Recently Released


DATE: May 2004 
AUTHOR: Central Intelligence Agency, Inspector General

(PDF - 13MB - Text searchable)

In a chilling investigation of the CIA’s interrogation practices during the Bush Administration, former Inspector General John Helgerson’s secret internal report provides new details about abuses that took place inside the CIA’s “dark sites,” including brandishing weapons and mock executions.  (It is a violation of both the U.S. anti-torture statute, and international law, to threaten a suspect with imminent death.)  But the investigation focuses much of its strongest criticism on interrogation methods that the agency had been explicitly authorized to use.  Completed in May 2004, the long-suppressed report was ordered released by a federal judge in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.



In April and May, 2005, James B. Comey, the deputy Attorney General, wrote a series of email messages to his chief of staff, Chuck Rosenberg, about his views on legal memoranda being drafted regarding the use of brutal interrogation techniques.  The previously undisclosed emails – recently web-published by the New York Times – paint  a clear portrait of a Department of Justice under extreme pressure from the White House to approve the techniques.


From: Comey, James (ODAG)
Sent: Wednesday, April 27, 2005 5:49 PM
To:  Rosenberg, Chuck
Subject: Interrogation

When Comey expressed “grave reservations” about one draft legal opinion, “The AG (Attorney General Alberto Gonzales) explained that he was under great pressure from the Vice President to complete both memos, and that the President had even raised it last week, apparently at the VP’s request…”


From: Comey, James (ODAG)
To: Rosenberg, Chuck
Sent: Thu Apr 28 20:33:45 2005
Subject: Re: Interrogation

When Comey warned that the “people who were applying pressure now would not be there when the _hit the fan…”  “Pat (Patrick Philbin, Office of Legal Counsel) agreed that everyone seemed to be thinking as if they still work at the White House and not the United States Department of Justice. …It leaves me feeling sad for the Department and the AG.  I don’t know what more is to be done, given that I have already submitted my resignation.”

From: Comey, James (ODAG)
Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2005 7:05 PM
To: Rosenberg, Chuck

At a meeting to prepare Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for a press conference answering questions about interrogation policy, “The AG began by saying that Dr. (then National Security Adviser Condoleezza) Rice was not interested in discussing details and that her attitude was that if DOJ said it was legal and CIA said it was effective, then that ended it, without a need for  a full policy discussion.”



As part of the continuing Freedom of Information Act litigation brought by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking details of the government’s detainee programs, transcripts of four court hearings held at Guantanamo were re-released on June 15.  Highly redacted when first released by the Bush Administration, these transcripts include some new details – much of it testimony about abuse during interrogations.    


Verbatim Transcript of Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) Hearing for Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (March 10, 2007)
Self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad told US military officials he had lied to the CIA after being abused:  “I make up stories.” He describes being asked the location of Osama bin Laden.  “Where is he? I don’t know.  Then he torture me.  Then I said, ‘Yes, he is in this area…”


Verbatim Transcript of Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) Hearing for Rahim al Nashiri (March 14, 2007)
Rahim al Nashiri, accused of involvement in the 2000 bombing of the US destroyer Cole, described the physical results of his interrogations:   “Before I was arrested I used to be able to run about 10 kilometers.  Now I cannot walk for more than 10 minutes.  My nerves are swollen in my body.” 


Verbatim Transcript of Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) Hearing for Majid Khan (April 15, 2007)
Another alleged al Qaeda operative, Majid Khan, testified:  “In the end, any classified information you have is through (redacted) agencies who physically and mentally tortured me.”


Verbatim Transcript of Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) Hearing for Abu Zubaydah (March 27, 2007)
Abu Zubaydah, who was subjected to waterboarding 83 times in one month, testified that his CIA captors eventually told him they mistakenly thought he was the number three man in al Qaeda:  “They told me, ‘Sorry, we discover that you are not Number 3, not a partner, not even a fighter.’” 



Report on the Treatment of Fourteen “High Value Detainees” in CIA Custody
DATE:  February 2007
SUBJECT:  Interviews with fourteen detainees
AUTHOR:  International Committee of the Red Cross
The confidential report delivered to the Acting General Counsel of the CIA concluded that “in many cases, the ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture.” The report also made clear that health personnel offered supervision and even assistance as suspected al-Qaeda operatives were beaten, deprived of food, exposed to temperature extremes and subjected to waterboarding.



On Thursday, April 16, President Barack Obama – referring to a “dark and painful chapter in our history” - authorized the release of four documents written by the Office of Legal Counsel in the Bush administration’s Department of Justice.   The memos – which were being actively sought in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union - construct a legal justification for using harsh interrogation techniques.


Memorandum for John Rizzo, Acting General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency
DATE:  August 1, 2002
SUBJECT:  “Interrogation of al Qaeda Operative”
AUTHOR:  Jay S. Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC
Written principally by John Yoo - and aimed at one particular detainee – this memo authorizes interrogators to strip the prisoner naked, bash him against walls, keep him awake for up to eleven straight days, sometimes with his arms chained to the ceiling – and waterboarding.  According to the legal advice, waterboarding does not inflict ‘severe pain or suffering.’


Memorandum for John Rizzo, Senior Deputy General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency
DATE:  May 10, 2005
SUBJECT:  “Application of 18 U.S.C. …to Certain Techniques That May Be Used in the Interrogation of a High Value al Qaeda Detainee”
AUTHOR:  Steven G. Bradbury, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Almost a year after the secret August, 2002 memorandum had been withdrawn by the Department of Justice, this new opinion once again analyzed the legality of particular interrogation techniques under the federal criminal prohibition against torture.  The analysis largely relied on information provided by the CIA.


Memorandum for John Rizzo, Senior Deputy General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency
DATE:  May 10, 2005
SUBJECT:  “Application of 18 U.S.C. …to the Combined Use of Certain
Techniques in the Interrogation of High Value al Qaeda Detainees”
AUTHOR:  Steven G. Bradbury, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General
In this opinion, the OLC concluded that – as a legal matter – the CIA’s combination of interrogation techniques did not violate the torture statute, based on the CIA’s assurance that its combination of the techniques did not violate the torture statute.


Memorandum for John Rizzo, Senior Deputy General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency
DATE:  May 30, 2005
SUBJECT:  “Application of United States Obligations Under Article 6 of the Convention Against Torture to Certain Techniques that May Be Used in the Interrogation of High Value al Qaeda Detainees”
AUTHOR:  Steven G. Bradbury, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General
This memorandum notes that, “It is difficult to quantify with precision the effectiveness of the (interrogation) program.”   A footnote on page 37, citing a 2004 report by the Inspector General of the CIA, reveals that al Qaeda figure Abu Zubaydah had been waterboarded at least 83 times in 2002, and the alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammed was waterboarded a total of 183 times in the course of just one month in 2003.



OLC Opinions on the CIA Detention and Interrogation Program
DATE RELEASED:  April 22, 2009
SUBJECT:  Timeline of legal advice provided by the Justice Department 
Released by the Senate Intelligence Committee, this newly declassified Justice Department narrative details CIA interaction with top White House officials leading to the issuance of the OLC memos and the approval of brutal interrogation techniques.  The timeline, for example, includes one crucial meeting:  “CIA’s Office of General Counsel met with the Attorney General, the National Security Adviser, the Deputy National Security Adviser, the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council, and the Counsel to the President in mid-May to discuss the possible use of alternative interrogation methods (on Abu Zubaydah) that differed from traditional methods used by the U.S. military and intelligence community.  At this meeting, the CIA proposed particular alternative interrogation methods, including waterboarding.”



Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody
DATE:  November 20, 2008
SUBJECT:  Military interrogations
AUTHOR:  Committee on Armed Services, US Senate
On April 22, 2009, the Committee released the declassified report of its two year investigation into military interrogations of prisoners in US detention.  The final report draws explicit links between the CIA’s interrogation program and the military’s harsh tactics at Guantanamo, Afghanistan and Abu Ghraib.   Among the revelations: A US Army psychiatrist assigned to interrogations at Guantanamo told Army investigators that in the summer of 2002, “A large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaeda and Iraq and were not successful. …there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”



Draft Guantanamo SERE SOP
DATE: December 10, 2002
SUBJECT: JTF GTMO "SERE" Interrogation Standard Operating Procedure
AUTHOR: Lt. Col. Ted Moss
This draft memo, never before released in its entirety, directly links the tactics being used at Guantanamo to the U.S. military's torture resistance training: "These tactics and techniques are used in SERE school to 'break' SERE detainees. The same tactics and techniques can be used to break real detainees during interrogation operations."