Attorneys for a Saudi detainee at the notorious terrorist detention facility Guantanamo Bay have released harrowing drawings illustrated by their client that displayed brutal torture techniques he suffered through at the hands of US officials.
The illustrations were first published as part of a report by Seton Hall University School of Law’s Centre for Policy and Research, titled “How America Tortures”. The Independent also published eight of the illustrations with permission from Mark P Denbeaux, a co-counsel in the detainee’s defence.
Mr Zubaydah has not been convicted of any crimes and was reportedly found not to be a member of the al-Qaida terror group, despite being held in various US black sites and eventually Guantanamo Bay since 2002.
A US Senate report found the CIA had requested “reasonable assurances” that Mr Zubaydah would remain in “isolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life” in an effort to ensure the details of his torture would never become public.
That same report found that CIA officials lied to former President George W Bush’s White House about Mr Zubaydah, one of the first detainees to experience the administration’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques.
They said he had given officials additional information about al-Qaida after suffering through the torture, when he had actually exposed details about the terror group’s “activities, plans, capabilities and relationships” beforehand.
“In many ways, these illustrations of Abu Zubaydah are a testament to the triumph of the human will,” Mr Denbeaux said. “He was subjected to treatment so egregious that the CIA sought and received official governmental assurances that their prisoner would ‘remain in isolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life’. The CIA even arranged for his cremation in the event he died, assuring what they hoped would be his silence even beyond the grave.”
He added: “But with this report, [Mr Zubaydah] is silent no more.”
Officials designed ten “enhanced interrogation” tactics for Mr Zubaydah and other detainees accused of terror activity and having prior knowledge of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.
The details of the torture Mr Zubaydah experienced in US detention are both graphic and disturbing. The report described 83 instances in which he was waterboarded, including the following quote he provided to his lawyers: “They kept pouring water and concentrating on my nose and my mouth until I really felt I was drowning and my chest was just about to explode from the lack of oxygen.”
The illustrations portray several known examples of the US’ “enhanced interrogation” tactics under Mr Bush that Mr Zubaydah has said he experienced while in detention at a US black site in Thailand.
Black sites are secretive prison facilities the US operates internationally.
“The lack of clarity and seemingly purposeful ambiguity in defining what was allowed and what was not allowed during interrogations led to gross abuse,” Niki Waters, a co-author of the report and Seton Hall Law Centre policy and research fellow, said in a statement. “The government failed to account for persistent and unapproved techniques alongside those that were approved. But willful blindness isn’t really much of a defence, is it?”