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Guantanamo Bay, torture and the long road to a 9/11 trial -

Intercepted Bonus: inside the Secretive courtroom at Guantanamo Bay as CIA Torture Architect Testifies

ultimate month, The Intercept’s analysis editor Margot Williams stated from Camp Justice at Guantanamo Bay during an stunning moment within the fortieth pre-trial hearing for the 5 guys accused of plotting 9/eleven. The men are being charged with crimes that can result in the death penalty and pre-trial hearings had been continuing during this case when you consider that 2012. throughout this listening to, the architect of the CIA’s torture program, Dr. James Mitchell, became delivered to the warfare courtroom as a witness. This became the first time that Mitchell regarded in open court. Williams describes her reporting travel, Mitchell’s testimony, and how the legacy of CIA torture has impacted the 9/11 case for very nearly eight years.

Jeremy Scahill: I’m Jeremy Scahill coming to you from the places of work of The Intercept in big apple city and this is a different bonus episode of Intercepted. Buried deep beneath headlines about Donald Trump’s impeachment “acquittal,” the Democratic primaries, Pete, Bernie, Bloomberg, became news out of Camp Justice in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. closing month, the two masterminds of the CIA’s torture software had been referred to as as witnesses in a pre-trial hearing for the men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.

Amy Goodman: Dr. James Mitchell turned into within the court docket for a pre-trial hearing for five 9/eleven suspects she had been discipline to torture euphemistically known as “superior interrogation concepts.”

JS: When the capital trial at Guantanamo’s conflict courtroom eventually happens subsequent 12 months, in 2021, it is going to were two decades considering the crime took place. here are probably the most truths that have lengthy been forgotten. The prison at Guantanamo continues to be open. The americans who engineered torture were on no account held in charge and the men who might also had been concerned with the September eleven attacks haven't yet been convicted. The difficulty of Guantanamo Bay has best been mentioned in a single Democratic debate.

Yamiche Alcindor: Why couldn’t you close Guantanamo Bay? Why couldn’t the Obama administration close Guantanamo Bay?

Joe Biden: We attempted to shut Guantanamo Bay but you ought to have Congressional authority to do it. They’ve saved it open. And the reality is that we definitely, consider it’s the superior, it is an commercial for developing terror —

JS: When Trump took office, he cancelled transfers for guys who were cleared to leave the Guantanamo prison. He additionally campaigned to fill that detention center back up.

Donald J. Trump: This morning, I watched President Obama speakme about GTMO, right, Guantanamo Bay, which incidentally, which incidentally, we're holding open, which we're preserving open and we’re going to load it up with some dangerous dudes, agree with me, we’re gonna load it up.

JS: Of these forty men who continue to be nowadays on the Guantanamo Bay detention center, 5 of them are actually worried in what’s normal as the 9/eleven trial. For very nearly eight years, this infuriating and Kafka-esque case has dragged on. There were at least forty pre-trial hearings. The case is fully marred by CIA torture at black sites. Now, new questions in regards to the FBI’s involvement have made a course to conviction even more clouded. The executive’s obsession with conserving each element categorized continues to add gasoline to an already out of handle hearth. Arguments abound over what can also be talked about in court. Most of what happened to those guys the place they were how they have been treated, it’s labeled. We’ve stated on Intercepted during the past that some of these men like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, known as KSM, the alleged mastermind of the 9/eleven assaults, first went through secret CIA operated outposts called black sites. We heard reporter Carol Rosenberg talk about how the current CIA director, Gina Haspel, may have run a black web site at Guantanamo Bay itself.

Carol Rosenberg: and that i seem on the phrases on the web page, and i’m like Gina Haspel, ran a black web site at Guantanamo? It’s been commonly suggested that she certainly ran a black web page in Thailand. And the Guantanamo episode remains, you understand, really mysterious. after which I start, i'm going on a mission to are attempting and figure out the truthfulness of this. And as you possibly can recognize, Jeremy, people that comprehend for sure can’t say, however people who be aware of the software have a context the place they can discuss it. I’m no longer asserting it’s a truth. I’m asserting this piece of information become declassified. The CIA won’t verify it, they won’t deny it. one of the reasons it makes ideal experience is that what they've mentioned is that she had a couple of covert brief time period assignments that they're going to no longer describe all the way through her profession, and that might fit completely with it.

JS: defense attorneys are over these years of pre-trial hearings have argued that on account of CIA torture, and even Haspel’s previous involvement, a good trial for these guys is unattainable. listed below are protection attorneys Alka Pradhan and James Connell, in a recent documentary called “The Trial[1]” describing concerns that they’ve faced as part of the legal crew for Ammar al-Baluchi.

Alka Pradhan: this is a dying penalty trial and we’re supposed to be entitled to every scrap of proof that may well be fabric to the case. all over the place we go, we’re trying to find assistance that we haven't gotten from the U.S. govt, like where they may have been held, which the government has spoke of completely flat out they agree with to be categorised and may certainly not inform us. That’s sort of essential to the case.

James Connell: For years, everything that Ammar talked about was labeled. You recognize, if he mentioned, “Excuse me, am i able to go to the restroom?” That become categorised. That turned into especially complex. one of the few things that we’ve kind of won the case is having that system rolled again. And so now his average every day communications aren't classified. but even now, anything that he desires to say about his time in black websites, we have to have reviewed for classification. That’s only one instance of self-inflicted wounds that the U.S. government imposes on itself and the individuals who work for it that make things super complicated.

JS: We’re going to listen to extra from Alka Pradhan in a second. but first in January, The Intercept’s Margot Williams went all the way down to Camp Justice at Guantanamo to cover an awesome moment at the struggle court the place Dr. James Mitchell changed into introduced in for questioning. Mitchell, of route, is the CIA contractor, who with no previous event in interrogations, designed the so-referred to as “more desirable Interrogation innovations” software, which amounted to nothing however torture and produced zero outcomes. Mitchell over the a long time has now not been quiet. He’s written a e-book known as “better Interrogation.” He’s been the area of a Vice documentary.

James Mitchell: You know, probably the most rumors that I don’t bear in mind which journalist it became begun about me turned into that I by some means walked into the entrance gate of the agency, banging on the door, observed, you know, there’s torture to be carried out, let me in.

JS: And he’s given many interviews through the years.

JM: You recognize, the core issue lies at the manner that the present models of the Quran and the Hadiths and the violence which are in that are approved as being the real word of Allah handed down unerringly — and our workstation culture prevents us from difficult that.

JS: In a civil case in 2017, Mitchell and his companion in torture, Bruce Jessen, were wondered in a videotaped deposition.[2]

Bruce Jessen: We have been troopers doing what we have been suggested to do.

Sheri Fink (NYT): this is Bruce Jessen, a former military psychologist who became a CIA contractor and his colleague, James Mitchell.

JM: Any competencies within the paintings of interview? My god, I’m a clinical psychologist. Interviews are what we do.

SF: They’re now defendants in a case brought through one of the guys tortured in those prisons: Suleiman Salim, Mohamed Ben Soud, and Obaidullah, the nephew of Gul Rahman, who died in custody.

JS: but that case against the two psychologists turned into settled. Mitchell and Jessen have not ever faced criminal prosecution. Mitchell looked for the primary time in open court docket remaining month. He’s prior to now admitted to individually waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. in the Guantanamo court docket, he sat simply yards far from that very prisoner. Margot Williams turned into there for all of it and while there, she brought her audio recorder and attended some press briefings from defense lawyers.

Alka Pradhan: Dr. Mitchell in particular, his ebook talks about how he is aware of one of the crucial requirements got here from the 9/eleven fee, right? And given the extent of requirements that got here without delay from the FBI, you know, our guess could be that he had some talents, both of them had some potential that these had been coming from the FBI and that there were FBI agents worried in Washington and the Pentagon who're coming up with these questions for the functions of the 9/eleven investigation. And that’s what we are looking to discover is: How plenty did they comprehend whereas they had been torturing these guys.

JS: That became attorney Alka Pradhan, these briefings from the protection teams had been the handiest audio Margot turned into allowed to listing to explain greater about this listening to and what she noticed at Camp justice. right here is Margot Williams.

Margot Williams: i used to be at Guantanamo in January of this year to watch the fortieth pre-trial hearing session in the trial towards the 9/11 defendants who're detainees in Guantanamo.

I’m Margot from The Intercept, Margot Williams.


MW: When the media and the non-governmental observers and the members of the family of victims of the 9/11 assaults come right down to Guantanamo to observe these hearings in grownup, we sit down in the back of a glass in a sort of gallery and there’s 4 rows of chairs. we can see what’s occurring in the courtroom. but what we hear is on a 40 second lengthen, and we see that forty 2d prolong video on displays above us. So, we are able to at the identical time see what’s occurring live and watch it, and listen to it on a forty 2d lengthen. The cause of the forty second delay is that if any categorised counsel receives mentioned, and we don’t have clearances to hear this categorized assistance, they flip off the sound, they put white noise on and the monitor goes to white.

[White noise.]

Alka Pradhan: here's probably probably the most consequential hearings we now have had yet, rounding on the eighth 12 months of pretrial hearings for the 9/11 case. and of course, throughout these two weeks, we could be taking the testimony of doctors Mitchell and Jessen who were worried in the inception of the CIA torture software.

[Music interlude.]

MW: this is the second time these five defendants within the 9/11 attacks were brought before the military court. It’s a military court. It’s now not like a regular court and it turned into originally the Bush administration [that] brought them earlier than the court. and then when President Obama became president, and if you remember the first day of his administration, he spoke of he was going to shut Guantanamo.

Barack Obama: I’ve pointed out repeatedly that I intend to shut Guantanamo, and i will observe via on that. I’ve said repeatedly that the united states doesn’t torture. and that i’m going to make certain that we don’t torture. these are, those are half and parcel of an effort to regain the united states’s moral stature on this planet.

MW: The concept changed into they have been going to carry those charged to the U.S. and can charge them with crimes beneath the federal judiciary, Southern District of big apple. after which how Congress voted to no longer allow the Guantanamo detainees to come to the USA. They could not come to trial in the u.s.. So the trial needed to start over once more under the military commissions in Guantanamo. due to the fact that 2012, this case, which is the case against the 9/eleven defendants, it’s a capital case. they're being charged with crimes that can lead to the dying penalty. And pre-trial hearings were continuing in this case considering that 2012. This hearing became the 40th pretrial listening to.

AP: We’re going to hear about lots of different things from doctors Mitchell and Jessen. And throughout these couple of weeks, we’re going to speak about the FBI’s deep involvement in what has been known as up until now the CIA torture application, however truly, is shaping as much as have been a full govt software of torture for these detainees that turned into a full government cowl up for the aim of the current prosecution and eventual execution of Mr. al-Baluchi.

[Music interlude.]

MW: over the last couple of years, what the protection attorneys have been in a position to discover and put ahead is that the FBI became also concerned all alongside within the presenting inquiries to the detainees while they had been within the black sites. So the FBI didn't have clear fingers. They were not at arm’s length from the complete method while the defendants are being tortured. That’s kind of what the difficulty is at this time. may still those interviews that the FBI did after 2006, should still these be thrown out as neatly? after which what have they got to pursue for the case? 

Dr. James Mitchell and Dr. Bruce Jessen, they're psychologists and they have been requested by way of the CIA to support come up with some recommendations with which they could interrogate these true prisoners that have been in CIA custody after their captures.

JM (in 2017[3]): I disagree with the advice that we had been architects because we weren’t breaking new floor, you know, within the sense that architects do.

MW: this is the first time they’ve appeared in open courtroom and extra significantly, I believe probably the most motives that loads of press went down to Guantanamo to observe this changed into it became of route, the first time they'd considered these 5 men that they knew from having interrogated them during the past. So, the defendants had been for the primary time dealing with the men who had interrogated them in CIA black websites.

Rosiland Jordan: Are you able to say how your customer reacted to observing him these days?

MW: Mr. Ruiz instructed us that once he asked Mr. al-Hawsawi about what he notion of Mitchell, he type of shrugged and spoke of smug.

Walter Ruiz: The one notice he used changed into he’s arrogant. So he referred to smug. He additionally described him as indignant when he had the run-in with him in 2003, the one episode. however his main response truly was now not so a good deal to Mitchell however become he became basically very appreciative.

RJ: What do you mean by that? Appreciative that somebody, that he had seen when he changed into first introduced here has truly been brought in to explain what he become doing?

WR: No, he became appreciative of our efforts on his behalf in a method that turned into moving.

MW: Ruiz become rather outspoken in his questioning of Dr. Mitchell. He confronted Dr. Mitchell repeatedly with incidents that he characterized as torture. on the end of the day, he played a clip wherein Dr. Mitchell himself sort of made a comic story concerning the use of the word torture.[4]

JM: We never used the be aware “torture” — cause torture’s a criminal offense. [Laughter.] neatly, it gets used colloquially. And he used the observe torture although he didn’t say torture. He noted torches.

Mike Ritland: I suggest, to me it’s fucking semantics. however at any cost —

MW: legal professional Ruiz talked about after objections to the word torture with the aid of the prosecution, “i do know torture is a grimy observe. I’ll let you know what, judge I’m not going to sanitize this for their considerations.”

[Music interlude.]

MW: in this hearing loads of psychological terminology became used to make it sound like there’s an educational and scientific common sense and system to the sort of thoughts — I’m announcing innovations — the kind of torture that became used on these prisoners. one of the vital phrases used were “intelligence necessities,” “abusive flow,” “countermeasures to resistance,” “Pavlovian response,” “learned helplessness,” “poor reinforcement,” “a conditioning method.” They confirmed a chart of “moral disengagement.”

some of the thoughts is some thing known as “walling” during which the man is thrown in opposition t the wall, and the wall is secure since it’s made of plywood and it’s constructed so that it bounces. It’s not strong. When walling is used the time period walling, they use a seashore towel to wrap across the prisoners neck so he gained’t be harmed. and then later, even when they’re in a non-coercive circumstance, they take the towel, these docs, took the towel and put it just so that the prisoner could see them. so that they would know that if they didn't behave, or reply the questions, that they might need to have that towel around their neck and be thrown in opposition t the wall once more.

They called it a “Pavlovian device.” And so these same guys have been within the room, being reminded of what they'd endured as prisoners within the black sites by way of the sight of the people who had used these strategies on them.

[Music interlude.]

It’s now not as if I’m overwhelmed by way of it because I’ve spent 18 years reading testimony and studies about torture. It changed into wonderful in this continuing at these hearings with Dr. Mitchell who basically performed these interrogations and debriefings and used these what he calls strategies. and that i’m the use of that notice too but the preponderance of euphemism in these court cases did sort of crush me.

JS: Margot Williams is the analysis editor for investigations at the Intercept. Years before names have been publicly released, Margot compiled the first listing of the Guantanamo detainees and assembled a complete GTMO database for the new york instances. Her newest article for The Intercept is titled “At Guantanamo Bay, torture apologists take refuge in empty codewords and euphemisms.” more of Margot’s reporting on the pre-trial listening to of James Mitchell may also be found at Margot Williams spoke with Intercepted affiliate producer Elise Swain. And that does it for this special bonus episode of Intercepted. except subsequent week, I’m Jeremy Scahill.

References :
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  • JM (in 2017 (
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    households Of 9/eleven Victims Confront Painful memories At Gitmo battle court docket

    anytime the conflict court in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, holds hearings within the capital case of 5 alleged Sept. eleven conspirators, spouse and children of victims of these assaults attend as visitors of the Pentagon.

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    Detainee Abu Zubaydah a key figure in Senate CIA torture report

    WASHINGTON — Abu Zubaydah become the CIA's guinea pig.

    He was the first excessive-profile al-Qaida terror suspect captured after the Sept. 11 assaults, and the first to disappear into the undercover agent company's secret prisons, the primary subjected to grinding white noise and sleep deprivation tactics and the primary to gasp beneath the simulated drowning of waterboarding. Zubaydah's stark ordeal grew to become the CIA's blueprint for the brutal remedy of terror suspects, in line with the Senate Intelligence Committee's document launched Tuesday.

    The newly launched file cites Zubaydah's detention in Pakistan in March 2002 as a turning point in the Bush administration's no-holds-barred method to terror suspects and the CIA's development of coercive interrogation strategies.

    whereas CIA officers subjected Zubaydah to a growing to be array of harsh interrogations, criminal officers working for President George W. Bush wrote memos citing Zubaydah as a key examine case to justify the severe measures, the record pointed out.

    Zubaydah become waterboarded 83 times in August 2002 by myself, according to a in the past released Bush-era felony document. the brand new Senate record said CIA interrogators had a pre-arranged plan about how to eliminate Zubaydah's physique if he have been to die right through questioning: He can be cremated.

    The actual results on the phobia suspect had been instant and reported. Straining below a waterlogged fabric clamped over his face, Zubaydah became "absolutely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth," in keeping with CIA emails stated within the record. He become body-slammed with the aid of his captors. He become hooded, then unmasked and ominously proven a coffin-like box. He changed into locked in a cramped cell, decreased to wailing and hysteria, the record said.

    Zubaydah's torment became the template for the CIA's black-web page interrogations, the Senate report spoke of. It provided interrogators with reams of data, CIA scientific specialists with the bounds of human endurance and Bush administration officers with the criminal outlines of how they'd cope with future terror suspects. at the CIA's request, the record said, good Bush administration Justice branch officers accredited using waterboarding and different coercive strategies to humble Zubaydah and enshrined a harsh regime that managed every factor of his existence.

    U.S. and Pakistani officers grabbed Zubaydah in the town of Faisalabad and wounded him in a firefight in March 2002. He changed into taken to a jail site in an unidentified nation described as "Detention web site green" in the document, but tested as Thailand, in accordance with prior felony files, media accounts and international investigations. while curative, Zubaydah was wondered via FBI and CIA interrogators. however the FBI veterans quickly withdrew from the black website after protesting that CIA interrogators were the use of abusive suggestions on Zubaydah.

    In his first waterboarding session in early August 2002, CIA interrogators hooded and shackled Zubaydah and pitched him into a wall. They repeatedly asked "questions on threats" to the U.S., but Zubaydah insisted he had no information to give.

    The interrogators strapped Zubaydah to a board, coated his face with a material and poured water over it. Zubaydah choked, vomited, then blacked out, coming to beneath clinical supervision after expelling "copious amounts of liquid," in keeping with CIA facts mentioned through the Senate. "So it starts," a CIA officer wrote to superiors in a cable from the penitentiary.

    Zubaydah become waterboarded as regularly as twice a day over here weeks. Even some CIA veterans on the Thai detention center have been horrified by way of the scene, according to the Senate record. in a single cable, a staffer spoke of "a few on the crew profoundly affected ... some to the point of tears and choking up." the cruel strategies persevered in the course of the month except staffers concluded that the detainee was cooperative.

    In a 2006 speech that verified the detention and interrogation program and mentioned Zubaydah, Bush observed the detainee became a "senior terrorist leader and a trusted associate of Osama bin laden." Jose Rodriguez, the senior CIA legit who oversaw Zubaydah's questioning from agency headquarters in Virginia, stated on CBS' "60 Minutes" that Zubaydah grew to become "compliant inside three weeks" and "gave us a road map that allowed us to trap a bunch of al Qaida senior leaders."

    The Senate record disputes each bills, asserting Zubaydah became a low-degree minnow within the al Qaida hierarchy and provided no great information about real terror plots or constitution.

    Senate investigators quote an inner CIA record from 2006 that mentioned Zubaydah was miscast as a senior terror chief. whereas the CIA informed Bush's national protection Council that the strategies were useful and "produced meaningful results," the Senate committee said other CIA documents point out Zubaydah never provided advice such as the subsequent terrorist attack or identities of operatives inner the U.S.

    The document also branded as "inaccurate" outdated CIA contentions that Zubaydah's harsh medicine coerced him into proposing critical early suggestions in regards to the "dirty Bomb" plot," a purported plan by terror suspect Jose Padilla to ignite a radiological machine in a U.S. metropolis. Arrested in Chicago in 2002, Padilla changed into convicted in a 2007 trial of conspiracy to commit homicide remote places, but now not charged with the bomb plot. Zubaydah mentioned Padilla as a probable hazard to FBI interrogators before he changed into subjected to waterboarding and other extreme recommendations, the document noted.

    in the legit CIA response to the Senate committee, the agency spoke of that Zubaydah named Padilla as a result of harsh interrogations. however the CIA recounted that "it took us too long to cease making references to his infeasible 'soiled Bomb' plot."

    greater than 12 years after his catch, Zubaydah continues to be constrained to the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He has yet to be charged with any crimes below the government's military tribunals — a limbo anticipated in 2002 by means of CIA terror specialists, based on the Senate report.

    In a 2002 e mail to CIA headquarters, the CIA's interrogators noted they wanted assurances that Zubaydah would certainly not be allowed to publicly describe what they were doing to him, recommending that he may still "continue to be incommunicado for the the rest of his lifestyles."

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