CIA'S Horrific Torture: Detainee Asked "To Die or to Just be Killed"
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NEW DELHI: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani vowed to investigate CIA abuse at a detention center in Afghanistan following the release of a condensed United States’ Senate Intelligence Committee report, which the Afghan leader described as “shocking.”
The report comes as the US closes its last prison in Afghanistan, releasing the final three detainees from the Parwan Detention Center on Wednesday. At least one of the detainees, Redha al-Najar, was the subject of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” described in the Senate report, which Ghani condemned as a violation of “accepted norms of human rights in the world.”
Al-Najar, a former bodyguard of Osama Bin Laden, was interrogated using techniques that included "isolation in total darkness; lowering the quality of his food; keeping him at an uncomfortable (cold) temperature, playing music 24 hours a day and keeping him shackled and hooded." He was left hanging, his wrists handcuffed to an overhead bar, for 22 hours for two days, wearing a diaper with no access to toilet facilities. After a month, the Senate report concluded, al-Najar was left "clearly a broken man" and "on the verge of complete breakdown."
The CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” were put in place after September 11, with much of the interrogation taking place in Afghanistan. According to the Senate report, a secret facility known as Detention Site Cobalt, believed to be outside Kabul, was one of the first places where interrogators tortured detainees with techniques that included sleep deprivation, beatings, threats, chaining to walls and exposure to extreme temperatures.
The treatment of Afghan detainees by the CIA has been an emotive issue for Afghans, with the Senate report, for the first time, demonstrating the extent of the abuse. Speaking on television, Ghani said, “There is no justification for such acts and human torturing in the world." The Afghan President vowed to investigate how many Afghans had suffered abuse at US detention centers operating in the country, and reiterated that following this year, this US will no longer have the right to hold detainees in Afghanistan.
The CIA had defended the “enhanced interrogation techniques” on grounds that they helped solicit information that could not otherwise be obtained. This is linked to the most significant part of the report, which concludes that these techniques -- considered equivalent to torture -- were not necessary to “save lives” or deliver information that was not being solicited by other means.
"The use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information," the report concluded. It debunked the top 20 examples the CIA has used to defend the enhanced interrogation program, noting that each of the examples "was found to be wrong in fundamental respects."
In fact, the report goes a step further and says that false confessions obtained by brutal techniques led to dead leads. In short, the enhanced interrogation techniques adopted by the CIA either led to false information or to information that had already been obtained through alternative techniques.
A glimpse into the brutality of the techniques is evident through a few examples in the report.
Techniques used by the CIA "involved keeping detainees awake for up to 180 hours, usually standing or in stress positions, at times with their hands shackled above their heads." Other techniques included "rectal rehydration," "ice water 'baths,'" and threatening detainees with threats to harm detainees' families, including threats to "sexually abuse the mother of a detainee," according to the summary of the report.
The report notes that at times, detainees were kept in pitch-black freezing rooms "with loud noise or music and only a bucket to use for human waste." One such detainee "who had been held partially nude and chained to a concrete floor" died in Nov. 2002 from suspected hypothermia.
At least five prisoners were subject to "rectal rehydration" or "rectal feeding."
The report notes that an officer played “Russian Roulette” with a detainee
The waterboarding technique led to a prisoner nearly drowning.
A prisoner was tortured for months based on the false accusations of another prisoner.
The techniques had deep psychological and physical consequences.
One prisoner, as a result of sleep deprivation, began hallucinating "dogs mauling and killing his sons."
Several prisoners developed sleep psychosis, leading to hallucinations, paranoia and attempts to self-mutilate.
The damning report notes that the CIA misled the White House, Congress, and other agencies. President George W Bush was not briefed on "the specific CIA enhanced interrogation techniques before April 2006," by which time, 38 of the 39 detainees on whom the techniques were used had already been in custody and interrogated. The CIA’s lack of records means that the number of detainees who faced these interrogation procedures could have been more.
Further, the report alleges that the CIA "provided extensive amounts of inaccurate and incomplete information" to the White House and security agencies. It states that the CIA wrongly stated that the “enhanced interrogation techniques were uniquely effective and necessary to produce otherwise unavailable intelligence that the U.S. government could not obtain from other sources.”