Explore The Timelines: Comprehensive | Interactive

  • 1950-1953
    During the Korean War, thousands of U.S. POWs are captured and physically tortured by communist forces. In addition to the physical abuse, 36 American airmen are held in isolation and mentally tortured. Using techniques such as sleep deprivation and exposure to the elements, North Korean and Communist Chinese interrogators elicit false confessions. In an elaborate propaganda campaign, the American POWs are forced to admit to the use of "germ bombs" targeting civilians. They are all lies.
  • 1950s
    The U.S. Air Force establishes a training program to prepare airmen in danger of enemy capture for the rigors of harsh interrogations. The training will include techniques in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape and eventually become known as "SERE". During Vietnam, the program would be expanded to encompass all branches of the US Military.
  • July 1963
    Following its own studies of the interrogation techniques used by North Korea, China, and other communist governments the CIA secretly drafts the "KUBARK Manual." KUBARK became the Agency's "bible of interrogation." It lays out myriad "coercive" techniques for "resistant sources," and includes sections on the application of pain, threats and sensory deprivation. KUBARK'S menu of interrogation techniques instructed that prisoners be "cut off from the known" and "plunged into the strange."
  • The CIA KUBARK Manual
  • September 11, 2001
    A group of al-Qaeda operatives crash airliners into the Pentagon and both towers of the World Trade Center. A fourth plane, headed toward Washington, DC, crashes in rural Pennsylvania.
  • September 14, 2001
    President Bush issues a "Declaration of National Emergency by Reason of Certain Terrorist Attacks."
  • September 16, 2001
    Vice President Cheney appears on NBC's Meet the Press and says, "We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will. We've got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we're going to be successful."
  • September 17, 2001
    George W. Bush signs a secret Presidential directive, giving the CIA authorization to capture and interrogate terrorists in foreign countries.
  • September, 2001
    A tight-knit group of senior administration lawyers convenes. It includes David Addington, Counsel to the Vice President. The group includes White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales; his deputy, Tim Flanigan; William "Jim" Haynes, the Pentagon's General Counsel; and Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo. The group will secretly call itself "the War Council."
  • September 25, 2001
    From his position in the Justice Department's powerful Office of Legal Counsel', John Yoo authors a memo, "The President's Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations Against Terrorists and Nations Supporting Them." The memo, requested by Deputy White House Counsel Flanigan, argues that Congress cannot "place any limits on the President's determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing, and nature of the response...these decisions, under our Constitution, are for the President alone to make."
  • Memo from John Yoo to Tim Flanigan
  • October 7, 2001
    President Bush announces the start of "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan. Military strikes are launched against suspected al-Qaeda training camps and Taliban strongholds.
  • November 10, 2001
    Vice President Cheney leads a meeting at the White House to finalize a Presidential order, drafted by David Addington, which details how detainees captured in Afghanistan and the larger "War on Terror" will be tried. Lawyers from the War Council, including Jim Haynes and John Yoo, are present but senior officials from the State Department and the National Security Council are excluded.
  • November 13, 2001
    George Bush signs the Presidential order giving him the authority to both detain prisoners indefinitely and establish military commissions to try them. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell don't learn of the order until it is reported in the media.
  • Military Commissions Order
  • November 14, 2001
    Vice President Cheney delivers a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, declaring that unlawful enemy combatants, "don't deserve to be treated as prisoners of war."
  • December, 2001
    John Walker Lindh, a U.S. citizen arrested and detained by the U.S. military in Afghanistan, is photographed while stripped naked and bound to a stretcher.
  • December 27, 2001
    Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announces that many prisoners from Afghanistan will be transferred to a hastily-constructed detention center at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
  • December 28, 2001
    Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Patrick Philbin advise War Council member Jim Haynes that federal courts have no jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay detainees.
  • Memo from John Yoo to Jim Haynes
  • January 2002
    In Afghanistan, a former Soviet air base near the city of Bagram is converted into a detention and interrogation facility.
  • January 7, 2002
    Alarmed by photographs depicting hooded and shackled detainees in Afghanistan, Amnesty International warns Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld that international law bans the use of sensory deprivation on prisoners, and forbids "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" punishment.
  • Amnesty International Letter to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld
  • January 9, 2002
    John Yoo drafts a memorandum requested by Pentagon General Counsel Jim Haynes, arguing that U.S. law and international treaties, including the Geneva Conventions, "do not protect" members of al Qaeda nor the Taliban. Yoo writes, "Customary international law of armed conflict in no way binds the President or the US Armed Forces concerning the detention or trial of members of al Qaeda and the Taliban." In other words, the President has the power to suspend - or simply ignore - the fundamental laws of war, including the Geneva Conventions.
  • January 11, 2002
    The first prisoners begin to arrive at the prison camp at Guantanamo.
  • January 11, 2002
    William H. Taft IV, the State Department's top lawyer argues that the reasoning in John Yoo's memo is "seriously flawed." Taft also warns that the violation of the Geneva Conventions could raise "a risk of future criminal prosecution for US civilian and military leadership."
  • Memo from William Taft to John Yoo
  • January 19, 2002
    Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld informs the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that al Qaeda and Taliban members are "not entitled to prisoner of war status" under the Geneva Conventions.
  • Memo from Donald Rumsfeld to Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • January 22, 2002
    Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee writes to White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and Pentagon General Counsel Jim Haynes, arguing that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to "non-state actors" and are not entitled to prisoner of war status.
  • Memo from Jay Bybee to Jim Haynes
  • January 22, 2002
    Secretary Rumsfeld states in a press conference, "I've seen in headlines and articles words like 'torture' and one thing and another, which is just utter nonsense. The policies of the United States government are humane, and the way the prisoners -- the detainees are being treated is humane"
  • January 25, 2002
    Vice President Cheney's chief counsel, David Addington, drafts a pivotal legal memorandum. Alberto Gonzales signs and delivers it to President Bush. The memo asserts that the war on terror "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners." It also argues that declaring Geneva protections inapplicable "substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act."
  • Memo from Alberto Gonzales to President Bush
  • January 26, 2002
    In a memo to President Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell defends the Geneva Conventions. The decision to opt out, he argues, "will reverse over a century of U.S. policy and practice in supporting the Geneva Conventions and undermine the protections of the law of war for our troops."
  • Memo from Colin Powell to Alberto Gonzales
  • January 27, 2002
    At Guantanamo Bay, Secretary Rumsfeld calls prisoners held there, "among the most dangerous, best trained vicious killers on the face of the earth."
  • February 1, 2002
    In a memo to President Bush, Attorney General John Ashcroft argues that "a Presidential determination against [Geneva] treaty applicability would provide the highest assurance that no court would subsequently entertain charges that American military officers, intelligence officials, or law enforcement officials violated Geneva Convention rules relating to field conduct, detention conduct or interrogation of detainees."
  • Letter from John Ashcroft to President Bush
  • February 7, 2002
    For the first time in history, President Bush issues an executive order making clear that prisoners in U.S. custody will be denied POW protection mandated by the Geneva Conventions.
  • Memo from President Bush to Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, et. al
  • March 28, 2002
    In Faisalabad, Pakistan, a 31 year-old Saudi named Abu Zubaydah is severely wounded during a firefight with American and Pakistani forces that leads to his capture.
  • Early April 2002
    Once Abu Zubaydah's identity is confirmed, U.S. officials plan to question him at a secret site in Thailand. After three days, he is flown out of Pakistan accompanied by a trauma physician flown in from the U.S. to keep him alive during the transfer.
  • April 9, 2002
    At a speech in Greenwich, Connecticut, President Bush publicly confirms the capture of Abu Zubaydah.
  • May 2002
    In a midnight raid on the apartment where he and his family are living, British citizen Moazzam Begg is kidnapped by Pakistani forces. He is later transferred to the US-run detention facility in Bagram.
  • May 2002
    The CIA takes over the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah. Many of the techniques used on Zubaydah are based on the American military's SERE school resistance training; forced nudity, isolation, temperature extremes. Zubaydah later becomes the first known CIA prisoner to be subjected to another SERE tactic: waterboarding.
  • July 2002
    FBI Investigators at Guantanamo begin focusing on detainee #063, Mohamed al Qahtani. Agents match Qahtani's fingerprints to those of a Saudi airline passenger who had been denied entry into the U.S. in August, 2001. Investigators conclude that Mohamed al-Qahtani may be the 9-11 plot's missing "20th Hijacker," recruited to overpower passengers and crew on United's Flight 93. Qahtani had been captured fleeing Tora Bora in February, 2002.
  • Late Summer 2002
    An Arab-speaking CIA analyst visits Guantanamo and submits a classified report stating that more than half the detainees there didn't belong at the prison.
  • August 1, 2002
    The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel issues what later becomes notorious as the "torture memo." Written by John Yoo, it states that Congress cannot circumscribe the President's power to interrogate detainees, and that US law only prohibits the "worst forms" of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. It defines physical torture as "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death."

    The same day, Yoo's office issues a companion opinion to the torture memo, which spells out the legality of specific interrogation techniques to be authorized for use by the Central Intelligence Agency. A heavily redacted version of the memo was obtained by the ACLU in July, 2008.
  • Memo from Jay Bybee to Alberto Gonzales
  • Memo from Jay Bybee to the CIA
  • Week of September 16, 2002
    Interrogators from Guantanamo Bay travel to the Army's Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) school at Fort Bragg, North Carolina for training by SERE psychologists there.
  • September 25, 2002
    Lawyers from the War Council, including the Vice President's counsel, David Addington and Pentagon General Counsel, Jim Haynes, along with the acting CIA General Counsel, John Rizzo, visit Guantanamo.
  • September 27, 2002
    Two days later, the Pentagon announces that Major General Geoffrey Miller, a career artillery officer with no background in detention or interrogations, will take command of both intelligence and detainee operations at Guantanamo.
  • October 2, 2002
    The CIA's chief counsel for counterterrorism, Jonathan Fredman, travels to Guantanamo and briefs senior staff on aggressive interrogation techniques based on SERE, including waterboarding. According to minutes of the meeting, he notes that the legal prohibition on torture "is basically subject to perception. If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong."
  • Guantanamo Meeting Minutes
  • October 11, 2002
    The outgoing commander of Guantanamo's interrogation corps - who would later testify that his "marching orders" came from the President of the United States - officially requests authority to use harsh methods in interrogations, several based on SERE training. The request sent to his superiors at the U. S. Southern Command includes stress positions, exploitation of phobias, forced nudity, hooding, isolation, sensory deprivation, exposure to cold, and waterboarding - the "use of a wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception of suffocation."
  • Memo from Major General Michael Dunlavey
  • October 25, 2002
    U.S. Southern Command Commander General James Hill forwards the request to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • Memo from General James T. Hill - October 25, 2002
  • November 4, 2002
    Major General Geoffrey Miller formally takes command of both detention and interrogations at the Guantanamo prison camp.
  • November 8, 2002
    Halfway around the world from Guantanamo-and the battlefields of Afghanistan-British resident Bisher al-Rawi is arrested when he arrives on a business trip to the Gambia in West Africa. He is subsequently transferred to Afghanistan, held in the "dark prison" near Kabul and then to Guantanamo.
  • November 12, 2002
    Secretary Rumsfeld verbally authorizes a "special interrogation plan" that permits interrogators to confine Mohammed al-Qahtani in an "isolation facility" for up to 30 days, subject him to "20 hour interrogations for every 24 hour cycle," and intimidate him with military working dogs."
  • November 23, 2002
    The interrogation of Mohamed al-Qahtani begins in earnest.
  • November 27, 2002
    Pentagon General Counsel Jim Haynes drafts an "Action Memo" for Secretary Rumsfeld's signature. The memo authorizes approval of many of the requested techniques requested, including the use of stress positions, the use of falsified documents, isolation for up to 30days, deprivation of light an auditory stimuli, hooding, 20-hour interrogation sessions, removal of comfort and religious items, removal of a detainee's clothing, forced grooming, use of a detainee's phobias (such as fear of dogs) to induce stress, and the use of "mild, non-injurious physical contact"

    The same day, an FBI agent at Guantanamo sends a "legal analysis" to Washington, DC, concluding several of the proposed techniques "are not permitted by the U.S. constitution" and others are "examples of coercive interrogation techniques that may violate 18 U.S.C. § 2340 (Torture Statute)."
  • Action Memo from Jim Haynes to Donald Rumsfeld
  • FBI Legal Analysis
  • December 2, 2002
    Secretary Rumsfeld signs the written directive authorizing Guantanamo prisoners to be subjected to interrogation methods recommended by Haynes. The Secretary adds a hand-written postscript, "I stand for eight hours a day. Why is standing limited to four hours? D.R."

    The same day, Colonel Brittain Mallow, Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF) Commander, prohibits CITF agents from "participating in the use of any questionable techniques" at Guantanamo.
  • Action Memo from Jim Haynes to Donald Rumsfeld
  • CITF Order Regarding "Questionable Techniques"
  • Late 2002
    During one week in early December, two Afghan prisoners in U.S. custody, Mullah Habibullah and Dilawar are killed at the Bagram detention facility while being interrogated. Although U.S. military physicians concluded that the cause of the detainees' deaths was homicide, the commander of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan insists publicly that they had died of natural causes.
  • December 7, 2002
    During his continuing interrogation at Guantanamo, al-Qahtani's heart rate plummets. "Corpsman checks vitals and finds the detainee's pulse is unusually slow. Heartbeat is regular but very slow - 35 bpm." He is rushed to the prison camp's hospital for emergency treatment, and then within 48 hours, returned to the interrogation booth.
  • The Qahtani Logs
  • December 10, 2002
    General Miller puts forward a draft "Standard Operating Procedure" for using SERE techniques at Guantanamo. Written by Lt. Col. Ted Moss, Guantanamo's Interrogation Control Element (ICE) chief, the SOP declares, "These tactics and techniques are used at SERE school to 'break' SERE detainees. The same tactics and techniques can be used to break real detainees during interrogation."
  • Draft Guantanamo SERE SOP
  • December 17, 2002
    FBI officials at Guantanamo record their views on the use of interrogations based on SERE training, writing that law enforcement officials "object to these aggressive interrogation techniques."
  • December 17, 2002
    The director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), David Brant, informs General Counsel Alberto Mora, the top civilian lawyer in the Navy, of possible detainee abuse occurring at Guantanamo.
  • December 18, 2002
    Alberto Mora is shown excerpts of the Qahtani logs. As he continues his inquiries he is shown a package of documents, including the October 11, 2002 request for techniques and the accompanying legal justification, and later the interrogation logs of logs of al Qahtani's interrogation.
  • The Qahtani Logs
  • Memo from Alberto Mora to Navy Inspector General
  • December 20, 2002
    Alberto Mora confronts his boss, Pentagon General Counsel Jim Haynes, warning that the techniques that have been authorized might reach the level of torture, and that the legal reasoning on which they were passed was "an incompetent product of legal analysis".

    The same day, interrogation logs of Mohamed al Qahtani note that interrogators, "Began teaching the detainee lessons such as stay, come, and bark to elevate his social status up to that of a dog. Detainee became very agitated."
  • December 21, 2002
    Alberto Mora leaves Washington, DC for a two week Christmas vacation.
  • December 26, 2002
    A front-page story in the Washington Post', reported by Dana Priest and Barton Gellman reveals the use of CIA-operated facilities for interrogating detainees. It is the first piece to reveal the practice of "extraordinary rendition," in which terror suspects are kidnapped and handed over to third-party governments for interrogation.
  • December 30, 2002- January 4, 2003
    Two Navy SERE instructors brief members of Guantanamo's interrogation team in the use of SERE techniques. Their briefing includes a chart which lists coercive interrogation techniques mirroring the communist tactics of the 1950s.
  • SERE Instructors' Guantanamo Report
  • Biderman's Principles - September 1957
  • January, 2003
    The officer responsible for intelligence at Bagram reviews a presentation of techniques approved by Secretary Rumsfeld on December 2, 2002.
  • January 6, 2003
    Alberto Mora is informed by NCIS Director David Brant that detainee mistreatment at Guantanamo is continuing.
  • January 8, 2003
    Alberto Mora meets with a Jaymie Durnan, a senior aide to Secretary Rumsfeld, and informs him that abuses occurring at Guantanamo were "illegal and contrary to American values."
  • January 9, 2003
    Alberto Mora meets again with Defense Department General Counsel Jim Haynes, and registers of his surprise that techniques authorized by Secretary Rumsfeld for use at Guantanamo have not been suspended. He adds that interrogation policies at Guantanamo could "threaten Secretary Rumsfeld's tenure and could even damage the Presidency." Referring to Secretary Rumsfeld, he urges Haynes "Protect your client."
  • January 15, 2003
    In a draft memo to Jim Haynes, Alberto Mora notes that the techniques authorized for Guantanamo "constituted, at a minimum, cruel and unusual treatment and, at worst, torture." Mora threatens to sign it out, making it official, unless his concerns are addressed.
  • Memo from Alberto Mora to Navy Inspector General

    January 15, 2003
    Secretary Rumsfeld rescinds his December 2, 2002 authorization and orders the formation of a Working Group of senior military lawyers to review the military's interrogation methods.

  • Memo from Donald Rumsfeld
  • Memo from Donald Rumsfeld Establishing Working Group
  • Late January, 2003
    The Working Group receives what they are told is "definitive guidance," in a draft legal memorandum requested by Jim Haynes and written by John Yoo, modeled on the still secret August 2002 "torture memo." Mora later writes that "contributions from the members of the Working Group...began to be rejected if they did not conform" to Yoo's opinion.
  • February 6, 2003
    Alberto Mora meets with John Yoo to discuss the OLC opinion.
  • February 5 - March 13, 2003
    Top Judge Advocates General (JAGs) file memos condemning the use of extreme interrogation techniques.
  • The JAG Memos - February 5, 2003 through March 13, 2003
  • March 14, 2003
    John Yoo finalizes the expansion of his 2002 "torture memo," a document that would serve as the "definitive guidance" for the Working Group's conclusions. The 81-page memo states, "Even if an interrogation method might arguably cross the line drawn in one of the primal statutes and application of the statute was not held to be an unconstitutional infringement of the President's Commander-in-Chief authority, we believe that under the current circumstances certain justification defenses might be available." Yoo goes into specific details, declaring that drugging a detainee could be permissible, as long as it did not "create a profound disruption...substantially interfering with his cognitive abilities or fundamentally altering his personality."
  • Memo from John Yoo to Jim Haynes
  • March 19, 2003
    President George Bush announces the beginning of the U.S. military invasion of Iraq.
  • April 4, 2003
    Unbeknownst to most members of the Working Group, their report is finalized and presented to Jim Haynes. The document endorses the legality of 35 interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo, and argues that interrogators at Guantanamo could be immune from prosecution.
  • Working Group Report
  • April 16, 2003
    Secretary Rumsfeld secretly approves 24 of the Working Group's proposed techniques for use at Guantanamo, including isolation and sleep adjustment. At Guantanamo, General Geoffrey Miller is also briefed on the approved interrogation methods.
  • Memo from Donald Rumsfeld
  • May 1, 2003
    In a photo-op aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, off the coast of California, President Bush declares the end of major combat operations in Iraq.
  • May, 2003
    The International Committee of the Red Cross begins sending reports detailing abuses of detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq to the U. S. Central Command in Qatar. The May 2003 report described 200 allegations of torture and other abuse of detainees.
  • May 30, 2003
    An FBI email from Guantanamo states that "not only are the tactics at odds with legally permissible interviewing techniques...but they are being employed by personnel in GTMO who have little, if any, experience eliciting information for judicial purposes"
  • June 2, 2003
    Senator Patrick Leahy, ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, writes a letter to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice requesting a formal statement as to whether the U.S. "has a specific obligation under the CAT (Convention Against Torture) not to engage in cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment?"
  • June 25, 2003
    Pentagon General Counsel Jim Haynes answers Senator Patrick Leahy, "We can assure you that it is the policy of the United States to comply with all of its legal obligations in its treatment of detainees, and in particular with legal obligations prohibiting torture. Its obligations include conducting interrogations in a manner that is consistent with the Convention Against Torture."
  • June 26, 2003
    President Bush releases a statement saying that the U.S. is "committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and leading this fight by example."
  • August 14, 2003
    An aide to Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of coalition forces in Iraq, distributes an email to interrogators asking for a "wish list" of more aggressive interrogation techniques. The email notes that "we want these individuals to be broken" and that "the gloves are coming off." In response, one interrogator suggests, "...a baseline interrogation technique that at a minimum allows for physical contact resembling that used by SERE instructors. Sleep deprivation. Fear of dogs and snakes appear to work nicely. I firmly agree that the gloves need to come off.""
  • Interrogation "Wish List"
  • Jul-Oct 2003
    On August 13, 2003 Secretary Rumsfeld authorizes a second "special interrogation plan" at Guantanamo, this one for detainee #760, Mohamedou Slahi.
  • Department of Justice OIG Report - May, 2008
  • August 31, 2003
    On orders from Secretary Rumsfeld, Major General Geoffrey Miller travels to Baghdad. According to Janis Karpinski, the Army Brigadier General in charge of Iraqi detention facilities, Miller told her he was there to "gitmoize" detainee operations.
  • September 6, 2003
    While General Miller is in Iraq, Secretary Rumsfeld also visits and tours the prison the U.S. has established at Abu Ghraib.
  • September 2003
    In response to a request from a commander of the Special Mission Unit Task Force, SERE instructors are deployed to Iraq to assist interrogators.
  • September 14, 2003
    General Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of all Coalition forces in Iraq, orders interrogation techniques mirroring those authorized by Secretary Rumsfeld for Guantanamo, to be used in Iraqi facilities.
  • Memo from General Sanchez
  • Early October, 2003
    Marine Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch, a veteran military prosecutor, is assigned as the lead attorney to present the case against Mohamedou Slahi, visits Guantanamo.
  • October, 2003
    The International Committee of the Red Cross determines that detainees in U.S. custody in Abu Ghraib in Iraq are being subjected to "physical and psychological coercion," in some cases "tantamount to torture."

    Those concerns are briefed to U.S. military commanders in Iraq in October and November, 2003.
  • December, 2003
    Jack Goldsmith, the new head of the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, determines the still secret August 2002 "torture memo" to be legally unsound, and rescinds it.
  • December 16, 2003
    President Bush is asked about interrogation tactics to be used should Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, then in hiding, be captured. "I have no idea what - how they're going to interrogate. I do know that this country doesn't torture."
  • January 14, 2004
    Sergeant Joseph Darby, an MP serving at the Abu Ghraib prison, forwards graphic photographs of prisoner abuse to the Army's Criminal Investigation Command. The next day a military investigation into detainee operations at Abu Ghraib is launched.
  • January 31, 2004
    Army Major General Antonio Taguba is put in charge of the Abu Ghraib investigation.
  • March 3, 2004
    General Taguba presents his secret findings to his commanding officer, the commander of coalition land forces Lt. General David McKiernan. The report notes that "numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees."
  • The Taguba Report
  • March 22, 2004
    The Pentagon announces that General Geoffrey Miller will be re-assigned from his command at Guantanamo, and put in charge of detainee operations in Iraq.
  • April 28, 2004
    Graphic photographs of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib are first shown on the CBS's 60 Minutes II and published in an article by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker.
  • April 30, 2004
    Responding to the Abu Ghraib scandal, President Bush asserts, "I share a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated. Their treatment does not reflect the nature of the American people. That's not the way we do things in America. And so I didn't like it one bit."
  • May 2004
    Colonel Stuart Couch determines that Mohamedou Slahi's treatment under interrogation has been "morally repugnant" and refuses to file charges in the case.
  • June 14, 2004
    Secretary Rumsfeld is asked if torture is ever justified. He responds, "Our view in the United States has been that we adhere to the Geneva Convention, and we adhere to the laws of the land. And that means that torture is not permitted under the laws of the United States or under the Geneva Convention. It's required that people that are in custody be treated in a humane way.
  • June 22, 2004
    President Bush states, "Let me make very clear the position of my government and our country. We do not condone torture. I have never ordered torture. I will never order torture. The values of this country are such that torture is not a part of our soul and our being."
  • June 28, 2004
    The Supreme Court rules against the administration in Rasul v. Bush. The high court holds that detainees at Guantanamo are indeed within the jurisdiction of the U.S. judicial system, and that U.S. courts have the power to review whether or not detainees are rightfully detained.
  • November 2, 2004
    President Bush is re-elected to a second term in office.
  • November 10, 2004
    White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales is nominated to replace John Ashcroft as Attorney General of the United States.
  • December 30, 2004
    On the eve of the Gonzales confirmation hearings, the Justice Department releases a public opinion, nominally disavowing the August 2002 torture memo, stating that, "Torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and to international norms."
  • January 6, 2005
    During his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Alberto Gonzales is pressed repeatedly about detainee treatment, and his involvement and views on the August 2002 "torture memo." When asked, if U.S. personnel can legally engage in torture under any circumstances, Gonzales replies "I don't believe so, but I'd want to get back to you on that and make sure that I don't provide a misleading answer."
  • February 15, 2005
    Alberto Gonzales is sworn in as Attorney General of the United States.

    Early 2005
    Under Attorney General Gonzales, the Department of Justice issues a secret opinion that once again explicitly authorizes harsh interrogation tactics. The memo specifies how techniques can be used in combination, and includes tactics such as head-slapping, waterboarding and exposure to extreme temperatures.
  • April 1, 2005
    The Schmidt-Furlow report, an investigation by USAF Lt. General Mark Schmidt and Army Reserve Brigadier General John Furlow into alleged abuses in interrogations at Guantanamo, is released.
  • The Schmidt-Furlow Report - April 1, 2005
  • April 28, 2005
    At a press conference in the White House East Room, President Bush is asked about the practice of rendition. Bush states, "We operate within the law, and we send people to countries where they say they're not going to torture the people."
  • November 7, 2005
    While traveling in Panama, President Bush states, "We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do to that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture."
  • November 29, 2005
    While touring the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, President Bush is asked about U.S. run detention centers in foreign countries. He responds, "The United States of America does not torture. And that's important for people around the world to understand."
  • December 30, 2005
    The "Detainee Treatment Act" is signed into law by President Bush. The bill bans the use of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees held at Guantanamo. However, immediately after the signing ceremony, President Bush issues a "signing statement", declaring his authority to override and ignore the bill's core provisions.
  • June 10, 2006
    Three prisoners held in at Guantanamo commit suicide by hanging themselves with rope fashioned from sheets and clothing. Guantanamo's commander states, "I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."
  • June 29, 2006
    For the second time, the Supreme Court strikes down key components of the Bush Administration's interrogation and detainee policies, ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that detainees are entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions. Justice Anthony Kennedy writes in a concurring opinion that "violations of Common Article 3 are considered 'war crimes,' punishable as federal offenses when committed by or against United States nationals and military personnel."
  • September 6, 2006
    President Bush for the first time acknowledges that the CIA has been operating secret prison facilities in foreign countries to interrogate terrorist suspects. He announces that 14 of the "high value detainees" who have been rendered and held by the Agency are to be transferred out of secret CIA custody and into Guantanamo. Among them are Abu Zubaydah and alleged 9/11 master-mind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

    President Bush also adds, "I want to be absolutely clear with our people, and the world: The United States does not torture. It's against our laws, and it's against our values. I have not authorized it - and I will not authorize it."
  • September 15, 2006
    In a Rose Garden press conference, President Bush lobbies for the "Military Commissions Act." "This debate is occurring because of the Supreme Court's ruling that said that we must conduct ourselves under the Common Article III of the Geneva Convention. And that Common Article III says that there will be no outrages upon human dignity. It's very vague. What does that mean, "outrages upon human dignity"? That's a statement that is wide open to interpretation."
  • October 17, 2006
    With the November elections only a few weeks away, the "Military Commissions Act", is signed into law by President Bush. The law strips detainees of their constitutional right to habeas corpus and, in a provision pushed by Vice President Cheney, grants retroactive immunity to Americans accused of potential war crimes.
  • October 24, 2006
    In a radio interview, Vice President Cheney has the following exchange:
    Interviewer: "Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?"
    Vice President Cheney: "It's a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the Vice President "for torture." We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in. We live up to our obligations in international treaties that we're party to and so forth. But the fact is, you can have a fairly robust interrogation program without torture, and we need to be able to do that."
  • December, 2006
    The first detainees arrive at Guantanamo's Camp Six, where they are held in "single occupancy cells" 22 hours a day.
  • March, 2007
    In a filing before a Military Tribunal at Guantanamo, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confesses to being the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. One of the three confirmed cases of CIA waterboarding, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed also confesses to a litany of other terrorist acts and plots, including the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, the 2001 "Shoe Bomb" Plot, a plot to attack American landmarks, including the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower and plots to assassinate former Presidents Carter, Clinton and Pope John Paul II.
  • March 26, 2007
    Australian detainee David Hicks, pleads guilty to providing material support for terrorism, becoming the first Guantanamo detainee convicted of a crime. In May he is released to Australian authorities to serve the remaining nine months of his sentence.
  • May 30, 2007
    Saudi Guantanamo detainee Abdul Rahman Ma'ath Thafir al-Amri is found dead in his cell at Guantanamo, after reportedly committing suicide.
  • August 24, 2007
    Amid a growing scandal at the Department of Justice over the firing of nine U.S. Attorneys, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales submits his resignation to President Bush, effective September 17, 2007. President Bush later nominates former federal judge Michael Mukasey to replace him.
  • October 18, 2007
    Testifying at his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Michael Mukasey, President Bush's nominee to be Attorney General, refuses to state his opinions on the legality of harsh interrogation techniques. When he is asked if waterboarding is constitutional, Mukasey responds, "I don't know what's involved in the technique. If water-boarding is torture, torture is not constitutional."
  • November 8, 2007
    Colonel Stuart Couch, having previously refused to participate in the prosecution of Mohamedou Slahi, is asked to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. Just prior to his scheduled testimony, Couch is informed that Pentagon General Counsel Jim Haynes, "has determined that as a sitting judge and former prosecutor, it is improper for you to testify about matters still pending in the military court system, and you are not to appear before the Committee to testify."
  • December 7, 2007
    The New York Times reports that hundreds of hours of videotapes of the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah had been destroyed by the CIA in 2005.
  • February 5, 2008
    CIA Director Michael Hayden testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and confirms for the first time that three al Qaeda suspects were subjected to waterboarding while under interrogation by the Central Intelligence Agency.
  • March 8, 2008
    President Bush vetoes the Intelligence Authorization Act, which would have outlawed hooding, stripping, sleep deprivation, stress positions - and waterboarding by the CIA.
  • May 13, 2008
    Without explanation, the Pentagon suddenly drops all charges against alleged 20th hijacker Mohammad al-Qahtani. While the Defense Department offers no explanation for the move, Qahtani's lawyers claim it is because his "torture" while under interrogation renders him unprosecutable.
  • May 20, 2008
    The FBI's Office of the Inspector General issues a 437-page report detailing the Bureau's participation in investigations at Guantanamo, in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report reveals that FBI agents began keeping a "war crimes file" of potential abuses occurring during interrogations at Guantanamo Bay.
  • June 12, 2008
    In "Boumediene v. Bush," the Supreme Court for the third time rules against the Bush Administration's detention policies, saying that detainees have a constitutional right to challenge their captivity in habeas corpus proceedings in U.S. federal courts.