The extreme torture of a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist, including waterboarding, forced nudity and a “walling technique,” have been detailed in newly declassified cables sent by a current CIA director Gina Haspel.
The cables, sent by Haspel to agency headquarters in late 2002, reveal the torture of suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri at the secret US detention facility in Thailand. The CIA believed the Saudi Arabian suspect was involved in the planning of the USS Cole bombing in Yemen in 2000 and believed he knew about other planned attacks.
The cables, most of which were either written or authorised by Haspel, reveal Nashiri’s weeks-long interrogation included waterboarding, forced nudity, shackling, being slammed against walls, confined in a small box and enduring mock executions.
In one report on the 12th day of his detention the document reads: “interrogation escalated rapidly from subject being aggressively debriefed by interrogators . . . to multiple applications of the walling technique, and ultimately, multiple applications of the watering technique.”
Later, interrogators said they “covered subject’s head with the hood and left him on the water board, moaning, shaking and asking God to help him repeatedly.” When they returned, they “adjusted subjects head restraint while telling him that all he had to do was tell them everything. Subject said he would.”
In another interrogation report, the suspect had his clothes ripped from him as he “whimpered that he would do anything his interrogators required”. He was told if he did not cooperate, he would suffer “in ways he never thought possible”.
The revelations are contained in 11 cables obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archive, a private research institute which published the documents on Friday.
Nashiri’s treatment has been previously referred to without specifics in official reports, hearings, court cases and news reports. His detention in Thailand, and his subsequent transfer to a second black site in Poland, was briefly mentioned in a 700-page report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on the detention program, released in 2014.
The report concluded that Nashiri had provided “no actionable information” through the torture techniques. He now remains in the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, nearly 16 years after he was captured in October 2002, in the United Arab Emirates.
Haspel, 61, who spent her career in the clandestine service, previously said that torture provided “valuable intelligence,” while attempting to convince democratic senators that she had changed her stance on torture to secure her position as CIA director.
“While I won’t condemn those that made these hard calls, and I have noted the valuable intelligence collected, the program ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world,” Haspel wrote in a letter to Senator Mark Warner, the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, while her nomination was hanging in the air.
Spokesman Timothy L. Barrett reportedly said the agency had no comment on the documents or their declassification.