Saturday, January 08, 2005

Timeline on Terror Prisoners' Treatment

Yahoo! News
Timeline on Terror Prisoners' Treatment

Thu Jan 6, 2:17 AM ET

By The Associated Press

Developments and Bush administration memos concerning the treatment of prisoners in the fight against terrorism:

_Jan. 9, 2002: Justice Department lawyer John Yoo and special counsel Robert J. Delahunty advise the Pentagon that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to the Taliban or al-Qaida.

_Jan. 16: The first suspected al-Qaida and Taliban prisoners arrive at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

_Jan. 22: Then-Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee writes to White House counsel Alberto Gonzales arguing that the conventions do not apply to the Taliban or al-Qaida because one is a failed state and the other is an outlawed terrorist network. European Union officials and human rights groups criticize the treatment of Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

_Jan. 25: Gonzales writes a memo to President Bush arguing that the terrorism fight "renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions," such as requiring that prisoners get advances on their salaries. At an appearance in Cincinnati, Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) says the treatment of Guantanamo prisoners "is probably better than they deserve."

_Jan. 26: Secretary of State Colin Powell writes to Gonzales, arguing that the United States should apply the conventions in full, even if they are not legally binding.

_Jan. 27: Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld makes his first visit to Guantanamo Bay and says the prisoners there "will not be determined to be POWs."

_Jan. 29: Bush says prisoners at Guantanamo will not be treated as prisoners of war, though he says their legal status is still being worked out.

_Feb. 1: Attorney General John Ashcroft writes to Bush arguing that the conventions do not apply to the Taliban or al-Qaida.

_Feb. 2: William H. Taft IV, the State Department's top lawyer, writes to Gonzales arguing that the conventions do apply to the war in Afghanistan and any decision otherwise could endanger U.S. troops.

_Feb. 7: Bush signs an order declaring he has the authority to suspend compliance with the conventions and reserving the right to do so "in this or future conflicts." The order also says the conventions on treatment of prisoners of war do not apply to al-Qaida or "unlawful combatants" from the Taliban.

_Feb. 26: Bybee, who later became a federal appeals court judge, writes to the Pentagon's top lawyer, arguing that the constitutional protections against self-incrimination do not apply to detainees at Guantanamo Bay because they are not being tried in U.S. criminal courts.

_Aug. 1: Bybee writes to Gonzales arguing that the president has the power to issue orders that violate the conventions as well as international and U.S. laws prohibiting torture. Bybee's memo also argues that to be defined as torture, conduct must inflict pain severe enough to cause organ failure or death. In addition, the memo lays out several defenses for military members or other U.S. government workers were they to be accused of torture.

_Oct. 11: Officers at the Guantanamo prison camp ask their superiors for permission to use harsher interrogation methods against inmates.

_Oct. 25: Gen. James T. Hill, head of U.S. Southern Command, writes to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers, asking for approval to use harsh interrogation techniques against Guantanamo prisoners.

_Nov. 4: Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller takes command of the prison camp with a mandate to get more and better information from prisoners.

_Nov. 27: Rumsfeld issues an order allowing harsh interrogation techniques at Guantanamo. They include forcing prisoners into "stress positions," interrogating them for 20 hours at a time, removing their clothing, intimidating them with dogs, forcing them to wear hoods during transportation and interrogation and forcibly shaving their heads and beards.

_Jan. 15, 2003: Rumsfeld rescinds his order. No explanation is given. Rumsfeld also orders the Pentagon to create a review panel to recommend new rules.

_March 13: U.N. human rights chief Sergio Viera de Mello criticizes the United States for keeping the Guantanamo detainees in a "legal black hole." Viera de Mello later became a special U.N. envoy to Iraq and was killed in a Baghdad car bombing that August.

_April 4: The Pentagon's review panel issues a report to Rumsfeld adopting the arguments of Bybee's August 2002 memo, with a narrow definition of torture.

_April 16: Rumsfeld issues a new list of 24 interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo — 17 of which were taken directly from the U.S. military field manual and four required notice to Rumsfeld when they were used. The four were the use of rewards or removal of privileges from detainees; attacking or insulting the ego of a detainee; alternating the use of friendly and harsh interrogators; and isolation.

_June 22, 2004: The Justice Department announces it is withdrawing 2002 memos giving a narrow definition of torture, providing legal arguments for U.S. personnel to escape prosecution under anti-torture laws and arguing that the president's wartime authority supersedes laws and treaties.

_Dec. 30: A new Justice Department memo provides an expanded definition of torture and omits the legal liability and presidential authority issues.


Sources: Documents released by the White House, Pentagon and Justice Department, news accounts and documents obtained by The Associated Press.