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In black and white, the 'torture' files

The release of Justice Department memos authorising the mistreatment of terror suspects has caused a storm. Robert Verkaik examines a manual that gave US interrogators licence to abuse their enemies

Text in bold is indicate taken from CIA document.

1. As we understand it, Zubaydah is one of the highest-ranking members of the al-Qa'ida terrorist organization, with which the United States is currently engaged in an international armed conflict following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11 2001.

1. Abu Zubaydah was captured on 28 March 2002 after a firefight in Faisalabad, Pakistan and was later interrogated at detention centres around the world. Some time before 6 September 2006 he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay. But despite the serious nature of the accusations against him, he was never charged with a terrorism offence.

2. In light of the information you believe Zubaydah has and the high level of the threat you believe now exists, you wish to move the interrogations into what you have described as "increased pressure phase". ... In this phase, you would like to employ 10 techniques that you believe will dislocate his expectations regarding the treatment he believes he will receive and encourage him to disclose the crucial information mentioned above.

2. In August 2002 the CIA suspected that Zubaydah held key intelligence about further terror attacks on the US and they intended to put him under as much physical and mental pressure as they believed was legally permissible. They planned to use 10 techniques incrementally building to the most severe, waterboarding.

3. The attention grasp consists of grasping the individual with both hands, one hand on each side of the collar opening, in a controlled and quick motion. In the same motion as the grasp, the individual is drawn toward the interrogator.

3. This is a crude interrogation technique more often seen on television cop shows. But in the wrong hands it can cause serious injury to the neck. The CIA uses it because it can "startle the subject, produce fear or even insult him".

4. For walling, a flexible false wall will be constructed. The individual is placed with his heels touching the wall. The interrogator pulls the individual forward and then quickly and firmly pushes the individual into the wall.

4. Perhaps the most elaborate of the ten interrogation techniques. The CIA goes to a great deal of trouble to avoid whiplash injuries by supporting the neck with a rolled towel. The emphasis is on fear so that when the suspect strikes the wall the collision creates a loud bang.

5. The facial hold is used to hold the head immobile. One open palm is placed on either side of the individual's face. The fingertips are kept well away from the individual's eyes.

5. Government lawyers reassure CIA officers that this technique is lawful because it does not constitute a "threat of imminent death".

6. With the facial slap or insult slap, the interrogator slaps the individual's face with the fingers slightly spread. The hand makes contact with the area directly between the tip of the individual's chin and the bottom of the corresponding earlobe. The interrogator invades the individual's personal space.

6. This is a technique more often seen during World Wrestling Federation events. It is justified by CIA interrogators who claim that it does not cause lasting pain but humiliates the victim. Any physical abuse of an individual during interrogation is banned under international laws against torture.

7. Cramped confinement involves the placement of the individual in a confined space, the dimensions of which restrict the individual's movement. The confined space is usually dark ... Confinement in the larger space can last up to eighteen hours: for the smaller space, confinement lasts for no longer than two hours.

7. When used in combination with other techniques it can have a harmful psychological effect on an individual. US Government lawyers told the CIA that the use of confinement boxes did not constitute an act of torture.

8. Wall standing is used to induce muscle fatigue. The individual stands about four to five feet from a wall, with his feet spread at approximately shoulder width. His arms are stretched out in front of him, with his fingers resting on the wall. His fingers support all of his body weight. The individual is not permitted to move or reposition his hands or feet.

8. A common practice among armed forces when detaining large numbers of prisoners. US soldiers employed this technique on the Viet Cong in 1967 and once again in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq in the last Gulf War. The Red Cross says stress positions can be a breach of the Geneva Conventions.

9. A variety of stress positions may be used. You have informed us that these positions are not designed to produce the pain associated with contortions or twisting of the body. Rather, somewhat like walling, they are designed to produce the physical discomfort associated with muscle fatigue ...You have also orally informed us that through observing Zubaydah in captivity, you have noted that he appears to be quite flexible despite his wounds.

9. The reference to wounds relates to when Zubaydah was shot three times in a gun battle with Pakistani and US security officers before his capture. He suffered wounds in the groin and in the thigh.

10. Sleep deprivation may be used. You have indicated that your purpose in using this technique is to reduce the individual's ability to think on his feet and, through the discomfort associated with lack of sleep, to motivate him to co-operate.

10. The majority of the British detainees held and interrogated by the Americans before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay complained that they were routinely denied sleep. Among them was British resident Binyam Mohamed who also alleges that he was brutally tortured while he was held for 18 months in American custody at a Moroccan prison.

11. You would like to place Zubaydah in a cramped confinement box with an insect. You have informed us that he appears to have a fear of insects. In particular you would like to tell Zubaydah that you intend to place a stinging insect into the box with him. You would however place a harmless insect in the box ... If you do so, to ensure that you are outside the predicate act requirement, you must inform him that the insects will not have a sting that would produce death or severe pain.

11. Perhaps the most primitive of all the tortures devised by the CIA. The exposure to insects can cause real psychological harm to those who have a genuine phobia. In the end this technique was never tested on a detainee, although the CIA clearly thought Zubaydah would have made an ideal candidate.

12. Finally, you would like to use a technique called "waterboard". In this procedure, the individual is bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individual's feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes.

12. The most controversial practice used by the CIA. Those who have undergone the experience say it is impossible to properly convey the terrifying sense of drowning caused by waterboarding. The US Navy uses it in the training of new recruits and claims it is "100 per cent effective in producing co-operation among the trainees". Now internationally condemned as torture.

13. The facial slap likewise falls outside the set of predicate acts. It plainly is not a threat of imminent death, under Section 2340(2)(C), or a procedure designed to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality, under Section 2340(2)(B). Although it may hurt, as discussed above, the effect is one of smarting or stinging and surprise and humiliation, but not severe pain. Nor does it alone constitute a threat of severe pain or suffering under Section 2340(2)(A) Certainly, the use of this slap may dislodge any expectation that Zubaydah had that he would not be touched in a physically aggressive manner.

13. This reveals the level of complicity of the US medical establishment, whose members were present during these interrogation techniques.

14. Based on the foregoing, and based on the facts that you have provided, we conclude that the interrogation procedures that you propose would not violate Section 2340A [US torture law]. We wish to emphasize that this is our best reading of the law; however, you should be aware that there are no cases construing this statute; just as there have been no prosecutions brought under it.

14. The legal memorandum for the CIA was prepared by the assistant attorney general, Jay Bybee, the second most senior government lawyer at the time. He could face private prosecution for authorising torture techniques that he clearly thought were legal in America but were banned under international law.

Jay S. Bybee, Assistant Attorney General

Source: Independent

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