CIA Watchdog Report Says Detainees Died During Interrogations
Posted by musliminsuffer on April 23, 2009
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
=== News Update ===
CIA Watchdog Report Says Detainees Died During Interrogations
April 21, 2009
In the report, Helgerson concluded that the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program “appeared to constitute cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, as defined by the International Convention Against Torture” and the interrogation of Mohammed “could expose agency officers to legal liability,” according to a Nov. 9, 2005 report published in the New York Times.
Now, thanks to the release last week of four Justice Department “torture” memos Helgerson’s concerns make sense.
In a footnote to a May 30, 2005 memo issued by Steven Bradbury, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003, the same month he was captured. The of times Mohammed was waterboarded was first reported by blogger Marcy Wheeler over the weekend.
Another footnote said that “in some cases the waterboard was used with far greater frequency than initially indicated” and with larger quantities of water than permitted under written guidelines.
Both footnotes directly reference Helgerson’s report and the memo, along with two others issued by Bradbury in May 2005, appears to address specific conclusions Helgerson’s report raised questions about the legality of the “enhanced interrogations.”
According to the Times report, Helgerson’s investigation into the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program, launched in 2003, “expressed skepticism [that] the [torture] treaty does not apply to CIA interrogations because they take place overseas on people who are not citizens of the United States.”
“The officials who described the report said it discussed particular techniques used by the CIA against particular prisoners, including about three dozen terror suspects being held by the agency in secret locations around the world,” the New York Times reported.
“They said it referred in particular to the treatment of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed…who has been detained in a secret location by the CIA since he was captured in March 2003. Mr. Mohammed is among those believed to have been subjected to waterboarding, in which a prisoner is strapped to a board and made to believe he is drowning.”
The report has been highly sought after by members of Congress and civil liberties organizations for some time. It is believed contents of the report were shared with Democratic and Republican members of the House and Senate intelligence committees.
In fact, a little known declaration from the Justice Department in January makes that clear. The declaration, made in response to a lawsuit filed against the CIA by the American Civil Liberties Union over the destruction of 92 interrogation videotapes, says “at the conclusion of [Helgerson’s] special review in May 2004, [CIA Office of Inspector General] notified DOJ and other relevant oversight authorities of the review’s findings.”
In June 2004, one month after Helgerson concluded his investigation, then CIA Director George Tenet asked the White House to explicitly sign off on the agency’s “enhanced interrogation” program with a memo that authorized specific techniques, such as waterboarding. A similar request was also made by the agency at the start of Helgerson’s probe in 2003, according to a report published in the Washington Post last October.
“The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 that explicitly endorsed the agency’s use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding against al-Qaeda suspects — documents prompted by worries among intelligence officials about a possible backlash if details of the program became public,” the Post reported.
“The classified memos, which have not been previously disclosed (and remain classified), were requested by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet more than a year after the start of the secret interrogations, according to four administration and intelligence officials familiar with the documents. Although Justice Department lawyers, beginning in 2002, had signed off on the agency’s interrogation methods, senior CIA officials were troubled that White House policymakers had never endorsed the program in writing.”
It’s unknown whether Helgerson’s review lead Tenet to request the memos from the White House.
According to the Post report, “the CIA’s anxiety was partly fueled by the lack of explicit presidential authorization for the interrogation program” and “Tenet seemed…interested in protecting his subordinates” from legal liability.
Last week, after the four “torture” memos were released, Attorney General Eric Holder said he told the CIA that the federal government would provide legal representation “to any employee, at no cost to the employee, in any state or federal judicial or administrative proceeding brought against the employee based on such conduct and would take measures to respond to any proceeding initiated against the employee in any international or foreign tribunal, including appointing counsel to act on the employee’s behalf and asserting any available immunities and other defenses in the proceeding itself.”
“To the extent permissible under federal law, the government will also indemnify any employee for any monetary judgment or penalty ultimately imposed against him for such conduct and will provide representation in congressional investigations,” Holder said. “It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department.”
But Helgerson’s report, if made public, could change all that.
According to New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer, Helgerson concluded that some detainees were allegedly killed during interrogations.
In an interview with Harper’s magazine last year, Mayer said Helgerson “investigated several alleged homicides involving CIA detainees” and forwarded several of those cases “to the Justice Department for further consideration and potential prosecution.”
“Why have there been no charges filed? It’s a question to which one would expect that Congress and the public would like some answers,” Mayer said. “Sources suggested to me that… it is highly uncomfortable for top Bush Justice officials to prosecute these cases because, inevitably, it means shining a light on what those same officials sanctioned.”
In her book, The Dark Side, Mayer wrote that Helgerson was “looking into at least three deaths of CIA-held prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Helgerson “had serious questions about the agency’s mistreatment of dozens more, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,” Mayer wrote, adding that there was a belief by some “insiders that [Helgerson’s investigation] would end with criminal charges for abusive interrogations.”
The ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information act lawsuit to gain access to Helgerson’s report. Portions of the report have already been turned over to the organization, but much of it was heavily redacted. If the ACLU prevails, as it did in its litigation over the “torture” memos, and Helgerson’s report is released it will no doubt further fuel the debate over the need for a criminal investigation.
According to Mayer, Helgerson’s report is “tens of thousands of pages long and as thick as two Manhattan phone books.”
“It contained information, according to one source, that was simply ‘sickening,’” Mayer wrote. “The behavior it described, another knowledgeable source said, raised concerns not just about the detainees but also about the Americans who had inflicted the abuse, one of whom seemed to have become frighteningly dehumanized. The source said, “You couldn’t read the documents without wondering, “Why didn’t someone say, ‘Stop!'”
According to Mayer, Vice President Dick Cheney stopped Helgerson from fully completing his investigation. That proves, Mayer contends, that as early as 2004 “the Vice President’s office was fully aware that there were allegations of serious wrongdoing in The [interrogation] Program.”
“Helgerson was summoned repeatedly to meet privately with Vice President Cheney” before his investigation was “stopped in its tracks.” Mayer said that Cheney’s interaction with Helgerson was “highly unusual.”
One person who was concerned about the CIA’s interrogation program was Mary O. McCarthy, who alleged CIA officials “lied” to members of Congress during an intelligence briefing when they said the agency did not violate treaties that bar, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees during interrogations, according to a May 14, 2006, front-page story in The Washington Post.
“A CIA employee of two decades, McCarthy became convinced that ‘CIA people had lied’ in that briefing, as one of her friends said later, not only because the agency had conducted abusive interrogations but also because its policies authorized treatment that she considered cruel, inhumane or degrading,” The Washington Post reported.
McCarthy “worried that neither Helgerson nor the agency’s Congressional overseers would fully examine what happened or why.” Another friend said, “She had the impression that this stuff has been pretty well buried.” The Post story reported, “In McCarthy’s view and that of many colleagues, friends say, torture was not only wrong but also misguided, because it rarely produced useful results.”
In April 2006, ten days before she was due to retire, McCarthy was fired from the CIA for allegedly leaking classified information to the media, a CIA spokeswoman told reporters at the time.
Mayer also suggested that the CIA may have decided to destroy 92 interrogation videotapes, which Helgerson viewed at one of the CIA’s “black site” prisons prior to the drafting his report, after Sen. Jay Rockefeller, began asking questions about the tapes referenced in the report.
“Further rattling the CIA was a request in May 2005 from Senator Jay Rockefeller, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, to see over a hundred documents referred to in the earlier Inspector General’s report on detention inside the black prison sites,” Mayer wrote in her book. “Among the items Rockefeller specifically sought was a legal analysis of the CIA’s interrogation videotapes.
“Rockefeller wanted to know if the intelligence agency’s top lawyer believed that the waterboarding of [alleged al-Qaeda operative Abu] Zubaydah and [alleged 9/11 mastermind] Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, as captured on the secret videotapes, was entirely legal. The CIA refused to provide the requested documents to Rockefeller. But the Democratic senator’s mention of the videotapes undoubtedly sent a shiver through the Agency, as did a second request the made for these documents to [former CIA Director Porter] Goss in September 2005.”
In October 2007, former CIA Director Michael Hayden ordered an investigation into Helgerson’s office, focusing on internal complaints that the inspector general was on “a crusade against those who have participated in controversial detention program.”
:: Article nr. 53601 sent on 22-apr-2009 02:30 ECT
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