I have to write this several hours in the past, but: the embargo on the Senate Armed Services Committee’s full report on the treatment of detainees in Pentagon custody is now lifted. You can read the grim report here. As I referenced earlier, I spent my afternoon reading this thing and writing it up for a Washington Independent story that should be up at our website right now. (Alas, I’m writing this post before the link to my story exists, so I have nothing more specific, but I’ll update.)

The gruesome stuff: while the report’s executive summary came out in December, until now, we were spared the full extent of how the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape program intended to help captured U.S. troops endure torture became the template for interrogations at Guanatanamo Bay, Afghanistan, Iraq and at the CIA’s black sites. Never mind the fact that SERE instructors are not interrogators. The report documents thoroughly the frantic exchanges between the office at Joint Forces Command that oversees SERE, the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA), the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Guantanamo Bay during 2002 as the Bush administration comes up with a structure for "enhanced interrogation" from scratch. To quote the report, detailing a July 2002 memo from JPRA to the office of Pentagon general counsel Jim Haynes:

The first attachment to the July 26, 2002 memo was "Physical Pressures used in Resistance Training and Againt American Prisoners and Detainees." That attachment included a list of techniques used to train students at SERE school to resist interrogation. The list included techniques such as the facial slap, walling, the abdomen slap, use of water, the attention grasp, and stress positions. The first attachment also listed techniques used by some of the service SERE schools, such as use of smoke, shaking and manhandling, cramped confinement, immersion in water or wetting down, and waterboarding.

This happens in spite of repeated warnings from inside SERE that these techniques are inappropriate for use as interrogation techniques. One SERE instructor who trained U.S. interrogators in 2002 told Rumsfeld’s working group on interrogations in 2003, "The physical and psychological pressures we apply in training violate national and international laws… I hope someone is explaining this to all these folks asking for our techniques and methodology!" But these techniques became the basis of what Rumsfeld approved in April 2003; and then, as the Schlesinger report documented the following year, they got sent to Iraq to "Gitmo-ize" Iraq intelligence operations. And that’s how Abu Ghraib happened. 

Consider this a working thread for what you consider significant in the report. I’ll tell you one aspect of it that I’ll have much more on tomorrow: CIA lawyer Jonathan "if the detainee dies, you’re doing it wrong" Fredman.