By Eric Lichtblau
The New York Times -WASHINGTON
The Justice Department has opened a wide-ranging investigation into reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the military's use of coercive and abusive tactics tactics against prisoners held in American custody at Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq, officials said on Thursday .
The investigation ,initiated recently by the inspector general at the Justice Department , will examine not only how reports of abuse witnessed by FBI agents at the American base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Iraq were handled. But also whether bureau agents them selves took part in any improper methods of interrogation at the prisons, which are run by the military .
Investigators " want to look at what happened to these complaints , and also also did FBI agents participate in the abuse ? " said a senior law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity . " Were they more than simply witnesses ?" .
The Justice Department inquiry parallels a separate investigation by the military into the tactics used by its interrogators at Guantanamo .
A raft of documents, released to the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act, has disclosed concerns by FBI agents stationed at the Guantanmo prison who said in e-mail messages and memorandums that they had seen military interrogators using " coercive tactics, " beating prisoners and grabbing their genitals.
Some bureau personnel reported their deep concerns about the tactics to senior agency personnel. Including the director, Robert S. Mueller III One focus of the inspector general's inquiry will be to determine how those internal concerns were handled within the agency and whether they were relayed to proper authorities in the military and elsewhere in the administration .
The documents obtained by the ACLU suggest the possibility that some FBI agents may have acquiesced in or ignored abusive military tactics at Guantanamo at times, but they do not appear to offer evidence of specific abuses carried out by anyone at the bureau .
A senior official at the bureau said Thursday that he was unaware of any complaints of abuses carried out by its agents at Guantanamo and pledged the bureau's full cooperation in the inspector general's investigation .
" This is a healthy process, " the official said of the review . We'll bend over backwards to help and do whatever needs to be done," an " urgent request" for the office to investigate the reports of torture and to determine how presidential or military directives played into such tactics.
Glenn A . Fine , the inspector general at the Justice Department, responded on Jan . 4 , saying that his office had already begun " examining the involvement of Federal Bureau of Investigation staff in either observing or participating in the alleged abuse of detainees at the Guantanamo facility and at Abu Ghraib, " according to a copy of the letter provided by a member of Congress to The New York Times .
The inspector general's office began investigating the treatment of prisoners before the ACLU documents became public , officials said. It was not clear whether an internal complaint or separate concerns had led the inspector general's office to open its investigation.
Fine's office which has jurisdiction over the FBI, is known for its aggressive oversight of the Justice Department . It has produced several critical reports of the department's treatment of illegal immigrant detained in the United States after the Sept .11 attacks, the bureau's difficulties in translating terrorism material, and on other national security issues .
The office is expected to release another critical report on Friday regarding a former FBI linguist who said she had been retaliated against for complaining of ineptitude in the bureau's translation programs.
Fine's latest investigation takes him into perhaps his most sensitive terrain yet, centering on the Bush administration's tactics and legal rationales for how it elicits information from terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo and in Iraq .
The documents obtained by the ACLU showed that the bureau's concerns at Guantanamo dated back as far as December 2002, some 10 months before abusive tactics at Abu Ghraib started. Critics of the Bush administration have argued that a series of legal decisions in Washington by senior administration officials condoned a permissive attitude toward abuse and opened the way for the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo .
But Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House Counsel who has been nominated as attorney general, denounced the use of torture against terrorism suspects at his confirmation hearing last week .