CIA Continues To Suppress Information From Detainee Tribunals With Heavy Redactions
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NEW YORK – The CIA today released still-highly redacted documents in which Guantánamo Bay prisoners describe abuse and torture they suffered in CIA custody. The documents were released as part of an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking uncensored transcripts from Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) that determine if prisoners held by the Defense Department at Guantánamo qualify as "enemy combatants." In previously released versions of the documents, the CIA had removed virtually all references to the abuse of prisoners in their custody; the documents released today are still heavily blacked out but include some new information.
"The documents released today provide further evidence of brutal torture and abuse in the CIA's interrogation program and demonstrate beyond doubt that this information has been suppressed solely to avoid embarrassment and growing demands for accountability," said Ben Wizner, a staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project and lead attorney on the FOIA lawsuit. "There is no legitimate basis for the Obama administration's continued refusal to disclose allegations of detainee abuse, and we will return to court to seek the full release of these documents."
The newly unredacted information includes statements from the CSRTs of former CIA detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, Abd Al Rahim Hussein Mohammed Al Nashiri, Abu Zubaydah and Majid Khan, including descriptions of torture and coercion. These statements include:
• Abu Zubaydah: "After months of suffering and torture, physically and mentally, they did not care about my injuries that they inflicted to my eye, to my stomach, to my bladder, and my left thigh and my reproductive organs. They didn't care that I almost died from these injuries. Doctors told me that I nearly died four times." "They say 'this in your diary.' They say 'see you want to make operation against America.' I say no, the idea is different. They say no, torturing, torturing. I say 'okay, I do. I was decide to make operation.'"
• Al Nashiri: "[And, they used to] drown me in water."
• Muhammad: "This is what I understand he [CIA interrogator] told me: you are not American and you are not on American soil. So you cannot ask about the Constitution."
• Khan: "In the end, any classified information you have is through…agencies who physically and mentally tortured me."
"The information released today sheds some new light on the CIA's torture program, but there are still unanswered questions," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. "The Obama administration should make good on its commitment to transparency, stop suppressing information about torture and abuse and hold accountable the officials who put unlawful policies in place."
Attorneys in this case are Wizner and Jaffer of the ACLU National Security Project, Judy Rabinovitz and Amrit Singh of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, and Arthur B. Spitzer of the ACLU of the National Capital Area.
More information about the ACLU's CSRT FOIA, including the documents released today, is available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/csrtfoia.html