Intelligence


ICRC REPORT ON THE TREATMENT OF FOURTEEN "HIGH VALUE DETAINEES" IN CIA CUSTODY

February 2007

1.3. OTHER METHODS OF ILL-TREATMENT

As noted above, the fourteen were subjected to an extremely harsh detention regime, characterised by ill-treatment. The initial period of interrogation, lasting from a few days up to several months was the harshest, where compliance was secured by the infliction of various forms of physical and psychological ill-treatment. This appeared to be followed by a reward based interrogation approach with gradually improving conditions of detention, albeit reinforced by the threat of returning to former methods.

The methods of ill-treatment alleged to have been used include the following:

    Suffocation by water poured over a cloth placed over the nose and mouth, alleged by three of the fourteen.

    Prolonged stress standing position, naked, held with the arms extended and chained above the head, as alleged by ten of the fourteen, for periods from two or three days continuously, and for up to two or three months intermittently, during which period toilet access was sometimes denied resulting in allegations from four detainees that they had to defecate and urinate over themselves.

    Beatings by use of a collar held around the detainees neck and used to forcefully bang the head and body against the wall, alleged by six of the fourteen.

    Beating and kicking, including slapping, punching, kicking to the body and face, alleged by nine of the fourteen.

    Confinement in a box to severely restrict movement alleged in the case of one detainee.

    Prolonged nudity alleged by eleven of the fourteen during detention, interrogation and ill-treatment; this enforced nudity lasted for periods ranging from several weeks to several months.

    Sleep deprivation was alleged by eleven of the fourteen through days of interrogation, through use of forced stress positions (standing or sitting), cold water and use of repetitive loud noise or music. One detainee was kept sitting on a chair for prolonged periods of time.

    Exposure to cold temperature was alleged by most of the fourteen, especially via cold cells and interrogation rooms, and for seven of them, by the use of cold water poured over the body or, as alleged by three of the detainees, held around the body by means of a plastic sheet to create an immersion bath with just the head out of the water.

    Prolonged shackling of hands and/or feet was alleged by many of the fourteen.

    Threats of ill-treatment to the detainee and/or his family, alleged by nine of the fourteen.

    Forced shaving of the head and beard, alleged by two of the fourteen.

    Deprivation/restricted provision of solid food from 3 days to 1 month after arrest, alleged by eight of the fourteen.

In addition, the fourteen were subjected for longer periods to a deprivation of access to open air, exercise, appropriate hygiene facilities and basic items in relation to interrogation, and restricted access to the Koran linked with interrogation (see Section 1.4 Other Aspects of the Detention Regime).

The following section provides various examples of each of the methods of illtreatment alleged to have been used on the fourteen during their time in CIA detention. The examples provided are only samples to illustrate each particular method and are not in any way meant to be a representation of all of the allegations recorded.

For the purposes of clarity in this report, each method of ill-treatment mentioned below has been detailed separately. However, each specific method was in fact applied in combination with other methods, either simultaneously, or in succession. Not all of these methods were used on all detainees9, except in one case, namely that of Mr Abu Zubaydah, against whom all of the methods outlined below were allegedly used. In order to provide as complete and accurate a picture as possible, some excerpts from the interviews conducted with some of the fourteen, as recorded by the ICRC, are attached in Annex 1.

The information contained in the following section was reported to the ICRC by twelve of the fourteen. Two detainees did not report allegations of the other methods of ill-treatment outlined in Section 1.3. These two detainees were, nevertheless, subjected to ill-treatment in the form of continuous solitary confinement and incommunicado detention.

1.3.1 SUFFOCATION BY WATER

Three of the fourteen alleged that they were repeatedly subjected to suffocation by water. They were: Mr Abu Zubaydah, Mr Khaled Shaik Mohammed and Mr Al Nashiri.

In each case, the person to be suffocated was strapped to a tilting bed and a cloth was placed over the face, covering the nose and mouth. Water was then poured continuously onto the cloth, saturating it and blocking off any air so that the person could not breathe. This form of suffocation induced a feeling of panic and the acute impression that the person was about to die. In at least one case, this was accompanied by incontinence of the urine. At a point chosen by the interrogator the cloth was removed and the bed was rotated into a head-up and vertical position so that the person was left hanging by the straps used to secure him to the bed. The procedure was repeated at least twice, if not more often, during a single interrogation session. Moreover, this repetitive suffocation was inflicted on the detainees during subsequent sessions. The above procedure is the so-called ‘water boarding’ technique.

In all three cases this caused considerable pain, particularly for Mr Abu Zubaydah who had undergone surgery just three months earlier. He stated that he vomited on several occasions during this procedure.

Mr Abu Zubaydah described the suffocation method of ill-treatment, used in his third place of detention, as follows: “I was put on what looked like a hospital bed, and strapped down very tightly with belts. A black cloth was then placed over my face and the interrogators used a mineral water bottle to pour water on the cloth so that I could not breathe. After a few minutes the cloth was removed and the bed was rotated into an upright position. The pressure of the straps on my wounds caused severe pain. I vomited. The bed was then again lowered to a horizontal position and the same torture carried out with the black cloth over my face and water poured on from a bottle. On this occasion my head was in a more backward, downwards position and the water was poured on for a longer time. I struggled without success to breathe. I thought I was going to die. I lost control of my urine. Since then I still lose control of my urine when under stress.” The suffocation procedure was applied during five sessions of ill-treatment that took place during an approximately one-week intense period of interrogation allegedly in Afghanistan in 2002. During each session, apart from one, the suffocation technique was applied once or twice; on one occasion, it was applied three times.

Mr Khaled Shaik Mohammed gave the following description of this method of illtreatment, used in his third place of detention: “I would be strapped to a special bed, which can be rotated into a vertical position. A cloth would be placed over my face. Water was then poured onto the cloth by one of the guards so that I could not breathe. This obviously could only be done for one or two minutes at a time. The cloth was then removed and the bed was put into a vertical position. The whole process was then repeated during about 1 hour”. The procedure was applied during five different sessions during the first month of interrogation in his third place of detention. He also said that injuries to his ankles and wrists occurred during the suffocation as he struggled in the panic of not being able to breathe. As during other forms of ill-treatment he was always kept naked during the suffocation. Female interrogators were also present during this form of ill-treatment, again increasing the humiliation aspect. Mr Khaled Shaik Mohammed described a device attached to one of his fingers, the reading of which was checked regularly by a person he assumed to be a doctor. From the description, this appears to have been a pulse oxymeter, a medical device for measuring the saturation of oxygen in the blood (also see Sect. 3 Health Provision and the Role of Medical Staff).

1.3.2. PROLONGED STRESS STANDING

Ten of the fourteen alleged that they were subjected to prolonged stress standing positions, during which their wrists were shackled to a bar or hook in the ceiling above the head for periods ranging from two or three days continuously, and for up to two or three months intermittently. All those detainees who reported being held in this position were allegedly kept naked throughout the use of this form of ill-treatment.

For example, Mr Khaled Shaik Mohammed alleged that, apart from the time when he was taken for interrogation, he was shackled in the prolonged stress standing position for one month in his third place of detention (he estimates he was interrogated for approximately eight hours each day at the start of the month gradually declining to four hours each day at the end of the month).

Mr Ramzi Binalshib alleged that he was shackled in this position for two to three days in Afghanistan his second place of detention and for seven days in his fourth; Mr Al Nashiri for at least two days in Afghanistan and again for several days in his third place of detention; Mr Majid Kha for three days in Afghanistan and seven days in his third place of detention, Mr Bin Attash for two weeks with two or three short breaks where he could lie down in Afghanistan and for several days in his fourth place of detention; Mr Bin Lep for seven days in Afghanistan and Mr Hambali for four to five days, blindfolded with a type of sack over his head, while still detained in Thailand.

Mr Bin Attash commented that during the two weeks he was shackled in the prolonged stress standing position with his hands chained above his head, his artificial leg was sometimes removed by the interrogators to increase the stress and fatigue of the position.

One detainee who did not wish his name to be transmitted to the authorities alleged that he was shackled in this position for two to three months, seven days of prolonged stress standing followed by two days able to sit or lie down.

While being held in this position some of the detainees were allowed to defecate in a bucket. A guard would come to release their hands from the bar or hook in the ceiling so that they could sit on the bucket. None of them, however, were allowed to clean themselves afterwards. Others were made to wear a garment that resembled a diaper. This was the case for Mr Bin Attas in his fourth place of detention. However, he commented that on several occasions the diaper was not replaced so he had to urinate and defecate on himself while shackled in the prolonged stress standing position. Indeed, in addition to Mr Bin Attash, three other detainees specified that they had to defecate and urinate on themselves and remain standing in their own bodily fluids. Of these, only Mr Bin Lep agreed that his name be transmitted to the authorities.

Many of the detainees who alleged that they had undergone this form of illtreatment commented that their legs and ankles swelled as a result of the continual forced standing with their hands shackled above their head. They also noted that while being held in this position they were checked frequently by US health personnel.

Although this position prevented most detainees from sleeping, three of the detainees stated that they did fall asleep once or more while shackled in this position. These include Mr Khaled Shaik Mohammed and Mr Bin Attash; the third did not wish his name to be transmitted to the authorities. When they did fall asleep held in this position, the whole weight of their bodies was effectively suspended from the shackled wrists, transmitting the strain through the arms to the shoulders.

1.3.3. BEATING BY USE OF A COLLAR

Six of the fourteen alleged that an improvised thick collar or neck roll was placed around their necks and used by their interrogators to slam them against the walls. For example, Mr Abu Zubaydah commented that when the collar was first used on him in his third place of detention, he was slammed directly against a hard concrete wall. He was then placed in a tall box for several hours (see Section 1.3.5., Confinement in boxes). After he was taken out of the box he noticed that a sheet of plywood had been placed against the wall. The collar was then used to slam him against the plywood sheet. He thought that the plywood was in order to absorb some of the impact so as to avoid the risk of physical injury. Mr Abu Zubaydah also believed that his interrogation was a form of experimentation with various interrogation techniques. Indeed some forms of ill-treatment were allegedly used against him that were not reported to have been used on other detainees. He claimed that he was told by one of the interrogators that he was one of the first to receive these interrogation techniques.

Mr Bin Attash alleged that during interrogation in Afghanistan: “on a daily basis during the first two weeks a collar was looped around my neck and then used to slam me against the walls of the interrogation room. It was also placed around my neck when being taken out of my cell for interrogation and was used to lead me along the corridor. It was also used to slam me against the walls of the corridor during such movements”.

Mr Khaled Shaik Mohammed alleged that, in his third place of detention: “a thick plastic collar would be placed around my neck so that it could then be held at the two ends by a guard who would use it to slam me repeatedly against the wall”.

1.3.4. BEATING AND KICKING

Nine of the fourteen alleged that they had been subjected to daily beatings during the initial period, involving repeated slapping, punching and, less often, kicking, to the body and face, as well as a detainee having his head banged against a solid object. These beatings lasted up to half an hour and were repeated throughout the day and again on subsequent days. They took place during periods ranging from one week up to two to three months.

For example, one detainee who did not wish his name to be transmitted to the authorities alleged that: “In Kabul the treatment got worse. I was punched and slapped in the face and on the back to the extent that I was bleeding. While having a rope round my neck and being tied to a pillar my head was banged against the pillar repeatedly.” The interrogators then allegedly took a picture of the detainee to show to another suspect, in order to threaten the same treatment to that person (see Section 1.3.10. Threats).

Mr Khaled Shaik Mohammed alleged that on a daily basis during the first month of interrogation in his third place of detention: “if I was perceived not to be cooperating I would be placed against a wall and subjected to punches and slaps in the body, head and face”.

Mr Bin Attash alleged that: “every day for the first two weeks [in Afghanistan] I was subjected to slaps to the face and punches to the body during interrogation. This was done by one interrogator wearing gloves. He was then replaced by a second interrogator who was more friendly and pretended that he could save me from the first interrogator”.

One detainee who did not wish his name to be transmitted to the authorities said that: “during the early days of the interrogation [in Kabul] I was often subjected to punches and slaps to the face by the interrogator. Two Afghan guards held me by the shoulders during the beatings.”

1.3.5. CONFINEMENT IN A BOX

One of the fourteen reported that confinement inside boxes was used as a form of illtreatment. Mr Abu Zubaydah, alleged that during an intense period of his interrogation in Afghanistan in 2002 he was held in boxes that had been specially designed to constrain his movement. One of the boxes was tall and narrow and the other was shorter, forcing him to crouch down. Mr Abu Zubaydah stated that: “As it was not high enough even to sit upright, I had to crouch down. It was very difficult because of my wounds. The stress on my legs held in this position meant that my wounds both in the leg and stomach became very painful. I think this occurred about three months after my last operation”. He went on to say that a cover was placed over the boxes while he was inside making it hot and difficult to breathe. The combination of sweat, pressure and friction from the slight movement possible to try to find a comfortable position, meant that the wound on his leg began to reopen and started to bleed. He does not know how long he remained in the small box; he says that he thinks he may have slept or fainted. The boxes were used repeatedly during a period of approximately one week in conjunction with other forms of ill-treatment, such as suffocation by water, beatings and use of the collar to slam him against the wall, sleep deprivation, loud music and deprivation of solid food. During this period, between sessions of illtreatment he was made to sit on the floor with a black hood over his head until the next session began.

1.3.6. PROLONGED NUDITY

The most common method of ill-treatment noted during the interviews with the fourteen was the use of nudity. Eleven of the fourteen alleged that they were subjected to extended periods of nudity during detention and interrogation, ranging from several weeks continuously up to several months intermittently.

For example, Mr Bin Attash alleged that he was kept naked for two weeks in Afghanistan, followed by one month of being clothed. However, after being transferred to his next place of detention, he was allegedly again kept naked for another one month.

Mr Hambali alleged that he was kept naked for four to five days while still detained in Thailand and was then held for one week naked in Afghanistan. He was then provided with clothes, which were again removed after one week after which he remained naked for another month before clothes were finally provided.

Mr Abu Zubaydah alleged that after spending several weeks in hospital following arrest he was transferred to Afghanistan where he remained naked, during interrogation, for between one and a half to two months. He was then examined by a woman he assumed to be a doctor who allegedly asked why he was still being kept naked. Clothes were given to him the next day. However, the following day, these clothes were then cut off his body and he was again kept naked. Clothes were subsequently provided or removed according to how cooperative he was perceived by his interrogators.

Mr Khaled Shaik Mohammed alleged that he was kept naked for one month in Afghanistan. Mr Majid Khan alleged that he was kept naked for three days in Afghanistan and for seven days in his third place of detention. Mr Bin Lep alleged that he was kept naked for three to four days while still detained in Thailand followed by nine days naked in Afghanistan.

One of the detainees who did not wish his name to be transmitted to the authorities alleged that while detained in Afghanistan he was kept naked for two to three months with clothes being provided approximately every seven days for a two day period and then being again removed.

Most of the detainees commented that the provision of clothes was determined by how cooperative they were perceived by the interrogators.

1.3.7. SLEEP DEPRIVATION AND USE OF LOUD MUSIC

Eleven of the fourteen alleged that they were deprived of sleep during the initial interrogation phase from seven days continuously to intermittent sleep deprivation that continued up to two or three months after arrest. Sleep was deprived in various ways, and therefore overlaps with some of the other forms of ill-treatment described in this section, from the use of loud repetitive noise or music to long interrogation sessions to prolonged stress standing to spraying with cold water.

For example, Mr Abu Zubaydah alleged that, while detained in Afghanistan, “I was kept sitting on a chair, shackled by hands and feet for two to three weeks. During this time I developed blisters on the underside of my legs due to the constant sitting. I was only allowed to get up from the chair to go to the toilet, which consisted of a bucket”. He alleged that he was constantly deprived of sleep during this period, “if I started to fall asleep a guard would come and spray water in my face”, he said. The cell was kept very cold by the use of air-conditioning and very loud “shouting” music was constantly playing on an approximately fifteen minute repeat loop twenty-four hours a day. Sometimes the music stopped and was replaced by a loud hissing or crackling noise.

One detainee who did not wish his name to be transmitted to the authorities alleged that loud music played for twenty-four hours a day throughout the one year period he believed he was held in Afghanistan. He reported that during the last month it changed to sounds of wind, waves and birds.

1.3.8. EXPOSURE TO COLD TEMPERATURE/COLD WATER

Detainees frequently reported that they were held for their initial months of detention in cells which were kept extremely cold, usually at the same time as being kept forcibly naked. The actual interrogation room was also often reported to be kept cold. Requests for clothing or for blankets went unanswered. For example, Mr Abu Zubaydah alleged that his cell was excessively cold throughout the nine months he spent in Afghanistan.

Seven of the fourteen reported that they were also subjected to dousing with cold water during interrogation sessions. In four cases the water was allegedly thrown or poured onto the detainee with buckets or a hose-pipe while held in a stress standing position with their arms shackled above their head for prolonged periods. Several thought that this was in order to clean away the faeces which had run down their legs when they defecated while held in the prolonged stress standing position (see Section 1.3.2. Prolonged Stress Standing). In three cases cold water was also poured over the detainee while he was lying on a plastic sheet raised at the edges by guards to contain the water around his body creating an immersion bath with just the head exposed. In one case a detainee was strapped to a tilting bed and cold water was poured over his body while he was threatened with “water boarding” (although that procedure was not actually carried out on that individual).

For example, one detainee who did not wish his name to be transmitted to the authorities alleged that, during his detention in Afghanistan, his interrogators “threw cold water on me with buckets” during the early days of the interrogation; Mr Ramzi Binalshib alleged that he was: “splashed with cold water from a hose” during interrogation in his fourth place of detention and that in his eighth place of detention he was: “restrained on a bed, unable to move, for one month, February 2005 and subjected to cold air-conditioning during that period.

Another detainee who did not wish his name to be transmitted to the authorities alleged that: “when I was taken for interrogation I would first be splashed with cold water by the guards while still in the {cell in the prolonged stress standing] position. I'm not sure if this was to clean me or as part of the interrogation process—or both. I was then blindfolded and walked the fifteen minutes to another room, separate from the interrogation room, where I was made to lie on a plastic sheet, which was then raised at the edges. Cold water was then poured onto me using a kettle or hose for between fifteen and thirty minutes. I was still blindfolded. My interrogator told me that a woman was also present during the cold water treatment. I think I heard a female voice on at least one occasion”. He alleged that this was repeated on an almost daily basis, with breaks of two days approximately once a week, during two to three months while he was detained in Afghanistan.

Mr Bin Attash described the following from his detention in Afghanistan: “on a daily basis during the first two weeks I was made to lie on a plastic sheet placed on the floor which would then be lifted at the edges. Cold water was then poured onto my body with buckets. They did not have a hosepipe to fill the sheet more easily. This jail was not so well equipped for torture”. He was kept enveloped within the sheet with the cold water for several minutes. In his next place of detention, he was allegedly doused every day during the month of July 2003 with cold water from a hosepipe. He commented that: “in this place of detention they were rather more sophisticated than in Afghanistan because they had a hosepipe with which to pour water over me”.

1.3.9. PROLONGED USE OF HANDCUFFS AND SHACKLES

Many of the detainees alleged that they were kept for long periods continuously shackled and/or handcuffed. For example, Mr Khaled Shaik Mohammed was allegedly kept continuously shackled, even when inside his cell for nineteen months.

One detainee who did not wish his name to be transmitted to the authorities alleged that he was kept for four and a half months continuously handcuffed and seven months with the ankles continuously shackled while detained in Kabul in 2003/4. On two occasions, his shackles had to be cut off his ankles as the locking mechanism and ceased to function, allegedly due to rust.

Mr Bin Attash alleged that he was kept permanently handcuffed and shackled throughout his first six months of detention. During the four months he was held in his third place of detention, when not kept in the prolonged stress standing position, his ankle shackles were allegedly kept attached by a one meter long chain to a pin fixed in the corner of the room where he was held.

1.3.10. THREATS

Nine of the fourteen alleged that they had been subjected to threats of ill-treatment. Seven of these cases took the form of a verbal threat, including of ill-treatment in the form of “water boarding”, electric shocks, infection with HIV, sodomy of the detainee and the arrest and rape of his family, torture, being brought close to death, and of an interrogation process to which “no rules applied”. The other two threats were made by visual means, namely of ill-treatment which would make the detainee resemble a co-detainee (through use of a photo of a co-detainee showing physical signs of illtreatment), and of a return to past methods of ill-treatment (through displaying during interrogation a neck collar previously used for ill-treatment). In all cases, the threats were made to induce cooperation with the interrogation.

For example, Mr Khaled Shaik Mohammed alleged that, in his third place of detention, one of his interrogators stated that the greenlight had been received from Washington to give him a “hard time” and that, although they would not let him die, he would be brought to the “verge of death and back again”.

Mr Abu Zubaydeh alleged that, in his third place of detention, he was told by one of the interrogators that he was one of the first to receive these interrogation techniques, “so no rules applied”.

Mr Hambali alleged that, in his third place of detention, he was threatened with a return to previous methods of ill-treatment (namely, having his head slammed against the wall by use of a collar, see Section 1.3.3 Beatings by use of a collar), by his interrogators showing him the collar during interrogation sessions. Similarly, Mr Khaled Shaik Mohamme stated that the collar previously used had been placed on the table in front of him during interrogation sessions in his third place of detention.

Mr Al Nashiri alleged that, in his third place of detention, he was threatened with sodomy, and with the arrest and rape of his family.

1.3.11. FORCED SHAVING

Two of the fourteen alleged that their heads and beards were forcibly shaved. Mr Abu Zubaydah alleged that his head and beard were shaved during the transfer to Afghanistan.

Mr Ramzi Binalshib alleged that, in his eighth place of detention, first his head was shaved and then some days later his beard was also shaved off. He was particularly distressed by the fact that the people who shaved him allegedly deliberately left some spots and spaces in order to make him look and feel particularly undignified and abused.

1.3.12. DEPRIVATION/RESTRICTED PROVISION OF SOLID FOOD

Eight of the fourteen alleged that they were deprived of solid food for periods ranging from three days to one month. This was often followed by a period when the provision of food was restricted and allegedly used as an incentive for cooperation. Two other detainees alleged that, whilst they were not totally deprived of solid food, food was provided intermittently or provided in restricted amounts.

For example, Mr Abu Zubaydah alleged that in Afghanistan, during the initial period of two to three weeks while kept constantly sitting on a chair, he was not provided with any solid food, but was provided with Ensure (a nutrient drink) and water. After about two to three weeks he began to receive solid food (rice) to eat on a daily, once a day, basis. Approximately one month later, during a resumption of intense questioning he was again deprived of food for approximately one week and only given Ensure and water.

Mr Binalshib alleged that during a period of three weeks in his fourth place of detention he was deprived of solid food for three to four weeks and only provided with Ensure and water.

One detainee who did not wish his name to be transmitted to the authorities alleged that during the initial two to three months of his detention in Afghanistan, although not totally deprived of solid food, he was given just one meal every two to three days. Later this increased to one meal a day, until the last month in that place of detention, when he finally received three meals a day. He believes he was detained in Afghanistan for approximately one year.

Mr Bin Attash alleged that he was not provided with any solid food during the first two weeks of his detention in Afghanistan; only Ensure and water being provided during that period. During the third week the Ensure continued, but he was also given one solid meal a day. This consisted of either bread and gravy or rice and potatoes. He was held in Afghanistan for three weeks. In his next place of detention food was adequately provided.

Mr Khaled Shaik Mohammed alleged that during the first month in his third place of detention, he was not provided with any solid food apart from on two occasions as a reward for perceived cooperation. A drink of Ensure was provided once every four hours. If he refused to drink then his mouth was forced open by a guard and the Ensure was poured down his throat. After about one month solid food began to be provided twice a day.

Mr Majid Khan alleged that he did not receive any solid food for seven days in Afghanistan.

One detainee who did not wish his name to be transmitted to the authorities alleged that during the one week he was held in his first place of detention he was not provided with any food and was only given Ensure and water to drink. After arriving in where he believes was Kabul, he was kept another two days without food, after which he was provided with meals irregularly for the next two months, after which meals were provided on a regular basis.

Mr Bin Lep alleged that he was not provided with any solid food until twelve days after his arrest.

Mr Hambali alleged that throughout his four to five days of detention in Thailand, where he was allegedly held in US custody, he was not provided with any solid food. During the two months he was detained in Afghanistan he received solid food irregularly, sometimes twice a day and sometimes only once in two to three days. Ensure was provided throughout to supplement the lack of solid food.



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