The U.S. military continued to engage in "abusive interrogation methods" (i.e. techniques of torture) after a 2003 directive supposedly intended to stop them, and "psychologists and medical personnel played a key role in sustaining prisoner abuse — a clear violation of their ethical and legal obligations," according to an ACLU attorney Wednesday as reported by the Associated Press.[1]  --  An account on the Jurist web site posted Thursday provides links to pertinent documents.[2]  --  The ACLU's press release said that the uncensored documents from the Church Report "include new details exposing the role of psychologists in military interrogations.  The documents also uncover new information about the failure of military medical personnel to report abuses at Abu Ghraib, the military's use of unlawful interrogation methods subsequent to a directive that was ostensibly meant to end such practices, and detainee deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq."[3]  --  Iran's Press TV reported the import of the ACLU's announcement as that "the military is using psychologists in interrogations of detainees while medical workers have been stopped from providing humane medical care to detainees and also reporting of the abuse taking place," and that many techniques retracted by the October 2003 and May 2004 memoranda, are still being used," which goes further than what the newly released documents reveal but which may well be the case....

1.

ACLU: PENTAGON DOCUMENTS HIGHLIGHT INTERROGATION METHODS
By Adam Goldman

Associated Press
April 30, 2008

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/D/DETAINEE_ABUSE_REPORT?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=US

NEW YORK -- The military continued to use abusive interrogation methods on detainees after a 2003 directive meant to end such practices, the American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday after reviewing newly released documents.

The Department of Defense documents shed light on the use of psychologists in military interrogations and the failure of medical workers to report abuse of detainees, the ACLU said.

"The documents reveal that psychologists and medical personnel played a key role in sustaining prisoner abuse -- a clear violation of their ethical and legal obligations," ACLU attorney Amrit Singh said.

A Pentagon spokesman said medical workers understood the responsibility to provide humane medical care to detainees.

The ACLU obtained the documents -- newly unredacted data from what is known as the Church Report -- in connection with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed in 2004. The government did not release details on the interrogation methods that continued to be used after 2003, she said.

The documents also show "the use of some of the techniques . . . continued even until July 2004, despite the fact that many were retracted by the October 2003 memorandum, and some were subsequently prohibited by the May 2004 memorandum."

The report says, "The relatively widespread use of these techniques supports our finding that the policy documents were not always received or thoroughly understood."

The Pentagon says it conducted a thorough review of prisoner interrogation policies after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. The Church Report concluded that no uniformed or civilian leaders directed or encouraged the prisoner abuses committed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Humane treatment of detainees "is and always has been the Department of Defense standard," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros said Wednesday.

"The Church Report is one of a dozen major reviews, assessments, or investigations related to detention operations," he said. "None of them found that there was a governmental policy directing, encouraging, or condoning abuse."

The report was largely disclosed in 2005, and a declassified version of the review was made public last year. Some of the documents were initially redacted because they were classified, Singh said. The government claimed that if the information were released it would cause serious damage to national security. The newly released documents are part of the Church Report not previously released.

Singh called the government's argument bogus, saying it furthered a pattern "of claiming national security as pretext for withholding information to cover up embarrassing information."

The ACLU has been highly critical of the report, saying the Pentagon didn't analyze all open abuse cases at the time. The ACLU says the report shows "enlisted medics witnessed obvious episodes of detainee abuse apparently without reporting them to superiors."

Singh said the documents make it clear that the psychologists were employed in the context of military operations. They were not there to serve as mental health providers, she said.

Ballesteros pointed to the executive summary of the report, which states that medical personnel "understood their responsibility to provide humane medical care to detainees, in accordance with U.S. Military medical doctrine and the Geneva Conventions."

He said the report also discusses the role of behavioral science workers, who were not involved in detainee medical care or permitted access to detainees' medical records for purposes of developing interrogation strategies.

"More than 600 criminal investigations have been initiated into allegations of detainee mistreatment. More than 250 servicemembers have been held accountable for their roles in those cases," he said.

The ACLU submitted a freedom of information request in October 2003 and sued in June 2004 demanding immediate disclosure of records relating to prisoners held in facilities abroad. The litigation is ongoing.

2.

U.S. ARMY PSYCHOLOGISTS, MEDICS SUPPORTED 'ABUSIVE' INTERROGATIONS AFTER 2003 BAN: ACLU
By Mike Rosen-Molina

Jurist
May 1, 2008

http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2008/05/us-army-psychologists-medics-supported.php (see original for links)

U.S. military personnel -- including Army psychologists and medics -- continued to use or support "abusive" interrogation tactics even after such methods were prohibited by a 2003 memorandum, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Wednesday. According to documents obtained by the ACLU pursuant to a 2004 Freedom of Information Act request, psychologists and medical staff were involved in interrogations the ACLU says violated their legal responsibilities and professional ethics. The documents also indicate that US medical staff at installations including Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq failed to report potential instances of abusive interrogations.

The documents obtained by the ACLU included previously redacted information from the so-called Church Report, a 2005 review of U.S. prisoner interrogation practices conducted by Vice Adm. Albert T. Church. The Pentagon released an executive summary and other details of the review in March 2005, in association with Church's testimony before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. The investigation began after several photos and reports of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib circulated in the spring of 2004.

In August last year the American Psychological Association (APA) voted against a measure that would have prevented its members from participating in interrogations of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay and other military prisons where suspects have been tortured. The APA instead passed a resolution stating that the association opposes the use of torture and specifying what practices it finds particularly inhumane, including mock executions, sleep deprivation, and sexual humiliation.

3.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT (646) 785-1894 or (212) 549-2666; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

NEWLY UNREDACTED REPORT CONFIRMS PSYCHOLOGISTS SUPPORTED ILLEGAL INTERROGATIONS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN

** Documents Obtained By ACLU Also Uncover "Widespread Use" Of Rescinded Unlawful Interrogation Techniques And Failure Of Medical Personnel To Report Abuses **

American Civil Liberties Union
April 30, 2008

 

http://www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/35111prs20080430.html

 

NEW YORK -- The American Civil Liberties Union announced today the release of newly unredacted documents from the Defense Department's internal investigations into charges of detainee abuse. Uncensored documents from the Church Report, obtained as a result of the ACLU's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, include new details exposing the role of psychologists in military interrogations. The documents also uncover new information about the failure of military medical personnel to report abuses at Abu Ghraib, the military's use of unlawful interrogation methods subsequent to a directive that was ostensibly meant to end such practices, and detainee deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"The documents reveal that psychologists and medical personnel played a key role in sustaining prisoner abuse -- a clear violation of their ethical and legal obligations," said Amrit Singh, a staff attorney with the ACLU. "The documents only underscore the need for an independent investigation into responsibility for the systemic abuse of detainees held in U.S. custody abroad."

In 2006, the ACLU received a highly redacted version of the Church Report, which was commissioned by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as a comprehensive review of military interrogation operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay based on 187 investigations into detainee abuse that had been closed as of September 30, 2004. The report did not analyze information relating to 130 abuse cases that remained open as of that date, and issues of senior official responsibility for detainee abuse were beyond its mandate. Written by Vice Admiral Albert T. Church, the report skirts the question of command responsibility for detainee abuse, euphemistically labeling official failure to issue interrogation guidelines for Iraq and Afghanistan as a "missed opportunity."

The report states that "analogous to the BSCT in Guantanamo Bay, the Army has a number of psychologists in operational positions (in both Afghanistan and Iraq), mostly within Special Operations, where they provide direct support to military operations. They do not function as mental health providers, and one of their core missions is to support interrogations."

The documents also uncover new information about the failure of Army medics to report the notorious abuses that took place at Abu Ghraib. According to the report, "enlisted medics witnessed obvious episodes of detainee abuse apparently without reporting them to superiors." One episode involved a detainee whose wounded leg was intentionally hit. Two others involved detainees handcuffed uncomfortably to beds for prolonged periods, such that one eventually suffered a dislocated shoulder and another experienced excruciating pain when eventually forced to stand. Another incident involved a medic who witnessed pictures of naked detainees in a pyramid but did not report the episode to superiors.

The unredacted sections of the report provide new evidence confirming the use of abusive interrogation techniques after they were no longer authorized. According to the report, "the use of some of the techniques . . . continued even until July 2004, despite the fact that many were retracted by the October 2003 memorandum, and some were subsequently prohibited by the May 2004 memorandum." The report goes on to blame dysfunctional command procedures for the military's failure to follow the law, stating, "the relatively widespread use of these techniques supports our finding that the policy documents were not always received or thoroughly understood."

"Four years have passed since the Abu Ghraib photographs were first published, and yet no senior official has been held responsible for the abuse and torture of prisoners," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. "Senior officials made torture into official policy. Accountability is long overdue."

The documents made public today by the ACLU reveal new information on detainee deaths that were likely the result of abuse. The ACLU previously obtained autopsy and investigative reports for some of these deaths:

* In November 2003, a detainee at Abu Ghraib in Iraq died with "compromised respiration." The Church Report states that "medical personnel may have acted to misrepresent circumstances." See:

action.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/102405/3212.pdf

 

* In November, 2003, a detainee at Forward Operating Base Tiger in Iraq died of asphyxia during an interrogation. The Church Report states that "circumstances should have led" medical personnel "to consider detainee abuse." See:

action.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/102405/3212.pdf

 

* In June 2003, a detainee in Al Nasiriyah, Iraq died of strangulation. His ribs and neck bone were also broken. According to the Church Report, the "investigation suggests he was beaten and then dragged by the neck by a guard." See:

action.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/102405/3164.pdf

 

The House Judiciary Committee will conduct a hearing on May 6 to investigate the issue of accountability for the authorization of torture and abuse by high-level officials.

In October 2003, the ACLU -- along with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense, and Veterans for Peace -- filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for records concerning the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody abroad. To date, more than 100,000 pages of government documents have been released in response to the ACLU's FOIA lawsuit.

The newly unredacted documents and the full Church Report are available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/35110res20080430.html

In addition, many of the FOIA documents are also collected and analyzed in a recently published book by Jaffer and Singh, Administration of Torture. More information is available online at:

www.aclu.org/administrationoftorture

 

The documents received in the ACLU's FOIA litigation are online at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia