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FBI email embroils Bush in jail abuse
The Australian
Correspondents in Washington
December 23, 2004

THE White House says it expects new documented accounts of torture at Guantanamo Bay to be "fully investigated", but has denied claims George W. Bush personally approved the use of abusive methods against detainees at the US prison camp.

Responding to documents obtained by the leading US civil liberties group, White house spokesman Scott McClellan said any allegations of torture had to be taken seriously.

"People need to be held accountable and brought to justice if they're involved in wrongdoing," he said.

"Preventive measures and corrective measures must be put in place to prevent it from happening again."

He rejected claims the US President had issued an order allowing inhuman interrogation methods against detainees in Iraq and elsewhere, saying there was "no executive order relating to interrogation techniques. When it comes to military detainees and interrogation methods, those are determinations made by the US Department of Defence".

But the American Civil Liberties Union released copies of a two-page FBI email dated May 22 that refers repeatedly to an executive order signed by Mr Bush which, according to the ACLU statement, "states the President directly authorised interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs, and sensory deprivation through the use of hoods".

The FBI email was sent to a number of senior FBI officials from "On Scene Commander -- Baghdad". It states that the bureau had prohibited its agents from employing the techniques Mr Bush had authorised.

Other documents made public by the ACLU under freedom of information legislation include:

# A heavily edited "Urgent Report" in June addressed to FBI director Robert Mueller, mentioning that an FBI agent "observed numerous physical abuse incidents of Iraqi civilian detainees", including "strangulation, beatings, and placement of lit cigarettes into the detainees' ear openings".

The document states that "(blanked out) was providing this account to the FBI based on his knowledge that (blanked out) were engaged in a cover-up of these abuses".

# An August 2 email from another FBI agent who witnessed Guantanamo detainees under interrogation shackled hand and foot in a fetal position on the floor for 18 to 24 hours at a time, and most had "urinated or defecated" on themselves.

One detainee was held in an unventilated room at a temperature "probably well over 100 degrees (38C)".

"The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night," the agent wrote.

# A July 30 FBI agent's account of an interrogation at Guantanamo "apparently conducted by Defence Department personnel -- in which a detainee was wrapped in an Israeli flag and bombarded with loud music and strobe lights".

# Suggestions two US army officers were involved in the deaths of at least two detainees in Iraq.