Church's report found that interrogators used sexually oriented tactics and harassment to shock or offend Muslim prisoners, the senior Pentagon official said. The official said that the military would not condone "sexual activity" during interrogation, but that good interrogators "take initiative and are a little creative."
"They are trying to find the key that will get someone to talk to them. Using things that are culturally repulsive is okay as long as it doesn't extend to something prohibited by the Geneva Conventions."
Audio: The Post's Carol Leonnig links a Pentagon investigation that describes female interrogators use of sexual tactics at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib.
Attorneys for detainees scoffed at the Pentagon's insistence that the military can fairly investigate its own personnel. They noted that the Defense Department last fall initially dismissed torture allegations, insisting that detainees were trained at terrorist camps to lodge false claims.
Even detainee lawyers doubted that interrogators would spread menstrual blood on prisoners when a recently released British detainee first made the allegation in early 2004. A month ago, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed it had verbally reprimanded one female interrogator who, in early 2003, had smeared red dye from a marker on a detainee's shirt and told him it was blood.
In a yet-to-be-published book, former Army translator Erik Saar said he saw a female interrogator smear red dye on a Saudi man's face, telling him it was blood. Saar's account was first reported by the Associated Press last month. And Mamdouh Habib, an Australian man released from Guantanamo Bay last month, said he was strapped down while a woman told him she was "menstruating" on his face.
One lawyer, Marc Falkoff, said in an interview that when a Yemeni client told him a few weeks ago about an incident involving menstrual blood, "I almost didn't even write it down." He said: "It seemed crazy, like something out of a horror movie or a John Waters film. Now it doesn't seem ludicrous at all."
Some of the newly declassified accounts of detainees evoke scenes from a rock music video. German detainee Murat Kurnaz told his lawyer that three women in lacy bras and panties strutted into the interrogation room where he was sitting in chains. They cooed about how attractive he was and suggested "they could have some fun," he said.
When Kurnaz averted his eyes, he said, one woman sat on his lap, another rubbed her breasts against his back and massaged his chest and a third squatted near his crotch. He head-butted the woman behind him, he said, knocking her off him. All three ran out and a team of soldiers stormed in and beat him, he said.
Detainee lawyers likened the tactics to Nazis shaving the beards of orthodox Jews or artists dunking a crucifix in urine to shock Christians. "They're exploiting religious beliefs to break them down, to destroy them," said Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents several dozen detainees. "What they're doing, it reminds me of a pornographic Web site -- it's like the fantasy of all these S&M clubs."
Falkoff said some of his clients have also been threatened with rape by male interrogators.
One soldier told another detainee, Muktar Warafi, that he had to start telling the truth or he would be raped, according to Falkoff's notes of the interview. When he left the room, another person immediately came into the room and told Warafi: "That interrogator is new and doesn't know the rules. We apologize on his behalf. Now let's talk."
Yasein Esmail, a Yemeni detainee, said he had been interrogated more than 100 times since being "kidnapped" in a marketplace in Kabul, Afghanistan, and brought to Guantanamo Bay. He recounted to his lawyer that when he refused to talk in one interview, a female soldier entered wearing a tight T-shirt.
"Why aren't you married?" she reportedly asked Esmail. "You are a young man and have needs. What do you like?"
Esmail said "she bent down with her breasts on the table and her legs almost touching" him. "Are you going to talk," she asked, "or are we going to do this for six hours?"
Researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.