WASHINGTON - The Pentagon in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks pursued abusive interrogation techniques once favored by such U.S. enemies as North Korea and Vietnam, despite stern warnings by military lawyers that the methods were cruel and even illegal, according to a Senate investigation.
The findings, detailed in a hearing yesterday, brought rebukes from Democrats and Republicans alike.
"The guidance [Bush Administration lawyers] provided will go down in history as some of the most irresponsible and shortsighted legal analysis ever provided to our nation's military and intelligence communities," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), an Air Force Reserve colonel who teaches military law for the service.
The hearing is the committee's first look at the origins of harsh interrogation methods and how policy decisions on interrogations were vetted across the Defense Department.
Its review fits into a broader picture of the government's handling of detainees, which includes FBI and CIA interrogations in secret prisons.
The panel is expected to release a final report by the end of the year.
Among its initial findings is that senior Pentagon lawyers, including general counsel William "Jim" Haynes, sought information as early as July, 2002, regarding a military program that trained U.S. troops how to survive enemy interrogations and deny foes valuable intelligence.
Several of those techniques were later approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.