Five years ago, as troubling reports emerged about the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a career lawyer at the Justice Department began a long and relatively lonely campaign to alert top Bush administration officials to a strategy he considered "wrongheaded."
Bruce C. Swartz, a criminal division deputy in charge of international issues, repeatedly questioned the effectiveness of harsh interrogation tactics at White House meetings of a special group formed to decide detainee matters, with representatives present from the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA.
Swartz warned that the abuse of Guantanamo inmates would do "grave damage" to the country's reputation and to its law enforcement record, according to an investigative audit released earlier this week by the Justice Department's inspector general. Swartz was joined by a handful of other top Justice and FBI officials who said the abuse would almost certainly taint any legal proceedings against the detainees.
Now their predictions appear to be coming true. A top Pentagon official chose this month to drop charges against a detainee who was roughly interrogated at Guantanamo, and U.S. officials believe it may be difficult to charge him at all. Defense lawyers for a group of alleged Sept. 11 conspirators in U.S. custody have said they plan to raise concerns about harsh techniques used by the CIA and will seek to keep evidence derived from such tactics out of court.