There are many revelations and details buried in the banal, technical language of lawyers:
Among the revelations:
** Through 2005, the CIA used "enhanced
interrogation techniques" on 28 of 94 so-called "high value detainees."
** Waterboarding was theoretically allowed
only in cases where the information solicited from the prisoner could thwart an
imminent terrorist attack; the Justice Department permitted only "six applications
of water lasting more than ten seconds" for every two-hour period during which
a detainee was strapped to the board. Only 12 minutes of water torture was
allowed per 24-hour period. Also: the CIA put potential waterboardees on a
fluid diet before the torture in order to prevent them from choking to death on
food that might be stuck in the GI tract.
** The OLC concluded that the CIA's
careful application of the program didn't "shock the conscience" of a
reasonable person and thus would not trigger a statute that would leave
interrogators vulnerable to prosecution
** The name of at least one High Value
Detainee who was subject to "enhanced techniques" has been redacted. Later,
however, the same memo mentions a "Gul" who was subjected to enhanced
techniques. This appears to be an inadvertent omission.
** Through 2005, the CIA said that only
3 detainees were subject to 96-hour sleep deprivation
** See page 7 of this document for an
example of a "typical" interrogation: abdominal slaps, facial holds, "walling,"
** The 2002 memo contended it was legal to place an insect in a
cramped confined space with a prisoner, provided that the insect was not
poisonous. The CIA wanted to use this technique on Abu Zubaydah, who was afraid
of poisonous insects. Nowhere is Zubaydah's degraded mental state mentioned.
** It sanctioned techniques which
caused less pain than then type of pain one would experience with a major
** It allowed a previously disclosed
technique called "walling," involving the slamming of a detainee's head back
against a fake wall.
** It presumed that the CIA
interrogators did not want to cause Zubaydah "severe" mental or physical pain;
** The CIA justified its techniques by referring
to the SERE program, which teachers soldiers how to avoid capture and
** A May 10, 2005 memo calls torture "abhorrent"
Before the memos were released, the
administration circulated them to members of Congress who had been critical of
the Bush administration's approach. A
few minutes after Air Force One landed in Mexico, Obama said in a statement
that the techniques described in the memos "undermine our moral authority and
do not make us safer."
He said their extraordinary nature
compelled their release. But, in a juxtaposition that will rankle many of his
civil libertarian allies, he then defended his administration's court arguments
favoring the executive branch's right to protect classified information.