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Torture Memos vs. Red Cross Report: Prisoners’ Recollections Differ from Guidelines


Below is a comparison of the recently released "torture memos," prepared by Bush administration lawyers, and a leaked Red Cross report in which prisoners were interviewed about being on the receiving end of the interrogation techniques. The chart is based on research by the ACLU, which filed lawsuits to get the memos released. Also, here is our list of still-missing Bush-era memos on prisoner treatment and warrantless wiretapping.  And here's our latest coverage on the memos.

You can click on a link below to jump to a section:

Cramped Confinement

...For the larger confined space, the individual can stand up or sit down; the smaller space is large enough for the subject to sit down...

This technique involves placing the individual in a confined space, the dimensions of which restrict the individual s movement. The confined space is usually dark. The duration of confinement varies based upon the site of the container. For the larger confined space, the individual can stand up or sit down; the smaller space is large enough for the subject to sit down.

Confinement in the larger space may last no more than 8 hours at a time for no more than 18 hours a day; for the smaller space, confinement may last no more than two hours. Limits on the duration of cramped confinement are based on considerations of the detainee s size and weight, how he responds to the technique, and continuing consultation between the interrogators and OMS officers.

ICRC: One of the fourteen reported that confinement inside boxes was used as a form of ill-treatment.

ABU ZUBAYDAH: Mr. Abu Zubaydah alleged that during an intense period of his interrogation in Afghanistan in 2002 he was held in boxes that had been specially designed to constrain his movement. One of the boxes was tall and narrow and the other was shorter, forcing him to crouch down. Mr. Abu Zubaydah stated that: As it was not high enough even to sit upright, I had to crouch down. It was very difficult because of my wounds. The stress on my legs held in this position meant that my wounds both in the leg and stomach became very painful. I think this occurred about three months after my last operation.

He went on to say that a cover was placed over the boxes while he was inside making it hot and difficult to breathe. The combination of sweat, pressure and friction from the slight movement possible to try to find a comfortable position, meant that the wound on his leg began to reopen and started to bleed. He does not know how long he remained in the small box; he says that he thinks he may have slept or fainted.

The boxes were used repeatedly during a period of approximately one week in conjunction with other forms of ill-treatment, such as suffocation by water, beatings and use of the collar to slam him against the wall, sleep deprivation, loud music and deprivation of solid food. During this period, between sessions of ill-treatment he was made to sit on the floor with a black hood over his head until the next session began.

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Dietary Manipulation

...the substitution of commercial liquid meal replacements for normal food, presenting detainees with a bland, unappetizing, but nutritionally complete diet...

This technique involves the substitution of commercial liquid meal replacements for normal food, presenting detainees with a bland, unappetizing, but nutritionally complete diet... The CIA generally follows as a guideline a calorie requirement of 99 kcal/day + 10 kcal/kg/day... Medical officers are required to ensure adequate fluid and nutritional intake, and frequent medical monitoring takes place while any detainee is undergoing dietary manipulation. All detainees are weighed weekly, and in the unlikely event that a detainee were to lose more than 10 percent of his body weight, the restricted diet would be discontinued.

ICRC: Eight of the fourteen alleged they were deprived of solid food for periods ranging from three days to one month. This was often followed by a period when the provision of food was restricted and allegedly used as an incentive for cooperation. Two other detainees alleged that, whilst they were not totally deprived of food, food was provided intermittently or provided in restricted amounts.

ABU ZUBAYDAH: Mr. Abu Zubaydah alleged that in Afghanistan, during the initial period of two to three weeks while kept constantly sitting on a chair, he was not provided with any solid food, but was provided with Ensure (a nutrient drink) and water. After about two to three weeks be began to receive sold food (rice) to eat on a daily, once a day, basis. Approximately one month later, during a resumption of intense questioning he was again deprived of food for approximately one week and only given Ensure and water.

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Facial Slap / Abdominal Slap

...the interrogator slaps the individual's face with fingers slightly spread...the interrogator strikes the abdomen of the detainee with the back of his open hand...

FACIAL SLAP: With this technique, the interrogator slaps the individual s face with fingers slightly spread. The hand makes contact with the area directly between the tip of the individual s chin and the bottom of the corresponding earlobe.

ABDOMINAL SLAP: In this technique the interrogator strikes the abdomen of the detainee with the back of his open hand. The interrogator must have no rings or other jewelry on his hand. The interrogator is positioned directly in front of the detainee, generally no more than 18 inches from the detainee. With his fingers held tightly together and fully extended, and with his palm toward the interrogator s own body, using his elbow as a fixed pivot point, the interrogator slaps the detainee in the detainee s abdomen.

ICRC: Nine of the fourteen alleged that they had been subjected to daily beatings during the initial period; involving repeated slapping, punching and, less often, kicking, to the body and face, as well as a detainee having his head banged against a solid object. These beatings lasted up to half an hour and were repeated throughout the day and again on subsequent days. They took place during periods ranging from one week up to two to three months.

DETAINEE: [O]ne detainee who did not wish his name to be transmitted to the authorities alleged that: In Kabul the treatment got worse. I was punched and slapped in the face and on the back to the extent that I was bleeding. While having a rope round my neck and being tied to a pillar my head was banged against the pillar repeatedly.



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Nudity

...interrogators can exploit the detainee's fear of being seen naked...

This technique is used to cause psychological discomfort, particularly if a detainee, for cultural or other reasons, is especially modest. When the technique is employed, clothing can be provided as an instant reward for cooperation. During and between interrogation sessions, a detainee may be kept nude provided that ambient temperatures and the health of the detainee permit. for this technique to be employed, ambient temperatures must be at least 68 degrees...

No sexual abuse or threats of sexual abuse are permitted. Although each detention ell has full-time closed-circuit video monitoring, the detainee is not intentionally exposed to other detainees or unduly exposed to the detention facility staff. We understand that interrogators 'are trained to avoid sexual innuendo or acts of implicit or explicit sexual degradation'...

Nevertheless, interrogators can exploit the detainee's fear of being seen naked. In addition, female officers involved in the interrogation process may see the detainees naked; and for purposes of our analysis, we will assume that detainees subjected to nudity as an interrogation technique are aware that they may be seen naked by females.

ICRC: The most common method of ill-treatment noted during the interviews with the fourteen was the use of nudity. Eleven of the fourteen alleged that they were subjected to extended periods of nudity during detention and interrogation, ranging from several weeks continuously up to several months intermittently.

BIN ATTASH: Mr. Bin Attash alleged that he was kept naked for two weeks in Afghanistan, followed by one month of being clothed. However, after being transferred to his next place of detention, he was allegedly again kept naked for another one month.

ABU ZUBAYDAH: Mr. Abu Zubaydah alleged that after spending several weeks in hospital following arrest he was transferred to Afghanistan where he remained naked, during interrogation, for between one and a half to two months. He was then examined by a woman he assumed to be a doctor who allegedly asked why he was still being kept naked. Clothes were given to him the next day. However, the following day, these clothes were then cut off his body and he was again kept naked. Clothes were subsequently provided or removed according to how cooperative he was perceived by his interrogators.

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Sleep Deprivation

...The maximum allowable duration for sleep deprivation authorized by the CIA is 180 hours, after which the detainee must be permitted to sleep without interruption for at least eight hours...

The primary method of sleep deprivation involves the use of shackling to keep the detainee awake. In this method, the detainee is standing and is handcuffed, and the handcuffs are attached by a length of chain to the ceiling...In lieu of standing sleep deprivation, a detainee may instead be seated on and shackled to a small stool. The stool supports the detainee's weight, but is too small to permit the subject to balance himself sufficiently to be able to go to sleep. On rare occasions, a detainee may also be restrained in a horizontal position when necessary to enable recovery from edema without interrupting the course of sleep deprivation...

The maximum allowable duration for sleep deprivation authorized by the CIA is 180 hours, after which the detainee must be permitted to sleep without interruption for at least eight hours. You have informed us that to date, more than a dozen detainees have been subjected to sleep deprivation of more than 48 hours, and three detainees have been subjected to sleep deprivation of more than 96 hours; the longest period of time for which any detainee has been deprived of sleep by the CIA is 180 hours.

ICRC: Eleven of the fourteen alleged that they were deprived of sleep during the initial interrogation phase from seven days continuously to intermittent sleep deprivation that continued up to two or three months after arrest. Sleep was deprived in various ways, and therefore overlaps with some of the other forms of ill-treatment described in this section, from the use of loud repetitive noise or music to long interrogation sessions to prolonged stress standing to spraying with cold water.

ABU ZUBAYDAH: "I was kept sitting on a chair, shackled by hands and feet for two to three weeks. During this time I developed blisters on the underside of my legs due to the constant sitting. I was only allowed to get up from the chair to go to the toilet, which consisted of a bucket." He alleged that he was constantly deprived of sleep during this period, "if I started to fall asleep a guard would come and spray water in my face," he said. The cell was kept very cold by the use of air-conditioning and very loud shouting music was constantly playing on an approximately fifteen minute repeat loop twenty-four hours a day. Sometimes the music stopped and was replaced by a loud hissing or crackling noise.

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Stress Positions

...these positions are used only to induce temporary muscle fatigue...

There are three stress positions that may be used. You have informed us that these positions are not designed to produce the pain associated with contortions or twisting of the body. Rather, like wall standing, they are designed to produce the physical discomfort associated with temporary muscle fatigue.

The three stress positions are (1) sitting on the floor with legs extended straight out in front and arms raised above the head, (2) kneeling on the floor while leaning back at a 45 degree angle, and (3) leaning against a wall generally about three feet away from the detainee s feet, with only the detainee s head touching the wall, while his wrists are handcuffed in front of him or behind his back, and while an interrogator stands next to him to prevent injury if he loses his balance. As with wall standing, we understand that these positions are used only to induce temporary muscle fatigue.

ICRC: Ten of the fourteen alleged that they were subjected to prolonged stress standing positions, during which their wrists were shackled to a bar or hook in the ceiling above the head for periods ranging from two or three days continuously, and for up to two or three months intermittently. All those detainees who reported being held in this position were allegedly kept naked throughout the use of this form of ill-treatment...

While being held in this position some of the detainees were allowed to defecate in a bucket. A guard would come to release their hands from the bar or hook in the ceiling so that they could sit on the bucket. None of them, however, were allowed to clean themselves afterwards. Others were made to wear a garment that resembled a diaper...Many of the detainees who alleged that they had undergone this form of ill-treatment commented that their legs and ankles swelled as a result of the continual forced standing with their hands shackled above their head. They also noted that while being held in this position they were checked frequently by US health personnel...

Although this position prevented most detainees from sleeping, three of the detainees stated that they did fall asleep once or more while shackled in this position. These include Mr. Khaled Shaik Mohammed and Mr. Bin Attash; the third did not wish his name to be transmitted to the authorities. When they did fall asleep held in this position, the whole weight of their bodies was effectively suspended from the shackled wrists, transmitting the strain through the arms to the shoulders.

KHALED SHEIKH MOHAMMED: Mr. Khaled Shaik Mohammed alleged that, apart from the time when he was taken for interrogation, he was shackled in the prolonged stress standing position for one month in his third place of detention (he estimates he was interrogated for approximately eight hours each day at the start of the month gradually declining to four hours each day at the end of the month).

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Walling

...The individual is placed with his heels touching the flexible wall. The interrogator pulls the individual forward and then quickly and firmly pushes the individual into the wall...

This technique involves the use of a flexible, false wall. The individual is placed with his heels touching the flexible wall. The interrogator pulls the individual forward and then quickly and firmly pushes the individual into the wall. It is the individual s shoulder blades that hit the wall. During this motion, the head and neck are supported with a rolled hood or towel that provides a C-collar effect to help prevent whiplash. To reduce further the risk of injury, the individual is allowed to rebound from the flexible wall...

Depending on the extent of the detainee s lack of cooperation, he may be walled one time during an interrogation session (one impact with the wall) or many times (perhaps 20 or 30 times) consecutively. We understand that this technique is not designed to, and does not, cause severe pain, even when used repeatedly as you have described. Rather, it is designed to wear down the detainee and to shock or surprise the detainee and alter his expectations about the treatment he believes he will receive.

In particular, we specifically understand that the repetitive use of the walling technique is intended to contribute to the shock and drama of the experience, to dispel a detainee s expectations that interrogators will not use increasing levels of force, and to wear down his resistance. It is not intended to and based on experience you have informed us that it does not inflict any injury or cause severe pain.

ICRC: Six of the fourteen alleged that an improvised thick collar or neck roll was placed around their necks and used by their interrogators to slam them against the walls.

ABU ZUBAYDAH: Mr. Abu Zubaydah commented that when the collar was first used on him in his third place of detention, he was slammed directly against a hard concrete wall. He was then placed in a tall box for several hours After he was taken out of the box he noticed that a sheet of plywood had been placed against the wall. The collar was then used to slam him against the plywood sheet. He thought that the plywood was in order to absorb some of the impact so as to avoid the risk of physical injury.

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Waterboarding

...wet cloth creates a barrier through which it is difficult -- or in some cases not possible -- to breathe...

In this technique, the detainee is lying on a gurney that is inclined at an angle of 10 to 15 degrees to the horizontal, with the detainee on his back and his head toward the lower end of the gurney. A cloth is placed over the detainee s face, and cold water is poured on the cloth from a height of approximately 6 to 18 inches. The wet cloth creates a barrier through which it is difficult or in some cases not possible to breathe. A single application of water may not last for more than 40 seconds, with the duration of an application measured from the moment when water of whatever quantity is first poured onto the cloth until the moment when the cloth is removed from the subject s face.

The CIA used the waterboard 'at least 83 times during August 2002' in the interrogation of Zubaydah, IG Report at 90, and 183 times during March 2003 in the interrogation of [Khaled Sheikh Mohammed]

ABU ZUBAYDAH: I was put on what looked like a hospital bed, and strapped down very tightly with belts. A black cloth was then placed over my face and the interrogators used a mineral water bottle to pour water on the cloth so that I could not breathe. After a few minutes the cloth was removed and the bed was rotated into an upright position. The pressure of the straps on my wounds caused severe pain. I vomited. The bed was then again lowered to a horizontal position and the same torture carried out with the black cloth over my face and water poured on from a bottle. On this occasion my head was in a more backward, downwards position and the water was poured on for a longer time. I struggled without success to breathe. I thought I was going to die. I lost control of my urine. Since then I still lose control of my urine when under stress.

KHALED SHEIKH MOHAMMED: I would be strapped to a special bed, which can be rotated into a vertical position. A cloth would be placed over my face. Water was then poured onto the cloth by one of the guards so that I could not breathe. This obviously could only be done for one or two minutes at a time. The cloth was then removed and the bed was put into a vertical position. The whole process was then repeated during about 1 hour.

The procedure was applied during five different sessions during the first month of interrogation in his third place of detention. He also said that injuries to his ankles and wrists occurred during the suffocation as he struggled in the panic of not being able to breathe. As during other forms of ill-treatment he was always kept naked during the suffocation. Female interrogators were also present during this form of ill-treatment, again increasing the humiliation aspect.

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Water Dousing

..cold water is poured on the detainee either from a container or from a hose without a nozzle...interrogators must ensure that water does not enter the detainee's nose, mouth, or eyes...

Cold water is poured on the detainee either from a container or from a hose without a nozzle. This technique is intended to weaken the detainee s resistance and persuade him to cooperate with interrogators. The water poured on the detainee must be potable, and the interrogators must ensure that water does not enter the detainee s nose, mouth, or eyes.

The minimum permissible temperature of the water used in water dousing is 41°F, though you have informed us that in practice the water temperature is generally not below 50°F since tap water rather than refrigerated water is generally used.

ICRC: Seven of the fourteen reported that they were also subjected to dousing with cold water during interrogation sessions. In four cases the water was allegedly thrown or poured onto the detainee with buckets or a hose-pipe while held in a stress standing position with their arms shackled above their head for prolonged periods. Several thought that this was in order to clean away the feces which had run down their legs when they defecated while held in the prolonged stress standing position.

In three cases cold water was also poured over the detainee while he was lying on a plastic sheet raised at the edges by guards to contain the water around his body creating an immersion bath with just the head exposed. In one case a detainee was strapped to a tilting bed and cold water was poured over his body while he was threatened with water boarding (although that procedure was not actually carried out on that individual).

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