By ERIC LICHTBLAU
WASHINGTON — A new Justice Department report praises the refusal of F.B.I. agents to take part in the military’s abusive questioning of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan, but it also finds fault with the bureau’s slow response to complaints about the tactics from its own agents, people with knowledge of the still-secret report said.
The department inspector general’s office is expected to conclude that no agents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation took part in the military’s rough interrogations, a key validation for the bureau, officials said. “The F.B.I. should be credited for its conduct and professionalism in detainee interrogations in the military zones,” the inspector general said in one section of the report, which is likely to be released publicly next week.
At the same time, however, the report is also expected to say that the F.B.I. was sometimes too slow to respond to what were often serious misgivings from its agents about interrogation tactics, officials said, and that it lacked clear guidelines and training on how such complaints should have been handled.
The F.B.I. stationed agents at Guantánamo Bay and other military detention sites to assist in the questioning of detainees taken into custody after Sept. 11, but the rough tactics by military interrogators soon became a major source of friction between the bureau and sister agencies. F.B.I. agents complained to superiors beginning in 2002 that the tactics they had seen yielded little actual intelligence, prevented them from establishing a rapport with detainees through more traditional means of questioning and might violate F.B.I. policy or American law.
One F.B.I. memorandum spoke of “torture techniques” used by military interrogators. Agents described seeing things like inmates handcuffed in a fetal position for up to 24 hours, left to defecate on themselves, intimidated by dogs, made to wear women’s underwear and subjected to strobe lights and extreme heat and cold.
Ultimately, the F.B.I. ordered its agents not to participate in or remain present when such tactics were used. But that directive was not formalized until May 2004, and it governed only the F.B.I. Robert S. Mueller III, director of the F.B.I., told Congress that he was not made aware of his agents’ concerns until 2004.
The inspector general’s report is expected to focus on the questions of what the F.B.I. agents observed, how their complaints were handled internally and whether agents were involved in any improper interrogation tactics themselves.
The review is limited to the F.B.I. because the inspector general does not have jurisdiction over the Defense Department or the Central Intelligence Agency, which led the interrogations at various sites. Beyond the tactics used by military interrogators, it is not clear whether the report will address interrogations by the C.I.A. that may have been witnessed by F.B.I. agents.
An F.B.I. official with knowledge of the criticisms in the report said: “Could we have done more, more quickly? Or could we have provided better guidance?” The answer, the official said, was probably yes, but he added, “It was difficult to tell agents what the rules were because we didn’t know ourselves.”
The inspector general’s office refused to comment on the investigation, which was started in late 2004, and many details of the report remain unknown.
The inspector general’s office has produced a series of often blistering reports about key counterterrorism policies in the Bush administration. In contrast, one Congressional staff member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the criticisms of the F.B.I. in the report are expected to be relatively mild.
But Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, which unearthed many of the F.B.I.’s internal e-mail messages on the Guantánamo tactics through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, said: “We’re anticipating some very significant findings. It would not have taken three and one-half years to issue a clean bill of health.”
Mr. Romero said the key question to be answered in the inspector general’s report was how senior officials at F.B.I. headquarters responded to the uncomfortable issues raised by lower-level agents. “Did they turn a blind eye to the reports by their own agents?” he asked.
A military investigation in 2005 examining the complaints of F.B.I. agents at Guantánamo Bay concluded that the treatment was sometimes degrading, but did not qualify as inhumane or torture.
Nonetheless, lingering tensions have continued to dog both the Defense Department and the F.B.I. Just three weeks ago at a House hearing, Mr. Mueller was pressed on whether the F.B.I. had moved quickly enough to answer its agents’ complaints.
“If we received allegations from our people,” he said, “it was then over a period of time passed on to the authorities responsible for the investigation of such allegations, which at Guantánamo would have been D.O.D.,” or the Department of Defense.
In an appearance Friday at the National Press Club, Mr. Mueller said once again that the F.B.I.’s policy was “not to use coercion” in interrogations.
Asked whether interrogation policy should be made clearer through a national policy, Mr. Mueller paused a moment and said, “I will speak for the F.B.I.”
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