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Defense Department Personnel Impersonated State Department Officials In Guantánamo Interrogations, FBI Documents Show

Documents released by the FBI state that Defense Department personnel impersonated State Department officials in interrogations at Guantánamo Bay, the American Civil Liberties Union said today.

“Defense Department interrogators, possibly on instructions from high-level officials, went to great lengths to avoid being held accountable for the use of unlawful interrogation methods,” said Jameel Jaffer, a staff attorney with the ACLU. “Apparently Defense Department personnel were willing to use torture but they wanted others to be held responsible for it.”

In December 2004, the FBI released documents stating that Defense Department interrogators impersonated FBI agents in order to avoid being held responsible for the use of “torture techniques.” The new documents provide the first indication that Defense Department interrogators impersonated State Department officials as well.

The documents released by the ACLU today are different versions of documents that the FBI provided to the ACLU several months ago. One of the new documents which was previously redacted refers to “information concerning impersonation by DOD interrogators at Guantánamo representing themselves to be officials of the FBI and U.S. State Department.” The remainder of the document is almost entirely redacted. Another of the newly released documents, dated January 2004, suggests that the FBI would “finally make an arrest” in relation to the “interrogations in June 2003 when an FBI agent was impersonated.”

The FBI released the documents in response to a federal court order that directed the FBI and other government agencies to comply with a request under the Freedom of Information Act filed by the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans for Peace. The New York Civil Liberties Union is co-counsel in the case.

Today, the ACLU and the New York Civil Liberties Union will return to federal court to argue for the release of other documents withheld by the Defense Department and the CIA.

“The United States government continues to withhold documents critical for determining who is ultimately responsible for the systemic and widespread abuse of detainees held in U.S. custody abroad,” said Amrit Singh, a staff attorney with the ACLU. “The public has a right to know the full truth about the involvement of high ranking U.S. officials in this scandal.”

At today’s hearing, the ACLU will seek the disclosure of Department of Justice memoranda relating to CIA interrogation methods and a Presidential directive authorizing the CIA to set up secret detention centers in other countries. Although the documents have been referenced in media reports, the CIA has refused even to confirm or deny that the documents exist. The ACLU will also seek the disclosure of photographs of abuse and Defense Department documents relating to concerns raised by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The government agencies named as defendants in the case are: the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Department of State, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency.

All documents obtained to date are online at

At today’s hearing, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein will hear oral arguments from attorneys representing the ACLU and the government. The hearing will continue on Tuesday, May 31 at 10 a.m. in Judge Hellerstein’s courtroom at the United States District Court located at 500 Pearl Street in New York.

The lawsuit is being handled by Lawrence Lustberg and Megan Lewis of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione, P.C. Other attorneys in the case are Singh, Jaffer and Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU; Arthur N. Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the NYCLU; and Barbara Olshansky of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

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