CIA memo: Torture 'subject to perception'

June 18, 2008 at 9:30 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 18 (UPI) -- A CIA lawyer told U.S. Defense Department officials that harsh interrogation techniques were permissible, documents from a congressional investigation showed.

Torture "is basically subject to perception," CIA counter-terrorism lawyer Jonathan Fredman told military and intelligence officials at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison in 2002, meeting minutes said. "If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong."

The documents' release and a congressional hearing Tuesday indicate the CIA played a larger role in advising Pentagon interrogators than previously thought, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The documents and the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing show how top officials to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld researched military survival techniques and adapted them to interrogation situations, the Post said. The aggressive techniques, including sensory deprivation, stress positions, forced nudity and taking advantage of phobias, were approved -- then later rescinded -- for use at Guantanamo Bay and, eventually, other U.S. prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Post said.

"How on Earth did we get to the point where a United States government lawyer would say that ... torture is subject to perception?" committee chairman Sen. Carl M. Levin, D-Mich., said.

Congressional hearings on prisoner continue, The Wall Street Journal reported, including testimony from former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, who participated in the decision to deny prisoners Geneva Conventions protections, and Daniel Levin, a former Justice Department official who helped revise legal opinions on whether the president can set aside laws banning torture.

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