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F.B.I. E-Mail Refers to Presidential Order
  Authorizing Inhumane Interrogation Techniques
  American Civil Liberties Union

  Monday 20 December 2004

    Newly obtained F.B.I. records call Defense Department's 
methods "torture," express concerns over "cover-up" that may leave 
F.B.I. "holding the bag" for abuses.

  NEW YORK - A document released for the first time today by the 
American Civil Liberties Union suggests that President Bush issued an 
Executive Order authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation methods 
against detainees in Iraq. Also released by the ACLU today are a slew 
of other records including a December 2003 FBI e-mail that 
characterizes methods used by the Defense Department as "torture" and 
a June 2004 "Urgent Report" to the Director of the FBI that raises 
concerns that abuse of detainees is being covered up.

  "These documents raise grave questions about where the blame for 
widespread detainee abuse ultimately rests," said ACLU Executive 
Director Anthony D. Romero. "Top government officials can no longer 
hide from public scrutiny by pointing the finger at a few low-ranking 

  The documents were obtained after the ACLU and other public 
interest organizations filed a lawsuit against the government for 
failing to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request.

  The two-page e-mail that references an Executive Order states that 
the President directly authorized interrogation techniques including 
sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs, 
and "sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc." The ACLU is 
urging the White House to confirm or deny the existence of such an 
order and immediately to release the order if it exists. The FBI e-
mail, which was sent in May 2004 from "On Scene Commander--Baghdad" 
to a handful of senior FBI officials, notes that the FBI has 
prohibited its agents from employing the techniques that the 
President is said to have authorized.

  Another e-mail, dated December 2003, describes an incident in which 
Defense Department interrogators at Guantanamo Bay impersonated FBI 
agents while using "torture techniques" against a detainee. The e-
mail concludes "If this detainee is ever released or his story made 
public in any way, DOD interrogators will not be held accountable 
because these torture techniques were done [sic] the 'FBI' 
interrogators. The FBI will [sic] left holding the bag before the 

  The document also says that no "intelligence of a threat 
neutralization nature" was garnered by the "FBI" interrogation, and 
that the FBI's Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF) believes that 
the Defense Department's actions have destroyed any chance of 
prosecuting the detainee. The e-mail's author writes that he or she 
is documenting the incident "in order to protect the FBI."

  "The methods that the Defense Department has adopted are illegal, 
immoral, and counterproductive," said ACLU staff attorney Jameel 
Jaffer. "It is astounding that these methods appear to have been 
adopted as a matter of policy by the highest levels of government."

  The June 2004 "Urgent Report" addressed to the FBI Director is 
heavily redacted. The legible portions of the document appear to 
describe an account given to the FBI's Sacramento Field Office by an 
FBI agent who had "observed numerous physical abuse incidents of 
Iraqi civilian detainees," including "strangulation, beatings, [and] 
placement of lit cigarettes into the detainees ear openings." The 
document states that "[redacted] was providing this account to the 
FBI based on his knowledge that [redacted] were engaged in a cover-up 
of these abuses."

  The release of these documents follows a federal court order that 
directed government agencies to comply with a year-old request under 
the Freedom of Information Act filed by the ACLU, the Center for 
Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for 
Common Sense and Veterans for Peace. The New York Civil Liberties 
Union is co-counsel in the case.

  Other documents released by the ACLU today include:

    * An FBI email regarding DOD personnel impersonating FBI 
officials during interrogations. The e-mail refers to a "ruse" and 
notes that "all of those [techniques] used in these scenarios" were 
approved by the Deputy Secretary of Defense. (Jan. 21, 2004)
    * Another FBI agent's account of interrogations at Guantanamo in 
which detainees were shackled hand and foot in a fetal position on 
the floor. The agent states that the detainees were kept in that 
position for 18 to 24 hours at a time and most had "urinated or 
defacated [sic]" on themselves. On one occasion, the agent reports 
having seen a detainee left in an unventilated, non-air conditioned 
room at a temperature "probably well over a hundred degrees." The 
agent notes: "The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with 
a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling 
his own hair out throughout the night." (Aug. 2, 2004)
    * An e-mail stating that an Army lawyer "worked hard to cwrite 
[sic] a legal justification for the type of interrogations they (the 
Army) want to conduct" at Guantanamo Bay. (Dec. 9, 2002)
    * An e-mail noting the initiation of an FBI investigation into 
the alleged rape of a juvenile male detainee at Abu Ghraib prison in 
Iraq. (July 28, 2004)
    * An FBI agent's account of an interrogation at Guantanamo - an 
interrogation apparently conducted by Defense Department personnel - 
in which a detainee was wrapped in an Israeli flag and bombarded with 
loud music and strobe lights. (July 30, 2004)
    * The ACLU and its allies are scheduled to go to court again this 
afternoon, where they will seek an order compelling the CIA to turn 
over records related to an internal investigation into detainee 
abuse. Although the ACLU has received more than 9,000 documents from 
other agencies, the CIA refuses to confirm or deny even the existence 
of many of the records that the ACLU and other plaintiffs have 
requested. The CIA is reported to have been involved in abusing 
detainees in Iraq and at secret CIA detention facilities around the 

  The lawsuit is being handled by Lawrence Lustberg and Megan Lewis 
of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger 
& Vecchione, P.C. Other attorneys in the case are Jaffer, Amrit Singh 
and Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU; Art Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of 
the NYCLU; and Barbara Olshansky and Jeff Fogel of CCR.

  The documents referenced above can be found at:

  More on the lawsuit can be found at:
For updates and info, contact scott at planttrees dot org.