After almost a decade and a half, habeas corpus proceedings have begun at Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba against an al-Qaida suspect subjected to horrific and barbaric interrogation techniques by the CIA.
Muhammed al-Nashiri, 54, the most serious of many Guantánamo prisoners who were subject to harsh interrogation methods over the past dozen years, testified on Tuesday on his treatment during the vast number of weeks and months he was detained in the “black sites,” or the CIA’s euphemistic prisons for clandestine detention and interrogation.
Referring to one facility, a “controlled environment,” at the U.S. Naval Station, Diego Garcia, he said: “I’ve been there for nearly four years, and only one person died there, the terrorist [Usama] bin Laden. It’s not just torture. It’s violence that no one should witness, and it’s the kind of violence that could never be justified.”
He added that he suffered a broken ankle while his interrogators tightened a thumb drill, another time beat him with a flashlight, in another case dropped a waterboard on his body. Detainees were often subjected to waterboarding, which forces them to endure a prolonged and painful struggle during which water is poured into their nostrils at a high speed, triggering a sense of drowning. In some cases, patients were broken, bled or inflicted nerve damage.
Mr. Nashiri’s interrogators included a CIA officer now known to have been involved in another controversial CIA interrogation program, so he faces allegations he was subjected to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” and was denied lawful counsel.
His pretrial hearing, beginning in the Special Enghmand Court for Combatant Status Review Tribunals, considered the only remaining military commission pending in the United States, began by speaking to the judge, military judge Army Col. James Pohl, by video connection.
The testimony of Mr. Nashiri is expected to last for two days.