Seton Hall Report: Every Guantanamo Interrogation Was Videotaped

A new report (pdf) by the Seton Hall Law Center for Policy and Research finds:

  • More than 24,000 interrogations have been conducted at Guantánamo since 2002.
  • All interrogations conducted at Guantánamo were videotaped. Thus, many videotapes documenting Guantánamo interrogations do or did exist.
  • The Central Intelligence Agency is just one of many entities that interrogated detainees at Guantánamo.

The press release on the report is here. [More...]

The report states it is based mostly on documents released to the public through the ACLU Freedom of Information Act lawsuits as well as those voluntarily released by the Department of Justice or the Department of Defense.

Other findings:

  • Each of these entities has identical motives to destroy taped investigations as has the Central Intelligence Agency, and each can apply to its destruction of tapes an identical justification: its interest in “protecting” the interrogators. Any videotapes that may still exist are vulnerable to destruction if they have not already been destroyed.
  • One Government document, for instance, reports detainee treatment so violent as to “shake the camera in the interrogation room” and “cause severe internal injury.” Another describes an interrogator positioning herself between a detainee and the camera, in order to block her actions from view.
  • The Government kept meticulous logs of information related to interrogations. Thus, it is ascertainable which videotapes documenting interrogations still exist, and which videotapes have been destroyed. Such an inquiry is crucial to the evaluation—as required by Combatant Status Review Tribunal procedures, the Military Commission Act, and the Detainee Treatment Act—of the reliability of hearsay evidence against a detainee.
  • The agencies or bureaus that interrogated at Guantánamo include: the Central Intelligence Agency and its Counterterrorism Center; the Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF); the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) of the FBI; Defense Intelligence Analysis (DIA); Defense Human Intelligence (HUMINT); Army Criminal Investigative Division (ACID); the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI); and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). Private contractors also interrogated detainees.
< Quinnipiac Poll: Clinton Has Big Leads In OH And PA | Clinton Close In Wisconsin? >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Thank you for bringin that ray of sunshine (none / 0) (#1)
    by Virginian on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 11:26:30 AM EST
    into my life today!

    Just another reason we need to win in November...

    Interesting (none / 0) (#2)
    by tek on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 11:31:06 AM EST
    if they don't shred them!

    The mental incompetence of Powerline... (none / 0) (#4)
    by Molly Bloom on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 11:58:55 AM EST

    "once in a while..." (none / 0) (#6)
    by mjr seton hall law on Sun Feb 17, 2008 at 03:33:09 PM EST
    I am, proudly, a co-author of that report. Untold hours of research. I also have more than "a touch of gray" in my beard and the word "DEAD" tattoo'd on my ankle. Thanks. You made my day.

    By the way, there seems to be some attempt at confusion on the part of the military (there's a surprise) concerning the "automatic over-writes" on the video monitors in hallways etc. which recorded "everyday" life at Guantanamo. According to the military every thirty days or so these "hallway" monitor recording systems automatically taped over themselves. These statements came from a declaration of Rear Admiral Mark H. Buzby, United States Navy on February 8, 2008 (case 1:05-cv-00023-RWR Document84-4)  Importantly, these hallway monitor recordings are specifically NOT video recordings of interrogations-- And the Rear Admiral is exceedingly careful to NOT say that they are-- though, perhaps, counting on the sound bite media to confuse the two separate and distinct issues. The Military had been made aware of our report in late January by a reporter who had asked them for responses to the facts therein, and also had access to the majority of the information in the report because that information was made a part of a Washington, D.C. Federal District Court Brief filed by one of our cohort. I believe the statement's by Rear Admiral Buzby are an attempt at a response engendered to obfuscate the issue. Some of the reporting failed to make clear the distinction (see the Washington Post article,Feb. 13th).
    However, if one looks to Rear Admiral Buzby's declaration, paragraph 10 reads:

    10. This declaration is not intended to provide a complete catalogue of all video and/or audio recordings made of detainees held at JTF-GTMO, although I am informed, and believe, that it is a complete discussion of those JTF-GTMO video and/or audio monitoring systems that included a standard recording feature as to which recorded data was automatically overwritten at specified intervals.
    I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the foregoing is true and correct. (emphasis added)

    8 Feb 08 Mark A. Buzby
    Rear Admiral, United States Navy
    Commander, Jjoint Task Force--

    No one wants to be subjected to perjury charges. Importantly, Rear Admiral Buzby specifically states that his declaration is "not intended to provide a complete catalogue of all video and/or audio recordings made of detainees held at JTF-GTMO." He also never mentions interrogations in his declaration. His declaration states that it refers to recordings of "day to day" occurrences i.e., "hallway activity," etc... Importantly, interrogation does not come under this aegis.

    In addition, the Rear Admiral states that his declaration is "a complete discussion of those JTF-GTMO video and/or audio monitoring systems that included a standard recording feature as to which recorded data was automatically overwritten at specified intervals." Which is to say that if the interrogation recording apparatus does not include "a standard recording feature as to which recorded data was automatically overwritten," it is not included in this statement.

    a) "a standard recording feature" in this hallway activity context (think in terms of the video cameras in convenience stores-- but much more sophisticated) seems to imply continuous recording, 24 hours a day. An implication which is consistent with the rest of the Rear Admiral's declaration regarding 24 hour recording. I would suggest that it would make little sense to keep the recorders running in the interrogation buildings when no one is there, though it was mandated that video monitoring on camera would occur when interrogations took place.

    Importantly, the Rear Admiral pointedly does not mention the dedicated Interrogation Buildings and rooms in his declaration-- though he does expressly mention a number of other physical locations within GTMO. His declaration pertains to the places, and only the places, which he mentions. As he does not mention the interrogation building and rooms, I would suggest that his declaration thereby does not include video and/or audio recordings in the dedicated interrogation building and rooms.

    b) if the video recordings of interrogations were not "automatically overwritten at specified intervals" they are not included in the Rear Admiral's declaration-- which again, pointedly, does "not provide a complete catalogue of all video and/or audio recordings."

    c) even if, contrary to everything else Rear Admiral Buzby states in his declaration, for some hard to imagine reason the video recordings of interrogations were "automatically overwritten at specified intervals," that is pointedly not to say that they weren't also saved onto files and disks.
    Those video recordings were a very valuable asset and resource to the teams of Interrogation Analysts employed at GTMO who could all not be at every interrogation. The Behavioral Science Cosultation Team ("BSCT"), a team of psychologists and psychiatrists charged with coming up with interrogation tactics to employ on detainees "to break them down," the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit ("BAU"), and the myriad other entitities employed by Defense Humint Services (DHS)including private contractor analysts ALL had reason to "check the tapes" and study the subject of their chosen profession. They would have been foolish not to. (Footnote:Some of the various private analysts were from Affiliated Computer Services "ACS," Chenega Federal Systems "CFS," and Lockheed Martin itself, etc... go to Intelligencejobs.com and look under Guantanamo, Cuba to see a list of present job openings and entities)  
    The video recordings would also preserve "evidence" against other detainees (hearsay is admissable evidence in the Military "Hearings" and "Trials") in the event of a detainees release or death.

    As you can see, the obfuscation takes some time and effort to unravel, but it is ultimately discernible as just that-- obfuscation. But the Military is very very smart-- (regarding the statement by Three Star General Kiley that at Guantanamo "All Interrogations are Videotaped," somebody somewhere just forgot to redact) They know a Tv station or a newspaper has neither the time or the inclination to make such distinctions as are contained in the above. Which, I suppose, is where we come in. As such, please feel free to disseminate this post freely and as widely as you like. We are working on our next report, which, I believe, will shine further light on what are dim days for the Rule of Law.

    Michael J. Ricciardelli
    Co-Author, Researcher
    "Captured on Tape"
    Seton Hall Law
    Class of '08    


    This should be very interesting. (none / 0) (#5)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 01:33:51 PM EST
    All interrogations conducted at Guantánamo were videotaped. Thus, many videotapes documenting Guantánamo interrogations do or did exist.