A. Beating or Physically Abusing a Detainee
Several FBI agents told the OIG about incidents involving the alleged beating or other physical abuse of detainees at GTMO.121 However, in only one case did any agent report having directly witnessed such conduct. The other reports involved allegations from detainees regarding incidents that the FBI agents did not themselves witness. Beating and physical violence were never approved interrogation techniques at GTMO. The Church investigators reported that a small number of "minor" cases of assault of detainees at GTMO were substantiated, and noted that other, more serious allegations were under investigation by the military. Church Report at 175-178.
Brett/McMahon. The only report by an FBI agent regarding the direct observation of physical abuse at GTMO was an incident in November or December 2002 reported by SSAs Brett and McMahon.122 As noted in Chapter Five, Brett and McMahon were agents from the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) of the FBI's Criminal Incident Response Group (CIRG) who were assigned to observe and assist with interviews of detainees at GTMO.
Brett provided the following details to the OIG. On one occasion while Brett and McMahon were in an observation booth at GTMO observing an FBI interview, they saw a female military interrogator and her partner bring a detainee into a vacant interrogation room. After a few minutes the female interrogator ordered a Marine guard to duct tape the curtain in front of the two-way mirror, blocking the view into the interrogation room. The second military interrogator then came into the observation booth and sat in front of the monitor, and the Marine guard went into the interrogation room. However, Brett said he could see most of the interrogation by looking at the monitor. The female interrogator sat close to the detainee with her back to the camera. Her left knee was in the detainee's crotch area, and she was rubbing the detainee's arms from his shoulders down past his elbows into his crotch area.
Brett told us that several times he could see the detainee turn his head away, grimace in pain, rear back and make noise consistent with a response to pain. The female interrogator leaned in and apparently whispered in the detainee's ear from time to time. After the military interrogators were finished with this detainee, Brett asked the Marine guard what the female interrogator had done to the detainee. The guard told Brett she was bending his thumbs back and grabbing his genitals. Brett asked why she was doing that, and the guard replied, "to cause him pain." The guard added: "If you think that is bad, I have seen her having guys on the floor crying tears in the fetal position." Brett said that the Marine guard's name tag had been taped over, and so he did not see his name. Brett also said that the guard seemed uncomfortable about his questions, and Brett did not want to press the issue by asking his name.
Brett also stated that the female applied some sort of lotion on the arms of the detainee prior to bending his thumbs back and grabbing his genitals. Brett stated that this interrogation occurred during Ramadan and that he understood that if a Muslim male is touched by a woman who is not his wife he would be considered unclean and could not pray. Brett also said he had heard that Army interrogators would use perfumed lotion to make it obvious to the other detainees that the particular detainee had been touched by a woman.
McMahon stated during his OIG interview that both he and Brett observed the female interrogator bend back the thumbs of a detainee. McMahon said that he could not really see what was happening in the interrogation room, but that another military interrogator confirmed what the female interrogator was doing to the detainee.
Brett and McMahon reported this incident to the FBI On-Scene Commander (OSC) at GTMO, and to the CITF-DOD Supervisor. Brett stated that at some point he, McMahon, and the OSC called the Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) to report this incident. Brett told the OIG that he and McMahon were instructed to report any similar incidents to BAD management at Quantico. Brett said he got the impression that his superiors definitely did not want him to raise this kind of issue with General Miller, the military commander of JTF-GTMO at the time. However, Brett told us that he, McMahon, and the OSC did bring up this issue during a meeting with General Miller a few days before Brett left the island, in connection with their attempt to persuade General Miller that the FBI's rapport-based approach was superior to the military's interrogation techniques. Brett said that General Miller responded with words to the effect of, "thank you gentlemen, but my boys know what they're doing."
We determined that Brett's concerns regarding this incident and other incidents were elevated within FBI Headquarters, and from there the matter was eventually referred back to the DOD. This incident was described in general terms in one of the attachments to SSA McMahon's EC to the Counterterrorism Division and the FBI Office of General Counsel dated May 30, 2003, which was described in Chapter Five.
Brett told the OIG that he believed that the U.S. Army interrogators were being encouraged by their superior officers to engage in aggressive interrogation techniques. He gave as an example a "pep rally" meeting he attended, conducted by the Chief of the DOD's Interrogation Control Element, in which the interrogators were encouraged to get as close to the torture statute line as possible. Brett said he did not feel that the incident he witnessed involving the female interrogator was a case of a rogue interrogator acting on her own. 123
Brett gave an account of this incident to the Schmidt-Furlow investigators, who also interviewed the female interrogator and her supervisor. Schmidt-Furlow Report Exhibits 21, 24 and 32. The interrogator and her supervisor stated that she did rub perfume or lotion on a detainee's arm in order to make him stop praying because he would be "unclean," and that when the detainee attempted to attack the interrogator he fell and chipped a tooth. The Schmidt-Furlow Report found that the interrogator's conduct was an authorized technique under Field Manual 34-52 (mild noninjurious touching), although the report did not address Brett's allegations regarding bending the detainee's thumbs back. Schmidt-Furlow Report at 8.
Another FBI agent told the OIG about an incident that occurred during his deployment at GTMO between October and November 2002, which could have been the same incident. The agent said he observed three U.S. military personnel picking a detainee up off the floor of the interrogation room, and that the detainee was bleeding from the nose. The agent said there was a female interrogator who appeared to have her hands on the detainee. The agent identified the interrogator by the same name that Brett provided to the OIG in connection with the thumb-bending incident. The agent reported that he overheard other military personnel in the observation booth say that the female interrogator had been rubbing perfumed lotion on the detainee, including on his genital area, and that when the detainee began yelling and tried to stand up he immediately fell because his handcuffs were shackled to the floor. The agent stated that he spoke to the CITF Commander about this incident.
SA Siebern.124 SA Siebern told the OIG that on one occasion while he was conducting an interview at Camp Delta with an Army Sergeant and Major, they heard a loud noise down the hall and stopped their interview to investigate. What they found was a detainee on the floor of a different interview room, on his knees. The detainee was leaning forward with his forehead touching the floor and he was moaning. Siebern asked the military personnel in the room what had happened and they replied that the detainee had gotten upset and thrown himself to the floor. They also said that they had already called for a medic to treat the detainee. Siebern told the OIG that there was a small amount of blood on the floor in front of the detainee that was consistent with a nose bleed. Siebern said that the Major began to question the other military personnel in the room about this incident and Siebern then left with the Sergeant.125
Siebern said he felt that the explanation he received regarding the detainee was both plausible and credible. He said that such an action by the detainee seemed consistent with behavior that Siebern had observed from other detainees at GTMO. Siebern said that the military personnel in the room did not seem to be agitated and nobody was being restrained away from the detainee as if there had been some sort of confrontation. Siebern believed this was a military issue that most likely would be handled by the Army Major, who was a field grade officer. Siebern said he did not report this incident to his OSC because he did not "feel that it was an issue," and he thought the Major was doing what appeared to be a sufficient albeit superficial investigation. Siebern stated that he did not document the incident or tell anyone else about it at the time. 126
Allegations made by detainees to the FBI regarding physical abuse by military personnel. Several FBI agents deployed to GTMO noted that detainees had complained to them about beatings or other physical abuse by military personnel. Some of these complaints were recorded contemporaneously in FBI FD-302 interview summaries and others were reported to the OIG in survey responses and interviews. No FBI agents reported that they witnessed these events and none were alleged to have participated in them.
For example, according to FBI documents and two agents interviewed by the OIG, an allegation regarding a beating by military personnel was made by detainee Juma Muhammad Abdul Latif AI-Dosari (#261). On May 22, 2002, AI-Dosari told an FBI agent that three or four weeks earlier an unknown number of guards had entered his cell unprovoked and began spitting and cursing at him. AI-Dosari said that a soldier named Smith had jumped on his back, beat him in the face, and choked him until he passed out, and that a female guard named Martin beat him and banged his head against the cell floor. According to the FD-302 interview summary prepared by the FBI agent, AI-Dosari had a recent wound on his nose. Two other FBI agents told the OIG that they heard allegations from detainees of beatings by military guards which we believe related to the same incident, but neither agent witnessed the alleged beatings. The agents told the OIG that AI-Dosari's allegations were well known at GTMO and that they understood that the allegations had been reported to military officials.
Another agent told the OIG about allegations made by detainee Mamdough Ahmed Habib (#661). Habib alleged that "Mike," a private contract interrogator with Lockheed Martin, had hit him during an interrogation approximately a year before the agent arrived at GTMO. The agent said she found Habib's allegation "very hard to believe" based on the agent's experience of working with the interrogator at GTMO.127
We also received FD-302 interview summaries prepared by FBI agents at GTMO that indicated detainees had reported other incidents or rumors of beatings or other physical abuse. According to an FD-302 prepared by special agents from the FBI and the CID, on October 4, 2002, detainee Allal Ab Aljallil Abd Al Rahman Abd (#156) told FBI interviewers that he had witnessed U.S. guards shoot another detainee and throw him in the ocean, and that four or five Camp Delta guards had hit him (#156) in the head about two weeks earlier. Another FD-302 prepared by the FBI states that on January 21, 2003, detainee Abdel Wahab (#37) told the interviewer he had heard that a detainee had been severely beaten by a guard and had died as the result of an altercation that began when the guards treated the Koran disrespectfully.
An FD-302 summary prepared by an FBI agent stated that on May 31, 2003, detainee Abdallah Aiza Al Matrafi (#5) claimed that some detainees were being beaten during late night interrogations. Another FD-302 prepared by an FBI agent stated that on July 19, 2003, detainee Zahir Shah (#1010) complained that he was shackled and hooded by U.S. Forces in Bagram and was subsequently beaten by guards during transfer to GTMO.
120. Many of the incidents described below have previously been discussed in press accounts of FBI documents that were released to the American Civil Liberties Union pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request.
121. The OIG's survey asked separate questions regarding beatings and other treatment causing significant physical pain, but the responses were sufficiently similar that we have combined these categories for purposes of describing agent responses.
122. Brett and McMahon are pseudonyms.
123. A different FBI agent gave an account of what might have been the same incident or a similar incident involving the same female military interrogator. He stated that on one occasion he observed a military interrogator who was "invading the space" of a detainee and speaking into his ear. She was also trying to hold hands with the detainee and he was resisting. The agent said the interrogator seemed to be speaking seductively and may have put her hand on the detainee's leg. The agent said that it did not appear that the detainee was in any pain or physical distress. He said that the interrogator and the detainee looked like they were "hand wrestling" but it did not appear that she was bending back his thumbs. The FBI agent described these actions as "non-standard," but said he definitely did not consider them abuse.
124. This name is a pseudonym.
125. This incident may be the same incident that Brett related regarding the chipped tooth.
126. Siebern later reported this incident on August 18, 2004, in response to the email inquiry from the FBI Inspection Division regarding observation of aggressive techniques. He told the OIG he reported it out of an abundance of caution.
127. According to another FBI agent, Habib also made allegations about beatings of other detainees during an interview with the FBI agent on January 8, 2003. The agent reported these allegations in an FD-302 interview summary that he prepared at the time, which stated among other things that Habib claimed that detainees were beaten when guards searched their cells. According to the Church Report, Habib has been released and has made widely-publicized claims of torture that are the subject of an ongoing investigation by the NCIS. The OIG has requested updated information regarding this investigation from the DOD, but to date it has not been provided.
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