March 28, 2015

Sept. 25, 2002: Senior administration lawyers visit GTMO & urge tougher interrogations

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Alberto Gonzales Counsel to the President, David Addington, Counsel to the Vice President, Jim Haynes DoD General Counsel, John Rizzo Acting CIA General Counsel, Michael Chertoff Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division, and other senior administration officials travelled to Guantanamo Bay and were briefed on future plans for detention facilities as well as on intelligence successes, failures, and problems at the Joint Task Force (JTF). JTF Commander Dunlavey held private conversations with Mr. Haynes about “policy constraints” affecting interrogations.  He indicated that JTF was working on a request for authority to use additional interrogation techniques.

Following that visit, Behavioral Science  Consultation Team (BSCT) psychiatrist MAJ Burney testified that “by early October there was increasing pressure to get ‘tougher’ with detainee interrogations but nobody was quite willing to define what ‘tougher’ meant.”  JTF -170 Director of Intelligence, Lieutenant Colonel Jerald Phifer asked the BSCT to draft an interrogation policy that could be sent up the chain of command. In both written statements and interviews with Congressional Committee staff and the Army Inspector General, Major Burney, has stated that the memo was written under “a lot of pressure to get tougher with detainee interrogations because we were not being successful at establishing a link between al Qaeda and Iraq.” Burney stated that if the interrogation policy memo they had asked him to write did not contain coercive techniques, then it “wasn’t going to go very far.” (S. Armed Services Report, p. 50; Sheri Fink. Tortured Profession… ProPublica, 2009)


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