[Let's welcome Senator Levin to FireDogLake. Please take off-topic conversations to a prior thread. -ew]
Many of you are familiar with the hearing the Senate Armed Services Committee held last month (and if not, our host Marcy kept close tabs here). It was a hearing on our detailed inquiry into the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. Our focus has been on the origins of aggressive interrogation techniques, specifically techniques used in military’s Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape or "SERE" training, which were never intended to be used for interrogation purposes, but were nonetheless put into practice in Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) , Afghanistan and Iraq. As I talked about in the hearing, techniques used in SERE training are based on abusive interrogation techniques that have been used by our enemies, including Communist China during the Korean War, against American soldiers.
Our investigation found that senior government officials, including former Department of Defense General Counsel Jim Haynes, sought out information on SERE techniques, including waterboarding, months before Haynes recommended that Secretary Rumsfeld approve many of the same techniques for use against detainees at GTMO. Haynes’s recommendation to Rumsfeld came despite strong objections from the military services that many of the techniques were illegal and that their use would damage U.S. interests. Secretary Rumsfeld’s December 2, 2002 approval of techniques, including stripping detainees, placing them in stress positions, using dogs to scare them, hooding them, depriving them of sleep, and blasting music at them, unleashed a virus that infected our interrogations of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The damage this caused to our moral standing and our national security is incalculable.
Jim Haynes’s responses to the Committee’s questions at the hearing were deeply troubling. It is incredible to me that he would not recall key details about what was one of the most important issues he faced during his years as General Counsel. The hearing on June 17th was "Part I" and there will be more to come as we keep digging to get to the bottom of this story and attempt to arrive at some accountability at higher levels for the abuses that occurred.
Now I’m looking forward to a little back and forth… I’m here until about 11:45am, so hopefully we can cover a lot of ground.