More declassified documents reveal FBI warnings about interrogation tactics
Previously censored documents released late Friday by the Department of Justice have shed more light on the FBI investigation into CIA interrogation tactics. Part of the record shows how FBI officials understood that the ‘battleground tactics’ used by the Pentagon were ineffective and wouldn’t lead to prosecutions. As early as 2003, the Federal Bureau of Investigations sent repeated warnings to the Department of Defense, but abusive interrogations occurred for 4 more years.
These latest documents were part of an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit being conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union. Last week, newly released memos indicated that the FBI began to conduct an investigation into CIA interrogation techniques and secret prisons, but was denied regular access to prisoners. Department of Justice officials decided that there was not enough evidence to prosecute CIA interrogators.
This week, fresh documents in the ACLU lawsuit go deeper into the conflict between the FBI and the Pentagon. The belief at the Bureau was that though the Army-based interrogation tactics were useful for battlefield information gathering, “the reliability of information obtained using such tactics is highly questionable, not to mention potentially legally inadmissible in court.” This memo from May 2003 brings important questions to mind: Did the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers drafting later memos for the CIA not know about these early warnings? Did the CIA dismiss these warnings altogether, or were they told to ignore them?
Senior officials from the Criminal Investigative Task Force “lamented the fact that many DHS [Defense Human Intelligence Services] interrogators seem to believe that the only way to elicit information from uncooperative detainees is to use aggressive techniques on them.”
According to the Washington Independent, “Not only did the officials not succeed in convincing DHS to abandon the techniques, but the document described how the military and DHS inaccurately portrayed to the Pentagon that the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit approved of and helped design the very techniques that the BAU warned would backfire.” The mischaracterization by the DHS may be the sole reason that abusive interrogations were carried on 4 years after stern FBI warnings reached the Department of Defense.
The new documents can be found here.