"I have come to believe I did an injustice to Jonathan Fredman, a senior lawyer for the CIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence. I quoted an infamous line he is said to have delivered at Guantanamo Bay (“if the detainee dies, you’re doing it wrong”), the source of which was an unsigned memo released by the Senate Armed Services Committee. Upon closer inspection and further reporting, I have lost confidence in this document . . . ".
Sunday, July 13, 2014
The Seton Hall University Center for Policy and Research reports,
One of the most quotable phrases coming out of Bush’s Global War on Terrorism now appears to be highly questionable. Then-CIA lawyer Jonathan Fredman was quoted by Senator Carl Levin, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as having said that the standard of detainee treatment during interrogations was “basically subject to perception. If the detainee dies you’re doing it wrong.”
This quote continues to be used in articles and books, but reporting by Stuart Taylor, Jr. (no relation) in the National Journal and by Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare sheds light on the shaky ground on which it rests. First, Fredman has denied the veracity of the quote for about as long as it has been public. The quote comes from the minutes of a staff meeting at Guantanamo in which Fredman was asked about the legal limits placed on interrogation by the federal anti-torture statute. However, much of the minutes are of questionable reliability, and in some cases patently absurd (for example, a barely understandable quote that appears to claim that Turkey considers any interrogation that “results in the subject betraying his comrades” to be torture).