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earlier burfling | later burfling

According to this Washington Post story, DoD approved a set of interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay that include disrupting sleep patterns, exposure to heat and cold, and "sensory assault" (bright lights, loud music, etc.) over a year ago - in April 2003.

The classified list of about 20 techniques was approved at the highest levels of the Pentagon and the Justice Department, and represents the first publicly known documentation of an official policy permitting interrogators to use physically and psychologically stressful methods during questioning.

The use of any of these techniques requires the approval of senior Pentagon officials -- and in some cases, of the defense secretary. Interrogators must justify that the harshest treatment is "militarily necessary," according to the document, as cited by one official. Once approved, the harsher treatment must be accompanied by "appropriate medical monitoring."

The Post story notes that "it could not be learned whether similar guidelines were in effect" at Abu Ghraib.

Were these techniques ever put into use? The Post story doesn't explicitly say, but it does give some background:

In late 2002, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, until recently commander of the detention operation at Guantanamo Bay, asked the Pentagon for more explicit rules for interrogation, four people involved in the process said.

"They don't want to be in the situation where we are making things up as we go along," said one lawyer involved in the sessions.

"We wanted to outline under what circumstances we could make them feel uncomfortable, a little distressed," another lawyer involved said. During the discussions, "the political people [at the Pentagon] were inclined toward aggressive techniques," the official said. Military lawyers, in contrast, were more conservative in their approach, mindful of how they would want U.S. military personnel held as prisoners to be treated by foreign powers, the official said.

Mark Jacobson, a former Defense Department official who worked on detainee issues while at the Pentagon, said that at Guantanamo and the Bagram facility in Afghanistan, military interrogators have never used torture or extreme stress techniques. "It's the fear of being tortured that might get someone to talk, not the torture," Jacobson said. "We were so strict."

As the story notes, "in some cases" Rumsfeld himself was required to sign off on using these techniques, although it doesn't say if he ever did.