Recently, it occurred to me that, with all the debate or controversy over the Obama administration’s policies on torture, no one had asked the military, and in particular those running America’s “terror” prisons, if they had been using the Army Field Manual’s Appendix M. So, I called Guantanamo’s Public Affairs Officer, Lt. Commander Brook DeWalt, and asked him if Appendix M interrogations had taken place at Guantanamo.
Lt. Commander DeWalt took a few days to get confirmation, but when he spoke to me on December 11, he confirmed that while “not routine,” Appendix M interrogations are conducted at Guantanamo “as authorized,” “in accordance with DOD directives and U.S. law.” He would not go into operational specifics. Officer-In-Charge of the 4th Public Affairs Detachment (Guantanamo Forward), Lt. Col. James Crabtree, whom was also contacted, declined to be more forthcoming about dates when asked for more specific dates of operational usage.
Appendix M is the portion of the 2006 revised Army Field Manual that covers “unlawful enemy combatants” who don’t meet the U.S. government’s criteria for Geneva treatment as prisoners of war. Obama doesn’t want to call them illegal combatants anymore, so the government doesn’t call them anything, except people with lesser rights.
Appendix M was certainly not the old “enhanced interrogation techniques,” but they weren’t exactly notthem either. The new AFM was supposed to be better than the old one, like any new product, but in fact, old prohibitions against abusive interrogation techniques were removed, and in some cases, the techniques formally reintroduced. An example of the latter is sleep deprivation, which used to be explicitly proscribed, but is now part of Appendix M procedure. “Fear Up” procedures are strengthened. Modes of sensory deprivation are introduced. The ban against drugs that cause serious derangement of the senses or temporary psychosis is replaced by a ban against drugs that cause “permanent damage.” Stress positions are, notably, not explicitly banned.