Briefing Memorandum: The McCain Anti-Torture Amendment

To: Senators, congressional staff, and other interested parties
From: Former interrogators and intelligence professionals (Steven Kleinman, William Quinn, Torin Nelson, Joe Navarro, Frank Anderson, Robert McFadden, and Mark Fallon)
Date: June 11, 2015

We, the undersigned, are career intelligence professionals and interrogators with experience in” “the Department of Defense (DOD), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), and other federal agencies and departments charged with protecting our national security. Collectively, we have decades of experience in interrogation and have interrogated thousands of individuals held in U.S. custody, including numerous high-value terrorist suspects. We strongly support the McCain Amendment to the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which would prohibit coercive interrogation techniques that we believe are unlawful and counterproductive, while promoting a lawful model of interrogation—one proven to be the most effective both in field operations and through scientific research—that would enable intelligence professionals to secure reliable information to protect our national security. In this short memorandum, we address two potential concerns with the amendment: 1) that the amendment codifies into federal law the interrogation approaches of the Army Field Manual 2-22.3 (AFM) (“Human Intelligence Collector Operations”) that some have said are designed for interrogating low-level soldiers, not high-level terrorists; and 2) that the amendment requires our nation’s interrogation approaches to remain public—pursuant to current policy—thereby allowing our enemies to effectively develop counter-intelligence and resistance strategies. Below, we respond to these thoughtful concerns with arguments supported by the relevant evidence, science, or operational experience.


Published on June 12, 2015


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