Diego Garcia: evidence UK informed of rendition flights and colluded in interrogation facility

N379P: the US rendition plane to and from Diego Garcia

 Over the last few days we have seen a steadfast refusal by politicians of all parties in Britain to admit there is evidence that the UK Government colluded with the USA on rendition flights to and from Diego Garcia, a British ‘colony’ in the Indian Ocean. These politicians take the public for fools, assuming we only have short-term memory. But a forensic search of parliamentary reports yields how in 2008 David Miliband, the former British Foreign Secretary, admitted to the House of Commons that the British Government knew about these flights. And earlier this year a British parliamentary committee acknowledged that redactions in the Senate report on CIA torture – at that point the report had been completed but not published – specifically included details of US flights to and from Diego Garcia and, furthermore, that the British Government colluded with the US in its detention of suspects at an interrogation centre there. And while the Foreign Office claimed this year that the flight logs to and from Diego Garcia had been ‘destroyed’ due to ‘water damage’, this is at odds with a 2008 Parliamentary record that confirmed how a list of these logs had, in fact, been forwarded to the US State Department. The evidence is presented below.

Following some must-read quotes and an Introduction evidence provided includes Section A: the Miliband admission in full; Section B: an extract from Hansard (UK Parliament record) on renditions to and from Diego Garcia; Section C: an extract from a British Parliamentary committee report confirming that the UK Government colluded with the US it its detention of suspects there and that redactions in the Senate report on CIA torture included flights to and from Diego Garcia; Section D: an extract from Hansard admitting UK knowledge of rendition flight N379P (see photo above), and Section E: details of those detainees believed to have been renditioned via Diego Garcia. An Appendix matches specific torture techniques to some of the detainees quoted (and to others that are not).

Quotes (extracted from sections A – D):

David Miliband (to House of Commons): “Contrary to earlier explicit assurances that Diego Garcia had not been used for rendition flights, recent US investigations have now revealed two occasions, both in 2002, when this had in fact occurred.”

From Hansard: “In February 2008, the then Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon David Miliband MP, announced that the US had disclosed that it had used the US facility at Diego Garcia as part of its post-2001 rendition programme, and that two US flights, each with a single detainee on board, had refuelled at Diego Garcia in 2002.”

From Hansard: “Regarding the announcement that Diego Garcia had been used for rendition flights, Lord Malloch-Brown told us: “Obviously, from the Foreign Secretary downwards, and the Prime Minister as well, we were all pretty shocked that those assurances [by the USA regarding rendition flights into and out of Diego Garcia], given in good faith to the Committee and to the House, had proven inaccurate”.”

From a 19 June 2014 report by a Foreign Affairs committee: “…the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had found—as a result of its four-year inquiry into the CIA’s post-2001 torture and rendition programme—that the CIA had detained “high-value suspects” on Diego Garcia and that the ‘black site’ arrangement on the island was made with the “full cooperation” of the British Government. The Senate Committee voted on 3 April 2014 to recommend declassification of parts of the report’s executive summary, findings and recommendations.

Mark Simmonds MP, House of Commons, July 2014 (in answer to a question): “Records on flight departures and arrivals on Diego Garcia are held by the British Indian Ocean Territory immigration authorities. Daily occurrence logs, which record the flights landing and taking off, cover the period since 2003. Though there are some limited records from 2002, I understand they are incomplete due to water damage.” Note that in 2008 (check the Hansard extract in Section B) this assertion [of US flights to/from Diego Garcia] is contradicted by a statement saying that the “FCO [Foreign & Commonwealth Office] later confirmed that it had sent the list to its US counterpart”.

Introduction

One of the flights to and from Diego Garcia is believed to have seen the rendition of either Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni, a dual Egyptian-Pakistani national who was seized in Jakarta on 9 January 2002 after arriving from Pakistan, put into a coffin, then renditioned via Diego Garcia on Flight N379P and taken to Egypt, where he was made to stand for 92 days and tortured with electric cattle prods.

A second N379P flight is believed to have renditioned either Sheikh Al-Libi (who in September 2002 was taken via Diego Garcia to Egypt, where he was tortured into “admitting” that Al Qaida was in league with Saddam Hussein in the development of weapons of mass destruction) or Ramzi Bin Al-Shibh (who was taken into custody in Pakistan, then via Diego Garcia to Guantanamo Bay).

Another detainee suspected of being renditioned on one of the flights to/from Diego Garcia is Binyam Mohamed, who was renditioned to Morocco, where he was subsequently tortured (a razor blade taken to his genitals).

Top secret documents found in Libya in November 2011 showed Diego Garcia was listed on a CIA rendition flight plan for Libyan Islamist Abdel-Hakim Belhadj and his wife Fatima Boudchar.

Manfred Novak, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture, said he had received credible evidence that detainees were held on Diego Garcia between 2002 and 2003.

A. 21 February 2008 statement from David Miliband to the House of Commons on rendition flights to/from Diego Garcia:

(Taken from archival sources)

With permission Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on US rendition operations.

On 12 December 2005, in response to a Parliamentary Question from the Right Honourable Member for Northeast Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell), the then Foreign Secretary, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Jack Straw), updated the House on the subject of Terrorist Suspects (Renditions) stating that: “Careful research by officials has been unable to identify any occasion since 11 September 2001, or earlier in the Bush administration, when we received a request for permission by the United States for a rendition through UK territory or airspace, nor are we otherwise aware of such a case”.
This was supplemented by two further statements in January 2006, and a subsequent letter of 6 February 2006 to the Rt Hon Member for Richmond (William Hague).

In March 2007, the then Prime Minister Tony Blair gave an assurance to the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) that he was satisfied that the US had at no time since 9/11 rendered an individual through the UK or through our Overseas Territories.

In its Report on Rendition the ISC (28 June 2007) said ‘we are satisfied that there is no evidence that US rendition flights have used UK airspace (except the two cases in 1998 referred to earlier in the report) and that there is no evidence of them having landed at UK military airfields’. The Government welcomed these conclusions in its response to the Report in July 2007. Parliamentary answers, interviews and letters followed this evidence.
I am very sorry indeed to have to report to the House the need to correct these and other statements on the subject, on the basis of new information passed to officials on 15 February 2008 by the US Government. Contrary to earlier explicit assurances that Diego Garcia had not been used for rendition flights, recent US investigations have now revealed two occasions, both in 2002, when this had in fact occurred. An error in the earlier US records search meant that these cases did not come to light. In both cases a US plane with a single detainee on board refuelled at the US facility in Diego Garcia.

The detainees did not leave the plane, and the US Government has assured us that no US detainees have ever been held on Diego Garcia. US investigations show no record of any other rendition through Diego Garcia or any other Overseas Territory or through the UK itself since then.

Yesterday US and UK legal teams discussed the issue, and I spoke myself with Secretary Rice. We both agree that the mistakes made in these two cases are not acceptable, and she shares my deep regret that this information has only just come to light. She emphasised to me that the US Government came to us with this information quickly after they discovered it.

The House and the Government will share deep disappointment at this news, and about its late emergence. That disappointment is shared by our US Allies. They recognise the absolute imperative for the British Government to provide accurate information to Parliament. I reaffirm the Government’s commitment to that imperative today.

We fully accept that the US gave us its earlier assurances in good faith. We accepted those assurances, and indeed referred to them publicly, also in good faith.

For the avoidance of doubt, I have asked my officials to compile a list of all the flights where we have been alerted to concerns regarding rendition through the UK or our Overseas Territories. Once this is ready we will be sending this list to the US and seeking their specific assurance that none of these flights were used for rendition purposes.

Our counter-terrorism relationship with the United States is vital to UK security. I am absolutely clear that there must and will continue to be the strongest possible intelligence and counter-terrorism relationship with the US, consistent with UK law and our international obligations.

As part of our close co-operation, there has long been a regular exchange with the US authorities, in which we have set out: that we expect them to seek permission to render detainees via UK territory and airspace, including Overseas Territories; that we will grant that permission only if we are satisfied that the rendition would accord with UK law and our international obligations; and how we understand our obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture.

Secretary Rice has underlined to me the firm US understanding that there will be no rendition through the UK, UK airspace or Overseas Territories without express British Government permission.

The House will want to know what has become of the two individuals in question. There is a limit to what I can say, but I can tell the House the following. The US Government has told us that neither of the men was a British national or a British resident. One is currently in Guantanamo Bay. The other has been released. The House will know the British Government’s long-standing position is that the detention facility at Guantanamo should be closed.

My officials and their US counterparts continue to work through all the details and implications of this information. We will keep procedures under review to ensure they meet the standards we have set. I will of course keep the House updated.”

B: Extract from Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, 6 July 2008, on Extraordinary Rendition:

(Note: numbering sequence is from Hansard.)

52.  As the FCO told us, the terms of the US-UK agreement on BIOT require the US to seek prior approval from the UK for “any extraordinary use of the US base or facilities, such as combat operations or any other politically sensitive activity”.[98] For a number of years before we announced our inquiry, claims had been made that Diego Garcia had been used in the United States’ rendition programme. On 20 January 2006, the then Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, responded to allegations about use of the UK’s territory or airspace for rendition operations, summarising the results of a search of files stretching back to 1997. The search found just four cases of rendition requests by the US, all in 1998. Two were accepted; two were rejected. He told the House that the Government had found “no evidence of detainees being rendered through the UK or its Overseas Territories” since 1998.[99]

53.  However, allegations continued and in a Report in 2007 we recommended: that the Government ask the United States administration to confirm whether aircraft used in rendition operations have called at airfields in the United Kingdom or in the Overseas Territories en route to or from a rendition and that it make a clear statement of its policy on this practice.[100] In response, the Government reiterated the statement made by the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and argued that, given US assurances, further clarification from the US administration of its policy was unnecessary.[101] In its response to our Report the Government also stated: We are clear that the US would not render anyone through UK airspace (including the Overseas Territories) without our permission.[102]

54.  In October 2007 we received evidence from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition and from Reprieve for this inquiry, which claimed that Diego Garcia had been used to land a plane linked to “rendition circuits” and that ships in or near its territorial waters had also been used to hold detainees or otherwise facilitate the United States’ renditions programme.[103] Both organisations urged further investigation of these allegations and argued that the UK was wrong to rely on US assurances to the contrary.[104]

55.  On 21 February 2008, the current Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon David Miliband MP, reported to the House that the US had now informed him, contrary to its previous assurances, that on two occasions in 2002 Diego Garcia had been used for rendition flights. In both cases a US plane “with a single detainee refuelled at the US facility” on the island. Neither detainee was a British national or British resident. One was currently in Guantánamo Bay and the other had been released. The Foreign Secretary added: […] the detainees did not leave the plane, and the US Government have assured us that no US detainees have ever been held on Diego Garcia. US investigations show no record of any other rendition through Diego Garcia or any other overseas territory, or through the UK itself, since then. He explained that he had asked FCO officials to compile a list of all the flights where the Government had been alerted to concerns regarding rendition through the UK or the Overseas Territories and said he would be sending this list to the US to seek specific assurances about each flight.[105]

56.  Following the Foreign Secretary’s statement, we wrote to ask him a number of questions. One of these was whether the list of allegations being sent to the US would include claims relating to ships serviced from Diego Garcia.[106] In response the Foreign Secretary told us that the Government had “previously received assurances from the US in 2005, 2006 and 2007 that no detainees had been transferred through the territorial waters of Diego Garcia”. However, he did not address the allegation of detainees being held on ships serviced from Diego Garcia.[107] In oral evidence Meg Munn was also unclear as to whether the list being sent to the US would include this particular allegation.[108]

57.  We also asked the Foreign Secretary whether the list being sent to the US would include allegations about flights through UK airspace of planes alleged to have been on their way to or from carrying out a rendition, as well as allegations about flights carrying detainees at the time of transit through UK airspace.[109] He told us that his purpose in preparing the list being sent to the US was “to identify whether rendition through UK territory or airspace in fact occurred” and that the Government did “not consider that an empty flight transiting through our territory falls into this category.”[110] As part of our Human Rights inquiry we questioned Lord Malloch-Brown about this position. He replied: I do not think that it is more or less okay, but there is a limit to what we can do effectively to monitor empty planes, whose purposes it is not really reasonable for us to investigate. If an American military flight requests refuelling or access and is empty of any passengers, I am not sure that it is possible for us to demand what it might be doing on its return flight.[111]

58.  Regarding the announcement that Diego Garcia had been used for rendition flights, Lord Malloch-Brown told us: Obviously, from the Foreign Secretary downwards, and the Prime Minister as well, we were all pretty shocked that those assurances, given in good faith to the Committee and to the House, had proven inaccurate. That is why, in the Foreign Secretary’s conversations with Condi Rice, we secured a commitment that we would submit a list of all flights about which there were suspicions-that is, any flights whose details were given to us by Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and others-to the US and would ask them to give us an assurance that there was not any such activity around any of those flights. I think we should wait for the outcome of that. We have made it clear that we would publish both the list of flights we submitted and the responses that we got. We should wait until that is over to see what, if any, steps are necessary after that.[112] During the evidence session, held on 30 April, the Minister also said the list was “shortly” and “about to be” sent to the US.[113] The FCO later confirmed that it had sent the list to its US counterparts. The FCO also told us that it would lay the list and the US response in both Houses as soon as it had received the response.

C: Extract from a 19 June 2014 Foreign Affairs Committee report to the British Parliament on the use of Diego Garcia for rendition:

…In February 2008, the then Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon David Miliband MP, announced that the US had disclosed that it had used the US facility at Diego Garcia as part of its post-2001 rendition programme, and that two US flights, each with a single detainee on board, had refuelled at Diego Garcia in 2002. The US had said that neither detainee had left the plane, and that it had never held detainees on the island. An “error in the US records search” was to blame for the failure to supply accurate information to the UK.[14]…

… Recent developments have once again brought into question the validity of assurances by the US about its use of Diego Garcia. In April 2014, it was reported that the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had found – as a result of its four-year inquiry into the CIA’s post-2001 torture and rendition programme – that the CIA had detained “high-value suspects” on Diego Garcia and that the ‘black site’ arrangement on the island was made with the “full cooperation” of the British Government. The Senate Committee voted on 3 April 2014 to recommend declassification of parts of the report’s executive summary, findings and recommendations. That recommendation by the Senate Committee is currently being assessed.[23] If the reports of the Senate Committee’s findings are substantiated, we would expect to revisit this issue, to assess the implications for the UK and for public confidence in its statements on US use of Diego Garcia.

D. Submission from Clive A Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve: Renditions and secret imprisonment in Diego Garcia

I am writing in relation to the recent disclosure by David Miliband that CIA ghost prisoners were in fact transported through UK Overseas Territory in Diego Garcia. As you are aware, for some time now Reprieve has been pushing for a full, public inquiry into serious allegations of rendition and secret imprisonment in Diego Garcia, not least in our submission of October 2007 to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry into the Overseas Territories.

We have had very little response from your Committee and have not been invited to present oral evidence in your inquiry. Very many questions remain unanswered with regard to Diego Garcia’s role in the CIA rendition system and we certainly can no longer fall back on US “assurances” that all is well.

I hope that the FAC will be investigating this matter further and suggest that, as a matter of urgency, the following issues must be determined and made public:
—  The identities of the two men admitted yesterday to have been rendered through Diego Garcia.
—  Where these men were held prior to their transfer from Diego Garcia and whether in fact either of them were held on the island itself or on ships off Diego Garcia prior to their transfer.[259]
—  Where these men were taken having been transferred from Diego Garcia and how they were subsequently treated.
—  What permissions were sought by the Americans from the British in respect to these renditions or individuals.
—  Full flight logs, data strings[260] and passenger manifests of the planes on which these men were transported.
—  What permissions were granted and/or guarantees or promises sought in respect to these renditions or individuals.
—  Any follow-up the British government has made in respect of the conditions in which these men have been held by the Americans or any other state.
—  A full investigation into any other flights which have stopped off in or flown through Diego Garcia.
—  A full investigation into detentions on any boats in any way supported by the naval base at Diego Garcia.
—  A full investigation into reports that any prisoners may have been held on or near Diego Garcia, including but not limited to the following prisoners:

(i)   Muhammed Saad Iqbal Madni
You mention in your letter that one rendition flight took place in January 2002. Based on the difficult work that we at Reprieve have done trying to track down the victims of this illegal practice, a likely candidate for this illegal act is Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni. Mr Madni (ISN 743) is a dual Egyptian-Pakistani national who was seized in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 9 January 2002, after arriving from Pakistan. Mr Madni has insisted that he is innocent of any crime, and was in Jakarta to visit his Indonesian step-mother and his brother after the death of his father

We have traced the plane, and on 9 January 2002, the Gulfstream N379P (dubbed the “Rendition Express”) flew from Dulles to Cairo, presumably to pick up Egyptian “colleagues” who would take part in the rendition process. The plane flew on to Jakarta. On 11 January, Mr Madni was hustled aboard N379P and flown to Egypt. After leaving Mr. Madni to his fate in Cairo, the plane flew from to Washington via Prestwick (once again, British territory).
Meanwhile, Mr Madni spent 92 torturous days in Egyptian custody, until 12 April 2002. He was then taken to Afghanistan for 11 months, before arriving in Guantanamo on 22 March 2003. He became so depressed by his treatment that he attempted suicide after 191 days in Guantanamo. He remains there to this day.

(ii)   Sheikh Al-Libi
The other person in our files who might fit this profile is Sheikh Al-Libi, who was transferred off the USS Bataan in January 2002, likely in the vicinity of Diego Garcia. He was taken to Egypt, where he was tortured into “admitting” that Al Qaida was in league with Saddam Hussein in the development of weapons of mass destruction. This was one plank of President Bush’s case for the invasion of Iraq, a “confession” specifically mentioned in President Bush’s argument to the world. It was, as we all know to our cost, entirely false, extracted through torture of the most horrendous nature. He has indeed been “released” by the US—but only in the sense that he was rendered (refouled is the technical term, in violation of the Refugee Convention and the Convention Against Torture) to Libya where our information leads us to believe he is suffering at the hands of the Gaddafi regime.

The government has stated that the second rendition flight took place in September 2002. Flight logs for the N379P “Rendition Express” show a flight from Washington to Athens to Diego Garcia on 13 September. The plane subsequently appeared in Morocco on 18 Septtember.

(iii)   Ramzi Bin Al-Shibh
This plane may well have contained Ramzi Bin al Shibh. He was apparently taken into custody on 11 September 2002, in Pakistan. He is, indeed, now in Guantanamo Bay, and has been since being brought here in September 2006. More importantly, he is facing capital charges brought by the US military on Monday 11 February 2008. If he was the prisoner taken through Diego Garcia, there is a serious question as to whether the UK has violated its legal obligation to secure from the US assurances that the death penalty will not be imposed on a prisoner transferred from British territory. Please could you make immediate inquiries to determine whether this law has been violated and let me know, as it may prove vital to preserving his life.

(iv)   Hambali aka Riduan Isamuddin
(v)   Abu Zubaydah
(vi)   Khalid Shaikh Mohammed

Further investigation:
A full list of further lines of inquiry was included in our submission to you of October 2007. These should now be followed up as a matter of urgency. We urge you also to invite Reprieve and other relevant organisations to present oral evidence to your ongoing inquiry into the Overseas Territories.

Binyam Mohamed
Equally important, after visiting Diego Garcia, N379P flew on to Morocco at a time when British resident Binyam Mohamed was being tortured there (after himself being rendered by the CIA). Around September 18, 2002, when N379P flew to Rabat, Mr Mohamed was having a razor blade taken to his genitals as part of an effort to build a case against him. He, too, languishes in Guantanamo Bay. Was this rendition plane bringing someone else for torture to Morocco? (Perhaps Mr bin al Shibh or another person.) Or was it bringing American agents to take part in the torture process against Mr Mohamed himself?

Alternative uses of Diego Garcia to facilitate rendition and torture:
There have been at least 54 queries (parliamentary questions and so on) concerning Diego Garcia, made in one form or another. Many concern the use of the territory of Diego Garcia to hold prisoners. More compelling however, is the idea that prisoners were held on ships in the waters surrounding Diego Garcia and supplied from the mainland. Whether this is technically within “territorial waters” (defined perhaps as three miles) or slightly further is immaterial. It has always been more likely that the territory of Diego Garcia was not, itself, the place where the major part of the rendition process was taking place. This makes all the logic in the world, since the US has a modus operandi: to hold prisoners in carefully controlled environments that are protected from the annoyance of lawyers and journalists. We have been tracking several ships that have been refitted to act as prison ships. These ships are listed in our submission to you of October 2007. Please would you make specific inquiries about whether rendered or ghost prisoners have been held on ships of this nature within a reasonable distance of any British territory (including Diego Garcia) and in what ways British territory has been used to supply such ships.

I thank you for your attention and look forward to hearing from you.
26 February 2008

http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/us_law/PDF/EndingSecretDetentions_web.pdf accessed 26/4/07.
http://foi.missouri.edu/terrorandcivillib/waronterror.html accessed: 26/4/07.
http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2006/060403-gtmo-transcripts.htm accessed 26/4/07.

E. From Hansard 2008 (re. Flight N379P):

(Note: numbering sequence is from Hansard.)

259   The second rendition flight allegedly took place in September 2002. Flight logs for the N379P “Rendition Express” show a flight from Washington to Athens and then to Diego Garcia on 13 September. The plane subsequently appeared in Morocco on 18 September. Unless we believe a ghost prisoner was picked up in Athens before being transferred to Diego Garcia, it seems likely that a prisoner was in fact transferred to N379P from Diego Garcia itself and then on to Morocco or Egypt. Back
260   The Council of Europe is in possession of these data-strings. Back
261   Ending Secret Detentions Report by Human Rights First, June 2004 Back
262   Knox, Paul, War on terror ignites battle over course of U.S. justice, The Globe and Mail, 5/9/02, Back
263   Selsky, Andrew, Guantanamo transcripts paint portraits of detainees, but much remains cloudy, Associated Press, 3/4/06, Back

Appendix:

Specific examples of torture used by CIA (names of detainees cross-referenced against methods, etc, with additional links at end). Note: the information given below is courtesy of Human Rights Watch.

Waterboarding
The State Department’s 2003-2007 Human Rights Reports on Sri Lanka classified “near-drowning” as among “methods of torture.” In the reports on Tunisia from 1996 to 2004, “submersion of the head in water” is classified as “torture.”[6] The United States government has officially acknowledged waterboarding only three detainees: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times, Zubaydah 83 times, and al-Nashiri twice.[7] In Human Rights Watch’s 2012 report Delivered into Enemy Hands, detainee Mohammed Shoroeiya described being repeatedly waterboarded during interrogations in Afghanistan. Another detainee cited in the same report, Sharif, said he was subjected to a similar method of water suffocation where he was made to lie down in a plastic sheet filled with icy water while wearing a hood as jugs of freezing water were poured over his nose and mouth. Their accounts contradict statements about the practice from senior US officials, such as former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who testified to the Senate that the CIA waterboarded only three individuals. Human Rights Watch’s 2011 report Getting Away with Torture details the numerous times US courts found that waterboarding, or variations of it, constitutes torture and is a war crime. Examples include a congressional inquiry of the early 1900s US occupation of the Philippines that led to the court martialing of several US soldiers, and several US military commissions in the World War II Pacific Theater which found that variants of waterboarding constituted torture.

Stress Positions, Forced Standing, Forced Nudity
The State Department’s 2006 Human Rights Report on Jordan deemed subjecting detainees to “forced standing in painful positions for prolonged periods” as torture.[8] In its 2000, 2001 and 2002 reports on Iran, “suspension for long periods in contorted positions” is described as torture.[9] In the 2002 report on Sri Lanka, “suspension by the wrists or feet in contorted positions” and remaining in “unnatural positions for extended periods” are described as “methods of torture.”[10] In the 2005 report on North Korea, “being forced to kneel or sit immobilized for long periods, being hung by one’s wrists, being forced to stand up and sit down to the point of collapse” is classified as a method of torture. The 2005 Egypt reports cited the stripping and blindfolding of prisoners among the “principal methods of torture.”[11] According to a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, some detainees in US custody were subjected to “[p]rolonged stress standing position, naked, held with the arms extended and chained above the head … for periods from two or three days continuously, and for up to two or three months intermittently, during which period toilet access was sometimes denied resulting in allegations from four detainees that they had to defecate and urinate over themselves.” Many of the detainees also described being subjected to extended periods of nudity, ranging from several weeks to several months. In Human Rights Watch’s Delivered into Enemy Hands, five former detainees in CIA custody described being chained to walls naked – sometimes while diapered – in pitch black, windowless cells, for weeks or months; restrained in painful stress positions for long periods; and forced into cramped spaces. As Human Rights Watch detailed in Getting Away with Torture, stress positions were among a number of interrogation and detention techniques authorized for use by the Bush administration.

Threats of Harm to Person, Family
In the 2006 report on Turkey,“threats to detainees or family members,” and “mock executions” are classified as torture. In the 2006 report on Jordan, “threats of extreme violence or sexual or physical abuse of family members” are deemed as torture. In the 2002 report on Iraq, “threats to rape or otherwise harm family members and relatives” is considered torture. According to a 2009 CIA Inspector General’s report, during interrogations a CIA debriefer put an unloaded semi-automatic handgun to detainee Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri’s head, and also turned a power drill on and off to frighten him while he was naked and hooded. Interrogators also made threats against Nashiri’s family, telling him, “We can get your mother in here,” and, “We can get your family in here.” In the ICRC report Nashiri also alleges that interrogators threatened to sodomize him and rape his family. The CIA report also states that interrogators told Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: “We’re going to kill your children.”

Sleep Deprivation, Use of Loud Music
In the 2005 and 2006 reports on Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, sleep deprivation was classified as torture.[12] In the 2002 State Department report on Pakistan, denial of sleep is described as a “common torture method.”[13] The 2002 report on Turkey lists “loud music” as a “torture method.” In Human Rights Watch’s Delivered into Enemy Hands , detainees Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed al-Shoroeiya and Khalid al-Sharif stated that they were denied sleep by continuous, deafeningly loud Western music played from speakers right next to their ears. The ICRC report details various methods used against detainees for sleep deprivation, from the continuous blaring of loud music or hissing noises to long interrogations and stress positions.[14] Abu Zubaydah, also known to have been held by the CIA, claimed that sometimes as he was falling asleep guards would splash water in his face to keep him awake.[15]

Prolonged Solitary Confinement, Confinement in Small Space
In the 2005 and 2006 reports on Jordan, “extended solitary confinement” is classified as “torture.”[16] The 2002 report on Iraq described “extended solitary confinement in dark and extremely small compartments” as torture. In the 2005 report on North Korea, “being forced to kneel or sit immobilized for long periods, being hung by one’s wrists, being forced to stand up and sit down to the point of collapse” is classified as a method of torture. In the 2002 report on China, “prolonged periods of solitary confinement” and “incommunicado detention” are listed as torture. The ICRC report describes how detainees were kept in prolonged solitary confinement and incommunicado detention (with no access to family or attorneys) for periods ranging from 16 months to as long as four-and-a-half years. In Delivered into Enemy Hands , detainees describe being held in very small cells for prolonged periods of solitary confinement and incommunicado detention through much of their imprisonment.
Getting Away with Torture describes the CIA’s secret detention program as entailing “prolonged incommunicado detention.”

[1] Human Rights Watch, Getting Away with Torture, July 12, 2011, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/us0711webwcover_1.pdf, p. 55.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid., p. 58.
[4] “Obama: ‘We Tortured Some Folks’ after 9/11,” CBS News, August 1, 2014, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obama-we-tortured-some-folks-after-911/ (accessed December 5, 2014).
[5] Jose Rodriguez, former chief of the Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine operations, recently said of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program for example, that “it worked because it was not torture (“Watching ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ with the CIA: Separating Fact from Fiction,” Moderated Discussion at American Enterprise Institute Transcript, January 29, 2013, http://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/-event-transcript_111915959376.pdf
(accessed December 5, 2014); Senate Intelligence Committee Vice-Chairman Saxby Chambliss has disputed the use of the term “torture” to describe the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program and said that waterboarding is “not torture, (Sandy Fitzgerald, “Saxby Chambliss: Senate Probe of CIA Interrogations “a Mistake,’” Newsmax August 3, 2014, http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Chambliss-hacking-probe-CIA/2014/08/03/id/586557/ (accessed December 5, 2014); Former US President George W. Bush has also said that “enhanced interrogation techniques” authorized by the Justice Department were legal and that waterboarding is not torture (see “Waterboarding is Torture, Downing Street Confirms,” The Guardian, November 9, 2010, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/nov/09/george-bush-memoirs-waterboarding (accessed December 5, 2014).
[6] The Constitution Project, “The Report of The Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment,” 2013, http://detaineetaskforce.org/pdf/Full-Report.pdf (accessed December 2, 2014), p. 359; U.S. Department of State, Human Rights Report, 1996 – 2007, available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/ (accessed December 2, 2014).
[7] Testimony of Michael Hayden in front of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, February 5, 2008, http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/pdfs/110824.pdf, p. 71-72. CIA Office of the Inspector General, “Special Review: Counterterrorism Detention and Interrogation Activities (September 2001 – October 2003),” May 7, 2004, declassified in August 2009, http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/politics/20090825-DETAIN/2004CIAIG.pdf (accessed July 2, 2012), (“CIA OIG report”), p. 90-91.
[8] The Constitution Project, “The Report of The Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment,” p. 359; U.S. Department of State, Human Rights Report, “Jordan,” 2006, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78855.htm (accessed December 2, 2014).
[9] The Constitution Project, “The Report of The Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment,” p. 359; U.S. Department of State, Human Rights Report, “Iran,” 2000-2002, available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78855.htm (accessed December 2, 2014).
[10] The Constitution Project, “The Report of The Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment,” p. 359; U.S. Department of State, Human Rights Report, “Sri Lanka,” 2002, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18315.htm (accessed December 2, 2014).
[11] Human Rights Watch, “Descriptions of Techniques Allegedly Authorized by the CIA,” November 21, 2005, http://www.hrw.org/legacy/english/docs/2005/11/21/usdom12071_txt.htm; US Department of State, Human Rights Report, “Egypt,” 2005, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61612.htm (accessed December 2, 2014).
[12] The Constitution Project, “The Report of The Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment,” p. 360; U.S. Department of State, Human Rights Report, 2005-2006, available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/ (accessed December 2, 2014).
[13] Human Rights Watch, “Descriptions of Techniques Allegedly Authorized by the CIA”; U.S. Department of State, Human Rights Report, “Pakistan,” 2002, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18314.htm (accessed December 2, 2014).
[14] ICRC, Regional Delegation for United States and Canada, “ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen “High Value Detainees” in CIA Custody,” p. 9, 29.
[15] Ibid., p. 15.
[16] The Constitution Project, “The Report of The Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment,” p. 360; U.S. Department of State, Human Rights Report, “Jordan,” 2005-2006, available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/ (accessed December 2, 2014).

 

 

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