A recent report by The New York Times explores the case of Majid Khan, a prisoner of the United States who plead guilty to being a courier for Al Qaeda. Khan is a Pakistani citizen who spent seven years in Baltimore before being kidnapped by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2003, where he faced various forms of torture. Since Khan’s first court appearance in 2003, the U.S. government has sought to keep the details of his torture secret.
The Times reports:
“Seven years ago, when a former C.I.A. prisoner, Majid Khan, pleaded guilty at Guantánamo to being a courier for Al Qaeda, his lawyers were warned that any mention of the word “torture” would lead a court security officer to trigger a mute button so the public, listening on a 40-second delay, would not hear it.
This week the question of his treatment was front and center, this time in a pre-sentencing hearing. Mr. Khan’s lawyers asked a military judge on Monday to order prosecutors to produce evidence and witnesses about the secret prison network where the intelligence agency kept Mr. Khan incommunicado from March 2003 to September 2006.”
Khan’s case is only the latest in a battle between attorneys defending accused terrorists and both the CIA and the U.S. military. While th military now allows torture to be discussed without the 40-second delay, the battle now centers on how torture evidence can be gathered and whether or not it can be used in military tribunals at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The prosecutors cannot legally use evidence obtained via torture in the military court, but they are still reluctant to allow the details of the torture to become public. Khan’s attorneys are seeking data related to his torture so they may show his sentencing jury what exactly he was forced to endure.
During the Obama administration, some details of Mr. Khan’s torture at the hands of the CIA were made public. These include being beaten, hung naked without food for three days, kept in the dark for months on end, submerged into a tub of ice and water, and perhaps, most disturbing, being subjected to “rectal feeding.” As part of that process, the CIA shoved a blended mix of pasta, sauce, nuts, raisins, and hummus up Khan’s rectum after he went on a hunger strike. Khan’s lawyer David Nevin said the term rectal feeding, or rectal rehydration, “is a polite way of saying rape with the insertion of a foreign object into the rectum.”
The Times reports that Khan has agreed to a plea agreement and could be sentenced to 25 years. With credit for time served he could be released by 2037. Still, despite the potential plea deal, the military has prevented Khan’s attorneys from contacting former employees of the CIA black sites where Khan and other suspected terrorists have been held over the last two decades. The CIA has fought to keep secret the names of the employees and the locations of these black sites.
As we approach yet another anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the American people remain clueless as to the full extent of the torture, kidnapping, and killing carried out in the name of avenging those killed on September 11, 2001. Even worse, the psychologists who helped develop these sickening programs have been allowed to go free under secret deals. If the world is ever to heal from the tragedy of the 9/11 terror attacks, we must know the truth about what happened that day and we must know the truth about how the U.S. government and intelligence agencies violated international law when they chose to employ brutal, sick, and twisted methods of torture. Without these truths, the American people are simply living a lie.