GTMO had several areas that were used to segregate or isolate detainees, including the Navy Brig, certain sections of Camp Delta, Camp Echo, and Camp X-Ray.
Over 50 FBI agents provided the OIG with information regarding the use of isolation at GTMO. Some agents reported the use of extended isolation as part of an interrogation strategy to wear down a detainee's resistance. Others described the use of isolation by the military for disciplinary or security purposes. Different FBI agents had different understandings regarding whether the FBI could participate in the use of isolation as an interrogation strategy: some told us that they participated in the decision to put a detainee in isolation, while others stated that they understood that FBI agents were not authorized to employ this technique.
Secretary Rumsfeld explicitly approved the use of isolation for military interrogation purposes at GTMO on December 2, 2002. The December 2002 Policy provided for isolation up to 30 days, with any extensions requiring approval from the JTF-GTMO Commander. This approval was rescinded on January 12, 2003, but approval for this technique at GTMO with prior notice to the Secretary of Defense was reinstated on April 16, 2003. 136
Isolation as an interrogation technique. Several FBI agents told us that the FBI participated in using isolation as an interrogation technique.137 For example, one agent stated in his survey response that detainee Ghassan Abdullah AI-Sharbi (#682) was believed to have knowledge of a potential terrorist cell in the United States. Despite efforts to build rapport with this detainee, he remained uncooperative and even started to incite trouble within his cell block. The agent stated that the military and the FBI agreed that AI-Sharbi should be isolated for a period of 30 days in Camp Echo before the interview process resumed.
Two SSAs from the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAD) who were deployed to GTMO in early 2003 told the OIG that isolation of detainees was a common practice at GTMO and was not considered abusive. These two SSAs encouraged the use of isolation with respect to certain detainees' interview strategies. One stated that if a detainee was behaving like a leader and gaining status, power, and momentum with other detainees, sometimes it was helpful to isolate him to make him more dependent on the interrogator. The agent stated that this practice was not necessarily in conflict with rapport building. The other BAD agent said that isolation of detainees was an appropriate practice, and said she never saw or heard of it being used improperly.
Another FBI agent said that while at GTMO she was aware of three detainees, Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, and Ruhel Ahmed, who were isolated within Camp Delta for an extended period of time as part of a concerted plan to gain actionable intelligence from them. She stated that the term "segregation" might be a more appropriate term than "isolation" for the conditions she observed.
Another agent who was deployed to GTMO during June and July 2003 told the OIG that isolation was an allowable interrogation technique available to both military and FBI interrogators at GTMO, and that an interviewer could request that a detainee be put into isolation. He said he never used this technique and was not aware of any other FBI or military interrogators using it. The agent said that isolation was used for only a short period of time and that the Commanding General of GTMO had to approve the request.
Other agents reported the opposite, and said that FBI agents were prohibited from using isolation as an interview technique. Similarly, the legal advisor to the Criminal Investigative Task Force (CITF) from March to July 2002 stated that the law enforcement agents of the CITF were not permitted to recommend that a detainee be placed in isolation and that CITF avoided even being consulted on the decision. One FBI agent expressed frustration that detainees could be isolated in Camp Echo for disciplinary reasons but not for intelligence gathering, because she thought it would be an effective technique.
Isolation for Disciplinary or Security Purposes. Several agents described incidents in which the military isolated detainees for disciplinary or security purposes, which sometimes complicated the agents' interview efforts. For example, one agent indicated in his survey response that detainee Shaker Abdul Raheem Mohammed Aamer (#239) was put into isolation at Camp Echo by the military for the maximum of 30 days because he was causing trouble at Camp Delta. The agent stated that although this may have served some behavioral purpose, it was counterproductive to the agent's efforts to get Aamer to provide information. In addition, agents told us the military would segregate detainees who were about to be released in order to ensure their safety just prior to release, and that detainees were isolated immediately before and after they met with the Red Cross.
136. Church Report at 117-121, 138. According to the Church Report, isolation was used by the military throughout interrogation operations at GTMO. ld. at 155.
137. In addition to these incidents, 11 agents also described the use of isolation as an interrogation technique on Al-Qahtani (#63) as described in Chapter Five.
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