As Serrano and others reported, Lindh, an American citizen, was "was kept in harsh conditions, stripped and tied to a stretcher, and often held for long periods in a large metal container." When a Justice Department ethics attorney, Jesselyn Radack, told a counterterrorism prosecutor that Lindh could not be questioned without his lawyer present if DOJ wanted to build a criminal case against him, she was promptly pushed out of her job. The case against Lindh eventually came down to a 20-year sentence based on a plea bargain, prompting many to speculate that Lindh's harsh treatment -- apparently approved by Rumsfeld's top aides -- ultimately scotched the chances for a successful prosecution on bigger charges than his ties to the Taliban.
"We know he was tortured," says human-rights attorney Scott Horton. "There's no beating around the bush. This is clarifying that the authority was given at the highest levels for torture to occur. The strong suggestion here is that it's Haynes doing that, and the strong suspicion is that the authority for him to do so comes from the secretary of defense." The further suspicion, according to the Post piece, is that the authority for Rumsfeld's attorney to have authorized the abuse of an American citizen came from Vice President Cheney.
Late Update: Several readers and commenters interpret the "take the gloves off" reference to be about what military interrogators can ask Lindh outside of his Miranda rights, as opposed to being about torture. Here's one:
Ackerman claims he's found the first explicit evidence of a senior defense official authorizing torture, pointing to the phrase "take the gloves off." The full memo, however, makes it clear that the pungent phrase is just a macho way of saying "Forget about his fifth amendment rights - you can Mirandize him on the fly, and expand the questioning to include criminal conduct." There's nothing in the memo that refers to the methods of the interrogation, just to its scope. To be sure, it's a troubling document. A senior government lawyer authorized an untrained field interrogator to violate an American citizen's Constitutional rights. The result, in all probability, was that the government was forced to offer Lindh a plea deal rather than take his case to trial. And there's nothing in the memo to preclude the possibility that Lindh was tortured, or that his torture was authorized at the highest levels. Then again, there's nothing to demonstrate the contrary.
We stand by our original story. But we encourage readers to read the memo and draw their own conclusions.