Posts Tagged ‘Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’

USA: ‘Vomiting and screaming’ in destroyed waterboarding tapes

May 11, 2012

By Peter Taylor,  BBC Newsnight, May 9, 2012

Secret CIA video tapes of the waterboarding of Osama Bin Laden’s suspected jihadist travel arranger Abu Zubaydah show him vomiting and screaming, the BBC has learned.

The tapes were destroyed by the head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, Jose Rodriguez.

In an exclusive interview for Newsnight, Rodriguez has defended the destruction of the tapes and denied waterboarding and other interrogation techniques amount to torture.

The CIA tapes are likely to become central to the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of 9/11, at Guantanamo Bay.

When Khalid Sheikh Mohammed appeared before a special military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay last Saturday, he refused to put on the headphones that would enable him to hear the translator.

His civilian attorney, David Nevin, said he could not wear them because of the torture he had suffered during his interrogation.

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The Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Show Trial

November 26, 2009

By J.R. Dunn, American Thinker, November 26, 2009

AG Eric Holder’s statement that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will remain in custody no matter the verdict in his upcoming Manhattan trial coupled with Obama’s instructions to the jury that KSM be “convicted and executed” reveals the entire exercise as a show trial — a ritual effort intended not to achieve justice, but to make a public political point. The question is, what could that point possibly be?

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Ex-CIA official John Helgerson says agents lost control after torture go-ahead

August 26, 2009

Times Online/UK, August 26, 2009

Tim Reid in Washington

The author of a scathing report on CIA interrogations during the Bush era has claimed that certain operatives lost control once they had been authorised to use “enhanced” interrogation techniques such as waterboarding.

John Helgerson, the former inspector-general of the CIA, also told The Times that the Obama Administration had cut key passages of his report out of the released version, a decision he found “puzzling”.

Mr Helgerson told The Times that the CIA had given assurances to the Justice Department that although the techniques would be used more than once, repetition would “not be substantial”.

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Detainee says he gave false story after harsh interrogation

June 17, 2009

Suspected Sept. 11 organizer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told U.S. military officials he gave false information to the CIA even after undergoing…

By Julian E. Barnes and Greg Miller |  The Seattle Times, June 16, 2009

Tribune Washington Bureau

Sept. 11 suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

Sept. 11 suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

WASHINGTON — Suspected Sept. 11 organizer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told U.S. military officials he gave false information to the CIA even after undergoing punishing bouts of interrogation, according to documents made public Monday, a claim likely to intensify the debate over the Bush administration’s use of harsh techniques to gain information from terrorism suspects.

Mohammed made the assertion during hearings held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the militant leader was transferred in 2006 after being held at secret CIA sites since his capture in 2003.

“I make up stories,” Mohammed said, describing in broken English an interrogation likely administered by the CIA concerning the location of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

“Where is he? I don’t know. Then, he torture me,” Mohammed said. “Then I said, ‘Yes, he is in this area.’ ”

The admission could amplify calls for the Obama administration to make public more information about the abuse of detainees or to allow a broader inquiry into the Bush administration’s interrogation policies. Monday’s disclosure, representing the first allegation by a detainee that he lied while being subjected to harsh practices, also could raise more questions about the effectiveness of the techniques.

The transcripts were released as part of a lawsuit in which the American Civil Liberties Union is seeking documents and details of the government’s terrorism-detainee programs.

Previous accounts of the military tribunal hearings had been made public, but the Obama administration reviewed the still-secret sections and determined that more could be released.

Most of the new material centers on the detainees’ claims of abuse during interrogations while being held overseas in CIA custody.

One detainee, Abu Zubaydah, told the tribunal that after months “of suffering and torture, physically and mentally, they did not care about my injuries.”

Zubaydah was the first detainee subjected to Bush administration-approved harsh interrogation techniques, which included a simulated form of drowning known as waterboarding, slamming the suspect into walls and prolonged periods of nudity.

Zubaydah claimed in the hearing that he “nearly died four times.”

Torture Used to Try to Link Saddam with 9/11

April 27, 2009

By MARJORIE COHN | Counterpunch, April 24 – 26, 2009

When I testified last year before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties about Bush interrogation policies, Congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz) stated that former CIA Director Michael Hayden had confirmed that the Bush administration only waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zabaydah, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashirit for one minute each. I told Franks that I didn’t believe that. Sure enough, one of the newly released torture memos reveals that Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times and Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times. One of Stephen Bradbury’s 2005 memos asserted that “enhanced techniques” on Zubaydah yielded the identification of Mohammed and an alleged radioactive bomb plot by Jose Padilla. But FBI supervisory special agent Ali Soufan, who interrogated Zubaydah from March to June 2002, wrote in the New York Times that Zubaydah produced that information under traditional interrogation methods, before the harsh techniques were ever used.

Why, then, the relentless waterboarding of these two men? It turns out that high Bush officials put heavy pressure on Pentagon interrogators to get Mohammed and Zubaydah to reveal a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 hijackers, in order to justify Bush’s illegal and unnecessary invasion of Iraq in 2003. That link was never established.

President Obama released the four memos in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU. They describe unimaginably brutal techniques and provide “legal” justification for clearly illegal acts of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. In the face of monumental pressure from the CIA to keep them secret, Obama demonstrated great courage in deciding to make the grotesque memos public. At the same time, however, in an attempt to pacify the intelligence establishment, Obama said, “it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.”

In startlingly clinical and dispassionate terms, the authors of the newly-released torture memos describe and then rationalize why the devastating techniques the CIA sought to employ on human beings do not violate the Torture Statute (18 U.S.C. sec. 2340).

The memos justify 10 techniques, including banging heads into walls 30 times in a row, prolonged nudity, repeated slapping, dietary manipulation, and dousing with cold water as low as 41 degrees. They allow shackling in a standing position for 180 hours, sleep deprivation for 11 days, confinement of people in small dark boxes with insects for hours, and waterboarding to create the perception they are drowning. Moreover, the memos permit many of these techniques to be used in combination for a 30-day period. They find that none of these techniques constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Waterboarding, admittedly the most serious of the methods, is designed, according to Jay Bybee, to induce the perception of “suffocation and incipient panic, i.e. the perception of drowning.” But although Bybee finds that “the use of the waterboard constitutes a threat of imminent death,” he accepts the CIA’s claim that it does “not anticipate that any prolonged mental harm would result from the use of the waterboard.” One of Bradbury’s memos requires that a physician be on duty during waterboarding to perform a tracheotomy in case the victim doesn’t recover after being returned to an upright position.

As psychologist Jeffrey Kaye points out, the CIA and the Justice Department “ignored a wealth of other published information” that indicates dissociative symptoms, changes greater than those in patients undergoing heart surgery, and drops in testosterone to castration levels after acute stress associated with techniques that the memos sanction.

The Torture Statute punishes conduct, or conspiracy to engage in conduct, specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering. “Severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from either the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering, or from the threat of imminent death.

Bybee asserts that “if a defendant acts with the good faith belief that his actions will not cause such suffering, he has not acted with specific intent.” He makes the novel claim that the presence of personnel with medical training who can stop the interrogation if medically necessary “indicates that it is not your intent to cause severe physical pain.”

Now a federal judge with lifetime appointment, Bybee concludes that waterboarding does not constitute torture under the Torture Statute. However, he writes, “we cannot predict with confidence whether a court would agree with this conclusion.”

Bybee’s memo explains why the 10 techniques could be used on Abu Zubaydah, who was considered to be a top Al Qaeda operative. “Zubaydah does not have any pre-existing mental conditions or problems that would make him likely to suffer prolonged mental harm from [the CIA’s] proposed interrogation methods,” the CIA told Bybee. But Zubaydah was a low-ranking Al Qaeda operative, according to leading FBI counter-terrorism expert Dan Coleman, who advised a top FBI official, “This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality.” This was reported by Ron Suskind in his book, The One Percent Doctrine.

The CIA’s request to confine Zubaydah in a cramped box with an insect was granted by Bybee, who told the CIA it could place a harmless insect in the box and tell Zubaydah that it will sting him but it won’t kill him. Even though the CIA knew that Zubaydah had an irrational fear of insects, Bybee found there would be no threat of severe physical pain or suffering if it followed this procedure.

Obama’s intent to immunize those who violated our laws banning torture and cruel treatment violates the President’s constitutional duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

U.S. law prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and requires that those who subject people to such treatment be prosecuted. The Convention against Torture compels us to refer all torture cases for prosecution or extradite the suspect to a country that will undertake a criminal investigation.

Obama has made a political calculation to seek amnesty for the CIA torturers. However, good faith reliance on superior orders was rejected as a defense at Nuremberg and in Lt. Calley’s Vietnam-era trial for the My Lai Massacre. The Torture Convention provides unequivocally, “An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification for torture.”

There is evidence that the CIA was using the illegal techniques as early as April 2002, three to four months before the August memo was written. That would eliminate “good faith” reliance on Justice Department advice as a “defense” to prosecution.

The Senate IntelligenceCommittee revealed that Condoleezza Rice approved waterboarding in July 17, 2002 “subject to a determination of legality by the OLC.” She got it two weeks later from Bybee and John Yoo. Rice, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales and George Tenet reassured the CIA in spring 2003 that the abusive methods were legal.

Obama told AP’s Jennifer Loven in the Oval Office: “With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that is going to be more of a decision for the Attorney General within the parameters of various laws, and I don’t want to prejudge that.” If Holder continues to carry out Obama’s political agenda by resisting investigations and prosecution, Congress can, and should, authorize the appointment of a special independent prosecutor to do what the law requires.

The President must fulfill his constitutional duty to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed. Obama said that “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” He is wrong. There is more to gain from upholding the rule of law. It will make future leaders think twice before they authorize the cruel, illegal treatment of other human beings.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president of the National Lawyers Guild and author of Cowboy Republic. and co-author of the new book, Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent. Her articles are archived at www.marjoriecohn.com.

Barack Obama halts Guantanamo trials

January 21, 2009

January 21, 2009

A Naval officer Bill Mesta places an official photo of newly sworn-in President Barack Obama, in the lobby of the Guantanamo Bay headquarters

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, Pool)

Barack Obama’s photograph replaces that of George Bush at Guantanamo Bay

Hours after being sworn in as US President, Barack Obama has called for a halt to Guantanamo war crimes tribunals, a move which will begin the long awaited process of dismantling the prison itself.

His request for a 120-day suspension of all 21 pending tribunals will bring to a halt the case against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind and four co-defendants who faced the death penalty if convicted.

Military judges are expected to rule on Mr Obama’s request to halt the trials today at the US naval base.

The request by Mr Obama was widely anticipated – he had already vowed to close down the prison and its controversial military commission trial system.

“In order to permit the newly inaugurated president and his administration time to review the military commission process, generally, and the cases currently pending before the military commissions, specifically, the secretary of defense has, by order of the president directed the chief prosecutor to seek continuances of 120 days in all pending case,” prosecutor Clay Trivett said, in the written request to the judges.

The request said that freezing the trials until May 20 would give the new administration time to evaluate the cases and decide what forum best suits any future prosecution.

About 245 foreign captives are still held at the detention centre that opened in January 2002. The Bush administration had said it planned to try 80 prisoners on war crimes charges, but only three cases have been completed.

Defence lawyers had complained that the tribunals allowed hearsay evidence and coerced testimony, and were the subject of so much political interference that fairness was impossible.

Cheney Admits Authorizing Detainee’s Torture

December 16, 2008

Outgoing VP says Guantanamo prison should stay open until end of terror war, but has no idea when that might be

By David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster | The Raw Story, Dec 16, 2008

Monday, outgoing Vice President Dick Cheney made a startling statement on a nation-wide, televised broadcast.

When asked by ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl whether he approved of interrogation tactics used against a so-called “high value prisoner” at the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison, Mr. Cheney, in a break from his history of being press-shy, admitted to giving official sanctioning of torture.

Video is from ABC’s World News, broadcast Dec. 15, 2008.

“I supported it,” he said regarding the practice known as “water-boarding,” a form of simulated drowning. After World War II, Japanese soldiers were tried and convicted of war crimes in US courts for water-boarding, a practice which the outgoing Bush administration attempted to enshrine in policy.

“I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn’t do,” Cheney said. “And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it.”

He added: “It’s been a remarkably successful effort, and I think the results speak for themselves.”

ABC asked him if in hindsight he thought the tactics went too far. “I don’t,” he said.

The prisoner in question, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who the Bush administration alleges to have planned the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is one of Guantanamo’s “high value targets” thus far charged with war crimes.

Former military interrogator Travis Hall disagrees with Cheney’s position.

“Proponents of Guantanamo underestimate what a powerful a propaganda tool Guantanamo has become for terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, despite several Department of Defense studies documenting the propaganda value of detention centers,” he said in a column for Opposing Views.

“For example, West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center has monitored numerous Al Qaeda references to Guantanamo in its recruitment propaganda materials,” continued Hall. “Improvements to Guantanamo’s administration of judicial mechanisms will not make its way into Al Qaeda propaganda. Nothing short of closing Guantanamo will remove this arrow from its quiver.”

President-elect Barack Obama has promised to close the prison and pull US forces out of Iraq. Cheney, however, has a different timeline for when Guantanamo Bay prison may be “responsibly” retired.

“Well, I think that that would come with the end of the war on terror,” he told ABC.

Problematic to his assertion: Mr. Bush’s “war on terror” is undefinable and unending by it’s very nature, and Cheney seems to recognize this as fact.

Asked when his administration’s terror war will end, he jostled, “Well, nobody knows. Nobody can specify that.”

The Dark Side Of The “Free World”

August 31, 2008


By Rob Gowland | Information Clearing House

The book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals, published in mid-July, is written by US journalist Jane Mayer, whose specialty is writing about counter-­terrorism for The New Yorker.

The book has particularly peeved the CIA and its boss in the White House for, apparently, Ms Mayer has had access to a secret report by the International Committee of the Red Cross issued last year labelling the CIA’s interrogation methods for “high-level Qaeda prisoners” as “categorically” torture. In consequence, the Bush administration officials who approved these methods would be guilty of war crimes.

The book says the Red Cross report was shared with the CIA, President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

It would not be the first time of course that US authorities (civil, intelligence or military) have indulged in or turned a blind eye to torture or other forms of horrifying brutality.

One thinks of their blood-soaked activities to thwart the former Communist Resistance leaders from gaining political power in Western Europe after WW2, or their even more bloody destruction of democracy in Guatemala or Chile, El Salvador and pre-Castro Cuba.

The many atrocities by US forces in Korea and Vietnam were far too numerous to be the work of “rotten apples”; they were clearly the result of US government and military policy, just like the actions of the US military in charge of the Abu Graib prison in Iraq.

A society that bases itself on force and brutality, on state terrorism, while simultaneously indulging in the most hypocritical lip-service to the ideals of humaneness and justice, cannot but find excuses for torture.

Only last year or the year before, Amnesty International — an organisation not noted for being hostile to the USA — stated that the procedures in many US civilian jails amounted to torture. Military prisons operated by the US in other countries must surely be hell on earth.

Red Cross representatives were only permitted to interview high-level “terrorist” detainees in late 2006, after they were moved to the military detention centre in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Until then, while the prisoners were being “interrogated” in the CIA’s secret prisons, the Red Cross was not given access to them.

It is now well known that these secret prisons are located in US client states, some in Eastern Europe where anti-Communist regimes are all too willing to co-operate with their US backers, and some in states like Egypt that are equally dependent on US support. Significantly, they all practice torture.

We have all seen the images from Guantánamo Bay of prisoners, shackled and manacled, stumbling along with a guard on either side. But all the time, the particularly frightening threat hangs over them of being taken from there and returned to one of the secret prisons away from any prying eyes.

In testimony to the Red Cross, Abu Zubaydah, the first major Al Qaeda figure the United States captured, told how he was confined in a box “so small he said he had to double up his limbs in the foetal position” and was one of several prisoners to be “slammed against the walls”.

The CIA has admitted that Abu Zubaydah and two other prisoners were water-boarded, a form of torture in which water is poured in the nose and mouth of the victim to simulate the sensation of suffocation and drowning.

The Pentagon and the CIA have both defended water-boarding on the same grounds: “because it works”, the torturer’s classic justification. Jane Mayer’s book says Abu Zubaydah told the Red Cross that he had been water-boarded at least ten times in a single week and as many as three times in a day.

The Red Cross report says that another high level prisoner, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged chief planner of the attacks of September 11, 2001, told them that he had been kept naked for more than a month and claimed that he had been “kept alternately in suffocating heat and in a painfully cold room”.

A New York Times article on the report says the prisoners considered the “most excruciating” of the methods was being shackled to the ceiling and being forced to stand for as long as eight hours. This is a well-known torture technique that has severe physical effects on the victim’s body.

According to The New York Times article, eleven of the 14 prisoners reported to the Red Cross that they had suffered prolonged sleep deprivation, including “bright lights and eardrum-shattering sounds 24 hours a day”.

The New York Times reported that a CIA spokesman had confirmed that Red Cross workers had been “granted access to the detained terrorists at Guantánamo and heard their claims”.

The same CIA spokesman said the agency’s interrogations were based on “detailed legal guidance from the Department of Justice” and had “produced solid information that has contributed directly to the disruption of terrorist activities”. There’s that justification of torture again.

Bernard Barrett of the International Committee of the Red Cross declined to comment on the book when asked by The New York Times. He did not deny any of the book’s claims, but regretted “that any information has been attributed to us” because, it seems, the International Committee of the Red Cross “believes its work is more effective when confidential”!

He went on to say: “We have an ongoing confidential dialogue with members of the US intelligence community, and we would share any observations or recommendations with them.”

So that’s OK then.


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