Pentagon Releases Tribunal Records in ACLU Lawsuit

June 16, 2016

NEW YORK — The Defense Department has released unredacted transcripts of Guantánamo Bay prisoners describing the torture they suffered while imprisoned in CIA black sites.

The release came in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking transcripts from Combatant Status Review Tribunals, which aimed to determine whether prisoners held at Guantánamo qualified as “enemy combatants.”

“There is something uniquely powerful about the voices of the prisoners themselves, which is presumably why the CIA suppressed them for so long,” said Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director. “The transcripts highlight both the cruelty of the CIA's practices and the humanity of those who were subjected to them.”

Detainee Majid Khan describes his torture in one document, saying, “So when I came to this cell, they pulled my hands up and cuffed them, so I won’t be able to kneel down and get rest for straight three days, meaning I was standing for three days. And then they took my clothes off and took me to the bathroom and dipped me in full ice and ice water tub. And then they hanged me back again, and this time they would throw cold water on me after ever few hours and right next to me they would turn fan. So days pass like this for straight three days. The worst in all, when this whole thing was happening, American women was there watching. To me, as a Muslim, it was worse than torture itself.”

Other detainees recount similar abuse in the new releases, with Abu Zubaydah recalling, “They shackle me completely, even my head: I can’t do anything. Like this and they put one cloth in my mouth and they put water, water, water. Last point before I die they stand [via Language Analyst] bed they make like this [making breathing noises] again and again they make it with me and I tell him ‘If you want to kill me, kill me.’”

The release came a day after this week’s disclosure of over 50 CIA documents revealing additional aspects of the torture program, also turned over by the government in the ACLU’s FOIA lawsuit.

Lawyers in the case include Dror Ladin and Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU, as well as Lawrence S. Lustberg of Gibbons P.C., and Arthur Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The new DOD documents are here (with newly unredacted portions highlighted):

https://www.aclu.org/other/majid-khan-csrt-transcript
https://www.aclu.org/other/abu-zubaydah-csrt-transcript
https://www.aclu.org/other/abd-al-rahim-al-nashiri-csrt-transcript
https://www.aclu.org/other/mustafa-al-hawsawi-csrt-transcript
https://www.aclu.org/other/ammar-al-baluchi-csrt-transcript
https://www.aclu.org/other/khalid-sheikh-muhammad-csrt-transcript

The doucuments are also in the ACLU's searchable Torture Database, which has over 100,000 documents released by the government relating to U.S. torture.

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