Bush Administration Documents on Interrogation

Compiled by Mark Stencel and Ryan Thornburg

The Washington Post

Wednesday, June 23, 2004; 3:30 AM

The following is a summary of White House, Pentagon and Justice Department documents about interrogation policies. The documents were released by the Bush administration on June 22. Some files are presented as PDF files, which require the Adobe Acrobat Reader, and may require high-speed Internet connections to download.

Jan. 22, 2002: Justice Department Memo to the White House and Pentagon Counsels (3.3MB)
A 37-page memo written by Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee and addressed to White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and the Pentagon's general counsel, William J. Haynes II. Bybee argued that that the War Crimes Act and the Geneva Convention did not apply to al Qaeda prisoners and that President Bush had constitutional authority to "suspend our treaty obligations toward Afghanistan" because it was a "failed state." Bybee, then head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, has since become a federal judge.

Feb. 1, 2002: Letter to President Bush From the Attorney General (49KB; from FindLaw)
The memo by Attorney General John D. Ashcroft summarized the Justice Department's position on why the Geneva Convention did not apply to al Qaeda and Taliban detainees. The memo was Ashcroft's personal response to the State Department position that, as a matter of law, the Geneva Conventions protected Taliban soldiers. Ashcroft warned that if the president sided with the State Department, American officials might wind up going to jail for violating U.S. and international laws.

Feb. 7, 2002: Justice Department Memo to the White House Counsel (49KB; from FindLaw)
A memo written by Jay S. Bybee, then head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, advised White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales that the president had "reasonable factual grounds" to determine that Taliban fighters captured in Afghanistan were not entitled to prisoner of war status.

Feb. 7, 2002: Memo Signed by President Bush (130KB)
Bush's presidential memorandum to members of his national security team said he believed he had "the authority under the Constitution" to deny protections of the Geneva Conventions to combatants picked up during the war in Afghanistan, but that he would "decline to exercise that authority at this time." The memo settled the dispute between the State and Justice departments over the issue.

Feb. 26, 2002: Justice Department Memo to the Pentagon's General Counsel (2.5MB)
A memo to the Pentagon's general counsel, William J. Haynes II, written by Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee examined constitutional questions related to detainees captured in Afghanistan, including the admissibility of statements made in interrogations.

Aug. 1, 2002: Justice Department Memo to the White House Counsel (864KB; from FindLaw)
A memo to White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales from Jay S. Bybee of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel concluded that techniques used to interrogate al Qaeda operatives would not violate a 1984 international treaty prohibiting torture. Bybee also concluded that the interrogation of al Qaeda members was outside the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, but warned that a "rogue prosecutor" could choose to investigate U.S. interrogation techniques because the international court "is not checked by any other international body, not to mention any democratically-elected or accountable one."

Aug. 1, 2002: Justice Department Memo to the White House Counsel (27.5MB; from FindLaw)
The memo from Jay S. Bybee, head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, to White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales found that torturing terrorism suspects might be legally defensible. Bush administration officials said on June 22, 2004 -- when the document was publicly released -- that the memo's conclusions were overbroad and would be rewritten.

Dec. 2, 2002: Defense Department Memo Regarding "Counter-Resistance Techniques" (780KB)
A memo written by the Pentagon's general counsel, William J. Haynes II, on Nov. 27 and approved by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Dec. 2 summarized specific interrogation techniques that could be used at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; this document also includes a series of related memos on interrogation techniques.

A related one-page summary document (56KB) issued to reporters by Bush aides on June 22, 2004, reviewed which specific techniques were approved and used.

Jan. 15, 2003: Rumsfeld Memo to the Head of U.S. Southern Command (47KB)
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's memo rescinded his approval for some interrogation techniques for Guantanamo Bay. The memo allowed commanders to seek Rumsfeld's direct approval to use the tougher techniques if they are "warranted in an individual case" but would require a "thorough justification."

Jan. 15, 2003: Rumsfeld Memo to the Pentagon Counsel (53KB)
The defense secretary's memo to William J. Haynes II, the Pentagon's general counsel, asked Haynes to convene a working group to examine all aspects of interrogation policies. The memo also was referenced in Rumsfeld's memo to the head of U.S. Southern Command dated the same day.

Jan. 17, 2003: Memo From the Pentagon Counsel to the General Counsel for the Air Force (56KB)
Pentagon general counsel William J. Haynes II designated Mary L. Walker, the general counsel for the Air Force, to head the working group Rumsfeld requested in his Jan. 15 memo.

April 4, 2003: Report of the Pentagon Working Group (6.7MB)
The 85-page report requested by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in January reviewed "legal, historical, police and operational considerations" and made recommendations to the Pentagon on what techniques should be approved.

April 16, 2003: Rumsfeld Memo to the Head of U.S. Southern Command (1.6MB)
The defense secretary, acting on the working groups' recommendation, restates which specific interrogation techniques are approved for Guantanamo Bay and which require his direct approval. The document also includes excerpts from the Army Field Manual.

Compiled by Mark Stencel, The Washington Post, and Ryan Thornburg, washingtonpost.com