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December 26, 2002: Washington Post Reports on Rendition, ‘Stress and Duress’ Techniques

In a front-page article, the Washington Post reports on the US intelligence program of rendition (see 1993) and reveals that US agents are using “stress and duress” techniques to interrogate captives detained in Afghanistan. Persons being held in the CIA interrogation center at Bagram Air Base who refuse to cooperate “are sometimes kept standing or kneeling for hours in black hoods or spray-painted goggles,…. held in awkward, painful positions and deprived of sleep with a 24-hour bombardment of lights’ subject to what are known as ‘stress and duress’ techniques,” the article says. (Priest and Gellman 12/26/2002; Human Rights Watch 5/7/2004) Each of the ten current national security officials who were interviewed for the article “defended the use of violence against captives as just and necessary.” (Priest and Gellman 12/26/2002) It quotes one official who reasons: “If you don’t violate someone’s human rights some of the time, you probably aren’t doing your job…. I don’t think we want to be promoting a view of zero tolerance on this.” (Priest and Gellman 12/26/2002; Human Rights Watch 5/7/2004) Likewise, another official acknowledges that “our guys may kick them around a little bit in the adrenaline of the immediate aftermath.” A different source comments, with reference to the medical services provided for captives, that “pain control [in wounded patients] is a very subjective thing.” (Priest and Gellman 12/26/2002) Finally, in a very explicit remark, one of the officials interviewed by the Post, who is described as being directly involved in the rendition of captives, explains the program’s logic: “We don’t kick the [expletive] out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the [expletive] out of them.” (Priest and Gellman 12/26/2002; Human Rights Watch 5/7/2004) After the report is published, Maj. Stephen Clutter, the deputy spokesman at Bagram, denies the allegations (see December 29, 2002), claiming that the Washington Post article was “false on several points, the first being that there is no CIA detention facility on Bagram.” He says, “The accusation of inhumane treatment is something that I can clearly refute. The things that they talked about, the inhumane conditions… are things that do not go on here.” (Agence France-Presse 12/29/2002)


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