Judge Orders Disclosure of CIA Torture at "Black Sites"

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Common Dreams

Judge Orders Disclosure of CIA Torture at "Black Sites"

Defense for Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri argues harsh interrogation measures have 'tainted' case against Guantanamo detainee

A CIA black site in Bucharest, Romania. (Image: Google Maps)

A CIA black site in Bucharest, Romania. (Image: Google Maps)

A military judge has ordered the disclosure of never-revealed information detailing the experience at secret CIA "black sites."

The defense team for Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri argued during pretrial motions at the Cuban prison that the Guantanamo detainee's time spent in secret CIA prisons—during which he was waterboarded and threatened with a gun and a power drill—has "tainted" his testimony, and thus the case against him.

The Saudi Arabian has been held at the U.S. military prison since 2006 after being held in a series of secret CIA prisons. He is being accused of orchestrating the Oct. 12, 2000, bombing of the USS Cole in the port of Aden in Yemen.

The order by Army Col. James Pohl was released on Tuesday though Carol Rosenberg at the Miami Herald reported on the order last week, ahead of its official release.

Rosenberg reported:

The judge’s order instructs prosecutors to provide nine categories of closely guarded classified CIA information to the lawyers — including the names of agents, interrogators and medical personnel who worked at the so-called black sites. The order covers “locations, personnel and communications,” interrogation notes and cables between the black sites and headquarters that sought and approved so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, the two sources said.

It does not, however, order the government to turn over Office of Legal Counsel memos that both blessed and defined the so-called Torture Program that sent CIA captives to secret interrogations across the world after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks — out of reach of International Committee of the Red Cross delegates.

The Saudi Arabian has been held at the U.S. military prison since 2006 after being held in a series of secret CIA prisons. He is being accused of orchestrating the Oct. 12, 2000, bombing of the USS Cole in the port of Aden in Yemen.

Little information about what happened in the CIA black sites has ever been confirmed by the government, the Associated Press notes, and the order by Pohl still "does not make any details available to the public," as all parties have been explicitly required to follow a protective order barring release of classified information.

The rules for military commissions bars prosecutors from using any evidence or testimony obtained by coercion or torture. Al-Nashiri's defense makes the case that "all information from al-Nashiri is tainted by the harsh treatment he endured at the hands of the CIA," and that by disclosing the details of his detention, he may be spared from the death penalty.

The Pohl ruling “represents a chink in the armor of secrecy that the U.S. government erected around its torture program," said Andrea Prasow of Human Rights Watch, following last week's leak.

Along with the partial declassification of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture methods, Prasow adds that "it is only a matter of time before the public will learn the horrific details of officially sanctioned torture, and the pattern of lies designed not only to allow torture to continue, but to immunize torturers from prosecution."

Al-Nashiri's trial is scheduled for December.

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