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Philippe Sands
Philippe Sands
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May 9, 2008

In his new book, TORTURE TEAM: RUMSFELD'S MEMO AND THE BETRAYAL OF AMERICAN VALUES, Philippe Sands draws on official documents and interviews with key players to explain how the U.S. Military went from interrogations strictly regulated by the U.S. ARMY FIELD MANUAL 34-52 to enhanced interrogations that included sleep deprivation, nudity, stress positions, and water boarding.

As Sands explains in an interview with Scott Horton in THE NEW REPUBLIC:

When the administration released the December 2002 and other memos, it told a story that essentially said this: The new interrogation techniques came from the bottom up and had nothing to do with policy decisions driven from the top. I wanted to explore the truth of that account, by trying to talk to as many of the people involved in the decision as I could.

The narrative begins December 2, 2002, the day Donald Rumsfeld signed a memo from his legal counsel, William J. "Jim" Haynes. The memo, now referred to as "The Haynes Memo", recommended blanket approval for 15 of 18 new interrogation techniques to be used in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility while not rejecting the others.

>>View the Haynes Memo (pdf).

The new rules established three new categories for uncooperative detainees. Category I allowed yelling and deception; Category II required additional permission from higher up the chain of command and allowed twelve new sensory-depravation and humiliation techniques. These included stress positions, falsified documents, isolation, twenty-four hour interrogations, removal of clothing, and the use of individual phobias, such as fear of dogs. The memo only offered blanket approval for one technique in Category III, reserved for the most uncooperative detainees: "mild, non-injurious physical contact." The other techniques, which the memo did not approve or condemn, included convincing the detainee that death or painful consequences were imminent for his family, exposure to cold weather and water, and water-boarding.

Sands wanted to find out where these new techniques came from. Who requested them and why? To reconstruct the process that wrought a fundamental change in U.S. interrogation and detainee policy, Sands conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with key players in the military and the Bush Administration. Sands told his conclussion to Scott Horton:

I have no doubt about the early, close, and active involvement of the upper echelons of the administration in the decision to request, approve and then use harsh techniques of interrogation on "Detainee 063," Mohammed Al Qahtani. The story that emerged from the interviews was clear and it was consistent (plus, I had the opportunity to put my findings to Jim Haynes, who was the final piece of the jigsaw). The administration's 'bottom-up' narrative--as spun by Mr. Haynes and others--is false, inaccurate, and misleading, and I believe it was knowingly intended to be so.

Philippe Sands
Philippe Sands is an international lawyer and a Professor of Law and Director of the Centre on International Courts and Tribunals in the Faculty, and a key member of staff in the Centre for Law and the Environment at the University College of London. As a lawyer he has litigated extensively before the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, and the European Court of Justice. He frequently advises governments, international organisations, NGOs and the private sector on aspects of international law. In 2003 he was appointed a Queen's Counsel.

Sands has written numerous books on international law and politics,including LAWLESS WORLD: AMERICA AND BREAKING OF GLOBAL RULES, and most recently, TORTURE TEAM: CRUELTY, DECEPTION AND THE COMPROMISE OF LAW.

Published May 9, 2008.

Related Media:
Bill Moyers on a new documentary that explores America's debate over torture tactics.

Jack L. Goldsmith on the torture memos
Former head of the Office of Legal Counsel under George W. Bush, Jack L. Goldsmith, discusses the Administration's expanded view of executive power and the now infamous torture memos.

YouTubeArchbishop Desmond Tutu
Bill Moyers sat down with Archbishop Tutu in 1999 discussing his chairmanship of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

YouTubeScott Horton on NOW
David Brancaccio spoke with Scott Horton about the legal underpinnings of the War on Terror and American detention policy. Scott Horton is a New York attorney known for his work in emerging markets and international law, especially human rights law and the law of armed conflict. Horton lectures at Columbia Law School.

References and Reading:
Read more about the torture debate in the U.S.

"The Green Light"
by Philippe Sands for VANITY FAIR, May 2008.

The TNR Q&A: Phillippe Sands
Scott Horton interviews Philippe Sands for THE NEW REPUBLIC, April 22, 2008.

Secret U.S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations
By Scott Shane, David Johnston and James Risen for THE NEW YORK TIMES, October 4, 2007.

Torture Documents Released Under FOIA
A project of the ACLU.

Philippe Sands on "comment is free"
Philippe Sands articles for the Guardian Online.

'03 U.S. Memo Approved Harsh Interrogations
by Mark Mazzetti, THE NEW YORK TIMES, April 2, 2008.

The Truth about Torture
Charles Krauthammer argues for enhanced interrogation in the WEEKLY STANDARD.

References from the Interview
"Bomber's Final Messages Exhort Fighters Against U.S."
By Alissa J. Rubin, THE NEW YORK TIMES, May 9, 2008. Story about a released Guantanamo detainee conducting a suicide bombing in Iraq.

House Judiciary Committee hearing.
Watch a streaming webcast of Philippe Sands testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, along with testimony by Marjorie Cohn, David B. Rivkin, Jr., and David J. Luban.

House Panel Backs a Subpoena for Cheney's Chief of Staff
by Scott Shane, THE NEW YORK TIMES, May 7, 2

Also This Week:

The California Nurses Association proposes "CheneyCare" for what ails America.

The rivalry between two fast-growing unions.

International lawyer and law professor Philippe Sands, author of TORTURE TEAM, talks about the approval of coercive interrogation by high-level American officials.

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