Detainee Abu Zubaydah 'Nearly Died Four Times' From CIA Torture
Abu Zubaydah, an accused top Al-Qaeda operative, "nearly died four times" when CIA interrogators tortured him into providing statements, according to government transcripts.
Zubaydah was the first "high-value" detainee to be subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques approved by the George W. Bush administration, including waterboarding, a simulated drowning method critics say amounts to torture.
In another blow to allegations by Bush-era officials that the controversial interrogation methods yielded key intelligence, top terror suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told a 2007 military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay that false statements were tortured out of him.
"I just make up stories," he said in broken English, describing an interrogation session during which he was asked about the location of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
"Where is he? I don't know. Then he torture me," said Mohammed, the self-confessed mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.
"Then I said: 'Yes, he is in this area or this is Al-Qaeda...' I said no, they torture me."
In the same hearing, however, Mohammed had a personal representative read a statement in which he admitted to having taken part in 31 separate terror plots and responsibilities.
The partially redacted documents were released as part of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to obtain uncensored transcripts of military tribunals held to determine whether detainees were "enemy combatants," a designation that has been dropped by President Barack Obama's administration.
The hearings were closed to both lawyers and the public. Previously released versions of the documents had blacked out most references to prisoner abuse under CIA custody.
"After months of suffering and torture, physically and mentally, they did not care about my injuries that they inflicted to my eye, to my stomach, to my bladder, and my left thigh and my reproductive organs ... Doctors told me that I nearly died four times," Zubaydah said.
"They say, 'this in your diary.' They say, 'see you want to make operation against America.' I say no, the idea is different. They say no, torturing, torturing. I say 'okay, I do. I was decide to make operation.'"
Majid Khan, the only U.S. national among "high value" detainees held at Guantanamo, the U.S. naval base in southern Cuba where some 230 prisoners remain, also claimed he had been tortured.
"In the end, any classified information you have is through ... agencies who physically and mentally tortured me," he said.
ACLU staff attorney Ben Wizner called on the Obama administration to release more documents related to the CIA's detention program and said the rights group would return to the court to seek a full declassification of the documents.
"The documents released today provide further evidence of brutal torture and abuse in the CIA's interrogation program and demonstrate beyond doubt that this information has been suppressed solely to avoid embarrassment and growing demands for accountability," said Wizner.