Taxi to the Dark Side (2007) Script

[helicopter blades thumps]

[wolf howls] [animal moans]

[people chatter]

[cow moos]

[engine rumbles]

[somber music]

[car engine roars]

[gravel crunches]

[keyring jangles]

[Narrator] On December 1st, 2002 Dilawar, a young Afghan taxi driver took three passengers for a ride.

He never returned home.

[engine roars] [guns patter]

[blades rumble] [thunder cracks]

When the sun started to go down, the sand started blowing, so it was a like a big dust bowl and I'm thinking, boy is it gonna be like this every night?

I remember walking in there for the first time and the smell, the smell's the first thing that hit you.

I'm a man from DC, if you've ever been to the National Zoo when you walk into the elephant house there, that's the best way to describe it.

There's a few of us that lived in the prison and I was one of them.

They built it up to be a big scary place to the prisoners. [guns whine]

[explosions bang] [speaks foreign language]

[engine roars] [explosion rumbles]

[Narrator] After then invasion of Afghanistan, US forces occupied Bagram, an old Soviet air base as a place to collect and interrogate thousands of detainees, captured throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan.

[Curtis] These were suspected Taliban.

They were being caught by Special Forces throughout the countryside, brought to Bagram and be held, interrogated to determine if they were a high value prisoner.

[Corsetti] These were not nice people at all.

They were very evil people who definitely had violent intentions.

[Narrator] On December 5, 2002, Dilawar, the taxi driver, was brought to Bagram, he was designated a PUC, person under control, number 421.

He was something to do with a trigger man for a rocket attack and that's about all I know.

[Narrator] Five days after his arrival, he was dead.

[wind swooshes]

I would say this was around 'bout 05:00 in the morning and as I walked by, Dilawar, I think that's his name, Dilawar, I walked by Dilawar's cell and I noticed he was just kinda hanging there with his head down but he was being too still to be just hanging there and sleeping.

Sergeant Curtis opened up the door and we went in and he was unresponsive and we started CPR.

I was downstairs in general population then I heard a call come in asking for Cammack to come upstairs, he was a medic and we carried him downstairs on the stretcher and Cammack was still on top of him while we were carrying him down, still trying to get him back going all the way down the stairs, got him to the front door and they kept working on him and kept working on him until the doctor got there and pronounced him dead.

[somber music] I don't know whether there was an injury that was aggravated by something or whether he was just sick coming in.

They're very frail people and I was surprised that it had taken that long for one of em to die in our custody.

It was a sense of, definitely a sense of concern because he was the second one.

[Narrator] Just a week before Dilawar's death, another detainee at Bagram had died.

You know, you wonder, is it something we did or did somebody kill him or something but I just didn't know.

[Narrator] According to the medical examiner, the first detainee to die, Habibullah, had a pre-existing pulmonary condition but it was the beatings he sustained in Bagram that led to the cause of his death a blood clot that traveled to his lungs.

When the second one died a week later that's when it was like oh crap, something was gonna happen now, yes, two prisoners dying within a week of each other, that's bad.

[Narrator] A preliminary investigation into Dilawar's death revealed deep bruises all over his body, but did not conclude that his treatment at Bagram was to blame.

The next day, they said just draw out how he was shackled up here and I made that little crude drawing.

The ceiling of these isolation rooms was just a simple metal grate and it was thick enough you could put handcuffs through the wires of that and you just kind of chain em up like that, out to the sides like this.

[metal clangs]

[Narrator] Forced standing for long periods had inflamed tissue damage from blows to Dilawar's legs, but the initial Bagram press release failed to mention overhead shackling or beatings.

It declared that both detainees had died of natural causes.

My opinion is that the military wanted to get this over and get this done quickly, before it really got noticed.

[Narrator] Soon after Dilawar's death, the officer in charge of interrogation at Bagram, Captain Carolyn Wood was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor.

Following the Iraq invasion, Wood and her intelligence unit were given a new assignment, Abu Ghraib.

[somber music]

The only thing I can really remember about Abu Ghraib was the heat, it was like a 148 degrees or so there and it was all concrete.

You know, Abu Ghraib also had that infamous torture chambers and stuff left from Saddam's era.

I remember walking through those and seeing fingernail marks on the walls and blood stains and guillotines and stuff like that it was a pretty surreal feeling.

We went to Abu Ghraib, I believe in July, July August of 2003 to start that prison.

You put people in a crazy situation and people do crazy things

and Abu was getting mortared every night.

These 120mm mortars killing prisoners.

The first time that happened, they should have evacuated those prisoners to somewhere else.

Because the prisoners weren't safe.

People were being told to rough up Iraqis that wouldn't cooperate, we were also told they're nothing but dogs, then all of a sudden you start looking at these people as less than human and you start doing things to em you would never dream of and that's where it got scary.

It was only the night shift, there's always a few bad apples.

It's been a body blow for all of us.

This is clearly an isolated incident.

The conduct of a very very small number of our leaders and soldiers.

[blades rumble]

[Narrator] In the wake of media attention surrounding Abu Ghraib, the military began a series of investigations.

The people who engaged in abuses will be brought to justice, the world will see how a free system, a democratic system functions and operates transparently with no cover ups.

The Secretary and others have said well, you know, we've conducted

12 investigations, each and all of which were geared to looking downward, Down toward Lynndie England and Graner and not looking up.

[Narrator] The soldiers in the photos are Military Police, or MPS, whose job it was to guard and protect the prisoners.

In their statements, the MPs claimed that Military Intelligence or MI ordered them to weaken, humiliate and break the prisoners for interrogation purposes.

Obviously what they were doing in those pictures was not sanctioned by the interrogation rules of engagement and they weren't interrogators, so yes, I did think that they were bad apples.

However, I also think that they were taking cues from Intel.

Just reading reports that was happening in Afghanistan, I mean humiliation trying to break people came from somewhere.

MPs didn't think of it, MPs were not ever trained in such things.

We should have never been breaking anybody.

I can tell you we set the same policy at Abu we set at Bagram, same exact rules.

Same thing was going on.

They wonder why it happened.

[Narrator] In her sworn testimony about Abu Ghraib, Captain Wood said she felt pressured to produce intelligence so she brought unauthorized techniques dogs, nudity, sleep depravation and stress positions to Abu Ghraib from Afghanistan.

Wood maintained that the Bagram model had tacit approval from superiors but US Central Command had never responded to her requests for authorization so the mystery remained, was Abu Ghraib the work of a few bad apples or evidence of a new worldwide system on detention and interrogation?

I'm pretty sure that interrogators were telling the guards, strip this guy naked chain him up to the bed in an uncomfortable position do whatever you can and then they just decided to take it one step further and have some fun with, and take pictures.

[dramatic music]

[metal clangs]

[somber music]

You've always got people in the military who are just this side of the Marquis de Sade and one of the reasons you want rules and this code of conduct to help you lead mud Marines and mud grunts, Infantry is so that you can use those tools to restrict this tendency in your soldiers.

[explosion rumbles]

When you have your friends dying on your left and right, you can sometimes go beyond the pail, so a Lieutenant, a Captain down where the rubber meets the road needs these tools and he needs to be able to punish people who cross the line.

When the Secretary walked through my door into my office about the time the photos of Abu Ghraib were getting ready to come out and we had rumor they were coming out, he said to me I need to know what happened and why, and so then I began to build both an open source and an inside the government, classified and unclassified document file and I began to see legal arguments as to why the President could pretty much do anything he wanted to in the name of security and the Secretary of Defense and others beneath him were actually looking for the twin pressures that they put on people that is to say the pressure to produce intelligence and the fact that they were saying the gloves are off created the environment in the field that we later saw reflected in the photographs from Abu Ghraib and in my few, far more serious fashion than the photographs we saw, 98 deaths of people in detention, which I understand now from my Army colleagues is up to some

25 of which have been declared officially by the Army as homicides.

People say well these photographs from Abu Ghraib, they weren't real torture I look back at those people and I say murder's torture, murder's the ultimate torture.

In the case of Dilawar, he was subjected to certainly cruel and unusual punishment and ultimately, he was subjected to torture because he died.

[McNeill] It's not our intent for people to die, especially when we're seeking to get information from them.

[Gall] Did the treatment they received in those rooms cause the death of these two men?

[McNeill] First, we're not chaining people to the ceiling, I think you asked me that question before.

[metal clicks] First, we're not chaining people to the ceiling, that's what he says.

[Narrator] Carlotta Gall is a New York Times journalist based in Kabul.

Unsatisfied with the military's explanation of the two deaths at Bagram, she set out to investigate.

[cows moo] [crickets chirp]

It took a long time to find the family because the military didn't tell us who they were and we started calling around Governors, they're very simple farming family they don't speak English, but they showed me a paper that was given to them with the body and that's when I opened it up and read it and it was in English and it was a death certificate from the American Military and it was signed by a US Major who was the pathologist and there were four boxes and she'd ticked the box for homicide.

I said my god they've killed him and we then had to tell the family do you know what's written here and they said no it's in English we don't understand and I think maybe the Red Cross who helped return the body had explained but they hadn't taken it in and then the pathologist had said it was this blunt force trauma to the legs.

In other words, did they receive any trauma, any blunt injury trauma as we call it?

[McNeill] Presently I have no indiction of that but we will be looking as this investigation continues to go down its due course.

Presently have no indication of that you know, there's been a death certificate signed by his people and he says presently I have no indication of any blunt force trauma and it's written on the death certificate, which I've seen.

The story probably would have gone away had it not been for my colleague, Carlotta Gall who tracked down Dilawar's family and found the knife in the back clue that told everyone that this incident had been something other than the military portrayed.

[Narrator] Tim Golden picked up the trail of the story and obtained a confidential file of the Army investigation including hundreds of pages of testimony from the soldiers involved.

[Golden] Part of what made this story compelling to me was that you had these young soldiers with very little training or preparation, thrown into this situation in the aftermath of 9/11 just as the rules were changing and they weren't told what the new rules were and you had this young Afghan man who came in to this system at the wrong time and in the wrong way and this is what happened to him.

I saw his picture in the New York Times article before that picture, I couldn't have picked his face out, you know, my memory of him was chained up with the hood on, no sleeping.

[Narrator] Following questions raised by the New York Times and under scrutiny from the Abu Ghraib scandal, the Army finally stepped up the Dilawar investigation and began charging soldiers with maltreatment maiming and homicide.

When you're working with the organization like the military, they're gonna hold somebody accountable, you can sweep some things under the rug, but this was a death it was two deaths and okay fine, they're gonna charge people.

It seemed like the military now, after they got a black eye from Abu Ghraib wanted to get a public opinion that they were policing their soldiers and so they said we had this incident that happened a couple of years ago, we can still prosecute some of them.

I had nothing to do with the military for two years and all of a sudden I'm getting a call saying that I'm being court-martialed, I mean that was a huge surprise for me.

From the defense perspective, I immediately said this is a political show trial.

Willie Brand is a good soldier good soldiers tend to obey orders, good soldiers tend to be people who do what they're trained to do.

The interrogators on the ground for the most part didn't know what the rules were, they'd never been interrogators before.

My interrogation training consisted of basically they taught us some approaches how to get people to talk and then here, go, go watch these guys interrogate which were the people that we were replacing for about five, six hours before I did my first interrogation.

Damien was picked for this job because he's big, he's loud and he's scary that was his qualification.

Soldiers are dying, get the information.

That's all you're told, get the information.

Soldiers said that when prisoners like Dilawar came in to Bagram they were immediately assaulted. [intense music]

They blasted music at em, often they had dogs barking at em and they would use some of the most menacing interrogators to create this sense of threat one of those was Damien Corsetti.

With the screening you're trying to instill what's call shock of capture, when the person first comes in, that's when they're most apt to give you information because they're just like holy crap, you know what's going on. It's not just that the disorientation procedure, it's actually a terrorizing procedure, it's designed to terrify you into spilling the beans as it were, being spat at, being sworn at having the dogs barking around, cameras flashing in your face.

Keep in mind, in their culture that dog's more shocking to them than it is to us, kinda like a woman telling em what to do, you know, it's a cultural thing, so you get more bang for your buck over there with the dog. And then to be re-shackled completely naked, and to do what they call the body search, the cavity search and then to be questioned naked, shivering.

After they're read their rules and everything, they're taken to their cell to where they're gonna be put in sleep depravation for 24 hours, that's standard for everybody, then from their MI direct us that they can go to general population or they have to stay in isolation or if they are gonna stay in isolation if they're gonna be allowed to sleep and if they can, then when.

[Narrator] To weaken the defenses of detainees, interrogators ordered military police to find ways of keeping the prisoners awake. You know, you're in that room not saying anything, oh well you know maybe he knows a little bit more let's let him lose a little bit more sleep.

Which is the idea of keeping him like this so he won't sleep, you'll stand, cause as soon as you start to let your body go all that pressure on your wrists and your arms, you're gonna feel that with those cuffs on.

The only time the MPs would ever help us do anything would be to keep them on a sleep schedule, you know, they're guaranteed so much sleep, is that sleep consistent?

Is it uninterrupted?

You know, there's fifteen minutes here fifteen minutes there, who knows.

That's how it was proposed to us.

There'd be a board when you walk in the room on this wall, you might see an arrow going up to the ceiling and it would be maybe a one by it so that'd be an hour up, he's gotta stand up for one hour, and then you may see a two with an arrow pointing down, that means he can sit down for two hours.

[Golden] The prisoners were kept in these big pens downstairs and their numbers would be scribbled on the door of the airlock which was the little passageway that they were taken out of when they were brought up to the isolation cells upstairs.

Detainees were actually chained with their hands above their heads in these airlocks, his number 421 was something that I could see often because his back was towards me in the airlock and the numbers were written on the backs of the detainees in black marker and we all had that as well as on the front.

[Man] What was your number?

My number in Bagram was 180 but later it became 558.

Thank you, it's great to be with ya it's good to be here in Bagram of course.

[Curtis] I'm sure, any high ranking officer who toured would see the shackles.

Because you're gonna tour to look.

You know, they're curious just like everybody else is.

[Morden] There are always officers coming and going through the facility.

We kinda joked about it as being the greatest show on Earth, everyone wanted to come and look at the terrorists.

Mr Rumsfeld's office called our office frequently, very high commanders would wanna be kept up to date on a daily basis on certain prisoners there.

The Brass knew, they saw em shackled they saw em hooded and they said right on y'all are doing a great job.

[Narrator] When the Red Cross toured Bagram the sleep deprivation chart was erased and the prisoners were unshackled.

Traditional military procedure did not allow you to shackle somebody to a fixed object, certainly not chaining their arms overhead.

Initially they were handcuffing people into the airlock of the cells for punishment and that was to be strictly limited

15 minutes, half an hour, but it quickly evolved and when you walked in there, they just had a pair of long handcuffs dangling from the wire mesh ceiling of the cell ready for whoever came in.

[somber music]

[Narrator] The Army coroner who examined Dilawar discovered massive tissue damage in his legs.

She later testified that his legs had been pulpified.

But what could have caused that kind of damage?

[Hayden] This is not a hotel, this is a not a place for them to get fat, and lazy and happy.

[Narrator] In a video tape that surfaced as part of the homicide investigation, Colonel David Hayden, a top Army lawyer for US forces in Afghanistan described a Policy of shackling and striking detainees.

There was an approved technique for the MPs when somebody was a difficult prisoner that you could hit em on the legs, it was supposedly not considered not a lethal blow.

I didn't actually hear a higher up say go and kick em in the leg, if they do this or do that, the higher ups said, if, you know, in order to get control of em that's an option what you can use.

It's just your knee going into the side of their thigh, bout midway up supposed to be a pressure point right there and it controls em really easy.

Over two ays, everybody's hitting you in the legs, it can cause some severe problems.

Throughout the investigation and even in the trials, a lot of the guards and interrogators described Dilawar as a very combative detainee, as a tough character and that's just never been reconciled with all the other evidence that there was about this guy who weighed

122 pounds when he died.

The men who had been passengers in Dilawar's taxi told us later that he had just been absolutely terrified at Bagram, that they heard him through the walls of the isolation cells screaming for his mother and father.

[somber music] He'd been in a very uncomfortable position muttering things sometimes praying, sometimes asking for help or seemingly asking for help, because I couldn't understand his language.

[Narrator] A number of witnesses remember the night before Dilawar died.

[Curtis] Just that one night, he got kicked in the leg maybe like 10 times.

Some of the soldiers said they started using the knee strikes essentially to shut em up because he was yelling and screaming. The damage that was done was done from multiple strikes and a lot of that could have been avoided had you known the person before you had fought with them and used that exact technique.

[Begg] When they eventually came to take him to an isolation cell, I believe his body had become almost limp.

One of the reasons why they began punching him was that they felt he was putting it on.

He was in the airlock, standing there with a hood over his head, he had his hands tied above his head and he was moaning.

He just started to fight, right there in the airlock and the airlock has a front gate and a back gate but both the sides are concertina wire, neither of us officers wanted to get in to the concertina wire, so we pulled him out of the airlock and put him on the floor and put him into restraints.

[Interviewer] What kind of force did you have to use in order to subdue him?

Physical force, he was struck.

There's like four MPs on this guy and one of the MPs just kept giving him kidney shots, the other two, they'd slammed him to the ground and then the fourth one jumped on his back, he got a big gash on his nose.

There was no reason to hit him, let's remember he's shackled.

Even when the control was an issue, it became well I'm just gonna do this to get mine in, and that's probably why they got in trouble, because you really couldn't justify kicking the guy that much if he was just chained up.

[Narrator] Dilawar was taken to an isolation cell, where the knee strikes continued.

In her statement at trial, the Army coroner said his lower limbs looked like they had been run over by a bus.

Had he lived, it would have been necessary to amputate his legs.

Then it kinda raised the question of this is what we did to him, it's not just this is what I did to him or this is what Cammack did to him or Morden or anybody, it just this is what we've done.

[Golden] It's almost hard to fathom now, you had soldiers like Willie Brand who seems like this very gentle kind of soft spoken guy, but who testified that he struck Dilawar so many times in the leg that his knee got tired and he had to switch to the other one.

Sometimes I feel that I should have gone with my own morality more then what was common.

[Narrator] One MP testified that the strikes became an amusement, inflicted on Dilawar just to hear him scream Allah. Some would say well hey you should have stopped this, you should have stopped that, when you saw he was injured or saw he was being kicked on his knees, why didn't you do something?

That'd be a good question, my answer would be well, it was us against them I was over there, I didn't wanna appear to be going against my fellow soldiers.

Which is that wrong, you could sit here and say that was dead wrong, go over there and say that.

[Narrator] No one ever investigated who set the rules at Bagram.

Investigators never asked Captain Wood what senior officers had given orders to treat detainees in ways that were forbidden according to the Army Field Manual.

MP Captain Beiring was the only officer prosecuted in the case.

His dereliction of duty charge was dismissed when the judge determined that no one had made clear what Captain Beiring's duty was.

In spite of repeated requests for proper training rules of engagement for his soldiers his superiors gave him neither.

We were all worried about not having that written guidelines, by they kept reassuring us that it was coming.

[somber music]

We knew exactly why we weren't getting clear guidance, just in case something like this happened.

If I had to do it again, I'd probably say no I just, I'd be like I'm not doing anything until I see something in writing.

[Interviewer] And do you think, looking back, do you think you were misled?

I think we all were.

[dramatic music]

[Narrator] A week after September 11th Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on Meet the Press to describe how interrogation policies were about to change.

I have to work the dark side, if you will spend time in the shadows, in the intelligence world, a lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies if we're gonna be successful, that's the world these folks operate in and so it's gonna be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.

It's very clear that it starts in the office of Vice President Cheney he had a very strong view that we were not as aggressive in dealing with people in interrogations as we could or should be.

Taking the gloves off, being rough with detainees.

[Narrator] If Dick Cheney was the primary architect of a new policy, John Yoo was the chief draftsman.

He wrote guiding opinions which argued for a flexibly approach to treating suspected terrorists.

United States used to treat terrorism as a criminal justice problem.

The September 11th attacks showed that the struggle with Al-Qaeda had moved into warfare, I think when a sworn enemy for political purposes can kill three thousand Americans, cause billions of dollars of damage and try to eliminate the leaders of the American Government that sounds like war to most people, it doesn't sound like crime.

[Narrator] President Bush declared a war on terror, but he raised questions about whether suspected terrorists should be protected by the laws of war.

The Geneva Conventions.

Atrocities that shocked the conscience of the world gave rise to the modern Geneva Conventions, international treaties meant to provide fundamental protections for every human being captured in war time.

In effect for over 50 years, Geneva offered legal protections and prohibited interrogators from using torture, murder, or even humiliating and degrading treatment.

After 9/11, John Yoo worked closely with Dick Cheney's office and Alberto Gonzales the Counsel to the President.

They wrote a series of memos arguing that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to suspected terrorists and they gave legal cover for the CIA and Special Forces to embark on a secret program of previously forbidden interrogation techniques.

More than 3000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries many others have met a different fate let's put it this way, they're no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.

[crowd applauds]

[Narrator] The problem for the President, Gonzalez warned, was that some of the new interrogation techniques were banned under US and international law.

One of the points that he makes is that we don't want the Geneva Conventions to apply because if they do, these things can be war crimes. What's well known is the principle of command responsibility.

This was established in the Nuremberg trials after World War II and it established the principle of international criminal law that individuals who order illegal treatment will be held accountable for the illegal treatment even if they're not immediately applying the kind of abusive treatment.

[somber music]

[Narrator] To be certain that Americans interrogating prisoners would not be accused of torture, John Yoo co-authored a memo that would clarify the meaning of the term.

The only prohibited acts would be extreme acts which are equivalent to serious physical injury, such as organ failure impairment of bodily functions or even death.

That's an illegal memo, that's the so-called torture memo.

That was an arguable interpretation of the law, I'm sure we had discussions about it and ultimately it was accepted, because it represent, that was the ultimate decision and position of the Office of Legal Counsel.

The Office of Legal Counsel memorandum was unbounded, meaning nowhere did it state that the application of cruel and inhuman and degrading treatment was prohibited and at one point, I asked John Yoo can the President authorize torture and his response was yes.

I think the lawyers job is to tell people what laws do or do not apply so that they know what space they have to make the policy decision.

[Cassel] If the President deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop that?

That's what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.

[Yoo] I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.

[Narrator] Military lawyers were outraged by the implications of John Yoo's memo.

My first involvement in this came when I was visited by a group of senior JAG officers, more than a year before the first story about the Abu Ghraib broke who were very troubled about what was going on and the focus of their concern was failing in the responsibilities that the military leadership had, to soldiers in the field, that was the responsibility to provide fair, clear guidance to them as to how to behave in these difficult circumstances and what they saw was an intentional decision taken at the height of the Pentagon to put out a fog of ambiguity coupled with great pressure to bring results to be prepared to be violent with the detainees but you know, this violence with the detainees is a criminal act.

They may be Al-Qaeda, they may be Taliban they may be the worst people in the world and I'm sure that some of them are but there are certain basic rules and international agreements that the United states has agreed to, that we will observe you go ahead and please respond, you wanted to. Very quickly, let me clarify the President's policy, "as a matter of policy

"the United States Armed Forces

"shall continue to treat detainees humanely

"and to the extent appropriate and consistent

"with military necessity in a manner

"consistent with the principles of Geneva."

That is a legalistic statement and one that is written with loopholes and it's clear to me, the interrogators did not understand that quote "humane treatment" might be in the eye of the beholder.

[Narrator] In the field in Afghanistan, there was a great deal of confusion about exactly what the rules were.

They told us when dealing with the PUCs as they called them, the persons under US custody they don't fall under Geneva Conventions, basically, the only thing that we weren't allowed to do is beat em up.

[Corsetti] Person under control, person under custody, something like that, you know, they call them anything to dehumanize em, so that you don't look at them as people.

I don't remember hearing anything about Geneva Convention, 'course I'm familiar with it, but they didn't go over that in any kind of detail.

I didn't know what the Field Manual for interrogation, I didn't know the proper nomenclature for it, I'd seen it, there was a copy of it lying around I'm sure somewhere, and if I had chosen to, I could have picked it up and read it but I was working 16 hour days to sit down and read a field manual was not top of my priorities over there.

It is a mean, nasty, dangerous, dirty business out there and we have to operate in that arena, I'm convinced we can do it we can do it successfully but we need to make certain that we have not tied the hands, if you will, of our intelligence communities in terms of accomplishing their mission.

These terrorists play by a whole set of different rules, it's gonna force us in your words, to get mean, dirty and nasty in order to take em on? Right.

[somber music]

[water sloshes]

[Narrator] Guided by a legal opinion from John Yoo, the Bush Administration began shipping some high-value detainees to the US Naval Base, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Initially I thought good, safe place.

Put them there, barbed wire all over.

Then it became apparent that the reason we were doing it was because we were going to argue that there's no law.

A Cuban law didn't apply, US law didn't apply well that was a big step down the slippery slope.

I think what the policy makers were trying to do was to try to find a place that was physically as close to the unIted States so it could be well protected but still would benefit from the rule that the United states military, is one who has ultimate say and control over enemy prisoners who are held outside the country.

One by one, the terrorists are learning the meaning of American justice.

[audience applauds]

[gravel crunches]

[Narrator] In December 2001, a man named Mohammed al-Qahtani was swept up in Afghanistan and sent to Guantanamo.

After eight months in detention the Army discovered that he may have trained to be the 20th hijacker.

Suddenly, Qahtani became the most important detainee in Guantanamo.

Here we had a man who was supposed to have been on that plane that was flown into the Pennsylvania countryside so I think there was a sense of urgency to find out what this guy knew in order to be able to prevent any future attacks.

He successfully resisted standard interrogation techniques at Guantanamo for eight months and he is the genesis for the request by the joint task force at Guantanamo for more techniques that might be able to get past his resistance training.

[Narrator] In September 2002, John Yoo and Alberto Gonzalez traveled to Guantanamo, soon after their visit, and just before Dilawar's arrival at Bagram, Donald Rumsfeld personally approved a new menu of psychological interrogation techniques for use on Mohammed al-Qahtani.

Exactly how the techniques would be applied was often left to the imagination of the interrogators.

His interrogations are well-documented in a log and from November 2002 in to early January 2003, he was subjected to this regime.

It involved very severe sleep deprivation.

He was only permitted to sleep four hours a day from seven o'clock in the morning till 11 o'clock in the morning, and that lasted for 50 days with one exception.

He was held in severe isolation and sensory deprivation.

[dog barks]

There are a number of instances in the log where you'll see the phrase invasion of space by a female, and that was actually an interrogation tactic designed to break his faith.

An interrogator approached detainee from behind, rubbed his back, whispered in his ear and ran fingers through his hair that was authorized under the futility technique.

[Gutierrez] He was subjected to what I would call sexual assault by female interrogators.

He was forced to wear women's lingerie multiple allegations of homosexuality and that his comrades were aware of that he was forced to dance with a male interrogator subject to strip searches for control measures not for security, and he was forced to perform dog tricks.

All this to lower his personal sense of worth.

[Gutierrez] They tried to categorize it as individual interrogators pushing the envelope or starting to get quote creative.

♪ God bless America

♪ Land that I love

[Gutierrez] The combination of his lack of food intake and forcible hydration led him at one point to actually, his heart slowed down to 35 beats per minute and he was rushed to the hospital to be revived. [clock ticks]

Mohammed al-Qahtani in many ways that single interrogation, protected interrogation contains within it, if you will, the entire genealogy, the entire history of CIA torture over the last 50 years.

The CIA launched a mind control project, a veritable Manhattan Project of the mind in the 1950s, in house, the CIA worked on exotic techniques, hypnosis, and then they worked on sodium penothal then they worked on electro shock and ultimately, they discovered LSD.

All of that drug stuff, in house, went nowhere except to lawsuits, but what did work was the CIA outsourced all of the dull behavioral research to the most brilliant behavioral scientists at the top universities in the United States and Canada.

[Narrator] At McGill, experiments by famed psychologist Donald O. Hebb caught the eye of CIA researchers.

Doctor Hebb found that he could induce a state akin to a acute psychosis in 48 hours, all he did was he had student volunteers sit in a very pleasant air-conditioned cubicle with goggles, gloves and ear muffs, actually, you know what they looked just like?

The Guantanamo detainees, if you see those outfits that the Guantanamo detainees have where they have the gloves, and the googles and the earmuffs?

Not everything's all about security, no, no, no, that's sensory breakdown.

Within a day, there would be hallucinations within two days, breakdown.

I began to think while we were doing our experiments, it's possible that something that involves physical discomfort or even pain might be more tolerable than simply the deprivation conditions that we studied.

[McCoy] The CIA was fascinated by this, they jumped on it immediately.

I had no idea what a potentially vicious weapon this could be.

They identified two key techniques.

They identified sensory disorientation and they identified self-inflicted pain, standing for days at a time while fluid flowed to the legs and they put them together in the Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation manual and they propagated around the world and through the US intelligence community.

Think about what al-Qahtani was subjected to, okay?

First of all, he's in dark, he's in light he's in cold, he's in heat, what they're doing is they're attacking his universal sensory receptors, they're also scrambling his time, so that's phase one.

In Guantanamo under the regime of General Miller he turned Guantanamo into a veritable behavioral scientific laboratory and Donald Rumsfeld gave orders for techniques beyond the field manual and they percolated and they percolated in ambiguous way that allowed people to do what they thought needed to be done.

And they explored our male sensitivity to gender and sexual identity, so that's the thing about being homosexual, the underwear on the head, all that sort of stuff.

People were saying Arabs really are very sensitive to sexual humiliation well, who the hell isn't sensitive to sexual humiliation, nobody wants to be stripped down naked and forced to masturbate with a hood over your head.

It's ridiculous.

Then they created behavioral science consultation teams where they had military psychologists integrated into the ongoing interrogation to discover individual fears and phobias and all of that was visited on al-Qahtani.

[Senator] You are aware of communications between General Miller and Secretary Rumsfeld specifically about this one prisoner?

To our knowledge, there was considerable manner of communication up and down the chain.

As you know from General Schmidt's report he concluded that these techniques individually did not constitute torture but he said that the sum of these techniques.

The cumulative effects of simultaneous applications of numerous authorized techniques had abusive and degrading impact on the detainee.

And he recommended that General Miller be disciplined.

But he said it did not constitute torture.

We made a distinction between what torture and inhuman treatment would be given the general guidelines and then what might be abusive and degrading something might be degrading but not necessarily torture and it may not be inhumane, it may be humiliating but it may not be torture, no torture no physical pain, injury, there was a safe secure environment the entire time.

And that, of course, is the genius of the CIA's psychological paradigm.

Psychological torture is all a matter of definitions and then it's a very slippery indeed.

That sounds remarkably similar to what occurred at Abu Ghraib, people being led around in chains people being forced to wear lingerie, perhaps a coincidence, perhaps not.

If you look at those Abu Ghraib photographs again, it's always the same techniques.

First of all, there's the sexual activity with the women's garments and the masturbation and all the rest, that's the cultural sensitivity.

They're short shackled, they're long-shackled they're shackled upside down.

These are stress positions.

The most famous of all Abu Ghraib photographs of course of that hooded Iraqi standing on a box arms outstretched, he's told that if he steps off the box, if he moves, he'll be electrocuted, that's the point of the fake electrical wires, so it's the absolute immobility for protract appearance and then with arms extended, as we'd say to viewers, don't they this at home but do try it, just stand for 10 minutes with your arms stretched out, not moving.

[Narrator] Carolyn Wood was an example of the way new techniques spread and mutated like a virus, long before Wood took charge of interrogation at Abu Ghraib, her unit was involved with harsh techniques at Bagram including stress positions, forced standing, and sleep deprivation.

One of the memorandums shows that in early December 2002, the interrogators at Bagram just looked on the internet they're in touch with the guys at Guantanamo and they leaned that these guys at Guantanamo had gotten new techniques from the Secretary of Defense and they just started using them, even though the techniques had clearly been approved exclusively for use at Guantanamo.

When General Miller himself traveled from Guantanamo to Iraq in August 2003, he brought with him a CD and a manual on the advanced techniques they developed at Guantanamo and he gave them to General Sanchez's command.

So there are these multiple paths that you can trace whereby these interrogation techniques go through this global migration through Afghanistan to Iraq from Guantanamo directly to Iraq and that result is Abu Ghraib.

[Narrator] Well before the abuses at Abu Ghraib became public, Government officials had been quietly raising concerns about harsh techniques in use at Guantanamo.

There were emails back to the Department of Justice from FBI personnel down at Guantanamo, saying you won't believe what's going on down here, we've gotta disassociate ourselves as FBI people from what is going on here in Guantanamo.

This email says, "The DOD has their marching

"orders from the Secretary of Defense."

Marching orders from the Secretary of Defense.

"To engage in practices which the FBI

"finds to be deeply offensive and dangerous."

But the emails are what is called redacted which means that there's big holes in these emails, now some of the emails are totally redacted, so we don't know what they say at all, that's an example a lot of the documents that we got here.

You know, you can't see anything on these documents.

One after another of where there's nothing.

[dramatic music]

In early December 2002, I had heard that there was detainee abuse going on.

I called the Army General Counsel and asked him whether he had any information, I said I'm receiving reports that some detainees are being abused in Guantanamo, do you know anything about this?

And his response back was I know a lot about it, come on down to my office.

They pushed a stack of documents across the desk, top document was a memorandum from the General Counsel to Department of Defense to Secretary Rumsfeld and it was that cover memo that requested the authorization for the application of certain interrogation techniques and the top memo gave Secretary Rumsfeld's approval for the application of some of those techniques.

It's the memo with Secretary Rumsfeld's handwritten notations on the bottom that he stands 8-10 hours a day, how come these detainees are only required to stand up to four hours a day.

I was astounded, but my first reaction was that this was a mistake, somebody just didn't read the documents carefully enough.

I think people in the Pentagon thought of Alberto Mora as a loyal Republican political appointee, he would never have been considered a rabble rouser or a liberal, he said he expected that he would raise these issues and people in positions of authority would say oh, thanks for letting us know and that would be the end of it.

I wanted to ask you about a memo that was written by Alberto Mora.

Do you recall in this memo that you wrote a little notation at the bottom about standing more than four hours.

I do. Because you stand at your desk. I do.

This attorney argued that that could be interpreted as some by a wink and a nod that it would be okay to go beyond the techniques that were prescribed in the memo.

No, no no, it did, there's no wink and a nod about anything, there was one provision in there that they would have people stand for several hours and it was a semi-humorous remark that a person in his seventies stands all day long, I just mused that and maybe it shouldn't have gone out but it did and I wrote it, and life goes on.

But his point was that you should have gotten much better advice from your legal staff. I heard your question the first time. What was of concern to me was the techniques either individual or in combination could rise to the level or torture.

Okay, you're permitting certain interrogation techniques but certainly there must be some limit which is set upon the severity of the techniques, light deprivation could mean placing the detainee in a dark room for 15 minutes or it could mean a month or two months or three months until he goes blind.

Detainee specific phobia techniques.

The snakes, the bats, the rats, lock somebody up in a coffin, you're limited only by your imagination, any one of these techniques individually could yield the results of torture certainly in combination, you could reach that fairly quickly.

See, if you put a person into this procedure and keep em there for more than the six or eight days that I would think might be the maximum tolerability, then the price is pretty high. The price is someone's sanity. Presumably it could be.

The medical literature had a phenomenon known as force drift that made it almost inevitable that the interrogators would continue applying greater and greater increments of force to achieve their desired results.

For example, take Secretary Rumsfeld's memo then to say that well look, he said that dogs have to be mizzled, well that's a man who doesn't understand the military on the ground because when that E-6 is sitting there with that muzzled dog and there's absolutely no impact on that person being interrogated he's gonna take that muzzle off.

That's reality, that's human nature.

[Narrator] Alberto Mora threatened to go on record with his concerns unless the techniques were rescinded.

When after the fact it turns out that there's concern about it that concerns me then I'm happy to rescind it and take another fresh look at it and talk to more people about it and see what ought to be done.

To his credit, Secretary Rumsfeld did rescind the interrogation techniques and then for over a year and a half I heard no reports from any quarter about detainee abuse anywhere.

[metal clangs]

When Abu Ghraib hit, my first thought was have I been circumvented, have their been authorizations for the abuse of prisoners that I had not learned about?

[Narrator] Had the orders really been rescinded?

According to interrogators, the use of shackling, dogs, stress positions and sensory assault continued to be widespread.

Tony Lagouranis was an interrogator who arrived in Iraq after the military became aware of the abuses at Abu Ghraib.

Among the interrogation guidelines they gave us it said that dogs are authorized to be used on detainees, you know, stress positions, sleep deprivation, all of those things that I did that I would consider harsh techniques were violating the Geneva Conventions I was told to do, we were told to do that to these people by our superiors.

The spine of the United States Armed Forces is the chain of command, what starts at the top of the chain of command drops like a rock down the chain of command and that's why Lynndie England knew what Donald Rumsfeld was thinking without actually talking to Donald Rumsfeld.

[Narrator] In the wake of Abu Ghraib, journalists began to look harder at previous cases of abuse to try to understand what had caused them and who was responsible.

People like Tim Golden at the New York Times got a hold of it and started looking at the case of Dilawar in particular, the taxi driver, it became at least plausible to me that this man wasn't even guilty of anything other than being there when the sweep occurred and here was a guy who was murdered in detention.

["Butterfield's Lullaby" by Daniel Butterfield]

[Officer] Pay tribute to those whose lives were taken and those who daily give unselfishly of themselves.

Four years ago, our nation came under attack.

[Golden] 9/11 was very much in the air and I think the officers tried to keep it in the air they tried to remind these kids that these people are our enemies.

But it's hard to see how these young soldiers could have been expected to figure out who the real enemies were among a bunch of militia men and farmers in a society that was completely foreign to them.

If I remember correctly, his story had something to do with the rocket attack on a military base and he was supposed to be the driver of the getaway car.

[Golden] He had taken his new car, which he was obviously excited about and driven to Khost, the provincial capital where he went to look for taxi passengers and he in fact found these three men in Khost at the market place who were headed back to Yakubi. Yakubi, Yakubi!

You have to imagine that Dilawar was driving home from this provincial capital which was about as far as his world stretched he is stopped at Fire Base Salerno by a group of Afghan militia men and the men apparently found an electric stabilizer in the trunk of the car, at least they claimed to.

Camp Salerno had been rocketed from some distance earlier in the day and the Afghan militia men immediately arrested the four guys on suspicion of having had some involvement in that attack.

[helicopter rumbles]

He's taken to Bagram, this great distance away.

You get a bunch of guys who are back at this detention site and they're told we have evidence that they have been involved in a rocket attack on American forces so I think that kinda tripped a wire in them.

You're in this atmosphere, you're with nothing but military people and you feel sort of morally isolated and you lose your moral bearings and you're frustrated because you're not getting intelligence from a prisoner that you believe is guilty and has intelligence to give you and so of course you wanna start pushing the limits and you wanna see how far you can go.

A lot of the pressure came from the fact that we had a few high value detainees that gave a lot of good information and when we started to lose those detainees due to going to Guantanamo Bay, that they expected this to come from everybody.

We would interrogate some of these guys just to interrogate em and it was ridiculous I meant you'd get some of these guys in and you're like this is the wrong man this is not who we're supposed to have especially being a screener, you could tell from the moment you got em in, you're like we're not supposed to have em.

We had one prisoner came in, he was mentally challenged and Sergeant Loring kept saying that you know, this is a cover, this is Al-Qaeda's cover, it's what they do and I went in there and talked to him and

basically they had this guy in a diaper

he ate his own feces but Loring kept saying it was an act.

They'd be like hey, we want you go yell at this guy, so I'd grab my box of Frosted Flakes that I was eating for breakfast that morning I'd go into the room and I'd be like all right, I have to yell at you today so I'd be like, dyhoginated salt substitute and just start yelling that at him and they'd look at me all crazy and I'd be like yeah, it's your fault they put that in my cereal now.

Or I'd yell at him if Elvis was really the King of Rock or if he was dead or stuff like that and I'd write that in my interrogation summaries and I'd send that up to higher that that's what I did for that two hours. you really can't get a feel for a person till after you talk to em a couple of times.

So on the first three times I talked to him it was just verifying his story looking for loops, looking for holes.

After the third time I talked to him and his story was still consistent I kept telling em I thought he was innocent.

[Lagouranis] And they wanted these people to be guilty because that would look better for their unit.

They could say that we arrested

60 people this month and they were all terrorists.

When was the last time you saw Osama Bin Laden when was the last time you saw Mullah Omar now this was a standard question that was asked of every detainee.

It's very hard to go into an interrogation with very little evidence and we almost never had evidence on these guys, end elicit a confession, you can go in and get intelligence but if you're asking this guy to completely incriminate himself, it's very difficult so you have to start using harsher and harsher techniques in order to elicit that confession.

I was yelled at for being too nice to him by Sergeant Loring, that i needed to put more pressure on him, or as he liked to say, I need to take him out of his comfort zone.

After a while, particularly in the fourth and fifth interrogations, as the sleep deprivation that he was being subjected to really started to knock him out, the interrogations got more intense.

Sergeant Salcedo who was an inexperienced interrogator but a can-do soldier had this man who refused to look at her because she was a woman, she said she got very frustrated by this and grabbed him by the sides of face and turned him to face her and look at her and take her seriously but of course, he was a Afghan man from a tribal, conservative culture who didn't look at strange women.

Sergeant Salcedo's getting a little aggravated so I kinda stepped between em and that's when I grabbed him by the shirt and I brought him over to the wall.

They tried to make him stand up against the wall and he was sliding down they pushed him back against the wall.

He wasn't making any kinda sounds most of it seemed to just be rambling.

The interpreter was telling me that his wife came to visit him in his cell which of course didn't happen.

If you've ever seen anybody sleep depped, past two days they begin to just be bumbling idiots.

Three days they're just worthless.

I knew something was wrong.

The next thing I heard was that he'd died.

Not long after Dilawar was killed we learned that the Afghan guerrilla commander who's men had arrested Dilawar and the others had in fact been detained by the Americans himself and it turned out that he was rocketing their base and then picking up innocent Afghans and turning them over to the Americans, essentially to try to ingratiate himself with the US Forces.

The three passengers were sent to Guantanamo and they didn't get out until March of 2004 which was 15 months after they had been captured riding in the taxi.

It's hard to know what reason the Americans would have had to send these guys on when they had quite clearly concluded that Dilawar at least was an innocent man when he was killed.

It certainly makes you wonder about whether they just sent these guys on to cover their butts.

[somber music] These are not mere innocents these are among the worst of the worst.

These are among the most dangerous best trained, vicious killers on the face of the Earth.

They're terrorists, they're bomb makers their facilitators of terror, they're members of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban.

And if they were free, they would engage in murder once again.

The only thing I know for certain is that these are bad people.

Despite Rumsfeld and Cheney's and President BUsh's allegations that these guys are the worst of the worst that they were all captured on the battlefield recent studies of the whole compendium of Government's documents show that only 5% of these people were picked up by the United States.

Here search him. Only 8% of them are accused of being members of the Al-Qaeda.

Over 90% of them were picked up by Northenalized or Pakistani forces in exchange for bounties.

We have large rewards out.

We have leaflets that are dropping like snowflakes in December in Chicago. Mr Secretary, not a question. An analysis of de-classified government documents reveal that only

7% of Guantanamo detainees were captured by US and Coalition forces.

The other 93% like Dilawar and his passengers were turned over by Afghan warlords and Pakistanis, sometimes for cash payments of thousands of dollars.

The military's not interested in spending whatever it is, $40,000 a year detaining people who are not members of Al-Qaeda in Guantanamo Bay, it has as much interest as everyone else does in making sure the people who are detained are actually members of Al-Qaeda rather than wasting resources and time detaining innocent people.

I think it's natural in times of war to pick up people, you wanna pick up anyone you suspect of being dangerous.

What's different here is the Government for the first time in our history didn't follow its own regulations which require that a hearing be held promptly after capture if there's any doubt.

In the war in Afghanistan back in 2001 the US military was prepared to follow the Geneva Conventions and conduct those tribunals, unfortunately the civilian leadership within the Department of Defense told them to stop.

Once somebody in Afghanistan might have said okay this person's a high value target for whatever reason, whether it was based on some other Afghani who hated that person and wanted him out so he could take over his opium crop then that began the road to Gitmo and there was no way for that person to challenge it and there still hasn't been.

[Narrator] Moazzam Begg, a British subject suspected of ties to Al-Qaeda operatives was picked up by local intelligence agents in Pakistan.

I was in my house in Islamabad at the time when I was abducted, a hood was placed over my head, my hands and legs were shackled and I was physically carried into the back of the vehicle.

I didn't see my family again after that point.

I was sent to Kandahar and then to Bagram and when I was put onto the transport plane to Guantanamo, I had already been covered almost from head to toe in some sort of a covering, face mask, earmuffs, blackened goggles and then just in case I could see anything, a hood to cover it with.

Being seated on the aircraft was excruciatingly painful, they'd already used now the three-piece-suit and that is the shackle that goes around the waist and is padlocked at the back.

It was impossible to move and impossible to breathe properly, impossible to hear anything and so I managed to scream and pleaded with one of the guards to give me a needle to put me to sleep.

[engine whines]

We fought for two and a half years for just the right to go see the prisoners and then fought for months year to get security clearance so the military would let you in there, I mean this is bizarre it never occurred to me that when I went to law school in America that we'd be sitting around talking about whether we could have access to our clients and whether our clients had been tortured.

Habeas corpus is really the essence of the rule of law, not giving people a basic hearing when you take away their liberty is one of the reasons we fought the Revolution, that the King can't deprive somebody of liberty without a hearing.

[drum rumbles] ["The Star-Spangled Banner"]

[announcer mutters]

[Narrator] In 2004, two and a half years after the first detainees had arrived in Guantanamo, the Supreme Court rejected the Bush Administration's claims that it could hold detainees indefinitely without allowing them to challenge their detention in the courts.

After the decision, the military installed special new tribunals to judge whether detainees should remain in Guantanamo. The Combatant Status Review Tribunals, which the Government hurriedly put in place, nine days after we won before the Supreme Court, are a joke.

You have no rights, you have no right to a lawyer, you have no meaningful right to witnesses, you don't really know what the charges are and you certainly don't know what the secret evidence is against you.

They may not ever know it but that doesn't that doesn't eliminate the opportunity they have to make a case for why if they were returned in the future why they would not continue to pose a threat.

My clients are found not guilty at the CSRT tribunals and then the military thinks that doesn't sound so good, they were being called Not Enemy Combatants, NEC, but now they're NLEC, which means no longer enemy combatant because we want to say that they were guilty to begin with but now they've had a change of heart so they're not guilty anymore, but we were right in the first place.

These men aren't necessarily innocent men that's not an accurate characterization.

You are more accurate in their long title, no longer identified as an enemy combatant.

They are being held separate from the remainder of the detainees until the United States Government can find a country they can be returned to.

Some of these guys were policed off the battlefield and if they weren't here they would probably be on the battlefield killing American soldiers.

They're here for a reason and it's our job to ensure that they stay here until such time as it's deemed they don't need to be here any longer.

[Smith] Guantanamo is hiding the fact that the really bad dudes, Mullah Omar and of course, Osama Bin Laden have never been captured, so you have Guantanamo Bay as here are 750 really evil guys as a PR stunt effectively to say look, we're really achieving something in the war on terror.

[birds cry]

[upbeat music]

♪ Come along with me

♪ To my little corner of the world ♪

♪ Dream And that is the main entrance to Camp X-Ray.

It would be extremely difficult for anybody to make an escape out of here.

♪ You'll soon forget Each one is eight by eight by eight, one individual per cell.

If you member the individual in orange jump suits there's three or four kneeling facing that way and three or four kneeling, facing that way if you take a shot from right here you're gonna have the same image.

And no detainee has ever died at Gitmo from anything, and I think the docs'll give you an update we performed well over 100 surgeries, so one good thing for them being here is they are quite healthy and they're getting everything fixed they need to get fixed.

♪ I always knew that I'd find someone like you ♪ We've introduced some new sports-type activities here in Camp Four, we recently built this half basketball court and off to the left of that, you will see a soccer court, it is a privilege to live in Camp Four, they are compliant with the camp rules in order to live here.

And we have introduced things like cake on Wednesday nights, Pepsi on Monday nights ice cream on Sunday nights.

Let's go in and take a look at the Bay.

On the bed they have the so-called CIs or comfort items which include toothbrush but also include a game of Checkers and I did ask them who's my client meant to play Checkers with, he's in solitary confinement by himself.

♪ And with. What is the problem with the press photographing them, talking with them, observing them?

Desire to not provide a platform to have the men we're holding espouse a vile, Islamic rhetoric, a violent, vile, Islamic rhetoric. ♪ Find someone like you

♪ So we'll go to our little corner of the world ♪

This is a tactic of Al-Qaeda.

Hunger strike to elicit media attention and to bring pressure on the United States Government.

When these numbers went up significantly, you guys start talking about it, you guys start asking about it, so they understand that.

Camp Five is a 100 bed maximum security segregation and interrogation facility.

[Smith] If they're held in Camp Five, an average day is always the same.

Which is, you're held 24 hours in solitary confinement.

Here in the cell, was eight foot by six foot and I couldn't physically take three steps in any direction.

I certainly believed that I was going to spend the greater part of my life and perhaps even face execution, which was what I was told quite often.

What's particularly pernicious in Guantanamo Bay is there is no sense of when it's gonna end or if it's gonna end and the reason that prisoners go on a hunger strike for example and may starve themselves to death is in the words of Omar Deghayes

"I'm dying slowly here in Guantanamo

"as it is, so I may as well take

"my life into my own hands."

[somber music]

I have no intention of holding somebody here any longer than he is a threat to our country or that he has intelligence or information that could be valuable to us in the global war on terror.

We continue to collect information of value from the men we're holding today.

[door rattles]

One of the reasons why I was held in isolation was to do with this issue of witnessing these deaths in Bagram and they asked me which soldiers had been involved and were around at the time so they brought in photographs of the people from the unit and I pointed out to who I believed was involved.

They asked me one of the strangest things requests I've ever had during the time I was in incarceration and that was would I be willing to stand up as a witness for the prosecution in a trial against these soldiers and I thought how ironic this is you know, is this the only court that I'm going to get to see after all these years in incarceration?

[dramatic music]

[Narrator] The cruel ironies of the Dilawar story echoed in ongoing debate in the halls of Congress about detainee abuse, national security and the rule of law.

For one Senator, John McCain, a former prisoner of war, the matter of detainee abuse was both political and personal.

I would just like to tell

my wife [sobs] I'm going to get well

I love her, and I hope to see her soon

and I'd appreciate if if you tell her that.

That's all.

If this man, after six and a half or seven years of torture says that it's not efficient, it's inhumane, and it breeds contempt for the United States, he can stand up and be a moral voice on this issue. We sent them to fight for us in Afghanistan and Iraq, we placed extraordinary pressure on them to extract intelligence from detainees but then we threw out the rules that our soldiers had trained on and replaced them with a confusing and constantly changing array of standards and when things went wrong, we blamed them and we punished them.

I believe we have to do better than that.

I strongly urge you to do justice to your men and women in uniform give them clear standards of conduct that reflect the ideals they risk their lives for.

[Narrator] On October 5th, 2005 as increasing numbers of detainee abuse cases came to trial, Senator John McCain proposed the Detainee Treatment Act.

The bill sought a total US ban on torture as well as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and it sparked a national debate, one in which the devil was in the details.

Is it still permissible to use a wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception of suffocation?

The use of the wet towel, dripping water to induce misperceptions of suffocation was one of the techniques requested by the JTF in their laundry list given up, it was never approved, it has never been a technique approved.

One of the techniques that made the transition from the regime of the physical to the psychological, in fact the only one really was waterboarding, because in the medieval era under the Inquisition, it was done because of its horrible physical aspects, it was done to purge and punish the heretic, you forced water down the throat of the victim the victim thinks that he's drowning, it's horrible, your body tells you that you're dying.

[blades rumble] Right after 9/11, the CIA got approval from the White House for waterboarding.

[Narrator] An early test case involving the interrogation of Ibn Shaikh al-Libi A man suspected of being the Amir of an Al-Qaeda training camp.

Initially, the FBI was in charge of his interrogation but the Administration was impatient with the slow results of the FBIs law enforcement techniques so they turned al-Libi over to the CIA.

He is secured, he was either duck taped or hooded and he was gonna be put in to a box, plywood box, for his own protection for transfer [laughs] to the airport.

They threw him on an aircraft and they rendered him through extraordinary rendition to Egypt. [plane roars]

They later subjected him to two weeks of brutal torture involving all these techniques including waterboarding and they got information from al-Libi stating that Saddam Hussain's regime had trained Al-Qaeda in chemical and biological warfare.

One of the things we know about torture is that someone who is tortured will tell his interrogator what he thinks the interrogator wants to hear.

The moment al-Libi was waterboarded he started blurting things out, well rather than questioning what he was saying and going into it in detail to see if what he was saying could be corroborated they immediately stopped and ran off to report what al-Libi had said and ended the torture and bang, it gets up to the highest decision makers and all of a sudden Colin Powell is told hey, you don't have to worry about your doubts anymore because we've just gotten confirmation that there were contacts between Al-Qaeda and Baghdad.

[Narrator] In February 2003, then Secretary of State Colin Powell went before the United Nations to make the case for the war in Iraq.

I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to Al Qaeda, fortunately, this operative is now detained and he has told his story.

A year later, the CIA branded al-Libi a fabricator, rescinded all the intelligence reports with that information in it.

So in other words, you will get information but you'll get false information.

I think Colin Powell has said that was the most embarrassing day of his entire life. [somber music]

All the experts say that torturing people is not the best way to get information.

Breaking down the barriers between you and them gaining their confidence is the best way to get it.

It takes some experience, it takes some talent, it takes some patience and then they might actually tell you something that is worthwhile and then if you wanna prosecute them and execute em, go ahead.

You wanna be able to build a rapport with somebody, you are their salvation because their life as they know it is over.

Is there something I can do for your kids?

You concerned about them?

You want them educated, I'll get them educated.

What do you want, tell me what you want, script for me your exit strategy how do you extricate yourself from this terrible situation, by the way, that you put yourself in, now you can't go back home.

Can you, no, so let's make peace with that.

Let me help you find the strategy to give you a life, and that's the way it worked.

The amount of information that they were able to provide us pre-9/11 to me, it was extremely valuable.

Who else was gonna tell us about how you joined Al-Qaeda, what did bayat mean?

How did they communicate?

Did they use Inmarsat satellite phones?

Did bin Laden use a body double?

So when we got all that information we were able to do certain operations.

Cumbersome though it may be, it still to me was the way to do it and we don't have to apologize to anybody.

We don't know what revenge is coming down the road, and if I wanted to insight the faithful, I'd just take one picture with a dog collar on and just point into that and look at the young brothers and say you're duty bound now to get revenge.

[somber music]

[McCoy] The advocates of torture generally focus on the hypothetical, they have this ticking bomb center they talk about.

Which is imagine that there's a ticking time bomb in Times Square, it's about to go off, we've got the guy in custody he says he wants a lawyer, do we respect his right to a lawyer, or to save a million lives, do we apply the electrodes to his testicles?

[electricity sparks]


24 week after week has on-camera displays of brutal torture. Just tell me what's your connection to terrorists?

Designed to stop some terrorist with a ticking bomb from killing hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans. You're talking about torturing this man? I'm talking about doing what is necessary to stop this warhead from being used against us.

It's just nonsense though, because then you ask, hey, name me one time in the last five hundred years when we've had someone in custody with a ticking time bomb.

The likelihood of that ever happening is so remote, even if you're in that situation who's to say that if you beat em up that you're gonna get that information?

If a guy's that committed, I think he'll die before he gives it up.

Right after the release of the Abu Ghraib photos in mid-2004, 35% of Americans polled believed that torture was acceptable under some circumstances, even after the Abu Ghraib phots, and I think that shows the way that this kind of popular culture has built a constituency for torture which allows the Bush White House to get away with the way it twists laws and treaties and doesn't spark popular outrage.

[Narrator] On a conservative radio show Vice President Dick Cheney openly defended the practice of waterboarding.

[Hennen] Would you agree a drunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?

[Cheney] Well, it's a no-brainer for me but for a while there I was criticized as being the Vice President for torture.

We do not condone torture.

We do not torture, footnote, as we define torture, which means exactly what we wish it to mean and nothing else.

In the elections of 2006, the Bush Administration openly campaigned for harsh techniques the rest of the world defined as torture.

Bush and Cheney played on the fears of voters and politicians, if Congress didn't give them the power to do whatever was necessary, how could Americans be safe?

In addition to the terrorists held at Guantanamo, a small number of suspected terrorist leaders and operatives captured during the war have been held and questioned outside the United States in a separate program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Some ask why are you acknowledging this program now?

Some believe our military and intelligence personnel involved in capturing and questioning terrorists could now be at risk of prosecution under the War Crimes Act simply for doing their jobs in a thorough and professional way, this is unacceptable.

[Narrator] The President was forced to disclose his secret CIA program when the Supreme Court acted to limit his war time powers, in the historic Handam Decision, the court ruled that interrogations and trials of terrorists would be governed by the Geneva Conventions.

This debate is occurring because of the Supreme Court's ruling that said that we must conduct ourselves under the Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention.

And that Common Article 3 says that there will be no outrages upon human dignity.

It's very vague, what does that mean?

Do you believe that the use of testimony which is obtained through techniques such as waterboarding, stress positions intimidating use of military dogs, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, forced nudity would be consistent with Common Article 3?

Well sir, I think most importantly I can't imagine that such testimony would be reliable. Mr Attorney General do you believe that statements obtained through illegal, inhumane treatment should be admissible?

Senator, I.

Well, again, I'll say this, the concern that I would have about such a prohibition is what does it mean how you define it?

[Narrator] And who define it?

The Bush Administration introduced a new law that would elude the restrictions of the Supreme Court.

In a legal sense, I think they wanted to discard the Constitution and they wanted to write a new one, but you can't do that so what you do is you throw a new interpretation on the old one and the new interpretation is the Executive in War Time and perhaps this war is gonna last forever is all powerful.

[Narrator] Congress gave the President most of what he wanted, he would agree to abide by the Geneva Conventions so long as he could define their meaning and application.

A few detainees at Guantanamo might be put on trial, but the rest would no longer have access to habeas corpus, the fundamental legal right to challenge their detention.

Planning a run for President, even Senator McCain voted for the Bill.

Soon after the Bush Administration threatened to discredit him with conservative voters.

Buried deep inside this legislation is a provision that will pardon President Bush and all the members of his Administration of any possible crimes connected with the torture and mistreatment of detainees dated all the way back to September 11th, 2001 at least President Nixon had Gerald Ford to do his dirty work, President Bush is trying to pardon himself.

[Narrator] The pardon did not extend to front line soldiers. [somber music]

The trial was a very confusing time for me because I've never been through trial before I didn't know what was really going on.

I kinda just understood that I was facing a lot of time in jail, that's the only thing I really understood about the whole thing.

Well I was sent to jail, to a military correctional facility, I have lost my full time job, I have a bad conduct discharge which has hindered me in getting a new job in the same field.

I have financially, it's just devastated me.

I'm just glad it's over, that's it.

I can get on with my life.

I had to plead guilty to assault and two counts of dereliction of duty in exchange, they'd say that I could go to jail for no more than four months.

Rather than spend the money that was being spent for that trial, I think it could have been better spent in working on Army doctrine to make sure that other people go into battle properly equipped, properly led, and with a full understanding as to what their new rules and responsibilities are.

[people yell] When a detainee is abused or a detainee claims abuse, they want somebody to take the fall for it and it's not gonna be the person with Eagles or Stars on their shoulder.

[Narrator] No officer was ever convicted in the Dilawar case.

Following her service at Abu Ghraib, Captain Carolyn Wood wast given a staff position at the Army Interrogation School in Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

What does that reflect in terms of senior leadership's intentions?

Not to eradicate the abuse, but to perpetuate the abuse.

I think the probability exists that there will be other terrorist attacks and more Americans will die and the argument that we have to apply abuse to detainees in order to protect American lives I find to be violative of our deepest values and to the very safety of our country.

We fight not only to protect lives, we fight to protect our principles.

[Wilkerson] If you say over the course of Afghanistan, Gitmo and Iraq we've detained

50,000 people, I'd say less than 1% were terrorists. [somber music]

Were some of them insurgents?

Probably, were almost all of em in Iraq in particular gonna become insurgents after their treatment, yes [laughs].

I was kidnapped, abducted, falsely imprisoned tortured and threatened with further torture without charge, without trial.

Even many soldiers had said to me afterwards was that hell, if you weren't a terrorist when you came in here, by the time you leave, I'm sure you would be because of the way you've been treated.

[speaks in foreign language] We think there's a certain level of prejudice that this religion and the people who have hijacked it have such a disregard for life that we turn around and say if they think so very little of life, and clearly 9/11 exemplified that, screw them, anything goes.

[Golden] It's not surprising that at the end of all this, Dilawar the victim was really lost.

I mean Dilawar was almost invisible in the trials, I mean you never saw pictures of him, nobody ever mentioned this man's wife and child who were left without a husband and father.

He was not part of the picture at all.

[Golden] There's a lot of other people out there who are gonna run into this system unless it's fixed and you only need one to sort of remind yourself of what it's capable of.

[car engine rumbles]

[Mora] American values are premised upon the notion of human dignity and the sanctity of the individual.

To allow for cruelty to be applied as a matter of official policy is to say that our forefathers were wrong about this inalienable rights.

Americans obviously wanna believe that we're somehow more moral than the rest of the world, that for some reason we have a real strong desire to feel that way and I think that's eroding, I don't really know what effect that's gonna have on us and I think a lot of people have just decided well, you know, it's different now.

After 9/11, we can't be good anymore we have to get tough and so we'll have to see what that does to us.

What do you think? I think that's bullshit, frankly, I mean I think that we still need to try and be as good as we can be.

I find it utterly inconceivable that the highest officials, Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney would not only countenance torture but would actually advocate it period is has really destroyed my faith in the American Government because through World War II and the Korean War where I also served, we had the sense that we were on the side of the good guys.

You would always get justice in the United States of America you would get, people would get decent treatment that there was a rule of law, we never forgot that, that behind the facade of wartime hatreds, there was a central rule of law which people abided by.

It was something we believed, it was what made America different.

[somber music]