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Philippe Sands follows the torture trail right to the top.
On Tuesday, December 2 2002, Donald Rumsfeld signed a piece of paper that changed the course of history. That same day, President Bush signed a bill to put the Pentagon in funds for the next year. The US faced unprecedented challenges, Bush told a large and enthusiastic audience, and terror was one of them. The US would respond to these challenges, and it would do so in the "finest traditions of valour". And then he signed a large increase in the defence budget.
Elsewhere in the Pentagon, an event took place for which there was no comment, no fanfare. With a signature and a few scrawled words, Rumsfeld reneged on the tradition of valour to which Bush had referred. Principles for the conduct of interrogation, dating back more than a century to President Lincoln's famous instruction of 1863 that "military necessity does not admit of cruelty", were discarded. He approved new and aggressive interrogation techniques that would produce devastating consequences.
The water glistens as it arcs through the air, the edgy electronic soundtrack creating a sense of anticipation.
Not the latest advert for a luxury brand of bottled water, but a disturbing new film depicting the process of waterboarding, the controversial interrogation method used by US security services.
When the new techniques were more or less finalised, Dunlavey needed them to be approved by Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver, his staff judge advocate in Guantánamo. "We had talked and talked, brainstormed, then we drew up a list," he said. The list was passed on to Diane Beaver."
Several months passed before I met Beaver. By then, like Dunlavey, she was being sued in American courts, although the cases were later dropped. Beaver told me she arrived in Guantánamo in June 2002. In September that year there was a series of brainstorming meetings, some of which were led by Beaver, to gather possible new interrogation techniques. Ideas came from all over the place, she said. Discussion was wide-ranging. Beaver mentioned one source that I didn't immediately follow up with her: "24 - Jack Bauer."
It was only when I got home that I realised she was referring to the main character in Fox's hugely popular TV series, 24. Bauer is a fictitious member of the Counter Terrorism Unit in LA who helped to prevent many terror attacks on the US; for him, torture and even killing are justifiable means to achieve the desired result. Just about every episode had a torture scene in which aggressive techniques of interrogations were used to obtain information.
Potential techniques included taking the detainees out of their usual environment, so they didn't know where they were or where they were going; the use of hoods and goggles; the use of sexual tension, which was "culturally taboo, disrespectful, humiliating and potentially unexpected"; creating psychological drama. Beaver recalled that smothering was thought to be particularly effective, and that Dunlavey, who'd been in Vietnam, was in favour because he knew it worked.
The younger men would get particularly agitated, excited even: "You could almost see their dicks getting hard as they got new ideas." A wan smile crossed Beaver's face. "And I said to myself, you know what, I don't have a dick to get hard. I can stay detached."
Nusairi, now free in Saudi Arabia, was unable to learn what drugs were injected before his interrogations. He is not alone in wondering: At least two dozen other former and current detainees at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere say they were given drugs against their will or witnessed other inmates being drugged, based on interviews and court documents.
Yet the allegations have resurfaced because of the release this month of a 2003 Justice Department memo that explicitly condoned the use of drugs on detainees.
Written to provide legal justification for interrogation practices, the memo by then-Justice Department lawyer John C. Yoo rejected a decades-old U.S. ban on the use of "mind-altering substances" on prisoners. Instead, he argued that drugs could be used as long as they did not inflict permanent or "profound" psychological damage. U.S. law "does not preclude any and all use of drugs," Yoo wrote in the memo. He declined to comment for this article.
The injections left a searing impression among some former detainees, said Emi MacLean, a lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents dozens of current and former detainees. She said the stories merit investigation in light of the Yoo memo and the record of previous CIA experiments with truth serums as well psychotropic drugs.
A different type of injection seemed to be reserved for detainees who were particularly uncooperative, Benchellali said, describing episodes that four other former detainees also cited in interviews or legal documents. "The injection would make them crazy," he said. "They would have a crisis or dementia - yelling, no longer sleeping, soiling themselves. Some of us suspected they were given '___'."