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OLC Memo: Application of U.S. Obligations Under Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture to Certain Techniques that May Be Used in the Interrogation of High Value al Qaeda Detainees

May 30, 2005 | OLC | ACLU-RDI 4551

An OLC memo addressing whether certain enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA are consistent with the United States's obligations under Article 16 of the United Nations Convention Agsinst Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and concluding that “the use of these techniques, subject to the CIA’s careful screening criteria and limitation and its medical safeguards, is consistent with the United States obligations under Article 16.” The primary justification is that the interrogations take place outside the jurisdiction of the United States. Other repeated justifications for these techniques are that there is no risk of serious physical or psychological pain and that "the enhanced techniques are all adapted from techniques used by the United States on its own troops, albeit under significantly different conditions."

[On page 7 of this memo, the government disclosed the last name of a detainee - "Gul." Some suspect that this is a reference to Hassan Ghul, whose name was read into the congressional record in 2006 as a “terrorist” who was “no longer a threat to the United States.” See 152 Cong. Rec. H5482 (July 19, 2006). Others have pointed out that it might be a reference to Janat Gul.]

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AUTHORING AGENCIES:
RECEIVING AGENCIES:
INCIDENTS OF ABUSE MENTIONED:
  • Unknown date
    • Memo describes an additional waterboarding session of Abu Zubaydah, noting that "[o]n at least one occasion, this may have resulted in what might be deemed in retrospect to have been the unnecessary use of enhanced techniques." Interrogators believed Zubaydah was withholding information; apparently he was not.

  • Unknown date
    • Enhanced interrogation techniques were used on Al-Nashiri during the first day of interrogation.  Twelve days into the interrogation, the CIA waterboarded Al-Nashiri twice ("one session . . . during which water was applied two times."

  • Unknown date
    •  Hassan Ghul (referred to as "Gul" in this memo) was subjected to the attention grasp, walling, the facial hold, the facial slap, wall standing, stress positions, and sleep deprivation.  The CIA later sought approval to use dietary manipulation, nudity, water dousing, and the abdominal slap.