The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that a draft executive order calling for a review of interrogation techniques banned under the Obama administration—and raising the possibility of reopening CIA secret torture sites—did, in fact, come from the White House. That’s contrary to the claims of presidential press secretary Sean Spicer, who said Wednesday that it did not. The Daily Kos quotes from interviews Laura Pitter of Human Rights Watch and Mark gave to The Guardian.
Mark, along with other officials was quoted after President Donald Trump asked for recommendations on whether torture works, if secret CIA black sites should be used again to interrogate suspects and whether the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay should not only stay open, but should accept future detainees, according to a draft executive order that signals sweeping changes to U.S. interrogation and detention policy. The Associated Press and other news organizations obtained a copy.
If the Trump administration resuscitates policies used under the Bush administration, it could jeopardize relations and intelligence sharing between the United States and European allies such as Britain. Prime Minister Teresa May, who is scheduled to meet Trump on Friday, told reporters that Britain “absolutely” condemns the use of torture.
The American Civil Liberties Union warned that if past policies return, the United States could see itself in the middle of a flurry of legal challenges at home and internationally. Torture is prohibited under international law.
Mark was interviewed by Truthout Reporter Adam Hudson regarding a Guantanamo detainee held for 14 years, based on mistaken identity. It’s not a huge surprise that false charges and cases of mistaken identity occurred amid this race to incarcerate. Fallon said that JTF-GTMO (Joint Task Force Guantánamo), which runs the Guantánamo prison, was looking for anything to pin on detainees. For example, part of JTF-GTMO’s threat indication criteria was whether a detainee possessed a common item like a Casio F-91W or A159W wristwatch because it was “the sign of al-Qaida, [which] uses the watch to make bombs,” which Fallon called “sad” and “comical.” Fallon said CITF concluded “an overwhelming majority” of detainees had no intelligence or investigative value and should be released, while JTF-GTMO argued for further detention. However, it was JTF-GTMO’s assessments that caught the White House’s ear, while voices like Fallon’s were marginalized. Fallon shares his insider perspective on how the US government implemented torture in a book called Unjustifiable Means: The Inside Story of How the CIA, Pentagon, and US Government Conspired to Torture.
Mark was quoted in this article about the challenges faced with detainees being brought to Guantanamo, with little supporting evidence of their complicity.
Channel News Asia reported on a panel Mark was on with other former senior US government officials in Paris, France. The conference and panel was organised by leading rights groups including the International Federation for Human Rights, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights.
Mark was quoted in this article published after a draft executive order was leaked that could have cleared the way for the CIA to once again brutally interrogate torture suspects in secret prisons around the world. During his presidential campaign, Trump vowed to bring back torture.
The public was told by Rumsfeld and other top Bush administration officials that Guantanamo was needed because the men who were sent there were the “worst of the worst,” the “sort of people who would chew through a hydraulics cable to bring a C-17 [transport plane] down.”
But according to a new report, there was an ulterior motive for setting up Guantanamo: It was the ideal long-term interrogation facility, a “battle lab” where detainees would be subjected to untested interrogation methods and “exploited” for their intelligence value in what turned out to be a massive “experiment.”
“Although the government continues to mislead the public by touting that [Guantanamo] houses the ‘worst of the worst,’ the facts revealed by the Center unveil a different, more disturbing story,” the report says, adding that Guantanamo “served as the heart of worldwide interrogation testing and training.”
Bush administration officials have long disputed such characterizations, and have said any mistreatment of detainees was the work of a “few bad apples.” However, one former top military official told the Armed Services Committee that Guantanamo was described to him a “battle lab.” Army Colonel Britt Mallow, the commander of the Criminal Investigative Task Force, said Guantanamo officials Major General Mike Dunleavy and Major General Geoffrey Miller used the term “battle lab,” meaning “interrogations and other procedures there were to some degree experimental, and their lessons would benefit [the Department of Defense] in other places.”
The usefulness of rapport-building techniques is precisely the point, says Mr. Fallon, the Naval investigator who also served as chairman of the High-Value Research Group that Mr. Obama established in 2009 to study the effectiveness of interrogation approaches.
The value of rapport-building techniques is borne out in the past decade of research, as well as in his own practical experience, says Fallon, author of the forthcoming book, “Unjustifiable Means: The Inside Story of How the CIA, Pentagon, and US Government Conspired to Torture.”
“We’ve gotten good information with tea and cookies, with French fries and food, by allowing detainees to make a call home,” Fallon says. “If you started a conversation yelling at me, how likely am I going to be to respond?”
In this publication by Guantanamo Truth, Mark’s position against the term “Battle Lab” and the use of unproven techniques on detainees was highlighted.
Mark was interviewed about the origins of the CIA EIT program and discussed the origins of SERE tactics as an interrogation practice.