The April 22, 2005 Fax on Torture

I’m working on a series of posts about the 2005 Bradbury Memos and Hassan Ghul. But first, I want to make a couple of points about a document that plays a key role in them–particularly in the Combined Memo: an April 22, 2005 fax from the CIA’s Assistant General Counsel (the name is always redacted) to Steven Bradbury.

The Chronology

Before I get into the significance of the fax, here’s the chronology of it:

December 30, 2004: Background Paper on CIA’s Combined Use of Interrogation Techniques; Daniel Levin torture memo published

February 2005: Daniel Levin leaves DOJ

April 8, 2005: Draft "Techniques" and "Combined" OLC Memos (at that point, 57 pages in length) sent to CIA

"Several weeks" before April 27, 2005: Pat Philbin alerts Jim Comey to problems with "Combined" draft 

April 20, 2005: DOJ announces Jim Comey’s resignation

April 22, 2005: Meeting between Pat Philbin, Jim Comey, Steven Bradbury, Alberto Gonzales about May 10 torture memos

April 22, 2005: Fax to Steven Bradbury from Assistant General Counsel, CIA

April 26, 2005: Comey gets latest draft of Combined memo (no mention of Techniques draft), meets with Gonzales to express concerns, concurs with Techniques memo

April 27, 2005: White House tells Gonzales memos must be finalized by Friday, April 29

April 28, 2005: Gonzales’ Chief of Staff, Ted Ullyot, tells Comey the memo will have to be "sent over" tomorrow

May 10, 2005: Techniques and Combined memos (totaling 67 pages in length) finalized and sent to CIA

Note a few points. The May 10, 2005 memos were drafted by April 8, 2005. Apparently not long after CIA received that draft, Pat Philbin notified Jim Comey of problems with the "Combined" memo and (though there’s no reason to believe they’re related events) Comey resigned. 

And then, on Friday April 22, two things happened. Comey and Philbin tried to talk Gonzales and Bradbury into fixing the "Combined" memo. And Bradbury received the April 22 fax from the Assistant General Counsel of the CIA. Also note, while it’s clear Comey saw a draft of the "Combined" memo after April 22 (the one he describes as being worse than the previous draft he had seen), it’s not clear he saw another draft of the "Techniques" memo before he concurs with it on April 26–though we know the memo would have changed in the interim, since it cites the April 22 fax.

We don’t know what happened after that point. Ullyot told Comey the memos would be sent to the White House (and perhaps the CIA) on Friday April 28, 2005. But we know the memos weren’t finalized until May 10, 2005–almost two weeks later.

The April 22 Fax Reintroduces Waterboarding into Combined Techniques

There are a number of things the April 22 Fax appears to have done, which I’ll get into below. But the really critical detail is this one, from the Combined memo:

The Background Paper does not include any discussion of the waterboard; however, you have separately provided to us a description of how the waterboard may be used in combination with other techniques, particularly dietary manipulation and sleep deprivation. See Fax for Steven G. Bradbury, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, from [redacted], Assistant General Counsel, CIA, at 3-4 (April 22, 2005)

[snip]

You have advised us that in those limited cases where the waterboard would be used, it would be used only in direct combination with two other techniques, dietary manipulation and sleep deprivation. [my emphasis]

In other words, the Background Paper that was tied to the December 2004 Levin memo, didn’t mention waterboarding at all (but that didn’t stop the NYT from declaring that Levin had found waterboarding to be legal). Then Levin left and Bradbury picked up the memos. Even in that form, Philbin apparently had concerns about the memo. 

But then, after Comey resigned on or before April 20, and on the same day Comey and Philbin tried to fix the memo on April 22, the CIA sent over a fax with in-depth details of using diet manipulation and sleep deprivation with waterboarding, just in time for Bradbury to finish up the memo. The April 22 fax, then, was the primary background for discussion of using waterboarding in conjunction with sleep deprivation, but Bradbury didn’t even get it until at least halfway through the process. And for some reason, that late in the process, they felt they needed such a document. 

The Other Uses of the April 22 Fax

That’s not the only thing cited from the April 22 fax in these memos. The Techniques memo uses the memo to ally fears of edema in sleep deprivation.

Specifically, you have informed us that on three occasions early in the program, the interrogation team and the attendant medical officers identified the potential for unacceptable edema in the lower limbs of detainees undergoing standing sleep deprivation, and in order to permit the limbs to recover without impairing interrogation requirements, the subjects underwent horizontal sleep deprivation. 

The Combination memo also appears to cite the fax for its number–at least 25–of detainees who had been subjected to sleep deprivation.

The Combined memo also appears to borrow the analysis of the Background Paper–which didn’t mention the waterboard–to apply it to interrogations including the waterboarding described in the April 22 fax. Most troubling, the Combined memo appears to use the Background paper analysis on interrogators telling detainees they would "do what it takes" to get information. Of course, the statement means one thing in isolation from waterboarding (as it was treated in the Background paper), but quite another when subjecting someone to controlled drowning. Yet by using the Background Paper (which didn’t consider the waterboard) for a memo treating the waterboard, the Combined memo can say all of the following in the section on severe mental pain or suffering:

A detainee subjected to the waterboard experiences a sensation of drowning, which arguably qualifies as a "threat of imminent death."

[snip]

The Background Paper raises one other issue about "severe mental pain or suffering." According to the Background Paper, the interrogators may tell detainees that they "will do what it takes to get important information." … Conceivably, a detainee might understand such a statement as a threat … We doubt this statement is sufficiently specific to qualify as a predicate act under section 2340(2).

[snip]

Although it may raise a question, we do not believe that, under the careful limitations and monitoring in place, the combined use outlined in the Background Paper, together with a statement of this kind, would violate the statute.

The memo gives the appearance of having analyzed whether saying "we will do what it takes to get the information" in conjunction with controlled drowning could be considered a threat. But the memo in fact falls far short of that. 

What We Know from This

Mind you, we don’t know what this means–aside from the fact that a key document for the Combined memo’s treatment of waterboarding was not even written until well into the process. That doesn’t tell us anything about when the discussion about waterboarding itself was introduced into the process–or the memos. For that we’d need drafts of the memos themselves (maybe Gonzales would be willing to share his?)

There’s something screwy with the timeline of these memos–we just don’t know what it means yet. Though I suspect it will feature in the OPR report–if and when they ever release it. 

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57 replies
  1. perris says:

    here’s something we know about the fax;

    it describes “standing sleep deprivation” SO sever the legs swelled

    how sick is THAT?

    and then it says “the sensation of drowing “may be constured” as fearing for their lives…these are maniacs

    and the worst part, medical doctors stood by, watched and approved

    • rosalind says:

      this is the part that made me weep for what our country has become:

      and in order to permit the limbs to recover without impairing interrogation requirements, the subjects underwent horizontal sleep deprivation.

      the fuckers concern is over their interrogations being impaired, not the human beings being impaired.

      • perris says:

        here’s what I want to know;

        how long does a healthy person have to be standing to cause swelling in their legs?

        a man will go mad without sleep, imagine being deprived of this neccessary function and being forced to stand through it

        I hope a medical professional can tell us how long you would need to stand before your legs demonstrate edema

        that’s going to give us an indication for how long these individuals were deprived sleep while standing in their cell

    • R.H. Green says:

      “fearing for their lives…medical doctors stood by…”

      If I may inject a late rant here. We can conclude from this that fearing for one’s life is not a medical problem. Now fear is a psychological behavior, and the professional standing by should be psychologist. From what we know, that was so on some occasions. Yet unlike psychological disorders such a paranoia, PTSD, even some conditioned fears, these are considered “problematic” only to the extent that they are unreasonable responses, given a normal enviornmental context. When extreme fear is evoked by understandable circumstances (as for example a fear of spiders is evoked by having spiders thrown in one’s face), that is not the manifestation of a psychological disorder, and therefore not a pathological condition. So even standing by is irrelevant. What is going on however is the psychopathic exploitation of the suffering of a human being at the hands of another. Who shoud be “standing by” is law enforcement, and we have some reason to believe that legal authorities were doing just that-standing by.

      • Rayne says:

        No problem with the rant. The “fearing for their lives” question of having doctors standing by highlights how criminal this activity was.

        If doctors were on standby because there was a “fear” that the activities might hurt or kill a detainee, what were the detainees feeling?

        And only because these particular detainees were deemed arbitrarily as outside the scope of the Geneva Convention or UNCAT did the administration not care.

  2. TheraP says:

    For some reason sleep deprivation had come to “cover” stress positions. They talk of 3 “techniques” but really it’s 4. As the “sleep deprivation” is the result of the stress positions. Plus we know there’s a multiplier effect. Lack of sleep and lack of calories interact. We know from the British sleep study expert that you can deprive someone of sleep or food, but not both. And this was augmented by the stress positions. With some waterboarding thrown in so they could be horizontal for a while. (That’s sarcasm, by the way.)

    This is barbarism, pure and simple. Discussed in memo form. Very sickening.

    EW, your tenacity here is to be commended.

    • kgb999 says:

      I think a lot of these techniques were used as a part of sleep deprivation. The guards rough the detainee up, scare ‘em with the dogs real quick, soak them down and put them in some cold … hang them back up in a standing position for 12 hours … interrogate for a while. Then break out the water board. We did some extremely messed up things.

      I just posted a big ‘ole time line on TPM of pretty much everything in the SASC Detainee Inquiry report. There is an awful lot of screwed up stuff in there … it almost seems even more creepy having it so dispassionately described in the different reports and then realizing what they are really saying.

  3. phred says:

    EW, do you have any idea what the hurry was that motivated the April 29th deadline? Was the WH just trying to put Comey on the spot so they created an artificial deadline to get him to sign off, or do you suspect there was something else forcing the issue?

    • MadDog says:

      Surely it couldn’t have to do with this (from WikiNews):

      CIA gives up search and interrogation on Iraq WMDs

      The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) says it finished interrogating the nearly 105 Iraqi scientists it held in its search for weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In many cases their information was helpful, but in other cases the wrong people were detained, and were subjected to questioning by “inexperienced and uninformed” interrogators.

      From an update to the Comprehensive Report of the Special Adviser to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD, “As matters now stand, the WMD investigation has gone as far as feasible. After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted.

      “As far as the WMD investigation is concerned, there is no further purpose in holding many of these detainees. These individuals have shown no reluctance to engage in further discussions should the need for questioning arise about past WMD programs.”

      (My Bold)

      • phred says:

        Interesting find there MadDog. Still, it’s not clear to me why there would be this sudden deadline just because Duelfer et al. were throwing in the towel on looking for WMD.

        On the one hand, I don’t want to rule out a genuine external threat that got the WH all worked up about needing this stuff on the 29th. However, I am wondering whether the deadline was intended to thwart the internal threat that Comey and Philbin posed by their opposition. If the WH simply created that deadline out of thin air to railroad Comey and Philbin, then bmaz gets another drop in his bucket of evidence that the WH was not after a good faith reliance on DoJ legal opinions.

  4. Jkat says:

    as i recall from information given to us by the “instructors” who conducted the Navy’s old escape-evasion-survival school .. [the precursor to SERE] .. back in the mid-60’s .. 127 hours without sleep would see the onset of psychosis.. auditory and visual hallucinations .. a complete break with reality ..

    thank you marcy for all the hard work you’re putting in on this …

  5. fatster says:

    ACLU hits Obama hard over torture controversies

    BY DANIEL TENCER 

Published: June 12, 2009 
Updated 8 hours ago

    “The American Civil Liberties Union had strong words on Friday for the Obama administration’s efforts to block the release of torture photos and its attempts to end a lawsuit over extraordinary rendition.

    . . .

    ‘“Keeping the photos secret while letting the high level perpetrators off the hook cannot be tolerated if we are to get an America we can be proud of again,” said Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU. ”This information is necessary to create an accurate historical record and to force an increasingly recalcitrant Justice Department to undertake a criminal investigation of those who authorized and implemented the Bush administration’s torture program.”

    . . .

    ‘“The Obama administration has now fully embraced the Bush administration’s shameful effort to immunize torturers and their enablers from any legal consequences for their actions,” said Ben Wizner, an ACLU lawyer representing the five men, in a press release. “The CIA’s rendition and torture program is not a ’state secret;’ it’s an international scandal. If the Obama administration has its way, no torture victim will ever have his day in court, and future administrations will be free to pursue torture policies without any fear of liability.”’

    http://rawstory.com/08/news/20…..roversies/

  6. fatster says:

    NATIONAL BRIEFING | WASHINGTON

    Bush Lawyer Ordered to Testify

    By JOHN SCHWARTZ
    Published: June 12, 2009

    “A federal judge has ruled that John Yoo, a former Bush administration lawyer who wrote crucial memorandums justifying harsh interrogation techniques, will have to answer in court to accusations that his work led to a prisoner’s being tortured and deprived of his constitutional rights. The government had asked Judge Jeffrey S. White of Federal District Court in San Francisco to dismiss the case filed by Jose Padilla, an American citizen who spent more than three years in a military brig as an enemy combatant. Judge White denied most elements of Mr. Yoo’s motion and quoted a passage from the Federalist Papers that in times of war, nations, to be more safe, “at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.”’

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06…..R_BRF.html

    • perris says:

      that’s great news, let’s see how far this judge gets, we can pretty well predict obama will fight this judge and yoo’s testimony

      obama loses “political capitol” no matter what he does in this case and I think it’s best for him if he stays out of it

      but time will tell won’t it

      • drational says:

        It depends on who is standing- their underlying health conditions and their genetics.

        Whenever one sits or stands for prolonged periods of time, especially if there is no muscle activity, venous return from the legs can become impaired and you get edema. Obesity, poor cardiac function and taking certain medicines are among conditions that can increase risk of “dependent” edema. In these cases a few hours of sitting or standing can cause edema, and the longer they are positioned vertically the worse it becomes.

        With respect to genetics, some otherwise healthy people are for unclear reasons prone to edema. I have a neurosurgeon colleague who gets very prominent edema from standing > 6 hours, but she just plows thru.

        It is painless, but could present problems. I have seen patients with weeping skin from severe edema (the fluid that is swelling the legs eventually just leaks out). This can result in fragile skin prone to injury and infection when persistent. There is also the practical matter that it can be so severe as to prevent getting pants or shoes over the feet, a problem if they want to transfer a person without a wheelchair.

        • emptywheel says:

          drational

          Can you say more about how obesity plays in–and whether the seated versus standing would affect that?

          Remember, these memos were written about Hassan Ghul, who was reported to be obese.

  7. mooreagal says:

    I think Obama should not only stay in this, very visibly, but give Holder the nod to begin investigations.

    Staying out of it makes him look even more complicit than he already looks. I agree completely with Turley.

  8. skdadl says:

    The timeline certainly conflicts with Shane and Johnston’s narrative tilt (EW’s NYT link above) last week, which shifts main responsibility for the drafting of the memos from Bradbury back to Levin. (Does anyone else think that article has been cut since we first read it?)

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, the April 22 fax pretty much blows the NYT story out of the water.

      But then that story was already blown out of the water and will be further blown out of the water before we’re done. And trust me–the fact that they published that tripe will get more embarrassing in a few weeks.

  9. BayStateLibrul says:

    Where is LHP? She usually weighs in on Comey…
    Is DOJ purposely delaying the OLC Report due to timing issues?

  10. WilliamOckham says:

    This may not be related but during this time perid, NSC Deputies committee meetings started discussing torture. ew check out Docs 102 to 112 (approx) in the original Vaughn index from last year. There several mtgs referred to, starting early spring 2005. Only half of docs on list, so probably twice as many meetings as listed.

    • emptywheel says:

      Interesting. If I’m remembering correctly from the Libby trial, the DC meetings were once a week on each topic. So that might reflect two weekly meetings in the middle of May at which they were discussing torture (or, alternately, ghost detainees).

      As DAG, Comey woudl have attended; Zelikow only would have to backup someone else or to fill in.

  11. drational says:

    In all veins are valves that prevent blood from going away from the heart. When you walk or squeeze your leg muscles, this ejects the blood from a valved vein segment toward the heart, like a pump. Morbid obesity results in chronically increased intrathoracic and abdominal pressure that can compress the main conduit of blood return to the heart, the inferior vena cava. This puts backpressure on the veins of the legs, which get further pressure when sitting or standing (because the heart is positioned higher to return the blood). Leg veins can become sufficiently distended under the backpressure that the valves no longer function, leading to predictable edema with even shorter episodes of standing or sitting (a few hours). There are minimal differences between sitting or standing for development of edema, although sitting could be worse in obese people because the “kink” in the veins when legs are bent also can restrict vein flow.

    Laying flat allows the veins to drain under no backpressure and the edema (fluid that has been essentially “pressure-filtered” across the veins into the tissue) to resolve.

    The fluid is eliminated by the kidneys.

    Messing around with fluid balance like this certainly can also present problems with control of blood pressure- this can stress the heart and can lead to fainting episodes. The footnote in Bradbury techniques about the obese person (Gul?) focuses on the cardiac history. I’d venture that whomever it was had a coronary event they are papering retrospectively. Could have been related to edema, but there were surely plenty of other things that “stressed the heart.”

    Hope this helps.

      • drational says:

        DVT, yes; thrombosis of deep veins from prolonged immobility. This is another one that has a big genetic component; so they may not have observed it; or they may have begun prophylaxis after the OMS got involved in late 2004. I doubt we will ever see it, but the December 2004 “OMS Guidelines” cited in the 2005 memos is certain to be a catalog of all the modern medical miracles the CIA imported into the torture chamber- (tracheotomy kits, CPR, intubation, sterile saline, pulse oximetry, drugs).

        • rincewind says:

          What effect would a liquid diet (”dietary manipulation”) have on edema?

          [and note that the memo says “unacceptable” edema — they’re not just talking about your feet swelling up]

        • drational says:

          The liquid itself is Ensure or other electrolyte-balanced solution that is easily handled by the kidneys. Would not be expected to cause edema in and of itself so long as the heart and kidneys are intact.

          One point of liquid diet is same as if you get an endoscopy or surgery. The anesthesiologist does not want you to vomit chunks and suck them in your lungs when you are in a drug-induced coma. The waterboard causes vomiting and aspiration, so liquids are less problematic than chunks in the lung.

          However, here is one possible issue with combined use of waterboard and stress positions I have also considered:

          Edema fluid is transudated fluid (driven across a semi-permeable membrane by hydrostatic pressure)- this contains the identical salt concentration as the blood (isotonic). It is compartmented into the muscles and subcutaneous space.

          When you have compartments of fluid separated by a membrane (the vein wall), then water distributes across the membrane to make the 2 sides have equal salt concentration.

          When someone is forced to ingest a lot of free water (waterboarding before they required saline, which is isotonic), then the blood gets acutely hypotonic (low salt concentration). If the waterboardee also has legs full of salty fluid, water would rush out of the veins into the edema compartment to equalize the salt concentration. When this type of fluid shift happens in the brain, a person could die from cerebral edema. However, if it occurs into severely edematous legs, it could theoretically acutely swell the legs and split open skin, leading to a really messy and bloody situation.

          Considering the issues Comey had with combined techniques, especially with the waterboard and sleep deprivation (aka stress positions that might cause edema), I wonder if this could have happened to al-Nashiri. (a bottle of water for each of the 17 sailors killed the contractors though he killed on the Cole). We know he was boarded after 12 days in CIA custody, potentially hanging from a ceiling hook (and thus with edematous legs).

        • drational says:

          I forgot to mention that having your legs split open from acutely exacerbated edema would be severely painful. I wonder whether this is the scenario Comey wanted them to deal with “retrospectively” in the combined techniques memo he had so much trouble with. From the Combined Memo (P3):

          In conducting this analysis, there are two additional areas of general concern. First, it is possible that the application of certain techniques might render the detainee unusually susceptible to physical or mental pain or suffering. If that were the case, use of a second technique that would not ordinarily be expected to-and could not reasonably be considered specifically intended to- cause severe physical or mental pain or suffering by itself might in fact cause severe physical or mental pain or suffering because of the enhanced susceptibility created by the first technique.

        • phred says:

          Thanks for your posts on this thread. You are raising complications from combined effects that I would have never thought of. I’m curious about this last particularly ghoulish complication of splitting legs — can once recover from that or would the damage to one’s veins be permanent? It is hard for me to imagine that one could truly heal from that. Is it possible that the damage would be so bad that amputation would be required?

        • drational says:

          it’s not the veins that would split, it’s the skin that cannot accomodate all of the stretching of the swollen tissue underneath. and it may not be actual skin splitting that occurs; it just might be the dramatic increase in swelling that stretches the skin and nerves and causes extreme pain.

          I have personally seen chronic severe edema causing skin splitting or blistering and weeping but it is not painful. I’ll caution that this scenario is speculative. We never deliberately make people hypotonic in medicine, and I can’t find any reports of acute water intoxication in people with preexisting leg severe edema. But based on physiology (and what happens to the brain in acute water intoxication), what I describe is exactly what is predicted.

          In terms of long-term outcome, split skin heals. There might be scars, but these guys have plenty of those. The only thing that might lead to amputation is if there is swelling that leads to compartment syndrome.

        • phred says:

          Thanks drational, I appreciate the explanation. So even though the veins don’t split themselves, would they not be damaged from the pressure as the fluid redistributes itself across the membrane? I’m obviously not a doctor, but it seems like there could be damage to the veins themselves…

        • skdadl says:

          I’ve been meaning to ask: where is it we first learn about the decision to use salinated water — in Bradbury?

          OT personal: I had moderately severe edema for about a month after surgery five years ago, so this is all fascinating to me. I never understood entirely why my feet and legs had swelled up that way (I couldn’t get my shoes or boots on, eg, and I couldn’t kneel, my legs were such sausages). I figured it could have been either the trauma of the surgery and ten days of being intubated and fed intravenously, or the very strange drugs they had me on at first (srsly bad trip). The edema only developed after I got home, and it was hard to cope with, although kind of comical sometimes.

        • drational says:

          yeah bradbury “techniques” for the saline. Edema is very common. tons of meds cause it. You may not note it in hospital cuz you are in bed all day so it never builds up. At any rate glad you are better!

        • skdadl says:

          Well, actually, and this relates to phred’s question @ 37, I don’t think that the little valves ever entirely recovered from the experience. (My surgeon called them “lazy valves.”) Feet and ankles especially are still very susceptible to immobility or to heavy humid weather.

          I would say it took about six months before I had my normal ankles back in the first place, so I can just imagine the continuing problems that AZ, al-Nashiri, KSM, and perhaps others must have.

          And I empathize keenly with anyone who is being force-fed twice a day, day after day, over extended periods.

          Otherwise, I am all better, though. Thank you.

        • drational says:

          And phred.
          Yes chronically the valves can be destroyed continuing the problem.
          But I was most concerned with an acute edema issue in which free water (from waterboarding) is leaving the veins into the already swollen tissue, swelling it even more severely acutely. It’s not the veins at risk in this acute scenario, but the skin and perhaps nerves and arteries if there is compartment syndrome.

          Think of the acute water issue as a distinct process from the chronic edema.
          The hydrostatic pressure squeezes the blood fluid out in chronic position associated edema.

          But the free water component of the blood goes out of the vessels (venules and capillaries) down a chemical gradient with no independent of hydrostatic pressure. there is no “pressure” per say on the vessel walls from this water molecule egress from the vasculature, in fact is is building up pressure on the OUTSIDE of the vessels, swelling the tissues.

        • phred says:

          Thanks drational. I appreciate the follow-up, but now I have another question… what’s a “compartment syndrome”? bmaz and Mary have me wishing I had studied law, now you have me pining for an M.D. ; )

        • drational says:

          linked the wiki in 40. Basically in the legs (and arms) there are muscles, arteries and veins and nerves that run for a section through a “compartment” that encloses the structures in a water impermeable fibrous sheath. If the compartment fills up with fluid (like swelling muscles) there is no room for the increased water and structures to go, so pressure builds up. If high enough, then blood can’t flow into the compartment. the muscles die and this leads to more swelling and can lead to death of the entire limb below the knee.

        • pdaly says:

          Great series of posts, emptywheel. I’ve only been able to skim recently and am barely able to keep up at that.

          LIke your answers, drational.
          I would add that obesity is an independent risk factor for developing deep vein thromboses (DVTs).
          Take an obese person, add inactivity (usually lying on a couch, but I guess hanging quietly from a meathook would qualify) increases the risk of forming blood clots in the legs — leading to a life threatening pulmonary embolism if the blood clots travel from the leg to the heart and lungs.

          This combined techniques discussion reminds me of an earlier discussion about waterboarding and the way that respiratory drive is increased by rising CO2 levels in the blood stream (and that respiratory drive is not normally affected by falling oxygen levels). Several exceptions to the primacy of CO2 producing the respiratory drive is found in people with sleep deprivation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (emphysema), or with sleep apnea. With Hassan Ghul’s reported obesity, he might qualify for all these categories, more so if he is a chronic cigarette smoker.

          Why this is important when talking about combined techniques:
          in someone like Ghul, his respiratory drive is controlled primarily by oxygen concentration, and not by CO2 concentration. Reviving someone like him with oxygen after a waterboarding session would satiate his respiratory drive but not correct the pH imbalance introduced by the increased CO2 levels in the blood stream during waterboarding. Without correcting the CO2 concentration, cell function could go haywire (enzyme reactions required for normal cell function are affected or stopped by large changes in cellular pH). The person would stop breathing and the intubation kit (or trach kit) would be needed to resuscitate. The rescue oxygen, ironically, would remove his respiratory drive to breathe, and he would die of respiratory failure.

          Somewhat related: I was struck by the OLC techniques memo (or maybe it was a later Bradbury memo?) that went out of its way to mention the trach kit would remain out of view of the torturee (my word choice, not Bradbury’s). I keep wondering why this was so important to codify?

          Is seeing the trach kit a give-away that the US was looking out for the safety of the torturee and therefore a psychological boost to the presumed terrorist?,
          or more likely something too scary for a torturee to see –in which case any accidental viewing of the scalpels and tubes would be just an ahem “accident” and not torture…no siree, not torture.

        • emptywheel says:

          I was wondering if you’d join us and add your expertise.

          Thanks to both you and drational for making the house call for free. It really helps to have your contributions.

  12. oldtree says:

    Can we be sure that these “meetings”, ( a kind way of describing the cold blooded creation of further torture technique and refinement or existing brutality) were so regularly scheduled. Certainly all the players might not have been at them, but this is the sort of thing that the principals were likely dealing with on a daily or hourly basis. As soon as one of the “team” looked like they were opting out, the CYA begins. The location of every one of the tools in this theater is going to be important. I wonder if the senate investigating committee is using your collective information for the probe, or to find loopholes for the sick bastards that were the driving force for this ever changing dance? Imagine not having Bybee’s head on a platter all ready? There is more CYA than talk of outrage.

  13. rincewind says:

    Or really-really-really mess up their intention to leave no permanent marks? (thinking here of the picture of AZ)

  14. perris says:

    here’s another thing to consider when we examine the technique of “sleep deprivation for interogation”

    a man will go mad from sleep deprivation, they will halucinate, they will imagine

    what kind of “actionability” could they possibly think they can obtain when a person is giving them information because they are sleep deprived?

    the answer is “no kind of actionable inteligence”, really, the only reason to do this is for affect

  15. Rayne says:

    Been too busy to keep up with you folks, but I have a question which has been nagging me since I saw this earlier this morning.

    Why was this a fax and not an email?

  16. behindthefall says:

    The torturers were really in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation there, it seems. On the one hand, a competent physician could have predicted the interactions between their “techniques” and the probable damage, but on the other hand, the competent _and ethical_ physician would have screamed about the “techniques”, used singly or in combination, isotonic or not isotonic.

    Apparently they did not have a tame, competent, amoral physician or physiologist, and the “psychologists” (or whatever we call them) just did not cut it.

    What a horror show.

  17. dickdata says:

    So it appears that not pardoning the people who committed war crimes worked out very well for Bush. Now President George W. Obama has to protect them and, utimately, pardon them if there are trials. Who would have thought, during the campaign, that three of the main objectives of an Obama administration would be to continue/extend existing policies on war crimes, gay rights, and illegal survelliance.

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