Declassified CIA Torture Documents Reveal Grisly Details Of Illegal Torture Practices At CIA ‘Black Sites’

A series of 50 CIA torture documents were declassified earlier this week that reveals the intense torture subjected to prisoners of war in the aftermath of 9/11, along with guidelines for best torture practices submitted by medical personnel.

The documents are graphic and repulsive and prove that despite the barring of certain torture practices by the Geneva Convention, the CIA continues to torture prisoners of war, often until the death of the prisoner is imminent, and even after. Several revival techniques are documented as well in order for interrogators to effectively bring their subjects back from the brink of death so they may continue to torture them.

In the declassified CIA documents, officials assigned to the Office of Medical Staff (OMS) provided CIA operatives with precise instructions on how best perform specific torture practices such as waterboarding, limiting caloric intake, forced sleep deprivation, and specifics on how to use illegal “confinement boxes.”

According to Esquire, one of the documents in particular chronicles the prolonged torture of Gul Rahman, a suspected Afghan militant who died in a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan in 2002. The details of Rahman’s humiliation, torture, and subsequent death are not exclusive to him alone, but pertain also to the majority of prisoners who pass through the secret CIA prisons, known as “black sites.”

“Often, prisoners who possess significant or imminent threat information are stripped to their diapers during interrogation and placed back into their cells wearing only diapers. This is done solely to humiliate the prisoner for interrogation purposes. When the prisoner soils a diaper, they are changed by the guards. Sometimes the guards run out of diapers and the prisoners are placed back in their cells in a handcrafted diaper secured by duct tape. If the guards don’t have any available diapers, the prisoners are rendered to their cell nude. Rahman froze to death in his cell, naked from the waist down.”

Also included in the CIA torture documents are the specifications for illegal “confinement boxes.” Also called “awkward boxes,” these torture cubes were dramatized in the movie Zero Dark Thirty and are used often on prisoners despite the fact that they were deemed “not particularly effective” by CIA medical personnel “as they may become a safe haven offering a respite from interrogation.” Confinement boxes were often “small cubes allowing little more than a cross-legged sitting position,” the OMS document said, and were permitted to be used as a form of torture for up to two consecutive hours.

Longer boxes resembling coffins were “rectangular and just over the detainee’s height, not much wider than his body, and comparatively shallow.” These confinement boxes were used as another form of torture, as they could be used for longer periods of time than the cubes — eight consecutive hours, to be exact, for no longer than 18 hours in a 24-hour period.

Abu Zubaydah, who is still currently being held in a CIA black site, spent a total of 266 hours — the equivalent of 11 full days — within the longer box, the torture documents reveal, and a total of 29 hours within the smaller confinement box in the span of an “aggressive” 20 days. His smaller box measured 21 inches wide, 2.5 feet high, and 2.5 feet deep. Zubaydah was also subjected to prolonged waterboarding — a total of 83 times in a month — despite the fact that another OMS document revealed that they believed Zubaydah would have cooperated with interrogators without the waterboarding, reports the Guardian.

Declassified CIA Torture Documents Reveal Grisly Details Of Illegal Torture Practices At CIA "Black Sites"
Khalid El-Masri was abducted and tortured by the CIA in a case of mistaken identity [Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images]

Another grisly story of torture at the hands of the CIA also happened to be a case of mistaken identity, according to the declassified documents. In 2004, Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen, was kidnapped and subjected to numerous forms of torture at a CIA black site, including being beaten, sodomized, and sleep deprived. During his five-month captivity at the CIA black site known as the “Salt Pit,” El-Masri lost 50 pounds, the declassified documents cite.

The CIA torture documents were declassified under the Freedom of Information Act and can be read in full on the CIA website.

[Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP Images]

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