[Ppnews] The Background: U.S. Policy Shifts Ushered in Abuse

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Feb 22 11:54:06 EST 2007

The Background: U.S. Policy Shifts Ushered in Abuse


In the wake of 9/11, leaders of the U.S. 
government at the highest levels created a series 
of directives – including internal memos urging 
soldiers to “take the gloves off” – that created 
a situation in which the torture and abuse of 
prisoners in U.S. custody became widespread. 
facts and figures outlining the scope of abuse.

Timeline of U.S. Policy Encouraging Abuse

October 11, 2002
Guantanamo officials request that additional 
techniques beyond those in the U.S. Army Field Manual be approved for use.

December 2, 2002
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld prescribes 
new interrogation policy for Guantanamo, 
authorizing:  stress positions, hooding, 20-hour 
interrogations, removal of clothing, exploiting 
phobias to induce stress (e.g., fear of dogs), 
prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, and 
forced grooming (e.g forcing Muslim men to shave 
their beards against religious edicts). These 
techniques soon spread to Afghanistan and later to Iraq.

December 2002
FBI officials complain to Defense Department of abuses at Guantanamo.

December 26, 2002
Washington Post reports regular, systemic abuses 
at Bagram detention facility, including stress 
and duress techniques during interrogation.

January 2003
Judge Advocates repeatedly object to aggressive 
interrogation techniques at Guantanamo but 
Pentagon officials “didn’t think this was a big 
deal,” so they ignored the JAGs’ objections.

January 15, 2003
Secretary Rumsfeld rescinds blanket approval of 
some techniques but indicates techniques may 
continue based on his individual case 
approval.  Secretary Rumsfeld designates “Working 
Group” to assess legal, policy and operational 
issues for detainee interrogation in the war on terrorism.

January 24, 2003
Afghanistan Commander forwards list of techniques 
being used in Afghanistan, including some 
inconsistent with Army Field Manual, to inform 
Secretary Rumsfeld’s Working Group, including the 
use of dogs to induce fear, the use of stress 
positions, and sensory deprivation.

April 4, 2003
Working Group issues final report; recommends 35 
interrogation techniques to Secretary Rumsfeld, 
including techniques from Afghanistan inconsistent with Army Field Manual.

April 16, 2003
Secretary Rumsfeld approves 24 of the recommended 
techniques for use at Guantanamo, including 
dietary and environmental manipulation, sleep 
adjustment, false flag (e.g. making detainees 
believe they are in the custody of a nation that 
is known to torture) and isolation.

May 2003
Red Cross reports 200 cases of alleged detainee 
abuse in U.S. custody in Iraq to U.S. Central Command.

May 30, 2003
FBI reasserts its objections to Guantanamo 
interrogation techniques to Guantanamo commander.

July 2003
Captain of unit responsible for killing two 
detainees in Afghanistan proposes interrogation 
techniques for Abu Ghraib, including stress 
positions, removal of clothing, lengthy 
isolation, sensory and sleep deprivation and use 
of dogs. Lt. Gen. Sanchez approves techniques.

August 2003
Secretary Rumsfeld sends Guantanamo commander, 
General Geoffrey Miller, to Iraq to “Gitmo-ize” 
Iraqi detention facilities, promoting widescale 
deployment of more aggressive interrogation methods in Iraq.

August 31 - September 9, 2003
Guantanamo commander brings policies to Abu 
Ghraib; uses techniques as baseline for 
recommending new, harsher interrogation techniques at Abu Ghraib.

September 2003
Lt. Gen. Sanchez authorizes 29 interrogation 
techniques for use in Iraq, including the use of 
dogs, stress positions, sensory deprivation, loud 
music and light control, based on Secretary 
Rumsfeld’s April 16 techniques and suggestions 
from captain of military unit formerly in Afghanistan.

October 12, 2003
Iraqi interrogation techniques modified but still 
authorize officers to control the lighting, heat, 
food, shelter, and clothing given to detainees 
and permit the use of dogs in interrogations with prior authorization.

October - December 2003
Torture and serious abuses of detainees take place at Abu Ghraib.

December 2003
U.S. Army report details abuses committed against 
detainees in Iraq by task force of military 
Special Operations and CIA officers, known as Task Force 121.

January 13, 2004
Joseph Darby gives Army criminal investigators CD 
containing the Abu Ghraib photographs depicting detainee torture and abuses.

February 24, 2004
Red Cross issues confidential report to Coalition 
Provisional Authority documenting widespread 
abuse and command failures to take corrective action.

February 26, 2004
Maj. Gen. Taguba completes investigation; reports 
of “systematic” and “sadistic, blatant and wanton 
criminal abuses” at Abu Ghraib. 
the Taguba Report

March 2004
Abuse of detainees continues in Iraq.

April 28, 2004
60 Minutes II airs segment showing Abu Ghraib photos.

May 2004
Abuse of detainees continues in Iraq.

August 24, 2004
Secretary Rumsfeld-appointed panel reports the 
Secretary’s interrogation policy led to confusion 
in the field as to what techniques were 
authorized; also reports that civilian Defense 
Department leaders failed in their interrogation and detention duties.

Senator John McCain introduces legislation to 
reinforce the United States’ obligation under the 
U.N. Convention on Torture not to engage in 
“cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or 
punishment;” to restrict interrogation methods 
used by U.S. personnel to those listed in the 
Army Field Manual; to require the registration of 
all U.S. military prisoners with the Red Cross, 
and to end the practice of sending detainees 
abroad for interrogation by foreign 
governments.  But Bush Administration officials 
and congressional allies prevents vote on 
legislation, saying the provisions would restrict 
the President’s ability to fight terrorism.

September 2005

Army Captain Ian Fishback provides firsthand 
account of widespread prisoner abuse in Iraq, 
describing prisoners in captivity having bones 
broken, being forced to form human pyramids, and 
having their eyes doused with chemical irritants.

October 3, 2005

Almost 30 retired military officers, including 
General John Shalikashvili, former Chairman of 
the Joint Chiefs of Staff advocate in a letter to 
ban all cruel, inhuman or degrading 
treatment.  Former Secretary of State Colin Powell adds his support to the ban.

October 5, 2005
Senate votes 90 to 9 to ban all cruel, inhuman or 
degrading treatment and requires that all 
interrogations in military facility comply with the army field manual.

December 15, 2005

House of Representatives votes 308 to 122 in 
support of the ban and President Bush agrees to 
the ban, losing his fight to get CIA immunity for 
its acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Congress also passes Graham-Levin Amendment, 
which would permit evidence gained by coercion to 
be used in detention proceedings

December 31, 2005

President Bush signs Detainee Treatment Act into 
law, but adds a signing statement, writing that 
he would construe the law in a manner consistent 
with the constitutional authority of the 
President to supervise the unitary executive 
branch and Commander in Chief . . . [which] . . 
.  will assist in . . .  protecting the American 
people from further terrorist attacks.”  This is 
in effect a statement saying he will adhere to 
the law so long as he does not view it as 
interfering with his power as commander-in-chief, 
and if and when he views it as an intrusion, he will ignore it.

February 2006

Human Rights First releases Command’s 
Responsibility, documenting nearly one hundred 
deaths in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan 
and inadequate actions taken by investigators and 
command to address the abuses and deaths.

March 2006
Department of Defense prohibits admission of 
evidence obtained by torture in military commission proceedings

June 29, 2006

U.S. Supreme Court rules that Common Article 3 of 
the Geneva Conventions applies to the U.S. 
conflict with al Qaeda, thereby prohibiting 
cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment.

July 7, 2006

Department of Defense orders compliance with Common Article 3.

September 6, 2006

President Bush acknowledges for the first time 
the CIA’s secret detention program and use of 
“alternative interrogation procedures” on 
so-called “high value detainees,” saying that any 
legislation passed by Congress must allow the program to go forward.

October 17, 2006

President Bush signs into law the Military 
Commissions Act, which, among other things, 
supporters claim eliminates habeas corpus for 
detainees categorized as “enemy combatant,” 
narrows the scope of laws criminalizing 
humiliating and degrading treatment, and permits 
coerced evidence into military commission 
trials.  The President asserts that on the basis 
of the new law the secret detention and 
interrogation program operated by the CIA could continue if need arises.

The Freedom Archives
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