Remember this post, in which I argued that a JPRA memo sent to DOD (and probably to CIA and OLC) on July 26, 2002, was probably the description of torture for which OLC gave an oral authorization on that same day? Now that we’ve seen the CIA’s IG Report and many of the documents requesting approval for "new" torture techniques, it’s clear that this document not only described waterboarding as it was practiced, but also a number of other other torture techniques integrated in the program.

Here’s how the SASC Report described the contents of this memo.

On July 26, 2002, JPRA completed a second memorandum with three attachments to respond to the additional questions from the General Counsel’s office. The memo stated that "JPRA has arguably developed into the DoD’s experts on exploitation and as such, has developed a number of physical pressures to increase the psychological and physical stress on students …"

In the memo, JPRA informed the General Counsel’s office that it had already "assist[ed] in the training of interrogator/exploiters from other governmental agencies charged with OEF exploitation of enemy detainees."190 The memo also stated:

Within JPRA’s evolving curriculum to train interrogators/exploiters many interrogation approaches are taught along with corresponding options for physical pressures to enhance the psychological setting for detainee interrogation. Several of the techniques highlighted (Atch 1) as training tools in JPRA courses, used by other SERE schools, and used historically may be very effective in inducing learned helplessness and ‘breaking’ the OEF detainees’ will to resist."

The first attachment to the July 26,2002 memo was ”Physical Pressures used in Resistance Training and Against American Prisoners and Detainees."192 That attachment included a list of techniques used to train students at SERE school to resist interrogation. The list included techniques such as the facial slap, walling, the abdomen slap, use of water, the attention grasp, and stress positions. 193 The first attachment also listed techniques used by some of the service SERE schools, such as use of smoke, shaking and manhandling, cramped confinement, immersion in water or wetting down, and waterboarding.

JPRA’s description of the waterboarding technique provided in that first attachment was inconsistent in key respects from the U.S. Navy SERE school’s description of waterboarding. According to the Navy SERE school’s operating instructions, for example, while administering the technique, the Navy limited the amount of water poured on a student’s face to two pints. However, the JPRA attachment said that "up to 1.5 gallons of water" may be poured onto a "subject’s face." While the Navy’s operating instructions dictated that "[n]o effort will be made to direct the stream of water into the student’s nostrils or mouth," the description provided by JPRA contained no such limitation for subjects of the technique. While the Navy limited the use ofthe cloth on a student’s face to twenty seconds, the JPRA’s description said only that the cloth should remain in place for a "short period of time." And while the Navy restricted anyone from placing pressure on the chest or stomach during the administration of this technique, JPRA’s description included no such limitation for subjects of the technique.

Attachment one also listed tactics derived from JPRA SERE school lesson plans that were designed to "induce control, dependency, complia[n]ce, and cooperation," including isolation or solitary confinement, induced physical weakness and exhaustion, degradation, conditioning, sensory deprivation, sensory overload, disruption of sleep and biorhythms, and manipulation of diet.

Just for clarity, here are the techniques discussed in this memo:

  • Use of smoke
  • Shaking and manhandling
  • Cramped confinement
  • Immersion in water or wetting down
  • Waterboarding (as actually practiced in the CIA program)
  • Isolation or solitary confinement
  • Induced physical weakness and exhaustion
  • Degradation
  • Conditioning
  • Sensory deprivation
  • Sensory overload
  • Disruption of sleep and biorhythms
  • Manipulation of diet

With the exception of "smoking" and "shaking and manhandling," every single one of these techniques was eventually integrated into the CIA torture program approved by OLC. Though in just about every example, official OLC approval appears to have come after the technique was actually first used. And "use of smoke" was one of the techniques treated as an "unauthorized" technique in the IG Report, while the "hard take down" might resemble the "manhandling" technique.

In other words, this JPRA document appears to have been the techniques used in the CIA program and, in the case of waterboarding, it described the technique as it was actually used, rather than the way it was described in the Bybee Two memo.

I’m working on some follow-up to this to both describe the timing implications and more evidence that this was the actual CIA program. 

But for the moment, remember the other document included in this packet of documents: a JPRA document referring to these techniques as torture.



Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.