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09.23 MARYLAND GOVERNOR REBUFFS CALL FOR CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION INTO BRETT KAVANAUGH ATTEMPTED RAPE ALLEGATIONS [Republicans above the law...]
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Bush's Interrogators Stressed Nudity
Originally published in ConsortiumNews.com yesterday, 12 September 2009
The CIA shared with George W. Bush’s Justice Department the details of how an interrogation strategy – with an emphasis on forced nudity and physical abuse – could train prisoners in “learned helplessness” and demonstrate “the complete control of Americans.”
The 19-page document, entitled “Background Paper on CIA’s Combined Use of Interrogation Techniques” and dated Dec. 30, 2004, contains repeated references to keeping suspected al-Qaeda captives – called “high-value detainees” or HVDs – naked as part of the strategy for breaking down their resistance.
The first of several “specific conditioning interrogation techniques” lists “Nudity. The HVD’s clothes are taken and he remains nude until the interrogators provide clothes to him.” [Underline in original.]
The CIA said the prisoner is kept nude (or occasionally dressed in a diaper) while being subjected to other “conditioning techniques,” sleep deprivation and a bland diet of Ensure. Nudity continues while interrogators apply other more aggressive techniques designed to emphasize a prisoner’s helplessness.
The background paper, which was prepared for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and released last month in response to an ACLU lawsuit, described in bureaucratic wording the process used to interrogate a suspected terrorist after his capture and “rendition” to a CIA-run “black site.”
From the start, the goal was to dramatize the prisoner’s vulnerability.
Initially, that control is underscored by an ominous coldness of the reception.
The prisoner is next subjected to a dehumanizing process in preparation for the interrogations.
Then, if no “contraindications” are found, the interrogations begin, with continued emphasis on stripping the prisoner of his clothing, his self-respect and his ability to resist.
In later interrogations, the prisoner could also be locked in boxes for differing periods depending on the size of the box. Under guidance from the CIA’s medical personnel, “the duration of cramped confinement limits confinement in the large box to no more than 8 hours at a time for no more than 18 hours a day, and confinement in the small box to 2 hours,” the report said.
The Bush administration insisted that its “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which earlier also included the near-drowning of “waterboarding,” were effective in eliciting valuable intelligence about al-Qaeda and its plans, but FBI and some military interrogators opposed the techniques as counterproductive.
As early as spring 2002, FBI agents objected to the CIA’s brutal treatment of badly wounded al-Qaeda captive Abu Zubaydah, only to be informed that the tactics had been approved “at the highest levels,” according to a Justice Department Inspector General’s report that was released last year.
FBI interrogators claimed that they achieved better results from rapport-building and other non-violent techniques with Zubaydah than the CIA did later with its use of torture.
Soon, a CIA team arrived at the secret CIA detention center in Thailand where Zubaydah was being held and took command, adopting more aggressive interrogations tactics, Mayer wrote. The Bush administration approved the full battery of harsh tactics, including waterboarding, in mid-summer 2002.
Mayer's account was backed up last April by one of the FBI agents, Ali Soufan, who broke his long silence on the topic in an op-ed in the New York Times, citing Zubaydah's cooperation in providing information about Padilla and KSM before the CIA began the harsh tactics.
After taking office in January, President Barack Obama issued an executive order closing the "black sites" and prohibiting the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The Obama administration also has released documents describing how Bush’s Justice Department issued legal opinions that permitted waterboarding and other torture techniques.
Last month, the Obama administration released a 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report, which was critical of the CIA's abusive interrogations. The CIA background paper detailing how the methods were used in combination was part of the package of documents made public at that time.
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.
This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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This story was published on September 13, 2009.