The 'Bright Line Rule': New Papers Detail FBI, CIA Wrangle Over Torture
WASHINGTON — Newly released documents show the FBI interviewed a naked, chained terror suspect back in 2002 as the bureau struggled with the CIA over how to treat high-value prisoners.
Details of the interrogation were contained in documents released late Friday as part of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, and Judicial Watch.
As the CIA began to use harsh interrogation techniques against captured terror suspects, the FBI became wary of the legality of the methods, which ranged from forced nudity to waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning. As a result, FBI agents were ordered not to participate in such harsh interrogations.
Yet sometime in late 2002, an FBI agent interviewed accused Sept. 11 plotter Ramzi Binalshibh at a CIA site. The agent later said he got valuable information out of Binalshibh before the CIA shut down the questioning.
According to one document, FBI officials told investigators when they arrived at the unidentified CIA site "the detainees were manacled to the ceiling and subjected to blaring music around the clock."
The FBI agents worked with the CIA in developing questions, but were denied direct access to Binalshibh for four or five days, according to a report on detainee interrogations by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine.
The report says eventually one agent was allowed to speak to Binalshibh for about 45 minutes.
"Binalshibh was naked and chained to the floor," the report said. The FBI agent later said "he obtained valuable actionable intelligence in a short time but that the CIA quickly shut down the interview."
The report said FBI officials later had serious misgivings about their participation in the Binalshibh interrogation.
The incident "indicates that a 'bright line rule' against FBI participation or assistance to interrogations in which other investigators used non-FBI techniques was not fully established or followed" at the time of the interrogation, the report said.
Even the new release of documents still holds back many details. Still missing is a transcript of FBI Director Robert Mueller's interview with investigators examining the interrogation issues.
A censored version of the inspector general's report was released last year, but Friday's release disclosed a few more details about the Binalshibh case.
Binalshibh is one of five prisoners currently at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility facing a possible death sentence for allegedly taking part in the 2001 terror attack on the U.S.
Military doctors have diagnosed him with a psychiatric disorder and he has been treated with a drug for schizophrenia, according to court papers, but the exact nature of the apparent illness is unknown.
The government papers released Friday also reveal that after Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces in Iraq, FBI officials debated whether he should be read his Miranda warning of legal rights, but they ultimately decided he did not need such a warning because he was unlikely to be brought back to the United States to face criminal trial. He was ultimately tried by Iraq's new government and executed.
Since Barack Obama became president in January, many of the most closely held secrets about the CIA's treatment of detainees following the 2001 attacks have come to light.
One of Obama's first decisions as president was to order the CIA to close its network of secret overseas prisons.
He also prohibited harsh interrogations and required all U.S. personnel to adhere to the rules of the military's field manual.
The manual, last updated in September 2006, prohibits forcing detainees to be naked, threatening them with military dogs, exposing them to extreme heat or cold, conducting mock executions, depriving them of food, water, or medical care, and waterboarding, which Obama says is torture.
In August, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a criminal probe into abuse allegations of prisoners by CIA employees.