May 20th, 2008
02:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Report: FBI did not participate in harsh interrogations techniques


WASHINGTON (CNN) - An exhaustive Justice Department investigation has concluded the FBI did not participate in harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists detained in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, or Iraq, and generally reported such potentially illegal actions by the CIA and Defense Department.

In "only a few instances" did FBI agents use techniques that were not approved by FBI policies, according to the long-awaited report by the Justice Department's inspector general.

But the Inspector General Glenn Fine criticized the FBI for being slow in developing and distributing its interrogation policy to deployed FBI interrogators. Although the decision to avoid use of harsh techniques was made by the FBI in August 2002, it was not put in writing until 2004, along with the requirement that the harsh techniques used by other agencies should be reported to the FBI chain of command.

That 2002 decision by FBI Director Robert Mueller was that the FBI would adhere to the restrictions used in interrogations of detainees within the United States. Those techniques prohibit coercion, abuse or threats.

The FBI policy is based on the belief that building rapport with the prisoners is the best way to gain intelligence information, the report says.

The FBI issued a statement saying it is "gratified" by the report's findings, and Mueller promised the FBI will continue to use "rapport-building techniques in interviews" of detainees.

The inspector general's investigators interviewed virtually all of the more than 1,000 FBI employees who were deployed to one or more of the military zones between 2001 and 2004, the report says.

The vast majority of those agents continued to adhere to FBI policies and separated themselves from other agencies' interrogators who were using non-FBI-approved techniques, the report says.

However, the report lists "a few incidents" that "clearly would not be permissible for FBI agents to use in the United States," including isolating one prisoner from human contact and participating in an interrogation in which detainees were "given a 'drink of water' in a forceful and inappropriate manner."

It also lists incidents that, while not "clear violations of FBI policy," should have raised questions.

"A few FBI agents," it says, participated in a program of subjecting detainees to frequent cell relocations. In another case, two agents had joined in an interview in which a detainee was "short-chained" with hands and feet close together for several hours, during which the prisoner urinated on himself.

FBI agents reported non-FBI interrogators engaged primarily in sleep deprivation or sleep disruption techniques. That included use of bright lights, loud music and extreme temperatures "to keep detainees awake or otherwise wear down their resistance."

No FBI agents witnessed the abuses at Abu Ghraib that were photographed and became public. However, the report says, one FBI agent said he witnessed a single naked Abu Ghraib prisoner forced to roll between rows of cells. He did not report the incident because he did not know if it was an acceptable technique.

The report said FBI personnel did not witness the controversial waterboarding technique, which the CIA has confirmed was used on three prisoners.

The FBI disputed techniques used by the military and the CIA in questioning top terror suspects Abu Zubaydah and Yousef al-Qarani, he report says. In one instance, an agent objected to use of a snarling dog in the interrogation of al-Qarani.

Despite the criticism, at the conclusion of his three-year investigation, the inspector general offered the FBI modest praise.

"We believe that while the FBI could have provided clearer guidance earlier, and while the FBI could have pressed harder for resolution of concerns about detainee treatment by other agencies, the FBI should be credited for its conduct and professionalism in detainee interrogations in the military zones in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and in generally avoiding participation in detainee abuse," the report concludes.

The inspector general's investigation did nothing to quiet the FBI's chief critics. The American Civil Liberties Union said the FBI leaders had failed their obligation to "bring an end to the abuse and application of illegal interrogation methods."

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, chairman of a subcommittee that oversees the FBI, criticized then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and his deputy, Larry Thompson. Nadler said FBI agents' objections to certain interrogation methods "fell on deaf ears."

"The admirable actions taken by those brave FBI agents willing to speak out were undermined by those who led them," he said.

Filed under: Justice Department
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Faye, PA

    Dear Truth,

    "If" is a small, but important word. We do not have the same system as the Republicans, and Hillary knew the rules, and accepted the rules when she was leading. Now that she is behind, she has a lot of "ifs", none of which any intelligent person is going to buy.

    Here's an "if", IF Hillary were not a liar, and a deceitful woman, she might be ahead right now.

    May 20, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  2. Joannie, OK

    Dear Griff,

    I absolutely blame this on George Bush Jr, and let's throw George Bush Sr. in there, as long as we're blaming people. If he hadn't had such a moron for a son, we wouldn't be suffering right now. Our image in the world is tarnished and we're paying $4.00 a gallon for gas. Heck, I blame the whole Bush clan.

    If Jeb even mentions the word president, somebody smack him for me.

    May 20, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  3. Samatha, UT

    Dear Anthony02,

    Ask somebody to explain the difference between a bath and drowning to you. And do us a favor, don't share your wicked thoughts anymore, we've had enough from George Bush and Dick Cheney.

    May 20, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  4. Smitty, NJ

    Bush is a moron. It is a sad day when an American president goes overseas and begs for oil. I also hate the hand holding. They are laughing their heads off at us, and why, because we allowed a moron to become our president. Sad, sad day.

    May 20, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. J

    Torture is wrong no matter what the cost. It's time to elect a man of integrity like John McCain to handle this matter with determination and experience. Only McCain understands the severity of such a terrible treatment of prisoners. Only McCain has promised to NOT RAISE OUR TAXES. Only McCain has promised to finish our commitment to the Iraqi people and fix the problems we caused for them when we put Saddam in power 50 years ago.

    May 20, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. Brad IL.

    Hey Listen , I will take your advice and vote for McCain . Your right I will get rich with you. I like Hillary and I have met her, she is a great person I think. I have not had a chance to meet Obama , I guess I'am not black enough . Hell I am white so that could be the reason also. I dabble in stocks and I think you are on to something. Is it your education or the Obama piss your drinking I can't tell but I will take that advice. Thanks and hopefully we will see each other when you grow up and finish grade school. Hopefully you can get into a decent JR .COLLEGE , that will be all the Government will allow you ! Thanks for the tip though.

    May 20, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  7. Czarchasm Reigns

    Hey, the FBI did NOT participate in harsh interrogations techniques!!!


    but somebody has to retain plausible deniability.

    Congratulations on the Sgt. Schultz Defense: "I saw nothing! Nothing!"

    It certainly does work better when documentation lags 2 years behind decision-making.

    Anybody want a "drink of water" now?

    May 20, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. Juliemn

    the far left liberals are sooo worried about rough treatment of terrorist but they have no problem killing a aborted baby that dared to live!!!
    can anyone explain that SICK reasoning to me?

    May 20, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  9. April, TX

    I hope Barack becomes Kentucky's greatest supporter. Only then will states with counties like Clay believe that all Americans, under Barack's leadership are rooting for them. We want to try and get along. We don't want any more red or blue states, we don't want any bickering in Congress, we hate dirty politics, we hate slanderers, we hate swift boating. We hate racist and sexist politics.

    One America, as John Edwards can say, one America.

    The GOP says they have a big umbrella, but do they really? The party of Lincoln has become so exclusive, I don't know any more. And the Dems, with Bill Clinton are looking like the party of George Wallace. I'm not for the Dems or the GOP; I'm for America, one America.

    America 08

    May 20, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  10. After further review,Texas

    The fox says there arent any chickens in the henhouse either.

    May 20, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
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