[News] Revealed: Senate report contains new details on CIA black sites

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 9 10:43:02 EDT 2014

  Revealed: Senate report contains new details on CIA black sites

John Moore/Getty Images

Sources tell Al Jazeera the Intelligence Committee report accuses spy 
agency of lying about detention and interrogation

April 9, 2014 12:00AM ET
by Jason Leopold 
@JasonLeopold <http://www.twitter.com/JasonLeopold>

A Senate Intelligence Committee report provides the first official 
confirmation that the CIA secretly operated a black site prison out of 
Guantánamo Bay, two U.S. officials who have read portions of the report 
have told Al Jazeera.

The officials --- who spoke on condition of anonymity because the 
6,600-page report on the CIA's detention and interrogation program 
remains classified --- said top-secret agency documents reveal that at 
least 10 high-value targets were secretly held and interrogated at 
Guantánamo's Camp Echo at various times from late 2003 to 2004. They 
were then flown to Rabat, Morocco, before being officially sent to the 
U.S. military's detention facility at Guantánamo in September 2006.

In September 2006, President George W. Bush formally announced that 14 
CIA captives had been transferred to Guantánamo 
<http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/06/washington/06bush_transcript.html> and would 
be prosecuted before military tribunals. He then acknowledged for the 
first time that the CIA had been operating a secret network of prisons 
overseas to detain and interrogate high-value targets.

The Senate report, according to Al Jazeera's sources, says that the CIA 
detained some high-value suspects on Diego Garcia, an Indian Ocean 
island controlled by the United Kingdom and leased to the United States. 
The classified CIA documents say the black site arrangement at Diego 
Garcia was made with the "full cooperation" of the British government. 
That would confirm long-standing claims by human rights investigators 
and journalists, whose allegations --- based on flight logs and unnamed 
government sources --- have routinely been denied by the CIA.

The CIA and State Department declined Al Jazeera's requests for comment.

The Intelligence Committee last week voted 11 to 3 to declassify the 
report's 480-page executive summary 
and 20 conclusions and findings, which incorporate responses from 
Republican members of the committee and from the CIA. The executive 
summary will undergo a declassification review, led by the CIA, with 
input from the State Department and the Office of the Director of 
National Intelligence, the U.S. officials said.

The panel's chairwoman, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said in a 
statement last Thursday that the full 6,600-page report, with 37,000 
footnotes, "will be held for declassification at a later time."

Leaked details of the committee's report have caused waves in countries 
like Poland, where the CIA is known to have operated a black site prison 
--- which Polish officials continue to deny having known about.

The U.S. officials who spoke to Al Jazeera said that the Senate report 
reveals 20 prisoners were secretly detained in Poland from 2002 to 2005. 
They added that Polish officials recently sought assurances from 
diplomats and visiting U.S. officials that the Senate report would 
conceal details about Poland's role in allowing the CIA black site to be 
operated on Polish soil. Al Jazeera's sources said U.S. officials 
reassured their Polish counterparts last year that it was almost certain 
that the declassified version of the report would not identify the 
countries that cooperated with the CIA's detention and interrogation 

According to the Senate report, Al Jazeera's sources said, a majority of 
the more than 100 detainees held in CIA custody were detained in secret 
prisons in Afghanistan and Morocco, where they were subject to torture 
methods not sanctioned by the Justice Department. Those methods are 
recalled by the report in vivid narratives lifted from daily logs of the 
detention and interrogation of about 34 high-value prisoners. The report 
allegedly notes that about 85 detainees deemed low-value passed through 
the black sites and were later dumped at Guantánamo or handed off to 
foreign intelligence services. More than 10 of those handed over to 
foreign intelligence agencies "to face terrorism charges" are now 
"unaccounted for" and presumed dead, the U.S. officials said.

The Senate report says more than two dozen of these men designated 
low-value had, in fact, been wrongfully detained and rendered to other 
countries on the basis of intelligence obtained from CIA captives under 
torture and from information shared with CIA officials by other 
governments, both of which turned out to be false. The report allegedly 
singles out a top CIA official for botching a handful of renditions and 
outlines agency efforts to cover up the mistakes.

The Senate report allegedly accuses "senior CIA officials" of lying 
during multiple closed-session briefings to members of Congress from 
2003 to 2005 about the use of certain "enhanced" interrogation 
techniques. The report says an agency official lied to Congress in 2005 
when he insisted the U.S. was adhering to international treaties barring 
cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners, the U.S. officials told Al 

The report not only accuses certain CIA officials of deliberately 
misleading Congress; Al Jazeera's sources say it also suggests that the 
agency sanctioned leaks to selected journalists about phantom plots 
supposedly disrupted as a result of information gained through the 
program in order to craft a narrative of success.

The Senate report, like a 2009 Senate Armed Services Committee report 
says Air Force psychologists under contract to the CIA 
reverse-engineered a decades-old resistance-training program taught to 
U.S. airmen known as survival evasion resistance escape (SERE).

According to a SERE training document obtained by Al Jazeera titled 
"Coercive Exploitation Techniques," Air Force personnel were taught that 
communist regimes used "deprivations" of "food, water, sleep and medical 
care" as well as "the use of threats" in order to weaken a captive's 
mental and physical ability to resist interrogation. "Isolation" would 
be used, according to the SERE program, to deprive the "recipient of all 
social support" so that he develops a "dependency" on his interrogator. 
And "physical duress, violence and torture" are used to weaken "mental 
and physical ability to resist exploitation."

Ironically, perhaps, the SERE document (displayed below) notes that such 
techniques were used by the Soviet Union, China and North Korea to 
obtain false confessions.

Senate investigators allegedly obtained from the CIA a 2003 "business 
plan," written by Air Force psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce 
Jessen, that contained erroneous details about the positive aspects of 
the enhanced interrogation program and the veracity of the intelligence 
its extracted from detainees. The "business plan" states that Al-Qaeda 
captives were "resistant" to "standard" interrogation techniques, an 
argument the Senate report found lacked merit because torture techniques 
were used before they were even questioned.

Neither Jessen, who lives in Spokane, Wash., nor Mitchell, who resides 
in Land o' Lakes, Fla., responded to phone calls or emails for comment. 
Both men are featured prominently in the Senate's report, according to 
U.S. officials.

    The 'experiment'

According to Al Jazeera's sources, Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain Abu 
<http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/abu-zubaydah-diaries.html> was 
the only captive subjected to all 10 torture techniques identified in an 
August 2002 Justice Department memo. But the U.S. officials said the 
Senate report concludes that the methods applied to Abu Zubaydah went 
above and beyond the guidelines outlined in that memo and were used 
before the memo establishing their legality was written.

The Senate report allegedly adopts part of a narrative from former FBI 
special agent Ali Soufan, who first interrogated Abu Zubaydah at the 
black site and wrote in his book "The Black Banners" that Mitchell was 
conducting an "experiment" on Abu Zubaydah.

For example, the August 2002 Justice Department legal memo authorized 
sleep deprivation for Abu Zubaydah for 11 consecutive days, but Mitchell 
kept him awake far longer, the U.S. officials said, citing classified 
CIA cables. Abu Zubaydah was stripped naked, strapped into a chair and 
doused with cold water to keep him awake. He was then interrogated and 
asked what he knew, at which point, his attorney told Al Jazeera, Abu 
Zubaydah was "psychotic" and would have admitted to anything.

Additionally, the report allegedly says that Abu Zubaydah was stuffed 
into a pet crate (the type used to transport dogs on airplanes) over the 
course of two weeks and routinely passed out, was shackled by his wrists 
to the ceiling of his cell and subjected to an endless loop of loud 
music. One former interrogator briefed about Abu Zubaydah's 
interrogations from May to July 2002 told Al Jazeera that the music used 
to batter the detainee's senses was by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Abu Zubaydah's attorney, Brent Mickum, hopes the Senate report's 
executive summary will vindicate what he has been saying for years. "My 
client was tortured brutally well before any legal memo was issued," 
Mickum said. He expects the report to "show that my client was a 
nonmember of Al-Qaeda, contrary to all of the earlier reports by the 
Bush administration. I am also confident that the report will show that, 
after he was deemed to be compliant while he was held in Thailand, that 
he continued to be tortured on explicit orders from the Bush 

The Senate report, according to Al Jazeera's sources, says that CIA 
interrogators were under an enormous pressure from top agency officials, 
themselves under pressure from the White House, to use "enhanced" 
interrogation techniques to obtain information from detainees connecting 
Iraq and Al-Qaeda.

One interrogator who worked for the CIA and the U.S. military during 
Bush's tenure and participated in the interrogations of two high-value 
CIA prisoners told Al Jazeera --- speaking on condition of 
anonymity because he is still employed by the U.S. government --- that 
the "enhanced" interrogation program was "nothing more than the Stanford 
Prison Experiment writ large." (The 1971 Stanford University study 
shocked the public <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-14564182> 
by demonstrating how easily people placed in authority over more 
vulnerable others resorted to cruelty.)

"Interrogators were being pressured --- You have to get info from these 
people,'" the interrogator told Al Jazeera. "There was no consideration 
that the person we were interrogating may not know. That was always seen 
as a resistance technique. 'They [the detainees] must be lying!' There 
was pressure on us from above to produce what they wanted. Not a single 
person I worked with knew how to conduct an interrogation or [had] ever 
conducted an interrogation."

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