New reports coming out show that former President Bush approved the use of insects to be placed in a confinement box during the interrogation of Al Qaeda official Abu Zubaydah. The secrets the CIA wanted to be buried are now out for public display.
The rules that Bush’s administration approved from CIA interrogation are the stuff of nightmares; being thrown against a wall 30 times was allowed as was denying prisoners sleep for more than a week.
The legal memorandum for the CIA was prepared by Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee. It reviewed 10 techniques that could have been used to interrogate Zubaydah and determined they were not torture under U.S. criminal law.
Those techniques included attention grasp, walling (hitting a detainee against a flexible wall), facial hold, facial slap, cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation, insects placed in a confinement box, and water-boarding. The memorandum was written on Aug. 1, 2002.
According to reports, Bybee says the approved torture techniques would not prove to have lasting effects on the prisoners. The Christian Science Monitor reports:
“In the absence of prolonged mental harm, no severe mental pain or suffering would have been inflicted, and the use of these procedures would not constitute torture within the meaning of the statute,” Mr. Bybee wrote.
On Thursday as President Obama absolved CIA officers Thursday he in effect tied his hands to the torture used on the prisoners at Gitmo.
The CIA wanted the memos kept secret. Obama however wants the United States to be able to move beyond “a dark and painful chapter in our history.” Unleashing the cruel skeletons from the political closet is one way of doing so.
Time quotes the memorandum on the use of insects.
“You [the CIA] would like to place Zubaydah in a cramped confinement box with an insect. You have informed us [the Department of Justice] 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. You have orally informed us that you would in fact place a harmless insect such as a caterpillar in the box with him.”
The CIA is said to have never used the above method according to another declassified memo also released on Thursday. It has been verified that water-boarding was used to interrogate Zubaydah.
The legal rules that Bybee had written out are no longer used by the United States. President Obama signed under an executive order his first week that all CIA interrogators must follow the Army Field Manual’s rules.
Kansas City Star quotes CIA director Leon Panetta:
He said: “The fact remains that CIA’s detention and interrogation effort was authorized and approved by our government. For that reason, as I have continued to make clear, I will strongly oppose any effort to investigate or punish those who followed the guidance of the Department of Justice.”
Human Rights Watch wants more to be done though now that the secret documents have been released.
“President Obama said there was nothing to gain ‘by laying blame for the past,'” said Stacy Sullivan, counterterrorism advisor at Human Rights Watch. “But prosecuting those responsible for torture is really about ensuring that such crimes don’t happen in the future.”