Newsweek International - - GITMO - by MARK FAL­LON

It was Fe­bru­ary 2002, and I was giv­ing Bob Mcfad­den a tour of Camp X-ray, a crude de­ten­tion cen­ter on the far cor­ner of the U.S. prison in Guan­tá­namo Bay, Cuba. As the deputy com­man­der of the De­fense De­part­ment’s Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Task Force at Gitmo, I over­saw the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and in­ter­ro­ga­tion of sus­pected mil­i­tants. The goal: to probe their net­works and bring them to trial. As I ex­plained to Mcfad­den, a for­mer col­league at the Naval Crim­i­nal In­ves­tiga­tive Ser­vice, the job was, well, com­pli­cated.

Nearly all the Gitmo de­tainees had been nabbed in Afghanistan. We housed them in out­door mesh cages made of fenc­ing ma­te­rial. Each cage had two buck­ets, one for drink­ing wa­ter, the other for hu­man waste. It was sort of like a high-se­cu­rity, low-rent zoo.

By the time Mcfad­den ar­rived, the camp was get­ting over­crowded. We asked for bet­ter fa­cil­i­ties but were told to “hang tight” be­cause Gitmo was just a tem­po­rary hold­ing site. In the mean­time, I showed my old friend around, warn­ing him about the camp’s more ec­cen­tric char­ac­ters. One guy, whom we nick­named Wild Bill, would chuck his shit at you if you got too close. An­other, Waf­fle Butt, would press his bare ass against the mesh any time some­one got near him.

None of that both­ered Mcfad­den. He’d been in­side plenty of nasty places. But as soon as the de­tainees re­al­ized he spoke Ara­bic, they be­gan yelling at him: “Please, please, mis­ter, mis­ter! There’s been a mis­take! There was a mix-up.” Mcfad­den talked to some of them, and I could see his face get­ting more and more trou­bled. Fi­nally, he grabbed a list of de­tainees, scanned the names, looked at the mass of pris­on­ers in front of him and shouted out, “None of them are Arabs!” The de­tainee list was full of Afghan and Pak­istani names such as Iqbal and Khan. Who­ever they were, they weren’t part of the core Al-qaeda net­work—the Egyp­tians, Saudis and other Arabs whom U.S. in­tel­li­gence been track­ing for years.

In the fall of 2001, the pri­mary jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for in­vad­ing Afghanistan was to cap­ture Osama bin Laden and his in­ner cir­cle. That hadn’t hap­pened, but our mil­i­tary hadn’t given up on the chase. He­li­copters were still drop­ping fly­ers of­fer­ing $5,000 boun­ties for Tal­iban or Al-qaeda mem­bers. Most of the Afghan and Pak­istani groups hunt­ing down mil­i­tants were just af­ter the re­ward; they didn’t care if they nabbed an in­no­cent man.

The vet­ting process for de­ter­min­ing who might be a mil­i­tant was equally dys­func­tional. Some mil­i­tants had used a pop­u­lar model of a Ca­sio dig­i­tal watch as a timer for bombs; wear­ing one even­tu­ally be­came sus­pect, and de­tainees were ac­tu­ally held at Gitmo be­cause they had been wear­ing a Ca­sio watch.

When I was set­ting up the task force, I was promised I’d be deal­ing with “the worst of the worst” of Al-qaeda mil­i­tants. But it soon be­came clear that Mcfad­den was right—we didn’t have them. This was not the job I had signed up for. And soon it would re­quire me to do things against my val­ues and against the val­ues of Amer­ica.

‘I’d Bring Back Wa­ter­board­ing’

, I watched with hor­ror as the Repub­li­can can­di­dates for pres­i­dent de­bated one an­other in Manch­ester, New Hamp­shire. It was Fe­bru­ary 6, 2016, and they were dis­cussing wa­ter­board­ing—a now-banned pro­ce­dure that in­volves sim­u­lat­ing drown­ing. Jeb Bush was against it, and Ted Cruz danced around the is­sue. But Don­ald Trump took a firm stance. Dressed in a baggy blue suit with an Amer­i­can flag pin on his lapel, Trump praised harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques. “In the Mid­dle East,” he said, “we have peo­ple chop­ping the heads off Chris­tians. I would bring back wa­ter­board­ing, and I would bring back a hell of a lot worse.” Peo­ple in the crowd ap­plauded.

Trump, of course, went on to win the elec­tion and move into the White House. And de­spite the ob­jec­tions from se­na­tors such as John Mccain, a for­mer tor­ture vic­tim and pris­oner of war, he’s con­tin­ued to praise wa­ter­board­ing as an ef­fec­tive and nec­es­sary in­ter­ro­ga­tion tool. He’s also talked of re­open­ing se­cret CIA pris­ons and ex­pand­ing Gitmo, where de­tainees re­main for­ever pris­on­ers in an in­ter­minable war.

I don’t know if Trump will ever do such things, but if he does, he will be play­ing right into Al-qaeda’s strat­egy. When bin Laden and his ji­hadi fol­low­ers at­tacked the World Trade Cen­ter and the Pen­tagon on Septem­ber 11, 2001, they wanted to ter­rify Amer­i­cans, to get them to throw away their ideas of democ­racy, equal­ity and the rule of law. Fac­ing a shad­owy en­emy and a new type of war­fare—one that oc­cu­pies a psy­cho­log­i­cal, not just phys­i­cal, ter­rain—we did just that. We al­lowed the en­emy to change who we were.

It’s a change I know about first­hand. Dur­ing my time at Gitmo, I watched the am­a­teur­ish ar­chi­tects of Amer­ica’s tor­ture pro­gram de­velop bo­gus, bru­tal in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques— ones they bor­rowed from the Chi­nese Com­mu­nists. Not only did they fail to get de­tainees to talk; they also treated them as sub­hu­man—all un­der Wash­ing­ton’s watch­ful eye, and with its tacit—and some­times ex­plicit—en­cour­age­ment.

Most Amer­i­cans know about the CIA’S en­hanced in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­gram: how the agency wa­ter­boarded sus­pects and sub­jected them to other bru­tal and in­ef­fec­tive in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques, from slap­ping to sleep depri­va­tion. What fewer peo­ple re­al­ize is that the U.S. mil­i­tary did much of the same, cre­at­ing a bat­tle lab at Gitmo to test out these harsh mea­sures, then em­ployed them in Iraq in pris­ons such as Abu Ghraib.

I tried to stop this abuse. Oth­ers did too. Un­for­tu­nately, we failed. It’s a fail­ure I fear we’ll some­day re­peat.

The 20th Hi­jacker

- , ’ con­struc­tion crew with two cases of beer to get them to build us in­ter­ro­ga­tion rooms. They were ba­si­cally four-sided ply­wood boxes with doors and a few chairs in­side. There was no pri­vacy, mak­ing the camp a hor­ri­ble place for in­ter­ro­ga­tions.

Some of the de­tainees didn’t talk; we called them “head hangers.” Even though we knew they weren’t go­ing to say any­thing, we couldn’t let it be known that any­one could skip out on in­ter­ro­ga­tions by not talk­ing. So we’d just sit in the room for three hours with the head hangers, ask­ing them a ques­tion ev­ery 30 min­utes or so.

The Saudis were the most ded­i­cated head hangers, but one Saudi na­tional who ar­rived in mid-fe­bru­ary was dif­fer­ent. Mo­hammed al-qah­tani claimed he was a fal­conry en­thu­si­ast who had sim­ply been in Afghanistan when the war be­gan. It was prob­a­bly a cover story, so we let him talk and talk un­til we had enough lit­tle bits and pieces of his story to build a mo­saic. As our task force and the FBI looked into him more closely, and us­ing those tiny clues, we re­al­ized he was one of our most valu­able de­tainees.

We knew 19 men car­ried out the 9/11 at­tacks, but a grow­ing body of ev­i­dence sug­gested there were sup­posed to be 20. On three of the four hi­jacked flights, four “mus­cle­men” con­trolled the crew and one pi­lot. The fourth plane only had three; on that flight, the pas­sen­gers fought back and the plane crashed in Shanksville, Penn­syl­va­nia. Al-qah­tani, we sur­mised, us­ing Im­mi­gra­tion and Nat­u­ral­iza­tion Ser­vice flight data and other sources, was sup­posed to be the 20th hi­jacker.

At the time, there was a lot of pres­sure to pro­duce in­tel. Ev­ery­body wanted to know where bin Laden was hid­ing and how to pre­vent more at­tacks. Al-qah­tani, we re­al­ized, could have valu­able in­for­ma­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, for him and for us, he had at­tracted the manic at­ten­tion of Ma­jor Gen­eral Michael Dunlavey.

In Fe­bru­ary, not long af­ter Mcfad­den ar­rived, the Army started a new joint task force to take over in­tel gath­er­ing. The way I un­der­stood it, my team would con­tinue to do crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions, and we’d help them. Don­ald Rums­feld, the sec­re­tary of de­fense, had picked Dunlavey to run this new in­tel team at Gitmo. (Nei­ther re­sponded to re­quests for com­ment in time for pub­li­ca­tion.) The choice was an odd one. Dunlavey was a re­servist who had done his drilling in sig­nals in­tel­li­gence at the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency, which meant his train­ing had very lit­tle to do with the hu­man in­tel­li­gence col­lec­tion we were do­ing at Gitmo.

The first signs of trou­ble sur­faced only a week af­ter Dunlavey ar­rived on the base. The gen­eral in­tro­duced him­self to one of my col­leagues by point­ing to the two stars on his col­lar this way: “I’m here now, and I’m in charge!” Later, as I was hav­ing drinks with a few col­leagues at the Gitmo tiki bar, en­joy­ing the stun­ning view of the bay, Dunlavey pulled up with his car win­dows down, blar­ing “I’m So Ex­cited” by the Pointer Sis­ters.

Dunlavey’s ac­tions might have just seemed silly, but he was the com­mand­ing gen­eral at a mil­i­tary fa­cil­ity dur­ing an un­pre­dictable global war. When peo­ple on the base started call­ing him Co­coa Puffs—af­ter the ce­real’s ad line: “I’m cuckoo for Co­coa Puffs”—i could tell that dis­ci­pline was at risk of break­ing down.

My main con­cern with Dunlavey, how­ever, was how he han­dled in­ter­ro­ga­tions. My team was packed with ex­perts who had been do­ing in­ter­ro­ga­tion for a liv­ing. We all agreed some of the best ways to con­duct in­ter­ro­ga­tions in­volved sur­pris­ing a de­tainee with kind­ness, de­vel­op­ing a rap­port with him or con­vinc­ing the pris­oner you knew more about his life than you re­ally did. De­spite what you might see on tele­vi­sion or in the movies, tor­ture of­ten leads de­tainees to give you un­re­li­able in­for­ma­tion. They’ll say any­thing to make the pain and dis­com­fort stop.

But Dunlavey’s team used very ju­nior staff, usu­ally re­servists in their early 20s—and they hadn’t been prop­erly trained. Most had never been in an in­ter­ro­ga­tion room with a bad guy be­fore. The re­servists had been trained in the tech­niques de­scribed in the Army Field Man­ual. The pro­gram wasn’t grounded in sci­ence and was mostly in­ef­fec­tive. Even worse, the tech­niques weren’t de­signed to deal with some­one from a non-west­ern cul­ture. While my team mem­bers would sit on the floor and drink tea and talk to de­tainees about soc­cer to gain their con­fi­dence, Dunlavey’s in­ter­roga­tors would walk into a room with a shop­ping list of in­tel­li­gence re­quire­ments. Some did so with an al­most com­i­cal self-con­fi­dence. One guy even wore a cow­boy out­fit into a ses­sion, in­clud­ing a vest and chaps.

They had the swag­ger, but Dunlavey’s team mem­bers failed mis­er­ably once they tried to stare down a de­tainee. They just read generic ques­tions off a list, and the in­ter­ro­ga­tions went nowhere. Even­tu­ally, a de­tainee would put his head down and stop talk­ing.

Un­for­tu­nately, Dunlavey had a very handy ex­cuse for his group’s

fail­ures. In 2000, Bri­tish au­thor­i­ties had found a com­puter file dur­ing a raid on the house of a sus­pected mil­i­tant in Manch­ester, Eng­land. On the file was a man­ual—later known as the Manch­ester Doc­u­ment—that laid out how Al-qaeda mil­i­tants should wage war. Among the tac­tics dis­cussed: de­tails on what treat­ment to ex­pect if cap­tured—and ad­vice on re­sist­ing and ly­ing to cap­tors. When de­tainees at Gitmo re­fused to co­op­er­ate, Dunlavey’s in­ter­roga­tors were quick to blame “clas­sic Manch­ester re­sis­tance tac­tics!”

We had no proof that de­tainees were ac­tu­ally trained in such tech­niques. But these re­puted tac­tics in­spired psy­chol­o­gists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, two CIA con­trac­tors, who con­sulted on the agency’s “en­hanced in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques.” (Jessen did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment; Mitchell says the CIA’S tech­niques were ef­fec­tive, though I strongly dis­agree.)

At Gitmo, Dunlavey’s team was draw­ing a sim­i­lar con­clu­sion as the CIA con­trac­tors: That Amer­ica needed to get tougher. Bro­ken Sol­diers and False Con­fes­sions - , our task force had its own psy­chol­o­gists watch­ing our in­ter­ro­ga­tions and con­sult­ing on how we could make the ses­sions bet­ter. He de­cided his group needed the same type of ex­per­tise.

But in­stead of ask­ing for our help, in early June 2002, he sought as­sis­tance from psy­chol­o­gists who had no ex­per­tise in real-world in­ter­ro­ga­tions. But like Mitchell and Jessen, they had ex­pe­ri­ence with a U.S. mil­i­tary pro­gram called SERE (Sur­vival, Eva­sion, Res­cue and Es­cape). The pro­gram’s goal was to teach ser­vice mem­bers how to deal with be­ing tor­tured. It was mod­eled on how the Chi­nese Com­mu­nists in­ter­ro­gated Amer­i­cans dur­ing the Korean War (many had elicited false con­fes­sions).

The gen­eral’s team was plan­ning to in­ter­ro­gate al-qah­tani, us­ing tech­niques that looked sus­pi­ciously like Mitchell and Jessen’s. And I hur­ried to stop them.

Be­cause my team had iden­ti­fied al-qah­tani as a po­ten­tially high-value tar­get—an ac­tual worst of the worst—i was able to con­vince the Pen­tagon to cre­ate a peck­ing or­der for in­ter­ro­gat­ing sus­pects. We put the FBI at the top of it; I knew Xxxxx* from a pre­vi­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tion and thought he was the best pos­si­ble per­son to take on the 20th hi­jacker. Xxxxx had an amaz­ing knack for de­vel­op­ing rap­port with sub­jects. He would sit on the floor with them and dis­cuss pol­i­tics or re­li­gion in flu­ent Ara­bic. In the spring of 2002, Xxxxx had used his rap­port-based tech­niques while in­ter­ro­gat­ing a high-pro­file de­tainee xxxxxxxxxxx named Abu Zubay­dah, who gave up sev­eral im­por­tant pieces of in­tel, in­clud­ing nam­ing Khalid Sheikh Mo­hammed as the 9/11 master­mind and dis­clos­ing in­for­ma­tion about dirty bomber Jose Padilla.

In July 2002, xxxxxxxxx and other FBI agents ar­rived at Gitmo, hop­ing to match their progress xxxxxxxxxxx. Ini­tially, they made some mod­er­ate progress with al-qah­tani, gath­er­ing some in­tel as well as ev­i­dence. Even­tu­ally, how­ever, al-qah­tani stopped talk­ing.

The gen­eral be­lieved get­ting tougher was the best way to get in­tel on Al-qaeda, pre­vent at­tacks and save lives. And though I didn’t know it at the time, the U.S. was pre­pared to change the way we in­ter­ro­gated sus­pects—and the law gov­ern­ing it. On Au­gust 1, 2002, Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s White House coun­sel, Al­berto Gon­za­les, re­ceived a 50-page memo from Deputy As­sis­tant At­tor­ney Gen­eral John Yoo. The doc­u­ment was sup­posed to de­fine what con­sti­tutes tor­ture. Acts that were in­tended to “in­flict se­vere pain or suf­fer­ing” were il­le­gal, the memo claimed, but they must be of an “ex­treme na­ture” to qual­ify as tor­ture. “Cer­tain acts may be cruel, in­hu­man and de­grad­ing,” the memo said, but are not tor­ture.

So what is tor­ture? The memo set an ab­surdly high bar. It in­cluded the case of a man who was pis­tol-whipped into sub­mis­sion, forced to play Rus­sian roulette, left in a scor­pion-in­fested cell, ran­domly beaten and sub­jected to some un­ex­plained sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure. Other cases that were con­sid­ered tor­ture in­cluded a nun who was blind­folded, burned with cig­a­rettes and raped, along with a man who was doused in ga­so­line and burned to death.

Top lawyers at the CIA and Pen­tagon even­tu­ally re­ceived the memo. But be­cause I hadn’t known about it, I thought that my ad­ver­saries were just poorly in­formed, that they didn’t un­der­stand that co­er­cive tech­niques were in­ef­fec­tive.

I didn’t re­al­ize I was fight­ing the White House.


Amer­ica’s Bat­tle Lab’  , , Dunlavey soon got his way. He took over the en­tire Gitmo op­er­a­tion, and life soon be­came much harder for de­tainees. The prison was never a sum­mer camp, but in­mates had ac­cess to books, in­clud­ing Ko­rans, and food that was ap­pro­pri­ate for re­li­gious Mus­lims. Once Dunlavey of­fi­cially took con­trol, all that ended.

The gen­eral wanted to turn Gitmo into what would later be called “Amer­ica’s Bat­tle Lab.” The psy­chol­o­gists and psy­chi­a­trists on Dunlavey’s team would soon be try­ing out bru­tal, un­proven tech­niques on the de­tainees. And al-qah­tani was go­ing to be the group’s first guinea pig.

I was more frus­trated than ever. Al-qah­tani was likely the 20th hi­jacker. I didn’t like him, but I wanted to in­ter­ro­gate him the right way, ef­fec­tively and hu­manely. I did my best to stop Dunlavey. I spoke to my su­pe­ri­ors and to le­gal ad­vis­ers at the De­fense De­part­ment and the Navy. None dis­agreed with me, but they were stymied or ig­nored by higher-ups at the Pen­tagon.

Dunlavey’s team and in­ter­roga­tors from the De­fense In­tel­li­gence Agency seized al-qah­tani from his cell and brought him to a new one. They kept him there for days, blind­ing him with bright lights and blar­ing mu­sic hours a day. Among the songs they played on re­peat to keep him awake was Christina Aguil­era’s “Dir­rty.” Pe­ri­od­i­cally, they also used large dogs to frighten him.

The tech­niques didn’t work. While Al-qah­tani had been talk­a­tive, to­ward the end of the FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion, he be­gan to clam up. But once the en­hanced tech­niques be­gan, he shut down com­pletely.

Dunlavey’s team didn’t give up on try­ing to get him to talk. On Oc­to­ber 11, 2002, they re­quested the De­fense De­part­ment to au­tho­rize the ap­proval of even rougher in­ter­ro­ga­tion tac­tics, in­clud­ing wa­ter­board­ing and sleep depri­va­tion. But when Dunlavey’s re­quest made it up to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the group’s chair­man, Gen­eral Richard My­ers, re­jected it. The draft memos from the Joint Chiefs staff stated, “We do not be­lieve the pro­posed plan to be legally suf­fi­cient.”

Dunlavey had lost. But sup­port­ers of harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion had not been de­feated. Stripped and Forcibly Groomed , - ment re­placed Dunlavey with Gen­eral Ge­of­frey Miller, an ar­tillery of­fi­cer with no back­ground in in­tel.

First im­pres­sions don’t al­ways mean much, but from the be­gin­ning, it was clear that Miller was a hard-ass. He had ex­tremely rigid pos­ture and of­ten ended his sen­tences with “hoo-ah.” The more I lis­tened to him, the more I wor­ried he was go­ing to be just like Dunlavey—only more com­pe­tent. (Newsweek was un­able to reach Miller for com­ment in time for pub­li­ca­tion.)

I was right. Miller wanted to im­me­di­ately au­tho­rize a list of new harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion tac­tics. “We’ve got to show [de­tainees] that we have more teeth than they have ass, hoo-ah!” he would of­ten say.

Not long af­ter Miller took over, I re­al­ized that pow­er­ful peo­ple were be­hind the push to­ward de­tainee abuse. I be­gan email­ing key doc­u­ments to trusted friends and told them to save them. I knew that if things went side­ways, I could be re­lieved of my com­mand and de­nied ac­cess to my of­fice and emails. I needed to stash doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence of ev­ery­one’s ac­tions at Gitmo at safe lo­ca­tions. I also told our le­gal coun­sel to take notes and doc­u­ment ev­ery en­counter he had with the De­fense De­part­ment’s Of­fice of Gen­eral Coun­sel.

Later that month, al-qah­tani’s fate was sealed. Rums­feld signed the re­quest that Dunlavey had ini­ti­ated, au­tho­riz­ing most of the new list of tech­niques (he did not au­tho­rize wa­ter­board­ing, for ex­am­ple).

My team had been cut out of any de­ci­sion-mak­ing, but we still had ac­cess to an elec­tronic in­ter­ro­ga­tion log record­ing alqah­tani’s treat­ment. At the ear­lier meet­ings, xxxx xxxxxxxx. So I had our an­a­lyst send the log book en­tries up to me ev­ery day. Miller’s team had no idea we had ac­cess to them.

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Al-qah­tani’s in­ter­roga­tors knew he would have such an ex­treme re­ac­tion. Many of the de­tainees were brought up in a cul­ture where women dressed very mod­estly. In some cases, they may have grown up never see­ing a woman in pub­lic with­out her whole body cov­ered. Open sex­u­al­ity or nu­dity were shock­ing taboos. For Amer­i­cans and Euro­peans, the na­ture of this taboo might be imag­in­able only if they in­serted their sib­lings or cousins in the role of fe­male in­ter­roga­tors and imag­ined them strip­ping and rub­bing up against them.

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Med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als were di­rect par­tic­i­pants in this treat­ment. Be­grudg­ingly at times, they had helped de­velop, rec­om­mend and im­ple­ment prac­tices that were cruel, in­hu­mane and de­grad­ing.

They were there when the in­ter­roga­tors stripped al-qah­tani, forcibly groomed him and made him wear a leash or act like a dog.

Day af­ter day, how­ever, it had be­come clear that these tech­niques were not work­ing. Al-qah­tani was no more forth­com­ing with use­ful in­tel. Rather than turn him into a bab­bling chat­ter­box of Al-qaeda se­crets, the harsh ap­proaches served only to har­den his re­sis­tance.

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Mean­while, the bru­tal tech­niques Miller’s team was us­ing had be­gun to spread. In Oc­to­ber, mil­i­tary per­son­nel from Afghanistan’s Spe­cial Mis­sion Units vis­ited Gitmo and learned what was go­ing on at the bat­tle lab. They de­cided to adopt some of the tech­niques, from de­grad­ing strip searches to fright­en­ing de­tainees with dogs.

Do­ing so, ad­vo­cates claimed, posed lit­tle risk, yet some de­tainees died in Afghanistan as a re­sult of harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion mea­sures. In late Novem­ber 2002, an Afghan named Gul Rah­man died of ex­po­sure while in CIA cus­tody af­ter be­ing left chained to a wall in nearly freez­ing tem­per­a­tures overnight. A few weeks later, a 22-year-old taxi driver, known only by the name Di­lawar, and the brother of a Tal­iban leader, Mul­lah Habibul­lah, were killed in the cus­tody of their mil­i­tary cap­tors. Both had se­vere blunt-force trauma on the back of their legs from re­peated blows from U.S. sol­diers while in cus­tody.

Harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion and abuse were be­com­ing in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized. And soon they would spread to a new coun­try: Iraq. The Coun­try Club , wor­ried. The White House had gone to war fear­ing Iraq’s Sad­dam Hus­sein had weapons of mass de­struc­tion. But now the U.S. couldn’t find them. The timing was per­fect for pitch­ing harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques. If only we got tougher, the think­ing went, we could find those WMDS. Some U.S. mil­i­tary per­son­nel were do­ing just that; they had picked up the tech­niques at the mil­i­tary base in Ba­gram, Afghanistan, or at Gitmo.

But the bru­tal­ity in­creased af­ter Miller vis­ited Iraq in Au­gust 2003 on a mis­sion to “im­prove” in­ter­ro­ga­tion prac­tices. The men and women in­ter­ro­gat­ing de­tainees were “run­ning a coun­try club,” he re­port­edly said. They were treat­ing their pris­on­ers too le­niently. Miller felt the U.S. needed to em­ploy harsher mea­sures—in­clud­ing shack­ling and sleep depri­va­tion—to break the Iraqis and get them to talk.

Dur­ing this visit, the gen­eral quickly be­gan push­ing for these hard mea­sures. Among his first stops: the prison at Abu Ghraib. Sad­dam had once housed—and tor­tured—many of his po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies

there. Now the U.S. was about to carry out bru­tal and de­grad­ing in­ter­ro­ga­tions in the same fa­cil­ity. “You’re too nice,” Miller re­port­edly told Army Bri­gadier Gen­eral Ja­nis Karpin­ski, a mil­i­tary po­lice of­fi­cer who over­saw the de­ten­tion op­er­a­tions at the prison. “You have to treat them like dogs.” (Miller has de­nied her ac­count of their con­ver­sa­tion.)

Fol­low­ing his visit, Miller sent six peo­ple from Gitmo to Abu Ghraib to as­sist in im­ple­ment­ing the new in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques. On Septem­ber 14, 2003, just a week af­ter Miller left Iraq, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Ri­cardo Sanchez is­sued a new pol­icy at the prison and else­where. It drew heav­ily on what Rums­feld had green-lighted for Gitmo. By Oc­to­ber 25, the De­fense De­part­ment had ex­panded the in­ter­ro­ga­tion reper­toire to in­clude the use of con­trolled fear, en­vi­ron­men­tal ma­nip­u­la­tion and iso­la­tion, among other things.

When my team at Gitmo heard about Miller’s visit, we couldn’t be­lieve it. None of these tech­niques had worked, and now Rums­feld was send­ing Miller to the front lines. We had alerted the De­fense De­part­ment’s Of­fice of Gen­eral Coun­sel that his trip would be a dis­as­ter. But Rums­feld, we learned, had per­son­ally se­lected Miller. There was noth­ing we could do. Months later, Rums­feld put Miller in charge of all de­ten­tion op­er­a­tions in Iraq. The coun­try had of­fi­cially be­come Gitmo-ized. ‘They Didn’t Know What They Were Do­ing’ , crit­i­cal dif­fer­ence be­tween Guan­tá­namo and Abu Ghraib. At Gitmo, it was easy to con­trol the spread of in­for­ma­tion; the prison was on a small slice of a Caribbean is­land. Abu Ghraib was just out­side of a huge city in the mid­dle of a war zone. Civil­ians and the press had tons of ac­cess to the area.

The ugly re­ports be­gan in late 2003 and early 2004. Bri­tish spe­cial forces be­gan telling the press that Amer­i­can pri­vate con­trac­tors were us­ing harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques at Abu Ghraib. Amer­i­can ser­vice mem­bers said the same. Hu­man rights groups re­ceived hun­dreds of al­le­ga­tions of cruel, de­grad­ing and in­hu­man treat­ment at the prison. By the time Miller took over Abu Ghraib, what had be­gun as a trickle of re­ports had grown into some­thing harder to con­tain. And the ac­counts of the de­tainees were be­gin­ning to fuel a nascent Iraqi in­sur­gency.

Miller, how­ever, was not afraid to push back against the re­ports. A few days af­ter he took com­mand, The Guardian re­ported that de­tainees were be­ing sub­jected to “sex­ual gibes and degra­da­tion, along with strip­ping naked.” Miller con­fi­dently “con­firmed that a bat­tery of 50-odd spe­cial ‘co­er­cive tech­niques’ can be used against en­emy de­tainees,” ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per. While De­part­ment of De­fense lawyers and psy­chol­o­gists ar­gued that these in­ter­ro­ga­tion tac­tics were tech­ni­cally le­gal, they were still hor­rific.

The world would soon find out about them.

‘My Deep­est Apol­ogy’

, , abuse at Abu Ghraib led the Se­nate’s Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee to ask Rums­feld to tes­tify be­fore it. “I feel ter­ri­ble for what hap­pened to these Iraqi de­tainees,” he said. “They are hu­man be­ings. They were in U.S. cus­tody. Our coun­try had an obli­ga­tion to treat them right. We didn’t, and that was wrong. So to those Iraqis who were mis­treated by mem­bers of the U.S. armed forces, I of­fer my deep­est apol­ogy.” He later added, “I wish I had known more sooner and been able to tell you more sooner, but we didn’t.” It was an au­da­cious per­for­mance for some­one who had picked Dunlavey and Miller to lead the Gitmo bat­tle lab and sent Miller to Abu Ghraib, among other things.

De­spite me­dia re­ports de­scrib­ing the abuse that oc­curred on Miller’s watch, the U.S. went on to make his rec­om­men­da­tions and in­ter­ro­ga­tion poli­cies stan­dard prac­tice in Iraq and else­where. On May 28, 2004, I de­cided to step down from my role on the De­fense De­part­ment Gitmo task force. My col­leagues and I had failed to bring Al-qaeda mil­i­tants to jus­tice—or treat them hu­manely. In­stead, Amer­ica’s ji­hadi en­e­mies had brought the U.S. down to their level—their bru­tal­ity had made us bru­tal too.

FIRE AND SMOKE Fal­lon, above, claims that af­ter Osama bin Laden’s at­tack on Septem­ber 11, 2001, Amer­ica vi­o­lated many of its cher­ished prin­ci­ples about democ­racy, equal­ity and the rule of law. A prime ex­am­ple: Gitmo.

Dunlavey, above, im­ple­mented harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques on de­tainees at Gitmo. Among them: Blar­ing loud mu­sic to keep them awake and us­ing dogs to frighten them, Fal­lon says. BAL­LAD OF BRU­TAL­ITY

CHAIN OF COM­MAND Af­ter Don­ald Rums­feld, above, de­fense sec­re­tary of Ge­orge W. Bush, left, au­tho­rized the harsh tech­niques, he sent Miller, top, to Iraq to “im­prove in­ter­ro­ga­tion” prac­tices in the coun­try. The re­sult: bru­tal­ity in­creased, Fal­lon says, fu­el­ing anger over the U.S. oc­cu­pa­tion.

PAIN AND DE­NIAL Ex-gitmo de­tainees, above, and right, talk to the press. Be­low, Rums­feld speaks be­fore the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee in May 2004. He apol­o­gized for abuse at Abu Ghraib, say­ing: “I wish I had known more sooner.”

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