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Undated, Unsigned CIA/Justice Memo Appears to Be First Authorization for ‘Diapering’

Marcy Wheeler may have solved a mystery about the previously unacknowledged CIA enhanced interrogation technique of prolonged diapering. I wondered in my

Iram Martins
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Aug 25, 2009

Marcy Wheeler may have solved a mystery about the previously unacknowledged CIA “enhanced interrogation” technique of “prolonged diapering.” I wondered in my initial post where the CIA got the legal authorization for the technique from, as the 2004 CIA inspector general’s report on torture says that the CIA withdrew a 2002 request to the Justice Department for authorizing a mysterious eleventh technique — quite possibly diapering — after it was determined that constructing a legal rationale for the technique would delay the torture of al-Qaeda detainee Abu Zubaydah. Yet on Jan. 28, 2003, CIA Director George Tenet cited “prolonged diapering” as one of eleven techniques that comprised the “enhanced interrogation” palette.

Marcy digs through the IG report and unearths what the report calls “an undated and unsigned document” that “expanded” the use of those techniques “beyond the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah.” The document, entitled “Legal Principles Applicable to CIA Detention and Interrogation of Captured Al-Qa’ida Personnel,” has never before been disclosed, and it was apparently written, according to the report, by the CIA’s Office of General Counsel, but “fully coordinated” and “drafted in substantial part by OLC,” the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. An excerpt, dealing with the legality of specific techniques, reads:

The use of the following techniques and of comparable, approved techniques does not violate any Federal statute or other law, where the CIA interrogators do not specifically intend to cause the detainee to undergo severe physical or mental pain or suffering (i.e., they act with the good faith belief that their conduct will not cause such pain or suffering): isolation, reduced caloric intake (so long as the amount is calculated to maintain the general health of the detainees), deprivation of reading material, loud music or white noise (at a decibel level calculated to avoid damage to the detainees’ hearing), the attention grasp, walling, the facial hold, the facial slap (insult slap), the abdominal slap, cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation, the use of diapers, the use of harmless insects, and the water board.

Marcy’s emphasis. Notice that this language, including the parentheticals, appears verbatim in Tenet’s guidelines for both “standard” and “enhanced” techniques from Jan. 23, 2003. Tenet’s “Standard Techniques”:

Among Standard Techniques are the use of isolation, sleep deprivation not to exceed 72 hours, reduced caloric intake (so long as the amount is calculated to maintain the general health of the detainee), deprivation of reading material, use of loud music or white noise (at a decibel level calculated to avoid damage to the detainee’s hearing), and the use of diapers for limited periods (generally not to exceed 72 hours), [REDACTED]

Tenet’s “Enhanced Techniques”:

These techniques are, [sic] the attention grasp, walling, the facial hold, the facial slap (insult slap), the abdominal slap, cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation beyond 72 hours, the use of diapers for prolonged periods, the use of harmless insects, the water board, and such techniques as may be specifically approved pursuant to paragraph 4 below.

Again, we don’t know when the memo was written — by design, as it’s undated and unsigned, a gigantic blinking red light. A footnote on page 22 of the report indicates that it was attached to a document delivered, apparently, to the inspector general’s office on June 16, 2003. That’s as close as we get to an answer as to the document’s provenance. But the language contained within it appears to be the wellspring for Tenet’s “standard” and “enhanced” interrogations — and apparently the CIA’s general counsel helped write the rules the agency’s personnel would operate within. Attorney General Eric Holder’s new probe is an implicit argument against the wisdom of that decision.

A question that remains unanswered: why did Tenet, the CIA’s general counsel and OLC evidently believe that forcing someone to wear a diaper for “72 hours” should be a “standard” interrogation technique and any longer should be an “enhanced” one?

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Iram Martins | Personal trainer. Aspiring sommelier. Brunch critic who works part-time. When I'm not competing, you'll find me at dog beaches with my black lab or sipping drinks at the best bars in town. I like to fly a lot.

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