WASHINGTON (Web Desk) – The CIA has released 50 new documents relating to its post-9/11 torture and “extraordinary rendition” program, shocking many observers around the world over the gruesome methods of interrogation used at its detention facilities.
The documents, released in response to an American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU’s) Freedom of Information Act request, show the brutality of the US’ torture regime in excruciating detail, and further expose the fiction that this abuse is a scientific method for extracting information from victims.
The documents also reveal how hard the CIA worked to bury the evidence of its crimes, especially by silencing its victims.
The documents show that the pressure on the CIA to “break” detainees was deadly. A newly released CIA inspector general report about the killing Gul Rahman concluded that he was singled out for especially harsh torture because of “pressure” to “break him.” Gul Rahman, a taxi driver, was the first detainee of the war on terror whose death in captivity at Bagram airbase was reported as a homicide.
The ACLU notes that Rahman was kept nude or in a diaper for most of his detention “solely for humiliation.” When they ran out of diapers, the guards would use “a handcrafted diaper secured by duct tape.”
CIA torturers kept Rahman naked in “cold conditions with minimal food or sleep” and kept questioning him even when he “appeared incoherent.” When they decided he wasn’t sufficiently “broken,” CIA personnel brutalized, starved, and froze him to death – and then lied about it.
Based on pseudo-scientific theories of torture and “resistance,” they assessed Rahman to have a “sophisticated level of resistance training,” because – among other reasons – he “complained about poor treatment” and said he couldn’t “think due to conditions (cold).”
No senior military officer has yet been held accountable for Gul Rahman’s death, but the ACLU represents Mr. Rahman’s family in suing Jensen and James Mitchell, the psychologists who collaborated with the CIA in designing and overseeing the torture program.
The CIA’s rush to use the most brutal techniques on prisoners it decided were “resistant.” According to the CIA inspector general report, the CIA in fact “accelerated” the use of waterboarding because “it was considered by some in Agency management to be the ‘silver bullet.’”
The CIA would “rapidly escalate” its use of force to waterboarding based on its flawed belief that if a prisoner couldn’t provide new information, he must be withholding. Under the CIA’s logic, the less a detainee had to say, the more he would be tortured because “analysts are reluctant to agree that a detainee is not employing resistance techniques.”
More details have also come to light about the extent to which the CIA was willing to try and keep its crimes secret. Newly disclosed sections of the inspector general report reveal that “a particular concern for senior Agency managers is the long-term disposition of detainees who have undergone” torture.
Senior CIA officials were also “loath to send CIA detainees” who had been tortured “to detention facilities where they would be available to the ICRC [the International Committee for the Red Cross].”
In document after document, CIA employees made clear that they wanted a guarantee that their victims would never – for the rest of their lives – have a chance to tell their stories.
The documents also reveal why the CIA was so obsessed with secrecy. As everyone knew, the torture program could never withstand legal scrutiny. That is why the CIA discussed seeking an extraordinary “get out of jail free card” – an advance promise from the attorney general not to prosecute its agents for their crimes.”
This new cache of documents corroborates what many observers have suspected about the war on terror for a long time. They show just how horrific the torture program was, and how shameful it is that none of the officials responsible for devising and overseeing the program have yet been held accountable for their crimes.