Attorneys for CIA "high-value detainee," Majid Khan, currently held at a highly-classified prison at Guantanamo, have released recently declassified details of the torture their client endured in CIA black site prisons. It is powerful, and I fear that the common psychological response to turn away from horror will once again manifest itself in response to these new revelations.
Commenting on the release of the Khan account, Cori Crider, an attorney at the international human rights NGO, Reprieve, said. It has long been clear that the Senate torture report was only the tip of the iceberg. Some of the worst CIA abuses we know of were absent from the public version of the study."
Crider cited the case of the Belhaj and al Saadi families, where both the U.S. and the UK's MI6 were involved in rendition to torture in Gaddafi's Libyan prisons back in 2004.
The Khan story is being carried by the Reuters news agency. According to their account, "Khan's is the first publicly released account from a high-value al Qaeda detainee who experienced the "enhanced interrogation techniques" of President George W. Bush's administration after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S."
Reuthers reports that Khan's torture narrative "is contained in 27 pages of interview notes his lawyers compiled over the past seven years."
Khan's story is truly horrifying. Something of the agony he endured under long CIA torture is captured in the Reuters article. Khan hallucinated at times under the ongoing abuse. According to his own testimony, "I lived in anxiety every moment of every single day about the fear and anticipation of the unknown."
One thing I noticed right away is the new findings regarding use of waterboarding and other forms of water torture. Such torture was used extensively by both CIA and the Department of Defense, and the long myth that "only" three prisoners were waterboarded should be jettisoned at last.
It is a scandal of the highest sort that this kind of treatment could take place and there is zero accountability for it in U.S. society.
What follows is a press release on the subject from Center for Constitutional Rights:
Former CIA Detainee Majid Khan’s Torture Finally Public
Details Go Beyond Senate Torture Report to Include Waterboarding, Further Sexual Assault, Threat with Tools
June 2, 2015, New York – Today, unclassified information detailing the CIA’s torture of Guantánamo prisoner Majid Khan was made public for the first time by Reuters, including the fact that he was waterboarded on two separate occasions. Khan’s attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), J. Wells Dixon, commented:
“Majid Khan’s personal experiences, notes of which were cleared by the government for release, confirm that the CIA has repeatedly and continuously lied about the torture program. As layers of secrecy have been peeled away throughout the Obama administration, we see more and more evidence of CIA savagery and treachery. There must be greater transparency and accountability for what happened in the CIA torture program:Khan’s torture, according to the declassified notes, included the following:
- CIA Director John Brennan should be fired;
- The full Senate torture report and the Panetta Review should be disclosed publicly; and
This is the only way to ensure that the U.S. never again resorts to torture, and the only way to move the country forward.”
- The Justice Department should reopen its criminal investigation of the CIA torture program, including how it was authorized and carried out, as well as new questions raised by Khan’s recollections and the continuing cover up and minimization by the CIA about what actually happened in the black sites.
Khan was waterboarded on two separate occasions, in May and July 2003
“Guards and interrogators brought him into a bathroom with a tub. The tub was filled with water and ice. Shackled and hooded, they placed Khan feet-first into the freezing water and ice. They lowered his entire body into the water and held him down, face-up in the water. An interrogator forced Khan's head under the water until he thought he would drown. The interrogator would pull Khan's head out of the water to demand answers to questions, and then force his head back under the water, repeatedly. Water and ice were also poured from a bucket onto Khan's mouth and nose when his head was not submerged.”
Khan was raped while in CIA custody (“rectal feeding”) and sexually assaulted
“As described in the Senate Intelligence Committee Report, Khan was raped while in CIA custody (‘rectal feeding’). He was sexually assaulted in other ways as well, including by having his ‘private parts’ touched while he was hung naked from the ceiling.”
Khan was hung on a wooden beam for days on end
“Interrogators and guards at a black site hung Khan by his hands from a wooden beam for three days. He was naked and shackled. He was provided with water but no food.”
Khan spent much of 2003 in total darkness
“Majid had an uncovered bucket for a toilet, no toilet paper, a sleeping mat and no light…. For much of 2003 he lived in total darkness.”
Khan was held in solitary
“Khan was essentially held in solitary confinement from 2004 to 2006.”
Khan’s family was threatened by interrogators
“They also threatened to harm his family, including his young sister. He was told, ‘son, we are going to take care of you. We are going to send you to a place you cannot imagine.’”
Khan experienced repeated beatings and threats to beat him with tools, including a hammer
“They would come in with a bag of tools and set them down next to Majid. They would pull out a hammer and show it to Majid. One of them threatened to hammer Majid’s head. They sometimes smelled like alcohol.”
Doctors were among Khan's worst torturers; Khan was hung on a metal bar
“When a physician came to examine him, Khan begged for help. In response, the physician instructed the guards to take Khan back into the interrogation room with the metal bar and hang him. Khan remained hanging there for another 24 hours before being interrogated again and forced to write his own ‘confession’ while being filmed naked if he wanted some rest. He was finally placed in a cell, where he remained numb and immobile for several days.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights has represented Majid Khan since he was transferred to Guantánamo Bay in 2006 after being held in secret overseas CIA “black sites” for more than three years. After he was transferred, CCR had to fight the government for a year to meet with our client, and Khan’s own memories of his torture remained classified until May 2015.
For more information, please visit Majid Khan’s case page on the CCR website.
CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo since 2002 – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. Among other Guantánamo cases, the Center represents the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking justice in international courts. In addition, CCR has been working through diplomatic channels to resettle men who remain at Guantánamo because they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org; follow @theCCR.