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Yousef Abkir Saleh Al Qarani (ISN 269)

The material below has been lifted, verbatim, from Section V, Chapter 11, of A Review of the FBI's Involvement in and Observations of Detainee Interrogations in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq, released in May 2008 by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice.


In this Section we address the conduct of FBI agents, together with the military, in the interrogation of detainee Yousef Abkir Saleh AI Qarani (#269) at GTMO. We determined that in September 2003, FBI agents participated in a joint interview with the military that resulted in AI Qarani being short-chained and left alone for several hours, during which time he urinated on himself. In addition, at least one FBI agent participated in subjecting AI Qarani to a technique of disorientation and sleep disruption through frequent cell movement known at GTMO as the "frequent flyer program." We also examined additional allegations made by AI-Qarani during an OIG interview in March 2007 regarding FBI mistreatment.


A. Background.

[REDACTED] FBI records indicate that AI Qarani's telephone number was found in the possession of other detainees known to be associated with alQaeda. At least 10 different FBI agents participated in interviewing AIQarani at GTMO between July 2002 and September 2003. The agents sometimes worked in pairs and sometimes conducted joint interviews with military investigators.

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B. FBI Special Agents Brandon and Stephenson


FBI agents Brandon and Stephenson were deployed to GTMO in August 2003 and they worked together on numerous detainee interviews.206 Stephenson said she learned what techniques she could and could not employ in detainee interviews from other FBI agents who were already at GTMO. She said that she understood that "we are FBI agents no matter where we go, so we have policies in place, and there are things that we do, and things we don't do. And the rules were no different on GTMO, in terms of what we could do and what we couldn't do." Stephenson said that no one specifically used those words; rather it was something she picked up from the operational environment at GTMO. Stephenson told us that the FBI's general approach with the detainees was rapport building. She also said that she and Brandon discussed the use of other techniques that were not available to FBI agents in the United States because on GTMO they were working with the military. She said that the FBI's ose had advised FBI agents that they had opportunities to "collaborate" with the military on detainee interviews.

Brandon stated that he did not receive specific guidance on interview techniques at GTMO, but he knew what was permissible based on his good judgment and 15 years of law enforcement experience. Brandon said that at GTMO he attended mandatory meetings every Friday with military and FBI personnel to discuss what had transpired during the week in the detainee interrogations. He said that during those meetings the military personnel described what they were doing in detainee interrogations, including frequent movements of detainees and isolation. Brandon also stated that during these meetings, military personnel described "different areas that the military could enhance what the FBI was doing." He said that he received a list of DOD approved interrogation tactics that could be utilized and that programs were built around them, including "the frequent flyer program and isolation techniques ... dietary disruption and sleep disruption."

During the period from August 28, 2003, until September 23, 2003, Brandon and Stephenson together interviewed AI Qarani on at least six separate occasions.


C. The Alleged Short-Chaining Incident


Brandon and Stephenson told the OIG about an incident in which Al Qarani was short-chained for several hours following an FBI interview. Initially, the agents had used a friendly approach with Al Qarani, bringing him coffee and food and engaging in light conversation. Brandon said he confronted Al Qarani about the inconsistencies in his story, but that he was "getting nowhere" with Al Qarani, and that when Al Qarani realized Brandon would not accept his story, he began to "shut down." Brandon said that he and Stephenson told the detainee that if he did not cooperate, they would turn him over to the military and that the military would not bring him "cheeseburgers and coffee in the morning," as the FBI agents had done. Stephenson also stated that the agents threatened to cut their ties with Al Qarani and let the military handle him. Brandon said the purpose of this statement was to play on Al Qarani's paranoia and dislike of the military. However, this technique did not work and Al Qarani continued to be uncooperative. Contemporaneous FBI records indicate that Brandon and Stephenson interviewed Al Qarani on August 28, September 3, September 6, and September 15,2003, and that he became increasingly uncooperative during that period.

Brandon stated that the approach that they decided to use with Al Qarani in collaboration with the military was the "Mutt and Jeff' or "good cop/bad cop" routine. Brandon and Stephenson stated that they obtained approval for this approach from their OSC. The OSC told us he had no recollection of this discussion, but that he would have agreed with Stephenson's request to have the military engage in a good cop/bad cop scenario with the detainee.

In preparation for an interview of Al Qarani on September 15, 2003, Brandon and Stephenson enlisted the assistance of a military interrogator, U.S. Marine Captain Wyatt.207 Brandon said the plan called for Wyatt to come into the interrogation room and "do his boot camp thing" in an effort to intimidate Al Qarani, and the FBI would subsequently return and "save" the detainee.

Stephenson and Brandon began with a normal interview of Al Qarani around 8:00-9:00 a.m. on September 15, 2004. After a period of unsuccessful questioning, Brandon told Qarani that Brandon was done with him. Stephenson left the interview to watch from the observation room. Captain Wyatt entered the interview room and began yelling and screaming at Al Qarani. Brandon told the OIG that it became clear right away that this was not going to work because Al Qarani was laughing and said "Captain, I'm really concerned for your voice and if you continue to talk like that you will not be able to talk tomorrow."

Brandon said he and Wyatt left the interview room and Wyatt said that the way to get the detainee's attention was to "short chain" him. Brandon told Wyatt he did not understand that term, and Wyatt demonstrated by ordering the guards to place a chain around the detainee's waist and then bolt the chain to the floor. The detainee could still stand up, but he would be bent over. Brandon said that when he expressed concern to Wyatt about short chaining the detainee, Wyatt responded that the procedure was common and that the detainee would receive bathroom breaks and food. Brandon said he believed that the detainee would be kept in the chained position through most of the afternoon. Brandon also said that at the time Wyatt ordered the short chaining, it did not strike Brandon as abuse.

Stephenson likewise stated that at the end of Wyatt's interrogation, Wyatt ordered the guards to place the detainee in a "stress position." She described the stress position as being shackled on the hands and feet and then chained to the floor to force him to sit on the floor or crouch without a chair. Stephenson told the OIG that she understood that the military's list of approved techniques included stress positions.

Brandon stated that after he returned to the office with Stephenson at about 10:00 a.m., he called the interrogation trailer to make certain that the detainee was "ok" and he was told that the detainee was asleep. He said that he returned at about noon to check on the detainee. He stated that the guards told him the detainee had urinated on himself. Brandon told us that he instructed the guards to return the detainee to his cell. Brandon estimated that the detainee was chained to the floor for approximately 3 hours. In Stephenson's interview, she confirmed Brandon's account of what happened after she and Brandon left the detainee.

Brandon and Stephenson both told the OIG that they reported the chaining incident to the FBI's OSC. Brandon said the OSC told him that he did not need to write an EC about the incident because Brandon told him that he did not participate in the short chaining, that there was no "force" used, and that the detainee was not injured.

We interviewed the OSC, who said that he did not recall Stephenson or Brandon telling him about the incident.

Brandon told the OIG that he later complained to Wyatt about what had happened to Al Qarani. Several days later, Wyatt explained to Brandon that a new rotation of guards had come on duty while Al Qarani was chained and were not informed that the detainee was to receive bathroom breaks. Brandon said that when he complained to Wyatt about the treatment, Wyatt ridiculed Brandon for being "weak."

We interviewed Al Qarani at GTMO in February 2007. He stated that he recalled an interrogation session with an FBI agent during which a military official entered the interrogation room and started to yell at him. He also described being chained to the floor in an uncomfortable hunched over position for 3 or 4 hours and urinated on himself, although he did not connect this incident with the yelling military official. Al Qarani said this was not the only time he was chained to the floor and that on another occasion the military chained him overnight for 12-16 hours.

The FD-302 that was prepared by Brandon and Stephenson for the interview of Al Qarani on September 15, 2004, makes at most an obscure reference to the incident that Brandon and Stephenson described to the OIG. It states that Al Qarani was interviewed by Brandon, Stephenson, and Wyatt, and that:

AL QARANI was questioned in regard to the truthfulness of his travels to Pakistan. When confronted with the illogical nature of the information he was providing, AL QARANI [REDACTED]

The short chaining of Al Qarani clearly would have violated FBI policies against coercive interview techniques if the FBI agents had employed it in the United States. In this case, the decision to short chain Al Qarani was made by Marine Captain Wyatt, not by Stephenson and Brandon. However, Stephenson and Brandon acquiesced in the use of this technique. Although there was no reporting requirement in place at that time, both Brandon and Stephenson said that they later reported the incident to the OSC.208

According to Brandon, Wyatt stated that stress positions were a commonly used technique at GTMO. Stephenson and the OSC both told the OIG that they understand that this was an approved technique for the military. However, military documents indicate that stress positions were not approved at that time. Although "stress positions (like standing) for a maximum of four hours" was on the list of approved counter resistance interrogation techniques permitted at GTMO under the memorandum approved by Secretary Rumsfeld on December 2,2002, that list was rescinded on January 15, 2003.209 On April 16, 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld approved a new list of permissible techniques for use at GTMO that did not include "stress positions."

This incident again illustrates the inadequacy of the guidance provided to FBI agents regarding what techniques were approved for use by the military and how the agents were to conduct themselves in joint interrogations. The FBI agents thought that this was an approved military technique; they apparently were not aware that the Secretary of Defense had rescinded his approval of stress positions 9 months before the Al Qarani incident took place. According to the Church Report, short chaining was a form of stress position, a technique that was removed from the pre-approved list in January 2003. Yet, the military at GTMO apparently did not consider short-shackling to be a prohibited "stress position" at least until May 2004, when the military commander at GTMO prohibited this practice. Church Report at 168.

Although the FBI's May 2004 Detainee Policy had not yet been issued, the FBI agents involved in this matter told us they knew they should not engage in techniques that would be prohibited in the United States. However, it was not clear what an agent should do if another agency's interrogator utilized such a technique without the prior agreement of the FBI agent. Moreover, there was no evidence that Brandon knew in advance that Wyatt would put Al Qarani in a stress position. Under the circumstances, we did not find that Brandon violated any FBI policy in connection with Wyatt's conduct. However, we are troubled by the fact that Brandon and Stephenson did not recognize more quickly that Wyatt's conduct was inappropriate for an interview in which the FBI was participating. Brandon and Stephenson should have acted more quickly to object to the conduct and attempt to stop it.


D. Alleged Use of the "Frequent Flyer Program" on Al Qarani


Brandon told the OIG that he arranged for the use of the "frequent flyer program" on AI Qarani, and Stephenson likewise recalled that this technique was used on the detainee.210 Stephenson said that a military official at GTMO assisted in coordinating the frequent moving of a detainee from cell to cell in order to break up the detainees' "position of comfort" with guards. She stated that she heard that detainees in the "frequent flyer program" were moved every 4 hours. The OSC at GTMO at that time confirmed that the FBI sometimes interrogated detainees who were in the "frequent flyer" program. He stated that the program was not designed to deprive the detainee of sleep, but to prevent certain detainees from becoming comfortable with their surroundings and to keep them off balance so that the detainees would not have an advantage when being interrogated. He acknowledged, however, that sleep deprivation could be a byproduct of implementing this program.

A Summary Investigative Report prepared by the military dated [RECORDED],states that AI Qarani complained to military personnel that the FBI was moving him to different cells constantly and he wanted the military interrogator to see if he could get it to stop.

Brandon and Stephenson said they participated in the "frequent flyer" program by asking the military to move AI Qarani. Stephenson acknowledged that this technique would not be permissible for FBI agents in the United States.211 We did not find any explicit prohibition of this technique in FBI policy. The Legal Handbook for Special Agents identifies deprivation of sleep as a potential factor that a court might consider in evaluating the voluntariness of a defendant's statement, although it does not indicate that disorienting a prisoner or disrupting his sleep patterns is per se improper.212 We also note that the OSC was aware that FBI agents were involved in using this technique. Nevertheless, we are troubled by the fact that Brandon and Stephenson and other agents, as discussed in Chapter Eight - participated in the "frequent flyer" program despite the fact that at least some of them told us they believed it would not be available in the United States.


E. Allegations by Al Qarani Regarding "Clint"

During an interview with the OIG on February 28, 2007, Al Qarani made several additional allegations regarding mistreatment by an FBI agent who Al Qarani said called himself "Clint" or "Clean" and who had interviewed Al Qarani at GTMO many times over the course of approximately 1 month in 2003. Al Qarani said that Clint always worked with a particular interpreter Al Qarani identified by name. Al Qarani described Clint as a white, tall, blonde, American male without facial hair, 36 - 37 years of age, who wore civilian clothes with military boots. Al Qarani said that Clint asked him about Afghanistan, that Clint became angry and showed his "worse face" when Al Qarani was unable to answer his questions, and that Clint ordered the guards to move AI Qarani from cell to cell every 2 hours or less, 24 hours per day.

Al Qarani stated that Clint sometimes made him stand during interviews, and told guards to hit him, throw him down, and throw cold water on him. Al Qarani said that on one occasion Clint ordered Al Qarani to be locked on the floor with chains over his back for 3-4 hours, which caused Al Qarani to urinate on himself. He said Clint sometimes used the "N-word" with Al Qarani. Al Qarani stated that once during the period he was being interrogated by Clint, the military short-chained him for 12-16 hours overnight and subjected him to loud music and colored lights. He stated that Clint left GTMO a few days after that incident.

Al Qarani also stated that at one time he had an ingrown toe nail that was removed without anesthesia. The corpsman told Al Qarani that he could not give Al Qarani a painkiller unless Clint approved it. Clint told Al Qarani to talk about his "brothers" (other detainees) if he wanted the painkiller.

Al Qarani stated that he described his experiences with Clint to a female FBI agent some time in 2003. He also said that he told this female agent that he had been beaten in Kandahar but she showed him a photograph from Kandahar and said he "looked fine" in it.

Some aspects of Al Qarani's story suggest that Clint might have been FBI agent Brandon, who interviewed Al Qarani approximately seven times during August and September 2003 and who, as discussed above, reported the incident in which Al Qarani was short chained for several hours and wet himself. Al Qarani's physical description of Clint was generally consistent with Brandon's appearance. In addition, Al Qarani told us that Clint also interrogated Fahd AI-Sharif (#215), and we found that Brandon had interviewed AI-Sharif in August 2003. Brandon also admitted arranging for AI Qarani to be put in the "frequent flyer" program.

Brandon denied using the name "Clint" or "Clean" at GTMO and said he never heard of anyone using such a name. He also denied engaging in the conduct that Al Qarani attributed to Clint, other than using the "frequent flyer" program. Several other facts also indicate that Brandon was not "Clint." For example, AI Qarani stated that Clint withheld painkillers from him when he was treated for an ingrown toe nail. Available records indicate that the nail on one of Al Qarani's big toes was removed in March 2003 due to an infection. However, Brandon was not deployed to GTMO until August 2003, so he could not have been involved in withholding painkillers from Qarani at the time of this procedure.

In addition, Al Qarani stated that Clint always used the same Egyptian interpreter, "Abbas." FBI records indicate that Brandon used at least five different interpreters during interviews of Al Qarani, none of whom were identified by the name Al Qarani provided. Brandon told the OIG he did not recall any interpreter named Abbas.

Al Qarani also reported that a female FBI agent showed him a photograph of himself to contradict his claim that he was beaten in Kandahar. FBI records indicate that in April 2003, a female agent from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service confronted Al Qarani with a photograph of him in Mghanistan and that Al Qarani subsequently admitted that he had lied about the beatings. Al Qarani told us that at the time of this incident, he told the female agent about his experiences with Clint. However, this incident occurred several months before Brandon arrived at GTMO, further indicating that Brandon was not Clint. FBI records produced to the OIG indicate that prior to April 2003, there were only three FBI agents who had interviewed Al Qarani, and each of them had only met with him once.

Al Qarani also described a different FBI agent who he said was smaller than Clint who we believe was likely Brandon. Al Qarani told us about two FBI agents, one male and one female, who interviewed him. Al Qarani described the female as being an Asian with black hair, medium complexion, thin, and approximately 30 years old. AI Qarani said that he does not recall the male talking, but that he was white with short hair, medium build, about 30 years of age. He said that the agents showed him pictures and they did not promise him anything. Al Qarani said they did not yell and they did not instruct the military to do anything to him. FBI documents indicate that SAs Brandon and Stephenson showed five photographs to AI Qarani on August 28, 2003. In addition, Al Qarani's description of the female agent was consistent with Stephenson's appearance. If Brandon and Stephenson were the team of agents that Al Qarani was describing, then Brandon was not Clint, because Al Qarani told us the male agent was smaller than Clint. Although other teams of male and female agents interviewed Al Qarani at various times, there is no record that any such team brought photographs for him to identify.

Thus, the evidence does not support that Al Qarani's allegations, if true, relate to an FBI employee. It is possible that Clint was employed by a different agency or that Al Qarani's account was false, exaggerated, or an erroneous conflation of events that related to different interrogators who were not from the FBI. Based on the available evidence we could not conclude that any FBI agent was responsible for the conduct that Al Qarani described.


F. Allegations by Al Qarani Regarding "Daoud"


During his OIG interview, Al Qarani also made allegations about an African American FBI agent named "Daoud" or "David." Al Qarani said that Daoud was large, wore glasses, and had a small beard but no mustache. Al Qarani said that after 2 to 3 weeks, Daoud started doing the same things Clint did, such as ordering Al Qarani to be shortchained and to be moved frequently from cell to cell. Al Qarani said that he was interviewed multiple times by Daoud over a several-month period, and that Daoud was always by himself. Al Qarani said that Daoud put him in isolation at one point. Al Qarani said that on August 8, 2005, Daoud hit Detainee #174 with a chair or refrigerator.213

Al Qarani said that Daoud took him to a room that was completely dark and placed him in a chair. When the lights were turned on, he could see that the walls were covered with pornography. Al Qarani said he was introduced to a woman that spoke Arabic and wore a bikini. He was told that if he cooperated, she would sleep with him. Al Qarani said that he did nothing and after an hour he was taken back to his cell. Al Qarani said that he was interviewed by Daoud shortly before he was [REDACTED].

[REDACTED] maintained by the military revealed no record that any FBI personnel interrogated AI Qarani durin 2005, including the months immediately prior to his being [REDACTED]. We found no evidence that any FBI interrogator deployed to GTMO fit the description that AI Qarani gave for Daoud. In addition, FBI personnel at GTMO stated that they reviewed military records relating to Detainee #174 and found that he was only interviewed once by the FBI in [REDACTED], with no record of abuse allegations. Neither of the FBI interviewers were African-Americans. We concluded that if Daoud existed he was likely employed by a different agency or that AI Qarani's account was false, exaggerated, or an erroneous description of events that related to an interrogator who was not from the FBI. Based on the available evidence we could not conclude that any FBI agent was responsible for the conduct that AI Qarani attributed to Daoud.

Notes

206. Brandon and Stephenson are pseudonyms.

207. Wyatt is a pseudonym.

208. We found that the FBI agents' participation in a coordinated interrogation strategy with the military that incorporated the "Mutt and Jeff" or "good cop/ bad cop" strategy was not explicitly prohibited by FBI policy. (We note, however, that under the DOD's Apri116, 2003, memorandum, the military was not permitted to use the "Mutt and Jeff" strategy without advance notice to the Secretary of Defense and a determination of military necessity.)

209. Moreover, we believe there is very significant doubt that short chaining a detainee to the floor would have been considered to be "like standing" within the meaning of the December 2 memorandum.

210. As noted in Chapter Eight, Section II.C, witnesses and documents indicated that the "frequent flyer" program was also used on other detainees at GTMO to disrupt their sleep patterns and lower their ability to resist interrogation.

211. In commenting on a draft of this report, the FBI stated that Brandon "stayed within the guidelines laid out, used programs promoted to him and when things went beyond by people not within our control, reported promptly via chain of command."

212. Unlike stress positions, "sleep adjustment" was on the list of approved techniques for military interrogations at GTMO signed by the Secretary of Defense on April 16, 2003.

213 AI Qarani used the detainee's number rather than a name during the interview. Detainee #174 is identified in DOD records as Hisham Bin Ali Bin Amor Sliti.

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