The Abu Zubaydah Document
One of the most curious documents turned over in last week’s FOIA dump is the last one, titled “The CIA Interrogation of Abu Zubaydah” (PDF 110-122). While these are just wildarsed guesses, I suspect it may either have been a summary developed for the CIA Inspector General’s office for use in its review of the torture program or a summary to prepare Stan Moskowitz, then head of CIA’s Office of Congressional Affairs, to brief the Gang of Four in early February 2003.
This document must have been written between January 9 and January 28, 2003. On PDF 117, the document describes CIA’s Office of General Counsel completing its review of the torture tapes; that report was finalized on January 9. The same page describes the “Guidelines on Interrogation Standards,” which was ultimately signed by George Tenet on January 28, as not yet having been approved. The document makes no mention of the Inspector General’s plan to review the torture tapes impacting the decision on destroying the torture tapes, that decision was initiated in early February. It also refers to the need to brief Congress on the torture tapes in the future.
The document includes a long Top Secret section, followed by a short summary of the document classified Secret. That suggests that the audience of this document might in turn have its own audience with which it could use the Secret summary. So, for example, if the IG were the audience, it might be permitted to use the summary description in its final report. If Gang of Four members were the audience, they might be permitted to keep the Secret summary but not to see the Top Secret report.
The Top Secret section of the document has the following sections (each section has its own classification mark, which shows in the margin, which is how we know where redacted titles appear):
- Abu Zubaydah: Terrorist Activities
- Injuries at Time of Capture
- Highlights from Reporting by Abu Zubaydah
- [Completely redacted section]
- Interrogation Techniques Used on Abu Zubaydah
- [Redacted title and page and a half, though this section includes discussion of videotapes and training, which suggests the section describes the management controls on the torture]
- [Completely redacted section]
The Hand-Written Notes
Curiously, this document showed up in the January 8, 2010 Vaughn Index but not–as best as I can tell–in the November 20, 2009 Vaughn Index (or, if it showed up in the earlier Index, John Durham had not yet protected it under a law enforcement privilege). That means that the document existed as an electronic document. Yet, as the Vaughn Index tells us, this document has “handwritten marginalia” on it. These are presumably what the redactions are to the right of the main text on PDF 111 and 112. The redactions on PDF 113 are also wider than other sections, suggesting there is marginalia there, too.
In other words, the reader of this document made notes in response to the following claims (in addition to whatever appears in the long redacted section on PDF 113):
- [AZ] was heavily involved in al Qa’ida’s operational planning, and had previously been an external liaison and logistics coordinator.
- Abu Zubaydah was provided adequate and appropriate medical care.
- Abu Zubaydah identified Jose Padilla and Binyam Muhammad as al-Qa’ida operatives who had plans to detonate a uranium-topped “dirty bomb” in either Washington DC, or New York City.
The first and third of these claims, of course, are somewhat dubious (though the first is more restrained than the CIA was publicly making at the time). So the reader may have been questioning these claims. And the notation next to the claim about AZ’s “adequate” medical care reminds me of the Ron Suskind report that George Bush got enraged when he learned AZ had been given pain killers. In any case, these notations suggest the reader of this document may have had a very high level of information on AZ.