The 528-page executive summary released to the public draws distinctions between how the U.S. military and the CIA handled its detainees. In fact, it says that that while the CIA first favored holding detainees abroad in U.S. military bases in fall 2001. But the agency decided against doing so in March 2002 in order to avoid declaring to the International Committee of the Red Cross that it had captured Abu Zabaida, who is accused by the U.S. of being involved in a major al-Qaeda facilitator.
The U.S. military ties into the interrogation report in others ways, too. Here are six other examples:
2. ‘Coercive interrogation techniques’ were adopted from Air Force training
A number of the techniques that the CIA sought approval from the Justice Department to use were adapted from U.S. Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape school, which is designed, in part, to prepare U.S. troops “for the conditions and treatment to which they might be subjected if taken prisoner by countries that do not adhere to the Geneva Conventions,” the report says.
More broadly, SERE school is designed to teach military personnel how to survive on their own in any environment, whether it is because they have been abandoned, are lost or have crashed in a plane that leaves them stranded. It is carried out in several places, including Fort Benning, Ga., and Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.
3. Detaining alleged terrorists at Guantanamo Bay was suggested by CIA officials early on
In November 2001, senior CIA officials sent an internal memo pushing for detainees to be kept at a U.S. military base outside the United States. It urged Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet to push the Defense Department at the highest levels “to have the US Military agree to host a long-term facility, and have them identify an agreeable location.” Guantanamo was recommended, and the detention center there was established in January 2002.
The report says that five detainees were kept at Guantanamo Bay beginning in September 2003 at a CIA facility that was separate from the military detention center. By April 2004, however, they all had been moved to CIA prisons in other countries.
4. The Pentagon declined to get involved in aspects of the CIA program
The CIA Detention and Interrogation Program was “inherently unsustainable,” and started to collapse as news of it leaked in the press. In 2005 and 2006, the Defense Department repeatedly declined to get involved, even when asked for assistance by the CIA, the report says.
“Lack of access to adequate medical care for detainees in countries hosting the CIA’s detention facilities caused recurring problems,” the report said. “The refusal of one host country to admit a severely ill detainee into a local hospital due to security concerns contributed to the closing of the CIA’s detention facility in that country. The U.S. Department of Defense also declined to provide medical care to detainees upon CIA request.”
5. A military legal officer who saw a ‘black site’ raised concerns about it
In October 2002, a U.S. military legal adviser visited “detention site Cobalt,” which The Washington Post has determined to be one of the CIA’s “black sites” in Afghanistan. According to the report, he found that the detainee Ridha Ahmad Najar was wearing a diaper, kept in isolation in total darkness and left hanging from an overhead bar to which he was handcuffed.
After seeing the site, the military officer raised concerns, saying Najar’s interrogation “would involve risks for the U.S. military,” the report says. The CIA official in charge of the site had little experience, the officer noted.
6. CIA contractors drew on military experience to develop interrogation plan
Two former psychologists at the Air Force SERE school, Grayson Swigert and Hammond Dunbar, pseudonyms for James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, are cited for their roles in developing the CIA plan. They had no previous experience as interrogators, but used their experience to consult on psychological aspects of the CIA program while working as contractors, the report says.
The two men had no direct experience with waterboarding because it is not used in SERE school. Nevertheless, they recommended it as an “absolutely convincing technique” to use on Abu Zubaida, the report said. They did so while noting that the Navy used it in training, and had not reported any long-term consequences on individuals who underwent it. The Navy uses it only in a single training exercise, rather than in multiple sessions, the report adds.
7. Defense Department grew tired of ‘ghost detainees’
The CIA and Pentagon were at odds over how to treat detainees, the report said. In September 2004, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz indicated he would not support the CIA’s position that notifying the Red Cross committee of all detainees in U.S. custody would hurt national security, it added.
The Defense Department “did not believe an adequate articulation of military necessity or national security reasons warranting nondisclosure existed, was “tired of ‘taking hits’ for CIA ‘ghost detainees,” and believed the U.S. government “should not be in the position of causing people to ‘disappear,'” according to an internal CIA e-mail cited in the report.