Shedding light on the human rights abuses of the Bush administration's first term seems to be the order of the day. Reporting for Vanity Fair
, Philippe Sands, a professor of law at University College London, details the direct involvement of administration figures in developing the interrogation techniques to be used at Guantanamo Bay.
There are plenty of highlights, including an admission (finally) from a Pentagon official that Jack Bauer provided inspiration. Diane Beaver, a lawyer who worked underneath Major General Michael Dunlavey, the first commander at Gitmo, told Sands in an interview about brainstorming meetings (which included representatives from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the C.I.A.) held at Gitmo in September of 2002 about possible interrogation techniques. The military's SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) program, meant to train U.S. soldiers to resist torture used by the bad guys, was one inspiration. But:
Ideas arose from other sources. The first year of Fox TVâs dramatic series 24 came to a conclusion in spring 2002, and the second year of the series began that fall. An inescapable message of the program is that torture works. âWe saw it on cable,â Beaver recalled. âPeople had already seen the first series. It was hugely popular.â Jack Bauer had many friends at GuantÃ¡namo, Beaver added. âHe gave people lots of ideas.â
Sands reports, relying on accounts from Beaver and Dunlavey, that a group of administration officials came down later that month to see for themselves:
On September 25, as the process of elaborating new interrogation techniques reached a critical point, a delegation of the administrationâs most senior lawyers arrived at GuantÃ¡namo. The group included the presidentâs lawyer, Alberto Gonzales, who had by then received the Yoo-Bybee Memo; Vice President Cheneyâs lawyer, David Addington, who had contributed to the writing of that memo; the C.I.A.âs John Rizzo, who had asked for a Justice Department sign-off on individual techniques, including waterboarding, and received the second (and still secret) Yoo-Bybee Memo; and Jim Haynes, Rumsfeldâs counsel. They were all well aware of [Mohammed al-Qahtani, allegedly a member of the 9/11 conspiracy and the so-called 20th hijacker who was already at Gitmo]. âThey wanted to know what we were doing to get to this guy,â Dunlavey told me, âand Addington was interested in how we were managing it.â I asked what they had to say. âThey brought ideas with them which had been given from sources in D.C.,â Dunlavey said. âThey came down to observe and talk.â Throughout this whole period, Dunlavey went on, Rumsfeld was âdirectly and regularly involved.â