The brutal treatment of terror detainees and prisoners by members of the U.S. military wasn’t the work of "a few bad apples," according to a Senate report. Instead, it followed directly from the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation techniques during the Bush administration.
The report documents the Bush administration’s growing reliance on harsh interrogations that began just two months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. It also ties those unyielding interrogation policies to the abuses of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. military authorities at the Abu Ghraib prison as well as to interrogations at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan.
The legal office wanted information about how the training unit, the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, conducted its mock interrogations and detention operations. The agency trains U.S. armed forces personnel to endure questioning that includes harsh techniques adapted from methods used by North Korean, Communist Chinese and Vietcong interrogators.
A month later, the CIA captured Abu Zubaydah, an alleged top al-Qaida organizer in Pakistan. Zubaydah proved resistant to traditional interrogation techniques. During the first half of 2002, CIA interrogators began to subject Zubaydah to waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning taught by survival school trainers to CIA personnel sometime in the first half of 2002.
The opinion concluded that the harsh interrogation methods would be acceptable for use on terror detainees because the same techniques did not cause severe physical or mental pain to U.S. military students who were tested in the government’s carefully controlled training program.
It would be a month, however, before the policy was brought back under Geneva Convention guidelines. Despite the revision, within weeks abuses at Abu Ghraib had begun.