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CIA Knew Torture Was Extorting Bad Intelligence — Kept Doing It Anyway

Published: May 23, 2018
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Source: who what why

In February, we wrote about how Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks, has yet to stand trial — 17 years after the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center’s twin towers and the Pentagon.

The reason for the delay, Mohammed’s attorney David Nevin asserts, is the government’s desire to hide the details of the torture and rendition program his client and many others were subjected to in the early years of the “war on terror.”

After years of uncertainty on what to do with the alleged 9/11 conspirators, the Obama administration ultimately decided in 2011 to try Mohammed and four others in a military tribunal at the US Naval Station Guantánamo Bay. But the process has been fraught with apparent prosecutorial shenanigans that have only added to the delay. As we wrote in February:

  • Hidden microphones were found in the rooms where the defense attorneys met with their clients.
  • Hundreds of thousands of the defense’s emails ended up in the possession of the prosecution, and “huge volumes” of defense files mysteriously disappeared from a Department of Defense (DOD) computer network when the DOD did a network upgrade. “Months of work” were lost, according to Navy Cmdr. Stephen C. Reyes, an attorney defending Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Nashiri, another Guantánamo detainee, is accused of involvement in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.
  • Members of Mohammed’s defense team, including Nevin, allege they were the target of FBI spying.
  • Another member of Mohammed’s defense team, Maj. Jason Wright, resigned from the Army in protest after he had been taken off the case by a reassignment that he said would have violated his duty to vigorously defend his client.
  • The government seized four of the defendants’ laptops that they had used to prepare for trial and that contained much sensitive client-attorney material.
  • The defense team accused the judge of secretly colluding with the prosecution to destroy evidence that would have been helpful to their client.
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And the many pretrial arguments over the government’s refusal to provide the defense with details of the detainees’ treatment have also caused delays. Mohammed’s defense team was even threatened with prosecution when they tried to investigate some aspects of the torture on their own.

What’s Truth Got to Do With it?

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The CIA’s record of torture is front and center in the media again. This time because President Donald Trump’s new CIA Director, Gina Haspel, played a key role in the agency’s program of  “enhanced interrogation” (i.e., torture). Haspel was head of station in at least one of the CIA’s black sites in Thailand where torture took place, and also held multiple senior roles at the CIA Counterterrorism Center, which oversaw the torture program.

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