B. Prolonged Shackling and Stress Positions
Over 30 FBI agents told the OIG in survey responses or interviews that they saw or heard about the use of prolonged shackling or stress positions on detainees at GTMO.128 Many described a particular practice known as "short chaining" or "short-shackling" in which the detainee's hands and feet were chained close to a bolt on the floor so that the detainee could not stand or sit comfortably. Several agents described detainees being short-shackled overnight or while being subjected to cold temperatures, loud music, or flashing lights. We describe the more severe examples of short-shackling and stress positions reported by the agents below.
According to the Church Report, "[t]hroughout interrogation operations at GTMO, interrogators have made a practice of chaining detainees' hands and feet to an eyebolt in the floor of the interrogation room, ostensibly as a matter of safety." Church Report at 168. The Church Report found that this practice prevented seated detainees from standing up straight, and forced standing detainees into a stooped or hunched over position. Id. The Church investigators observed that the practice of "short chaining" (intentionally placing a detainee's hands even closer to the eyebolt) caused "moderate physical discomfort" and was employed "to intimidate and establish control over resistant detainees." Accordingly, they classified this practice as a "stress position." Id. Stress positions were approved for use at GTMO by Secretary Rumsfeld on December 2, 2002, but permission to use stress positions without advance approval from the Secretary was rescinded on January 12, 2003. Id. at 117-120. 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 specifically prohibited this practice. Id. at 168.
Direct observations. The OIG interviewed 23 FBI agents who personally observed prolonged shackling of detainees in stress positions.129 For example, one FBI agent stated that during her deployment from December 2003 to September 2004, she personally observed detainee Mohammad Mehdi (#166) "short-shackled" in an interrogation room. Mehdi was also being forced to listen to loud music with flashing strobe lights, and later placed in a hot room. The agent did not know how long Mehdi was in the hot room, but she thought it was for several hours. She also estimated that the room temperature was about 90 to 95 degrees. She stated that two Lockheed Martin contract interrogators most likely ordered that Mehdi be short-shackled. The agent told the OIG that she understood that shortshackling was a permitted interrogation tactic for military personnel, and that she therefore did not report this activity to anyone in the FBI until July 9, 2004, when she responded to the Inspection Division's survey of agents deployed to military zones. In her e-mail she stated that Mehdi was short-shackled for approximately 15 hours. Another FBI agent indicated in her OIG survey response and her OIG interview that on a few occasions during her deployment to GTMO in February and March 2003 she observed detainees that were "short chained" to the floor for extended periods and subjected to extreme temperatures. She said that the first time she encountered this was when she walked into an interview room and encountered a detainee whose hands and feet were shackled to the floor so that the detainee could not stand. She said that the room was stifling hot, there was a strong smell of urine and feces, and there was a small pile of hair next to the detainee's head. The MPs on duty told the agent that the detainee had been there since the day before and that the MPs were told by his interrogators to leave him there and not bring him any food or water until the interrogators came back. The MPs also told the FBI agent that they had been instructed to do this for other detainees. The same FBI agent told the OIG that approximately two weeks later she encountered another detainee who was shackled to the floor of an interview room. She said the air conditioner had been set to make it very cold in the room and the detainee was shivering. Also, the detainee had urinated in his pants. The MPs advised her that the detainee had been in the room since the previous day with the air conditioner left on the whole time, and that they were told not to bring the detainee food, water, or anything else until the interrogators returned. The agent said the MPs told her that the interrogators were trying to "break down" detainees through the use of temperature manipulation, loud music, and immobility. The FBI agent stated that she did not report either incident to her FBI OSC, but she believes that she did discuss this with her FBI colleagues at GTMO, some of whom told her that they had heard about this sort of thing being done at GTMO.130 Two other witnesses also told the OIG about another incident involving use of a stress position on detainee Salman Yahya Hassan Mohammed Rabeii (#508). One FBI agent said that early in his deployment at GTMO in 2002 he observed two young soldiers laughing and snickering at a detainee who was in what appeared to be a stress position on his knees. The detainee was rubbing his leg and the Arabic translator in the room was yelling at the detainee. The agent asked the soldiers if what was taking place was authorized activity. One soldier told the agent that the activity was authorized, but the agent was not convinced and he sought out a CITF legal advisor. The two of them brought this incident to the attention of the Commanding General's JAG.131 We interviewed the former CITF legal advisor (who has since left the military and is now an Assistant General Counsel for the FBI), who provided a similar account to the OIG and identified the detainee as Rabeii. The former CITF legal advisor also told the OIG that on another occasion near that time he observed a detainee being short-shackled to the floor in a squatting position during an interview for the purpose of using the offer of a chair as an incentive for cooperation.
Second hand reports and detainee allegations. Several FBI agents told the OIG that they heard about incidents of prolonged shackling or stress positions from other agents or from detainees.132 For example, the FBI OSC at GTMO during June 2002 said that he heard that some detainees had been shackled to the floor for prolonged periods in a manner that put some stress on the lumbar region of the back as a way to induce the detainees to talk. The OSC said he told his staff "we're not going to do that anymore," and to the best of his knowledge most agents stopped using this technique. The OSC stated that he heard that two task force officers from New York (not FBI agents) continued to use this technique, however, and that the OSC threatened to have them removed from GTMO if they continued to use this technique. The OSC said he could not recall the names of the New York task force agents or of any FBI agents who had employed this technique. None of the approximately 440 other FBI agents who served at GTMO that responded to the OIG in this review reported in their survey responses or interviews that they ever observed FBI agents use short-shackling or other stress positions at GTMO, and we were unable to determine the identity of any agents that the OSC said had used this technique.
Another FBI agent said that detainees Shafiq Rasul (#86), Asif Iqbal (#87), and Ruhel Ahmed (#110) told her that they had been "short-shackled" by the military on occasion to get them to cooperate in interrogations. The agent told the OIG that she understood that these detainees were shortshackled to wear down their resistance to interrogation. She stated that the alleged incident happened about 6 months before she arrived at GTMO, and it was used in conjunction with loud music, strobe lights, and temperature manipulation.
The same agent told the OIG that another detainee, Ahmed Ould Abdel Aziz (#757), complained that he was shackled for an extended period of time in conjunction with other aggressive interrogation techniques. The agent stated that during her time at GTMO, from December 2003 to September 2004, she was a member of a multi-agency interrogation team that had been building rapport with Aziz over a long period of time. She told us that another interrogator told her that Aziz had alleged that in February 2004 he had been subjected to yelling, short-shackling, lowered room temperature, strobe lights, and music. Aziz also alleged that he was left in the interrogation room for over 12 hours with no food, bathroom breaks, or breaks to pray. The agent told us that she and her team believed that the CIA had conducted this interview. She said she and the other interrogators on her team were angry because the incident undermined their lengthy effort to build rapport with this detainee, and because there had been no coordination with them prior to interrogating the detainee. She said she reported this incident to an FBI SSA and the FBI OSC, and the problem did not recur.
128 The OIG survey asked separate questions about prolonged shackling and stress positions. However, respondents described incidents of short-shackling under both categories. In addition, as mentioned above, the Church investigators have classified shortshackling as a type of stress position. We therefore combined the categories in this discussion.
129 In addition to the incidents described in this Section we also address an incident involving the short-shackling of detainee Yousef Abkir Saleh AI Qarani (#269) in Chapter Eleven.
130 The agent later reported these incidents in an e-mail response to the FBI Inspection Division survey and in an interview with the Inspection Division.
131 The disposition of this report to military superiors is discussed below in Section III of this chapter.
132 In commenting on a draft of this report, the DOD stated that "short shackling" is also a technique used to control violent or belligerent detainees to ensure the safety of others, and that this use could explain some of the agents' observations and second-hand information on the use of this measure.
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