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CIA Officials Fear That New Rules May Hinder Interrogations

For example, the "attention grasp," described as "grasping the individual with both hands, one hand on either side of the collar," is one of the 13 techniques employed in the past by the CIA and is listed in the Justice Department's May 10, 2005, memo. It is barred under the Field Manual. Unlike harsher techniques on the list, such as nudity, dietary control, sleep deprivation and waterboarding, CIA officials say they want the authority to use the attention grasp without going back to Washington for approval.

The CIA has also recommended to the presidential task force studying future rules for interrogation that the agency, FBI and Defense Department establish a joint interrogation training center so that all agencies understand the rules under which they operate.

The Field Manual, which was published in 2006, says that "direct approach" interrogation operations in World War II had a 90 percent effectiveness, and those in Vietnam, Kuwait and Iraq had a success rate of 95 percent. Afghanistan since 2002 and Iraq since 2003 are still being studied. "However," it adds, "unofficial studies indicate that in these operations, the direct approach has been dramatically less successful."

Another intelligence official, who also asked not to be identified, said waterboarding and other harsh techniques "were meant to get hardened terrorists to a point where they were willing to answer questions." That capability, the official said, "is now gone."

The special task force set up by Obama in January will determine whether the Field Manual interrogation guidelines are too narrow and whether "additional guidance is necessary for CIA," according to a White House statement. A report on that study is not expected before July.

Staff writer Carrie Johnson contributed to this report.


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