Diane Beaver

Torture Connection: 
"We'll need documentation to protect ourselves"
  • 2002-04, Staff Judge Advocate, Joint Task Force, Guantanamo.
  • After June 2004, Deputy General Counsel for International Affairs, Department of Defense.

Beaver coordinated meetings on interrogation techniques

In the fall of 2002, following the transfer to Guantanamo of "Detainee 063," who was believed to be the twentieth hijacker in the 9/11 plot, agents met frequently to plan and review interrogation strategies for him. Lt. Col. Diane Beaver, an army lawyer whose assignment at Guantanamo included liaison with the International Committee of the Red Cross, chaired several brainstorming and strategizing sessions dealing with unorthodox interrogation techniques. She later admitted that some of the techniques were drawn from television shows, notably the spy show 24, in which Jack Bauer, playing a counter-terrorism agent, always got the bad guys to spill the beans. According to Beaver's boss at Guantanamo, Gen. Michael Dunlavey, agents planted at the base by White House or CIA leaders likely helped shape the discussion at Beaver's meetings. She and her colleagues eventually produced a list of 18 "extreme" interrogation techniques that fell outside of procedures delineated by the Army field manual.

Beaver's memo defends "harsh" interrogations: "Who am I to second-guess the President?"

Beaver's supervisor, Gen. Dunlavey, asked her to prepare a memo for his supervisor, Maj. Gen. Hill, discussing the legality of interrogation practices on the new list. She said later that she considered herself unqualified to write such a document, lacked appropriate reference materials, and had been unsuccessful in obtaining assistance from superiors or colleagues. Nonetheless, she completed the assignment in four days, finding that the extreme techniques, while illegal on their face, could be legitimately undertaken with advance permission, or even advance immunity. She explained her reasoning as an extension of President Bush's determination that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to prisoners at Guantanamo; she assumed that Bush could also decide that the Uniform Code of Military Justice did not apply, and thus that torture-like methods could be utilized. "Who am I," she asked later, "to second-guess the President?"

Beaver stresses secrecy in interrogation practices

Although Pentagon officials up to and including Rumsfeld signed off on Beaver's memo and most of the methods on the Guantanamo list, it was clear to Beaver that the practices remained problematic. For example, prisoners being subjected to the extreme techniques had to be hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross. Some practices had to be publicly denied. Beaver discussed such issues openly at meetings, generating fierce opposition from other military lawyers in the Judge Advocate service. Lawyers who approved of her memo, such as David Addington and Jim Haynes, traveled to Guantanamo to meet with Beaver and eventually traveled with her to Iraq, where Guantanamo-style methods were introduced to American-run prisons there, including Abu Ghraib. Aditionally, Beaver was an advocate of the CIA destroying video tapes of harsh interrogation tactics, including many techniques commonly considered to be torture. In 2004, Beaver was transferred to Washington to work on issues involving prisoners and the Red Cross.

Sources on Diane Beaver

ACLU Blog of Rights
McClatchy Newspapers
Vanity Fair