EDITOR’S NOTE: Slightly modified for stand-alone publication, the excerpt (below) from my second nonfiction book, THE CLAPPER MEMO, reveals how officials inside the Departments of Defense and Justice withheld key information about interrogation technologies from members of Congress.
Since 2008, a number of reports have been produced by a variety of governmental and nongovernmental entities. While some focused on the situation involving detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility (a.k.a., “GITMO”) in Cuba, others looked at the progress — or lack thereof — being made in the war in Afghanistan. From among the reports available, three warrant special attention.
Amidst media-flamed fires of concern regarding allegations GITMO detainees were being mistreated, members of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee took steps in 2008 to make themselves appear proactive as the war approached its seven-year mark.
In addition to holding hearings, they deployed a team of investigators to look into allegations of torture being inflicted upon detainees at GITMO and at other detention facilities in Iraq (i.e., Abu Ghraib, Camp Cropper and Camp Bucca). The investigation resulted in the publication of an unclassified 263-page report, “INQUIRY INTO THE TREATMENT OF DETAINEES IN U.S. CUSTODY,” dated November 20, 2008.
Over the course of their investigation, according to the report, the committee reviewed more than 200,000 pages of classified and unclassified documents, including detention and interrogation policies, memoranda, electronic communications, training manuals and the results of previous investigations into detainee abuse. While the majority of those documents were provided to the committee by the Department of Defense, the committee also reviewed documents provided by the Department of Justice, documents in the public domain, a small number of documents provided by individuals and a number of published secondary sources including books and articles in popular magazines and scholarly journals.
In addition, according to the report, the committee interviewed more than 70 individuals in connection with its inquiry. Most were current or former DoD employees, and some came from the current and former ranks of DoJ, including the FBI.
Though one might have expected to see several mentions of it, since it is the only approved credibility-assessment tool for use within DoD, the SASC report included only one mention of the word, polygraph. It appeared in a heavily-redacted paragraph in which interrogators and analysts were said to have attributed the cooperation of one detainee, Mohammed al-Khatani, to several factors, one of which was “his failing a polygraph test.”
Only one detainee cooperated.
The report also included mentions of interrogation techniques that were part of the curriculum at U.S. Military Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape schools and other non-polygraph interrogation techniques that had been authorized by U.S. Joint Forces Command for use during the interrogation of detainees in U.S. military custody by members of a Joint Personnel Recovery Agency team deployed to Iraq in September 2003.
Most remarkable about the committee’s findings, however, were the things not mentioned.
The committee’s report failed to mention a non-polygraph technology that had been used successfully to interrogate detainees at GITMO, to interrogate members of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle (a.k.a., “The Deck of Cards”) in Iraq, and to interrogate a diverse range of subjects at locations around the world.
Likewise, it failed to include a single mention of that non-polygraph technology or anyone remotely related to it.
As a result of the omissions, the polygraph’s leading challenger would remain unknown to anyone relying solely upon the SASC investigators’ report for information upon which to make critical decisions.
To learn about the two other reports and about the non-polygraph technology senior DoD officials continue to keep out of the hands of those who interrogate terror and criminal suspects and out of the hands of our fighting men and women on the front lines of war, order a copy of THE CLAPPER MEMO.