K. Forced Shaving

Approximately 20 FBI agents provided information to the OIG regarding the forced shaving of detainees' heads and faces. One agent described the use of shaving to undermine a detainee's standing within the cell block, while others reported the use of forced shaving as a disciplinary or hygiene measure.

"Forced grooming" (shaving of hair and beard) was specifically approved as a military interrogation technique by Secretary Rumsfeld on December 2, 2002, but this approval was rescinded on January 12, 2003. Church Report at 117-121. According to the Church Report, military interrogators sometimes used this technique at GTMO, including during the period after the Secretary's approval had been withdrawn. Id. at 155.

A former FBI OSC at GTMO said that in 2002 the FBI agent interviewing detainee Ghassan Abdullah Al-Sharbi (#682) told him that Al-Sharbi should have his beard shaved. The agent told the OSC that Al-Sharbi's beard was down to his waist and he was getting too much respect on the cell block for this. The agent recommended that Al-Sharbi be shaved in order to reduce his influence and the level of respect he was receiving from the other detainees on the cell block. The OSC said he thought that the agent had already consulted with the military about having Al-Sharbi's beard shaved. The OSC gave his consent and shortly thereafter Al-Sharbi's beard was shaved. However, the agent told the OIG said he neither observed nor heard about subjecting a detainee to forced shaving, except for hygiene purposes.

Two FBI agents reported to the OIG allegations from detainees that guards were shaving some of the detainees' beards half off in an effort to embarrass them, although neither agent observed this conduct. Several other agents described incidents of shaving as a punishment for detainee misconduct, such as attacking a member of the military.145 Other agents reported that the shaving of detainee's heads and their facial hair was usually done for hygienic or health reasons.


145. During the OIG's visit to GTMO in February 2007, military personnel stated that cutting a detainee's hair and beard was a standard punishment for certain disciplinary infractions. At least one of the detainees interviewed by the OIG in 2007 had recently been subjected to such punishment.

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