ICRC REPORT ON THE TREATMENT OF FOURTEEN "HIGH VALUE DETAINEES" IN CIA CUSTODY
The following examples of excerpts from some of the interviews conducted with the fourteen are in no way meant to represent the entirety of any one those interviews or to be representative of all of the interviews carried out. These excerpts are reproduced verbatim. They are presented only to illustrate how the various alleged methods of ill-treatment described in Section 1. of the report were reportedly used in combination with each other.
i) Abu Zubaydeh reported the following regarding his detention in Afghanistan were he was held for approximately nine months from May 2002 to February 2003. He had previously been held in hospital for what he believes were several weeks and had several operations to severe gunshot injuries sustained at the time of arrest:
“I woke up, naked, strapped to a bed, in a very white room. The room measured approximately 4m x 4m. The room had three solid walls, with the fourth wall consisting of metal bars separating it from a larger room. I am not sure how long I remained in the bed. After some time, I think it was several days, but can’t remember exactly, I was transferred to a chair where I was kept, shackled by hands and feet for what I think was the next 2 to 3 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 the toilet, which consisted of a bucket. Water for cleaning myself was provided in a plastic bottle.
I was given no solid food during the first two or three weeks, while sitting on the chair. I was only given Ensure and water to drink. At first the Ensure made me vomit, but this became less with time.
The cell and room were air-conditioned and were very cold. Very loud, shouting type music was constantly playing. It kept repeating about every fifteen minutes twenty-four hours a day. Sometimes the music stopped and was replaced by a loud hissing or crackling noise.
The guards were American, but wore masks to conceal their faces. My interrogators did not wear masks.
During this first two to three week period I was questioned for about one to two hours each day. American interrogators would come to the room and speak to me through the bars of the cell. During the questioning the music was switched off, but was then put back on again afterwards. I could not sleep at all for the first two to three weeks. If I started to fall asleep one of the guards would come and spray water in my face.
After about two or three weeks I began to receive food, rice, to eat on a daily basis. They gave it once a day. I could eat with my hand, but I was not allowed to wash. It was also around this time that I was allowed to lie on the floor. I remained naked and in shackles, but I could sleep a little. It went on like this for about another one and a half months.
During the first few days a doctor came and gave me an injection. I was told it was an anti-biotic. After about one and a half to two months I was examined by a female doctor who asked why I was still naked. My measurements were taken and the next day, I was provided with orange clothes to wear. This was followed however, by more threats that worse was to follow.
Indeed, the next day guards came into my cell. They told me to stand up and raise my arms above my head. They then cut the clothes off of me so that I was again naked and put me back on the chair for several days. I tried to sleep on the chair, but was again kept awake by the guards spraying water in my face.
When my interrogators had the impression that I was cooperating and providing the information they required, the clothes were given back to me. When they felt I was being less cooperative the clothes were again removed and I was again put back on the chair. This was repeated several times.
Eventually, (I don't remember after how long), I was allowed to have a mattress and was given a towel to use as a sheet to cover myself with while sleeping. I was allowed some tissue paper to use when going to toilet on the bucket.
There then followed a period of about one month with no questioning. During this period I was given food, rice and beans, on a daily basis, varying between once or twice a day. They also continued to give me Ensure to drink. My cell was still very cold and the loud music no longer played, but there was a constant loud hissing or crackling noise, which played twenty-four hours a day. I tried to block out the noise by putting tissue in my ears.
There then followed a period of about one month with no questioning. Then, about two and a half or three months after I arrived in this place, the interrogation began again, but with more intensity than before. Then the real torturing started. Two black wooden boxes were brought into the room outside my cell. One was tall, slightly higher than me and narrow. Measuring perhaps in area 1m x 0.75m and 2m in height. The other was shorter, perhaps only 1m in height. I was taken out of my cell and one of the interrogators wrapped a towel around my neck, they then used it to swing me around and smash me repeatedly against the hard walls of the room. I was also repeatedly slapped in the face. As I was still shackled, the pushing and pulling around meant that the shackles pulled painfully on my ankles.
I was then put into the tall back box for what I think was about one and a half to two hours. The box was totally black on the inside as well as the outside. It had a bucket inside to use as a toilet and had water to drink provided in a bottle. They put a cloth or cover over the outside of the box to cut out the light and restrict my air supply. It was difficult to breathe. When I was let out of the box I saw that one of the walls of the room had been covered with plywood sheeting. From now on it was against this wall that I was then smashed with the towel around my neck. I think that the plywood was put there to provide some absorption of the impact of my body. The interrogators realized that smashing me against the hard wall would probably quickly result in physical injury.
During these torture sessions many guards were present, plus two interrogators who did the actual beating, still asking questions, while the main interrogator left to return after the beating was over. After the beating I was then placed in the small box. They placed a cloth or cover over the box to cut out all light and restrict my air supply. 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 my wounds both in the leg and stomach became very painful. I think this occurred about 3 months after my last operation. It was always cold in the room, but when the cover was placed over the box it made it hot and sweaty inside. The wound on my leg began to open and started to bleed. I don’t know how long I remained in the small box, I think I may have slept or maybe fainted.
I was then dragged from the small box, unable to walk properly and 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 was very painful. I vomited. The bed was then again lowered to a horizontal position and the same torture carried out again 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 against the straps, trying to breathe, but it was hopeless. 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.
I was then placed again in the tall box. While I was inside the box loud music was played again and somebody kept banging repeatedly on the box from the outside. I tried to sit down on the floor, but because of the small space the bucket with urine tipped over and spilt over me. I remained in the box for several hours, maybe overnight. I was then taken out and again a towel was wrapped around my neck and I was smashed into the wall with the plywood covering and repeatedly slapped in the face by the same two interrogators as before.
I was then made to sit on the floor with a black hood over my head until the next session of torture began. The room was always kept very cold.
This went on for approximately one week. During this time the whole procedure was repeated five times. On each occasion, apart from one, I was suffocated once or twice and was put in the vertical position on the bed in between. On one occasion the suffocation was repeated three times. I vomited each time I was put in the vertical position between the suffocation.
During that week I was not given any solid food. I was only given Ensure to drink. My head and beard were shaved everyday.
I collapsed and lost consciousness on several occasions. Eventually the torture was stopped by the intervention of the doctor.
I was told during this period that I was one of the first to receive these interrogation techniques, so no rules applied. It felt like they were experimenting and trying out techniques to be used later on other people.
At the end of this period two women and a man came to interrogate me. I was still naked and, because of this, I refused to answer any questions. So they again repeatedly slapped me in the face and smashed me against the wall using the towel around my neck. The following day I was given a towel to wear around my waist, but I was still very cold.
Then, little by little, things started to get better. I was again given rice to eat. Then my mattress was returned. I was allowed to clean my cell. The tall box was removed, but the short one remained in the room outside my cell, I think as a deliberate reminder as to what my interrogators were capable of. One week after the end of torture I was given a pair of green shorts and a top to wear. The food also improved with the addition of beans and fruit.
I was provided with water and allowed to wash inside the cell. However, the loud noise continued throughout the nine months I spent in that place. I was never given any outdoor time.”
ii) Walid Bin Attash reported the following regarding his detention in Afghanistan, where he was held for approximately three weeks from mid-May to the start of June 2003 and in his subsequent place of detention, where he was held from June to October 2003:
“On arrival at the place of detention in Afghanistan I was stripped naked. I remained naked for the next two weeks. I was put in a cell measuring approximately 1m x 2m. I was kept in a standing position, feet flat on the floor, but with my arms above my head and fixed with handcuffs and a chain to a metal bar running across the width of the cell. The cell was dark with no light, artificial or natural.
During the first two weeks I did not receive any food. I was only given Ensure and water to drink. A guard would come and hold the bottle for me while I drank. During the third week the Ensure continued, but I was also provided with one meal each day. This consisted of either gravy and bread or rice and potatoes. The toilet consisted of a bucket in the cell, which was removed once a day. I was not allowed to clean myself after using the bucket. Loud music was playing twenty-four hours each day throughout the three weeks I was held there.
After some time of being held in this position my stump began to hurt so I removed my artificial leg to relieve the pain. Of course my one good leg then began to ache and soon started to give way so that I was left hanging with all my weight on my wrists. I shouted for help but at first nobody came. Finally, after about one hour a guard came and my artificial leg was given back to me and I was again placed in the standing position with my hands above my head. After that the interrogators sometimes deliberately removed my artificial leg in order to add extra stress to the position. For the first two weeks I was held in this position apart for two or three times when I was allowed to lie down, but I cannot remember for how long.
Usually, throughout the interrogation, the methods they used were specifically designed not to leave marks. However, when I was in this position the cuffs cut into my wrists and made wounds. When this happened the doctor would be called.
For interrogation I was blindfolded and removed from the cell and taken to another room. Every day for the first two weeks I was subjected to slaps to my face and punches to my body during the 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.
Also 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.
Also 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 hose-pipe to fill the sheet more easily. This jail was not so well equipped for torture. I would be kept wrapped inside the sheet with the cold water for several minutes. I would then be taken for interrogation to a separate room. At the end of the interrogation I would be placed under hot lights to dry out thoroughly and warm up. This was sometimes done during the interrogation.
The interrogators threatened to infect me with HIV. I was given at least two injections by the doctor during this period, but I have no idea what they were for. Female interrogators were also present which I found highly humiliating in my naked state. The female interrogators did not take part in physical ill-treatment. After about two weeks the torture stopped. I was given some clothes, a tracksuit, to wear and was no longer kept in the standing position with my hands above my head. I was still shackled, by my ankles, but was allowed to sit or lie down in my cell. I was also provided with a blanket.
After approximately three weeks in Afghanistan I was transferred to another place. I was blindfolded and earphones were placed over my ears. I was transported in a sitting position, shackled by the ankles and by the wrists with my hands in front of my body. I think that the flight lasted probably more than eight hours. On this occasion the transfer was done using a military plane. If I shifted my position too much during the journey somebody hit me by hand on the head.
I arrived in the next place of detention during June 2003. I think I was detained underground as I had to walk down some stairs in order to reach the cell. My blindfold was then removed. The cell was about 4m x 5m. I was kept chained by my ankle shackles to a pin fixed in the floor. For the first month here I was not subjected to any torture.
I was not allowed to shower. Meals were provided three times a day in addition to Ensure and multivitamins. Toilet consisted of a bucket in the cell which was removed everyday. Loud music was playing twenty-four hours each day. I was provided with a Styrofoam mattress.
After about one month the torture began again. I was stripped naked and remained naked throughout the month of July. Also during this time I was again kept for several days in a standing position with my arms above my head and fixed with handcuffs and a chain to a metal ring in the ceiling. My lower leg was examined on a daily basis by a doctor using a tape measure for signs of swelling. I do not remember for exactly how many days I was kept standing, but I think it was about ten days The doctor finally ordered that I be allowed to sit on the floor, I was still kept with my arms extended above my head. This was very painful on my back. During the standing I was made to wear a diaper. However, on some occasions the diaper was not replaced and so I had to urinate and defecate over myself. I was washed down with cold water everyday.
In this place of detention they were rather more sophisticated than in Afghanistan because they had a hose-pipe with which to pour the water over me. After having been washed down with cold water in my cell I was taken for interrogation. On one occasion I heard sounds of a person being tortured next door. In this place of detention, female interrogators were again present while I was naked. One of them was particularly aggressive in her questioning. [He would not go further into detail on this subject]. However , I was not subjected to any more beatings.”
iii) Khaled Shaik Mohammed reported the following regarding his transfer to and detention in Afghanistan, where he was held for three days at the start of March 2003 and in his subsequent place of detention, where he was held from 06 March to 22 September 2003:
“During the transfer from Pakistan to Afghanistan my eyes were covered with a cloth tied around my head and with a cloth bag pulled over it. A suppository was inserted into my rectum. I was not told what the suppository was for. I was dressed in a shalwar kameez, shackled hands and feet and put sitting in a vehicle for the journey to the airport. I was then put in a sitting position on a plane. The transfer was OK, with no particular problems to report. The flight was short, only about 1 hour. I arrived at night. The transfer from the plane to the place of detention took about 15–20 minutes. During my time in this place of detention I could hear planes taking off and landing. I think the place was Bagram.
After arrival my clothes were cut off of me, the bag and blindfold were removed and photographs were taken of me naked. I remained naked throughout the three days I stayed in this place of detention.
I was checked by a doctor and asked about my medical history. I told the doctor about the pain I was still suffering from the beating in Pakistan. [During the two days he was detained at Rawlapindi he was questioned by a CIA agent who allegedly punched him several times in the stomach, chest and face. The same agent reportedly threw him on the floor and trod on his face three times. He was not allowed to sleep during his detention in Pakistan].
I was then placed in a cell, about 2m x 4 m, naked, where I was kept in a standing position with my hands cuffed and chained to a bar above my head. My feet were flat on the floor. At first I was questioned for about one hour with no other forms of illtreatment. After about one hour I was taken to another room where I was made to stand on tiptoes for about two hours during questioning. Approximately thirteen persons were in the room. These included the head interrogator (a man) and two female interrogators, plus about ten muscle guys wearing masks. I think they were all Americans. From time to time one of the muscle guys would punch me in the chest and stomach. This was repeated during two nights.
Also during this period I was on four occasions taken to a separate room away from the main interrogation room. Here cold water from buckets was thrown onto me for about forty minutes. Not constantly as it took time to refill the buckets. After which I would be taken back to the interrogation room.
On one occasion during the interrogation I was offered water to drink, when I refused I was again taken to another room where I was made to lie of the floor with three persons holding me down. A tube was inserted into my anus and water poured inside. Afterwards I wanted to go to the toilet as I had a feeling as if I had diarrhoea. No toilet access was provided until four hours later when I was given a bucket to use. Whenever I was returned to my cell I was always kept in the standing position with my hands cuffed and chained to a bar above my head.
On one occasion I was taken to another cell and was allowed to sleep for a little while, I think for only about one hour, before being returned to my cell standing, naked with my hands shackled above my head.
Music was always playing in the corridor outside my cell, but it was not very loud.
For a toilet a bucket was provided inside the cell. A guard came and lowered my hands to allow me to use it. However, I was not allowed to clean myself afterwards and was immediately again returned to the former position.
I was not allowed to pray. I could not bathe or wash. I was not provided with any time outdoors. Some Afghani style bread was given to me on some occasions, as a reward for when they thought I was cooperating.
After three days in Afghanistan I was dressed in a tracksuit. My eyes were covered with a cloth tied around my head. A cloth bag was then pulled over my head. Headphones were placed over my ears—playing music, but not too loud. I was transported about ten minutes by vehicle and then placed in a plane sitting, leaning back, with my hands and ankles shackled in a high chair. I fell asleep. The first proper sleep in over five days. I therefore don’t know how long the journey lasted.
On arrival the transfer from the airport to the next place of detention took about one hour. I was transported sitting on the floor of a vehicle. I could see at one point that there was snow on the ground. Everybody was wearing black, with masks and army boots, like Planet-X people. I think the country was Poland. I think this because on one occasion a water bottle was brought to me without the label removed. It had e-mail address ending in “.pl”. The central-heating system was an old style one that I would expect only to see in countries of the former communist system.
After arrival my clothes were again cut off of me, the bag and blindfold were removed and photographs were again taken of me naked. I was put in a cell with cameras where I was later informed by an interrogator that I was monitored 24 hours a day by a doctor, psychologist and interrogator. I think the cell was underground. I had to go down steps to get to it. It was about 3m x 4m with wooden walls.
It was here that the most intense interrogation occurred, led by three experienced CIA interrogators, all over 65 years old and all strong and well trained. There were the “emirs.” Although of course they never revealed their own names, I gave them names by which I could refer to them, all beginning with ‘Abu’. I think that ‘Abu Captain’ was of South American origin, whereas ‘Abu Hanan’ was perhaps of Moroccan origin and ‘Abu White’ was of Eastern European descent.
As the interrogation again resumed I was told by one of the “emirs” that they had received the green-light from Washington to give him “a hard time”. They never used the word “torture” and never referred to “physical pressure”, only to “a hard time”, I was never threatened with death, in fact I was told that they would not allow me to die, but that I would be brought to the “verge of death and back again”.
Apart from when I was taken for interrogation to another room, I was kept for one month in the cell in a standing position with my hands cuffed and shackled above my head and my feet cuffed and shackled to a point in the floor. Of course during this month I fell asleep on some occasions while still being held in this position. This resulted in all my weight being applied to the handcuffs around my wrists resulting in open and bleeding wounds. The cuffs around my ankles also created open, bleeding wounds. [Scars consistent with this allegation were visible on both wrists as well as on both ankles.] Both my feet became very swollen after one month of almost continual standing.
Initially I was interrogated for approximately eight hours each day. This gradually became less until after one month it was about four hours each day. For the interrogation I was taken to a separate room. The number of people present varied greatly from one day to another. Other interrogators, including women, were also sometimes present along with the ‘emirs’. A doctor was also usually present. If I was perceived not to be cooperating I would be put against a wall and punched and slapped in the body, head and face. A thick flexible plastic collar would also 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. The beatings were combined with the use of cold water, which was poured over me using a hose-pipe. The beatings and use of cold water occurred on a daily basis during the first month.
In addition I was also subjected to ‘water-boarding’ on five occasions, all of which occurred during that first month. I would be strapped to a special bed, which could be rotated into a vertical position. A cloth would be placed over my face. Cold water from a bottle that had been kept in a fridge 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 one hour. Injuries to my ankles and wrists also occurred during the water-boarding as I struggled in the panic of not being able to breathe. Female interrogators were also present during this form of ill-treatment and a doctor was always present, standing out of sight behind the head of bed, but I saw him when he came to fix a clip to my finger which was connected to a machine. I think it was to measure my pulse and oxygen content in my blood. So they could take me to breaking point.
After each session of torture I was put into a cell where I was allowed to lie on the floor and could sleep for a few minutes. However, due to shackles on my ankles and wrists I was never able to sleep very well.
The harshest period of the interrogation was just prior to the end of the first month. The beatings became worse and I had cold water directed at me from a hose-pipe by guards while I was still in my cell. The worst day was when I was beaten for about half an hour by one of the interrogators. My head was banged against the wall so hard that it started to bleed. Cold water was poured over my head. This was then repeated with other interrogators. Finally I was taken for a session of water boarding. The torture on that day was finally stopped by the intervention of the doctor. I was allowed to sleep for about one hour and then put back in my cell standing with my hands shackled above my head.
Music was playing 24 hours/day in the corridors, but not very loud. I was allowed to pray after about one month. Koran was given in April 2003. It was confiscated on four occasions during my stay in that place of detention. The toilet consisted of a bucket in the cell, which I could use on request, but I was not allowed to clean myself after toilet during the first month. I was allowed to shower twice during the first month. After these two showers I was allowed to sleep for a little while on the floor of my cell before being returned to the standing position with hands cuffed above my head. During the first month I was not provided with any food apart from on two occasions as a reward for perceived cooperation. I was given ‘Ensure’ to drink every 4 hours. If I refused to drink then my mouth was forced open by the guard and it was poured down my throat by force. At my request the Ensure was later provided a little warmed. I was weighed every day during the first month. This was done on a weekly basis later. At the time of arrest I weighed 78kg. After one month in detention I weighed 60kg.
I wasn’t given any clothes for the first month. Artificial light was on 24 hours a day, but I never saw sunlight. I was never taken outdoors.
After about one month I was moved to another cell. I was given clothes to wear. I was no longer kept in a standing position. I was only shackled by the ankles. I could shower once a week. The interrogation became less harsh. No more physical assault, but threats along the lines of “we will take you to another room” or by having the plastic collar put on the table in front of me during the questioning. I was provided with a Styrofoam mattress. They started to give me food twice a day. To begin with the it consisted only of rice and beans. Later, after June 2003, I began to receive some meals with sardines, canned meat and bread buns. The guards would sometimes bring the food already bitten, and would handle me roughly when they took me to the shower. These things improved after I complained to one of the ‘emirs’.
On June 4th I was moved to a third cell. This move occurred after I complained about the constant music that was still being played outside my cell. The new cell was a cage like structure built inside an underground room. I preferred it as there was no music and, as it was a cage structure instead of solid walls, the ventilation was better. I was again kept shackled by the feet, but not the wrists. Water was provided in two bottles. One for drinking, one for the toilet. Toilet paper was provided. Toilet still consisted of a bucket inside the cell. It was removed on a daily basis.
During the harshest period of my interrogation I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop. I later told the interrogators that their methods were stupid and counterproductive. I’m sure that the false information I was forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop wasted a lot of their time and led to several false redalerts being placed in the US.”
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