[News] Bush authorizes torture

News at freedomarchives.org News at freedomarchives.org
Tue Dec 21 08:47:58 EST 2004

FBI E-Mail Refers to Presidential Order Authorizing Inhumane Interrogation 
December 20, 2004

Contact: <mailto:media at aclu.org>media at aclu.org

Newly Obtained FBI Records Call Defense Department’s Methods "Torture," 
Express Concerns Over "Cover-Up" That May Leave FBI "Holding the Bag" for 

NEW YORK -- A document released for the first time today by the American 
Civil Liberties Union suggests that President Bush issued an Executive 
Order authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation methods against 
detainees in Iraq. Also released by the ACLU today are a slew of other 
records including a December 2003 FBI e-mail that characterizes methods 
used by the Defense Department as "torture" and a June 2004 "Urgent Report" 
to the Director of the FBI that raises concerns that abuse of detainees is 
being covered up.

"These documents raise grave questions about where the blame for widespread 
detainee abuse ultimately rests," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. 
Romero. "Top government officials can no longer hide from public scrutiny 
by pointing the finger at a few low-ranking soldiers."

The documents were obtained after the ACLU and other public interest 
organizations filed a lawsuit against the government for failing to respond 
to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The two-page e-mail that references an Executive Order states that the 
President directly authorized interrogation techniques including sleep 
deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs, and "sensory 
deprivation through the use of hoods, etc." The ACLU is urging the White 
House to confirm or deny the existence of such an order and immediately to 
release the order if it exists. The FBI e-mail, which was sent in May 2004 
from "On Scene Commander--Baghdad" to a handful of senior FBI officials, 
notes that the FBI has prohibited its agents from employing the techniques 
that the President is said to have authorized.

Another e-mail, dated December 2003, describes an incident in which Defense 
Department interrogators at Guantánamo Bay impersonated FBI agents while 
using "torture techniques" against a detainee. The e-mail concludes "If 
this detainee is ever released or his story made public in any way, DOD 
interrogators will not be held accountable because these torture techniques 
were done [sic] the ‘FBI’ interrogators. The FBI will [sic] left holding 
the bag before the public."

The document also says that no "intelligence of a threat neutralization 
nature" was garnered by the "FBI" interrogation, and that the FBI’s 
Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF) believes that the Defense 
Department’s actions have destroyed any chance of prosecuting the detainee. 
The e-mail’s author writes that he or she is documenting the incident "in 
order to protect the FBI."

"The methods that the Defense Department has adopted are illegal, immoral, 
and counterproductive," said ACLU staff attorney Jameel Jaffer. "It is 
astounding that these methods appear to have been adopted as a matter of 
policy by the highest levels of government."

The June 2004 "Urgent Report" addressed to the FBI Director is heavily 
redacted. The legible portions of the document appear to describe an 
account given to the FBI’s Sacramento Field Office by an FBI agent who had 
"observed numerous physical abuse incidents of Iraqi civilian detainees," 
including "strangulation, beatings, [and] placement of lit cigarettes into 
the detainees ear openings." The document states that "[redacted] was 
providing this account to the FBI based on his knowledge that [redacted] 
were engaged in a cover-up of these abuses."

The release of these documents follows a federal court order that directed 
government agencies to comply with a year-old request under the Freedom of 
Information Act filed by the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, 
Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans for 
Peace. The New York Civil Liberties Union is co-counsel in the case.

Other documents released by the ACLU today include:
    * An FBI email regarding DOD personnel impersonating FBI officials 
during interrogations. The e-mail refers to a "ruse" and notes that "all of 
those [techniques] used in these scenarios" were approved by the Deputy 
Secretary of Defense. (Jan. 21, 2004)
    * Another FBI agent’s account of interrogations at Guantánamo in which 
detainees were shackled hand and foot in a fetal position on the floor. The 
agent states that the detainees were kept in that position for 18 to 24 
hours at a time and most had "urinated or defacated [sic]" on themselves. 
On one occasion, the agent reports having seen a detainee left in an 
unventilated, non-air conditioned room at a temperature "probably well over 
a hundred degrees." The agent notes: "The detainee was almost unconscious 
on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been 
literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night." (Aug. 2, 2004)
    * An e-mail stating that an Army lawyer "worked hard to cwrite [sic] a 
legal justification for the type of interrogations they (the Army) want to 
conduct" at Guantánamo Bay. (Dec. 9, 2002)
    * An e-mail noting the initiation of an FBI investigation into the 
alleged rape of a juvenile male detainee at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. 
(July 28, 2004)
    * An FBI agent’s account of an interrogation at Guantánamo - an 
interrogation apparently conducted by Defense Department personnel - in 
which a detainee was wrapped in an Israeli flag and bombarded with loud 
music and strobe lights. (July 30, 2004)

The ACLU and its allies are scheduled to go to court again this afternoon, 
where they will seek an order compelling the CIA to turn over records 
related to an internal investigation into detainee abuse. Although the ACLU 
has received more than 9,000 documents from other agencies, the CIA refuses 
to confirm or deny even the existence of many of the records that the ACLU 
and other plaintiffs have requested. The CIA is reported to have been 
involved in abusing detainees in Iraq and at secret CIA detention 
facilities around the globe.

The lawsuit is being handled by Lawrence Lustberg and Megan Lewis of the 
New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione, 
P.C. Other attorneys in the case are Jaffer, Amrit Singh and Judy 
Rabinovitz of the ACLU; Art Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the NYCLU; and 
Barbara Olshansky and Jeff Fogel of CCR.

The documents referenced above can be found at: 

More on the lawsuit can be found at: 

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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