OLC Memo: Application of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2340-2340A to the Combined Use of Certain Techniques That May Be Used in the Interrogation of High Value al Qaeda Detainees

An OLC memo from Bradbury to Rizzo addressing whether the combined use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" (including waterboarding) violates the prohibition on torture. The memo concludes that it would not violate the torture statute if used individually.

Legal Memo
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Tuesday, August 30, 2016

~ "
J • t~
D :/(b)(1)
',/ (b)(3)
f'R.\.~~ S',! TE 15 OOJ (TUE) MAY 10 2005#17:50/ST. 17:45/NO. ,?'160429715 P 50
...... , I,1:t ' , ",
··_i i
U.S .. Department of Justice
Office of Legal Counsel
May 10,2OOS
. .
. Re: Application 0/18 u.S.C. §§ 2340-2340A to the cClJmed,Use ofC~ftain Techniques
in .the Intm-ogt;1tion of High Value al Qaeda Detainees '
In our Memorandum for 10M A Rizzo, Senior ,Deputy General Counsel, .C~ntraJ
InteUig~nce Agency, from Steven G. Bradbury, Principal DepUty ASsiStaJ)t Attomey'GeneraJ,
Office of Legal Counse~ Re: Application 0/18 u.S.C §§ 2340-2340A '10 Certa{n TechniqUes
That May Be Used In the Intm-ogcition of a High Value al'Qaeda Detainee (May i 0, 2005)
'.("TechniqUeK'), we addressed th~ application of the anti-torture statute, 18 U.S.C, §§ 2340-
2HOA, to certain interrogation tecbniq~es that the CIA might use in the questioning ofa.specific
. aI Qaeda operative. There, we consjdere~ each tee~ique individually: We.now consider the
application of the statute to the use of these same techniques in combination. Subject io the
. conditions and limitations set out here and in Techniques, we conclude that the authOrized .
. combined use of these specific techniques by adequately trained inteqogat(?rs wOiJld not violat~ .
sections 2340-2340A.
. Techniques, which set out our general interpretation of the statutory elements, guides'us
here.1 While referring to the analysis provided in that opinion, we do not repeat it, but instead
I As noted in Techniques, the Criminal Division of th.e Department of 1ustice is satisfi¢ that our general
int~ the.Jegal standards under sections 2140·2340A;'{ound in TechniipJ~$~ is' wnsjstent wirb jrs
concurrence in·our Memorandum for James B. Comey, Deputy Attorney Genc:raJ, from Daniel Levin. Acting
. Assi$mt AUorney Gene~, Office of Legal Counsel,Re: Legal StandardsApplicable Under 18 U.S.C. §§ 2310-
2310A (Dec. 30,2004). In the present m~morandum, we address only the application of 18 U.S. C. §§ 2340-2340A
to combinations of interrogation tecbiUques. Nothing in this memorandwn or in OllT prior ~vice to rbe CIA should
be read to suggest that the use of these techniques would confonn to the requirements of the Unifomt tode of
Military Justice rbat governs members of the Anned Forces or to United States obligations under the Geneva
Conventions in circumstances where those Conventions would apply. We do not addresS rbe possible appli~tion of
arncle 16 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, InhunuU,t or Degrading Trealment or
Punishinent, Dec. 10~ 1984, S. Treaty Doc. No. 100-20.1465. U.N.T.S. 85 (entered into force for U.S; Nov. 20,
I ~.TP il~ljs;;d;t;o;c;;u;;1Il;e;;;Jlt;:::;i;5 ;cli;a;ss~jfif;e~.d :j::l;:;·Il;::ii:;;ts~e~J1;;;tit~e:;:ty;;.=-'
Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000491
.. ~7
',' !OP~~L _____________ ~
presume a familiarity with it. F~rthei1nore) in referring to the individual interrogation t~hniques
whose combined use is our present subj~ct. we mean those techniques as we described them in ' ,
Techniques, including all of the limitations, presumptions, and ~eguards describec;l ,here.
One overarching point from Techniques bears repeating: Torture is abhorrent and '
uniYersally repudiated, see Techniques at 1, arid ,the President ~as stated that the United States '
wilJ not tolerate it. Idat 1·2 & n2 (citing Statement on United Nations Int~mationalDay in
Support QfVictims of Torture, 40 Weekly Compo Pres. DoC. 1167-68 '(July S, 2004»). In '
Techniques, we accordingly exercised great care in applying sections 2340-2340A to the
iIidividual techniques at issue; we apply the s~ine degree of care in considering the combined use
of these techniques. '
, Under 18, U.S.C. § 2340A. it is a crime to commit, attempt to commit. or conspire to
, commit torture outside the United States. ''To~re'' is defined as "an act commi~ed by a person
acting ,under color oflaw specifically intended to'inflict severe physical or rn~ntaJ pain or
suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within
his custody or physical contro1." 18 U.S.C. §'234Q(lj. "Severe mental plin or suffering" is
defined as "the prolonged mental harnt'caused by or resulting from'· any of four predicate acts.
Id§ 2349(2). These acts are (1) "the intentionalinfliction orthteatened infliction of severe
physical pain or suffering"; (2) "the administration or application, or threatened administration or
application, of mind-altering ,substances or other pr9cedures calculated to ,diSrupt profoundly the
senses or,the perwnality"; (3) "the threat of imminent death"; and (4) ·'the, threat that.another
person will imminently be SUbjected to death, severe physioa1 pain or suffering, or the
administration or application ofmin~-altering substances or other pr~cedures calculated to
, disrupt prof~dly t.he senseS or personality."
In Techniques, we concluded th,at the individual authorized' use of several specific
interrogation t~hniques, subject to a variety oflimit4tions and safeguards, 'would not violate the
,statute when (lmployed in the interrogation of a specific member ,ofal'Qaeda, though we
concluded that at least in certain respects'two oCthe techniques presentixl substantial questions
, under sections 2340-2340A The techniques that we analyzed were dietary manipulation, nudity.
the attention grasp, waIling, the facial hold, the facial slap 'or insult slap. the abdominal slap,
cramtat~nement, wall standing, ::stress positions;-water dousin&mended sleep deprivation, ,
and the "waterboard." Techniques at 7-15 .
. i-···· .... - .. ----.-..... --.--- - .,." .. - ..... •• _.~. ___ • •••• __ " •• _0" , __ , __ , _ •• _ ••• , .... w --•• , ••• ,--.---••• ,-.- •• ,-.---~, •• - •• ---. ":- • __ ._-_.-.,. - ••• -----.......... - •••• _ ......... - •••
" ,
1994), nOl do we address any question relating to conditions of confinement or detention, as distinct from the '
interrogation of detainees., We stress that our advice on the application of sections 2340-2340A does not represent
the policy views of the Department of Justice concerning interrogation practices. Finally, we note that section
6057(a) ofHR 1268 (109th Cong. J st Sess.), if it becomes law, ,would forbid 'expending or obJigating funds ,made
available by that biU "to subject any person in the custody or unde~ the physical control of the United S~tes to
tortW'C," but because the bill would define "torture" to have "the meaning given that term in section 2340(1) of title '
, 18, Uniled States Code," § 6O~7(b)(1), the provision (to thQ eXt~Dt it might apply here at aUJ would merely reaffirm
the preexisting prohibitions on torture in sections 2340·2349A
TOP8.BCRE~~ ____________ ~,
Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000492
PROM S rTE 15 DOJ (TUE)MAY 10 2005 17:50/ST. 17:45/NO. 6160429715 P '52
TOP SECRET/~L _____ ~
Techniques analyZed only the'use of these techniques individually. As we have' '
previously advised, howev~t, "courts tend to take a totality-of-the-circumstances approach and
consider an entire' course of conduct to determine whether torture has occurred." Memorandum
for 10hn Rizzo, Acting General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency, from Jay S. Bybee, ,
Assistant Attorney General,. Office oftegal Counsel, Re: Interrogation of al Qaecla Operative ,
at 9,(Aug. 1,2002) ("Interrogation Memorandum") (TS). A'complete analysis under sections
2340-2340A thus entails an' examination of the cOmbined "ffects of any techniques that niight be
used. ' , '
In c,onducting, this analysis, there are two additionai ~eas of general concern. First, it is
possible Jhat the application' of c~ain techniques might render the detai,nee unusuaUy
,susceptible to phy~ical or mental pain or suffering. ~that:w~ the case, use,ofa second
,technique that would not ordinarily be expected to--and could not reasonably be con~idered
specifically i~tended to-cause'severe physical or mental pain or suffering by itself might, in fact /
cause severe physical or mental pain or suffering b,ecause of the enhanced susceptibility created
by the first techniql,le. Depen _he interrogator. one migpt conclude that severe pain or suffering was specifically intended by .
the application of the second technique to a the appliCation of the first 1echnique. Because the use of these teChniques in combination is '
intended to, and in fact can be expected to, physically wear down a detainee. because it is .
di~cult to 'assess, as to a 'particular individual whether the application of multiple techniques
renders that individual more susceptible"to physical pam or suffering, and beCause sl,eep
deprivation, in particular, has,a number of documented physiological effeCts that, in some
circumstances, could be problematic, it is important thai all participati,ng CIA personnel,
particularly interrogators and personnel of the CIA Office of Medical Services ("OMS"), be
aware of the potential for enhanCed susceptibility to pain and suffering from each interrogation
technique. We also assume tbat there wiU be active arid ongoing monitoring by medi'caJ and
psychologic:al personnel o(eachdetainee who is undergoing a regimen of interrogation, and '
, active interven'tion by a member of the team or medical stafl" as necessary, so as to avoid the
, possibility of severe physical or mental pain or ~ffering witbhi tbe meaning oftS U.S.C.
§§ 2340-2340A as a re$Ult of such combined effects.
Second, it is possible that certain techniques that do not themselves cause severe physical '
, ,?r ~=l ~n .. ~~ suff~ring ~ght' d~ ~ in ,c0JP-bjna~o!lo parti~larJy ~~e~ used over the 30-day
mterrogatlon penod Wlilt which we deal here. AgatD, dependmg on the Circumstances, and the
" mental state of the interrogator, their use might be consider:ed to be specifically intended to cause
such severe pain or suffering. This concern calls for ~jnguiry into the t~!~.itXQf~b.~:,-", '. d __ " ',. ,~,~:~,_', __ d""" "
"-~7""-,~-:-:-~li'CijmSfinces~16oKing'afwlUcn t'eclfifiqiies">are 'combined' an(i'how they 'are combined.
Your,office has outlined the manner in which ~any ofthe individual techniques we
preViously considered could be combined in Background Paper on CIA's Combined Use oj
lflterrogatil?n Techniqiles (undated, but transmitted Dec. 30, 2004) ("Background Paper'). The
Background Paper, which provides the, principal basis for our analysis, first divides the process
of interrogation into three phases: "InitiarConditions," "Transition to Interrogation," and' ,
"Interrogation." Id at 1. After describing-th~se three phases, see id. at 1-9, the Background
: Paper "pro~ides ,a look at a prototypical interrogation with an emphasis on ,the application of
TOP SBCRET/~L-_____ _
Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000493
.FROM SIT.E 15· DOJ {TUE)MAY 10 2005 17:S0/ST. 17:46/NO. 6160429715 P '53
TOP SECfmT~L---_____ -----'
· interrogation techniques, in combination and separately," id.· at 9-18. TheBackg1:oundPqper
does riot inciude any discus.sion of the waterboard; however, you have separately proVided to us
a description of bow the waterboard may be used in combin~tion with other techniques,
.particularly dietary manipulation arid sleep deprivation. See Fax fQr Steven ~! Bradburv.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office o~Legal C~on{Jk-: ____ ---'~
Assj~t Gener:al Counse~ CIA, at 3-4 (Apr. 22, ~O~5) ("April 2~ar~ .
Phases of the Inte"ogatiiJn Process
. The first phase of the interrogation process, "Initial Conditions," does not involve·
interrogation techniques, and you have not asked us to consider any.legal question regarding the
CIA's praCtices during this phase. The "Initial Conditions" nonetheless set the stage for use or
the interr.o gation techniques. which com.e later.2
. . According to 'tbeBackg,mmdPaper, before being flown ~o.he site of interrogation, a
de~nee is given a medical examination. He then is "securely shackled and is deprived of sight
·.and sound through the use of blindfolds. earmuff's, and hoods" during the flight. Id at 2. AD on ..
board.medical officer monitors his condition. Security persoMel also monitor the detainee for .
signs of distress. Upon arrival at the site, the detainee "findS himself i~ complete' control of
Americans" ~d is subjected to "precise~ quiet, and almost clinical" procedures designed to .
underscore "the enormity and suddenness. of the c;hange.in environment. the uncertainty about
what Will happen' next. and the potential dread [a detalnee1 may have of US custody." Iii:. His
head and face are shaved; his physical coQdition is documented through photographs taken while
he is nude; and he is given medical and psychological interviews to assess his condition and to
· ·make sure there ~e~o contraindica.tions to the use of any particular interrogation techniqu~s.
See id at 2-3. .'
The detainee then ~nters the next phase, the "Transition to Interrogation." The .
· interrogators COnd!lct an initial interview, "in a relatively benign environment," to ascertain
· wh~ the detainee is wiJling to cooperate. The detai~ee Js "normally clothed but seated and
shackied for security purposes." Id at 3. The interrogators take ."an open, non-threatening
'approach," but the detainee "Would·have to provide information on actionable threats and
locatiqn information on High .. Value Targets at large-not lower .. level information-:-for
int~lIa~ ~o. continue~th [~sJ_ ~~utra1l!Pproac~." Itf lethe ~et~i~ee does not meet this .
"very g ",:standard, tR~ tnter:rogators submit a detailed ~terrogatlofi"plan to CIA headquarters .
· . 2 Although the OMS Guid;/ines o~"Met!ic~1 and Psychological Supporl ~o Deta/nee .Rendition, _._ ~._ .'_ .... ,_.
~:.~-='. ~ ............ "~91rIetrogatitHtiffld~0if{fJ«":'200'4)T''OMS"GiiiaeimeT)'tefel'iOtlie'aamimstta6Oif6fseaaUv'es'auruif-·"""·'""··"·....s~':' ... ,
transport if necessatY to pro~ the detairiee or the rendition team, id. at 4-5, the OMS qtJidelines do not provide for .
the use of sedatives for interrogation.. The Background Paper does not mention the a,dminislIation of any drugs
during the detainee's transportation to. the site of the intenogation or at any other time, and we do nOl address any
such administration. OMS,.we understand, is unaware of any .use of sedation during the ·transport of a detainee in
the last two years and states that the interrogation program does not use sedation or medication for the purpose of
· interrogation. We caution that any use of sedatives should be carefully evaluated, including 1JIlder 18 U.S. C.
§ 2340(2)(B). For pwposes of our analysis, we assume that no drugs are administered d~ng the relevant period or
that ~ere are no ongoing effects nom any adminisuation of any drugs; if lhat assumption does not h~ld. our analysis
and conclusions could cbarige.
TO'SECRBT~~ ______________ ~ Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000494
• FROM .SITE 15 OOJ (TUE)MAY 10 2005 17;50!ST. 17:45/NO. 6160429715 P 54
= _ ... :,;,-.:.:::S:==_. __
, "
TOPSECREr1~ _ ~ _______ ~
for approval. If the medical and psychological assessments find no contraindi~tioris to the
proposed plan, and if senior CIA officers at headquarters approve some or all of the plan ~hrough
a cable transmitted to the site of the interrogation, the interrogation moves to the'next phase. Id'
Three interrogation techiuques ire·typically used to bring the· detainee to "a baseHne,
. dependent state," "deinonstrat[ingJ to the [detainee J that he' has no control over basic human
, needs~ and helping to make him "perceive and value. his personal welfare, ~omfort, and
immediate needs more than the information he is protecting." Id at 4. The three techniques
used to ~st~lish this "baseline" are nudity, sleep deprivation (with shackling and, at least'at .
times, with use of a diaper), and dietary manipulation. These techniques, which Techniques
dCscribed in some detai~ "require ljttle to ito physical interaction between the detainee and
interroga~or." Backgrouf!d Paper at 5.
, O~er.: techniques, which "requ.re physical interaction between the interrogator ,aDd
.detai~e," are characterized as "corrective" and c'are used principally to correct, startle, or ...
achieve another enabling objective with the detainee." Id These techniques "are not used
. simultaneously but·are often used interchangeably:during an individual interrogation session!'
. Id The insult slap is used "periodically throughoutthe interrogation process when the .
int~rrogator needs ~6 immediately correct the ~etain~.or provide a consequence to a detain~'s
response or non-response." Id at 5-6. The insult slap "can be used in combination with water
douSing or kneeling stress positions" -techniques that are not characterized as "corrective." Id.
· at 6. ' Another corrective techniqu,e, the: abdominal slap" "is similar to the insult slap in ,
application and desired result" and "provides the variation necessary to keep a high:Jevel of
unpredictabilitY in the interrogation pr9Ce&s." Id The abdominal, slap may be simult~ously .
combined with water dousing, stress positi~ns, and wall standing. A third corre · the facial hold, "is used sparingly throughout interrogation." Id It is not 'painful; ~ut
"demonstrates the interrogator's control over the (detainee]." Id It too may be siinultaneously
combined with water dousing, stress positions, and wall standing. Id Finally, the attention,
, grasp "may be used several times j~ the saine interrogation" and may be simultaneously
, combin~ with water dousing or kneeling Stress positions. Id·
" . Somuechniques are characterized as "coercive." These techniques "place the detai~ee
in" more· physical and psychological stress. tI Id. at 7. Coercive techniques "are typically not used
It. "
l The CIA maintains certain "detention cOnditions" at all of its deteiltion facilities. (These co"ditions "are
not interrogation t~hniques,» Id. at 4, and yoU have not asked us to ~ their lawfulness under the statute.) The .
· d~nee is "e~c;,tw white noisrDnnt;l.sounds 'pollo exm ~p~S1anjJight.du~~_.u:u,'"
interrogation process.» Id These conditionS enhance security. 'The noise prevents the detainee .from overhearing .
conversations 'of staff members, precludes him from picldilg,up "auditory clues" abou( his Surroundings, and
disrupts any efforts to communicate with other detainees. Id. The'light provides better cOnditions for security and '
for monitoring by the medical and psychological staff ~d the interrogators. Althoup' we do not address the
lawfulness of using white noise (not to exceed 79 decibels) and C()nstant light, we n!l't~ that according to'materials
'you have furnished to us, (1) the Occupational Safety and'Health Administration has determined that there is nO risk
of permanent hearing loss from continuous, 24-hour per day exposure 10 noise of up to 82 decibels, and (2) detain~ ,
,. typically acIaPt fairly quickly to Ihe constant light and it does not interfere undulY, with their ability ti> ~leep. See Fax
, for Dan Levin, ActiJig Assistan! Attorney General, Office ofLe~r, fiu~1 ~istant
." General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency at 3 (Jan. 4;2005) Ljra.t'). '
TOP SriCRET~L...-___Salim_ v. M-i -t-c-h-,e1l l - United States Bates #000495
I .
t •
• FROM SITE 15 OOJ (TUE)MAY 102005 17:50/ST.17:45/NO.6160429715 P ·55
TOP.SEC~/~L-______ --'
'. in combination, although some combined use is possible." Ill.. Walling "is one of the most
effective interrogation techniques b~use it wears down the [d~~nee] physically, heightens
uncertainty in the detainee about what the interrogator may do to him, and creates a seQSC of
. dread when the [detainee] knows he is'aboutto be waUed again." Id:' A detainee "may be
walled one time (one impact With the wall) to make a point or twenty to thirty times .
consecutively whe,n the interrogator r:equires a more sisnificant ~nse,'to a question;" and
"will be walled multiple times" diu;ing a session designed to be intense. Id Walling cannot
practically be used at the saDie tim~ as other interrogation, techniques.
Water temperature and other considerations 'of safety established by OMS limit the use of
another coercive technique, water dousing. See ill. at 7-8. The teChnique "may be used
. frequently within those guidelines." Id at.8. As suggested above, interrogators may combine
water dousing with other techniques. such as stress POSitioDS7 waD standing, the insult slap, or the
abdo~nal slap. See id at 8. .
'The use of stress positions is "usually self-limitin'g in that te~porary muscle fatigUe' ,
.usllaJ1y leads to th~ [detainee's] being unable to mai~tain the streSs' position after a period of
time." Id Depending Po. the particUlar pOsiti~n, stress positions may be combined with water
, dousing. the insUlt slap. the facial.hold, ~d the attention grasp. See id 'Another coercive
technique, wall Standing, is "usually self-limiting" in the same way as stress p9sitions. Id It,
may be. combined with water dousing and the abdominal slap: See id OMS guidelines limit the
teclulique of cramped confinement to no more than eight hours at 'a time and 18. hours a day, and
confinement in the "small box" is limited to two hours. Id Cramped confinement cannot be
used in simultaneous combination with cOrrective or·other coercive t~hniques. .
We understand that the CIA's use of all these interrogation techniq"es is subject to
ongoing monitor.ing by interrogation team members. who will direct that techniques be
discontinued ifthet:e is'a deviation from prescribed procedures and by medical and psychological
personnel from OMS who will direct that any or aII.techniques be discontinued ifin their
professio~a1 judgptent the detainee may otherwise suffer seyere physical or mental pain or
~uffering. See Techniques at 6-7.
A PrototypiC!1IInte"ogalion
~""~prototypiC3I interfogatioit," thi&etaineel>egins his,firsf'interrogation ses~io~
stripped of his clothes, shackled, and hooded, with the walling collar over his head and around
, 4 Although walling "wears down the [detainee] physically," Background Paper at 7, and undOubtedly may .
startle. him, we understand that it is not significantly painful. The detainee hits c~a flexible false waJJ," designed "to
create a loud sound when the individual hits it" and thus to cause ~'shock and surprise." Interrogation Memorandum
at 2. But the detainee's "hea,d and neck are supported with a rolled hood or t9wel that provides a c-collar effect to
help prevent whiplash"; ·it is the detainee's shoulder blades that hit the wall; and We detainee is allowed tQ rebound ,
froin the flexible wall in order to reduce the chances of any injwy. See it!. You have infonned us that a detainee is
expected to feel "drea(f' at the prospect of walling because of the shoCk 3nd smprise caused by the technique and
because of the 'sense of powerlessness that comes from being rOJ,lghly handled by the interrogators" not because Qle,
, tec~que causes significant pain: '.
TOP SECRET/~L... _______ ---'
Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000496
• FROM StTE 15 OOJ ('f.UE)MAV 102005 17:50/ST.17:45/NO.6160429715 P 56
TOP~~~ _________ ~
.. ,
, his neck. BackgroundPaper at 9-,] O. The interrogators req10ve the hood' and explain that the
detainee can improve his situation by coOperating and may sayth,at ~e interrogator~''WilI do
, what it takes to get important information." Ids As soon as the detainee does anything, ,
inconsistent with the interrogators"instnictions, the interrogators use aniosult slap 9r abdominal
, slap. They employ walHog if it becomeS clear'that the detainee is not cooperating'inthe'
interrogation. This sequence "may, cOntinue for several mp~ iterations ;is the'interrogators
, cOntinue to measure the [detainee's 1 resistance posture and apply a negative cons'eqiJence to [his]
resistance efforts.~' ld The interrogators and security officers then put the d~ainee into position
,for standing sleep deprivatio~ begin dietary manipulation through, a liquid diet; and keep the
, detai-.ee nude (e~Cept' for a diaper). See id at 10.'11. The first interrogation session, which
couid have lasted ft~m'30 minutes to severaJ' hours, would: theo'be:at an end. See id ai 11.
,Hthe interrogation team determines there is a need to,con,inue, and if the medical and
'psychological personnel 'advise that there arc no contraindications, a seCond session may b~gin.
See id at 12. The intCrval ~tween Sessions could be as short as, iil,hour or as long' as 24 hours.
,See id at 11. At the start of the second'seSsion, the detai~ee is' rele!lsed from the position for "
standing sJ~ep deprivation. ,is hooded, and is positioned against ~e walling wall, with the walling ,
C9Uar ovedlis head alld around, his neck. See id ltven :~fore removing the hQOd, the
interrogators:,use the attention grasp,to startle the detainee. 1Jte interrogators take off the hood
arid begin questioning. Hthe detainc;e d~-not give ~ppropriate answers to the first' questions.
the'interrogators u~ an'insult slap or abdOminal slap. 'See id They employ walling if they
~etei'Diine ~hat the detainee "is intent'on maintaining his resistance posture." Id at 13. This
, sequence "may continue for multiple iterations as the interrogatOrs continu~ to measure the '
(detainee~s] r~istance posture." ld The interrOgators then increase the pressure on"the detainee
by using a hose to douse-the detainee' with water for several minutes. They stop and start the
dousing as they continue the inlem>gation. See id They then end the session by placing ~e
detainee into the same circumstances as at the end efth¢ first session: 'the detainee is in th~
standing position for sleep deprivation, is nude (except for a diaper). and is subjected to dietary
manipulation. Once agai~ the session could have.Iasted, ftoni 30 minules to several hours. See
id '
, Again. if the interrogation team determines thete is a need to continue, and if the medical
and psychological pe~80nnel'find no contraindications, a third session may, follow ~ the sess~on
.begtui~~e. detaine9 positioned .. ~: at the~beginni~ of the secon4 ..... See id at 14. lfthe
detainee continues to resist, the interrogators Continue to use wa1ling and water dousing. Th~
, corredtive techniques-the insuJt slap, the abdominal slap, the facial' hQld" the, attention grasjT."
may be used sever~1 times during this session based on the res onses and actions ofthe
etamee . ' The interrogatorS integrate stress positions' and wall standing into the session.
Furthermore, "[iJntense questioning and ~alling would 'be r~peated mUltipJe times." Id
Interrogators "use one technique to support another." Id For exampl~, they threaten the use of
waIling un~ess the detainee holds a stress pO,sidon, thus inducing the detainee to remain in the
position longer than he otherwise would. At the end of the s~sion, the inter:rogators and security
, We address the effects of this statement below atpp.18-19.
,TOP SECRET~L--_____ ---,I' Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000497
FRO'M SITE' 15 DOJ (TUE)MAY 10 2005 17:50/ST, 17:45/NO,6160429715 P 57
·10PSE~ \ .
personnel place the detainee into the same circufll:Stances as ·at the end of the first two sessions,
with the detainee subject to sleep deprivatio~ nudity, and ~ietary manipulation, Jd .
In later sessions, the interrogators use those techniques that are proving most effective
and drop the .others. Sleep deprivation "m~y continue to t~e 70 to 120·hour.range, Of possibly
beyond for the ha{desfresisters, but in'no case exceed the. 180-hourtime limit." Id IUS.' If the
medical or psychological perSonnel'find contraindications, sleep deprivation will 'end earlier, See
id at 1 S-16. While 'continuing the uSe of sleep dq>rlvation, nudity,ilnd dietary inanipulation, the
. interrogators ~ay add cramped confinement. As the detainee begins to coOperate, the
interrogators "begin gradually to decrease. the ·use of interrogation techniques.'" ,d at 16, They·
,may perinit the'detainee to sit, supply clothes, ,and provide more appetizing food. See. id . . ..... '.
. . The entire process in this '~p~ototypjcal interrogation" may last 30 days. If additional
, time is required and a· new approval is obtained 'from headquarters, interrogation may go:longer
than 30· days. Nevertheless. "[o]n average,· the actual use ofintetrogationte¢hniques covers a
period ofthCee to seven days. but can vary upwards to fifteeQ days based on the resilien~ ofthe
[detainee]." ld As,in Technjques, our advice here is limited to an interrogation process lasting
no more than 30 days. See Techniques at S.
U$e of the Wa1erboard in Combination with Other Techniques
. We understand that for a small number of detainees in very linlited' cjr~mstances. th~
. CIA may wish to use the waterboard technique. You have ,previously explained that .the
waterboard technique would be used Qnly if: (I) Ute CIA ,has credible. intelligence that a terrorist
attack is imminent; (2) there are "~bstantjal and credible indicators the subject has actionable
, inteJIigence that canprevenl; disrupt or delay this attack"; and (3) other interrogation methods
,have failed acare unlikely to yield actionable intelligence in time to prevent the attack. See'
. ' Attachment to,Letter from 10hn A. RiZzo, Acting General Counsel. CIA, to Daniel Levin, Acting
. Assistant Attorney General, Office ofLe~1 Counsel (Aug. 2, 2004). You have al~o infor~' us
, , that the waterboard may be approved .for use'with a giveri detainee only during, ~t most, one
single 30~ay perio~ an4 that during that period, the waterboard technique may be'used on no
·mote than five days. We further understand that in any 24-hour period, interrogators may use no
more than two "sessions" ofthe waterboard on a subject-with a "session" defined to mean the
, time.that the detainee is strapped to the waterboar~d that no session may last more than two
hou~~verJ during any session,':the miiUber offndividual appllc'ittions of water Jasting 10
second~ or.1onger may not exceed six. .The maximum length of any application Qfwater is 40
seconds (you have informed ~s ·that this maximum has ~arely been reached), Finally, the total
. . . . .. ,. n'lD'a'" '= lOuf'peno- -mayiiOf'cxCe -- 12 ,.
sociate General Coun~el, C1A, 'to D~n Levin,
Ice of Legal Coun.sel, at 1-2 (Aug, 19~ 2004).
6 & in'Techniques, our advice here is restricted to ~ne application oino more than 180 hours of sleep,
deprivatioll ' .
. , ,-----------------,
10P8.BCRB~L ______________ ~
Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000498
. "
" .FROM SITE 15 OOJ . nUE)MAY 10 2005 17:5.0/ST. 17:45/NO. 616042'9715 P 58
TOP~T~L _____________ ~
., '
You have advised us that in those limited cases where the waterboard would be used, it
· would· be used only in direct c~otion with two other tecliniqu~, dietary manipulation and .
,sleep deprivation. 'See April 2 ax at 3-4. While' an individual is physically on,the
waterboard, . the CIA does not use e attention grasp, walling, the facial hold, the facial or insult
slap, the abdominal slap, cramped' confinement, wall standing, str~ss positions, or water dousing,
. th resort to the waterboard, and we understand it is possibleJhat one or more of these techniqueS.
, might be used on the same day as a watCfboard session, but separately from that session and not
in conjunction with the waterboard See id at 3.
As we discussed in Techniques,. you have informed us that an individual unaergoing th¢.
waterboard is .aJway~ placed on a ~ujd diet b~fore be may be subje~ted to the waterbOard in order
to avojd'aspiratjo~ offood maUer. The individual is kept on th~·f1uid diet throughout the period'
the waterboard is used. For this· reason, and in this way, the waterboard is used in combination .
with dietary manipUlation. See April 22D~ at 3. . .' .
You have also described how sleep deprivation may be used prior to and during the
· waterboard session. Id at '4. We understand that the time limitation on use ofsl~p depnvation,
as set forth in Techniques, continues to be strictly monitored and ~forced when sleep .
. deprivation is used in combination with the'waterboard (as it i's when used in combination with
· other tecluliques). See April i~~ atA. You have also informed us that there is no
evidence in literature or experie~ sI~p deprivation exac¢rbates any hannful effects of the
waterboard. thouSh it dgeS reduce .the detainee's will to resist and ·thereby contributes to the .
eifC(!tiveness 6fth~ waterboard as an interrogation technique, Iii. As in, Techniques, we·
understand that in the event the detainee were perceived to be unable to withstand the effects of' .
the waterboard for any reaso~ any member of the interrogation team has the obligation to .
intervene and •. if necessary, to halt the use ofthe waterboard. See April2Cfar at 4~
u .
. The issue of the combined effects of interrogation techniques raises ~mplex IPid diffici.*
qUestions' and conies to us in a less precisely defined form th~ the questions treated in 'our .
'earlier opinions about individual techniques. In evaluating individual techniqUes, we turned to a
body' of e~rience developed, i.n the use of ~alogous techniques in military training by the
Unit-mt'ates,' to medicaJ literature. arid to tile judgment of medical personnel. Because there is
. less certainty and definition about·the use of techniques in combination, it is necessary to draw
more inferences·in assessing what may be expected, You have informed us that, although'lhe
. . ·"~"exempiar[th~rfS';·tIre protOtypicinnterrogatioriliStTliJrrtpresenratioii~1'1iowniesiHeCbii"iques-··· .
: are actually employed," '
these techniques will be used in combination during interrogation." BCfckgrouild Paper at 17.
Whether any other combination of techniques would, in the relevant senses, be like the ones
. pre$ented-whether the combination would be no more Ii~eiy to cause severe physical or menta1
pain or suffering within the meaning of sections 2J40-2340A-would be a question that cannot
be assessed in the context of the present Jegal opinion. For that reason, our.aavice does not
e~end to. combinations of techniques unlike the ones discussed here. For the same reason, it is
especially important that the CIA use great care in applyingtbese various techniqu~s intop
8ECRET/1L-______ ----' Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000499
'" .FROM SITE 1500J (TUE)MAY 10 2005 1!:50/ST. 17:4S/NO. 6160429715 P 59
TOP SBCRET!~L-_____ :-----_
,combination in a real-world sceQ.ario, 'and that the members of the interrogation team. and t,he
attendant medical staff, remain watchfiJl for indications that the use of techniques in combinatjo~
may be having unintended effects, so that the interrogation regimen Illay be altered or halted;' if
necessary, to ensure that it will not result in severe physical or mental pain or suffering to any
, detainee in violation on 8 u.S.C. §§ 2340-2340A. '
Finally, iii both of ~r previous opinions about specific techniques, we evaluated the use
of those techniques on particular ideniifi~d individuals. Here, we are ~ked to address the
coinbinations with~t reference to any particular detainee. As is relevant here, we know onJy
that an enhanced interrogation technique, such as moSt of the tecbni,ques at 'jssue in TechniqUes,
may be used on a detainee only if medical, and psychological persQnnel have detennin~ that he
, ' is not likely. as ~ result, to experience severe physical or l,llentaJ pain or suffering. Techniques at
, 5. Once again,' whether other detainees would, in the 'relevant ways; b~ like the 'ones previo.uslY
at iSsue, would be a.factual question we 'cannot now decide. Our advice, therefore, does not
, extend to the use oftecbniques on detainees unlike those we h;lve'previously considered.
Moreover, in this regard, it is also especially important, as we pointed out in Techniques With
respect ~o certain techniques, see, e.g.. id at 37 (discussing sleep deprivation), that the CIA will '
carefUUy assess the condition ofeacbindividual detainee and that the CIA's use of these
techniques in combination will ,be sensitive to the .ndivi~ualized physic8J. condition and reactions, ,
of each detainee, so that the regimen· of interrogation would be altered or halted, if necessary, in
the event of~nticipatedeffects on a particular detainee. '
Subject 'to th~ ~utions and to the conditions, limitations, and safeguar4s set out below
arid in Techniques, we nonetheJess can reach some conclusions about the combined use of these
te~ques., Although ~his is a difficuh question that will depend on the particular detainee~ we
, do not believe that the use of the techniques in' combination as you have described them would
be expeCted to inflict "severe physical or mentai pain or suffering" within the meaning ofthe ,
statute. 18 U.S-C .. § 2340(1). Although the combination of interrogation techniques will wear a
detainee down physically, we understand that the principal effect, as well as ,the primary goal, of
interrogation using these techniques is psychologica}-"to create a state of learned helpless~ess
and dependence conducive to the collection of intelligence in a predictable, reliable, and '
sustainable manner," BackgrO!Jlld Paper at I-and numerous precautions are de~igned to avoid
inflicting "severe physical or mental pain or suffering."
""o~resent pu~ses,' we maydividl"severe physical or mental pain or suffering" in~o
, three categories: "severe physicaL .. pain," "severe physical ... suffering,?' and "severe ...
mental pain or suffering" (the last being a defined term under the statute). See Techniques ~t 22-
"26;'Memoiiiiidlim for James-B. Coniey, Dep~fy Aitomey-General,froin]jiiili~i LeVin, Ading-' ,
Assistant Attorney General, OffiCe ofLegaJ Counsel, Re: Legal Standards Applicable Under J 8
u.s.e. §§ 2340-.2340A (Dec. 30, 2004). ' ,
As explained below, any physical pain resulting from the use of these techniques, even iri '
combination, cannot,reasonably be expected to meet the level of "severe physical pain"
contemplated by the statute. We conclude, therefore, that the authorized use in combination of ,
. these ~qu .. bf adequately trained inlerro~ as describ~ in Ih~Backgrotti.d Paper and
the April 2 ax; could not reasonl!,bly be conSIdered speCifically mtended to ,do so. , '
Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000500
··.FROM SITE 15 DOJ (TUE)MAY 10 2005 17:50/ST. 17:45./NO. 6f60429715 P 60
ToP~CRET~L-____________ ~
Moreover, although it presents a closer question under sections 2340-2l40A, we conclude that.
the combined use of these' techniques also cannot)reasonably be expected to-and their .
combined use in the authorized manner by adequately trained interrogators could not reasonably
be cOnsidered specificaUy intended to-cause severe pbysical suffering:. Although two
techniques, extended sleep deprivation and the waterboard. may involve a more substantial risk
of pbysic.al dir" r in the other specific tecbniques discussed in the Background Paper
and the April 2 ~, Of, as we understand ·it, in the CIA's experience to date .with the
interrogation$ 0 more than two dozen detainees (three of whoSe interrogations involved ~ use·
of the waterboard)J. would lead to the expectation that any physical discomfort from the
combination of sleep deprivation or the watetboard and other techniques wO\Jld involve the
· .degree ofintensity and duration of physical distiess sufficient to constitute severe physical.
suffering under the statute.' Therefore, the use of the technique could nt;>t reasonably be view~
as specifically intend~ to cause severe physical suffering. We stress again, however~ that these
questi~rls concerning whether the combined effects of different techniques may rise to the' level '
of physical suffering within the meaning of sections 2340-2340A are difficult ones, .and they .
'~einforce the need for close and ongoing monitoring by medical and· psYchological personnel and
by aU members ofthe interroga,tion team and active i~tervention if necessary.
Analyzing tb~ combined techniques in ·terins of severe mental pain or suffering raises two
, questions under the statu,te. The first is whether the ~sk ofnalhicinations.from sleep deprivation
may become exacerbated when combined with other techniqu,es, such that a ~etainee m~ght be
expected to experience "prolonged mental harm" from the combination of.techniques. Second.·
the 'description in the BackgrOUl7d PaPer that detainees may be specifically told that interrogators
will "do what it takes" to elicit information, id at lOt raises the question whether this statement
might qualify as a threat of infliction of severe physiCal pain or suffering or another of the
predicate acts required for "severe mental pain or suffering" under the statute. After discussing
both of those possibilities 'below, however, we conclude that the au'thorized use by adequately
· trained interrogators of the techniques in combination, as you have described them, would .not
reasonably be expected to cause prolonged mental harm and could not reasonably be considered
· specifically intended to cause severe mental pain or suffering. We stress that these possible
. questions about the combined use of the techniques under the statutory category of severe mental
· ·pain or suffering are difficult ones and they serve to reinforce the need for close and ongoing
111:0nitoring and activ~, intervention if necessary.
Sev/:!'PhY;;cai Pain ..,
Our two previous opinions have not identified an techni ues that would int1~ -. ..._._"-,,.: ." "-ca]>proac -es e sever[dj)" requlroolo"\ljolite the statute:'-A Dl,lIuher-of 'the techniques-dietary .
manipulation, nudity, sleep deprivation, the facial hold, and the attention grasp-are not
expected to cause physical pain at all. See Techniques at 30-36. Others migbt cause some pain,
but the level of pain would not approach that which would be· considered "severe," Ttaese
techniques,are the abdominal slap, water dousing, various stress positions; waJI standing,
cramped confinement, walling, and the facial slap, See i4 We also understand that ~he .
waterboard is not physically,painful. Id at 41. In part because none of these techniques would
individually cause pain that even approaches the "severe" level required to violate the statute. the
combined use of the techniques ,under the conditions outlined here would not be expected to-
TOP SECRETl~L _____ -----'
Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000501
, "
FRdM SIT~ 15 DOJ (TUE)MAY 10 2005 17:50/ST. 17:45/NO. 6160429715 P 61
TOPSBCRET~L ___________ ~
and we conclude that their authorize reasonably be ,considered specifically intended to-reach th~t level.'
We recognize the theoreti~l possibility that the use of one or more techniques would
· make a detainee more susceptible to severe pain or that the techniques, in combination, would '
operat~ differently from the way they would i~dividually and thus cause severe pain. But as we '
understand the experience involving the combination of various techniques, the OMS medical,
an~ psychological personnel hav~ nOt observed any such incr~e in suscep.tibility. Otb~r than, '
,the watetboard, the specific techniques under consideration in this rna' dUDl-:-including
· sl~p depri~tion--:bave been applied to more than 25 detainees. Se' ax at 1-3. No'
· apparent increa,se in susceptibility-to severe pain has been observed el er when t~iques are
, _ used sequent.aUY or when they are used simultaneously-for example, 'when an insult slap,is .
, simultaneously combined Wit.h water dousing or a kneeling stress position, or when wall standing
. is simultaneously combined with an abdominal slap and water dousing. Nor does experience
show that, even apart from changes in susceptibility to pain, combinations of these "techniques
· I cause the techniques to operate differently so as to cause severe pain. OMS doctqrs and,
'psychologists; moreover, confirm that tbey expect that"the techniques. when Combined·as
.described in tbe Background Paper and in the April 2Ofar, woul~ not operate in a different
manner from the way they do indivi~ually. so as to ~use severe J.lai~ ..
We understand that· exp,erience supports these conclu~ions even though the Background.
Paper does giveexample~ ~here the distress caused by one technique would be increased by use
of anotber. The .uconditioning techniques"-nudity, sleep deprivation, and dietary' .
manipulation,.--appear designed to wear down the detainee, pbysi¢ly and PSYChOlOgi~iIlY. a~d
to allow .other techniques to be more effective, see ·Background Paper at 5,12; April 2 D ax
at 4; and "these [conditioning] techniques ace used in combination in almost aU cases," .
BackgroundPaper at 17.' And, in·another example, the.threat ofwaUing is used io cause Ii
· detainee to hold a stress posit.ion longer than he otherwise would . . See id at 14. The issue rai.sed
· by the statute, however, is whether the techniques would be specifically intended to cause th~
detainee to experience "severe ... pain." IS U.S.C. § 2340(1). In the ca~e of the conditioning
., We are not sn~g that combinations or repetitio.DS of acts that do ~t indivicfuatly cause severe
physical pain tould not ~t in severe pbysical pain. Othetthan the repeated use of the "walling" technique,
h~9f!Ijng in Ihe BackgroundPaper-suggests .the kind oUepetition that might raise an issue about severe
· physical pain; and, in Ihe case ofwallin& we understand that this tecbnique involves a fal~ flexible wall and is not
. significandy painful. even with repetition. Our advice with respect to walling in the present memorandum.is based
on the understanding Chat .lIte repetitive use of walling is intended only to increase the shock and drama of the
=======:Ijtec~~El:WeaHleWJHhe-detaiDcc's Rsis_e, and=te=dismpt expeetadOilS'1biiflie-wlUnot be.tn:ateifWitltfOwe.
and that such use is not intend~ to. and does not in fact. Cause severe physi,cal"pain to the detainee. Along these
lines. w~ understan effectiveness and that their use. is therefore limited to times when the detainee's overt disrespect for Ihe question or
'. questioner requires immediate correction, when the detainee dispJa~ obVioUs efforts to misdirect or ignore the
question or questioner, or when the detainee attempts to provide an obvious lie in response .to a 'specific question.
· Our advi~ assumes that the interrogators will apply Ihose technigues as designed and will not strike the detainee
with excessive force or repetition in a manner that might result in severe physical pain. As to all teclmiques, our
advice asSumes that the use of the technique will be stopped if Ihere is any indication 'that it is or may be causing
· severe physical pain to the detainee.
~----------Sa-lim- -v. -M-itc-he~ll - United States Bates #000502
:FROM SIT~ 15 . DOJ (TUE)MAY 10 2005 17:50/ST. 17:45/NO. 6160429715 P 62
TOP SfjCR:E'f/~L ____ ----:-------'
techniques.·the principal effect. as y~u have described it, is on the detainee's will to r~sist other
techniques, rather than on the.pa~n that the othert~hpiques cause. See BackgroundPaper·at 5,·
12;.ApriI2~ax at 4. Moreover, the stress positions and wall standing, while inducing
muscle fatj~ not cause "severe p~ysical ... pain," and there is no reason to believe that a
position, held somewhat longer than otherwise, would create such pain. See Techniques at 33-
3~a. ... . .
In any· particular· case, a combination oftecbniques might have unexpecte an individual technique ~Id produce $Ul"prising etl'ects: But the BackgrOt!nd Papu .and the
4pri12~ax, as well as Techniques, describe a system ofinedical and psychological
~oniton~the detai.nee that would very likely identify any such unexpected resu~ as they
begin to occur and would require all interrogation to be modified or stopped if a de~neejs. in
danger of severe physical pain. Medical and psychologiCJl perSonnel assess the .detainee before
any interrogation starts~ See, e.g., Techniques at ·5. .,hysica1 and pSy'cholQgical evaluations are
f;ompleted daily during any period in which. the interrogators use· enhanCed techniques, including
· those at issue in Tec~niques (leaving aside dietary manipulation and 'sleep deprivation of less
fhan 48 hours). See id at 5-7. Medical and·psycholo8ical personnel are on scene throughout the
interrogatioo,.and .are physically present or are otherwise observing during many of the .
techniques. See id at 6-7. These safeguards, which were c~caJly important to oUr conclusions
about individual techniques, are evelr more significant wh~n techniques are combined.
In one specific context, monitoring the etrect~etainees appears particularly .
important.- The Background Paper and the April 2LJax illustrate that sleep deprivation. is a
· central part of the "prototypical interrogation." We noted in l'echniqu~s that extended sleep
deprivation may Cause a small decline in bOdy temperature and increased food consumption. See
Tech1!iques at 33-34. Water dousing and diet!lJ)' manipulation and perhaps even n,udity inay thus
raise ·dangers of enhanced susceptibility to hypothenni.a or other medi~al conditions for a
· detainee Undergoing sleep deprivation. As in Techniques, we assume that medical personnel wiU
be aware of these possible int¢ractions and wiU monitor detainees closely· for any. signs that ·such
. Interactions are developing. See id at 33-35. This monitoring, along with quick intervention if
·.any ·signs of problematic symptoms develop, can be expect~ to prevent a detai~ee from
.. expetlencing severe physicaJ paitt .
~e..JJ.so. understand that some ~udie~,suggest_~~t extended ~!.~~p deprivation may be
assocIated with a reduced tolerance for some· fonns of pain.51 Several of the techniques ~sed by
PI' uee· severe pam
muscle fatigue.
. 9 For example, one study found a statistically significant drop of 8-9l'~ in .subjects ~ ·tolerance thresholds for
·mechanical or pressure pain. after 40 hours of total· sleep depriYcition. See S. Hakki Onen, et a1., The Effects of Total
Slef!p Deprivation, Selective Sleep intemlplion and Sleep"Recovery on P,!in Tolerance Thres.h~/ds in Healthy
Subjects, 10 J. Sleep Re,search ~5, 41 (2001); see ci/so id. at 35·36 (discussing other studies). Another study of
extended total sleep deprivation found a significant decrease in the threshold for heat pain and some decrease in the
(lOld p!rln threshQld. See~. KunderJD3IlD. et aI., Sleep Deprivation Affects Thennol Pain Thresholds but not
Somatosensory Thresholds in Healthy Volunteers, 66 Psychosomatic Med: 932 (2004).
TOP.SECRET/~L _____ ----' Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000503
.FR0M SITE 15 DOJ (TUE)MAY 10 2005 17:50/ST, 17:45/NO, 6160429715 P 63
T~SEaurr~L ___________ ~
the CIA J:tlay involve a degree of physical pain, as we have previously noted. including facial arid
, abdominal slaps, Walling, stress positions, and water dousing. Nevertheless, none of these '
techniques would cause anything approaching severe'physical pain.' B~u$e sleep depriv~tion
appears to cause at" most only relatively moderate decreases i~ pain toleranc~, the uSe of these
techniques in combination with extended sleep deprivation would, not be expected to cause '
severe physical pain.
, . ' reref~e. the combined use oftec~l).iques, as se~'out.~n the BackgroundParr and the
Apnl 2 ax, would not reasonably be expected by the Interrogator~ to result In severe
phfsical pain, We conclude that the authorized use of these techniques in combination by
adequately trained interrogators~ as y~ have described it, could not reasonably be considered
specifically intended to cause such pain for purposes of sections 2340-2340A. The close
monitoring of each detainee for any signs that, he is at risk of experiencing severe physical pain
i'einforces the conclusion tbat the combined use of interrogation techrliques ~s not intended to ,
'inflict such pain, OMS has direeted ~hat "[m]edioal officers must remain cognizant at aU times'
of their obligation to prevent 'severe physical o~ mental pain or sufferi~g.'" OMS Guidelines, at
10. ,The obligation ofinteI:l'ogation team members'~d medical staff to intercede iftlleir
observations'indicate a detainee is at risk of experiencing sever:e'physical pain, and the
,ex~ctation that all i~terrogators understand the important role played by OMS and will
cooperate with 'them in the exercise oftffis duty,are here, as in Techniques, essential to:our
advice, See Techniques at 14, ' .
Sev~re Physico/Suffering'
We noted in Techniques tha~ although the statute,Covers a category of "severe physical
... Suffering" ciistinct from '~severe phy~ical pain," ~his category encompasses o'nly "physical,
distress that is (severe', conSidering its intensity and duration or'persistence, rather than merely
mild or transitory." Jd at 23. (internal quotation I1)arks omitted). Severe physical suffering for
purposes of sections 2340;..2340A, \\:,e have concluded, means a state or condition ofpbysicaJ
, distress, misery, afi'liction. 'or torment, usually involving physical pain, that is both extreme in
intensity and significantly protracted in duration or pers'~stent over time.' ld Severe phy'sic~
, suffering is distinguished fro~ suffering that is p~eIy mental or psychological in nature. since
mental suffering is encompass~ by the separately defined statutory categorY of "severe mental
, pain or suffering," discussed below. To amount to torture,. conduct ~ust b.e "sufficiently extreme
,and 6fifl'igeou'S'to warrht thcooivers'al cond~mnatioii that the tenn 'TortUre' both connotes and '
, invokes." See Price ,v. Socialist People's Libyan M.ab Jamahiriya; 294 F.3d 82. 92.(D.C. Cir.
2002) (interpretingtheTVPA); cj.Mehinovicv. Vuckovic; 198 F. Supp; 2d 1322, U32-40, 1345-
~6 Ql.D. Ga'. 2(02) (staridatd meL undei di~ TWA by a course of conduct that mcluded severe
beatings to the genitals, head, and other part$ of the 'body with metal pipes and various other
items; removal ofteett. with pliets~ kicking'in,the face and ribs;brealCing otbOnesancfnbs and
dislocation offtngers; cutting a figure into the victim's forehead; hanging the victim and beating
him; extreme limitations 'of foOd and water, and subjection to games of "Russian roulette").
, In Techn/ques, we recogni2;ed that, depending on the physical condition and reactions of
" Ii given individual, extended sleep deprivation might cause physical distress in some cases. ld at
'34, Accordingly, we advised fhat the strict limitations and safesUards adopted by the CIA ar~
TOP SECRE1'f1L _____ -----' Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000504
• FRbM SITE 15 OOJ . (TUE)MAY 10 2005 17:50/ST. 17:45/NO. 6160429715 P 64·
'rOP SECRE1'/1L-_____ -~
important to ensure that the use of extended sleep deprivation would not cause severe physical .
suffering. [d. at 34·35. We. pointed to the close medical monitoring by OMS of each detainee .
. subjected to sleep deprivation, as weli as to the power of any member of the interrogation team
or detention facility staff to intervene and, in particular, to intervention by OMS if OMS
concludes in its medical judgm~nt that the detainee may be experiencing extreme p~ysical .
distress. With those safeguards in·place. an~ based on the assumption that they would' be Strictly
followed, we concluded that the authorized use of sleep. deprivation by adequately trained
interrogators could not reasonably be' Considered specifically intended to cause such severe.
physical suffering. Id. at)4. We pointed out that "[djiffererit.indiyjduaJ detainees may react
phy~ically to sleep deprivation in different ways,» id, and we assumed that the interrogation . team and medical staff "will separately ,monitor each in~ivjdual detainee who is undergoing:
sleep deprivation, and that the application of this technique. will be sensitiv~ to the individualized'
physical C()ndition and . reactions of each detainee.» ld·. , ' " .'
, Although it is difficult to calculate the additional effect of combining other techniques
with sleep deprivation, we do not believe thatJhe addition of the other techniques as described in
the Background Paper would result in "severe·,physical ... suffering." The other tec~ques do
not themselves inflict severe physical pain. They are not of the intensity and duration that are '
necessary fQr "severe physical suffering"; instead, they only increase, .over a shorUinie, the
discomfort that a detainee subjected to sleep deprivation experiences. They do not extend the
time at which sleep deprivation would end, and although it is possible that the other techniques
. increase the physical discomfort associated with sleep deprivation itself, we cannot say that the
effect would be,so significant as to cause "physical distress that is ·s.evere' considering its
. intensity anddutation or·persistence." Tecluiiques at 23 (internal quotation marks omitted). We
~mp~size that the question of "severe physical suffering" in the context Qf a combination of
techniques is a subst~tial and difficult one, particularly in light of the impr~ci~ion in the
statutory standard and the relative lack of guidal)ce in the case law. Nev~rtheless, we believe
that'the combination of techniques in question here would not be "extreme and outrageous" and
thus would no~ reach the high bar established by Congress in sections 2340·2340A, which is
reserved for actions that" "warrant the universal condemnation that the term 'torture' both
connotes.and'invokes;'· See Price v. SocialiSt People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya; 294 F.3d at 92
(interpreting the TVP A) ,
. ...A~~ ~~lajneiin Tecbniq~e~, expe.,:j.en~.wi!h extended si~pdeprivatiori shows that
'''[s]urprisingty, little seemed to go wrong with the subjectS physically. The main effects lay ,
wjth sleepiness and jmpaired brain functioning, but even these were no great ~use for concern. m·
Id. at 36 ( uotin James Home Wh ' .
amma s 3-24 1988». The aspects of sleep deprivation that might result in substantial
physical discomfort, therefore, are limited in scope; and although the 'degree of distress
, associated with sleepiness, a~ noted above, may differ :from person to person, ,the CIA has found
, that many of the at least 25 detainees subjec~ed to sleep deprivation have tolerated it ~eIJ. The·
, general ,conditions in which sleep deprivation. takes place would not change this conclusion.
, Shackling is employed as a passive means of keeping a detainee awake and is used in a way
~esigned to prevent causing significant pain. A detainee is not allowed to hang by his wrists.
When the detainee is shackled in a sitting, position, he is on a s~ool adequate to bear his weight;
. and if a horizontal position is used, there is no additional stress on the detainee· s ariD or leg
TOP SEeR:lITt~L ___Salim v._ Mitc~h el l - United States Bates #000505
-FROM SITE 15 DOJ (TUE)MAY 10 2005 17:51/ST. 17:45/NO. 6160429715 P 65
TOP ~L_--------'
joint.s that might force his limbs beyond their natural extension or create tension on any joint.
Furthermore, team members, as well as medical staH: watch for the development of edema and
. will aei to relieve that.condition, should significant edema develop. Ifa detainee sUbjecfto sJeep
deprivation is using an a~lt diaper. the diaper is checked regularly and changed as needed to .
prevent skin irritation. .'
, Nevertheless~ we r~gnize, as noted above, the possibility that sleep deprivation might
lower a detainee's tolerance for pain. See supra p.l3 & n.9. This possibility suggests that u~ of
extended sleep deprivation in combination wiUt other techniques 'might be more likely than the
separ~te use of the techniques '9 place the detainee in a state of severe physical distress and; .
therefore, that the detainee might be more likely to experience severe physical suffering.
. However. 'you have informed us that the interrogation techniques. at issue would not be use during a course of extended sleep deprivation with such frequency and intensity as to induce· in
the detainee a persistent condition of extreme physical ~istress such as may constitute ""severe
physical suffering" within the meaning ors~~>ns 2340-2340A.· We understand that the
combined use of these techniques with extended sleep deprivation IS not designed or expeCted to
cause that result. Even assuming there could be such an effect, members of the inte~rogation
··team and medical staff from OMS monitor detainees and would intercede if there were
. indications ihat the combined use of the t.echniquCs may be having thit result. and the use of the
. techniques would be reduced in frequency or intensity OT halted altogether.·as necessary. In·this
regard, 'we assume that if a detainee started to show an atypical, adverse reaction during sleep
deprivation, the system (or monitoring would identify this development.
These considerations underscore that the combination of other techniques with sleep
deprivation magnifies the importa,nce of adhering strictly to the limits 'and safeguards applicable
~o sleep deprivation as an ~n~jvidual technique, as wen ~ the understanding that team personnel;
as we)) as OMS ~edical personnel,. would intervene ~o alter or stop the use of an interrogation
technique if they conclude that a detainee is or may be experiencing extreme physical ~istreSs .
. The waterboard may be used s~m~ltaneously.with two other tec~ques: it may·be used
during a·course of sleep depnvation, and as expJained above. a detainee subjected to the . .'
waterboard must be under dietary manipulation, because a fluid diet reduces the risks of the
.teclmique. Furthermore, although the insult slap, abdominal slap, attention grasp, 'facial hold,
wau.t!rw~r ~ousing'.r. stress P.9siti~~.s,and .,.~mp~_.confinement ~ot ~ employed during
t~e a . aI session when ~he wa!erboar~ is beIng employed, th~y ~sed at a point in time
c~ose to the waterboard, tncludmg on the same day. See Apn! )~ax at 3. . .
. ===tif7echntljues, we explained why·nelther sleep deprivatioli nor the waterboard Would
impose distress of such intensity and duration as to amount to "severe physical suffering," an~
. depending on the circumstances and the individual detainee, we do not believe the combination
of the techniques, even' if close in time with other techniques, would change that conclusion.
The physical d~stress of the 'waterboard, as explained in Techniques, lasts only dl;lring the
relatively short periods during.a session when the technique is actually. being used. Sleep
depriva~ion would not eXtend that period. Moreover, we understand that there is nothing in the
literatUre o:r experience to suggest that sleep deprivation would exacerbate any harmful effects of .
the waterboard .. See supra p. 9. Similarly, the use of'the waterboard.would not extend the time
T&SE~~L _________ --~ Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000506
. -' - - '.~
·FR~M SITE 15 DOJ (TUE)MAV 10 2005 17:51/ST. 17:45/NO. 6160'429715 P 66
'TOP SECRET~L _____ ~
of sleep deprivation or increase its disiress, except during the relatively brief times that the
technique i~a~ually being used. And the use of other techniques that do not involve the
intensity and duration required ror "severe physical suffering" wou,ld not lengthen the time
during' which the waterboard would be used or increase, in any apparent y/ay, the intensity oftbe
distress it would cause. Nevertheless, becauSe both the waterboard and sleep deprivation' raise
su\)stantial questions, .the (XlmbiiJation of the t~iques only he.igJrtens the difficulty of the
.' issues. Furthermore, partiq,darly because the waterboard is So different from other techniques in
its effects,;its use in combi,natiori with other techriiques is particularly difficult to judge in the
abstract and. calls for the utmost vigilance and care. '.
.' Based on· these assumptic)Qs, and those descri~. at length in Techniques, we conclu;;;..;;d~e--,--,
.. that the 'combination'of techniques, as described in ·the Background Paper and the April 2~D \
· Fax, would not be expected by the interrogatOr's to cause "severe physical ... suffering," and that .
~e authorized use of these techniques in combination by adequately tmine4 interrogators could
not reasonably be considered specifically intended to cause severe physical suffering within the
meaning of sections 2340-2340A.
'Sever.e Mental Pain or SuJlering
As we explained in Techniques, the statutory definition of "severe mental pain or
, suffering"· requires that one offoUt specified predicate acts cause "prolonged;·mental barm.~ 18
U.S,C. § 2340(2); see Techniques at 24·25. In Techniques, we concluded that only two of the
techniques at issue ~ere-sleep deprivation and. the wate~oard-rould even argu~bly involve' a
predicate act. ne statute provides that '~the administration or application. ' .. ·of ... procedures
.' calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or"the personality" can be a prediCate act, 18 U.S.C ..
§ 2340(2)(B). Although sleep deprivation m~y ca~ halJucinations, OMS, supported' by the .
scientific literature of which we are aware, would not expect a profound· disruption of the senses
and would order sleep deprivation dis90ntinued if hallucinations occurred. We no~etheless .
assumed in Techniques that any hallucinations resulting from sleep deprivation would amount to'
a profound disruption of the senses. Even on this assumption, we cqncJuded that sleep
· deprivation should not be deemed. "ca1culated~ to: have' that effect. Technique~'at 35-36.
J·urthE;rmore, even jf sleep deprivation could be said to be "calculated" to disrupt tbe senses
profoundly and thus to qualify as a predicate act, we express~ the understanding in Techniques
tha~ as .dem.onstrated by the scientific literature about which·we knew and by relevant experience
in Ctnrei%gations, life effeCts ofsl~ep de~iivation,-jncluding the e'lrects of any assoc:riated
hallucinations, would rapidly dissipate. Based on that under:standiQg, sleep deprivation therefore
. would not cause "prolonged mental harm" and would not meet the statuto den"
. pam' or . I!lg-= ... at 36 .. " .................. --, ........ , ... . ." ... : .. -- .
We noted in Techniques that the use of the waterboatd might inv~lve a predicate ·act. A
detainee subjected to th~ waterboard experiences a sensation of droWning, which arguably
. qualifies as a "threat-ofimminent death." 18 U.S.C. § 2340(2}(C). We noted, however, that
there is no medical basis for believing that the technique would·produce any prolonged mental
· harm. As explained in Teclinlques, th~re is no evidence for such prolonged mental harm in tbe
CIA's experience with the technique, and we understand that it has been u$ed thousands of times
Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000507
,FROM SITE 15 DOJ '(TUE")MAY 10 2005 17:51/ST. 17:45/NO.6160429715 P 67
TOP SECRE1~L _____ -----'
, (aibeit in a somewhat different way) during the military training of United States personnel,
without producing 'any. evidence of such harm.
There. is no evidence that combining other techniques with sleep deprivation or the
wate~oard would change 'these conclusions. We understand that none of the detainees subjected
to sleep deprivation has exhibited any lasting mental harm, and that, in all but one case, these
detainees' have been subjected to at least some other interrogation technique besides the sleep
deprivation itself. Nor d~ this experience give any reason to believe that, should sleep ,
deprivation cause hallucinations, the use of these ,other techniques iii combination with sleep
deprivation would change the expected result that, once a person subjected to sleep deprivation is
allowed ,to s1eep, the effects of the sleep'deprivatiQ~ and of any associa:ted hailucinations, wquld
rapidly dissipate.
Once again, our advice asSumes con~nuous, diJige~t monitoring ofthe detainee during
. sleep deprivation· and pf(~mpt intervention at the first signs ofhaUucinat9ry ex:perien~. The
absence of any atypicai, ad,verse reaction during sleep deprivation would buttress the 'inference
that, like others deprived of sleep for long periods~ the 'detainee ,would 'fit within the norm
established by experience with sleep deprivation, both the general experience reflected in,the
, medical literature and the CIA's speciije exp~rience with other detainees. We understand that,
based on these experiences, the detainee would be exPected to return quicldy to his Jio~
inental state once he has been, allowed to sleep and would suffer no "prolonged mental harm,"
Similarly. ·.the CIA' s experi~nCe h8S produced no evidence .that combining the waterl>oard
and other techniques causes prolonged mental hami, and the same is true of the military training
in which the technique was used. We assume, again, continu,ous aDd diligent mo~itoriilg dudng
the use of the technique, with a view toward quickly identifying any atypical, adverse reactions,
and'jnteIVening as necessary. ' ,
. The Background Paper raises one ,other issue about I'severe mental pain or suffering."
According to the BackgrOund Paper, the ·interrogators may teU detainees that they "will do what
, it takes to get important information." BackgroundPaper at 10: (We lJ~derstand that '
interrogators may instead use other statements that might. be ta!cen to have a similar import.)
Conceivably, a'detainee might understand such a statement as a ihreat that, if necessary, the
jnte~~ ~1l immi~ent1y subjt"&t ~m to;'severe physical pain or~~ering"- or to "the
admimstration Or app)jcati~n of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to
disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality," or he perhaps even could interpret the
statement 'as a threat of imminent death althou ,as th detain '
rea Ize, iHing a detainee would end the flow -of information). ,18 U.S,C. § 2340(2)(A)-(C).
,We doubt that this statement is sufficiently specific to qualify as a predi~ate act under,
section,2340(2). Nevertheless, we do not have sufficient information to judge whe~er'- in
context, detainees understand the statement in any ofthes~ ways. If they do, this statement at the
beginning of the interrogation'arguably requires considering whetnerit alters, th~ detainee's' .
perception of the interrogation techniques and whether, in light of this perception, prqlonged
men~al harm would be expected to result from the combination throughout the interrogatiQn
, process of all of the techniques used. We do not,have any body of experience, beyond the CIA's
Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000508
"'1~ •
FROM SITE 15 DOJ (TUE)MAY 10 2005 17:51/ST. 17:45/NO., 6160429715 P 68
. TOP SEC~/~L _____ ---'
own experience with d~tajnees, on which to base an answer to this question. SERE training, for
example, or oth~r experience with sleep deprivation, 'does not involve its use'with the standing
position, used here, extend~ nudity, extended dietary manipulation, and the other. techniques
which are jntend~ "to create a state oflearned helplessness;" Qdckground Paper at 1, and SERE
training does not involve repeated applications of the waterboard" A statement thll;t the
interrogators "will do what it t*~ to get imPQrtant information" move,s the interrogations at' ,
issue, here even further from this body of experience. ,
Although it may raise. question, we do not believe tliat, under the careful limitations and
monitoring in place, the Combined use outlined j~ the Background Paper, together With a
statement of this kind, woulQ violate the statut~. We are informed that, in tbe opinion of OMS,
n~ne of the detainees who have heard ,such a statement in their interrogations'has eXperienced
'''prolonged mental harm," such as 'post-traumatic stress disorder, see Techniques at 26 n.31, as a
'result' of it or the various techniques utilized on them. This body of experience supports the
conclusion that the use oftbe statement does not alterthe effects that would b(': expected to
follow from the combined use of the techniques. Nevertheless, in light of these uncertainties,
you may wish to 'evaJuat~ whether such a stat~ent is a n~ssary part of the j~terrogation
" regimen or Y(bether a different statement might be adequate to convey to the detainee the
"seriousneSs of his situation.
• • •
In vi~w of the experience ,from past interrogations, ~ judgme~t of mtdical and
psychological personnel, and the interrogation team's diligent.monitoring oftbe effects of
, coillbining interrogation techniques, int~rrOgators would not reasonably expect that the combined
, use of the int~rrogationmethods under consideration, 'subject to the conditions and safeguards set
forth here and in Techniques, would result in severe physical or mental pain or Suffering within
the meaning of sections 2340-2340A. Accor~ngly, we concl~de that the authorized use, as
, ~escribed in theBa~kgrqun4Paper and tbeApril2JiFax, oftbese techniques,in
combination by adequately trained interro8atorscou~ reasonably be considered specifically
intended to cause severe physical or mental pain 'or suffering, and thus, would' not viQlate sections
2340-234~A. ' We nonetheless underscore that when these techniques are combined in a realworld
scenario, the members of,the interrogation team and the attendant medical staff must be
'Vigil~nt inJ:¥!l~~~ng for :nintended ~~ects, ~that the_individual cham~teristics of.each detainee
are c~try taken into account and the interrogation may be, modified or halted, If necessary,
to avoid causing ,severe physical or mental pain or suffering to any detainee. Furthermore, as
noted above, our advice does not ,extend to combinations of tee . u ' . .
ere"an w er any otercombination of techniqueS would'be more iikely to cause severe
physical or mental pain or suffering within the meaning of sections 234.0·2340A would be ,a
question that we cannot assess, here. Similarly, our advice does'not extend to the use of
~echniques 011 detainees unlik.:e those we have previously considered; and wh~er other detainees
, would; in the relevant ways, -be like the ones at issue in our previous ad,vfce would be a factual '
question we cannot now decide. Finally, '\.V~ emphasize, that these are issues about which '
, reasonable persons may disagree. Our tliSkhas been made more difficUlt by the imprecision of
the statute and the relative absence of judicial guidance; but we have applied our best reading of
the law to the specific facts that you have provided.
TOP SECRET~L _____ ---'
Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000509
FROM SITE 15 DOJ (TUE)MAY 10 2005 17:S1/ST. 17:.45/NO. 6160429715 P 69
TOP SEeRETj~L __ --,---__ _
Please·let us Jaiow if we may be offurther assistance .
. Steven·G. ~radbury
Principal Deputy Assistant AttOrney General .
TOPSEGRET~L ___________ ~~ Salim v. Mitchell - United States Bates #000510