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August 27, 2009

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CIA memo exposes strong-arm techniques

SLEEP deprivation, "insult slaps," water dousing and "walling," or slamming a detainee's head against a wall, were techniques used by CIA interrogators to break high-value detainees, according to an agency memo.

The memo, sent to the United States Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel on December 30, 2004, was released on Monday under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Amnesty International USA and the American Civil Liberties Union.

US Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday named a special prosecutor to probe Central Intelligence Agency prisoner abuse cases.

His decision, which promises political headaches for President Barack Obama, came after the Justice Department's ethics watchdog recommended considering prosecution of CIA employees or contractors for interrogations in Iraq and Afghanistan that went beyond approved limits.

"The goal of interrogation is to create a state of learned helplessness and dependence conducive to the collection of intelligence," the memo, outlining procedures for handling captured al-Qaida leaders sent to CIA "black site" prisons, said.

The document, first reported by The Washington Post, said prior to an interrogation session, detainees may be stripped and held in a "vertical shackling position" to begin sleep deprivation.

Once the interrogation begins, the "insult slap" on the face may be used when the interrogator needs to correct the detainee, the memo said.

The document said "walling" was one of the most effective interrogation techniques for wearing down detainees physically.

"An HVD (high-value detainee) may be walled one time (one impact with the wall) to make a point or 20 to 30 times consecutively when the interrogator requires a more significant response to a question," the memo said.

The paper said agency spokesman George Little noted that the interrogation program operated under guidelines approved by top legal officials of the George W. Bush administration.


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