[Pnews] Torture secrets still being uncovered at Guantanamo

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Wed Jan 15 10:35:10 EST 2020


  Alka Pradhan: Torture secrets still being uncovered at Guantanamo

Alka Pradhan -  Jan 14, 2020


On Jan. 11, the United States marked a dubious milestone: the 18th 
anniversary of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. There are still 40 men 
there, largely forgotten by an American public who wonder how, in 2020, 
we can bring ourselves to hold people of color in camps without legal 
process. The answer is that we allowed three different administrations 
to escape consequences for the torture they admitted, but also to hide 
most of the story — to this day.

In 2012, the torture of my client Ammar al Baluchi was broadcast to the 
world as entertainment in the film “Zero Dark Thirty.” He’d been 
disappeared in 2003 and held by the CIA for 3 ½ years of continuous 
torture before being brought to Guantanamo. During that time, he was 
subjected to mock executions, beaten and starved, endured 2 ½ years of 
intentional sleep deprivation and slammed so hard against a wall by 
multiple interrogators that he sustained a traumatic brain injury that 
affects him to this day.

The CIA gave filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal access to 
classified information for “Zero Dark Thirty” to make it look like 
detainee torture led to Osama bin Laden before the Senate Intelligence 
Committee's report could debunk that falsehood.

But the committee’s full report, a 6,000-page behemoth based on the 
CIA’s own documents, was never released. The executive summary that was 
declassified in 2014 is not the report itself. Five years after the 
release of the executive summary, the full report remains classified, 
accessible to only a handful of people in the government and read by 
fewer than that.

Contrary to “Zero Dark Thirty,” the executive summary concludes that 
Ammar's torture produced no new intelligence at all, but the full report 
contains detailed sections on Ammar's capture and interrogations. I hold 
a top secret security clearance, and I’ve never seen those sections or 
the information that the CIA gave to Ms. Bigelow and Mr. Boal.

Last November, Amazon released “The Report,” a new Hollywood depiction 
of the post-9/11 torture program. The film correctly depicts the CIA’s 
wild efforts to suppress the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings 
and counter it with misinformation, including its involvement with “Zero 
Dark Thirty.”

But “The Report” tells only the very beginning of a story that has never 
ended: about the torture of men for years in secret prisons and how our 
nation has permanently altered as a result. The men brutalized in CIA 
black sites are still at Guantanamo, struggling to survive their torture 
injuries without adequate medical care. Some of them face the death 
penalty before illegal military courts that have become a punchline in 
legal circles around the world. Most Americans have no idea how this 
story continues to affect our national security and relationship with 
allies, in part because the full Senate report is still hidden.

Worse, the cover-up masked the fact that the torture program encompassed 
the entire federal government, not just the CIA. “The Report” depicts 
FBI agents as anti-torture heroes. In reality, new witness testimony in 
the 9/11 case confirms that FBI agents were sending lists of questions 
for the torture and interrogation sessions at the black sites, and 
actively soliciting torture-acquired "answers" from detainees in CIA 
dungeons. In fact, the FBI agents who processed Ammar’s torture 
information from 2003 to 2006 were the same agents to interrogate Ammar 
based on that information in 2007 at Guantanamo Bay. The FBI association 
is mostly unreflected in the executive summary, although the full report 
may shed more light on the extent of the rot.

My team is currently litigating a motion to throw out Ammar’s 2007 
statements to FBI agents as the product of years of torture. If our 
motion doesn't succeed, Ammar may well be executed because of his 
state-sponsored torture.

These are the shadowy chapters of the story whose details are still 
emerging. When Americans see “The Report” or read coverage of 
Guantanamo’s 18th anniversary, we need to remember that the subjects of 
the torture program are still deteriorating in an illegal prison, that 
the full report remains under lock and key, and that we have a right to 
know the rest of the truth. The release of “The Report” should set in 
motion the release of the report, and all Americans should call for 
transparency at Guantanamo Bay until it is closed.

/Alka Pradhan is a civilian human rights attorney representing Ammar al 
Baluchi in United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad et al. (the “9/11 
case”) at the Guantanamo Bay military commissions. Ms. Pradhan is a 
lecturer at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia Carey Law School on the 
topic of International Human Rights Post 9/11. This article does not 
reflect the opinion of the Department of Defense. /

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