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CIA Played Larger Role In Advising Pentagon
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the administration's consistent policy has been to treat detainees humanely and within the law. "Abuse of detainees has never been, is not, and will never be the policy of this government," he said at a news briefing yesterday.
But some of Fredman's advice was apparently persuasive for top Pentagon officials, who in the following weeks approved the first formal program for harsh interrogations at the facility in Cuba. While the outlines of the Guantanamo Bay program are widely known, the new documents suggest a common interest by the CIA and Pentagon in the use of tactics from a program known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape. In testimony, officials involved in SERE training acknowledged being asked to write memos for senior Pentagon officials about which techniques had the greatest psychological effect.
Among those questioned yesterday about decisions was William J. "Jim" Haynes II, a former Defense Department general counsel who acknowledged pressing for more aggressive techniques but said the decisions were driven by the administration's fear of more terrorist strikes.
"What I remember about the summer of 2002 was a government-wide concern about the possibility of another terrorist attack as the anniversary of September 11" approached, Haynes said. He also cited "widespread frustration" among Pentagon officials that summer about the slow progress on obtaining information from Guantanamo Bay detainees.
But Haynes and other Pentagon officials acknowledged that the proposed methods faced opposition at the time from experts in military and international law. Among them was Mark Fallon, deputy commander of the Defense Department's Criminal Investigation Task Force. He warned in an October 2002 e-mail to Pentagon colleagues that the techniques under discussion would "shock the conscience of any legal body" that might review how the interrogations were conducted.
"This looks like the kind of stuff Congressional hearings are made of," Fallon wrote. He added: "Someone needs to be considering how history will look back at this."
Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.