“High-Value Detainee” Abu Zubaydah Blinded By the Bush Administration

The story of Abu Zubaydah has fascinated me for many years — since I was writing my book The Guantánamo Files, specifically, and, in my journalism, since I first wrote extensively about him in my April 2008 article, The Insignificance and Insanity of Abu Zubaydah: Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Confirms FBI’s Doubts. Since then, I have returned to his story repeatedly, in articles including Abu Zubaydah: The Futility Of Torture and A Trail of Broken Lives and Who Authorized The Torture of Abu Zubaydah? (in 2009) and Abu Zubaydah: Tortured for Nothing, The Torture of Abu Zubaydah: The Complaint Filed Against James Mitchell for Ethical Violations, In Abu Zubaydah’s Case, Court Relies on Propaganda and Lies and New Evidence About Prisoners Held in Secret CIA Prisons in Poland and Romania (in 2010), and Algerian in Guantánamo Loses Habeas Petition for Being in a Guest House with Abu Zubaydah and Former CIA “Ghost Prisoner” Abu Zubaydah Recognized as “Victim” in Polish Probe of Secret Prison (this year).

As the supposed “high-value detainee” for whom the CIA’s torture program was specifically developed, and who, after John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee wrote and approved the notorious torture memos of August 1, 2002, was waterboarded 83 times, Zubaydah is pivotal to any assessment of the CIA’s torture program, and what makes his story particularly poignant — while reflecting awfully on the Bush administration’s supposed intelligence — is the fact that it should have been clear from the very beginning to the CIA, and to senior Bush administration officials, up to and including the President, that Zubaydah was not , as touted, the number three in al-Qaeda, but was instead the mentally damaged gatekeeper of a military training camp — Khaldan — that was only tangentially associated with al-Qaeda, and was, in fact, closed down by the Taliban, after its emir, another notorious “ghost prisoner” named Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, refused to bring it under the command of Osama bin Laden.

In the wake of WikiLeaks’ recent release of classified military documents relating to the Guantánamo prisoners (the Detainee Assessment Briefs, or DABs), my friend and colleague Jason Leopold had an excellent story out yesterday on Truthout, which, in essence, analysed why, in the photo of Abu Zubaydah available in the documents, he is wearing an eye patch, when, in the few photos available from before his capture, he clearly had both his eyes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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