Who Authorized The Torture of Abu Zubaydah?

24.4.09

For the defendants of the use of torture by US forces — still led by former Vice President Dick Cheney — this has been a rocky few weeks, with the publication, in swift succession, of the leaked report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (PDF), based on interviews with the 14 “high-value detainees” transferred to Guantánamo from secret CIA prisons in September 2006, which concluded that their treatment “constituted torture” (and was accompanied by two detailed articles by Mark Danner for the New York Review of Books), the release, by the Justice Department, of four memos issued by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in 2002 and 2005, which purported to justify the use of torture by the CIA, and the release of a 231-page investigation into detainee abuse conducted by the Senate Armed Services Committee (PDF).

The publication of the full Senate Committee report was delayed for four months, subject to wrangling over proposed redactions, but the Executive Summary, published last December, had already successfully demolished the Bush administration’s claims that detainee abuse could be blamed on “a few bad apples,” and, instead, blamed it on senior officials who, with the slippery exception of Dick Cheney, included George W. Bush, former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington, former Pentagon General Counsel William J. Haynes II, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former Justice Department legal adviser John Yoo, former Guantánamo commanders Maj. Gen. Michael Dunlavey and Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former commander of coalition forces in Iraq.

Much of the fallout from the release of these memos and reports has, understandably, focused on the inadequacy of the legal advice offered to the CIA for its “high-value detainee” program by the OLC, whose lawyers have the unique responsibility of interpreting the law as it relates to the powers of the executive branch, and whose advice, therefore, provided the Bush administration with what it regarded as a “golden shield,” which would prevent senior officials from being prosecuted for war crimes. However, if it can be shown that the OLC’s advice was not only inadequate, but also tailored to specific requests from senior officials, then it may be that the “golden shield” will turn to dust.

This threat to the “golden shield” probably explains why Dick Cheney’s scaremongering has been shriller than usual in the last few weeks, but what has largely been overlooked to date is another question that poses even weightier challenges for the former administration: if the use of torture techniques on Abu Zubaydah, the first supposedly significant “high-value detainee” captured by the US (on March 28, 2002), was authorized by two OLC memos issued on August 1, 2002, then who authorized the torture to which he was subjected in the 18 weeks between his capture and the moment that Jay S. Bybee, the head of the OLC, added his signature to the OLC memos?

It’s clear that the major reason this question has been overlooked is because, as the ICRC report reveals, Zubaydah was not subjected to waterboarding (an ancient torture technique that involves controlled drowning) until after the memo was issued, but what is also apparent is that the treatment to which he was subjected before the waterboard was introduced also “constituted torture.”

The torture of Abu Zubaydah before August 2002

Zubaydah was severely wounded during his capture in Faisalabad, Pakistan, to the extent that, as President Bush explained in a press conference in September 2006, shortly after Zubaydah and 13 other “high-value detainees” had been transferred to Guantánamo from secret CIA prisons, “he survived only because of the medical care arranged by the CIA.” We don’t know if there is any truth to the allegation, made by Ron Suskind in his 2006 book The One Percent Doctrine, that medication was only administered in exchange for his cooperation (it seems likely, but has been officially denied), but we do know, from James Risen’s book State of War, that when CIA director George Tenet told the President that Zubaydah had been put on pain medication to deal with the injuries he sustained during capture, Bush asked Tenet, “Who authorized putting him on pain medication?” which prompted Risen to wonder whether the President was “implicitly encouraging” Tenet to order the harsh treatment of a prisoner “without the paper trail that would have come from a written presidential authorization.”

We also know that, shortly after his capture, Zubaydah was flown to Thailand, to a secret underground prison provided by the Thai government, where, as a New York Times article in September 2006 explained, “he was stripped, held in an icy room and jarred by earsplittingly loud music — the genesis of practices later adopted by some within the military, and widely used by the Central Intelligence Agency in handling prominent terrorism suspects at secret overseas prisons.”

The details of his treatment, “based on accounts by former and current law enforcement and intelligence officials,” were even more shocking. We have become somewhat inured, over the years, to stories of prisoners deprived of sleep for disturbing long periods of time, in which the use of loud, non-stop music — in this case, the Red Hot Chili Peppers — played an integral part.

This in itself is unacceptable, as the use of music is not simply a matter of being forced to listen to the same song over and over again at ear-splitting volume, but is, instead, a component in a program of sleep deprivation and isolation designed to provoke a complete mental breakdown. One of the major reference points for the CIA in the 1950s, when it was deeply involved in investigating the efficacy of psychological torture techniques, was research conducted by Donald Hebb, a Canadian psychologist, who discovered that, “if subjects are confined without light, odor, sound, or any fixed references of time and place, very deep breakdowns can be provoked,” and that, within just 48 hours, those held in what he termed “perceptual isolation” can be reduced to semi-psychotic states.

However, while some interpretation and empathy is required to understand the impact on Abu Zubaydah of his profound isolation in this period, in which, as the Times also reported, he was largely cut off from all human interaction, only occasionally punctuated by an interrogator entering his cell, saying, “You know what I want,” and then leaving, there is no denying the visceral impact of the following description. “At times, Mr. Zubaydah, still weak from his wounds, was stripped and placed in a cell without a bunk or blankets,” the Times explained. “He stood or lay on the bare floor, sometimes with air-conditioning adjusted so that, one official said, Mr. Zubaydah seemed to turn blue” (emphasis added).

Further information about Zubaydah’s treatment in Thailand has not emerged in great detail. In The Dark Side, Jane Mayer noted only that he was “held naked in a small cage, like a dog,” and the ICRC report focused instead on his detention in Afghanistan, from May 2002 to February 2003. What we do know, however, from the Senate Committee’s report, is that an FBI agent was so appalled by his treatment at the hands of CIA agents that he “raised objections to these techniques to the CIA and told the CIA it was ‘borderline torture,’” and that, sometime later, FBI director Robert Mueller “decided that FBI agents would not participate in interrogations involving techniques the FBI did not normally use in the United States.” We also know from Jane Mayer that R. Scott Shumate, the chief operational psychologist for the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, left his job in 2003, apparently disgusted by developments involving the use of the “enhanced interrogation techniques,” and that “associates described him as upset in particular about the treatment of Zubaydah.”

Moreover, although the ICRC report dealt only with Zubaydah’s treatment in Afghanistan, it’s also clear that the techniques to which he was subjected in Afghanistan, in the approximately two and a half months before the OLC memos were signed, also “constituted torture.”

In his statement to the ICRC, Zubaydah explained how, even before the waterboarding began, he was strapped naked to a chair for several weeks in a cell that was “air-conditioned and very cold,” deprived of food, subjected to extreme sleep deprivation for two to three weeks — partly by means of loud music or incessant noise, and partly because, “If I started to fall asleep one of the guards would come and spray water in my face” — and, for the rest of the time, until the waterboarding began, was subjected to further sleep deprivation, and kept in a state of perpetual fear.

This array of techniques undoubtedly appears less dramatic than the “real torturing” that followed (in which the waterboarding was accompanied by physical brutality, hooding, the daily shaving of his hair and beard, and confinement in small boxes), but, again, it is critical to try to imagine what two to three weeks of chronic sleep deprivation actually means, and to recall that, by the time Steven G. Bradbury, the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, revised the approval for torture techniques in May 2005, it was noted that it was only considered acceptable to subject a prisoner to 180 hours (seven and a half days) of sleep deprivation.

Tracking the torture trail

To understand how torture came to be used before it was officially approved, we need to return to the New York Times article of September 2006, which explained how, according to accounts by three former intelligence officials, the CIA “understood that the legal foundation for its role had been spelled out in a sweeping classified directive” signed by President Bush on September 17, 2001, which authorized the agency “to capture, detain and interrogate terrorism suspects.”

Significantly, this “memorandum of notification” did not spell out specific guidelines for interrogations, but as later research, and the latest reports have confirmed, the directive led to focused efforts by the CIA, and by William J. Haynes II, the Pentagon’s General Counsel (and a protégé of Dick Cheney), to contact foreign governments for advice on harsh interrogation techniques, and to begin a relationship with a number of individuals involved in the Joint Personnel Recovery Program (JPRA), the body responsible for administering the SERE program (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape), which is taught at US military schools.

Designed to teach military personnel how to resist interrogation if captured by a hostile enemy, the SERE program uses outlawed techniques derived from techniques used on captured US soldiers during the Korean War to elicit deliberately false confessions, and includes, as the Senate Committee report explained, “stripping detainees of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, disrupting their sleep, treating them like animals, subjecting them to loud music and flashing lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures.” In some circumstances, the techniques also include waterboarding, and, as numerous sources — including the recently released reports and memos — have revealed over the last few years, the reverse-engineering of the SERE techniques constituted the bedrock of the administration’s interrogation program, from Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo to the secret dungeons of the CIA.

As we also know, from the pioneering research conducted by Jane Mayer, by the time that the CIA took over Zubaydah’s interrogation from the FBI, in April 2002, the team included Dr. James Mitchell, a retired Air Force SERE psychologist. Thanks to the detailed timeline provided by the Senate Committee, we now know that it was Haynes who first inquired about the applicability of the SERE program to the interrogation of prisoners in December 2001, and we also know that, in April 2002, while “experienced intelligence officers were making recommendations to improve intelligence collection” — which, noticeably, included an assessment by Col. Stuart A. Herrington, a retired Army intelligence officer, that a regime based solely on punishment “detracts from the flexibility that debriefers require to accomplish their mission” — “JPRA officials with no training or experience were working on their own exploitation plan,” and a colleague of Mitchell’s, Bruce Jessen, a senior SERE psychologist, was providing recommendations for JPRA involvement in the “exploitation of select al-Qaeda detainees” in an “exploitation facility” to be established especially for the purpose — which, presumably, turned out to be the secret dungeon provided by the Thai government.

We also know from Mayer that discussions about the CIA’s proposed interrogation techniques, in April 2002, involved numerous other senior officials — beyond the key involvement of Haynes — in meetings in the White House’s Situation Room that were chaired by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and attended by Cheney, Rumsfeld, Tenet, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Attorney General John Ashcroft, and, moreover, that the level of detail provided by Tenet appalled Ashcroft to such an extent that he lamented, “History will not judge us kindly.”

This is disturbing enough, but what makes it even more chilling is the realization that the tactics being discussed, which, it is clear, led swiftly to their enactment in actual interrogations, were some months away from being authorized by the OLC. As the Times article explained, in what was perhaps its most damning passage, “Three former intelligence officials said the techniques had been drawn up on the basis of legal guidance from the Justice Department, but were not yet supported by a formal legal opinion.”

Is no one responsible?

In my book, this means that, regardless of the validity of the OLC’s opinions, those who authorized the torture of Abu Zubaydah between March 28 and July 31, 2002 are not protected by the OLC’s supposed “golden shield,” and should be prosecuted for contravening the prohibition on the use of torture that, since 1988, has been enshrined in US law. This may not apply to all of those who attended the meetings in the White House (plus Haynes), but it’s inconceivable that the CIA began subjecting Abu Zubaydah to chronic isolation and sleep deprivation without receiving approval from somebody in high office.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the Obama administration is committed to abiding by the laws that President Obama praised so lavishly during his election campaign, or whether, instead, he and his administration are committed to reading from a different book: How To Torture With Impunity And Get Away With It, by former Vice President Dick Cheney and an array of associates, all intoxicated with the thrill of unfettered executive power, which concludes by claiming that you get away with breaking any damn law that you please, so long as you’re voted out of office at the end.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and see here for my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.

As published on the Huffington Post, Antiwar.com, CounterPunch, AlterNet and ZNet. Also cross-posted on Common Dreams.

For a sequence of articles dealing with the use of torture by the CIA, on “high-value detainees,” and in the secret prisons, see: Guantánamo’s tangled web: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Majid Khan, dubious US convictions, and a dying man (July 2007), Jane Mayer on the CIA’s “black sites,” condemnation by the Red Cross, and Guantánamo’s “high-value” detainees (including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) (August 2007), Waterboarding: two questions for Michael Hayden about three “high-value” detainees now in Guantánamo (February 2008), Six in Guantánamo Charged with 9/11 Murders: Why Now? And What About the Torture? (February 2008), The Insignificance and Insanity of Abu Zubaydah: Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Confirms FBI’s Doubts (April 2008), Guantánamo Trials: Another Torture Victim Charged (Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri, July 2008), Secret Prison on Diego Garcia Confirmed: Six “High-Value” Guantánamo Prisoners Held, Plus “Ghost Prisoner” Mustafa Setmariam Nasar (August 2008), Will the Bush administration be held accountable for war crimes? (December 2008), The Ten Lies of Dick Cheney (Part One) and The Ten Lies of Dick Cheney (Part Two) (December 2008), Prosecuting the Bush Administration’s Torturers (March 2009), Abu Zubaydah: The Futility Of Torture and A Trail of Broken Lives (March 2009), Ten Terrible Truths About The CIA Torture Memos (Part One), Ten Terrible Truths About The CIA Torture Memos (Part Two), 9/11 Commission Director Philip Zelikow Condemns Bush Torture Program, CIA Torture Began In Afghanistan 8 Months before DoJ Approval, Even In Cheney’s Bleak World, The Al-Qaeda-Iraq Torture Story Is A New Low (all April 2009), Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi Has Died In A Libyan Prison, Dick Cheney And The Death Of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, The “Suicide” Of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi: Why The Media Silence?, Two Experts Cast Doubt On Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi’s “Suicide”, Lawrence Wilkerson Nails Cheney On Use Of Torture To Invade Iraq, In the Guardian: Death in Libya, betrayal by the West (in the Guardian here) (all May 2009), Lawrence Wilkerson Nails Cheney’s Iraq Lies Again (And Rumsfeld And The CIA), and WORLD EXCLUSIVE: New Revelations About The Torture Of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi (June 2009). Also see the extensive archive of articles about the Military Commissions.

For other stories discussing the use of torture in secret prisons, see: An unreported story from Guantánamo: the tale of Sanad al-Kazimi (August 2007), Rendered to Egypt for torture, Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni is released from Guantánamo (September 2008), A History of Music Torture in the “War on Terror” (December 2008), Seven Years of Torture: Binyam Mohamed Tells His Story (March 2009), and also see the extensive Binyam Mohamed archive. And for other stories discussing torture at Guantánamo and/or in “conventional” US prisons in Afghanistan, see: The testimony of Guantánamo detainee Omar Deghayes: includes allegations of previously unreported murders in the US prison at Bagram airbase (August 2007), Guantánamo Transcripts: “Ghost” Prisoners Speak After Five And A Half Years, And “9/11 hijacker” Recants His Tortured Confession (September 2007), The Trials of Omar Khadr, Guantánamo’s “child soldier” (November 2007), Former US interrogator Damien Corsetti recalls the torture of prisoners in Bagram and Abu Ghraib (December 2007), Guantánamo’s shambolic trials (February 2008), Torture allegations dog Guantánamo trials (March 2008), Sami al-Haj: the banned torture pictures of a journalist in Guantánamo (April 2008), Former Guantánamo Prosecutor Condemns “Chaotic” Trials in Case of Teenage Torture Victim (Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld on Mohamed Jawad, January 2009), Judge Orders Release of Guantánamo’s Forgotten Child (Mohammed El-Gharani, January 2009), Bush Era Ends With Guantánamo Trial Chief’s Torture Confession (Susan Crawford on Mohammed al-Qahtani, January 2009), Forgotten in Guantánamo: British Resident Shaker Aamer (March 2009), and the extensive archive of articles about the Military Commissions.

49 Responses

  1. Frances Madeson says...

    Golden shields into golden dust, Andy! Everyone has to stop what they’re doing right now and read or re-read Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and let it guide us to right action. Some people are like bees spreading pollen to hungry blossoms, Germinators if you will. Others, like Cheney et. al. are Terminators. Why do we allow the Terminators to trash our sacred garden? Isn’t it time we stopped? We have a mountain, an Everest, all of the Himalayas, of evidence against these blood-smearing psychopaths. Let’s fling open the courtroom door, spread the papers on the table, let them vibrate there until the buzzing of bees drowns out the gunshots. Let freedom ring and rock and roll us. Everyone in America knows how to rock n’ roll and just how damn good that feels.

  2. Dr Brian says...

    It seems that the conservatives–both Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats such as Obama–consider torture, forced disappearance and felony murder mere breaches of etiquette, matters of taste or “policy differences,” not the war crimes, serious human rights violations and felonies they unequivocally are in US and international law.

    The very people who decry “moral relativism” are telling us that there is no fixed standard of right and wrong. There’s something strange and hypocritical in this special pleading. After all, we have frequently used such offenses as justification for war when people we no longer liked, such as Saddam Hussain and Manuel Ortega, had a history of ordering them under our sponsorship and tutelage.

    Obama and Holder have gone so far as to characterize torturers and murderers as dedicated public servants acting in good faith under the law. What? Torturing in good faith? There were, according to US military pathologists, 43 homicides in custody.

    The world is watching, and no one more than the world’s billion-plus Muslims. If we don’t take action, what does this say to them about our attitude towards the victims, our estimation of their humanity and the value of their lives and rights? A salafist recruiter couldn’t hope for more from Obama.

    And what of our allies, who now view us as a barbaric bully to be kept at a distance? How can we regain their trust if not through re-establishment of the rule of law?

    If impunity persists, what of future war criminals? What is to deter them? Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Pinochet could not have done much evil acting alone. It took willing accomplices, and if systems are not in place to deter such accomplices, protection from evil designs conceived in high places is illusory.

    And how can we protest credibly if American military personnel, diplomats or civilians are tortured or even murdered abroad?

    There is a lot at stake here, far too much to be swept under the rug by the craven, the lazy, the calculating and the implicated.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Frances,
    Thanks for the comments. I loved your rallying cry:
    “We have a mountain, an Everest, all of the Himalayas, of evidence against these blood-smearing psychopaths. Let’s fling open the courtroom door, spread the papers on the table, let them vibrate there until the buzzing of bees drowns out the gunshots. Let freedom ring and rock and roll us. Everyone in America knows how to rock n’ roll and just how damn good that feels.”
    It reminded me of the passion we had in the days before Thatcher and Reagan worked out how to sell us nothing but greed and navel-gazing.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Dr Brian,
    Welcome to my site, and thank you very much for your considered and insightful comments, and for succinctly encapsulating everything that is at stake.
    You’re absolutely correct to state that “There is a lot at stake here, far too much to be swept under the rug by the craven, the lazy, the calculating and the implicated.”
    Hoping to hear from you again.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    This from Valtin:

    Hi Andy,

    It’s so good to have you back. Your voice and analysis were sorely missed during this time of seemingly ongoing breaking news on the torture front. I very much enjoyed the two articles. The Zubayah case seems open and shut, re the issue of criminal responsibility. I also enjoyed the summary the 10 terrible truths articles provided.

    I do have one disagreement. You state:

    Barack Obama is, at present, in the same untenable position that Jack Goldsmith found himself in; that is to say, apparently committing himself to preventing future war crimes while protecting those responsible for war crimes already committed

    I am not so sure. In fact, as long as the Obama administration maintains its support for the Army Field Manual in its current form, then he is breaking international and probably domestic law re torture and use of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners. PHR says the AFM continues use of SERE techniques in its Appendix M. I take it a step farther and see its program of inducing fear and phobias, use of isolation, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, and allowance for use of drugs (so long as they don’t cause “permanent damage”) as providing the core program of KUBARK [the CIA’s 1963 counter-terrorism interrogation manual].

    But whether one sees it as KUBARK or SERE-based is a historical question. More salient is that this is the guideline no doubt used at Bagram today, and against human rights norms. With so much going on right now, it’s easy to forget that current U.S. policy is not abuse-free, and this is not a fight against abuse based in the past. No one knows this better than you, who have so effectively documented the persistence of abuse in what is now Obama’s Guantánamo.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    My reply:

    Great to hear from you and thanks for the encouragement, as ever.

    I appreciate your comments about the current use of prohibited techniques, and for raising, again, the question of Appendix M of the Army Field Manual. This is a topic that needs looking at in greater detail, and I hope to tackle it soon. What should have happened after Obama issued his Presidential orders on taking office, for example, is that the Geneva Conventions, which had been discarded under his predecessor, should have once more been prominently positioned in every US facility in which interrogations take place, but I’ve seen no evidence that this is the case.

    Here, by the way, are two posts by Valtin about Appendix M of the Army Field manual:
    http://valtinsblog.blogspot.com/2009/01/ccr-close-torture-loopholes-in-army.html
    http://www.alternet.org/rights/117807/how_the_u.s._army%27s_field_manual_codified_torture_–_and_still_does/

  7. Psychic Reader says...

    Interesting article. However, the paragraph starting with As we also know… is VERY hard to read. I cannot tell who or what is being quoted, and the clauses just hang in the air. I really wanted to get that info, but no luck parsing it however I tried.

  8. the talking dog says...

    Obviously, these kinds of questions need to be asked, and answered by parties under subpoena, be they pursuant to Congressional inquiries or criminal investigations. Zubayda’s case is most peculiar because objective and experienced law enforcement officials concluded he was pretty much insane anyway… and yet, the torture went on anyway.

    As to others, we know, for example, of former SecDef Rumsfeld’s involvement and sign-off in the case of the Al-Qahtani tortures (“why is standing limited to 4-6 hours when I stand for 8 hours a day”), but in the overall torture program, strangely, Rumsfeld himself did not seem to be all that central a figure. Of course, we also know torture was expressly discussed, in the White House, at “principals’ meetings,” including Ashcroft, Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld, and, of course, Cheney, and we know this week of specific sign-offs by Rice and Cheney.

    It seems to me that these “principals” would be an excellent place for any inquiry to start; Cheney seems almost itchy to talk about all this.

    And I would follow up with rather polite, though firm (and under subpoena) inquiries of America’s own Drs. Mengele, Mitchell and Jessen, until they fully disclosed who authorized and directed their “services,” followed by a thorough tugging on those threads to their conclusion.

    At the end of the day, while prosecutors may or may not elect to prosecute after evidence is developed, and judges and juries may elect not to convict, at this stage, too much is out there to leave this uninvestigated. And that, of course, is no matter how much Washington Inside-the-Beltway Mandarins, who already believe they are above the law as it is, wish to protect their own. Obviously, the “default” is to assume the powerful will have each other’s back; that is not an acceptable result… honest polling (which pretty much means “not Rasmussen”) shows that most people want these matters investigated.

    But that doesn’t matter in any event: if “no one is above the law”… then we can start right here, right now.

  9. Who Authorized The Torture of Abu Zubaydah? by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] The Torture of Abu Zubaydah? by Andy Worthington Posted on April 27, 2009 by dandelionsalad by Andy Worthington Featured Writer Dandelion Salad http://www.andyworthington.co.uk 27 April [...]

  10. Frances Madeson says...

    TD,
    I know you’re down in DC (I envy you; I’d love to be there too) but I can hear you howling all the way up this away. Bark on with your bad self!

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Frances,
    TD’s in New York actually, so he’s not actually barking at the White House gates, but the effect, I think is still the same.
    And TD, thanks for the appraisal. The polling you mention is encouraging, Clearly, a small majority in favor of investigation is a major step forward, although, when compared with the slightly smaller group of “Dark Siders,” the result also serves to confirm how astonishingly divided the US remains.
    Nevertheless, as you also state, “At the end of the day, while prosecutors may or may not elect to prosecute after evidence is developed, and judges and juries may elect not to convict, at this stage, too much is out there to leave this uninvestigated.”
    I couldn’t agree more.

  12. CIA Torture Began In Afghanistan Eight Months before Justice Department Approval by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] However, even if we accept, for now, that the OLC memos provided the administration with the “golden shield” that it so desperately sought (and I fervently hope that a long-awaited internal DoJ report will confirm that no “golden shield” exists for those who creatively attempted to sanction the use of torture), the problem for Cheney and his fellow torturers right now is the existence of evidence that confirms that the torture of Abu Zubaydah actually began long before the OLC’s advice was issued, as I reported in an article last Friday, “Who Authorized The Torture of Abu Zubaydah?” [...]

  13. Judge Condemns “Mosaic” Of Guantánamo Intelligence, And Unreliable Witnesses by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] Pakistan, on March 28, 2002 (on the same night that the alleged senior al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah was captured in another house raid), has always stated that he traveled to Pakistan “in order to [...]

  14. Anti-torture Coalition Files Disciplinary Complaints Against 12 Bush Administration Lawyers « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] House, the Department of Defense and other experts in the field. The recently released Senate and Red Cross reports on detainee treatment provide uncontroverted evidence that the torture techniques advocated [...]

  15. Guantánamo: A Prison Built On Lies « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] that the house was, apparently, tangentially connected to the alleged senior al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah. Furthermore, in response to the government’s other allegations, he has also “denie[d] ever [...]

  16. Jonathan Burdick, J.D. says...

    >> We also know from Jane Mayer that R. Scott Shumate, the chief operational psychologist for the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center, left his job in 2003, apparently disgusted by developments involving the use of the “enhanced interrogation techniques,” and that “associates described him as upset in particular about the treatment of Zubaydah.”

    Riiiiiiiiiight.

    Note the waffling: ” … apparently … “. Why, seasoned observers such as myself, who once encountered “Dr.” Shumate in the field, well, to us it smells like some rats began to run when it looked like they might get prosecuted. Ditto for his crony, Mr. Gelles. Shrinks like The Shoomster ought to get an Oscar for feigning such indignity. All Hail the consummate actor!

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Jonathan,
    Thanks very much for that. It’s always very interesting indeed to receive information from people who were much closer to what was going on that we journalists.
    With best wishes,
    Andy

  18. Release Of The “Holy Grail” Of Torture Reports Delayed Again by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] why it was “necessary to use the waterboard ‘at least 83 times during August 2002,’” on Abu Zubaydah, and “183 times during March 2003” on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. This apparently involved an [...]

  19. Jim says...

    These Intel agents believe they are above the Constitutional rule of law in addition to the basic laws of decency.

    Many of these agents are psychopaths who have a predilection for torturing and murdering humans while needing an excuse (the fraudlent war on terror) in which to do so.

    These agents are criminals who should be brought before an international war crimes tribunal to stand trial for their crimes against humanity.

  20. On Democracy Now! Andy Worthington Discusses the Forthcoming 9/11 Trials and “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] other prisoners – including Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri, another CIA prisoner, who, like Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, was subjected to waterboarding, a form of controlled drowning – will not face a federal court [...]

  21. UK Judges Compare Binyam Mohamed’s Torture To That Of Abu Zubaydah by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] Perhaps this, then, is the reason that the British government remains so desperate not to have the details disclosed of what it knew about Mohamed’s treatment in Afghanistan, because it was complicit in the techniques that were being developed for the CIA’s “high-value detainee” program, whose first official guinea pig was Abu Zubaydah. [...]

  22. Four Men Leave Guantánamo; Two Face Ill-Defined Trials In Italy « freedetainees.org says...

    [...] seems likely that the allegation was made either by Abu Zubaydah (the gatekeeper of the camp, and the CIA’s most well-known torture victim, along with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) or by Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the CIA’s most famous “ghost [...]

  23. Torture in Afghanistan: UK Court Orders Release of Evidence | themcglynn.com/theliberal.net says...

    [...] comparing Mohamed’s treatment with that of Abu Zubaydah, the CIA’s most notorious torture victim) that the description of the treatment of Mohamed in Pakistan, which is contained in their summary, [...]

  24. Torture in Afghanistan: UK Court Orders Release of Evidence « freedetainees.org says...

    [...] comparing Mohamed’s treatment with that of Abu Zubaydah, the CIA’s most notorious torture victim) that the description of the treatment of Mohamed in Pakistan, which is contained in their summary, [...]

  25. Why Obama Must Continue Releasing Yemenis From Guantánamo « freedetainees.org says...

    [...] seized in a house raid in Pakistan on the same night that the “high-value detainee” Abu Zubaydah was captured, and in the same house as Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, described above, and at least a [...]

  26. Why Obama Must Continue Releasing Yemenis From Guantánamo by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] were seized in a house raid in Pakistan on the same night that the “high-value detainee” Abu Zubaydah was captured, and in the same house as Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, described above, and at least a [...]

  27. UN Secret Detention Report Asks, “Where Are the CIA Ghost Prisoners?” « freedetainees.org says...

    [...] – including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and Abu Zubaydah – who were transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006, but no official account has ever [...]

  28. UN Secret Detention Report Asks, “Where Are The CIA Ghost Prisoners?” by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] detainees” — including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Abu Zubaydah and twelve others — who were transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006, but no official [...]

  29. “¿Dónde están los prisioneros fantasma de la CIA?” | Amauta says...

    [...] alto valor” –incluyendo a Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, el supuesto cerebro de los ataques de 11/S, y Abu Zubaydah-, que fueron trasladados a Guantánamo en septiembre de 2006, pero ningún informe oficial ha [...]

  30. “¿Dónde están los prisioneros fantasma de la CIA?” « Identidad Andaluza says...

    [...] alto valor” –incluyendo a Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, el supuesto cerebro de los ataques de 11/S, y Abu Zubaydah-, que fueron trasladados a Guantánamo en septiembre de 2006, pero ningún informe oficial ha [...]

  31. Ghost Prisoners? Indefinite Detention? “Hitherto Acceptable Norms of Human Conduct Do Not Apply” | Nice Day says...

    [...] detainees” — including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Abu Zubaydah and twelve others — who were transferred to Guantánamo in September 2006, but no official [...]

  32. Binyam Mohamed: Evidence of Torture by US Agents Revealed in UK « moof says...

    [...] judges had also noted that “the techniques described were those employed against [Abu] Zubaydah,” the supposed “high-value detainee,” captured in Pakistan on March 28, 2002, who [...]

  33. Torture Whitewash: How “Professional Misconduct” Became “Poor Judgment” in the OPR Report « freedetainees.org says...

    [...] Torture Memos (Part Two), 9/11 Commission Director Philip Zelikow Condemns Bush Torture Program, Who Authorized The Torture of Abu Zubaydah?, CIA Torture Began In Afghanistan 8 Months before DoJ Approval, Even In Cheney’s Bleak World, The [...]

  34. Abu Zubaydah’s Torture Diary « freedetainees.org says...

    [...] and Bybee. I also believe that it’s clear from the chronology established by Abu Zubaydah that his torture began long before the memos were issued on August 1, 2002, through prolonged sleep deprivation if nothing else, and would like to point out [...]

  35. What Torture Is and Why It’s Illegal and Not “Poor Judgment” | themcglynn.com/theliberal.net says...

    [...] detainee, held in secret CIA prisons for four and a half years, for whom the torture program was originally developed. Zubaydah’s case may well be the most shocking in Guantánamo, because, although he was [...]

  36. Defining Torture « roger hollander says...

    [...] detainee, held in secret CIA prisons for four and a half years, for whom the torture program was originally developed. Zubaydah’s case may well be the most shocking in Guantánamo, because, although he was [...]

  37. Who Are Remaining Prisoners In Guantánamo? Part Three: Captured Crossing From Afghanistan Into Pakistan » World Uyghur Congress says...

    [...] detainee,” seized in Pakistan in March 2002, for whom the CIA’s torture program was initially developed. Zubaydah’s case reveals the true horror at the heart of the “War on Terror,” because, [...]

  38. Psyche, Science, and Society » Worthington on Bush’s torture brag says...

    [...] length about Abu Zubaydah, the supposed “high-value detainee” for whom the torture program was specifically developed, who, according to the “torture memos” released last year (written by lawyers in the Justice [...]

  39. On Bush’s Waterboarding Claims, UK Media Loses Its Moral Compass « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] more honest appraisal of the result of Abu Zubaydah’s torture would note that it began before George W. Bush received the Justice Department’s legally twisted approval for it, and that, as Ron Suskind explained in his 2006 book, The One Percent Doctrine, so misplaced was [...]

  40. After Recent Ruling in the Case of Bin Laden’s Cook, Guantánamo Should Close by July 2012 « Eurasia Review says...

    [...] to point out that this supposed “high-value detainee” and “al-Qaeda No. 3,” for whom the CIA’s torture program was specifically developed, was no such thing, and was instead a mentally damaged training camp facilitator. A trial in [...]

  41. Two Experts Cast Doubt On Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi’s “Suicide” by Andy Worthington « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] either in revamped military commissions or in US federal courts.” Brent Mickum, the attorney for Abu Zubaydah, another alleged “high-value detainee,” who knew al-Libi well, as they were both involved with [...]

  42. US Pentagon Releases Training Manual Used As Basis For Bush’s Torture Program says...

    [...] leapt out at me, which echoed a theme I first wrote about back in 2009, in two articles entitled, Who Authorized The Torture of Abu Zubaydah? and CIA Torture Began In Afghanistan 8 Months before DoJ Approval, was the discussion of the date [...]

  43. David Bromwich: America’s Words of Peace and Acts of War | Elm River Free Press says...

    [...] Bush did intend the evil he performed (as when he asked of the supposed high-value detainee Abu Zubaydah, “Who authorized putting him on pain medication?”), but one had the impression that he [...]

  44. David Bromwich: America’s Words of Peace and Acts of War | Irascible Musings says...

    [...] Bush did intend the evil he performed (as when he asked of the supposed high-value detainee Abu Zubaydah, “Who authorized putting him on pain medication?”), but one had the impression that he [...]

  45. Forbidden News » David Bromwich: America’s Words of Peace and Acts of War says...

    [...] Bush did intend the evil he performed (as when he asked of the supposed high-value detainee Abu Zubaydah, “Who authorized putting him on pain medication?”), but one had the impression that he [...]

  46. America’s Words of Peace and Acts of War | Race, Class and Gender: An Introduction says...

    [...] actions. Bush did intend the evil he performed (as when he asked of the supposed high-value detaineeAbu Zubaydah, ”Who authorized putting him on pain medication?”), but one had the impression that he [...]

  47. America’s Words of Peace and Acts of War | Let Truth Prevail ! says...

    [...] Bush did intend the evil he performed (as when he asked of the supposed high-value detainee Abu Zubaydah, “Who authorized putting him on pain medication?”), but one had the impression that he [...]

  48. Tortured Logic: ACLU launches campaign to ask Eric Holder to investigate Bush and Cheney’s war crimes by Andy Worthington | Dandelion Salad says...

    […] detainees was authorized at the highest levels of the Bush administration. This evidence comes from congressional reports, the torture memos themselves and even the boastful admissions of officials including former vice […]

  49. Two Experts Cast Doubt On Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi’s “Suicide” by Andy Worthington | Dandelion Salad says...

    […] either in revamped military commissions or in US federal courts.” Brent Mickum, the attorney for Abu Zubaydah, another alleged “high-value detainee,” who knew al-Libi well, as they were both involved with […]

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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