The Torture Question
  • home
  • watch online
  • faqs
  • paper trail
  • interviews
  • discussion
'war power'

examining the paper trail

A chronology of the torture memos, Defense Department investigations into prisoner abuse, human rights reports and more.

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.


home + introduction + watch online + is torture ever justified? + paper trail + analysis
interviews + behind the wire + discussion + faqs + teacher's guide + readings & links
producer's chat + tapes & transcript + press reaction + credits + privacy policy
FRONTLINE home + WGBH + PBS

 

posted oct. 18, 2005

FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of wgbh educational foundation.
photo copyright ©2005 corbis
web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

NEXT ON FRONTLINE

The Rise of ISISOctober 28th

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS