Senate Report on CIA Torture

Steven Bradbury

Steven Bradbury was acting head of the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) from 2005 to 2009. Bradbury authored several OLC memos suggesting that the CIA's interrogation program succeeded in gaining “otherwise unavailable intelligence,” memos later proved to be based on "CIA misrepresentations [that] were inaccurate and unsupported by CIA records." For example, in a July 20, 2007 memorandum to John Rizzo, Bradbury claimed that the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques proved particularly crucial in the interrogations of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah," and that "[i]nterrogations of Zubaydah ... revealed two al-Qaeda operatives already in the United States and planning to destroy a high rise apartment building and to detonate a radiological bomb in Washington D.C." However, "CIA records indicate that Abu Zubaydah never provided information on 'two operatives already in the United States.'"

Similarly, in a 2005 OLC memo, Bradbury claimed that KSM's interrogation prevented the two "Second Wave" plots to "crash a hijacked airliner into the tallest building on the US West Coast (Los Angeles) as a follow-on to 9/11." CIA cables and other documents, however, demonstrate that "the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques played no role in the 'discovery' or thwarting of either 'Second Wave' plot." The first plot involved al Qaeda operatives Zacarias Moussaoui and Farup al-Tunisi (aka Abderraouf Jdey), who were both "known to be engaged in terrorist activity prior to any reporting from CIA detainees." The plan was disrupted when "Moussaoui, a French citizen, was arrested on immigration charges by the FBI in Minnesota." The second plot "was disrupted with the arrest of Masran bin Arshad in January 2002 ... [and was] unrelated to CIA detainee reporting.

In 2007, John Bellinger produced a draft legal opinion about whether seven proposed techniques - sleep deprivation, nudity, dietary manipulation, facial grasp, facial slap, abdominal slap, and attention grab - were consistent with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and the 2006 Military Commissions Act. Bellinger believed they were not, and Bradbury disagreed. While the UN Convention Against Torture provides that "[n]o exceptional circumstances whatsoever ... may be invoked as a justification of torture," Bradbury suggested that the legality of enhanced interrogation techniques under the convention "require[d] a balancing of the government's need for the information" gained through their use.