The U.S. military hid the locations of suspected terrorist detainees and concealed harsh treatment to avoid the scrutiny of the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to documents released by a Senate panel Tuesday.
“We may need to curb the harsher operations while ICRC is around. It is better not to expose them to any controversial techniques,” Lt. Col. Diane Beaver, a military lawyer who has since retired, said during an October 2002 meeting at the Guantanamo Bay prison to discuss employing interrogation techniques that some have equated with torture.
Beaver also appeared to confirm that U.S. officials in Afghanistan were using sleep deprivation to “break” detainees well before then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved that technique.
“True, but officially it is not happening,” she said at the 2002 meeting.
A third person at the meeting, Jonathan Fredman, the chief counsel for the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, said detainees were moved routinely to avoid ICRC scrutiny.
“In the past when the ICRC has made a big deal about certain detainees, the DOD (Department of Defense) has ‘moved' them away from the attention of the ICRC,” Fredman said, according to the minutes.
The document, along with two dozen others, shows that top administration officials pushed for tougher interrogation methods in the belief that terrorism suspects were resisting interrogation.
Fredman also appeared to be advocating the use of techniques harsher than those authorized by military field guides.
“If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong,” he is reported to have said.
The minutes of the meeting were among 25 documents released Tuesday by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee and is leading a probe of the treatment of detainees.
The papers show the Bush administration overrode or ignored objections from all four military services and from criminal investigators, who warned that the practices would imperil their ability to prosecute the suspects.
The objections prompted Navy Capt. Jane Dalton, legal adviser to the then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, to begin a review of the proposed techniques.
But Dalton, who's now retired, told the hearing that the review was aborted quickly. Myers, she said, took her aside and told her that then Defense Department general counsel William Haynes “does not want this … to proceed.”
Haynes testified that he didn't recall the objections.
Few of the Republicans at Tuesday's hearing defended the detainee programs.