Horrific new details have come to light exposing various methods the CIA used for torture after 9/11, ones that were never disclosed. While it has been widely known that people were tortured by the U.S. in various secret locations around the world, the extent wasnt fully known till now. Outside of the standard waterboarding, some were threatened with an electric chair, others left in dirty diapers, and more threatened to be left in a coffin. Some of these people were never even charged with a crime.
Two Tunisians formerly held in secret United States Central Intelligence Agency give their story in the following interview.
While I believe that security is important, human rights are even more important. If this can happen to them, it can happen to anyone. Basic human rights must be upheld and there must be due process for everyone.
What do you think: Do these people deserve what they get? Or is this just inhumane?
The world already knows about the CIA torture program. Why are these new accounts so significant?
These two men were some of the earliest detainees in the CIA program – until now we’ve not heard directly from anyone detained at “Cobalt” during that time. And what their accounts show is that our understanding of the torture methods described in the Senate Summary is very limited, and that there were more brutal methods being used that the public didn’t even know about – and perhaps still further forms of torture that have yet to be uncovered.
Well, the Senate Summary said that al-Najjar was left hanging, chained from a bar over his head, for 22 hours each day for two consecutive days. But al-Najjar told me this “hanging,” as he described it, went on for nearly three months. He was only taken down from the bar about once every 24-hours, for interrogation or other forms of torture. Then he was hung right back up again. And for this entire time he and others were in pitch-black darkness, naked except for diapers, with loud music blaring around the clock.
You also uncovered new forms of torture, didn’t you?
Yes, both men said they were threatened with an electric chair, although it was never used on them. We’ve never heard about an electric chair being used or threatened at CIA detention facilities. El Gherissi was also shown a coffin and told he’d be put in it. And they revealed new types of water torture. In addition to waterboarding or water dousing on a board, they were dunked in barrels, and al-Najjar said he was strapped to a board with his entire body inserted, face down, into a large tub of ice-cold water. He told me they did this until: “I couldn’t handle it anymore and was on the verge of completely falling apart.”
You found that the men were kept in diapers, which were not changed for up to 4 days at a time. Why do that to an adult?
It was for humiliation. And that’s on the record. The Senate Summary said that the CIA claimed men were kept in diapers for sanitary reasons, but said this claim was belied by the CIA’s own records. And when the CIA released its own investigation into the death of one detainee, that report clearly says that diapers were used to humiliate detainees. The Convention against Torture, which the US has ratified, specifically prohibits cruel and degrading treatment.
No. They said they usually went without food for days at a time and al-Najjar told me he sometimes went a week without food. They also said the food was completely inedible. It would have pebbles, hair, dirt – and once even a cigarette butt – in it. Al-Najjar said he lost 50 kilograms (110 pounds) during his detention at the CIA site.
One of the most disturbing things is the role of a doctor in all this. Tell me about that.
Al-Najjar said that while he was still in CIA custody, a doctor he described as an American would come and check on him, and occasionally give him injections to reduce the swelling from his beatings. But once the swelling went down, this doctor would give the green light for the torture to begin all over again.
El Gherissi said the torture finally stopped when a doctor told his interrogators, “If he stays for another week, he will die.” He said he then was moved into total isolation for two months, which, he told me “is when I totally lost it.”
Read the full interview HERE