The American Civil Liberties Union has released previously classified excerpts of a U.S. government report on harsh interrogation techniques used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, which detail repeated use of abusive behavior, even to the point of prisoner deaths.
The documents, obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, contain a report by Vice Admiral Albert T. Church, who was tapped to conduct a comprehensive review of Defense Department interrogation operations. (The two unredacted pages from the Church report may be found here.)
On the same day, FOIA documents by three other leading human rights groups reveal the Pentagon ran secret prisons in Bagram and Iraq, that it cooperated with the CIA's "ghost detention" program and that Defense personnel delayed a prisoner's release to avoid bad press.
Prisoners “were handcuffed to fixed objects above their heads in order to keep them awake," reads the document. "Additionally, interrogations in both incidents involved the use of physical violence, including kicking and beating.”
In a press release, the ACLU summarized the documents as detailing, "[An] investigation of two deaths at Bagram. Both detainees were determined to have been killed by pulmonary embolism caused as a result of standing chained in place, sleep depravation and dozens of beatings by guards and possibly interrogators. (Also reveals the use of torture at Gitmo and American-Afghani prisons in Kabul).
The entire package was boiled down to several key points by the CCR in a report by Mother Jones writer Steve Aquino.
One "dated May 2004, highlights (PDF, page 17) how the Geneva Conventions can be interpreted to allow the CIA and the DoD to ghost detainees' identities so they can be denied a visit from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
"This was done, according to a memo from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to 'maximize intelligence collection efforts.' In other words, give them more time to interrogate inmates."
And perhaps most outrageous, a Feb. 2006 e-mail disclosed by the groups highlights an effort to limit bad press by delaying the release of a detainee "for 45 days or so until things cool down."