CIA's harsh interrogation techniques: three key memos now online

The most detailed documents describing the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret interrogation, rendition, and detention program are now online in the American Civil Liberties Union’s new Torture Database. Here are three of the most important memos of the 5,000-plus that the ACLU obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and legal challenges going back to 2003, according to Alexander Abdo, staff attorney for the ACLU’s National Security Project.

2. Background paper on the CIA’s 'combined use' of interrogation techniques – Dec. 30, 2004

It’s a simple title, but chilling in the clinical tone it takes detailing a typical “enhanced” interrogation. And it's rare because “it’s one of the few we have that describes a prototypical ‘enhanced interrogation’ from start to finish," Abdo says, beginning with the capture, to the rendition and interrogation. “It’s one of the very few that gives that kind of overview, and it does it in this incredibly sterile, haunting language,” he says.

It’s the document that the CIA provided to the Department of Justice when it was reviewing the legality of the CIA’s program. “The DOJ requested more information, and the CIA sent this over,” Abdo says.

One sentence in particular “that’s hard to forget is where they say that the protocol the detainee is being subjected to is ‘precise, quiet, and almost clinical,’ ” he adds. “It’s shocking to read that kind of description in a US document. It’s the kind of sentence you’d expect to see in an interrogation from another country without our respect for human rights.”

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