Contents: The Sir! No Sir! blog is an information clearing house, drawing on a wide variety of sources, to track the unfolding history of the new GI Movement, and the wars that brought the movement to life.
Where applicable, parallels will be drawn between the new movement and the Vietnam era movement which was the focus of the film Sir! No Sir!
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Tortured Law, a new 10-minute documentary by Alliance for Justice, examines the role U.S. lawyers played in authorizing torture. Join those calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to release the report of the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility, and hold accountable those who ordered, designed, and justified torture.
You can join the call by signing Alliance for Justice's petition: http://ga1.org/campaign/release_torture_memos
And by signing up to host a screening in your area: http://www.afj.org/films-and-programs/tortured-law/host-a-screening-tortured-law.html
Accountability for torture
Although much has been revealed about the Bush administration's torture program, those in the upper echelons of the administration who conceived of, crafted, and approved the program have almost entirely escaped accountability. The graphic below diagrams the participation of these high-level officials in the torture program based upon publicly available documents.
The abuses committed as a result of the torture program are serious, and the publicly available evidence of senior involvement is considerable and still mounting. It is important to remember, however, that the full story has yet to be told. The government continues to suppress countless, important documents revealing even more about the genesis of the torture program. Uncovering the full extent of the program is paramount now as we, as a nation, move beyond the troubling past and reformulate interrogation policies for a more hopeful future.
This list, compiled by David Swanson, was published by After Downing Street
Compiled below, in hopes that it may be of some assistance to Eric Holder, John Conyers, Patrick Leahy, active citizens, foreign courts, the International Criminal Court, law firms preparing civil suits, and local or state prosecutors with decency and nerve is a list of 50 top living U.S. war criminals. These are men and women who helped to launch wars of aggression or who have been complicit in lesser war crimes. These are not the lowest-ranking employees or troops who managed to stray from official criminal policies. These are the makers of those policies.
The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have seen the United States target civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances, use antipersonnel weapons including cluster bombs in densely settled urban areas, use white phosphorous as a weapon, use depleted uranium weapons, employ a new version of napalm found in Mark 77 firebombs, engage in collective punishment of Iraqi civilian populations -- including by blocking roads, cutting electricity and water, destroying fuel stations, planting bombs in farm fields, demolishing houses, and plowing down orchards -- detain people without charge or legal process without the rights of prisoners of war, imprison children, torture, and murder.
The list below does not include those responsible for war crimes prior to 2001. Nor does it include those currently in power who are making themselves complicit by failing to prosecute or cease commission of these crimes. The list could be greatly expanded. It could also be narrowed. I would argue, however, that it presents a more reasonable starting place than Holder's reported proposal to investigate only CIA employees who failed to comply with criminal torture policies, of whom there are no doubt more than 50.
Because each of the people on this list should be nonviolently protested everywhere they go (more on that below), I have organized them by location. Please post updates on where they are as comments at http://afterdowningstreet.org/warcriminals CALIFORNIA 1. John Yoo: Professor of Law at Boalt Hall School of Law in Berkeley, California, with house at 1241 Grizzly Peak Blvd., Berkeley, (but a lawyer with the Pennsylvania bar from which he should be disbarred and would be if enough people demanded it) counseled the White House on how to get away with war crimes, wrote this memo promoting presidential power to launch aggressive war, and claimed the power to decree that the federal statutes against torture, assault, maiming, and stalking do not apply to the military in the conduct of the war, and to announce a new definition of torture limiting it to acts causing intense pain or suffering equivalent to pain associated with serious physical injury so severe that death, organ failure or permanent damage resulting in loss of significant body functions will likely result. Yoo claimed in 2005 that a president has the right to enhance an interrogation by crushing the testicles of someone's child. Yoo has been confronted in his classroom: video, and defended by the Washington Post, and again confronted in the classroom.
Additional collaborators: 2. Robert J. Delahunty, Yoo colleague, should be disbarred in NY 3. Patrick F. Philbin, Yoo colleague, Deputy, should be disbarred in D.C. and MA 4. Jay Bybee: federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, headquartered in San Francisco, California (but Bybee based in Las Vegas), counseled the White House on how to get away with war crimes, including by helping Yoo draft the memo linked above. He signed not only torture memos but also a memo purporting to legalize illegal and unconstitutional wars. BYBEE SHOULD BE IMPEACHED. He works, among other places, at the James R. Browning Courthouse, 95 7th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, -- This is a giant marble building in the center of the city represented in Congress by the Speaker of the House. 5. William J. "Jim" Haynes, II: was General Counsel to the Department of War ("Defense"). He is now Chief Corporate Counsel at the Chevron Corporate Office in San Ramon, California. He counseled the White House on how to get away with war crimes, including by drafting memos for Yoo. Works at Chevron Headquarters, 6001 Bollinger Canyon Road, San Ramon, CA 94583. Member of bar in GA, NC, DC.
More collaborators: 6. Major General (Ret.) Michael E. Dunlavey, (now Judge, Erie County Court, Common Pleas, Erie, PA 7. Diane Beaver, top military lawyer at Gitmo 8. Jack Landman Goldsmith, III, [the illegal transfer memo in March 2004], DoD General Counsel's Office at Pentagon 9. Ms. Eliana Davidson, International Law Division, Office of the General Counsel, Office of the Secretary of "Defense" 10. Colin Powell: strategic limited partner with Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, appears as a speaker in a series of motivational events called Get Motivated, board member of Revolution Health and of the Council on Foreign Relations, took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people, lied to the United Nations about the grounds for war in a failed attempt to legalize a war of aggression, and was in fact a leading liar in making the false case for an illegal war of aggression. NEW YORK 11. Henry Kissinger: lives in Kent, Connecticut, and works at Kissinger Associates, 350 Park Avenue, New York, N.Y., had a resume envied by other war criminals long before he advised George W. Bush to commit war crimes. Here's a partial list of his crimes. 12. Nicholas E. Calio: Citigroup's Executive Vice-President for Global Government Affairs served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies 13. Michael Mukasey: works in New York, N.Y. Some of his crimes are detailed at DisbarTortureLawyers.com. TEXAS 14. George W. Bush: lives at 10141 Daria Place, Dallas, Texas. His crimes are described at http://afterdowningstreet.org/bush and at War Criminals Watch and at The 13 people who made torture possible. 15. Karen Hughes: lives in Austin, Texas, served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies. 16. Paul Bremmer lives in Chester, Vermont, and also works in Austin, Texas. His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch WASHINGTON, D.C. 17. Dick Cheney: The former vice president lives nextdoor to CIA headquarters at 1126 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, Va. His crimes are documented at http://impeachcheney.org and at The 13 people who made torture possible and at War Criminals Watch. 18. John Rizzo: The General Counsel for the CIA (then and now) works nextdoor to Dick Cheney's house at the headquarters of the CIA in McLean, Va. His crimes are described in The 13 people who made torture possible.
More collaborators: 19. Robert Eatinger, CIA lawyer 20. Steven Hermes, CIA's National Clandestine Service (NCS) 21. Paul Kelbaugh, Deputy Legal Counsel, CTC, CIA 22. Steven Bradbury: also of McLean, Va., is described along with his crimes at SourceWatch, DisbarTortureLawyers.com, and The 13 people who made torture possible. 23. David Addington: was chief of staff to Dick Cheney in Washington, D.C., counseled the White House on how to get away with war crimes, including by helping Yoo draft the memo linked above, and drafted signing statements for Bush declaring the right to violate laws redundantly banning war crimes including torture and the construction of permanent bases in Iraq and efforts to control Iraq's oil. Lives at 103 W Maple Street, Alexandria, VA 22301-2605 -- This is a few blocks from the King Street Metro Stop. 24. Condoleezza Rice: served as Secretary of State in Washington, D.C., and can be found frequenting shoe stores, served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies, took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people, lied about mushroom clouds, and was in fact a leading liar in making the false case for an illegal war of aggression. 25. Donald Rumsfeld: lives in Washington, D.C., and at former slave-beating plantation "Mount Misery" on Maryland's Eastern Shore near St. Michael's and a home belonging to Dick Cheney, as well as at an estate outside Taos, New Mexico. He took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people, and was in fact a leading liar in making the false case for an illegal war of aggression, and pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for a New American Century. 26. George Tenet: Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people, oversaw the Central Intelligence Agency as it engaged in illegal renditions, detentions, torture, murder, and coverups of crimes, as well as helping to build a false case for an illegal war of aggression. 27. John Ashcroft: has his own lobbying company through which to profit from his government connections: The Ashcroft Group, LLC, 1399 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 950, Washington, DC 20005, Phone: 202.942.0202, Fax: 202.942.0216, firstname.lastname@example.org took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people. 28. Alberto Gonzales: has hired a criminal-defense lawyer George Terwilliger, partner at White & Case, to defend him, while others have created a trust fund to help pay for his legal expenses, meanwhile Gonzales has been unable to find work as a lawyer himself, so his income comes from speaking engagements, then White House counsel, wrote a memo on January 25, 2002. It explained that under the 1996 War Crimes Act, U.S. officials might be prosecuted for violating the Geneva Conventions for actions in Afghanistan (and future parts of the "war on terror"), with penalties up to and including death. He suggested that Bush declare that the Taliban and Al Qaeda weren't covered by Geneva, to be on the safe side. Bush did so. Gonzo now has a job at Texas Tech, but not teaching law. Help this effort to boot him! Remember that we drove him out of office by almost impeaching him. 29. Paul Wolfowitz: lives in Chevey Chase, Maryland, and is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., advocated illegal war of aggression, and pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for a New American Century. 30. Doug Feith: serves on the faculty of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., as a Professor and Distinguished Practitioner in National Security Policy, manufactured, cherry picked, and distorted information, and pressured others to do the same, to help build a false case for an illegal war of aggression, and advocated early and openly for an illegal war of aggression against a "non-al qaeda target." Also works at Hudson Institute, 1015 15th Street, N.W., 6th Floor, Washington, DC 20005, three blocks from the White House. 31. Elliot Abrams: served as Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy in Washington, D.C., and wherever he can do the most damage around the world, was a well-established war criminal even before he pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for a New American Century, helped to build a false case for attacking Iraq, and supported a failed coup attempt in Venezuela. 32. Karl Rove: owns million dollar houses in Washington, D.C., and Florida, and works for Fox News, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal when not testifying to congressional committees or federal prosecutors about his numerous unindicted non-war crimes. He served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies, and took part in exposing an undercover agent as retribution for exposing one of WHIG's lies.
(According to Star80 at DemocraticUnderground, Rove "can be found stuffing his fat pasty little face with crab meat at Cafe 30A in Santa Rosa Beach FL: http://www.cafethirtya.com - 3899 East County Highway 30A Santa Rosa Beach FL 32459.")
(Citizens arrest of Rove attempted in Iowa, and in California, and in New York.) 33. I. Lewis Libby: lives in McLean, Virginia, and has been disbarred in Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies, took part in exposing an undercover agent as retribution for exposing one of WHIG's lies, has already been convicted of obstruction of justice for interfering with investigation, and pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for a New American Century. 34. Mary Matalin: married to James Carville, both of them addicted to Washington, D.C., served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies. 35. Stephen Hadley: served as National Security Advisor to the President in Washington, D.C., served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies, and took part in exposing an undercover agent as retribution for exposing one of WHIG's lies. 36. James R. Wilkinson: worked for Bush as Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications in Washington, D.C., served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies. 37. John Bolton: lives in Bethesda, Maryland, is a member of a Lutheran Church, works for the law firm Kirkland and Ellis LLP, 655 Fifteenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005-5793, T: +1 202-879-5000, F: +1 202-879-5200, is associated with the American Enterprise Institute, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Institute of East-West Dynamics, National Rifle Association, US Commission on International Religious Freedom, and the Council for National Policy, helped to launch an illegal war of aggression by disseminating false claims through the State Department while he was under-secretary of state for arms control, and pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for a New American Century. 38. Michael Chertoff: works in Washington, D.C. Some of his crimes are detailed at DisbarTortureLawyers.com. 39. Timothy Flanigan: works in Washington, D.C. Some of his crimes are detailed at DisbarTortureLawyers.com. 40. Alice Fisher: works in Washington, D.C. Some of her crimes are detailed at DisbarTortureLawyers.com. 41. John Bellinger works in Washington, D.C. His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch. 42. John Negroponte works in Washington, D.C. His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch. 43. Jonathan Fredman was a top torture lawyer under John Rizzo at the CIA: details. 44. Scott Muller was general counsel at the CIA: details. 45. Kyle D. "Dusty" Foggo was instrumental in setting up illegal secret prisons. NEBRASKA: 46. Andrew Card works in Omaha, NE. His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch. AFGHANISTAN: 47. Stanley McChrystal has been promoted as reward for his war crimes. UNKNOWN LOCATION:
48. James Mitchell: From The 13 people who made torture possible:
Even while Addington, Gonzales and the lawyers were beginning to build the legal framework for torture, a couple of military psychologists were laying out the techniques the military would use. James Mitchell, a retired military psychologist, had been a leading expert in the military's SERE program. In December 2001, with his partner, Bruce Jessen, Mitchell reverse-engineered SERE techniques to be used to interrogate detainees. Then, in the spring of 2002, before OLC gave official legal approval to torture, Mitchell oversaw Abu Zubaydah's interrogation. An FBI agent on the scene describes Mitchell overseeing the use of "borderline torture." And after OLC approved waterboarding, Mitchell oversaw its use in ways that exceeded the guidelines in the OLC memo. Under Mitchell's guidance, interrogators used the waterboard with "far greater frequency than initially indicated" -- a total of 183 times in a month for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and 83 times in a month for Abu Zubaydah.
More on Mitchell and Jessen. 49. Tommy Franks: His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch. 50. Michael Hayden: His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch. Heck, let's make it a full deck of 52, by including Bruce Jessen mentioned above and Erik Prince of Blackwater.
*** No Justice, No Peace Judge's comment on Rove's citizen arrest in Iowa: "It's about time."
We encourage you to nonviolently protest these people and insist that they be given what so many of them have denied others: a fair trial. We encourage you to attempt to make citizen's arrests, after consulting lawyers and learning how to avoid any unnecessary criminal risk to yourselves. It is possible to confront a war criminal at a public event and announce a "citizen's arrest!" without actually touching (or handcuffing) the criminal.
You may want to avoid announcing that you're coming, because the war criminal may choose to escape.
Your team should include one or more people who can produce an excellent video and be extremely fast in editing and posting it online. Your team should ideally include a lawyer. And, of course, people who can read the charges and question the suspect. Everyone on your team should be able to keep a secret while you're planning your arrest or protest.
Read the war criminal their rights, rights they have denied others:
"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you."
Read the war criminal the charges against them.
Ask the war criminal if they would like to say anything.
Once you have good video footage, your top priority becomes immediately getting it edited (if necessary) and online.
If possible, turn the war criminal over to the police.
Pass out flyers to passersby.
Send statement to the media and/or have the media present.
Consult a lawyer to avoid unnecessary risks of violating laws while enforcing the law. According to Wikipedia, "A citizen's arrest is an arrest made by a person who is not a sworn law enforcement official. In common law jurisdictions, the practice dates back to medieval England and the English common law, when sheriffs encouraged ordinary citizens to help apprehend law breakers. Despite the title, the arresting person does not usually have to be a citizen of the country where he is acting, as they are usually designated as any person with arrest powers.... Each state with the exception of North Carolina permits citizen arrests if the commission of felony is witnessed by the arresting citizen... The application of state laws varies widely with respect to ... felonies not witnessed by the arresting party. American citizens do not carry the authority or enjoy the legal protections of police, and are held to the principle of strict liability before the courts of civil- and criminal law including but not limited to any infringement of another's rights. Though North Carolina General Statutes have no provision for citizen's arrests, detention by private persons is permitted and apply to both civilians and police officers outside their jurisdiction. Detention, being different from an arrest in the fact that a detainee may not be transported without consent, is permitted where probable cause exists that one has committed a felony, breach of peace, physical injury to another person, or theft or destruction of property ... A person who makes a citizen's arrest could risk exposing himself to possible lawsuits or criminal charges (such as charges of impersonating police, false imprisonment, kidnapping, or wrongful arrest) if the wrong person is apprehended or a suspect's civil rights are violated." In the case of the war criminals we propose detaining, they are most if not all public figures and we have all witnessed their felonies, as detailed above.
Be prepared to post your video online in multiple places: Youtube, Google, and After Downing Street.
Known upcoming public appearances of war criminals who should be protested and citizen arrested: List. Map. See also: War Criminals Watch.
For more on holding the biggest criminals accountable, see http://prosecutebushcheney.org *****
See also: "Crimes and Misdemeanors: Slate's interactive guide: Who in the Bush administration broke the law, and who could be prosecuted?" by Emily Bazelon, Kara Hadge, Dahlia Lithwick, and Chris Wilson. This guide includes some of those complicit in crimes other than war crimes, such as DOJ hirings and firings, destruction of CIA tapes, and illegal spying. (Of course, Karl Rove shows up in every part of every list.)
This article, by Jason Leopold, was posted to the Public Record, March 27, 2009
While Congress has focused primarily on the country’s economic turmoil and the lavish bonuses paid to Wall Street executives, a Senate Armed Services Committee report currently in the process of being declassified will force lawmakers to shift gears.
The Armed Services Committee will release--possibly as early as next week—its voluminous report on the treatment of alleged terrorist detainees held in U.S. custody and the brutal interrogation techniques they were subjected to, according to Defense Department and intelligence sources who described the report as the most detailed account to date of the roles senior Bush administration and Defense Department officials played in implementing a policy of torture at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and other detention centers.
The full declassified version of the report is 200 pages, contains 2,000 footnotes, and will reveal a plethora of new information about the genesis of the Bush administration's interrogation policies. The investigation relied upon the testimony of 70 people, generated 38,000 pages of documents, and took 18 months to complete. The declassified version of his report will include a full account of the roles military psychologists played in assisting the Bush administration implement a policy of torture.
The committee released a 19-page summary of its investigation last year and voted last November to accept the full classified version of the report's findings. According to the executive summary, “efforts by administration officials to place responsibility for detainee abuses mostly on lower ranking military personnel as both inaccurate and misleading.”
The release of the full declassified version of the Armed Service's Committee report will also put additional pressure on the Obama administration to immediately launch a full-scale investigation into the Bush administration’s interrogation program. Last week, the ACLU called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to probe Bush administration officials who signed off on and approved the torture of prisoners.
But at his first prime-time news conference in February, Obama said in response to questions about the Bush administration's interrogation practices that no one is above the law but that he favored looking forward, not backward.
“What I have said is that my administration is going to operate in a way that leaves no doubt that we do not torture that we abide by the Geneva Conventions and that we observe our traditions of rule of law and due process as we are vigorously going after terrorists that can do us harm,” Obama said.
"My view is also that nobody is above the law, and if there are clear instances of wrongdoing then people should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizen. But generally speaking I am more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards.”
Levin has asked Holder to appoint someone to further probe his report’s findings and make a recommendation to Holder on how to proceed. The attorney general hasn't yet responded. Matthew Miller, a Justice Department spokesman, said Friday he was working on obtaining a response to Levin's recommendation to Holder but Miller was unable to provide The Public Record with a response by the time this story was published. We will, however, update this report with Miller's response when we receive it.
In January, at a progressive media summit, Levin said, “There needs to be, I believe, an accounting of torture in this country.”
“I suggested to Eric Holder, who will be the next Attorney General despite the delay that took place today, that he select some people or hire an outside person who's got real credibility, perhaps a retired federal judge, to take all the available information, and there’s reams of it,” Levin said Jan. 21. “Look, the Vice President, the former Vice President of the United States, acknowledged that they engaged in torture. He says that waterboarding’s not torture, he’s wrong. Waterboarding is torture, period.
“And this administration and Eric Holder has said so. It’s torture and there’s other forms that they engaged in, so what needs to be done, I believe, in addition to finishing the investigation, is for the Attorney General, the new Attorney General, to identify some people in his office to take the existing documentation. The acknowledgment, folks, this is not a very difficult — this is almost like a case in court with an agreed upon statement of facts, that the previous administration acknowledges that they engaged in waterboarding, period. . .”
The Armed Serivces Committee investigation has already concluded that “members of [Bush’s] Cabinet and other senior officials participated in meetings inside the White House in 2002 and 2003 where specific interrogation techniques were discussed. National Security Council Principals reviewed the CIA’s interrogation program during that period.”
But the declassified committee report contains detailed information about those secret meetings. John Yoo, a deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, participated in several of these meetings prior to writing a legal opinion authorizing interrogators to subject detainees to waterboarding and other brutal techniques.
Last year, in response to questions by Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, Condoleezza Rice, who was National Security Adviser when interrogation methods were discussed, said that beginning as early as the summer of 2002 Yoo provided legal advice at “several” meetings that she attended and that the Department of Justice’s advice on the interrogation program “was being coordinated by Counsel to the President Alberto Gonzales.”
Yoo met with Gonzales and David Addington, counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney, to discuss the subjects he intended to address in the August 2002 torture memos, according to a declassified summary of the Armed Services Committee report.
Those meetings and the legal opinions that followed have also been scrutinized in a separate report by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which spent four years reviewing the legal work of Yoo and other attorneys at the OLC. The OPR report, which is still classified, zeroed in on the meetings Yoo participated in and concluded that Yoo had breached “professional standards” by acting as an advocate for White House policy, according to Justice Department officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the report is still classified. SERE Techniques
The declassified report will include a full accounting of how the military’s Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE) training program, which was meant to prepare U.S. soldiers for abuse they might suffer if captured by an outlaw regime, was reverse engineered and used against detainees during interrogations. SERE training techniques include stress positions, forced nudity, use of fear, sleep deprivation and, until recently, the Navy SERE school used the waterboard.
Already, the committee has revealed that discussion surrounding the use of SERE techniques on detainees began in the spring of 2002 and inquiries about the use of SERE methods were made in December 2001, well before the issuance of a legal opinion authorizing the use of harsh interrogation methods.
“Resistance training (the “R” in SERE) was a subject of discussion,” Levin said in a statement last December accompanying an executive summary of his committee’s report. “We discovered that in July 2002, at the request of [Department of Defense] General Counsel Jim Haynes’s office, the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) - the DoD agency that oversees SERE training - provided Haynes’s office a list of techniques used in SERE school and an assessment of the psychological effect of using those techniques on students.
“In December 2002, Secretary of Defense [Donald] Rumsfeld authorized some of those same techniques for use against detainees at [Guantanamo]. We discovered that, in January 2003, SERE instructors traveled to [Guantanamo] and trained interrogators to hit detainees and put them in stress positions. And the investigation revealed that instructors from JPRA’s SERE school participated in at least one abusive interrogation and were present for others during a visit to Iraq in September 2003.
“Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay was a direct cause of detainee abuse there,” the Armed Services Committee report concluded.” Secretary Rumsfeld’s December 2, 2002 approval of Mr. Haynes’s recommendation that most of the techniques contained in [Guantanamo’s] October 11, 2002 request be authorized, influenced and contributed to the use of abusive techniques, including military working dogs, forced nudity, and stress positions, in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
The investigation found that the CIA’s interrogation program “included at least one SERE training technique, waterboarding.”
“Senior Administration lawyers, including Alberto Gonzales, Counsel to the President, and David Addington, Counsel to the Vice President, were consulted on the development of legal analysis of CIA interrogation techniques,” a declassified summary of the report said. “Legal opinions subsequently issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) interpreted legal obligations under U.S. anti-torture laws and determined the legality of CIA interrogation techniques.
“Those OLC opinions distorted the meaning and intent of anti-torture laws, rationalized the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody and influenced Department of Defense determinations as to what interrogation techniques were legal for use during interrogations conducted by U.S. military personnel.”
Last June, Levin said he sent Jay Bybee, the former assistant attorney general at OLC who signed the infamous Aug. 1, 2002 torture memo, a list of questions about the implementation of SERE methods.
“In his response to my questions, Jay Bybee said that, in July 2002 – just before those two OLC opinions were issued and about the same time Jim Haynes’s office requested a list of SERE training techniques and information on the psychological effects of SERE (including waterboarding), the CIA provided OLC with an assessment of the psychological effects of SERE resistance training,” Levin said last December. “Jay Bybee wrote me that the assessment provided by the CIA was used to “inform” the August 1, 2002 OLC legal opinion that has yet to be made public. (CIA officials, including George Tenet and acting General Counsel John Rizzo declined to answer questions relating to both that assessment and the CIA’s interrogation program.)
“Judge Bybee’s answers provide insight into how senior officials in the United States government sought information on aggressive techniques used in SERE training, twisted the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees.”
Bybee’s legal work in this area was also harshly criticized by OPR, according to sources familiar with the contents of the watchdog's report. Bybee is now a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
The investigation Levin's committee conducted concluded that a Feb. 7, 2002, action memorandum signed by George W. Bush that excluded “war on terror” suspects from Geneva Convention protections was responsible for the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
“Following the President’s determination, techniques such as waterboarding, nudity, and stress positions, used in SERE training to simulate tactics used by enemies that refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions, were authorized for use in interrogations of detainees in U.S. custody,” the committee’s report concluded.
“The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of ‘a few bad apples’ acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees.”
Rumsfeld and Chertoff
Rice told Levin in written responses to his committee’s queries last September that the CIA’s interrogation program was reviewed by National Security Council principals and that Rumsfeld participated in that review.
Rice said that when the CIA sought approval of the interrogation program she asked Tenet to brief the principals and asked Attorney General John Ashcroft to “personally advise NSC Principals whether the program was lawful.”
John Bellinger, Rice’s Legal Advisor, told Levin that he asked CIA lawyers to seek legal advice not only from the OLC, but also from the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, headed at the time by Michael Chertoff.
Chertoff reportedly advised the CIA General Counsel Scott Muller and his deputy, John Rizzo, that the August 1, 2002, legal opinion protected CIA interrogators from prosecution if they used waterboarding or other harsh tactics.
In February 2005, during his Senate confirmation hearing to become Homeland Security secretary, Chertoff said he provided the CIA broad guidance in response to its questions about interrogation methods, but never addressed the legality of specific techniques.
Abu Zubaydah’s Torture
The declassified report will also for the first time include a full account about the fierce objections the FBI had toward the CIA’s interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, an alleged “high-value” al-Qaeda detainee, and an in-depth accounting of the meetings and discussions that led to his torture..
According to documents Levin’s committee obtained from the Department of Justice, Daniel Levin, the former head of the agency’s Office of Legal Counsel, indicated that in 2002 "in the context of the Zubaydah interrogation, he attended a meeting at the National Security Council (NSC) at which CIA techniques were discussed.
Daniel “Levin stated that a DOJ Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) attorney gave advice at the meeting about the legality of CIA interrogation techniques. Levin stated that in connection with this meeting, or immediately after it, FBI Director Mueller decided that FBI agents would not participate in interrogations involving techniques the FBI did not normally use in the United States, even though OLC had determined such techniques were legal," according to questions directed to Rice by Sen. Levin.
Daniel Levin was forced to resign in 2004 when Alberto Gonzales became Attorney General because he objected to waterboarding.
The CIA videotaped Zubaydah’s interrogations and the tapes were destroyed. Two weeks ago, author Mark Danner disclosed a report prepared by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), concluding that the abuse of 14 “high-value” detainees, including Zubaydah, “constituted torture.”
“In addition, many other elements of the ill treatment, either singly or in combination, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” according to the ICRC report. Since the ICRC’s responsibilities involve ensuring compliance with the Geneva Conventions and supervising the treatment of prisoners of war, the organization’s findings carry legal weight.
The ICRC report also found that there was a consistency in many details from the detainees who were interviewed separately and that the first “high-value” detainee to be captured, Abu Zubaydah, appeared to have been used as something of a test case by his interrogators. Zubaydah was one of the prisoners whose interrogations were videotaped by the CIA.
In her responses to Sen. Levin’s questions regarding Zubaydah’s interrogation, Rice said she had “general recollection that FBI had decided not to participate in the CIA interrogations but I do not recall any specific discussions about withdrawing FBI personnel from the Abu Zubaydah interrogation.”
In the book The One Percent Doctrine, author Ron Suskind said Zubaydah was not the “high-value detainee” the CIA had claimed. Rather, Zubaydah was a minor player in the al-Qaeda organization, handling travel for associates and their families, Suskind wrote.
However, “Bush was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth,” Suskind wrote. Bush asked one CIA briefer, “Do some of these harsh methods really work?”
Zubaydah was strapped to a waterboard and, fearing imminent death, he spoke about a wide range of plots against a number of U.S. targets, such as shopping malls, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. Yet, Suskind wrote, the information Zubaydah provided under duress was not credible.
According to Suskind, Zubaydah’s captors soon discovered that their prisoner was mentally ill and knew nothing about terrorist operations or impending plots. That realization was “echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President,” Suskind wrote.
Still, in public statements, President Bush portrayed Zubaydah as “one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States” and added: “So, the CIA used an alternative set of procedures” to get Zubaydah to talk.
The President did not want to “lose face” because he had stated his importance publicly, Suskind wrote.
The final conclusion of Levin’s investigation was that the “abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own.”
“Interrogation techniques such as stripping detainees of their clothes, placing them in stress positions, and using military working dogs to intimidate them appeared in Iraq only after they had been approved for use in Afghanistan and at [Guantanamo],” a declassified summary of his report said. “Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s December 2, 2002 authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody. What followed was an erosion in standards dictating that detainees be treated humanely.”