"If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong." So says John Fredman, then chief counsel to the CIA's counter-terrorism center, explaining in minutes of a 2002 meeting released yesterday, concluding that torture "is basically subject to perception". The minutes were released in conjunction with the Senate Armed Services Committee investigation into the origins of harsh interrogation tactics used on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.
In a hearing yesterday that spanned eight hours, US military lawyers revealed details showing how techniques like sensory and sleep deprivation and simulated drowning were modeled on training given soldiers on how to resist questioning. Chairman Carl Levin said that explanation "twisted the law to create the appearance of legality".
Correspondence brought to light in the hearing showed concern about such techniques as far back as 2002 with one quote saying, “if we mistreat detainees, we will quickly lose the [moral] high ground and public support will erode.” Then despite objections by military lawyers, then Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved sensory deprivation, sleep disruption, water-boarding and stress positions. “Officially it is not happening,” Lt. Col. Diane Beaver said in the 2002 information, adding that commanders were concerned that the techniques would be discovered by the Red Cross. To see the White House response, and a new study proving torture, read more.
White House spokesman Tony Fratto refuted the allegations yesterday saying:
Abuse of detainees has never been, is not and will never be the policy of this government. The policy of this government has been to take these detainees and to interrogate them, and get the information that we can get to help protect this country.
The investigation comes in conjunction with a new study released by Physicians for Human Rights who said they have evidence of torture and other abuse that resulted in serious injuries and mental disorders. One of the researchers said, "Some of these men really are, several years later, very severely scarred. It's a testimony to how bad those conditions were and how personal the abuse was."
Is the use of anti-interrogation training methods to create ways to interrogate, twisting the law to create the appearance of legality like Senator Levin says? Is concern over the Red Cross finding out, proof that there was knowledge the techniques were wrong?