Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gitmo Torture Orders Came From The Top

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The author of 'The Torture Tapes' describes how coercive interrogation came to be the policy of the United States government.


The New Republic | Post Date Tuesday, April 22, 2008

British writer and international lawyer Philippe Sands is the author of The Torture Team , in stores May 5, which chronicles the role lawyers played in the introduction of the Bush administration's program of coercive interrogation techniques. Here, Scott Horton talks to Sands about his findings.

TNR: In The Torture Team, you focus on a single document, Donald Rumsfeld's December 2, 2002 approval of extraordinarily aggressive interrogation techniques. You give us the document's genesis, and the revolt within the Pentagon that led to its being formally withdrawn. But what you show is a process as much as a document, and that process appears to me to be a conscious, studied circumvention of the normal procedure followed by the U.S. military. Do you agree?

Sands: When the administration released the December 2002 and other memos, it told a story that essentially said this: The new interrogation techniques came from the bottom up and had nothing to do with policy decisions driven from the top. I wanted to explore the truth of that account, by trying to talk to as many of the people involved in the decision as I could. I journeyed around America, tracking down the key players--amongst many others, Diane Beaver and Mike Dunlavey at Guantánamo; General Tom Hill at SOUTHCOM; General Dick Myers at Joint Chiefs and his lawyer, Jane Dalton; Doug Feith at the Pentagon; and Jim Haynes at the general counsel's office. I racked up hundreds of hours of interviews with them, from which emerged a clear account of the process that was actually followed--though, of course, there are many more points of detail still to come out. The pressure for the new techniques came from the top and there was input from the top into the identification of the techniques. In pushing forward the decision-making process normal approval process was circumvented, as General Dick Myers at Joint Chiefs confirmed to me, saying, "This was not the way this should have come about." Jim Haynes is one of the key players in this story. He was general counsel at the DoD throughout the period, Donald Rumsfeld's Harvard Law School-trained lawyer who, it turned out, was intimately involved in the key decisions from a far earlier stage than his public accounts suggest. He may not have been the "brains" behind the whole operation--that designation must surely go to David Addington, Vice President Cheney's lawyer at the time, and Haynes' mentor. But Haynes was deeply and constantly involved.

Continued . . .

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