Background Info: U.S. approves torture of detainees in 2002
In April 2003, a Defense Department working group issued a classified report on detainee interrogation that justified the torture of foreign detainees in American custody. Subsequently declassified (in part), the report was called the Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War on Terrorism: Assessment of Legal, Historical, Policy and Operational Considerations. It was issued in response to dissatisfaction among American military at the Guantanamo Bay facility with their ability to extract information using permissible interrogation methods.
The report reviewed international law regarding torture, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1994 Convention Against Torture. It also reviews and parses American domestic law on torture, including the amendments to that law in the 2001 USA Patriot Act. The report also put the final authority on these matters in the hands of the President, arguing that as Commander in Chief of the Armed forces, he has "complete discretion" to decide how to run a military campaign and thus, whether to permit particular interrogation practices.
The report explicitly condones the use of interrogation methods prohibited by Geneva Conventions on Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees, who had already been deemed "enemy combatants" by the President, and therefore not included in the rules governing the treatment of prisoners of war.
Due to the unique nature of the war on terrorism in which the enemy covertly attacks innocent civilian populations without warning, and further de to the critical nature of the information believed to be known by certain of the al-Qaida and Taliban detainees regarding future terrorist attacks, it may be appropriate for the appropriate approval authority to authorize as a military necessity the interrogation of such unlawful combatants in a manner beyond that which may be applied to a prisoner of war who is subject to the protections of the Geneva Conventions.
The report identified some interrogation methods as "exceptional," because they require more aggression than purely verbal or other interrogation techniques, and because they require "special procedures and levels of approval for use." These are not identified as torure, but as "aggressive counter-resistance techniques" for detainees who are unresponsive to milder interrogations and are believed to have crucial information.
These include: Isolating detainees from others; prolonged interrogations, such as 20 hours per day; forcing a detainee to shave their hair or beard; prolonged standing [up to four hours in a 24 hour period]; sleep deprivation; requiring the detainee to exercise; face or stomach slapping, to cause shock [not physical harm]; removal of clothing; increasing anxiety through a variety of techniques.