RealNews

Aides Say Memo Backed Coercion for Qaeda Cases

An August 2002 memo by the Justice Department that concluded interrogators could use extreme techniques on detainees in the war on terror helped provide an after-the-fact legal basis for harsh procedures used by the C.I.A. on high-level leaders of Al Qaeda, according to current and former government officials. The legal memo was prepared after an internal debate within the government about the methods used to extract information from Abu Zubaydah, one of Osama bin Laden’s top aides, after his capture in April 2002, the officials said. The memo provided a legal foundation for coercive techniques used later against other high-ranking detainees, like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, believed to be the chief architect of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, who was captured in early 2003. The full text of the memo was made public by the White House on Tuesday without explanation about why it was written or whether its standards were applied. Until now, it has not been clear that the memo was written in response to the C.I.A.’s efforts to extract information from high-ranking Qaeda suspects, and was unrelated to questions about handling detainees at Guantánamo Bay or in Iraq. Full Story

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