From Mon Dec 13 07:15:10 2004
Date: Wed, 8 Dec 2004 22:58:26 -0600 (CST)
Subject: [NYTr] Guantanamo Torture Too Much for FBI
Article: 198608
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;

FBI reports Guantanamo ‘abuse’

AP via CNN, 8 December 2004

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP)—FBI agents witnessed “highly aggressive” interrogations of terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in 2002, and warned the same questionable techniques could have been used in Iraq after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke, according to FBI documents obtained by The Associated Press and the American Civil Liberties Union.

In a letter obtained by the AP, a senior Justice Department official suggested the Pentagon didn’t act on FBI complaints about four incidents at Guantanamo.

The complaints were: a female interrogator grabbing a detainee's genitals and bending back his thumbs; a prisoner being gagged with duct tape; a dog being used to intimidate a prisoner, and jailers putting the same prisoner in isolation to the point that he showed signs of “extreme psychological trauma.”

One Marine told an FBI observer that some interrogations led to prisoners “curling into a fetal position on the floor and crying in pain,” according to the letter, dated July 14, 2004.

Many detainees at Guantanamo have been held without charge and without access to attorneys since the camp opened in January 2002. The United States has imprisoned about 550 men accused of links to Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime or al Qaeda; only four have been charged.

Thomas Harrington, an FBI counterterrorism expert who led a team of investigators at Guantanamo Bay, wrote the letter to Maj. Gen. Donald J. Ryder, the Army's chief law enforcement officer who's investigating abuses at U.S.-run prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq and at Guantanamo.

Harrington said FBI officials complained about the pattern of abusive techniques to top Defense Department attorneys in January 2003, and it appeared that nothing was done.

Although a senior FBI attorney “was assured that the general concerns expressed, and the debate between the FBI and DoD regarding the treatment of detainees was known to officials in the Pentagon, I have no record that our specific concerns regarding these three situations were communicated to the Department of Defense for appropriate action,” Harrington wrote.

Three of the four incidents mentioned in the letter obtained by the AP occurred under the watch of Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, who ran the Guantanamo camp from October 2002 to March 2004, and left to run Abu Ghraib prison. Last month, Miller was reassigned to the Pentagon, with responsibility for housing and other support operations.

The ACLU released internal government memos Tuesday that underscore the friction between the FBI and the military over interrogation methods.

The documents are among 5,000 that the New York-based ACLU received under two Freedom of Information Act requests, said Anthony Romero, the group's executive director.

In one document obtained by the ACLU, an FBI agent recalls Miller wanting to “Gitmo-ize” the Abu Ghraib prison, where photographs surfaced of U.S. troops forcing Iraqi prisoners to strip and pose in sexually humiliating positions. Troops often refer to the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo as “Gitmo.”

“I am not sure what this means, however, if this refers to intelligence gathering as I suspect, it suggests [Miller] has continued to support interrogation strategies we not only advised against but questioned in terms of effectiveness,” reads the memo dated May 13, 2004, from an FBI agent whose name was redacted.

In another ACLU-obtained letter, dated May 10, an FBI agent questioned Harrington whether harsh interrogation techniques turned up good information.

“In my weekly meetings with the Department of Justice we often discussed techniques and how they were not effective or producing intelligence that was reliable,” according to the exchange, which was heavily redacted to remove references to dates and names.

“I finally voiced my opinion …,” the FBI agent says. “It still did not prevent them from continuing the … methods.”

Romero said the information “raises questions about the government's willingness to be forthcoming in these legal proceedings and shows that even the FBI has been uncomfortable with some of the tactics used at Guantanamo.”

In the letter obtained by AP, Harrington told Ryder he was writing to follow up a meeting he had with the general the week before about detainee treatment, including “highly aggressive interrogation techniques being used against detainees in Guantanamo.”

“I refer them to you for appropriate action,” Harrington wrote. Guantanamo commander: Allegations taken seriously

Brig. Gen. Jay Hood, the current commander of the mission in Guantanamo, said allegations of mistreatment and abuse are taken seriously and investigated.

“The appropriate actions were taken. Some allegations are still under investigation,” Hood told the AP.

None of the people named in the letter are still at the base, a Guantanamo spokesman said, but it wasn’t clear if any disciplinary action had been taken. The letter identified the military interrogators only by last name and rank, and mentioned a civilian contractor.

Lt. Col. Gerard Healy, an Army spokesman, said the female interrogator—identified only as Sgt. Lacey—is being investigated, but the Army wouldn’t comment further or fully identify her.

The U.S. military says prisoners are treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit violence, torture and humiliating treatment. Still, at least 10 incidents of abuse have been substantiated at Guantanamo, all but one from 2003 or this year.

According to the letter obtained by the AP, in late 2002 an FBI agent observed an interrogation where Sgt. Lacey whispered in the ear of a handcuffed and shackled detainee, caressed him and applied lotion to his arms. This occurred during Ramadan, Islam's holy month, when some Muslim men consider contact with women particularly offensive.

Later, the detainee appeared to grimace in pain, and the FBI agent asked a Marine who was present why.

“The Marine said [the interrogator] had grabbed the detainee's thumbs and bent them backward and indicated that she also grabbed his genitals.”

In September or October of 2002, FBI agents saw a dog used “in an aggressive manner to intimidate a detainee,” the letter said.

About a month later, agents saw the same detainee “after he had been subjected to intense isolation for over three months” in a cell flooded with light. “By late November, the detainee was evidencing behavior consistent with extreme psychological trauma …,” the letter said.

In October 2002, another FBI agent saw a detainee “gagged with duct tape that covered much of his head” because he would not stop chanting from the Quran.