Commanders’ requests for interrogation guidance ignored by Pentagon

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Raw Story reports that newly released documents reveal that U.S. military commanders in Afganistan (remember Afghanistan?) sought clarification on interrogation techniques from the Pentagon, but their requests for such clarification were ignored.

The documents, obtained by the ACLU, show that in January of 2003, U.S. commanders described to the Department of Defense the interrogation methods their troops were using, and recommended these methods be approved as official policy in Afganistan. Some of these methods had been approved for exclusive use at the detainee center in Guantanamo Bay, and some had since been rescinded. When the Pentagon failed to approve or disapprove of the techniques described, U.S. commanders in Afghhanistan considered the non-response to be tacit approval.

According to a report by Brigadier General Richard Formica, as late as May 2004 Coalition Joint Task Force-7 was operating under a set of rules that had been approved by Gen. Sanchez in September of 2003, but rescinded a month later. The September order included approval of the use of military dogs, stress positions, sleep adjustment and environmental manipulation. All of these techniques were rescinded in an October memo.

A year later, in February of 2004, an officer attempted to confirm the policy, and in reply, he received a copy of the signed September, 2003 memo, and no mention of the October memo which rescinded the rules. The result ws that commanders felt free to make up their own rules. In one case, a detainee was interrogated for twenty hours a day for almost two months. Another died after having his legs tied to the bars of a window and a strap of engineering tape strapped tightly around his midsection. He remained that way for an hour and a half and died fifteen minutes after the tape was cut.

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