a prisoner alive.

Yoo said for the first time in an interview that he verbally warned lawyers for the president, Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that it would be a risky policy to permit military interrogators to use the harshest techniques, because the armed services, vastly larger than the CIA, could overuse the tools or exceed the limits. "I always thought that only the CIA should do this, but people at the White House and at DOD felt differently," Yoo said. The migration of those techniques from the CIA to the military, and from Guantanamo Bay to Abu Ghraib, aroused worldwide condemnation when abuse by U.S. troops was exposed.

Through is spokeswoman, Tasia Scolinos, Gonzales declined a request for an interview about his time in the White House counsel's office and his interactions with Cheney. The vice president's spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride, declined to comment on Yoo's recollection.

Enlarge PhotoCheney and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice confer in February 2002, around the time that detainee interrogation limits were being discussed. Rice wouldn't learn about the 'torture memo' until June 2004. More Cheney photos...On June 8, 2004, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell learned of the two-year-old torture memo for the first time from an article in The Washington Post [Read the article]. According to a former White House official with firsthand knowledge, they confronted Gonzales together in his office.

Rice "very angrily said there would be no more secret opinions on international and national security law," the official said, adding that she threatened to take the matter to the president if Gonzales kept them out of the loop again. Powell remarked admiringly, as they emerged, that Rice dressed down the president's lawyer "in full Nurse Ratched mode," a reference to the head nurse of the mental hospital in the 1975 film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

Neither of them took their objections to Cheney, the official said, a much more dangerous course.

'His Client, the Vice President'
In the summer and fall of 2002, some of the Bush administration's leading lawyers began to warn that Cheney and his Pentagon allies had set the government on a path for defeat in court. As the judicial branch took up challenges to the president's assertion of wartime power, Justice Department lawyers increasingly found themselves defending what they believed to be losing positions -- directed by the vice president and his staff. One of the uneasy lawyers was Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson , a conservative stalwart whose wife, Barbara, had died on Sept. 11, 2001 when the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Olson shared Cheney's robust view of executive authority, but his job was to win cases. Two that particularly worried him involved U.S. citizens -- Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi -- who had been declared enemy combatants and denied access to lawyers.

Federal courts, Olson argued, would not go along with that. But the CIA and military interrogators opposed any outside contact, fearing relief from the isolation and dependence that they relied upon to break the will of suspected terrorists.

Flanigan said that Addington's personal views leaned more toward Olson than against him, but that Addington beat back the proposal to grant detainees access to lawyers, "because that was the position of his client, the vice president."

Decision time came in a heated meeting in Gonzales's corner office on the West Wing's second floor, according to four officials with direct knowledge, none of whom agreed to be quoted by name about confidential legal deliberations. Olson was backed by associate White House counsel Bradford A. Berenson , a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

Berenson told colleagues that the court's swing voter would never accept absolute presidential discretion to declare a U.S. citizen an enemy and lock him up without giving him an opportunity to be represented and heard. Another former Kennedy clerk, White House lawyer Brett Kavanaugh, had made the same argument earlier.

Addington accused Berenson of surrendering executive power on a fool's prophecy about an inscrutable court. Berenson accused Addington of "know-nothingness."

Gonzales listened quietly as the Justice Department and his own staff lined up against Addington. Then he decided in favor of Cheney's lawyer.

John D. Ashcroft, who was attorney general at the time, declined to discuss details of the dispute but said the vice president's views "carried a great deal of weight. He was the E.F. Hutton in the room. When he talked, everybody would listen." Cheney, he said, "compelled people to think carefully about whatever he mentioned."

When a U.S. District Court ruled several months later that Padilla had a right to counsel, Cheney's office insisted on sending Olson's deputy, Paul Clement, on what Justice Department lawyers called "a suicide mission": to tell Judge Michael B. Mukasey that he had erred so grossly that he should retract his decision. Mukasey derided the government's "pinched legalism" and added acidly that his order was "not a suggestion or request."

Cheney's strategy fared worse in the Supreme Court, where two cases arrived for oral argument alongside Padilla's on April 28, 2004.

For months, Olson and his Justice Department colleagues had pleaded for modest shifts that would shore up the government's position. Hamdi, the American, had languished in a Navy brig for two and a half years with out a hearing or a lawyer. Shafiq Rasul, a British citizen at Guantanamo Bay, had been held even longer. Olson could make Cheney's argument that courts had no jurisdiction, but he wanted to "show them that you at least have some system of due process in place" to ensure against wrongful detention, according to a senior Justice Department official who closely followed the debates.

Addington, the vice president's counsel fought and won again. He argued that any declaration of binding rules would restrict the freedom of future presidents and open the door to further lawsuits. On June 28, 2004, the Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 in the Hamdi case that detainees must have a lawyer and an opportunity to challenge their status as enemy combatants before a "neutral decision maker." The Rasul decision, the same day, held 6 to 3 that Guantanamo Bay is not beyond the reach of federal law.

Eleven days later, Olson stepped down as solicitor general. His deputy succeeded him. What came next was a reminder that it does not pay to cross swords with the vice president.

Ashcroft, with support from Gonzales, proposed a lawyer named Patrick Philbin for deputy solicitor general. Philbin was among the authors of the post-Sept. 11 legal revolution, devising arguments to defend Cheney's military commissions and the denial of habeas corpus rights at Guantanamo Bay. But he had tangled with the vice president's office now and then, objecting to the private legal channel between Addington and Yoo and raising questions about domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency.

Cheney's lawyer passed word that Philbin was an unsatisfactory choice. The attorney general and White House counsel abandoned their candidate.

"OVP plays hardball," said a high-ranking former official who followed the episode, referring to the office of the vice president. "No one would defend Philbin."

'Administration Policy'
Rumsfeld, Cheney's longtime friend and mentor, gathered his senior subordinates at the Pentagon in the summer of 2005. He warned them to steer clear of Senate Republicans John McCain, John W. Warner and Lindsay O. Graham, who were drafting a bill to govern the handling of terrorism suspects.

"Rumsfeld made clear, emphatically, that the vice president had the lead on this issue," said a former Pentagon official with direct knowledge.

Enlarge PhotoDefense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, a longtime Cheney mentor, tours Abu Ghraib in May 2004. In 2005, he made it clear that Cheney 'has the lead on this issue,' said a Pentagon official, referring to the treatment of detainees More Cheney photos...Though his fingerprints were not apparent, Cheney had already staked out a categorical position for the president. It came in a last-minute insert to a "statement of administration policy" by the Office of Management and Budget, where Nancy Dorn, Cheney's former chief of legislative affairs, was deputy director. Without normal staff clearance, according to two Bush administration officials, the vice president's lawyer added a paragraph -- just before publication on July 21, 2005 -- to the OMB's authoritative guidance on the 2006 defense spending bill [Read the document].

"The Administration strongly opposes" any amendment to "regulate the detention, treatment or trial of terrorists captured in the war on terror," the statement said. Before most Bush administration officials even became aware that the subject was under White House review, Addington wrote that "the President's senior advisers would recommend that he veto" any such bill.

Among those taken unawares was Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon R. England. More than a year had passed since Bush expressed "deep disgust" over the abuse photographed at Abu Ghraib, and England told aides it was past time to issue clear rules for U.S. troops.

In late August 2005, England called a meeting of nearly three dozen Pentagon officials, including the vice chief and top uniformed lawyer for each military branch. Matthew Waxman, the deputy assistant secretary for detainee affairs, set the agenda.

Waxman said that the president's broadly stated order of Feb. 7, 2002 -- which called for humane treatment, "subject to military necessity" -- had left U.S. forces unsure about how to behave. The Defense Department, he said, should clarify its bedrock legal requirements with a directive incorporating the language of Geneva's Common Article 3 [Read Common Article 3]. That was exactly the language -- prohibiting cruel, violent, humiliating and degrading treatment -- that Cheney had spent three years expunging from U.S. policy.

"Every vice chief came out strongly in favor, as did every JAG," or judge advocate general, recalled Mora, who was Navy general counsel at the time.

William J. Haynes II, a close friend of Addington's who served as Rumsfeld's general counsel, was one of two holdouts in the room. The other was Stephen A. Cambone, Rumsfeld's undersecretary for intelligence.  Waxman, believing his opponents isolated, circulated a draft of DOD Directive 2310. Within a few days, Addington and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, invited Waxman for a visit.
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« Reply #27 on: June 30, 2007, 11:08:15 PM »

According to Mora, Waxman returned from the meeting with the message that his draft was "unacceptable to the vice president's office." Another defense official, who made notes of Waxman's report, said Cheney's lawyer ridiculed the vagueness of the Geneva ban on "outrages upon personal dignity," saying it would leave U.S. troops timid in the face of unpredictable legal risk. When Waxman replied that the official White House policy was far more opaque, according to the report, Addington accused him of trying to replace the president's decision with his own.

"The impact of that meeting is that Directive 2310 died," Mora said.

'Total Indifference to Public Opinion'
Over the next 12 months, Congress and the Supreme Court imposed many of the restrictions that Cheney had squelched.

"The irony with the Cheney crowd pushing the envelope on presidential power is that the president has now ended up with lesser powers than he would have had if they had made less extravagant, monarchical claims," said Bruce Fein, an associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan.

Flanigan, a founding member of that crowd, said he still believes that Addington and Yoo were right in their "application of generally accepted constitutional principles." But he acknowledged that many battles ended badly. "The Supreme Court," Flanigan said, "decided to change the rules."

Even so, Cheney's losses were not always as they appeared.

On Oct. 5, 2005, the Senate voted 90 to 9 in favor of McCain's Detainee Treatment Act, which included the Geneva language [Read the bill]. It was, by any measure, a rebuke to Cheney. Bush signed the bill into law. "Well, I don't win all the arguments," Cheney told the Wall Street Journal.

Yet he and Addington found a roundabout path to the exceptions they sought for the CIA, as allies in Congress made little-noticed adjustments to the bill.

The final measure confined only the Defense Department to the list of interrogation techniques specified in a new Army field manual. No techniques were specified for CIA officers, who were forbidden only in general terms to employ "cruel" or "inhuman" methods. Crucially, the new law said those words would be interpreted in light of U.S. constitutional law. That made a big difference to Cheney.

The Supreme Court has defined cruelty as an act that "shocks the conscience" under the circumstances. Addington suggested, according to another government lawyer, that harsh methods would be far less shocking under circumstances involving a mass-casualty terrorist threat. Cheney may have alluded to that advice in an interview with ABC's "Nightline" on Dec. 18, 2005, saying that "what shocks the conscience" is to some extent "in the eye of the beholder."

Eager to put detainee scandals behind them, Bush's advisers spent days composing a statement in which the president would declare support for the veto-proof bill on detainee treatment. Hours before Bush signed it into law on Dec. 30, 2005, Cheney's lawyer intercepted the accompanying statement "and just literally takes his red pen all the way through it," according to an official with firsthand knowledge.

Addington substituted a single sentence. Bush, he wrote, would interpret the law "in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief."

Cheney's office had used that technique often. Like his boss, Addington disdained what he called "interagency treaties," one official said. He had no qualms about discarding language "agreed between Cabinet secretaries," the official said.

Top officials from the CIA, and the Justice, State and Defense departments unanimously opposed the substitution, according to two officials. John B. Bellinger III, the ranking national security lawyer at the White House, warned that Congress would view Addington's statement as a "stick in the eye" after weeks of consensus-building by national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley.

None of that mattered. With Cheney's weight behind it, White House counsel Harriet E. Miers sent Addington's version to Bush for his signature.

"The only person in Washington who cares less about his public image than David Addington is Dick Cheney," said a former White House ally. "What both of them miss is that ..... in times of war, a prerequisite for success is people having confidence in their leadership. This is the great failure of the administration -- a complete and total indifference to public opinion."

'Almost Everything' Cheney Wanted
On June 29, 2006, the Supreme Court struck its sharpest blow to the house that Cheney built, ruling 5 to 3 that the president had no lawful power to try alleged terrorists in military commissions [Read the opinion]. The tribunal order that Cheney brought to Bush's private dining room, and the game plan Cheney's lawyer wrote to defend it, fetched condemnation on disparate legal grounds. The majority relied, as Addington's critics foresaw, on Justice Kennedy's vote.

Not only did the court leave the president beholden to Congress for the authority to charge and punish terrorists, but it rejected a claim of implicit legislative consent that Bush was using elsewhere to justify electronic surveillance without a warrant. And not only did it find that Geneva's Common Article 3 protects "unlawful enemy combatants," but it also said that those protections -- including humane treatment and the right to a trial by "a regularly constituted court" -- were enforceable by federal judges in the United States.

The court's decision, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, was widely seen as a calamity for Cheney's war plan against al-Qaeda. As the Bush administration formed its response, the vice president's position appeared to decline further still.

White House strategists agreed that they had to submit legislation to undo the damage of the Hamdan case. Cheney and Addington, according to a former official with firsthand knowledge, favored a one-page bill. Their proposal would simply have stated that the Geneva Conventions confer no right of access to U.S. courts, stripped U.S. courts of jurisdiction over foreign nationals declared to be enemy combatants and affirmed the president's authority to create military commissions exactly as he had already done. Bush chose to spend the fall of 2006 negotiating a much more complex bill that became the Military Commissions Act.

The White House proposal, said Joshua B. Bolten, the chief of staff, "did not come out exactly as the vice president would have wanted."

In another reversal for Cheney, Bush acknowledged publicly on Sept. 6 that the CIA maintained secret prisons overseas for senior al-Qaeda detainees, a subject on which he had held his silence since The Post disclosed them late in 2005. The president announced that he had emptied the "black sites" and transferred their prisoners to Guantanamo Bay to be tried.

The same week, almost exactly a year after the vice president's office shelved Waxman's Pentagon plan, Waxman's successor dusted it off. DOD Directive 2310.01E, the Department of Defense Detainee Program, included the verbatim text of Geneva's Common Article 3 and described it, as Waxman had, as "a minimum standard for the care and treatment of all detainees." [Read the directive] The new Army field manual, published with the directive, said that interrogators were forbidden to employ a long list of techniques that had been used against suspected terrorists since Sept. 11, 2001 -- including stripping, hooding, inflicting pain and forcing the performance of sex acts.

For all the apparent setbacks, close observers said, Cheney has preserved his top-priority tools in the "war on terror." After a private meeting with Cheney, one of them said, Bush decided not to promise that there would be no more black sites -- and seven months later, the White House acknowledged that secret detention had resumed.

The Military Commissions Act, passed by strong majorities of the Senate and House on Sept. 28 and 29, 2006, gave "the office of the vice president almost everything it wanted," said Yoo, who maintained his contact with Addington after returning to a tenured position at Berkeley.

The new law withstood its first Supreme Court challenge on April 2. It exempts CIA case officers and other government employees from prosecution for past war crimes or torture. Once again, an apparently technical provision held great importance to Cheney and his allies.

Without repealing the War Crimes Act, which imposes criminal penalties for grave breaches of Geneva's humane-treatment standards, Congress said the president, not the Supreme Court, has final authority to decide what the standards mean -- and whether they even apply.

'I'd Like to Close Guantanamo'
Air Force Two touched down in Sydney this past Feb. 24. Cheney had come to discuss Iraq. Prime Minister John Howard brought the conversation around to an Australian citizen who had unexpectedly become a political threat.

Under pressure at home, Howard said he told Cheney that there must be a trial "with no further delay" for David Hicks, 31, who was beginning his sixth year at the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay. Five days later, Hicks was indicted as a war criminal. On March 26, he pleaded guilty to providing "material support" for terrorism.

At every stage since his capture, as he changed taxis at the Afghan-Pakistan border, Hicks had crossed a legal landscape that Cheney did more than anyone to reshape. He was Detainee 002 at Guantanamo Bay, arriving on opening day at an asserted no man's land beyond the reach of sovereign law. Interrogators questioned him under guidelines that gave legal cover to the infliction of pain and fear -- and, according to an affidavit filed by British lawyer Steven Grosz, Hicks was subjected to beatings, sodomy with a foreign object, sensory deprivation, disorienting drugs and prolonged shackling in painful positions.

Enlarge PhotoAnkle cuffs are seen locked to the floor of an interrogation room at Guantanamo Bay. The new legal framework for interrogations was designed to leave room for cruelty. More Cheney photos...The U.S. government denied those claims, and before accepting Hicks's guilty plea it required him to affirm that he had "never been illegally treated." But the tribunal's rules, written under principles Cheney advanced, would have allowed the Australian's conviction with evidence obtained entirely by "cruel, inhuman or degrading" techniques.

Shortly after Cheney returned from Australia, the Hicks case died with a whimper. The U.S. government abruptly shifted its stance in plea negotiations, dropping the sentence it offered from 20 years in prison to nine months if Hicks would say that he was guilty.

Only the dramatic shift to lenience, said Joshua Dratel, one of three defense lawyers, resolved the case in time to return Hicks to Australia before Howard faces reelection late this year. The deal, negotiated without the knowledge of the chief prosecutor, Air Force Col. Morris Davis, was supervised by Susan J. Crawford, the convening authority over military commissions. Crawford received her three previous government jobs from then-Defense Secretary Cheney -- she was appointed as his special adviser, Pentagon inspector general and then judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Yet the tactical retreat on Hicks, according to Bush administration officials, diverted attention from the continuity of U.S. policy on detainees.

A year after Bush announced at a news conference that "I'd like to close Guantanamo," the camp remains open and has been expanded. Senior officials said Cheney, with few allies left, has turned back strong efforts -- by Rice, England, new Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and former Bush speechwriter Mike Gerson, among others -- to give the president what he said he wants.

Cheney and his aides "didn't circumvent the process," one participant said. "They were just very effective in using it."

'This is a Dangerous World'
More than a year after Congress passed McCain-sponsored restrictions on the questioning of suspected terrorists, the Bush administration is still debating how far the CIA's interrogators may go in their effort to break down resistant detainees. Two officials said the vice president has deadlocked the debate.

Bush said last September that he would "work with" Congress to review "an alternative set of procedures" for "tough" -- but, he said, lawful -- interrogation. He did not promise to submit legislation or to report particulars to any oversight committee, and he has not done so.

Two questions remain, officials said. One involves techniques to be authorized now. The other is whether any technique should be explicitly forbidden.

According to participants in the debate, the vice president stands by the view that Bush need not honor any of the new judicial and legislative restrictions. His lawyer, they said, has recently restated Cheney's argument that when courts and Congress "purport to" limit the commander in chief's warmaking authority, he has the constitutional prerogative to disregard them.

If Cheney advocates a return to waterboarding, they said, they have not heard him say so. But his office has fought fiercely against an executive order or CIA directive that would make the technique illegal.

"That's just the vice president," said Gerson, the former speechwriter, referring to Cheney's October remark that "a dunk in the water" for terrorists -- a radio interviewer's term -- is "a no-brainer for me."

Gerson added: "It's principled. He's deeply conscious that this is a dangerous world, and he wants this president and future presidents to be able to deal with that. He feels very strongly about these things, and it's his great virtue and his weakness."

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.
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« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2007, 03:00:00 PM »

The debate continues:


(The Blotter) When Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was strapped down to the water-board, he felt humiliated — not by the treatment but by the fact that a woman, a red-headed CIA supervisor, was allowed to witness the spectacle, a former intelligence officer told ABC News.
The al Qaeda mastermind, known as KSM, stubbornly held out for about two minutes — far longer than any of the other “high-value” terror targets who were subjected to the technique, the harshest from a list of six techniques approved for use by the CIA and Bush administration lawyers, sources said.
Then KSM started talking, in idiomatic English he learned as a high school foreign exchange student and polished at a North Carolina college in the 1980s, sources said.
“It was an extraordinary amount of time for him to hold out,” one former CIA officer told “A red-headed female supervisor was in the room when he was being water-boarded. It was humiliating to him. So he held out.”
“Then he started talking, and he never stopped,” this former officer said. KSM was never water-boarded again, and in hours and hours of conversation with his interrogators, often over a cup of tea, he poured out his soul and the murderous deeds he committed.
“He was sitting across the table from his interrogator, and he just blurted out, ‘I killed Daniel Pearl. I killed him Hahal (slit his throat in a ritual fashion).’ There was no water-boarding, no belly slapping; just two guys sitting across the table having a cup of tea.”
Water-boarding consists of strapping an individual to an inclined board with the person’s head slightly lower than the feet and pouring water over the face to simulate drowning. It triggers a gag reflex and can make a person believe death is near. Water-boarding has been denounced as “torture” by human rights groups and many U.S. officials, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who likened it to a mock execution.
But what if that one episode of water-boarding KSM had not occurred? It is a question at the center of the debate over the harshest technique in the CIA’s repertoire that has raged for three years now, a time frame, intelligence officials note, in which the technique has not been used.
Would the agency have eventually worn KSM down? Would the confessions have poured forth about Daniel Pearl’s beheading, about his role in the 1995 plot by his nephew, master bomber Ramzi Yousef, to assassinate Pope John Paul II during a visit to Manila, and detailed information about his role as mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks?
In the case of 9/11, U.S. intelligence officials were in the dark as to how exactly it was plotted because at the time KSM brought the idea to Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda terrorist leader had just stopped using mobile telephones after media reports raised suspicions they were monitored by U.S. intelligence.
“If one water-board session got him to talk, you could have gotten him to talk (without it), given time and patience,” said Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant and former FBI agent. Garrett has 30 years of experience interrogating terrorists such as Yousef, the Pakistani man who killed two CIA employees at the gates to the agency’s Langley, Va. headquarters in 1994 and hundreds of violent criminals.
“If in fact it’s true that they water-boarded him once and then he started talking and provided reliable information, then he falls under the category of the small minority of people on whom it works. But torture seldom works. Most people start talking…to get the pain to stop,” Garrett said.
But in many cases, the harsh intelligence techniques led to questionable confessions and downright lies, say officers with firsthand knowledge of the program. That included statements that al Qaeda was building dirty bombs.
“It is true that the person who was saying the nuke stuff said it under pressure. The analysts believed it was not true; it did not conform to other information,” one former intelligence officer told ABC News.
As these targets were subjected to the increasingly harsh interrogation methods — in some cases including water-boarding — KSM sat in his cell in Poland, writing poetry in English, writing letters to the president and to the head of the CIA, and debating the merits of Christianity and Islam with his captor.
“Using torture says that we aren’t any better than countries that historically tortured people. What are we telling the world about the United States?” Garrett, who has lectured on the subject of interrogation and torture and the perception of a nation, asked.
And just yesterday, an intelligence source told ABC News that the dapper man behind the most successful terror plot against America was not rumpled and disheveled when he was apprehended. He was as well-kept as ever.
But the CIA, conscious of the propaganda value of appearance, messed his hair and pulled his shirt from his pants, leaving us with the image of KSM we have today, and according to days of NSA intercepts, leaving his fellow al Qaeda terrorists chagrined over the changes to their esteemed colleague.
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« Reply #29 on: September 14, 2007, 03:04:27 PM »

Waterboarding isn't torture, though torturing al qaeda is just fine with me.
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« Reply #30 on: September 15, 2007, 12:58:46 AM »

Waterboarding isn't torture, though torturing al qaeda is just fine with me.

Does that mean you won't mind if somebody kidnaps and waterboards you or a member of your family?

Do you see any obligation to prove that somebody actually is a member of AQ before torturing them?
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« Reply #31 on: September 15, 2007, 03:02:35 AM »

Waterboarding isn't torture, though torturing al qaeda is just fine with me.

Does that mean you won't mind if somebody kidnaps and waterboards you or a member of your family?

**Please explain the context of your question. Were a family member of mine captured in say, Afghanistan i'd say waterboard away.**

Do you see any obligation to prove that somebody actually is a member of AQ before torturing them?

**What standard of proof do you think the OGA used? What standard do you suggest be used? Let me guess, every "suspected terrorist" captured by the US military get a luxury suite and a team of attorneys, along with a PR flack and a cosmetologist to trim and color his beard.** rolleyes
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« Reply #32 on: September 15, 2007, 03:24:36 AM »

Al Qaeda Manual Drives Detainee Behavior at Guantanamo Bay

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2005 – If you're a Muslim extremist captured while fighting your holy war against "infidels," avoid revealing information at all costs, don't give your real name and claim that you were mistreated or tortured during your detention.
This instruction comes straight from the pages of an official al Qaeda training manual, and officials at the detention facility at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, say they see clear evidence that detainees are well-versed in its contents.

Police in Manchester, England, discovered the manual, which has come to be known as the "Manchester document," in 2000 while searching computer files found in the home of a known al Qaeda member. The contents were introduced as evidence into the 2001 trial of terrorists who bombed the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998.

The FBI translated the document into English, and it is posted on the Justice Department's Web site.

The 18-chapter manual provides a detailed window into al Qaeda's network and its procedures for waging jihad - from conducting surveillance operations to carrying out assassinations to working with forged documents.

The closing chapter teaches al Qaeda operatives how to operate in a prison or detention center. It directs detainees to "insist on proving that torture was inflicted" and to "complain of mistreatment while in prison."

Chapter 17 instructs them to "be careful not to give the enemy any vital information" during interrogations.

Another section of the manual directs commanders to teach their operatives what to say if they're captured, and to explain it "more than once to ensure that they have assimilated it." To reinforce the message, it tells commanders to have operatives "explain it back to the commander."

And at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, detainees take this instruction to heart. Many of the more than 500 detainees are "uncooperative" in providing intelligence, Army Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, told military analysts who traveled to the facility June 24 and reiterated today during a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee.

Some detainees have never uttered a single word during more than three years of interrogation. Others give false names or refuse to offer their real names.

This can prove challenging for interrogators at the facility, because many detainees "follow the al Qaeda SOP (standard operating procedures) to the T," according to Army Col. John Hadjis, chief of staff for Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

Officials say they see evidence of the al Qaeda-directed misinformation campaign in allegations of detainee abuse and mishandling of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld expressed frustration over this effort during a June 21 interview on the "Tony Snow Show."

"These detainees are trained to lie, they're trained to say they were tortured, and the minute we release them or the minute they get a lawyer, very frequently they'll go out and they will announce that they've been tortured," Rumsfeld said.

The media jumps on these claims, reporting them as "another example of torture," the secretary said, "when in fact, (terrorists have) been trained to do that, and their training manual says so."

During a February 2004 Pentagon news conference, a DoD official said new information provided by detainees during questioning is analyzed to determine its reliability.

"Unfortunately, many detainees are deceptive and prefer to conceal their identifies and their actions," said Paul Butler, principal deputy assistant secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict.

Butler said the Manchester document includes "a large section which teaches al Qaeda operatives counterinterrogation techniques: how to lie, how to minimize your role."

The document, he said, has surfaced in various locations, including Afghanistan.

The manual's preface offers a chilling reminder of the mentality that drives al Qaeda disciples and the lengths they will go to for their cause.

"The confrontation that we are calling for ... does not know Socratic debates, ... Platonic ideals ... nor Aristotelian diplomacy," its opening pages read. "But it knows the dialogue of bullets, the ideals of assassination, bombing and destruction, and the diplomacy of the cannon and machine gun."

Related Sites:
Joint Task Force Guantanamo
The Manchester Document
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« Reply #33 on: September 15, 2007, 03:30:04 AM »

How to Interrogate Terrorists
Don't believe the charges. American troops treat terrorists with Geneva-convention politeness—perhaps too much so.
Heather Mac Donald
Winter 2005
It didn’t take long for interrogators in the war on terror to realize that their part was not going according to script. Pentagon doctrine, honed over decades of cold-war planning, held that 95 percent of prisoners would break upon straightforward questioning. Interrogators in Afghanistan, and later in Cuba and Iraq, found just the opposite: virtually none of the terror detainees was giving up information—not in response to direct questioning, and not in response to army-approved psychological gambits for prisoners of war.

Debate erupted in detention centers across the globe about how to get detainees to talk. Were “stress techniques”—such as isolation or sleep deprivation to decrease a detainee’s resistance to questioning—acceptable? Before the discussion concluded, however, the photos of prisoner abuse in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison appeared. Though they showed the sadism of a prison out of control, they showed nothing about interrogation.

Nevertheless, Bush-administration critics seized on the scandal as proof that prisoner “torture” had become routine. A master narrative—call it the “torture narrative”—sprang up: the government’s 2002 decision to deny Geneva-convention status to al-Qaida fighters, it held, “led directly to the abuse of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq,” to quote the Washington Post. In particular, torturous interrogation methods, developed at Guantánamo Bay and Afghanistan in illegal disregard of Geneva protections, migrated to Abu Ghraib and were manifest in the abuse photos.

This story’s success depends on the reader’s remaining ignorant of the actual interrogation techniques promulgated in the war on terror. Not only were they light years from real torture and hedged around with bureaucratic safeguards, but they had nothing to do with the Abu Ghraib anarchy. Moreover, the decision on the Geneva conventions was irrelevant to interrogation practices in Iraq.

No matter. The Pentagon’s reaction to the scandal was swift and sweeping. It stripped interrogators not just of stress options but of traditional techniques long regarded as uncontroversial as well. Red tape now entangles the interrogation process, and detainees know that their adversaries’ hands are tied.

The need for rethinking interrogation doctrine in the war on terror will not go away, however. The Islamist enemy is unlike any the military has encountered in the past. If current wisdom on the rules of war prohibits making any distinction between a terrorist and a lawful combatant, then that orthodoxy needs to change.

The interrogation debate first broke out on the frigid plains of Afghanistan. Marines and other special forces would dump planeloads of al-Qaida and Taliban prisoners into a ramshackle detention facility outside the Kandahar airport; waiting interrogators were then supposed to extract information to be fed immediately back into the battlefield—whether a particular mountain pass was booby-trapped, say, or where an arms cache lay. That “tactical” debriefing accomplished, the Kandahar interrogation crew would determine which prisoners were significant enough to be shipped on to the Guantánamo naval base in Cuba for high-level interrogation.

Army doctrine gives interrogators 16 “approaches” to induce prisoners of war to divulge critical information. Sporting names like “Pride and Ego Down” and “Fear Up Harsh,” these approaches aim to exploit a detainee’s self-love, allegiance to or resentment of comrades, or sense of futility. Applied in the right combination, they will work on nearly everyone, the intelligence soldiers had learned in their training.

But the Kandahar prisoners were not playing by the army rule book. They divulged nothing. “Prisoners overcame the [traditional] model almost effortlessly,” writes Chris Mackey in The Interrogators, his gripping account of his interrogation service in Afghanistan. The prisoners confounded their captors “not with clever cover stories but with simple refusal to cooperate. They offered lame stories, pretended not to remember even the most basic of details, and then waited for consequences that never really came.”

Some of the al-Qaida fighters had received resistance training, which taught that Americans were strictly limited in how they could question prisoners. Failure to cooperate, the al-Qaida manuals revealed, carried no penalties and certainly no risk of torture—a sign, gloated the manuals, of American weakness.

Even if a prisoner had not previously studied American detention policies before arriving at Kandahar, he soon figured them out. “It became very clear very early on to the detainees that the Americans were just going to have them sit there,” recalls interrogator Joe Martin (a pseudonym). “They realized: ‘The Americans will give us our Holy Book, they’ll draw lines on the floor showing us where to pray, we’ll get three meals a day with fresh fruit, do Jazzercise with the guards, . . . we can wait them out.’ ”

Even more challenging was that these detainees bore little resemblance to traditional prisoners of war. The army’s interrogation manual presumed adversaries who were essentially the mirror image of their captors, motivated by emotions that all soldiers share. A senior intelligence official who debriefed prisoners in the 1989 U.S. operation in Panama contrasts the battlefield then and now: “There were no martyrs down there, believe me,” he chuckles. “The Panamanian forces were more understandable people for us. Interrogation was pretty straightforward: ‘Love of Family’ [an army-manual approach, promising, say, contact with wife or children in exchange for cooperation] or, ‘Here’s how you get out of here as fast as you can.’ ”

“Love of family” often had little purchase among the terrorists, however—as did love of life. “The jihadists would tell you, ‘I’ve divorced this life, I don’t care about my family,’ ” recalls an interrogator at Guantánamo. “You couldn’t shame them.” The fierce hatred that the captives bore their captors heightened their resistance. The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan reported in January 2002 that prisoners in Kandahar would “shout epithets at their captors, including threats against the female relatives of the soldiers guarding them, knee marines in the groin, and say that they will escape and kill ‘more Americans and Jews.’ ” Such animosity continued in Guantánamo.

Battlefield commanders in Afghanistan and intelligence officials in Washington kept pressing for information, however. The frustrated interrogators constantly discussed how to get it. The best hope, they agreed, was to re-create the “shock of capture”—that vulnerable mental state when a prisoner is most frightened, most uncertain, and most likely to respond to questioning. Uncertainty is an interrogator’s most powerful ally; exploited wisely, it can lead the detainee to believe that the interrogator is in total control and holds the key to his future. The Kandahar detainees, however, learned almost immediately what their future held, no matter how egregious their behavior: nothing untoward.

Many of the interrogators argued for a calibrated use of “stress techniques”—long interrogations that would cut into the detainees’ sleep schedules, for example, or making a prisoner kneel or stand, or aggressive questioning that would put a detainee on edge.

Joe Martin—a crack interrogator who discovered that a top al-Qaida leader, whom Pakistan claimed to have in custody, was still at large and directing the Afghani resistance—explains the psychological effect of stress: “Let’s say a detainee comes into the interrogation booth and he’s had resistance training. He knows that I’m completely handcuffed and that I can’t do anything to him. If I throw a temper tantrum, lift him onto his knees, and walk out, you can feel his uncertainty level rise dramatically. He’s been told: ‘They won’t physically touch you,’ and now you have. The point is not to beat him up but to introduce the reality into his mind that he doesn’t know where your limit is.” Grabbing someone by the top of the collar has had a more profound effect on the outcome of questioning than any actual torture could have, Martin maintains. “The guy knows: You just broke your own rules, and that’s scary. He might demand to talk to my supervisor. I’ll respond: ‘There are no supervisors here,’ and give him a maniacal smile.”

The question was: Was such treatment consistent with the Geneva conventions?

President Bush had declared in February 2002 that al-Qaida members fell wholly outside the conventions and that Taliban prisoners would not receive prisoner-of-war status—without which they, too, would not be covered by the Geneva rules. Bush ordered, however, that detainees be treated humanely and in accordance with Geneva principles, to the extent consistent with military necessity. This second pronouncement sank in: all of the war on terror’s detention facilities chose to operate under Geneva rules. Contrary to the fulminations of rights advocates and the press, writes Chris Mackey, “Every signal we interrogators got from above from the colonels at [the Combined Forces Land Component Command] in Kuwait to the officers at Central Command back in Tampa—had been . . . to observe the Conventions, respect prisoners’ rights, and never cut corners.”

What emerged was a hybrid and fluid set of detention practices. As interrogators tried to overcome the prisoners’ resistance, their reference point remained Geneva and other humanitarian treaties. But the interrogators pushed into the outer limits of what they thought the law allowed, undoubtedly recognizing that the prisoners in their control violated everything the pacts stood for.

The Geneva conventions embody the idea that even in as brutal an activity as war, civilized nations could obey humanitarian rules: no attacking civilians and no retaliation against enemy soldiers once they fall into your hands. Destruction would be limited as much as possible to professional soldiers on the battlefield. That rule required, unconditionally, that soldiers distinguish themselves from civilians by wearing uniforms and carrying arms openly.

Obedience to Geneva rules rests on another bedrock moral principle: reciprocity. Nations will treat an enemy’s soldiers humanely because they want and expect their adversaries to do the same. Terrorists flout every civilized norm animating the conventions. Their whole purpose is to kill noncombatants, to blend into civilian populations, and to conceal their weapons. They pay no heed whatever to the golden rule; anyone who falls into their hands will most certainly not enjoy commissary privileges and wages, per the Geneva mandates. He—or she—may even lose his head.

Even so, terror interrogators tried to follow the spirit of the Geneva code for conventional, uniformed prisoners of war. That meant, as the code puts it, that the detainees could not be tortured or subjected to “any form of coercion” in order to secure information. They were to be “humanely” treated, protected against “unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind,” and were entitled to “respect for their persons and their honour.”

The Kandahar interrogators reached the following rule of thumb, reports Mackey: if a type of behavior toward a prisoner was no worse than the way the army treated its own members, it could not be considered torture or a violation of the conventions. Thus, questioning a detainee past his bedtime was lawful as long as his interrogator stayed up with him. If the interrogator was missing exactly the same amount of sleep as the detainee—and no tag-teaming of interrogators would be allowed, the soldiers decided—then sleep deprivation could not be deemed torture. In fact, interrogators were routinely sleep-deprived, catnapping maybe one or two hours a night, even as the detainees were getting long beauty sleeps. Likewise, if a boot-camp drill sergeant can make a recruit kneel with his arms stretched out in front without violating the Convention Against Torture, an interrogator can use that tool against a recalcitrant terror suspect.

Did the stress techniques work? Yes. “The harsher methods we used . . . the better information we got and the sooner we got it,” writes Mackey, who emphasizes that the methods never contravened the conventions or crossed over into torture.

Stress broke a young bomb maker, for instance. Six months into the war, special forces brought a young Afghan to the Kandahar facility, the likely accomplice of a Taliban explosives expert who had been blowing up aid workers. Joe Martin got the assignment.

“Who’s your friend the Americans are looking for?” the interrogation began.

“I don’t know.”

“You think this is a joke? What do you think I’ll do?”

“Torture me.”

So now I understand his fear, Martin recollects.

The interrogation continued: “You’ll stand here until you tell me your friend.”

“No, sir, he’s not my friend.”

Martin picked up a book and started reading. Several hours later, the young Taliban was losing his balance and was clearly terrified. Moreover, he’s got two “big hillbilly guards staring at him who want to kill him,” the interrogator recalls.

“You think THIS is bad?!” the questioning starts up again.

“No, sir.”

The prisoner starts to fall; the guards stand him back up. If he falls again, and can’t get back up, Martin can do nothing further. “I have no rack,” he says matter-of-factly. The interrogator’s power is an illusion; if a detainee refuses to obey a stress order, an American interrogator has no recourse.

Martin risks a final display of his imaginary authority. “I get in his face, ‘What do you think I will do next?’ ” he barks. In the captive’s mind, days have passed, and he has no idea what awaits him. He discloses where he planted bombs on a road and where to find his associate. “The price?” Martin asks. “I made a man stand up. Is this unlawful coercion?”

Under a strict reading of the Geneva protections for prisoners of war, probably: the army forbids interrogators from even touching lawful combatants. But there is a huge gray area between the gold standard of POW treatment reserved for honorable opponents and torture, which consists of the intentional infliction of severe physical and mental pain. None of the stress techniques that the military has used in the war on terror comes remotely close to torture, despite the hysterical charges of administration critics. (The CIA’s behavior remains a black box.) To declare non-torturous stress off-limits for an enemy who plays by no rules and accords no respect to Western prisoners is folly.
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« Reply #34 on: September 15, 2007, 03:32:08 AM »

The soldiers used stress techniques to reinforce the traditional psychological approaches. Jeff (a pseudonym), an interrogator in Afghanistan, had been assigned a cocky English Muslim, who justified the 9/11 attacks because women had been working in the World Trade Center. The British citizen deflected all further questioning. Jeff questioned him for a day and a half, without letting him sleep and playing on his religious loyalties. “I broke him on his belief in Islam,” Jeff recounts. “He realized he had messed up, because his Muslim brothers and sisters were also in the building.” The Brit broke down and cried, then disclosed the mission that al-Qaida had put him on before capture. But once the prisoner was allowed to sleep for six hours, he again “clammed up.”

Halfway across the globe, an identical debate had broken out, among interrogators who were encountering the same obstacles as the Afghanistan intelligence team. The U.S. base at Guantánamo was supposed to be getting the Afghanistan war’s worst of the worst: the al-Qaida Arabs and their high Taliban allies.

Usama bin Ladin’s driver and bodyguard were there, along with explosives experts, al-Qaida financiers and recruiters, would-be suicide recruits, and the architects of numerous attacks on civilian targets. They knew about al-Qaida’s leadership structure, its communication methods, and its plans to attack the U.S. And they weren’t talking. “They’d laugh at you; ‘You’ve asked me this before,’ they’d say contemptuously,” reports Major General Michael Dunlavey, a former Guantánamo commanding officer. “Their resistance was tenacious. They’d already had 90 days in Afghanistan to get their cover stories together and to plan with their compatriots.”

Even more than Afghanistan, Guantánamo dissipated any uncertainty the detainees might have had about the consequences of noncooperation. Consistent with the president’s call for humane treatment, prisoners received expert medical care, three culturally appropriate meals each day, and daily opportunities for prayer, showers, and exercise. They had mail privileges and reading materials. Their biggest annoyance was boredom, recalls one interrogator. Many prisoners disliked the move from Camp X-Ray, the first facility used at the base, to the more commodious Camp Delta, because it curtailed their opportunities for homosexual sex, says an intelligence analyst. The captives protested every perceived infringement of their rights but, as in Afghanistan, ignored any reciprocal obligation. They hurled excrement and urine at guards, used their blankets as garrotes, and created additional weapons out of anything they could get their hands on—including a sink wrenched off a wall. Guards who responded to the attacks—with pepper spray or a water hose, say—got punished and, in one case, court-martialed.

Gitmo personnel disagreed sharply over what tools interrogators could legally use. The FBI took the most conservative position. When a bureau agent questioning Mohamedou Ould Slahi—a Mauritanian al-Qaida operative who had recruited two of the 9/11 pilots—was getting nothing of value, an army interrogator suggested, “Why don’t you mention to him that conspiracy is a capital offense?” “That would be a violation of the Convention Against Torture,” shot back the agent—on the theory that any covert threat inflicts “severe mental pain.” Never mind that district attorneys and police detectives routinely invoke the possibility of harsh criminal penalties to get criminals to confess. Federal prosecutors in New York have even been known to remind suspects that they are more likely to keep their teeth and not end up as sex slaves by pleading to a federal offense, thus avoiding New York City’s Rikers Island jail. Using such a method against an al-Qaida jihadist, by contrast, would be branded a serious humanitarian breach.

Top military commanders often matched the FBI’s restraint, however. “It was ridiculous the things we couldn’t do,” recalls an army interrogator. “One guy said he would talk if he could see the ocean. It wasn’t approved, because it would be a change of scenery”—a privilege that discriminated in favor of a cooperating detainee, as opposed to being available to all, regardless of their behavior.

Frustration with prisoner stonewalling reached a head with Mohamed al-Kahtani, a Saudi who had been fighting with Usama bin Ladin’s bodyguards in Afghanistan in December 2001. By July 2002, analysts had figured out that Kahtani was the missing 20th hijacker. He had flown into Orlando International Airport from Dubai on August 4, 2001, but a sharp-eyed customs agent had denied him entry. Waiting for him at the other side of the gate was Mohamed Atta.

Kahtani’s resistance strategies were flawless. Around the first anniversary of 9/11, urgency to get information on al-Qaida grew. Finally, army officials at Guantánamo prepared a legal analysis of their interrogation options and requested permission from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to use various stress techniques on Kahtani. Their memo, sent up the bureaucratic chain on October 11, 2002, triggered a fierce six-month struggle in Washington among military lawyers, administration officials, and Pentagon chiefs about interrogation in the war on terror.

To read the techniques requested is to understand how restrained the military has been in its approach to terror detainees—and how utterly false the torture narrative has been. Here’s what the interrogators assumed they could not do without clearance from the secretary of defense: yell at detainees (though never in their ears), use deception (such as posing as Saudi intelligence agents), and put detainees on MREs (meals ready to eat—vacuum-sealed food pouches eaten by millions of soldiers, as well as vacationing backpackers) instead of hot rations. The interrogators promised that this dangerous dietary measure would be used only in extremis, pending local approval and special training.

The most controversial technique approved was “mild, non-injurious physical contact such as grabbing, poking in the chest with the finger, and light pushing,” to be reserved only for a “very small percentage of the most uncooperative detainees” believed to possess critical intelligence. A detainee could be poked only after review by Gitmo’s commanding general of intelligence and the commander of the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, and only pursuant to “careful coordination” and monitoring.

None of this remotely approaches torture or cruel or degrading treatment. Nevertheless, fanatically cautious Pentagon lawyers revolted, claiming that the methods approved for Kahtani violated international law. Uncharacteristically irresolute, Rumsfeld rescinded the Guantánamo techniques in January 2003.

Kahtani’s interrogation hung fire for three months, while a Washington committee, with representatives from the undersecretary of defense, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the air force, army, navy, and marine corps, and attorneys from every branch of the military, considered how to approach the 20th hijacker.

The outcome of this massive deliberation was more restrictive than the Geneva conventions themselves, even though they were to apply only to unlawful combatants, not conventional prisoners of war, and only to those held at Guantánamo Bay. It is worth scrutinizing the final 24 techniques Rumsfeld approved for terrorists at Gitmo in April 2003, since these are the techniques that the media presents as the source of “torture” at Abu Ghraib. The torture narrative holds that illegal methods used at Guantánamo migrated to Iraq and resulted in the abuse of prisoners there.

So what were these cruel and degrading practices? For one, providing a detainee an incentive for cooperation—such as a cigarette or, especially favored in Cuba, a McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich or a Twinkie unless specifically approved by the secretary of defense. In other words, if an interrogator had learned that Usama bin Ladin’s accountant loved Cadbury chocolate, and intended to enter the interrogation booth armed with a Dairy Milk Wafer to extract the name of a Saudi financier, he needed to “specifically determine that military necessity requires” the use of the Dairy Milk Wafer and send an alert to Secretary Rumsfeld that chocolate was to be deployed against an al-Qaida operative.

Similar restrictions—a specific finding of military necessity and notice to Rumsfeld—applied to other tried-and-true army psychological techniques. These included “Pride and Ego Down”—attacking a detainee’s pride to goad him into revealing critical information—as well as “Mutt and Jeff,” the classic good cop–bad cop routine of countless police shows. Isolating a detainee from other prisoners to prevent collaboration and to increase his need to talk required not just notice and a finding of military necessity but “detailed implementation instructions [and] medical and psychological review.”

The only non-conventional “stress” techniques on the final Guantánamo list are such innocuous interventions as adjusting the temperature or introducing an unpleasant smell into the interrogation room, but only if the interrogator is present at all times; reversing a detainee’s sleep cycles from night to day (call this the “Flying to Hong Kong” approach); and convincing a detainee that his interrogator is not from the U.S.

Note that none of the treatments shown in the Abu Ghraib photos, such as nudity or the use of dogs, was included in the techniques certified for the unlawful combatants held in Cuba. And those mild techniques that were certified could only be used with extensive bureaucratic oversight and medical monitoring to ensure “humane,” “safe,” and “lawful” application.
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« Reply #35 on: September 15, 2007, 03:33:43 AM »

After Rumsfeld cleared the 24 methods, interrogators approached Kahtani once again. They relied almost exclusively on isolation and lengthy interrogations. They also used some “psy-ops” (psychological operations). Ten or so interrogators would gather and sing the Rolling Stones’ “Time Is on My Side” outside Kahtani’s cell. Sometimes they would play a recording of “Enter Sandman” by the heavy-metal group Metallica, which brought Kahtani to tears, because he thought (not implausibly) he was hearing the sound of Satan.

Finally, at 4 am—after an 18-hour, occasionally loud, interrogation, during which Kahtani head-butted his interrogators—he started giving up information, convinced that he was being sold out by his buddies. The entire process had been conducted under the watchful eyes of a medic, a psychiatrist, and lawyers, to make sure that no harm was done. Kahtani provided detailed information on his meetings with Usama bin Ladin, on Jose Padilla and Richard Reid, and on Adnan El Shukrijumah, one of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists, believed to be wandering between South and North America.

Since then, according to Pentagon officials, none of the non-traditional techniques approved for Kahtani has been used on anyone else at Guantánamo Bay.

The final strand in the “torture narrative” is the least grounded in actual practice, but it has had the most distorting effect on the public debate. In the summer of 2002, the CIA sought legal advice about permissible interrogation techniques for the recently apprehended Abu Zubaydah, Usama bin Ladin’s chief recruiter in the 1990s. The Palestinian Zubaydah had already been sentenced to death in absentia in Jordan for an abortive plot to bomb hotels there during the millennium celebration; he had arranged to obliterate the Los Angeles airport on the same night. The CIA wanted to use techniques on Zubaydah that the military uses on marines and other elite fighters in Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape (SERE) school, which teaches how to withstand torture and other pressures to collaborate. The techniques are classified, but none allegedly involves physical contact. (Later, the CIA is said to have used “water-boarding”—temporarily submerging a detainee in water to induce the sensation of drowning—on Khalid Sheik Mohammad, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Water-boarding is the most extreme method the CIA has applied, according to a former Justice Department attorney, and arguably it crosses the line into torture.)

In response to the CIA’s request, Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee produced a hair-raising memo that understandably caused widespread alarm. Bybee argued that a U.S. law ratifying the 1984 Convention Against Torture—covering all persons, whether lawful combatants or not—forbade only physical pain equivalent to that “accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death,” or mental pain that resulted in “significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years.” More troubling still, Bybee concluded that the torture statute and international humanitarian treaties did not bind the executive branch in wartime.

This infamous August “torture memo” represents the high (or low) point of the Bush administration’s theory of untrammeled presidential war-making power. But note: it had nothing to do with the interrogation debates and experiments unfolding among Pentagon interrogators in Afghanistan and Cuba. These soldiers struggling with al-Qaida resistance were perfectly ignorant about executive-branch deliberations on the outer boundaries of pain and executive power (which, in any case, were prepared for and seen only by the CIA). “We had no idea what went on in Washington,” said Chris Mackey in an interview. A Guantánamo lawyer involved in the Kahtani interrogation echoes Mackey: “We were not aware of the [Justice Department and White House] debates.” Interrogators in Iraq were equally unaware of the Bybee memo.

Nevertheless, when the Bybee analysis was released in June 2004, it became the capstone on the torture narrative, the most damning link between the president’s decision that the Geneva conventions didn’t apply to terrorists and the sadistic behavior of the military guards at Abu Ghraib. Seymour Hersh, the left-wing journalist who broke the Abu Ghraib story, claims that the Bybee torture memo was the “most suggestive document, in terms of what was really going on inside military prisons and detention centers.”

But not only is the Bybee memo irrelevant to what happened in Abu Ghraib; so, too, are the previous interrogation debates in Afghanistan and Cuba. The abuse at Abu Ghraib resulted from the Pentagon’s failure to plan for any outcome of the Iraq invasion except the most rosy scenario, its failure to respond to the insurgency once it broke out, and its failure to keep military discipline from collapsing in the understaffed Abu Ghraib facility. Interrogation rules were beside the point.

As the avalanche of prisoners taken in the street fighting overwhelmed the inadequate contingent of guards and officers at Abu Ghraib, order within the ranks broke down as thoroughly as order in the operation of the prison itself. Soldiers talked back to their superiors, refused to wear uniforms, operated prostitution and bootlegging rings, engaged in rampant and public sexual misbehavior, covered the facilities with graffiti, and indulged in drinking binges while on duty. No one knew who was in command. The guards’ sadistic and sexualized treatment of prisoners was just an extension of the chaos they were already wallowing in with no restraint from above. Meanwhile, prisoners regularly rioted; insurgents shelled the compound almost daily; the army sent only rotten, bug-infested rations; and the Iraqi guards sold favors to the highest bidders among the insurgents.

The idea that the abuse of the Iraqi detainees resulted from the president’s decision on the applicability of the Geneva conventions to al-Qaida and Taliban detainees is absurd on several grounds. Everyone in the military chain of command emphasized repeatedly that the Iraq conflict would be governed by the conventions in their entirety. The interrogation rules that local officers developed for Iraq explicitly stated that they were promulgated under Geneva authority, and that the conventions applied. Moreover, almost all the behavior shown in the photographs occurred in the dead of night among military police, wholly separate from interrogations. Most abuse victims were not even scheduled to be interrogated, because they were of no intelligence value. Finally, except for the presence of dogs, none of the behavior shown in the photos was included in the interrogation rules promulgated in Iraq. Mandated masturbation, dog leashes, assault, and stacking naked prisoners in pyramids—none of these depredations was an approved (or even contemplated) interrogation practice, and no interrogator ordered the military guards to engage in them.

It is the case that intelligence officers in Iraq and Afghanistan were making use of nudity and phobias about dogs at the time. Nudity was not officially sanctioned, and the official rule about dogs only allowed their “presence” in the interrogation booth, not their being sicced on naked detainees. The argument that such techniques contributed to a dehumanization of the detainees, which in turn led to their abuse, is not wholly implausible. Whether or not those two particular stressors are worth defending (and many interrogators say they are not), their abuse should not discredit the validity of other stress techniques that the military was cautiously experimenting with in the months before Abu Ghraib.

That experiment is over. Reeling under the PR disaster of Abu Ghraib, the Pentagon shut down every stress technique but one—isolation—and that can be used only after extensive review. An interrogator who so much as requests permission to question a detainee into the night could be putting his career in jeopardy. Even the traditional army psychological approaches have fallen under a deep cloud of suspicion: deflating a detainee’s ego, aggressive but non-physical histrionics, and good cop–bad cop have been banished along with sleep deprivation.

Timidity among officers prevents the energetic application of those techniques that remain. Interrogation plans have to be triple-checked all the way up through the Pentagon by officers who have never conducted an interrogation in their lives.

In losing these techniques, interrogators have lost the ability to create the uncertainty vital to getting terrorist information. Since the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, the military has made public nearly every record of its internal interrogation debates, providing al-Qaida analysts with an encyclopedia of U.S. methods and constraints. Those constraints make perfectly clear that the interrogator is not in control. “In reassuring the world about our limits, we have destroyed our biggest asset: detainee doubt,” a senior Pentagon intelligence official laments.

Soldiers on the ground are noticing the consequences. “The Iraqis already know the game. They know how to play us,” a marine chief warrant officer told the Wall Street Journal in August. “Unless you catch the Iraqis in the act, it is very hard to pin anything on anyone . . . . We can’t even use basic police interrogation tactics.”

And now the rights advocates, energized by the Abu Ghraib debacle, are making one final push to halt interrogation altogether. In the New York Times’s words, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is now condemning the thoroughly emasculated interrogation process at Guantánamo Bay as a “system devised to break the will of the prisoners [and] make them wholly dependent on their interrogators.” In other words, the ICRC opposes traditional interrogation itself, since all interrogation is designed to “break the will of prisoners” and make them feel “dependent on their interrogators.” But according to an ICRC report leaked to the Times, “the construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture.”

But contrary to the fantasies of the international-law and human rights lobbies, a world in which all interrogation is illegal and rights are indiscriminately doled out is not a safer or more just world. Were the United States to announce that terrorists would be protected under the Geneva conventions, it would destroy any incentive our ruthless enemies have to comply with the laws of war. The Washington Post and the New York Times understood that truth in 1987, when they supported President Ronald Reagan’s rejection of an amendment to the Geneva conventions that would have granted lawful-combatant status to terrorists. Today, however, those same opinion makers have done an about-face, though the most striking feature of their denunciations of the Bush administration’s Geneva decisions is their failure to offer any explanation for how al-Qaida could possibly be covered under the plain meaning of the text.

The Pentagon is revising the rules for interrogation. If we hope to succeed in the war on terror, the final product must allow interrogators to use stress techniques against unlawful combatants. Chris Mackey testifies to how “ineffective schoolhouse methods were in getting prisoners to talk.” He warns that his team “failed to break prisoners who I have no doubt knew of terrorist plots or at least terrorist cells that may one day do us harm. Perhaps they would have talked if faced with harsher methods.”

The stress techniques that the military has used to date are not torture; the advocates can only be posturing in calling them such. On its website, Human Rights Watch lists the effects of real torture: “from pain and swelling to broken bones, irreparable neurological damage, and chronic painful musculoskeletal problems . . . [to] long-term depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, marked sleep disturbances and alterations in self-perceptions, not to mention feelings of powerlessness, of fear, guilt and shame.” Though none of the techniques that Pentagon interrogators have employed against al-Qaida comes anywhere close to risking such effects, Human Rights Watch nevertheless follows up its list with an accusation of torture against the Bush administration.

The pressure on the Pentagon to outlaw stress techniques won’t abate, as the American Civil Liberties Union continues to release formerly classified government documents obtained in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit concerning detention and interrogation. As of late December, the memos have merely confirmed that the FBI opposes stress methods, though the press breathlessly portrays them as confirming “torture.”

Human Rights Watch, the ICRC, Amnesty International, and the other self-professed guardians of humanitarianism need to come back to earth—to the real world in which torture means what the Nazis and the Japanese did in their concentration and POW camps in World War II; the world in which evil regimes, like those we fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, don’t follow the Miranda rules or the Convention Against Torture but instead gas children, bury people alive, set wild animals on soccer players who lose, and hang adulterous women by truckloads before stadiums full of spectators; the world in which barbarous death cults behead female aid workers, bomb crowded railway stations, and fly planes filled with hundreds of innocent passengers into buildings filled with thousands of innocent and unsuspecting civilians. By definition, our terrorist enemies and their state supporters have declared themselves enemies of the civilized order and its humanitarian rules. In fighting them, we must of course hold ourselves to our own high moral standards without, however, succumbing to the utopian illusion that we can prevail while immaculately observing every precept of the Sermon on the Mount. It is the necessity of this fallen world that we must oppose evil with force; and we must use all the lawful means necessary to ensure that good, rather than evil, triumphs.
Howling Dog
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« Reply #36 on: September 15, 2007, 08:00:27 AM »

Woof, When I was in the navy I had a couple of friends that went to the navy's SERE school.
They were both Waterboarded there.
I'am pretty sure after listening to their accounts of the experience that they would disagree with GM's asssertion that waterboarding is not tourture.
Then I'am onley taking it from first hand accounts of what it was like to be waterboarded.
Also note that these accounts came from our own service men and my friends.

GM, have you ever been waterboarded or do you know anyone who has?
For those who don't know the Navy's SERE school: Survive Escape Resist and Evade......Usally pilots -aircrew -Seals-EOD and the types attend this school

Howling Dog
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« Reply #37 on: September 15, 2007, 08:43:56 AM »

That was a very interesting read GM.  Thank you for taking the time to post it.
Howling Dog
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« Reply #38 on: September 15, 2007, 12:24:45 PM »

Woof A little further on the Navy SERE school. It is designed to simulate a pow camp.
The idea is to find out not if our service men who may be privy to sensitive info will talk(everyone talks), but how much they will talk.
It was set up according to our former pows accounts of what they experienced during their stays in pow camps.
Just out of curiosity, are Rog and I the onely ones here, who think that waterboarding is torture?
Silence by all other active posters here will lead to an assumption on my part, as a YES we are response. wink

So they say......Birds of a feather flock together.... cheesy

Howling Dog
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« Reply #39 on: September 15, 2007, 12:45:59 PM »


From the interesting article GM posted:

"Later, the CIA is said to have used “water-boarding”—temporarily submerging a detainee in water to induce the sensation of drowning—on Khalid Sheik Mohammad, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Water-boarding is the most extreme method the CIA has applied"

If it were done to me, I'd think I had been tortured.  I'm only aware of it being applied to KSM, and perhaps a small number of others. 

Do you think this adds up to simply saying that the "US tortures"?  What did you think of the article GM posted?  Are you opposed to waterboarding in all cases?

« Last Edit: September 15, 2007, 12:51:22 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #40 on: September 15, 2007, 12:59:59 PM »

Woof, When I was in the navy I had a couple of friends that went to the navy's SERE school.
They were both Waterboarded there.
I'am pretty sure after listening to their accounts of the experience that they would disagree with GM's asssertion that waterboarding is not tourture.
Then I'am onley taking it from first hand accounts of what it was like to be waterboarded.
Also note that these accounts came from our own service men and my friends.

GM, have you ever been waterboarded or do you know anyone who has?
For those who don't know the Navy's SERE school: Survive Escape Resist and Evade......Usally pilots -aircrew -Seals-EOD and the types attend this school

**Waterboarding isn't offered to police officers, though a individual I know from another board that may have trained with DBMA is a former SEAL. He has stated that after waterboarding he "was ready to behave" but did not see it as torture. If waterboarding is indeed torture, then the US military has been torturing servicemen for decades. Would you agree with that, Tom?**
Howling Dog
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« Reply #41 on: September 15, 2007, 03:59:10 PM »

Woof GM, Yes I would agree that the U.S. military has been torturing its service men for decades. At least at the SERE school they do.
My friends accounts also are that the "instructors" there "laid hands" on them as well.
Submerging in water is NOT how waterboarding is done and its a little more than"temperarily" Should I describe to you how it was done to my friends?
Would you like for me to also state some of the "other" conditions my former servicemen friends were subject to?

Guro Crafty, My view on it is if weve done it once weve done it 1000 times......besides does just doing it once make it ok?
By the way, I never said I was against using torture......What I'am against is lying about it.
I believe in war times extreme messures are necassary.
A little side note concerening the SERE school.
When I was going through JEST (Jungle survival school) at Cubi point philippines. There was another guy there who reconized one of the Jest instructors as one of the "instructors" from SERE school.
He went after him with a vengence....fortunatly for the "instructor" some of the other guys caught the pissed off guy before he got to the instructor.....So I'am baiscly saying....this guy didn't have the same warm and fuzzy feelinng from his SERE experience as GM's SEAL buddy did. grin
Yea....we temperarily torture our guys.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2007, 04:14:42 PM by tom guthrie » Logged

Howling Dog
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« Reply #42 on: September 15, 2007, 04:42:06 PM »


Was it done out of sadism, or done out of necessity? "Hell week" seems like torture to me that the SEALs use for selection purposes. Ranger School that a friend did pushes the soldiers well beyond normal human endurance. Sleep deprivation, lack of food, being placed in harsh environments while being pushed past physical and mental limits are common parts of military training, especially for elite military units.
Howling Dog
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« Reply #43 on: September 15, 2007, 06:03:43 PM »

GM, As I stated in my previous post SERE school is set up as a simulated POW camp. The goal is to find out not if a prisoner will talk and divulge info, but find out how much a prisoner will talk....everyone talks.
The people that go to SERE school are the ones who in war time have a higher probabilty of being captured. Pilots, aircrew, seals ect.
They are also the ones who have the more valubale information.
When my friends were waterboarded, they were not the ones being interogated.
The person being interogated was a fellow prisoner sitting in the room watching my friend get waterboarded.
Kinda like me torturing your wife while asking you questions.

Just for the fun of it.....Heres another method that, my friends were subject to....Put naked in a steel box at night out in the desert (freezing) taken out of the box in the middle of the night and given a cold shower outside......He told me you could here guys screaming all night.
I could go on.....but, at the end of the week....which is how long the school was, my friend had no idea what day it was, or that the school was over.....he was given a flag and told to raise it with a gun to his head......when he got it up.......he broke down and cried, because it was an American flag.
His job was a combat search and rescue swimmer. (combat sar)
Do you want to go on? I got more undecided
Yea, I still contend we for a time torture our service men.
Sadism or necessity? You decide.

Howling Dog
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« Reply #44 on: September 15, 2007, 06:35:57 PM »

Damn...  I can understand why they would put those guys through that stuff as part of their training, but that must be a truly horrifying experience and I can understand wanting to kill whoever did that to me, for whatever reason.

SB [sorry, I meant Tom here!  Smiley], have the instructors at these schools all been through that training themselves?  I can't imagine how anybody who had could do that to another person.
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« Reply #45 on: September 15, 2007, 07:59:01 PM »

"......What I'am against is lying about it. I believe in war times extreme messures are necassary."

But not lying?  Does that make sense to you?
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« Reply #46 on: September 15, 2007, 08:04:47 PM »

SERE in Transition

The Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape school at Camp Mackall, N.C., is undergoing some broad changes to make the SERE course an integral part of the Special Forces Qualification Course.

By Major Brian Hankinson

The Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) school at Camp Mackall, N.C., is undergoing some broad changes to make the SERE course an integral part of the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) to ensure that all Special Forces soldiers are SERE Level-C qualified; and to ensure that SERE remains relevant to the current operational environment. Under the direction of Major General James Parker, commanding general of the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, SERE has integrated training in peacetime government detention and hostage detention (PGD/HD) into its curriculum and has adopted a new core captivity curriculum (CCC) that will greatly enhance and update resistance training. SERE has also significantly increased its student output and has moved from being taught at the end of the SFQC to becoming part of Phase II of the pipeline.
SERE has always existed as training in support of the Military Code of Conduct. The relationship between SERE training and the Code of Conduct has been formalized in a number of studies and documents since the 1970s. Of importance to Army SERE training is Army Regulation 350-30, Code of Conduct, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) Training, originally published in 1985 and updated in 2002. The current AR 350-30 supports Department of Defense level requirements as outlined in Department of Defense Directive 1300.7, Training and Education to Support the Code of Conduct, and Department of Defense Instruction 1300.21, Code of Conduct Training and Education. All of these documents establish three levels of Code of Conduct training.

Level-A is initial-entry-level training that all soldiers, enlisted and officers receive upon entering the service. It provides a minimum level of understanding of the Code of Conduct.

Level-B is designed for personnel whose “jobs, specialties or assignments entail moderate risk of capture and exploitation.” DoD 1300.21 lists as examples, “members of ground combat units, security forces for high threat targets and anyone in the immediate vicinity of the forward edge of the battle area or the forward line of troops.” Current operations in Iraq have shown that practically everyone deployed in theater falls under this category. Consequently, demand for Level-B training has proliferated exponentially, and it has become mandatory for most deploying forces. Level-B is conducted at the unit level, through the use of training-support packets containing a series of standardized lesson plans and videos.

Level-C is designed for personnel whose “jobs, specialties or assignments entail a significant or high risk of capture and exploitation.” AR 350-30 supports DoD 1300.21’s mandate: “As a minimum, the following categories of personnel shall receive formal Level-C training at least once in their careers: combat aircrews, special operations forces (e.g., Navy special warfare combat swimmers and special boat units, Army Special Forces and Rangers, Marine Corps force reconnaissance units, Air Force special tactics teams, and psychological operations units) and military attaché.” The SERE Level-C training facility at Camp Mackall is one of only four facilities within the DoD that is authorized to conduct Level-C training. The Air Force conducts training at Fairchild AFB, Wash., and the Navy has facilities in Brunswick, Maine, and at North Island, Calif. The Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker, Ala., is in the process of building another Level-C facility.

With the exception of minor periodic adjustments in content and length, SERE instruction at Camp Mackall has changed little since Lieutenant Colonel Nick Rowe conducted the first Level-C course in 1986. The course spans three weeks with three phases of instruction, with the first phase consisting of approximately 10 days of academic instruction on the Code of Conduct and in SERE techniques that incorporate both classroom learning and hands-on field craft.

The second phase is a five-day field training exercise in which the students practice their survival and evasion skills by procuring food and water, constructing evasion fires and shelters and evading tracker dogs and aggressor forces for long distances. The final phase takes place in the resistance training laboratory, a mock prisoner-of-war camp, where students are tested on their individual and collective abilities to resist interrogation and exploitation and to properly apply the six articles of the Code of Conduct in a realistic captivity scenario. The course culminates with a day of debriefings in which the students receive individual and group feedback from the instructors. These constructive critiques help students process everything they have been through to solidify the skills they applied properly and to correct areas that need adjustment.

SERE Ramp-up

Over the past year, SERE has begun a transformation that will bring it on line with the transitioning SFQC, as well as make training more relevant to a broader spectrum of captivity environments. This transformation in SERE consists of three major changes: moving the course from its current position in the pipeline, increasing student output and incorporating new resistance-training techniques in PGD/HD.

Since its inception, SERE has been a stand-alone course, separate from, but working in conjunction with, the pipeline. Slots were primarily allocated to students in the SFQC but were also offered to other Army special operations forces, or ARSOF, such as Rangers, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment pilots and civil affairs and psychological operations personnel. The course also slotted students from other Army components, primarily aviators, airborne infantrymen and long-range-surveillance soldiers. Even though AR 350-30 mandates that all SF soldiers require SERE Level-C training, because the SFQC and SERE have been run separately, and because of limited space in the SERE course, not all SF soldiers have received SERE training in the past.

Beginning in 1998, with a directive from the commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) SERE Level-C became mandatory for all SFQC graduates before their assignment to an SF group. Furthermore, with AR 350-30 and DoD 1300.21 mandating SERE Level-C for all ARSOF, the demand for SERE increased substantially to accommodate all pipeline students, the backlog of SF Soldiers without SERE, and other slots needed for ARSOF and Army-component students. Also contributing to the growing demand for SERE Level-C training is the substantial number of Special Forces recruits, the “18 X-Rays,” who are joining the ranks, succeeding in assessment and selection and entering the SFQC. By fiscal year 2004, the steady state for SERE was 20 classes per year, with an average of 48 students per class, or 960 graduates per year. Even with this substantial output of students, SERE’s placement at the end of the pipeline contributed to a bottleneck effect that the transformation aims to correct.

To eliminate the bottleneck effect and to contribute to a more efficient pipeline, SERE has moved into Phase II of the SFQC. As students finish the fifth and final module of small-unit tactics, or SUT, they will immediately begin a SERE course. Until recently, each module of Phase II SUT was designed for 75-man classes. Now each module is training 90 students. SERE has had to ramp-up its capacity substantially to accommodate Phase II students and to continue to address students at the end of the pipeline, the backlog of SF Soldiers without SERE, and other ARSOF slots.

In April 2005, SERE began training 78 students per class. In October 2005, SERE again increased its student load by in-processing 100 students, the largest class in SERE history. To further accommodate the demand, SERE also increased its number of classes per year from 20 to 22, beginning in fiscal year 2005. At the end of FY 2005, SERE had graduated 1,287 students, a 34-percent increase over the FY 2004 average of 960. At the current rate of 22 classes of 90 to 100 students per class, SERE will have produced between 1,968 and 2,178 graduates by the end of FY 2006, an increase of between 100 percent and 127 percent of that average. The future steady state for SERE is to have the backlog worked off and to conduct 20 classes per year with the number of seats per class sufficient to accommodate the 20 Phase II SUT classes and slots for other ARSOF soldiers.

Peacetime Government/Hostage Detention

In 2002, the commander of SWCS tasked the Directorate of Training and Doctrine to establish a PGD/HD course to offer another high-risk Level-C capability that would focus on a broad spectrum of current captivity environments. The DOTD created a five-day curriculum, modeled after an existing course offered by the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, to teach current DoD policy for the application of the Code of Conduct in a much broader range of captivity scenarios than offered in the traditional, or wartime SERE course. PGD/HD provides students with the situational awareness needed to resist exploitation in a number of unpredictable environments common in the current operational arena, from friendly government detentions to highly volatile hostage and terrorist captivities. PGD/HD incorporates a unique learning tool, the academic role-play laboratory, in which students benefit from observing and critiquing each other in role-play scenarios with the instructors. The course was originally created to instruct 300 students per year in 20 classes of 15.

PGD/HD was short-lived as a stand-alone course. As part of the transformation, Parker also tasked SERE to combine its traditional wartime SERE course with the new PGD/HD (or peacetime) course to ensure that all SF soldiers received the benefits of both. The SERE company merged the PGD/HD cadre and the resistance-training detachment of the wartime course and combined the PGD/HD curriculum with the academic portion of the wartime course to create a 19-day combined SERE program that would fit into the Phase II calendar. August 1, 2005, marked the beginning of the first combined SERE course. Class 16-05 graduated on August 19 with more training in resistance skills than any class in SERE history.

Currently, SERE is successfully operating 90- to 100-man classes in the combined course that have a fairly even mix of Phase II students, end-of-pipeline students and SF backlog. By the end of December 2005, nine classes of the combined course will have graduated, and student and cadre feedback has been positive. A student from Class 16-05 who had just finished Phase II commented, “I hope the rest of the SF pipeline lives up to the experience I have had in SERE. Thank you.”

Core Captivity Curriculum

By instituting the combined wartime and peacetime SERE course, the SERE company created a “bridge plan” to posture itself for the assumption of the core captivity curriculum (CCC). The CCC is a joint effort among the sister-service SERE schools and the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency to create a curriculum that officially merges wartime and peacetime resistance training into an updated curriculum of resistance training that better replicates the ambiguities of the modern global environment. It will effectively eliminate the potential for confusion created by the current state of resistance training, which teaches three separate captivity environments (wartime, peacetime government/operations other than war and hostage). The CCC consolidates resistance techniques across the spectrum of captivity and focuses on producing smarter resisters who have very keen situational awareness. It is important to note that the CCC applies only to resistance training in SERE. It has no effect on the instruction of survival, evasion and escape skills, except for refocusing the field-training exercise scenarios to better replicate appropriate captivity environments.

Transitioning to the CCC was not an overnight process. It entailed a significant paradigm shift among instructors who have been immersed in a wartime scenario for a long time. The bridge plan gave the SERE company the opportunity to cross-train and familiarize the cadre with the coming changes. The SERE Company worked closely with the SERE training developer in the SWCS Directorate of Training and Doctrine to ensure a smooth transition to the new CCC program of instruction. As an integrated part of the pipeline, SERE is also working with the other phases to ensure that SERE scenarios flow logically with the rest of the SFQC training experience. The CCC offers the SERE company a great opportunity to rethink its old ways of doing business, with imagination being the only limitation in creating realistic training scenarios to prepare soldiers for the ambiguous and volatile world in which they will operate.


In his book, In the Company of Heroes, retired 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment pilot CW4 Mike Durant reflected on the SERE training he received at Camp Mackall in the winter of 1988 and the strength it gave him during his 11-day captivity in Somalia in October 1993: “I came away [from SERE] with tools that I never believed I would ever really need, but even in those first seconds of capture at the crash site in Mogadishu, those lessons would come rushing back at me. Throughout my captivity, I would summon them nearly every hour … I thanked [Nick Rowe] silently every day in Mogadishu, and I asked that God bless him, as I tried to plan my next move.” Durant’s words are a resounding testimony to the enduring reputation and efficacy of the SERE course.

SERE remains rooted in the past and takes great pride in recognizing and using the sacrifices of heroes like Rowe and Durant as learning points for future generations of SERE students. The SERE cadre turned out en-masse last November to honor the memory of America’s longest held POW, Colonel Floyd J. Thompson, held in Vietnam for nine years, at the dedication of a street bearing his name on Fort Bragg. In the crowd were the Son Tay raiders who risked their lives in a POW-rescue mission into North Vietnam in 1970. SERE maintains a brotherhood with the Fayetteville Chapter of Ex-POWs, and it invites members of the group of former POWs to speak to every graduating class. The students absorb the tales told by these heroes, and the POWs thrive on sharing the hard-learned lessons of their experiences. Through these efforts, the SERE company draws on the lessons of the past that can truly mean the difference between life and death in the future.

While nourishing its connections to the past, SERE is future-oriented and is successfully transforming to meet the needs of the global war on terrorism by staying relevant in the unstable post-Cold War world of the 21st century. In an operational arena characterized by nationalistic movements, radical religious fundamentalism, rampant terrorism and anti-Western sentiment fueled by globalization and economic disfranchisement, our soldiers will face a broad spectrum of isolation and captivity that has produced unimaginable episodes of horrific violence. SERE remains dedicated to training our soldiers to face this world with every skill they will need to survive and return with honor.

Major Brian D. Hankinson is the commander of Company D (SERE), 1st Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group. He was previously the chief of the Personnel Recovery Branch, Special Forces Doctrine Division, Directorate of Training and Doctrine, JFK Special Warfare Center and School. His previous assignments include: artillery officer, 82nd Airborne Division; detachment commander of ODA 584, 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group; and assistant professor of American history at the United States Military Academy. Hankinson holds a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy and a master’s degree from the University of Maryland.
Howling Dog
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« Reply #47 on: September 15, 2007, 08:31:25 PM »

Woof Guro Crafty, I guess ,my thought was if your going to do crappy things, at least be willing to take responsibility for your actions?
Does that make sense?
Are you saying? ......If we torture people, we should also lie about it? undecided

Howling Dog
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« Reply #48 on: September 15, 2007, 08:54:56 PM »

This is an area of considerable dis-ease for me.  I can think of scenarios wherein torture is justifiable e.g. stopping an attack, but the slippery slope aspects of this are considerable. 

There is the separate question of where the line is to be drawn.  I'd have no problem bathing someone in pig fat precisely because of the emotional distress it would trigger even as there would be no physical harm-- yet as I understand it this is not allowed.  Likewise ploys that seek to exploit Islamo-fascist neuroses about women.  I do not understand why the BGs in Guantanamo are provided Korans. 

I also think the Bush-Rumbo team has badly mishandled all this at the cost of considerable damage to the fighting pride of the American people and our good name in the world see e.g. the Bybee memo referenced in one of GM's posts.  (BTW kudos here to GM for typically stellar job in providing in extremely short order pertinent and precise data on the questions being raised)  Yes, the MSM and the liberal left have done their best to get the interrogation story distorted and lied about, but IMHO the Bush-Rumbo team have plenty of responsibility for how really fcuked up things have gotten.
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« Reply #49 on: September 15, 2007, 09:31:11 PM »

Crafty, would you care to explain how you think Bush & Rumbo should have handled the torture issue?

I agree fully with Tom in that if we are going to torture people, the president should be honest in that we are doing it and make a case for why we should be doing it instead of

1) pretending we aren't doing it
2) admitting it happened but hanging a few low-level soldiers out to dry for it
3) arguing that what we're doing isn't really torture

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