Torture

Guantanamo Bay Hearing for USS Cole Bombing Suspect

Courtroom sketch of al Nashiri by artist Janet Hamlin. Today in court he was wearing a similar white jumpsuit.

Guantanamo Bay courtroom sketch of al Nashiri by artist Janet Hamlin. (copyright Janet Hamlin)

A U.S. Military Commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has scheduled pre-trial hearings next week in the case against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who allegedly masterminded the 2000 USS Cole bombing that killed 17 U.S. sailors off the coast of Yemen.

At pre-trial hearings defense and prosecution lawyers routinely debate evidentiary, jurisdictional, logistical and other issues, and deal with matters such as what evidence will be admissible at trial, which witnesses will be called and when, whether the court possesses jurisdiction to hear the case, and what date to set for the trial to commence.

What is typical (or atypical) about the al Nashiri pre-trial hearings, about his case itself, or about his plight before other tribunals that have or could exercise jurisdiction? Is his case more complex than others?

Multiple courts have either resolved issues related to charges against al Nashiri or have sought to resolve such issue, or to exercise such jurisdiction. These proceedings appear to have extended beyond routine evidentiary, jurisdictional or logistical issues.

Though the military commission judge identified issues to be debated next week (see his 12 August 2016 docketing order below), it is unclear what will be heard. Indeed it is unclear whether the hearings will go forward. al Nashiri hearings were stayed for almost a year, and when they were set to resume in April, they were abruptly postponed until now. Though many dozens of us are gathered in Washington, DC for a post-Labor Day flight from Andrews Air Force Base to Guantanamo, the hearings can be cancelled at any moment, even after we touch down at Guantanamo Tuesday afternoon.

The stakes are high, as proceedings in different courts could result in one, more or all the charges against al Nashiri being permanently dismissed.

The USS Cole after it was attacked by suicide bombers in October 2000 in Yemen. (Photo courtesy of United States Marine Corps)

The USS Cole after it was attacked by suicide bombers in October 2000 in Yemen. (Photo courtesy of United States Marine Corps)

al-Nashiri is charged with multiple war crimes, including perfidy, murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, and attacking civilian objects. He faces the death penalty.

Courts’ jurisdiction

Several courts have exercised or sought to exercise jurisdiction over al Nashiri, that is, the courts have or have sought to resolve matters related to his detention or his alleged crimes.

First is the military commission itself at Guantanamo Bay. al Nashiri was picked up in 2002, held in secret CIA camps for about 4 years, taken to Guantanamo Bay in 2006, and arraigned in 2001 in a military commission. In that commission, he is charged with war crimes associated with the U.S.S. Cole and other ships. This commission is the primary court exercising jurisdiction over al Nashiri.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has also exercised jurisdiction, ruling on 30 August 2016 that it would not halt the Guantanamo commission against him. The defense had asked the appeals court stop the commission because the commission was not lawfully able to exercise jurisdiction. The appeals court chose not to decide the merits of the matter unless al Nashiri is convicted, at which time the appeals court would decide whether the commission had conducted a trial without jurisdiction.

The Court of Military Commissions Review (CMCR) issued a ruling in his Military Commission case in June 2016, and one in July.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York also has had a stake, as al Nashiri was indicted in that district but the case has not moved forward because Congress prohibited moving detainees to the U.S. for trial.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the government of Poland breached international human rights law when it permitted the U.S. to detain al Nashiri on Polish soil, where he was tortured. The court ordered Poland to pay al Nashiri over $250,000.

At the pre-trial hearings this week, the issue of jurisdiction will certainly arise.

al Nashiri

al Nashiri

Pre-trial Issues in his case

al Nashiri’s pre-trial hearings have touched on many issues.

Front and center recently have been jurisdictional issues, such as those discussed above handled by the DC Circuit and the CMCR, and also raised in the commissions.

Pre-trial issues have related to his treatment while in CIA black sites beginning in 2002 for 4 years, where the Senate Torture Report and other sources (including al Nashiri himself) have identified the following practices against al Nashiri – waterboarding (admitted by the government), mock executions, stress positions, and threats of sexual violence against his mother. Should a person be tried on criminal charges after being subjected to this treatment? Can any statements made by al Nashiri after such treatment be allowed as evidence in the trial against him?

Other pre-trial issues in his case or that may be raised include:

  • whether the U.S. can use as evidence the testimony of a man the U.S. killed (alleged co-conspirator Fahd al-Quso);
  • whether and to what extent the U.S. Constitution applies to al Nashiri’s military commission;
  • whether the right to a speedy trial was violated (over 13 years since al Nashiri was taken into custody and over 9 years since arriving at Guantanamo Bay — with the trial itself not commencing as of 2016 and no trial date set);
  • whether his right to humane treatment was violated (even regarding his Guantanamo housing situation – during these proceedings);
  • his right to have access to classified and other information that might be used against him at trial;
  • whether high-ranking military members engaged in undue influence;
  • the timely acquisition of defense lawyers’ security clearances; and
  • al Nashiri’s physical and mental health.

Much remains to be resolved before any actual trial is held.

At Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo Bay

At Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo Bay — George Edwards

My four 2016 summer trips to Cuba

This will be my fourth visit to Cuba in as many months, with three visits to Guantanamo Bay and one to Havana.

My first visit to Guantanamo Bay in this cycle was to monitor U.S. Military Commission pre-trial hearings in the case against Hadi al Iraqi, who is alleged to have been a high-ranking al Qaeda Iraq member, and to have liaised between al Qaeda Iraq and the Taliban. Hs is charged with various war crimes.

My Hadi al Iraqi monitoring mission was through the Military Commission Observation Project of the Program in International Human Rights Law of Indiana University McKinney School of Law. Our project seeks to attend, observe, analyze, critique and report on U.S. Military Commissions. We are producing the Guantanamo Bay Fair Trial Manual, which is used and usable by any person interested in assessing whether the rights and interests of all military commission stakeholders are being afforded to them. We are interested in the rights of the defendants. We are also interested in the rights and interests of the prosecution, the victims and their families, the media, the guards and other prison personnel, witnesses, and others.

Edwards on U Boat Crossing Guantanamo Bay - 14 August 2016 - the morning that 15 detainees were released to the UAE, bring the total GTMO population down 20 from 76 to 61

Edwards on U Boat Crossing Guantanamo Bay – 14 August 2016 – the morning that 15 detainees were released to the UAE, bringing the total GTMO detainee population down 20 percent from 76 to 61

On my second trip to Cuba this summer I was part of a delegation from the National Bar Association (NBA), which is the organization principally for African American lawyers, judges, law professors, and other legal professionals. An NBA conference was held jointly with the Cuban bar association, focusing on a wide range of U.S. interests and Cuban interests, and interests affecting both countries. The topic of Guantanamo Bay came up repeatedly in our discussions with Cuban judges, lawyers and law professors. I also gave a lecture at the U.S. Embassy – Havana.

NBA - Ambassador's Residence - law profs and deputy ambassador

NBA law professors at Residence of U.S. Ambassador to Cuba, with Deputy Ambassador

My third trip to Cuba this summer was in August for a Guantanamo media tour. When I arrived on Guantanamo at noon on Saturday, 13 August 2016, 76 detainees were imprisoned there. When I left Guantanamo at noon the next day, Sunday the 14th, only 61 detainees remained. During the darkness of night, 15 detainees were released to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). That resettlement marked a 20% drop in the Guantanamo Bay detention population over night.

NBA - Group of law professors at end

NBA law professors at Cuban lawyers collective.

Writing projects of mine I was researching at Guantanamo on that third trip include The Guantanamo Bay Reader and a contributions to The Indiana Lawyer.

This fourth trip to Cuba is to monitor the al Nashiri hearings pursuant to our Indiana McKinney School of Law observation program.

More about all of the above (and below) is available on http://www.GitmoObserver.com.

Docketing Order – Motions on the schedule to be heard

The Military Judge in the al Nashiri case on 12 August 2016 issues a Revised Docketing order, outlining the proposed program for the 3 days of scheduled hearings this week (7 – 9 September 2016). Here is that order.

Guantanamo 9/11 Defendant Tells United Nations that U.S. Tortured Him.

Mustafa al-Hasawi, defendant # 5 in the 9/11 case

Mustafa al-Hasawi, defendant # 5 in the 9/11 case

A Guantanamo Bay defendant charged with planning the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon informed the United Nations Committee Against Torture that the U.S. tortured him.

In a 26 June 2016 filing, lawyers for Mr. Mustafa al-Hawsawi, alleged that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) tortured him before sending him to Guantanamo Bay, where he has remained “for over a decade despite having yet to be tried by a regularly constituted court in compliance with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions”.

The Al-Hawsawi team submitted documents to the UN Torture Committee, as part of the process through which the Committee seeks to ascertain whether the U.S. is complying with its obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“UN Torture Convention”), which is a treaty that the U.S. signed and ratified.

Walter Ruiz and Sean Gleason - Two lawyers for Mr. al-Hawsawi

Walter Ruiz and Sean Gleason – Two lawyers for Mr. al-Hawsawi

The al-Hawsawi team materials submitted to the Committee have 3 parts:

  • First, the submission reads, “as background to the questions that we suggest to you, we want to contrast the indisputable facts of Mr. al-Hawsawi’s situation to the misleading rhetoric our Government continues to use to deflect your questions”.
  • Second, the submission attached “a recently obtained, not previously released CIA document that shows Mr. al-Hawsawi was more extensively tortured than our Government previously admitted (Central Intelligence Agency, Disposition Memorandum: Alleged Use of Unauthorized Interrogation Techniques (“CIA Disposition Memo”)(6 December 2006)). The submission contends that within days of his rendition, Mr. al-Hawsawi’s rendition his ordeal and torture began, and that soon after the CIA concluded that Mr. al-Hawsawi “was not an individual with significant knowledge of al-Qaeda, and therefore was not “high-value”, and thereafter “another round of torture was ordered” and the US “continued to torture him for over three years.” They argue that at Guantanamo Bay the U.S. “has woefully neglected Mr. al-Hawsawi’s medical treatment and has completely failed to take any rehabilitative measures. The injuries were sustained because of his torture, and these daily painful reminders of his torture have never been medically remedied.
  • Third, they submitted a “communication we have made to various UN Special Procedures, which includes more extensive additional up-to-date information on the particular circumstances of Mr. al-Hawsawi.”
Mitch Robinson - Norway

Dr. Mitch Robinson (Center), International Law Specialist for Mr. al-Hawsawi. Dr. Robinson was Guest Researcher, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights. (Right — Professor Mads Andenaes. Left — Mr. Joey Barefield)

The submission commented on “some specific assertions our Government’s representatives made at the United States’ review before the Committee Against Torture in November 2014”, and on the document titled “One-year Follow-up Response of the United States of America to Recommendations of the Committee Against Torture on its Combined Third to Fifth Periodic Reports on Implementation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“One-Year Follow-Up Response”).

The al-Hawsawi team alleged that “the United States Government is in current violation of the Convention Against Torture at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba”.

 

Here is a copy of the al-Hawsawi United Nations Committee Against Torture Filing of 26 June 2016:

 

The Committee Against Torture may receive other documents from non-governmental groups seeking to shed light on the U.S. Government’s compliance or non-compliance with the Torture Convention. The Committee will formulate a “List of Questions” to ask the U.S. government, and will expect the US to answer those questions before the U.S. Government is requested to appear at a UN Torture Committee hearing  and answer questions related to whether or not the U.S. is in compliance with the Torture Convention.

The next hearing that the Torture Convention holds at which the U.S. appears will likely be contentions, as have been previous Torture Committee hearings at which the U.S. appeared. The U.S. will likely remain firm in its believe that it does not engage in torture, while human rights groups, Guantanamo Bay defendants, and others will argue that the U.S. has breached, is breaching, and will likely continuing breaching the Torture Convention.

Today, 10 July 2016, the U.S. announced that it released an additional detainee – Fayiz Ahmad Yahia Suleiman of Yemen – who has been relocated to Italy. This brings the total detainee population at Guantanamo bay to 78.

The al-Hawsawi documents were submitted by the following:

  • Walter B. Ruiz, (Civilian Learned Counsel for Mr. al-Hawsawi)
  • Suzanne M. Lachelier, (Detailed Civilian Counsel for Mr. al-Hawsawi)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Sean M. Gleason,USMC, JAG (Detailed Military Counsel for Mr. al-Hawsawi)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer N. Williams, USA, JAG (Assistant Detailed Military Counsel for Mr. al-Hawsawi)
  • Mitch Robinson, Ph.D. (International Law Specialist for Mr. al-Hawsawi)

 

George Edwards

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@GTMOWatch

http://www.uniforum.uio.no/nyheter/2014/03/guantanamo-advokatar-sokte-rad-fra-uio-forskarar.html)

Poland Seeks Assurances From United States that Al Nashiri Will Not Face Execution

500px-Flag_of_Poland.svgThe Polish Foreign Ministry has requested assurances from the U.S. that Abd Al Rahim Hussayn Muhammad Al Nashiri will not be subject to the death penalty.  Reuters reported that according to the Polish Foreign Ministry Poland’s government “has taken steps to seek diplomatic assurances that the applicant (Nashiri) will not be subjected to the death penalty, first by engaging in diplomatic talks, and then by delivering an official note on the matter”.

The request from the Polish Foreign Ministry is presumably in response to the European Court of Human Rights judgement that Poland violated the European Convention on Human Rights by cooperating with the Central Intelligence Agency to detain Mr. Al Nashiri in violation of several articles of the Convention. The Court ordered Poland to pay €100,000 ($134,640) in damages to Mr. Al Nashiri, legal costs and expenses and ordered the Polish government to obtain diplomatic assurances from the U.S. that Mr. Al Nashiri would not be executed. The U.S. was not a party to the proceedings.

Reuters Report on the Polish Foreign Ministry Request

European Court of Human Rights Press Release, 24 July 2014

European Court of Human Rights Case of Al Nashiri v. Poland, Final, 2nd February 2015

Matthew Kubal, Indianapolis, Indiana, Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Human Rights Commission Addresses Guantanamo Secrecy

Building of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Organization of American States), Washington, DC

Building of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Organization of American States), Washington, DC

Lawyers for 9-11 Guantanamo Bay defendants issued this media alert Monday, 16 March 2015:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: James Connell (703) 588-0407 / (703) 623-8410

WASHINGTON, DC-Today, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will hear from attorneys for Guantanamo prisoners at 2:00 pm Eastern time.  Attorneys for Ammar al Baluchi and Mustafa al Hawsawi will address the impact of secrecy on the military commissions and ongoing detention.

“A state crime cannot be a state secret,” said James Connell, civilian attorney for al Baluchi.  “The secrecy at Guantanamo prevents accountability for torture and interferes with the administration of justice.”

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Organization of American States).

Building of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Organization of American States), Washington, DC

The hearing will include testimony from Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez, Dr. Stephen Xenakis, and Melina Milazzo of the Center for Victims of Torture.

The IACHR hearing is available streaming at http://www.livestream.com/oasenglish.

###

Guantanamo NGO Observers from IU McKinney Law School Featured in Indiana Lawyer

Military tribunals for some accused of terrorist attacks on the United States are held at Camp Justice at Guantanamo Bay. (Photo by Catherine Lemmer, IU McKinney School of Law)

Military tribunals for some accused of terrorist attacks on the United States are held at Camp Justice at Guantanamo Bay. (Photo by Catherine Lemmer, IU McKinney School of Law)

The Indiana Lawyer published the following article by Marilyn Odendahl on 25 February 2015. Text and photos are in the original article.

IU McKinney Gitmo Observers Illuminate Murky Proceedings in Gitmo Trials

by. Marilyn Odendahl (25 February 2015)

      The U.S. Military Commission Observation Project overseen by Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law is continuing to send individuals to watch and report on the accused terrorists’ trials being held at Guantanamo Bay. Blog posts and articles from the observers chronicle the glacial pace of the proceedings, the unexpected courtroom twists and the nagging constitutional questions.

Professor George Edwards

Professor George Edwards

The project regularly sends faculty, students and alumni to either Guantanamo Bay or Fort Meade in Maryland to observe the tribunals. Professor George Edwards, founder and director of the project, explained the work of the observers is not to address the political issues or comment on the substance of the military commissions.

“We’re interested in seeking to assess whether the stakeholders are receiving the rights and interests that are afforded to them,” Edwards said. “(Those rights) include the right to a fair hearing, the right to an independent tribunal, the right to trial without undue delay.”

He pointed out the observers also are looking at the stakes that the victims of the terrorists attacks and their families have in the proceedings. What about their rights to have access to the trials, to make statements, to confront and to have closure?

Professor Catherine Lemmer

Professor Catherine Lemmer

IU McKinney librarian Catherine Lemmer, who Edwards described as instrumental in helping to build the observation program, heard some victims’ voices when she traveled to Guantanamo Bay for the hearings of the alleged co-conspirators of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

One man said he was attending the proceedings to remind the judge and attorneys that planes had flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A mother of a fallen firefighter said she was struggling to hang on to her opposition to the death penalty, but she believed the trials had to be fair because the United States would be judged by how it handles the detainees.

The project drew praise from panelists who participated in a recent forum at the law school examining the tribunals. Hosted by the Indiana International & Comparative Law Review, the symposium brought together legal scholars from IU McKinney and around the country to discuss whether the end is coming for Guantanamo Bay or if the practice of international criminal law has reached a turning point.

An IU McKinney symposium examined trials at Guantanamo Bay. Panelists included (from left): Richard Kammen, Kammen & Moudy; Shahram Dana, The John Marshall Law School; George Edwards, IU McKinney; and Paul Babcock, editor-in-chief of the Indiana International & Comparative Law Review. Chris Jenks of Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law participated via video link. (Photo by Dave Jaynes, courtesy of IU McKinney Law)

An IU McKinney symposium examined trials at Guantanamo Bay. Panelists included (from left): Richard Kammen, Kammen & Moudy; Shahram Dana, The John Marshall Law School; George Edwards, IU McKinney; and Paul Babcock, editor-in-chief of the Indiana International & Comparative Law Review. Chris Jenks of Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law participated via video link. (Photo by Dave Jaynes, courtesy of IU McKinney Law)

Two participants – Shahram Dana, associate professor at The John Marshall Law School and Chris Jenks, assistant professor at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law – on the second panel discussion both noted IU McKinney’s effort in documenting the proceedings at Guantanamo Bay is shining a light on America’s response to terrorism and will be an invaluable resource for history.

Lemmer advocates for the proceedings to be shown on C-SPAN. The American public should see for themselves, she said, so they form their own opinions. By seeing what is happening in that courtroom, she said it is easy to realize how things could go wrong.

“The role of the attorneys, our role (as citizens) is to hold fast to the Constitution when really bad things happen and everybody wants to step over it,” Lemmer said. “Ultimately, the price we pay for not doing it right is incredible. This is our Constitution and it is getting overwhelmed, which should not happen.”

Lemmer took her first trip to Guantanamo Bay in December 2014. However, the proceedings were derailed by the ongoing revelations that the Federal Bureau of Investigation may have infiltrated the defense teams. The FBI is accused of listening to defense attorneys’ meetings with their clients and reviewing their correspondence as well as attempting to turn legal team members into informants.

When she returned in early February 2015, the FBI conflict-of-interest issue was still being argued. Then unexpectedly, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, one of the defendants in the courtroom, said he recognized his interpreter as someone he encountered during the period he was held at one of the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret prisons. Another defendant told his attorney he also remembered the interpreter from the black site.

“It became very surreal,” she said.

To Indianapolis defense attorney Richard Kammen, the confusion and conundrums that swirl around Guantanamo Bay could be resolved by moving the proceedings to federal court. Kammen, lead counsel for USS Cole bombing suspect Abd al-Rahmin al-Nashiri, pointed to the hearings of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an example that U.S. courts can handle high-profile terrorism cases.

“There’re so many more moving parts down there than there would be in federal court, so things just get more messed up,” he said.

Currently, Kammen and his defense team are tangling with the federal government to release the details of the treatment of al-Nashiri while he was kept in a black site. The release of the CIA Torture Report publicly confirmed that the defendant had been physically, psychologically and sexually tortured, but Kammen said the defense still needs details of what was done and when.

Professor Tom Wilson

Professor Tom Wilson

IU McKinney professor Lloyd “Tom” Wilson is scheduled to observe the al-Nashiri proceedings during his first trip to Guantanamo Bay. The task of watching and relaying what is happening will be difficult, he said, because he will be seeing just a snapshot of a long, complex and secretive process.

Wilson was careful in his preparation for the trip, not wanting to form any preconceived ideas or prejudices before he arrived in the courtroom. He is going out of a sense of civic duty and to understand the situation better than he does now.

Still, the proceedings are not easy to comprehend and continue to spark debate many miles away from the detention camp.

As part of his remarks during the IU McKinney symposium, Kammen described Guantanamo Bay as a “law-free zone.”

Co-panelist Jenks countered that characterization, arguing traditional rules governing the treatment of prisoners of war have been upended by terrorism. In previous conflicts, nation states battled each other but now the United States is fighting against groups that are unconnected with any organized government or country. Even so, he continued, the detainees at Guantanamo Bay have a right to counsel and are being given a trial.

Kammen responded that even if his client is acquitted, he will not be released.

“That,” Kammen said, “is a law-free zone.”

_______

The original Indiana Lawyer article can be found here:  http://www.theindianalawyer.com/iu-mckinney-gitmo-observers-illuminate-murky-proceedings-in-gitmo-trials/PARAMS/article/36436

9/11 Hearings in Recess

The 9/11 hearings are in recess because defendant Ramzi bin al Shibh alleged in the courtroom that the interpreter at his defense table had been at a CIA black site. Defense counsel for Walid bin Attash, Cheryl Borhmann, then indicated that her client had informed her of the same.  Court is in recess until 10:30 am.  General Martins’ prosecution team has been called to court to deal with the issue.  His team was not in court because the Special Review Team was representing the government on the FBI conflict of interest matter.

(Catherine Lemmer, 9/11 Hearings, Guantanamo Bay, February 9-13, 2015)

Jurist Publishes Indiana McKinney Law Student’s Torture Article

JURIST Guest Columnist Clarence Leatherbury from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law discusses the debate over torture techniques and our nations security. Clarence published a piece for the JURIST since he is a participant in Professor Edward’s Military Commission Observation Project.

The JURIST (jurist.org) is a legal news and commentary publication run by Professor Bernard Hibbitts and professional and student staffers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. The original column can be seen at: http://jurist.org/dateline/2014/12/clarence-leatherbury-guantanamo-bay.php

(Catherine Lemmer)

Op-Ed: Torture is ineffective in getting information

The Indianapolis Star published Clarence Leatherbury’s  Op Ed: Torture is ineffective in getting information on 17 January 2015. Mr. Leatherbury is a third-year law student at IU Robert H. McKinney who traveled to Ft. Meade, Maryland to monitor U.S. Military Commission hearings in 2014.  Courtroom proceedings at Guantanamo Bay can be viewed by simultaneous secure videolink at the U.S. military base at Ft. Meade.

(Catherine Lemmer)

Senate Torture Report on CIA’s Detention & Interrogation Program – Impact on Next Week’s 9-11 Hearings

The moment I saw the CNN feed with respect to the release of the 525-page Executive Summary of the Committee Study of the CIA’s Detention & Interrogation Program by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence come across my monitor this morning I have been considering the impact of its contents on the upcoming December 15th and 16th 9-11 hearings at Guantanamo Bay I am scheduled to attend. Throughout the day I listened to reports and interviews of commentators and others. If there is any good news in this matter, it perhaps comes in the words of Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, when in response to a question by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer she said: “I want the facts to be there so this never happens again.”

The Committee made 20 findings and conclusions; which are listed in the first 19 pages of the report:

  1. The CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.
  2. The CIA’s justification for the use of  its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.
  3. The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.
  4. The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.
  5. The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.
  6. The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program. Front Cover - CIA Detention & Interrogation - Senate Select Committee on Intelligence - Executive Summary - Released 9 December 2014 - Redacted
  7. The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.
  8. The CIA’s operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.
  9. The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA’s Office of Inspector General.
  10. The CIA coordinated the release of classified information to the media, including inaccurate information concerning the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.
  11. The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after being granted detention authorities.
  12. The CIA’s management and operation of its Detention and Interrogation Program was deeply flawed throughout the program’s duration, particularly so in 2002 and early 2003.
  13. Two contract psychologists devised the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques and played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program.
  14. CIA detainees were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorized by CIA Headquarters.
  15. The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained, and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention. The CIA’s claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its enhanced interrogation techniques were inaccurate.
  16. The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques.
  17. The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management failures.
  18. The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.
  19. The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program was inherently unsustainable and had effectively ended by 2006 due to its unauthorized press disclosures, reduced cooperation from other nations, and legal and oversight concerns.
  20. The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States’ standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.

In the Forward to the Committee Study, Senator Dianne Feinstein writes that it is her personal opinion that “CIA detainees were tortured . . . and that the conditions of confinement and the use of authorized and unauthorized interrogation and conditioning techniques were cruel, inhuman, and degrading.” She urges Americans to remember the context (those days following September 11th)  in which the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program was created; not as an excuse or rationale for the actions of the CIA, “but rather as a warning for the future.”  Senator Feinstein’s advice seems particularly appropriate with the growing threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIL or ISIS) and its ongoing horrific and public treatment of those it deems to be its enemies.

I suspect that people at Guantanamo Bay will be discussing the Report when I am there next week. I will post on what I learn from the discussions. The full report is below:

 

(Posted by Catherine Lemmer)