The evolution of the Bush administration's bold legal framework and aggressive interrogation policies for prosecuting the war on terror -- and how it links to the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and beyond.
The Pentagon says it has conducted at least 12 official investigations into prisoner abuse at DoD facilities in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. What have we learned so far? Here is a roundup of the investigations that have gained the most attention due to their shocking findings.
This chart hung at Abu Ghraib during the fall of 2003 -- the period of the notorious abuses there. It is a graphic depicting Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez's authorized interrogation approaches. According to the Fay-Jones report, which looked at military intelligence activities at Abu Ghraib, the chart misinterpreted Sanchez's memo and may have contributed to abuses during interrogations. "What was particularly confusing," the investigators wrote, "was that nowhere on the chart did it mention a number of techniques that were in use at the time: removal of clothing, forced grooming, hooding, and yelling, loud music and light control. Given the detail otherwise noted ... the failure to list some techniques left a question of whether they were authorized for use without approval." One anonymous source described the confusion to FRONTLINE, explaining, "There was a
posted list of extended measures for interrogations that even said 'by
commanding general approval,' which is Gen. Sanchez. And then I would
hear about them being used, so I assumed they were being approved."
This e-mail was sent in August 2003 by a Military Intelligence (MI) captain serving in Iraq. It is notable because it shows the confusion over Geneva Conventions on the ground in Iraq: Cpt. Ponce distinguishes between "lawful combatants" protected by the Geneva Conventions and unlawful combatants, but prisoners in Iraq have always been covered under Geneva. He asks the e-mail's recipients to provide an "interrogation techniques 'wish list'" and reminds them: "The gloves are coming off gentlemen regarding these detainees…"
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has collected all the documents it has received under the Freedom of Information Act on this page. A lawsuit against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other military leaders has yielded more than 77,000 pages of documents. Of particular note are the e-mails (here and here) sent by FBI agents disturbed by what they saw at Guantanamo. On Sept. 29, 2005, a federal judge ordered the release of more photos and videos of prison abuse at Abu Ghraib. Check back on this page for updates.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, whose president is human rights attorney Michael Ratner, has a number of reports and other information about the situation for Guantanamo detainees, including: The Tipton Report, which details the story of three British detainees released from Guantanamo after the British government found evidence of their innocence; a collection of detainees' habeas corpus petitions; and extended briefs on Rasul v. Bush, a case brought by CCR in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled detainees have the right to challenge their detention in federal court.
- Related Links
- Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, Gen. Geoffrey Miller, and Col. Thomas Pappas declined FRONTLINE's request to be interviewed for "The Torture Question." However, they have testified before several government commissions, and their testimony is available to the public:
- Col. Thomas Pappas' Testimony for the Taguba investigation
Although his name is blacked out here, this is the testimony of Col. Thomas Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. He said when detainee abuse was brought to his attention, he took immediate action. He also told investigators, "My interrogators are well advised about the Geneva Conventions and what they can and cannot do with regard to the treatment of detainees." (Feb. 9, 2004; Note: This is a pdf file; Adobe Acrobat required)
- Gen. Geoffrey Miller's Testimony for the Fay-Jones investigation
The sworn statements to investigators of Gen. Miller, commander of Joint Task Force GTMO, can be found on pg. 28-29 and 34-35 of this document. Miller described his visit to assess prison facilities in Iraq and his recommendations to improve intelligence collection. He said he recommended using military dogs for command and control issues, but never in interrogations. (June 19, 2004; Note: This is a pdf file; Adobe Acrobat required.)
- Gen. Ricardo Sanchez's Testimony Before Senate Hearing on Iraq Prison Abuse
In this hearing transcript, Gen. Sanchez, commander of the multinational force in Iraq, told the Senate that all the interrogation policies he issued "reiterated the application of the Geneva Conventions and required that all interrogations be conducted in a lawful and humane manner, with command oversight." He said he initiated an investigation as soon as he found out about the allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib. [Note: Gen. Miller also testified before this panel.] (May 19, 2004)