October 23, 2006

In a two part series, MSNBC.com's Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, Bill Dedman looks inside Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, investigating abuses committed there and how they may make some criminal cases against suspected terrorists unprosecutable. Starting today, the series focuses on members of the Pentagon's Criminal Investigation Task Force, talking publicly for the first time exclusively to MSNBC.com about how they waged a long but ultimately futile battle to stop a separate U.S. intelligence team from using abusive and degrading interrogation techniques on suspected al-Qaida terrorists. Part one launches today at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15361458 .

Part two looks at the case of Mohamed al-Qahtani, a Saudi whom some suspect of being the intended 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Military intelligence officers subjected al-Qahtani to a host of abusive procedures in an effort to break his will and the CITF officers said they were told not to pursue a criminal case against him because "based on what was done to him, it made his case unprosecutable." Finally, the series examines how the use of the abuse spread to Iraq and ultimately led to the Abu Ghraib scandal. It was two years before the photos emerged from Abu Ghraib, the Pentagon cops said, when they began arguing that coercive or abusive interrogations would not serve war-fighting or justice.

"No. 1, it's not going to work," said Col. Brittain P. Mallow, the commander of the task force from 2002 to 2005. "No. 2, if it does work, it's not reliable. No. 3, it may not be legal, ethical or moral. No. 4, it's going to hurt you when you have to prosecute these guys. No. 5, sooner or later, all of this stuff is going to come to light, and you're going to be embarrassed."

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