The Terror Suspect Who Had Nothing To Give
Raymond Bonner reports in ProPublica:
I would be strapped to a board by my arms and legs and by my waist (which was very painful because of my wound.)
Guards with black costumes, masks and black goggles strapped me in. My mouth and nose and eyes were covered by a cloth.
The board — and my body — were placed horizontally. My head was immobilized by a board. Someone poured over the cloth, which entered my mouth and nose. I could hear one water bottle empty out by the gurgling noise it made; I hoped that would end the process, then I heard another bottle start to pour.
Water would enter my lungs. I felt like my whole body was filled with water; even my eyes felt like they were drowning. I experienced the panicked sensation of death and my body convulsed in terror and resistance.
“I thought ‘I will die. I will die.’ I lost control of my functions and urinated on myself. At the last possible moment, I instantly vomited water violently but at the same time was still panicked and desperate for air.”
In 2009, Abu Zubaydah’s lawyers interviewed their client and prepared a handwritten, first-person account of the torture their client suffered at the hands of the U.S. government.
The document, quoted above, recounts the terrifying experience of a man repeatedly waterboarded in the mistaken belief that he was al-Qaida’s No. 3 official. It was filed in federal court as part of his lawsuit seeking release from Guantanamo, and like nearly all the documents in the case, was sealed at the government’s request.
Now, seven years later, Zubaydah’s statement, which he signed under oath, has been released, and it provides the most detailed, personal description yet made public of his “enhanced interrogation” at a Central Intelligence Agency “black site” in Thailand.
The United States waterboarded Zubaydah 83 times. According to his statement, he was also hung from hooks, “shackled to a chair naked in freezing temperatures,” and bombarded with loud noises that kept him awake for days.
While shackled and being screamed at, he was forced to stand naked in front of a woman. “When I refused to talk with a woman present, [name blacked out] beat my head against the wall repeatedly.”
In between waterboarding sessions, he was placed in what he called a “dog box,” a wooden container that was about 2 ½ feet long, 2 ½ feet wide and 2 ½ feet high.
“The pain in the small box was unbearable,” he said in his declaration. “I was hunched over in a contorted way and my back and knees were in excruciating pain. I began slamming my body and shackled arms against the inside and screaming for help and tried to break the door. The wound in my stomach and leg opened up and I started bleeding; yet I didn’t care: I would do anything to stretch my leg and back for 1 minute.”
At night, he was placed in a slightly larger, coffin-like box.
His interrogators screamed questions and at times he pleaded: “tell me what you want me to say, I will say it! “ At other times, “I just said things that were false and that I had no basis to know or believe simply to get relief from the pain.”
Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in March 2002. Senior government officials, including President George W. Bush, immediately boasted that they had seized “one of the top three leaders of al-Qaida.”
Years later, the government admitted it had been mistaken about Zubaydah. In a court filing, it said Zubaydah had no involvement or advance knowledge of 9/11, knew nothing about future plots against America, and was not even a member of al-Qaida or the Taliban. He nonetheless remains imprisoned at Guantanamo as an “enemy combatant.”
The case of Abu Zubaydah is part of a contentious political debate about the morality and tactical value of waterboarding. . .
Continue reading. And do read the whole thing. Zubaydah did get an apology from one person. The article concludes:
. . . In spite of all the admissions and informal apologies, Abu Zubaydah remains a prisoner at Guantanamo. In July 2008, he filed a petition for habeas corpus in federal district court in Washington, D.C., seeking his release.For eight years, the case languished, assigned to Chief Judge Richard W. Roberts, who declined to rule on virtually every motion filed by the defense. Roberts stepped down earlier this year — amid sexual assault allegations. The case has been assigned to Judge Emmet G. Sullivan.
In reading the above, think about your lack of knowledge of the specifics of terror plots and how you would be treated by the US government if it even suspected you—and suspicion was all they had on Zubaydah. But that, apparently, was enough to torture him for months. Some suspects were tortured to death by the CIA and American military. That’s the direction the US has taken.
And it’s particularly important to note that those responsible for the torture have faced no accountability whatsoever and enjoy the protection of the current president (who refuses even to acknowledge the kidnapping and torture of an innocent German civilian and will not allow him to go to court to seek recompense—and of course the US will never apologize to him).