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FBI Observations Regarding Detainee Treatment in Guantanamo Bay: Conclusion

The passage below is the Conclusion to Chapter 8 of A Review of the FBI's Involvement in and Observations of Detainee Interrogations in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq.


The most commonly reported technique used by non-FBI interrogators on detainees at GTMO was sleep deprivation or disruption. Numerous FBI agents told the OIG that they witnessed the military's use of a regimen known as the "frequent flyer program" to undermine cell block relationships among detainees and to disrupt detainees' sleep in an effort to lessen their resistance to questioning. A few FBI agents participated in this program by requesting military officials to subject particular detainees to these frequent cell relocations. Other FBI agents described observing military interrogators use bright lights, loud music, and extreme temperatures to keep detainees awake or otherwise wear down their resistance.

Prolonged short-shackling, in which a detainee's hands were shackled close to his feet to prevent him from standing or sitting comfortably, was another of the most frequently reported techniques observed by FBI agents at GTMO. This technique was sometimes used in conjunction with holding detainees in rooms where the temperature was very cold or very hot in order to break the detainees' resolve. "Stress positions" were prohibited at GTMO under DOD policy beginning in January 2003. FBI agents' observations confirm that prolonged short-shackling continued at GTMO for at least a year after the DOD policy prohibiting stress positions took effect.

FBI agents also observed the use of isolation at GTMO, both to prevent detainees from coordinating their responses to interrogators and, in its most extreme form, to deprive detainees of human contact as a means of reducing their resistance to interrogation. We found that, in several cases, FBI agents participated in interrogations of detainees who were subjected to prolonged isolation by the military.

In addition, FBI agents reported a number of other harsh or unusual interrogation techniques used by the military at GTMO. These incidents tended to be small in number but became notorious because of their extreme nature. They included using a growling military dog to intimidate a detainee during interrogation; twisting a detainee's thumbs back; using a female interrogator to touch or provoke a detainee in a sexual manner; wrapping a detainee's head in duct tape; exposing a detainee to pornography; and wrapping a detainee in the flag of Israel.

We examined how reports from agents regarding detainee treatment at GTMO were handled by the FBI. In addition to the reports addressed in Chapter Five, we found that early FBI concerns about detainee shortshackling were raised with JTF-GTMO in June 2002. However, FBI agents continued to observe the use of short-shackling as a military interrogation technique as late as February 2004. Some reports to FBI Headquarters led to instructions that FBI agents should stand clear of non-FBI techniques. As time passed, other reports from FBI agents to their OSCs regarding military conduct were not elevated within the FBI chain of command because the OSCs understood that the conduct in question was permitted under DOD policy.

Detainees sometimes told FBI agents they had previously been abused or mistreated. FBI practices in dealing with such allegations varied over time. Some agents were told to record such allegations for inclusion in a "war crimes" file; others were told to include the allegations in their regular FD-302 interview summaries; and others told us they were instructed not to record such allegations at all. No formal FBI procedure for reporting incidents or allegations of mistreatment to the military was established until after the Abu Ghraib prison abuses became public in 2004.


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