PEEK

CIA Told Zubaydah They Mistook Him for a High-Level al Qaeda Operative

Zubaydah said he endured “months of suffering and torture” on the false premise that he was an al-Qaeda leader.

According to new transcripts from of a 2007 Combatant Status Review Tribunal held at Guantanamo Bay, detainee Abu Zubaydah said that his CIA captors told him after he was subjected to torture that “they had mistakenly thought he was the No. 3 man in the organization’s hierarchy and a partner of Osama bin Laden.” “They told me, ‘Sorry, we discover that you are not Number 3, not a partner, not even a fighter,’” Zubaydah said. Zubaydah, who was subjected to waterboarding 83 times in one month, also said that he nearly died in prison:

Abu Zubaida, a nom de guerre for Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, told the 2007 panel of military officers at the detention facility in Cuba that “doctors told me that I nearly died four times” and that he endured “months of suffering and torture” on the false premise that he was an al-Qaeda leader.

Despite President Bush’s rhetoric, Zubaydah’s torture “foiled no plots,” a point that one of his interrogators confirmed during a congressional hearing last May. The portion of the 2007 Combatant Review Status hearing transcript in which Majid Khan — an alleged associate of Khalid Sheik Mohammad — discussed his treatment at CIA black sites was “blacked out for eight consecutive pages.”

Benjamin J. Armbruster is a Research Associate for The Progress Report and ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress.
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