Rummy like torture, whether or not it delivers credible intelligence, so says a USA Today story, which recounts early warnings from the FBI that the interrogation tactics used on prisoners wouldn’t give them reliable intelligence. And Rummy went on torturing.

The documents were turned over recently to the American Civil Liberties Union by the Defense Department to comply with a court order in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Several civil liberties groups filed suit in New York seeking records of military interrogation techniques in Afghanistan, Cuba and Iraq. (Related story: FBI letter cites aggressive interrogations in Guantanamo)

In several e-mails, unnamed FBI officials recalled that they engaged in “somewhat heated” battles with defense officials here and at the military prison at Guantanamo about the military’s “stress and duress” interrogation tactics, which included sleep deprivation, verbal abuse, forced nudity and chaining detainees in uncomfortable positions in cold rooms.

FBI officials said in the documents that agents preferred the bureau’s long-accepted, court-approved interrogation policy of building rapport with detainees to obtain information about terrorism.

The FBI declined to comment. Maj. Michael Shavers, a Pentagon spokesman, said the United States condemns torture. He said several investigations have been conducted or are ongoing into allegations of detainee abuse. Many of the records provided to the ACLU came from those probes, he said.

In an undated e-mail, an unnamed FBI Behavioral Analysis adviser said he observed “aggressive interrogation practices” at Guantanamo. He also said he was aware of “extreme interrogation techniques that were planned and implemented against certain detainees.”

But in a May 5 e-mail labeled “high” importance, an unidentified FBI official said, “We need to be careful here. Everyone should pay particular attention to the distinctions between allegations of abuse and the use of techniques which fall outside of FBI/DOJ training and policy. … I am not aware of any credible allegations of abuse by anyone (at Guantanamo).”

An unidentified FBI official recounted in a May 10 e-mail to Tom Harrington, a top FBI counterterrorism official, how he pressed generals in charge of Guantanamo “early on” about the military tactics. “Both agreed the bureau has their way of doing business and DOD has their marching orders from SecDef,” the official said, referring to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The FBI official also recalled a conference call with unidentified Pentagon officials in which he criticized the quality of intelligence gleaned from one detainee.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding