Nov. 16, 2010
The Honorable Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
100 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301
Re: Appendix M of Army Field Manual on Interrogations
Dear Mr. Secretary,
We are writing regarding the updated U.S. Army Field Manual on Interrogations, adopted on September 6, 2006 and officially known as “FM 2-22.3, Human Intelligence Collector Operations.”
While we support efforts to adopt a single, well-defined standard of conduct for U.S. personnel engaged in the detention and interrogation of all people in U.S. custody, we are very concerned about a handful of changes that were written into the manual in 2006.
The most critical of these may be found in an appendix, added to the updated manual, that places unnecessary restrictions on an effective interrogation technique known as “separation.” Separation must not be confused with isolation. The former seeks only to protect a detainee from the negative influences of—or unnecessary exposure to—other detainees. The latter is commonly employed as a means of punishment and/or coercion in an ill-conceived effort to “break” a detainee.
These restrictions make it very difficult, in all but the most sensitive situations, for U.S. interrogators to create an environment of trust and protection that is often necessary to gain the cooperation of certain detainees, especially those who have been identified as “high value.” Unnecessarily restricting the use of this technique may severely hamper the United States’ ability to obtain accurate and complete information from detainees.
Perhaps unintentionally, the appendix also appears to authorize the use of several sensory and sleep deprivation tactics that could be employed in an abusive fashion. Regardless of the form in which they are used, we do not believe the abusive techniques set forth in Appendix M will enhance the ability of United States interrogators to question detainees effectively.
Here’s why our collective experience as intelligence officers and interrogators tells us that it would be best to delete Appendix M in its entirety:
Separation has been used by generations of U.S. interrogators to create conditions where prisoners will feel comfortable sharing sensitive information with their captors. Research on best practices conducted by U.S. interrogators ? such as Interrogation: World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq, printed by the National Defense Intelligence College in 2008 ? consistently points to separation as a key approach many successful interrogators have used regularly in questioning prisoners.
But under the new guidelines contained in Appendix M, separation has become a “restricted interrogation technique” (M-6). In order to use separation now U.S. interrogators must first seek the approval of the COCOM commander in theatre, and then provide a written interrogation plan to the first flag or general officer in the interrogator’s chain of command, who approves each specific use of the technique (M-7).
The appendix warns that “more stringent than normal safeguards” must be observed when using separation (M-7). It goes on to say, “Commanders must understand that separation poses a higher risk to the detainee than do standard techniques, and so require strenuous oversight to avoid misapplication and potential abuse” (M-10). And, “As an interrogation technique, separation is particularly sensitive due to the possibility that it could be perceived as an impermissible act” (M-18). Each of these provisions reflects the aforementioned confusion about the profound differences between “isolation” and “separation.”
In fact, separation can be practiced humanely and in a manner that is entirely consistent with U.S. and international laws.
Col. (ret.) Stu Herrington, a U.S. Army intelligence officer, who is profiled by the National Defense Intelligence College study and directed sensitive interrogation operations in Iraq, Panama and Vietnam, recently described separation this way:
In all the interrogation centers that I have worked in or run, we separated the “guests” from one another. Most welcomed this. A prisoner might cooperate if decently and cleverly treated, but only if we could provide a discreet environment where he could feel comfortable spending long hours talking with us. That meant each “guest” had to have a private room, and could not be exposed to any other detainee (encounters in the hallways, for example). This was Rule #1 in our centers. Iraqi general officers housed in our “guest center” did not want to be seen by other Iraqi officers and were grateful for the comfortable, compartmented environment that we provided.
Separation practiced in this way is not isolation. The purpose is not to punish the detainee by disorienting him or cutting him off from human contact. Rather, the objective is to insulate him from the influences of other prisoners, and set the conditions where he will be comfortable sharing sensitive information.
We believe it is critical to make changes to the manual to preserve the ability of U.S. interrogators to use this important, humane intelligence gathering technique without special approval.
Sensory and Sleep Deprivation Tactics in Appendix M
Separation appears to have been designated a restricted technique because Appendix M approves the limited use of abusive interrogation tactics in conjunction with “separation.”
It authorizes interrogators to “separate” detainees by placing them in pitch-black “goggles” and “earmuffs” (M-26) for periods of up to 12 hours, which can be extended with the permission of a flag or general officer. The appendix also authorizes the use of sleep manipulation tactics that could prevent a detainee from sleeping more than four hours a day for 30 days in a row. (This technique can be extended indefinitely with the periodic approval of a flag or general officer.)
As interrogators, interviewers and intelligence officials with decades of experience in the field, we believe that these interrogation tactics are ineffective. Furthermore we recognize that they can be counterproductive (i.e., they can serve to enhance rather than reduce both the detainee’s resistance while also severely diminishing his ability to accurately recall critical intelligence information).
The use of sensory deprivation techniques, extreme isolation and stress positions is likely to lead to false information, facilitate enemy recruitment, and further erode the reputation of the United States.
The use of these techniques were clearly banned in previous versions of the manual and they ought to continue to be clearly off limits.
Incorrectly linking the use of potentially abusive questioning tactics with the “separation” approach has severely, and unnecessarily, restricted the use of this valuable technique.
According to M-1 of Appendix M, the Appendix “will be reviewed annually and may be amended or updated from time to time to account for changes in doctrine, policy, or law, and to address lessons learned.” We urge you to use this authority to eliminate Appendix M in its entirety.
- Frank Anderson worked for the CIA from 1968 until 1995. He served three tours of duty in the Middle East as an agency station chief, headed the Afghan Task Force (1987-1989), and was chief of the Near East Division. He now runs a consulting practice that focuses on the Middle East.
- Robert Baer served for 21 years with the CIA, primarily as a field officer in the Middle East. He resigned from the Agency in 1997 and was awarded its Career Intelligence Medal in 1998.
- Vincent Cannistraro served in the CIA for 27 years. He served as a case officer with the directorate of operations in a variety of posts in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. He served as Director of Intelligence Programs for the United States National Security Council (NSC) from 1984 to 1987; Special assistant for Intelligence in the Office of the Secretary of Defense until 1988; and Chief of Operations and Analysis at the Central Intelligence Agency‘s (CIA) Counterterrorist Center until 1991.
- Jack Cloonan, a 25 year veteran of the FBI, was a special agent for the Bureau’s Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to 2002. During that time, he played a lead role in the FBI’s efforts to stop Al Qaeda.
- Mark Fallon served for more than 30 years in the federal law enforcement and counterintelligence community, including as a Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Special Agent and as the Assistant Director for Training of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). He was involved in many high impact cases, including Operation Terstop and as the Commander of the USS Cole Task Force. Mr. Fallon also served as the SAC/Deputy Commander of the Criminal Investigation Task Force, where he was responsible for the investigation of suspected terrorists for trial before Military Commissions. Mr. Fallon served as the Assistant Director for Training of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), the largest law enforcement training establishment in the United States. FLETC provides training to state, local, and international police and graduates more than 50,000 students annually. Before that posting, Mr. Fallon spent 27 years as a Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Special Agent.
- COL (Ret.) Stu Herrington, USA served thirty years as an Army intelligence officer, specializing in human intelligence/counterintelligence. He has extensive interrogation experience from service in Vietnam, Panama, and Operation Desert Storm. He has traveled to Guantanamo and Iraq at the behest of the Army to evaluate detainee exploitation operations, and he recently taught a three-day seminar on humane interrogation practices to the Army’s 201st MI Battalion, Interrogation, during its activation at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas.
- Brigadier General (Ret.) David Irvine, USA enlisted in the 96th Infantry Division, United States Army Reserve, in 1962. He received a direct commission in 1967 as a strategic intelligence officer. He maintained a faculty assignment for 18 years with the Sixth U.S. Army Intelligence School, and taught prisoner of war interrogation and military law for several hundred soldiers, Marines, and airmen. He retired in 2002, and his last assignment was Deputy Commander for the 96th Regional Readiness Command. General Irvine is an attorney, and practices law in Salt Lake City, Utah. He served 4 terms as a Republican legislator in the Utah House of Representatives, has served as a congressional chief of staff, and served as a commissioner on the Utah Public Utilities Commission.
- Steven Kleinman, a military intelligence officer with more than 26 years of operational and leadership experience. Mr. Kleinman is a highly decorated veteran of three major military campaigns — Operations Just Cause, Desert Storm, and Iraqi Freedom — during which he served as an interrogator, the chief of a joint and combined interrogation team, and as a senior advisor on interrogation operations to a special operations task force. Mr. Kleinman served as the director of the Air Force Combat Interrogation Course and as an advisor to the National Defense Intelligence College’s program on human intelligence and counterintelligence studies. Mr. Kleinman also served as a senior advisor and contributing author for the first contemporary study on interrogation sponsored by the Office of Director of National Intelligence and the Intelligence Science Board.
- COL (Ret.) Patrick Lang, USA is a retired U.S. Military Intelligence officer who served with U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets). He served in the Department of Defense both as a serving officer and then as a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service. He is a highly decorated veteran of several of America’s overseas conflicts including the war in Vietnam. He was trained and educated as a specialist in the Middle East by the U.S. Army and served in that region for many years. He was the first Professor of the Arabic Language at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. In the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) he was the “Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism,” and later the first Director of the Defense Humint Service.” For his service in DIA, he was awarded the “Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive.”
- Malcolm Nance is a former master instructor and chief of training at the U.S. Navy’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape school. A long-time intelligence specialist who speaks five languages, including Arabic, Nance has been deployed on counterterrorism operations in the Balkans, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. Now retired from the Navy, Nance is the author of the 2007 book, The Terrorists of Iraq: Inside the Strategy and Tactics of the Iraq Insurgency, and is a counterterrorism consultant based in Washington, D.C.
- Joe Navarro spent 25 years working as an FBI special agent in the area of counterintelligence and behavioral assessment. He estimates that he has conducted 10,000 interviews in the field for the Bureau. He is a founding member of the National Security Division’s Behavioral Analysis Program. Navarro authored the book that the FBI uses to train advanced interrogators. He is author of a number of books about interviewing techniques and practice including Advanced Interviewing, which he co-wrote with Jack Schafer, and Hunting Terrorists: A Look at the Psycopathology of Terror.
- Haviland Smith is a retired CIA operations officer and Station Chief, having focused most of his 27-year professional life on the Cold War recruitment and handling of Soviet and East European agents and on the management of that effort. During his career, he was involved in joint operations with the FBI and lectured frequently on both Counterterrorism and Soviet recruitment operations at their training courses at Quantico and at in-service sessions in FBI Field Offices. He was assigned to Prague, Berlin, Beirut, Tehran, Washington and Langley. He served as a Branch Chief and Group Chief in Soviet operations, as Chief of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Staff, as Executive Assistant in the Director’s Office and as a Station Chief, both at home and abroad.
- Ali Soufan is a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent who investigated and supervised highly sensitive and complex international terrorism cases, including the East Africa Bombings, the attack on the USS Cole, and the events surrounding 9/11. Mr. Soufan had a distinguished career in the FBI. He often operated out of hostile environments and carried out sensitive extra-territorial missions and high-level negotiations. Mr. Soufan also served on the Joint Terrorist Task Force, FBI New York Office, where he coordinated both domestic and international counter-terrorism operations.
- Lieutenant General (ret.) Harry E. Soyster, USA served as Director, Defense Intelligence Agency during DESERT SHIELD/STORM. He also served as Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Army, Commanding General, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command and in the Joint Reconnaissance Center, Joint Chiefs of Staff. In Vietnam he was an operations officer in a field artillery battalion. Upon retirement he was VP for International Operations with Military Professional Resources Incorporated and returned to government as Special Assistant to the SEC ARMY for WWII 60th Anniversary Commemorations completed in 2006.
CC: The Honorable John M. McHugh, Secretary of the Army
The Honorable William K. Leitzau, Deputy Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs