“It is basically subject to perception. If the detainee dies you’re doing it wrong.”
This was perhaps the most chillingly outrageous, widely quoted statement by a government official to be aired by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., at hearings last summer and in the committee’s December 11 report on abuse of detainees by U.S. forces.
But the quoted official, CIA lawyer Jonathan Fredman, told the committee on November 18 that he had made no such statement. In fact, Fredman added in a heretofore confidential, five-page memo, he had stressed at the 2002 meeting with interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility described in the Levin committee’s report, “Interrogation practices and legal guidance must not be based upon anyone’s subjective perception” (emphasis added) but rather upon “definitive and binding legal analysis.”
Remarkably, the 18-page report issued by the committee (headed “Executive Summary”) does not mention Fredman’s vehement—and, in my view, quite plausible—denial of the horrifying words attributed to him in a document of debatable reliability that the report, and Levin, have treated as established fact.