WASHINGTON — FBI agents repeatedly warned military interrogators at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that their aggressive methods were legally risky and also likely to be ineffective, according to FBI memos made public Thursday.
A senior officer at the prison for terror suspects also “blatantly misled” his superiors at the Pentagon into thinking the FBI had endorsed the “aggressive and controversial interrogation plan” for one detainee, according to one of the 54 memos released by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The memos had been previously released, but in more heavily censored form, as part of an ACLU lawsuit under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Senior officials involved?
FBI officials, whose names were blacked out, indicated that senior military officials, including former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, were aware of and in some cases had approved of putting hoods on prisoners, threatening them with violence and subjecting them to humiliating treatment.
Wolfowitz is now president of the World Bank. Kevin Kellems, a spokesman for the World Bank, said Thursday, “This old story is fictional and is authored by anonymous people who have no real knowledge of what his role was.”
Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita said: “These allegations are secondhand allegations made by people not directly involved. Nonetheless, the Department of Defense investigated them thoroughly and much of what was asserted in the e-mails was not substantiated. And nothing involving the deputy secretary of defense was substantiated.”
Agents on temporary assignment at the U.S. Navy facility in Cuba brought their concerns to the prison’s commander, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, and laid them out in detailed messages to top bureau officials at FBI headquarters in Washington.
One memo from May 2003 describes tension between the FBI agents and their military counterparts over “aggressive interrogation tactics in GTMO which are of questionable effectiveness and subject to uncertain interpretation based on law and regulation.”
Too aggressive for FBI, but not abusive
In other e-mails, some FBI officials said that while the techniques they observed were too aggressive by the FBI’s standards, the interrogations were not abusive.
A military investigation into FBI reports of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo recommended that Miller be reprimanded for failing to oversee the interrogation of a high-value detainee, which was found to have been abusive. But a top general rejected the recommendation. Miller, who took over detainee operations in Iraq in March 2004, recently requested early retirement.
The documents provided to the ACLU also contain acknowledgment that the FBI was aware of allegations of abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq before they came to public attention.
Ed Lueckenhoff, an FBI official in Iraq, said in a January 2004 e-mail “that the FBI will not enter into an investigation of the alleged abuse” because it was not part of the bureau’s mission in Iraq.
“Second, we need to maintain good will and relations with those operating the prison. Our involvement in the investigation of the alleged abuse might harm our liaison,” Lueckenhoff wrote in that e-mail to senior officials in Washington.
The ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer said the memo “suggests the FBI turned a blind eye to preserve its relationship with administrators of the prison.”
FBI special agent Richard Kolko, a spokesman in Washington, said FBI agents properly reported abuse allegations through the bureau’s chain of command, but noted, “It is not within the scope of the FBI’s jurisdiction overseas to investigate reports of alleged abuse of military detainees.”
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