Even some military lawyers opposed the techniques, according to congressional testimony this week.
The Army lawyer's memo could not have been blunter. It argued that a plan to employ harsh interrogation techniques on prisoners at the US detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, would be legally questionable and morally wrong – and risk a public-relations nightmare.
Plus, there was no evidence that shackling prisoners into stressful positions, disrupting their sleep, or subjecting them to cold would actually work, wrote Army Col. John Ley in a secret 2002 memo to the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"The plan does not adequately lay out how using these techniques will result in our forces getting any useful information," wrote Colonel Ley in his now-declassified two-page analysis.
Six years on, it is increasingly clear that the Bush administration's 2002 decision to proceed with harsh questioning of some terror suspects interned at Guantánamo was a matter of tremendous controversy within the United States government itself.
Last month, a Justice Department audit revealed that many FBI agents deployed to the Cuban base refused to participate when military interrogators used harsh techniques and protested the use of those techniques to their superiors.
In recent days a series of congressional hearings also has made plain that some military lawyers shared these concerns. Indeed, a few were aghast that the US was turning to techniques which, depending on their application, might cross the threshold of torture.
Page 1 of 5