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Expansion of Torture, 2005

By 2005, the CIA was seeking further permission from the OLC for expanded EITs that it was already using. Permission for these was granted in a classified memo by Steven Bradbury, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, to John Rizzo, Senior Deputy General Counsel for the CIA, on 10 May 2005. The additional techniques included:

Sleep Deprivation

The Bradbury memo increased the limit on sleep deprivation, permitting it for up to 180 hours.

Dietary manipulation

Involves the substitution of commercial liquid meal replacements for normal food, presenting detainees with a bland, unappetizing, but nutritionally complete diet.


Used to cause psychological discomfort, particularly if a detainee, for cultural or other reasons, is especially modest. During and between interrogation sessions, a detainee may be kept nude. No sexual abuse or threats of sexual abuse are permitted. Permission was granted for female interrogators involved in the interrogation process to ‘see the detainees naked’, clearly a means of humiliating and degrading detainees, particularly since many were devout Muslims.

Abdominal slap

The interrogator strikes the abdomen of the detainee with the back of his open hand. The interrogator must have no rings or other jewelry on his hand.

Water dousing

Cold water is poured on the detainee either from a container or from a hose without a nozzle. The water poured on the detainee must be potable, and the interrogators must ensure that water does not enter the detainee’s nose, mouth or eyes. (Water dousing was identified by the IG report as an improvised technique that was widely used in interrogations but had not been sanctioned by the Bybee memo, although the IG noted that they were included in draft guidelines as a standard measure as early as 2003).

Additional Stress Position

The Bybee memo made specific reference to two types of stress position, the first being forcing detainees to sit on the floor with legs extended in front of him and arms above his head, and the second, forcing the detainee to kneel on the floor while leaning back at a 45 degree angle. The Bradbury memo adds a third more extreme position, in which the detainee is forced to lean against a wall about three feet away from the detainees feet, with only his head touching the wall, while his wrists are handcuffed in front of him or behind his back.


According to the Bradbury memo, this was increased to two hours on 19 August in either 2002, 2003 or 2004, in a further letter that was sent to the CIA’s Office of General Counsel. That letter remains classified, and the year in which the letter was sent has been redacted from the Bradbury memo. Nevertheless, it is clear from the IG report that as early as August 2002, water boarding sessions were lasting longer than Bybee had permitted, and the quantity of water used in each application far exceeded the guidelines. By 2005, Bradbury, on behalf of the OLC, was advising the CIA that water boarding sessions should be restricted as follows:

The waterboard may be authorized for, at most, one 30-day period, during which the technique can actually be applied on no more than five days [...] Further, there can be no more than two sessions in any 24-hour period. Each session - the time during which the detainee is strapped to the waterboard - lasts no more than two hours. There may be at most six applications of water lasting ten seconds or longer during any one session, and water may be applied for a total of no more than twelve minutes during any 24-hour period

This would mean detainees could not be subjected to no more than 10 water boarding sessions, and 60 individual applications of water in a 30-day period. The implementation of these rules would therefore suggest that the OLC was influenced by the IG’s conclusions that the treatment of Zabaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been excessive.

Click here for a full account of how sleep deprivation was used by the CIA, and approved by the OLC.

Click here for an account from Abu Zubaydah, the first High Value Detainee subjected to EITs, of how these techniques were employed in combination. This account was told to the ICRC, and represents one of the only accounts in the public record of how the specific EITs, as authorised, were used in practice.

Click here for the ICRC's assessment that these EITs, along with other conditions of detention and interrogation experienced by the HVDs, amounted to torture. Given the role that the ICRC plays in upholding international humanitarian law, this assessment is hugely significant.


Rendition Research Team - © University of Kent
University of Westminster University of Kent E.S.R.C