[Infographic] The Torture Architects

Accountability for torture is a moral, ethical, and legal imperative, and it is necessary to prevent torture from ever happening in our names again. Although much has been revealed about the Bush administration's torture program, those in the upper echelons of the administration who crafted, approved, and oversaw the program have escaped legal accountability. The graphic below diagrams the participation of key high-level officials in the torture program based upon publicly available information.

Hover over a former government official below to learn more about their role in the torture program. Read more about how the Obama administration can ensure accountability for torture.

Condoleeza Rice
National Security Advisor
Jan. 20, 2001 - Jan. 26, 2005
Secretary of State
Jan. 26, 2005 - Jan. 20, 2009


Rice chaired the National Security Council Principals Committee which approved the CIA's requests to torture detainees using "enhanced interrogation techniques," including waterboarding. CIA Director Tenet briefed the Principals Committee in detail on the CIA's requested techniques and on interrogation plans for specific detainees. Rice and the NSC approved of the interrogation plans and techniques — including the waterboarding of al-Nashiri, Abu Zubaydah, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — as well as of the combined use of the techniques. In July 2003, Rice, Cheney, Ashcroft, and others reaffirmed the CIA's use of abusive techniques in response to requests by CIA Director Tenet.



Alberto R. Gonzales
White House Counsel
Jan. 20, 2001 - Feb. 3, 2005
Attorney General
Feb. 3, 2005 - Sept. 17, 2007


A member of the self-styled "War Council" composed of senior Bush administration lawyers, Gonzales helped craft the legal justification for the torture program. He recommended that Bush override legal and policy objections by the State Department and refuse to accord to detainees the protections of the Geneva Conventions, setting the stage for the torture to come. In making his recommendations, Gonzales argued that a benefit of not recognizing Geneva Convention protections would be a lower risk of future domestic criminal prosecution.


In May 2002, Gonzales and others were consulted by the CIA about using brutal methods, including waterboarding, on Abu Zubaydah. Gonzales also consulted with John Yoo regarding Yoo's torture memos, which approved waterboarding among other "enhanced interrogation techniques." And he visited Guantánamo Bay in September 2002 along with other administration lawyers, reportedly to observe interrogations and influence the methods used. Gonzales and the War Council also circumvented the typical review process for sensitive memos of the Office of Legal Counsel, ensuring minimal review and opportunity for dissent. Gonzales maintained his positions despite mounting internal and public reports of abuses and even deaths of detainees in DOD and CIA custody.


George W. Bush
President
Jan. 20, 2001 - Jan. 20, 2009


President Bush presided over the torture administration. He issued a still-secret order authorizing the CIA to establish secret detention facilities overseas and to interrogate detainees. Over the legal and policy objections of State Department officials, Bush also determined that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to suspected Taliban and al Qaeda detainees in U.S. custody, a legal maneuver that set the stage for future torture. Through his subordinates, including the National Security Council Principals Committee, who met in the White House to discuss the use of particular interrogation techniques to be used on particular detainees, he authorized the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" by the CIA and other harsh techniques by the military. Asked about those meetings on national television, Bush affirmed that he knew and approved of them.


In the face of mounting evidence of abuse — including the Abu Ghraib photographs and reports by the FBI and neutral observers like the International Committee for the Red Cross — Bush held firm to the falsehood that his administration did not torture. In his subsequent memoir, Bush acknowledged that he personally approved waterboarding and continued to insist that it and other brutal methods were not torture.

Richard B. "Dick" Cheney
Vice President
Jan. 20, 2001 - Jan. 20, 2009


Vice President Cheney has been the most vocal and unapologetic supporter of the Bush administration's torture program from the beginning, and he appears to have had a hand in virtually every aspect of it. He opposed the application of the Geneva Conventions to U.S. detentions and interrogations overseas, a legal sidestep that set the stage for future torture. As a member of the National Security Council Principal Committee, Cheney received detailed briefings on the specific interrogation techniques that the CIA wanted to use on so-called "high value" detainees, and he approved them. Through his legal counsel, David Addington, Cheney also helped shape the legal memos used to justify torture.


Cheney sought unsuccessfully to ensure CIA agents would be immunized from legal liability for abusing detainees. However, his effort did lead to the inclusion in the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 of a provision under which officials may claim they did not know particular practices were unlawful, including through "good faith" reliance on legal advice. Cheney continued to defend and maintained his pro-torture positions despite mounting internal and public reports of abuses and deaths of detainees in DOD and CIA custody.


David S. Addington
Counsel to the Vice President
Jan. 20, 2001 - Oct. 30, 2005
Chief of Staff to the Vice President
Oct. 31, 2005 - Jan. 20, 2009


Like his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, Addington appears to have had a hand in virtually every aspect of the Bush administration's torture program. He opposed recognizing the rights of detainees under the Geneva Conventions. He played a major role in shaping the August 2002 torture memos. And he reportedly influenced the course of interrogations taking place at Guantánamo Bay during a September 2002 visit with senior administration lawyers. More generally, and as a member of the self-styled "War Council" composed of top Bush administration lawyers, Addington plotted the legal strategy of the Bush administration in its "war on terror." Addington also reportedly sought to exclude military service lawyers who would object to that strategy — including torture and other rights violations — from Bush administration deliberations.


James Elmer Mitchell
DOD, SERE program, Psychologist
1986-2001
CIA, Independent Contractor
2001-2005
Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, Founder and CEO
2005-2009


James Elmer Mitchell is a psychologist who designed and oversaw the CIA’s torture program and personally tortured CIA prisoners.
Mitchell relied loosely on experiments in which dogs were abused to advance a theory that abusing humans to induce “learned helplessness” — i.e., to break them down — would cause them to comply with interrogators’ demands for information. Collaborating with John “Bruce” Jessen and at the request of the CIA, Mitchell devised all aspects of the ensuing experiment in human torture, from rendition procedures to harsh conditions of confinement to brutal torture techniques. Their methods were specifically designed to inflict severe physical and mental pain or suffering and cause the psychological destruction of detainees.
The CIA used Mitchell and Jessen’s false representations that the torture and abuse methods they proposed were safe to successfully lobby the Justice Department for approval to use them. After the CIA secured Justice Department approval, Mitchell and Jessen personally used those techniques on Abu Zubaydah, the first person captured by the CIA and imprisoned at a secret “black site.” Mitchell and Jessen deemed their torture of Abu Zubaydah a “success” because it confirmed he had no useful information, and recommended that it should be replicated. Mitchell and Jessen then personally conducted or directed the torture and abuse of scores more CIA detainees.
Through their company Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, Mitchell and Jessen earned $81 million from the torture, pain, and suffering they caused.


John “Bruce” Jessen
DOD, SERE program, Psychologist
1980s-2002
CIA, Independent Contractor
2001-2005
Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, Founder and President
2005-2009


John “Bruce” Jessen is a psychologist who designed and oversaw the CIA’s torture program and personally tortured CIA prisoners.
Jessen was tapped by James Elmer Mitchell in late 2001 to assist in developing a torture-based interrogation program for the CIA. He and Mitchell relied loosely on experiments in which dogs were abused to advance a theory that abusing humans to induce “learned helplessness” — i.e., to break them down — would cause them to comply with interrogators’ demands for information. Collaborating with Mitchell and at the request of the CIA, Jessen devised all aspects of the ensuing experiment in human torture, from rendition procedures to harsh conditions of confinement to brutal torture techniques. Their methods were specifically designed to inflict severe physical and mental pain or suffering and cause the psychological destruction of detainees.
The CIA used Jessen and Mitchell’s false representations that the torture and abuse methods they proposed were safe to successfully lobby the Justice Department for approval to use them. After the CIA secured Justice Department approval, Jessen and Mitchell personally used those techniques on Abu Zubaydah, the first person captured by the CIA and imprisoned at a secret “black site.” Jessen and Mitchell deemed their torture of Abu Zubaydah a “success” because it confirmed he had no useful information and recommended that it should be replicated. Jessen and Mitchell then personally conducted or directed the torture and abuse of scores more CIA detainees.
In November 2002, Jessen participated in the torture of Gul Rahman, a CIA detainee who died as a result.

Through their company Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, Jessen and Mitchell earned $81 million from the torture, pain, and suffering they caused.


John D. Ashcroft
Attorney General
Feb. 2, 2001 - Feb. 3, 2005


Ashcroft presided over the Department of Justice when it authorized torture for the first time, specifically approving of the Yoo/Bybee torture memos of August 2002 and the Yoo torture memo of March 2003. The August 2002 memos authorized the CIA's torture program, and the March 2003 memo authorized the military's torture program. In May 2002, the CIA consulted Ashcroft and others about its plan to apply specific abusive methods, including waterboarding, to Abu Zubaydah. Ashcroft concluded that waterboarding was lawful as early as July 2002, before the torture memos were finalized. Later, in July 2003, Ashcroft, Rice, Cheney, and others reaffirmed the CIA's use of abusive techniques in response to a request by CIA Director Tenet. In July 2004, Ashcroft told the CIA that virtually all of the methods authorized by the second Yoo/Bybee memo were legal if used outside the United States.


Ashcroft also anticipated and sought to prevent accountability for torture. In a February 2002 memo, he advised President Bush that a presidential determination finding the Geneva Conventions did not apply to detainees "would provide the highest assurance" against prosecution of U.S. officials for violations of the Geneva Conventions' safeguards.


Alberto R. Gonzales
White House Counsel
Jan. 20, 2001 - Feb. 3, 2005
Attorney General
Feb. 3, 2005 - Sept. 17, 2007


A member of the self-styled "War Council" composed of senior Bush administration lawyers, Gonzales helped craft the legal justification for the torture program. He recommended that Bush override legal and policy objections by the State Department and refuse to accord to detainees the protections of the Geneva Conventions, setting the stage for the torture to come. In making his recommendations, Gonzales argued that a benefit of not recognizing Geneva Convention protections would be a lower risk of future domestic criminal prosecution.


In May 2002, Gonzales and others were consulted by the CIA about using brutal methods, including waterboarding, on Abu Zubaydah. Gonzales also consulted with John Yoo regarding Yoo's torture memos, which approved waterboarding among other "enhanced interrogation techniques." And he visited Guantánamo Bay in September 2002 along with other administration lawyers, reportedly to observe interrogations and influence the methods used. Gonzales and the War Council also circumvented the typical review process for sensitive memos of the Office of Legal Counsel, ensuring minimal review and opportunity for dissent. Gonzales maintained his positions despite mounting internal and public reports of abuses and even deaths of detainees in DOD and CIA custody.


John C. Yoo
DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel
Deputy Assistant Attorney General

2001 - 2003


Yoo was a member of the Bush administration's self-styled "War Council" composed of senior administration lawyers. Yoo was one of the primary authors of the memos that supplied the legal basis for the torture programs of the CIA and the DOD. His August 1, 2002 memo authorized the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," including waterboarding. (He had reportedly given the CIA interim approval to use the techniques several months prior.) And his March 14, 2003 memo gave expansive authority to the military to torture detainees. He also drafted numerous other memos giving the executive nearly unchecked authority in the "war on terror," including memos in which he concluded that the President had the unilateral authority to suspend the United States' obligations under international treaties. In crafting his memos, Yoo repeatedly set aside arguments from top State Department officials and military service lawyers that his reasoning was legally flawed and would have profoundly negative consequences for the United States.


Jay S. Bybee
DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel
Assistant Attorney General

Nov. 2001 - Mar. 2003


As head of the OLC, Bybee oversaw and participated in the crafting of the legal justification for the torture program, including arguments that Geneva Convention protections did not apply to detainees. The most notorious of his memos, signed on August 1, 2002, approved of the use of waterboarding, walling, cramped confinement, insects placed in a confinement box, and more. Other memos Bybee crafted or helped craft provided the legal foundation for the U.S. to "render" detainees to countries where they faced a high risk of torture — and where many were, in fact, tortured.


Steven G. Bradbury
DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General

Apr. 2004 - Jun. 2005
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Jun. 2005 - Jan. 20, 2009


In May 2005, more than a year after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, Bradbury authored three torture memos that authorized the CIA's single and combined use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" against detainees. The memos authorized such techniques as waterboarding, cramped confinement, dousing detainees in cold water, sleep deprivation, and stress positions. One of the memos noted that the CIA waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah at least 266 times in total. In August 2006 and July 2007, he also authorized harsh treatment at secret CIA black sites, including the use of solitary confinement, sensory manipulation, and sleep deprivation. He continued to provide authorization for CIA abuses through at least November 2007.


Donald H. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
Jan. 20, 2001 - Dec. 18, 2006


As head of the Defense Department, Rumsfeld was directly or indirectly responsible for the gross abuses committed at Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay, Bagram, and other military detention centers. Along with Vice President Cheney and others, he opposed recognizing the rights of detainees under the Geneva Conventions, and he instructed the Joint Chiefs of Staff that those rights did not apply. He was also a member of the National Security Council Principals Committee, which approved the CIA's use of harsh interrogation techniques.


On Dec. 2, 2002, Rumsfeld signed an action memo authorizing the military to use harsh interrogation techniques based on those used at a DOD program established to help U.S. forces withstand torture. He withdrew the authorization in January 2003 but then convened a working group on interrogation, and approved a new set of harsh techniques three months later. In August and September 2003, he sent Major General Miller, the commander at Guantánamo Bay, to Iraq to "Gitmoize" Abu Ghraib. Rumsfeld stood by the military's interrogation policies despite continuously mounting evidence of abuse at the hands of military interrogators.


Rumsfeld also specifically approved the brutal interrogation plan for Mohammed al-Qahtani at Guantánamo Bay, who was harshly interrogated for 50-plus days, and a "special interrogation plan" for Mohamedou Slahi, another Guantanamo prisoner, who was subsequently subjected to a mock execution at sea, solitary confinement, beatings, sexual humiliation, and environmental manipulation.


William J. "Jim" Haynes, II
DOD, General Counsel
May 24, 2001 - Feb. 2008


As Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's legal adviser, Haynes facilitated the military's harsh and abusive interrogation of detainees. Along with other members of the self-styled "War Council" of senior administration lawyers, Haynes strenuously opposed recognizing the rights of detainees under the Geneva Conventions. His office solicited and recommended the use of methods that would "exploit" detainees in U.S. custody from a DOD program established to help U.S. forces withstand torture. He visited Guantanamo in September 2002 with Addington, Gonzales and Haynes and observed interrogations. He also supported the gruesome, 50-plus day interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani. In a November 27, 2002 action memo, he recommended that Rumsfeld approve harsh interrogation techniques despite the meager legal analysis offered in support.


Haynes also solicited from the Office of Legal Counsel the torture memo of March 14, 2003, authored by John Yoo. He then insisted that Rumsfeld's January 2003 working group on interrogations be bound by the flawed analysis contained within Yoo's torture memo, and overrode the legal and policy objections of top military service lawyers. The working group's final report was issued without the dissenting military service lawyers' knowledge, and recommended that Rumsfeld approve numerous abusive interrogation techniques. Like Rumsfeld, Haynes stood by the military's interrogation policies despite continuously mounting evidence of abuse at the hands of military interrogators.


Geoffrey D. Miller
DOD, Major General, Commander of Joint Task Force Guantánamo Bay (JTF-GTMO)
Nov. 2002 - Mar. 2004
DOD, Major General, Deputy Commander for Detainee Operations for Multinational Forces - Iraq
Apr. 2004 - Nov. 2004


Miller oversaw the abuses at Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. He approved the brutal interrogation plan for Mohammed al-Qahtani and implemented Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's Dec. 2, 2002 harsh interrogation directive. He also requested approval from Rumsfeld for a "special interrogation plan" for Mohamedou Slahi, and apparently began to implement it before Rumsfeld's approval. Slahi was subjected to a mock execution at sea, solitary confinement, beatings, sexual humiliation, and environmental manipulation.


In August and September 2003, Rumsfeld dispatched Miller to Iraq to "Gitmoize" Abu Ghraib where Miller reportedly told soldiers that they were not obtaining information because they hadn't "broken" the detainees psychologically. In March 2004, Miller was appointed deputy commander for detainee operations in Iraq and took up his position in April, the month that the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. Like Rumsfeld, Miller stood by the military's harsh interrogation policies despite continuously mounting evidence of abuse at the hands of military interrogators.


George J. Tenet
Director of Central Intelligence
Jul. 11, 1997 - Jul. 11, 2004


Tenet led the CIA when it established secret prisons overseas and tortured its prisoners using "enhanced interrogation techniques," such as waterboarding. Beginning in early 2002, Tenet met with the National Security Council Principals Committee to obtain approval for the CIA's use of specific interrogation techniques on each of the so-called "high value" detainees. Tenet reportedly gave detailed descriptions and photographs of the techniques to the Principals Committee, which included Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Tenet signed written interrogation plans and conditions of confinement guidelines that authorized the CIA to use methods including stress positions, walling, slapping, wall standing, waterboarding, and sleep deprivation. Tenet also repeatedly asked for reaffirmation of the CIA's use of specific interrogation techniques, both from the Principals Committee and from the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel.


John A. Rizzo
CIA, Senior Deputy Legal Counsel
Mar. 1995 - Nov. 2001, Oct. 2002 - Aug. 2004
CIA, Acting General Counsel
Nov. 2001 - Oct. 2002, Aug. 2004 - Sept. 2009


As the senior legal adviser to the CIA, Rizzo repeatedly asked for approval from the Office of Legal Counsel for the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," many of which amounted to torture. He wrote in his memoir that he sought approval in order to obtain "legal cover." As part of the requests, Rizzo's office provided still-secret documents to the OLC regarding the specific application of the techniques, and their alleged effectiveness and safety.


Rizzo helped draft Bush's still-secret order authorizing the CIA to establish secret detention facilities overseas and to interrogate detainees. He visited Guantánamo Bay in September 2002, with Addington, Gonzales and Haynes, reportedly to observe interrogations and inquire about the interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani, who was later subjected to a brutal 50-plus day interrogation. Rizzo also visited two CIA black sites in 2005 to assure CIA personnel that their work was "still fully endorsed by the nation's highest legal and policy-making officials."


Jose Rodriguez
CIA Counterterrorism Center, Chief of Operations
Sept. 2001 - May 2002
CIA Counterterrorism Center, Director
May 2002 - Nov. 2004
CIA Counterterrorism Center, Deputy Director of Operations
Nov. 2004 - Sept. 2007


Rodriguez played an integral role in the CIA's post-9/11 unlawful detention and interrogation program from the start, with much of the CIA's torture of detainees occurring under his watch. He flew in person to oversee the construction of the CIA's first black site in Thailand in early 2002. He solicited the development of the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques," many of which amounted to torture. In response to requests from CIA agents overseas, Rodriguez authorized the use of specific abusive methods on detainees. In 2005, Rodriguez ordered the destruction of more than 90 videotapes that documented the abuse of detainees through waterboarding and other methods.



Robert Eatinger
CIA Counterterrorism Center, Senior Counterterrorism Counsel
Apr. 2004 - Sept. 2009
CIA, Deputy General Counsel for Operations
Sept. 2009 - Jun. 2013
CIA, Senior Deputy General Counsel
Jun. 2013 - present


Eatinger served as chief lawyer for the CIA's Center for Counterterrorism, which implemented the agency's torture and black-site detention program and its rendition of detainees to torture by other countries. The Counterterrorism Center's lawyers reportedly visited the black sites on a regular basis to observe the application of torture techniques. Eatinger was one of two lawyers at the CIA who apparently told Jose Rodriguez that there was no "legal impediment" to destroying CIA tapes of waterboarding and other abuses. In March 2014, Senator Dianne Feinstein announced on the Senate floor that Eatinger's name is mentioned more than 1,600 times in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's investigative report on CIA torture.

The Torture Architects
  • Condoleeza Rice

    National Security Advisor
    Jan. 20, 2001 - Jan. 26, 2005
    Secretary of State
    Jan. 26, 2005 - Jan. 20, 2009

    Rice chaired the National Security Council Principals Committee which approved the CIA's requests to torture detainees using "enhanced interrogation techniques," including waterboarding. CIA Director Tenet briefed the Principals Committee in detail on the CIA's requested techniques and on interrogation plans for specific detainees. Rice and the NSC approved of the interrogation plans and techniques — including the waterboarding of al-Nashiri, Abu Zubaydah, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — as well as of the combined use of the techniques. In July 2003, Rice, Cheney, Ashcroft, and others reaffirmed the CIA's use of abusive techniques in response to requests by CIA Director Tenet.
  • Alberto R. Gonzales

    White House Counsel
    Jan. 20, 2001 - Feb. 3, 2005
    Attorney General
    Feb. 3, 2005 - Sept. 17, 2007

    A member of the self-styled "War Council" composed of senior Bush administration lawyers, Gonzales helped craft the legal justification for the torture program. He recommended that Bush override legal and policy objections by the State Department and refuse to accord to detainees the protections of the Geneva Conventions, setting the stage for the torture to come. In making his recommendations, Gonzales argued that a benefit of not recognizing Geneva Convention protections would be a lower risk of future domestic criminal prosecution.

    In May 2002, Gonzales and others were consulted by the CIA about using brutal methods, including waterboarding, on Abu Zubaydah. Gonzales also consulted with John Yoo regarding Yoo's torture memos, which approved waterboarding among other "enhanced interrogation techniques." And he visited Guantánamo Bay in September 2002 along with other administration lawyers, reportedly to observe interrogations and influence the methods used. Gonzales and the War Council also circumvented the typical review process for sensitive memos of the Office of Legal Counsel, ensuring minimal review and opportunity for dissent. Gonzales maintained his positions despite mounting internal and public reports of abuses and even deaths of detainees in DOD and CIA custody.
  • George W. Bush

    President
    Jan. 20, 2001 - Jan. 20, 2009

    President Bush presided over the torture administration. He issued a still-secret order authorizing the CIA to establish secret detention facilities overseas and to interrogate detainees. Over the legal and policy objections of State Department officials, Bush also determined that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to suspected Taliban and al Qaeda detainees in U.S. custody, a legal maneuver that set the stage for future torture. Through his subordinates, including the National Security Council Principals Committee, who met in the White House to discuss the use of particular interrogation techniques to be used on particular detainees, he authorized the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" by the CIA and other harsh techniques by the military. Asked about those meetings on national television, Bush affirmed that he knew and approved of them.

    In the face of mounting evidence of abuse — including the Abu Ghraib photographs and reports by the FBI and neutral observers like the International Committee for the Red Cross — Bush held firm to the falsehood that his administration did not torture. In his subsequent memoir, Bush acknowledged that he personally approved waterboarding and continued to insist that it and other brutal methods were not torture.
  • Richard B. "Dick" Cheney

    Vice President
    Jan. 20, 2001 - Jan. 20, 2009

    Vice President Cheney has been the most vocal and unapologetic supporter of the Bush administration's torture program from the beginning, and he appears to have had a hand in virtually every aspect of it. He opposed the application of the Geneva Conventions to U.S. detentions and interrogations overseas, a legal sidestep that set the stage for future torture. As a member of the National Security Council Principal Committee, Cheney received detailed briefings on the specific interrogation techniques that the CIA wanted to use on so-called "high value" detainees, and he approved them. Through his legal counsel, David Addington, Cheney also helped shape the legal memos used to justify torture.

    Cheney sought unsuccessfully to ensure CIA agents would be immunized from legal liability for abusing detainees. However, his effort did lead to the inclusion in the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 of a provision under which officials may claim they did not know particular practices were unlawful, including through "good faith" reliance on legal advice. Cheney continued to defend and maintained his pro-torture positions despite mounting internal and public reports of abuses and deaths of detainees in DOD and CIA custody.
  • David S. Addington

    Counsel to the Vice President
    Jan. 20, 2001 - Oct. 30, 2005
    Chief of Staff to the Vice President
    Oct. 31, 2005 - Jan. 20, 2009

    Like his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, Addington appears to have had a hand in virtually every aspect of the Bush administration's torture program. He opposed recognizing the rights of detainees under the Geneva Conventions. He played a major role in shaping the August 2002 torture memos. And he reportedly influenced the course of interrogations taking place at Guantánamo Bay during a September 2002 visit with senior administration lawyers. More generally, and as a member of the self-styled "War Council" composed of top Bush administration lawyers, Addington plotted the legal strategy of the Bush administration in its "war on terror." Addington also reportedly sought to exclude military service lawyers who would object to that strategy — including torture and other rights violations — from Bush administration deliberations.
  • James Elmer Mitchell

    DOD, SERE program, Psychologist
    1986-2001
    CIA, Independent Contractor
    2001-2005
    Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, Founder and CEO
    2005-2009

    James Elmer Mitchell is a psychologist who designed and oversaw the CIA’s torture program and personally tortured CIA prisoners.

    Mitchell relied loosely on experiments in which dogs were abused to advance a theory that abusing humans to induce “learned helplessness” — i.e., to break them down — would cause them to comply with interrogators’ demands for information. Collaborating with John “Bruce” Jessen and at the request of the CIA, Mitchell devised all aspects of the ensuing experiment in human torture, from rendition procedures to harsh conditions of confinement to brutal torture techniques. Their methods were specifically designed to inflict severe physical and mental pain or suffering and cause the psychological destruction of detainees.

    The CIA used Mitchell and Jessen’s false representations that the torture and abuse methods they proposed were safe to successfully lobby the Justice Department for approval to use them. After the CIA secured Justice Department approval, Mitchell and Jessen personally used those techniques on Abu Zubaydah, the first person captured by the CIA and imprisoned at a secret “black site.” Mitchell and Jessen deemed their torture of Abu Zubaydah a “success” because it confirmed he had no useful information, and recommended that it should be replicated. Mitchell and Jessen then personally conducted or directed the torture and abuse of scores more CIA detainees.

    Through their company Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, Mitchell and Jessen earned $81 million from the torture, pain, and suffering they caused.
  • John “Bruce” Jessen

    DOD, SERE program, Psychologist
    1980s-2002
    CIA, Independent Contractor
    2001-2005
    Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, Founder and President
    2005-2009

    John “Bruce” Jessen is a psychologist who designed and oversaw the CIA’s torture program and personally tortured CIA prisoners.

    Jessen was tapped by James Elmer Mitchell in late 2001 to assist in developing a torture-based interrogation program for the CIA. He and Mitchell relied loosely on experiments in which dogs were abused to advance a theory that abusing humans to induce “learned helplessness” — i.e., to break them down — would cause them to comply with interrogators’ demands for information. Collaborating with Mitchell and at the request of the CIA, Jessen devised all aspects of the ensuing experiment in human torture, from rendition procedures to harsh conditions of confinement to brutal torture techniques. Their methods were specifically designed to inflict severe physical and mental pain or suffering and cause the psychological destruction of detainees.

    The CIA used Jessen and Mitchell’s false representations that the torture and abuse methods they proposed were safe to successfully lobby the Justice Department for approval to use them. After the CIA secured Justice Department approval, Jessen and Mitchell personally used those techniques on Abu Zubaydah, the first person captured by the CIA and imprisoned at a secret “black site.” Jessen and Mitchell deemed their torture of Abu Zubaydah a “success” because it confirmed he had no useful information and recommended that it should be replicated. Jessen and Mitchell then personally conducted or directed the torture and abuse of scores more CIA detainees.

    In November 2002, Jessen participated in the torture of Gul Rahman, a CIA detainee who died as a result.

    Through their company Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, Jessen and Mitchell earned $81 million from the torture, pain, and suffering they caused.
  • John D. Ashcroft

    Attorney General
    Feb. 2, 2001 - Feb. 3, 2005

    Ashcroft presided over the Department of Justice when it authorized torture for the first time, specifically approving of the Yoo/Bybee torture memos of August 2002 and the Yoo torture memo of March 2003. The August 2002 memos authorized the CIA's torture program, and the March 2003 memo authorized the military's torture program. In May 2002, the CIA consulted Ashcroft and others about its plan to apply specific abusive methods, including waterboarding, to Abu Zubaydah. Ashcroft concluded that waterboarding was lawful as early as July 2002, before the torture memos were finalized. Later, in July 2003, Ashcroft, Rice, Cheney, and others reaffirmed the CIA's use of abusive techniques in response to a request by CIA Director Tenet. In July 2004, Ashcroft told the CIA that virtually all of the methods authorized by the second Yoo/Bybee memo were legal if used outside the United States.

    Ashcroft also anticipated and sought to prevent accountability for torture. In a February 2002 memo, he advised President Bush that a presidential determination finding the Geneva Conventions did not apply to detainees "would provide the highest assurance" against prosecution of U.S. officials for violations of the Geneva Conventions' safeguards.
  • Alberto R. Gonzales

    White House Counsel
    Jan. 20, 2001 - Feb. 3, 2005
    Attorney General
    Feb. 3, 2005 - Sept. 17, 2007

    A member of the self-styled "War Council" composed of senior Bush administration lawyers, Gonzales helped craft the legal justification for the torture program. He recommended that Bush override legal and policy objections by the State Department and refuse to accord to detainees the protections of the Geneva Conventions, setting the stage for the torture to come. In making his recommendations, Gonzales argued that a benefit of not recognizing Geneva Convention protections would be a lower risk of future domestic criminal prosecution.

    In May 2002, Gonzales and others were consulted by the CIA about using brutal methods, including waterboarding, on Abu Zubaydah. Gonzales also consulted with John Yoo regarding Yoo's torture memos, which approved waterboarding among other "enhanced interrogation techniques." And he visited Guantánamo Bay in September 2002 along with other administration lawyers, reportedly to observe interrogations and influence the methods used. Gonzales and the War Council also circumvented the typical review process for sensitive memos of the Office of Legal Counsel, ensuring minimal review and opportunity for dissent. Gonzales maintained his positions despite mounting internal and public reports of abuses and even deaths of detainees in DOD and CIA custody.
  • John C. Yoo

    DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel
    Deputy Assistant Attorney General

    2001 - 2003

    Yoo was a member of the Bush administration's self-styled "War Council" composed of senior administration lawyers. Yoo was one of the primary authors of the memos that supplied the legal basis for the torture programs of the CIA and the DOD. His August 1, 2002 memo authorized the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," including waterboarding. (He had reportedly given the CIA interim approval to use the techniques several months prior.) And his March 14, 2003 memo gave expansive authority to the military to torture detainees. He also drafted numerous other memos giving the executive nearly unchecked authority in the "war on terror," including memos in which he concluded that the President had the unilateral authority to suspend the United States' obligations under international treaties. In crafting his memos, Yoo repeatedly set aside arguments from top State Department officials and military service lawyers that his reasoning was legally flawed and would have profoundly negative consequences for the United States.
  • Jay S. Bybee

    DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel
    Assistant Attorney General

    Nov. 2001 - Mar. 2003

    As head of the OLC, Bybee oversaw and participated in the crafting of the legal justification for the torture program, including arguments that Geneva Convention protections did not apply to detainees. The most notorious of his memos, signed on August 1, 2002, approved of the use of waterboarding, walling, cramped confinement, insects placed in a confinement box, and more. Other memos Bybee crafted or helped craft provided the legal foundation for the U.S. to "render" detainees to countries where they faced a high risk of torture — and where many were, in fact, tortured.
  • Steven G. Bradbury

    DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel
    Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General

    Apr. 2004 - Jun. 2005
    Acting Assistant Attorney General
    Jun. 2005 - Jan. 20, 2009

    In May 2005, more than a year after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, Bradbury authored three torture memos that authorized the CIA's single and combined use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" against detainees. The memos authorized such techniques as waterboarding, cramped confinement, dousing detainees in cold water, sleep deprivation, and stress positions. One of the memos noted that the CIA waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah at least 266 times in total. In August 2006 and July 2007, he also authorized harsh treatment at secret CIA black sites, including the use of solitary confinement, sensory manipulation, and sleep deprivation. He continued to provide authorization for CIA abuses through at least November 2007.
  • Donald H. Rumsfeld

    Secretary of Defense
    Jan. 20, 2001 - Dec. 18, 2006

    As head of the Defense Department, Rumsfeld was directly or indirectly responsible for the gross abuses committed at Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay, Bagram, and other military detention centers. Along with Vice President Cheney and others, he opposed recognizing the rights of detainees under the Geneva Conventions, and he instructed the Joint Chiefs of Staff that those rights did not apply. He was also a member of the National Security Council Principals Committee, which approved the CIA's use of harsh interrogation techniques.

    On Dec. 2, 2002, Rumsfeld signed an action memo authorizing the military to use harsh interrogation techniques based on those used at a DOD program established to help U.S. forces withstand torture. He withdrew the authorization in January 2003 but then convened a working group on interrogation, and approved a new set of harsh techniques three months later. In August and September 2003, he sent Major General Miller, the commander at Guantánamo Bay, to Iraq to "Gitmoize" Abu Ghraib. Rumsfeld stood by the military's interrogation policies despite continuously mounting evidence of abuse at the hands of military interrogators.

    Rumsfeld also specifically approved the brutal interrogation plan for Mohammed al-Qahtani at Guantánamo Bay, who was harshly interrogated for 50-plus days, and a "special interrogation plan" for Mohamedou Slahi, another Guantanamo prisoner, who was subsequently subjected to a mock execution at sea, solitary confinement, beatings, sexual humiliation, and environmental manipulation.
  • William J. "Jim" Haynes, II

    DOD, General Counsel
    May 24, 2001 - Feb. 2008

    As Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's legal adviser, Haynes facilitated the military's harsh and abusive interrogation of detainees. Along with other members of the self-styled "War Council" of senior administration lawyers, Haynes strenuously opposed recognizing the rights of detainees under the Geneva Conventions. His office solicited and recommended the use of methods that would "exploit" detainees in U.S. custody from a DOD program established to help U.S. forces withstand torture. He visited Guantanamo in September 2002 with Addington, Gonzales and Haynes and observed interrogations. He also supported the gruesome, 50-plus day interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani. In a November 27, 2002 action memo, he recommended that Rumsfeld approve harsh interrogation techniques despite the meager legal analysis offered in support.

    Haynes also solicited from the Office of Legal Counsel the torture memo of March 14, 2003, authored by John Yoo. He then insisted that Rumsfeld's January 2003 working group on interrogations be bound by the flawed analysis contained within Yoo's torture memo, and overrode the legal and policy objections of top military service lawyers. The working group's final report was issued without the dissenting military service lawyers' knowledge, and recommended that Rumsfeld approve numerous abusive interrogation techniques. Like Rumsfeld, Haynes stood by the military's interrogation policies despite continuously mounting evidence of abuse at the hands of military interrogators.
  • Geoffrey D. Miller

    DOD, Major General, Commander of Joint Task Force Guantánamo Bay (JTF-GTMO)
    Nov. 2002 - Mar. 2004
    DOD, Major General, Deputy Commander for Detainee Operations for Multinational Forces - Iraq
    Apr. 2004 - Nov. 2004

    Miller oversaw the abuses at Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. He approved the brutal interrogation plan for Mohammed al-Qahtani and implemented Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's Dec. 2, 2002 harsh interrogation directive. He also requested approval from Rumsfeld for a "special interrogation plan" for Mohamedou Slahi, and apparently began to implement it before Rumsfeld's approval. Slahi was subjected to a mock execution at sea, solitary confinement, beatings, sexual humiliation, and environmental manipulation.

    In August and September 2003, Rumsfeld dispatched Miller to Iraq to "Gitmoize" Abu Ghraib where Miller reportedly told soldiers that they were not obtaining information because they hadn't "broken" the detainees psychologically. In March 2004, Miller was appointed deputy commander for detainee operations in Iraq and took up his position in April, the month that the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. Like Rumsfeld, Miller stood by the military's harsh interrogation policies despite continuously mounting evidence of abuse at the hands of military interrogators.
  • George J. Tenet

    Director of Central Intelligence
    Jul. 11, 1997 - Jul. 11, 2004

    Tenet led the CIA when it established secret prisons overseas and tortured its prisoners using "enhanced interrogation techniques," such as waterboarding. Beginning in early 2002, Tenet met with the National Security Council Principals Committee to obtain approval for the CIA's use of specific interrogation techniques on each of the so-called "high value" detainees. Tenet reportedly gave detailed descriptions and photographs of the techniques to the Principals Committee, which included Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Tenet signed written interrogation plans and conditions of confinement guidelines that authorized the CIA to use methods including stress positions, walling, slapping, wall standing, waterboarding, and sleep deprivation. Tenet also repeatedly asked for reaffirmation of the CIA's use of specific interrogation techniques, both from the Principals Committee and from the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel.
  • John A. Rizzo

    CIA, Senior Deputy Legal Counsel
    Mar. 1995 - Nov. 2001, Oct. 2002 - Aug. 2004
    CIA, Acting General Counsel
    Nov. 2001 - Oct. 2002, Aug. 2004 - Sept. 2009

    As the senior legal adviser to the CIA, Rizzo repeatedly asked for approval from the Office of Legal Counsel for the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," many of which amounted to torture. He wrote in his memoir that he sought approval in order to obtain "legal cover." As part of the requests, Rizzo's office provided still-secret documents to the OLC regarding the specific application of the techniques, and their alleged effectiveness and safety.

    Rizzo helped draft Bush's still-secret order authorizing the CIA to establish secret detention facilities overseas and to interrogate detainees. He visited Guantánamo Bay in September 2002, with Addington, Gonzales and Haynes, reportedly to observe interrogations and inquire about the interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani, who was later subjected to a brutal 50-plus day interrogation. Rizzo also visited two CIA black sites in 2005 to assure CIA personnel that their work was "still fully endorsed by the nation's highest legal and policy-making officials."
  • Jose Rodriguez

    CIA Counterterrorism Center, Chief of Operations
    Sept. 2001 - May 2002
    CIA Counterterrorism Center, Director
    May 2002 - Nov. 2004
    CIA Counterterrorism Center, Deputy Director of Operations
    Nov. 2004 - Sept. 2007

    Rodriguez played an integral role in the CIA's post-9/11 unlawful detention and interrogation program from the start, with much of the CIA's torture of detainees occurring under his watch. He flew in person to oversee the construction of the CIA's first black site in Thailand in early 2002. He solicited the development of the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques," many of which amounted to torture. In response to requests from CIA agents overseas, Rodriguez authorized the use of specific abusive methods on detainees. In 2005, Rodriguez ordered the destruction of more than 90 videotapes that documented the abuse of detainees through waterboarding and other methods.
  • Robert Eatinger

    CIA Counterterrorism Center, Senior Counterterrorism Counsel
    Apr. 2004 - Sept. 2009
    CIA, Deputy General Counsel for Operations
    Sept. 2009 - Jun. 2013
    CIA, Senior Deputy General Counsel
    Jun. 2013 - present

    Eatinger served as chief lawyer for the CIA's Center for Counterterrorism, which implemented the agency's torture and black-site detention program and its rendition of detainees to torture by other countries. The Counterterrorism Center's lawyers reportedly visited the black sites on a regular basis to observe the application of torture techniques. Eatinger was one of two lawyers at the CIA who apparently told Jose Rodriguez that there was no "legal impediment" to destroying CIA tapes of waterboarding and other abuses. In March 2014, Senator Dianne Feinstein announced on the Senate floor that Eatinger's name is mentioned more than 1,600 times in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's investigative report on CIA torture.

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