Former Guantanamo Bay detainees Mourad Benchellali and Nizar Sassi on Wednesday described their ordeals of ill-treatment and abuse at the facility as US President Donald Trump is asking for recommendations on whether torture works.
It was only a matter of weeks before Benchellali, a Frenchman detained first at Kandahar in Afghanistan, cracked and confessed to confess to being a member of the al-Qaida network.
The only problem, he said, was that it was a lie.
“Because I was afraid, because I hurt, and because I told myself, when this is all worked out, I’ll tell the truth.
But for now, better to tell them what they want to hear,” he said.
The words “concentration camp” flashed through Nizar Sassi’s mind when he found himself in a pile of naked men after being violated in front of a roomful of military physicians in Kandahar.Trump, who has pushed for tougher interrogation techniques, said he would consult with new Defence Secretary James Mattis and CIA director Mike Pompeo before authorizing any new policy.
Trump claimed he had asked top intelligence officials: “Does torture work? And the answer was ‘Yes, absolutely.'”
Even if it were, the answer is resoundingly negative, said Mark Fallon, who served as a U.S. counterterrorism investigator and tried to oppose the torture at Guantanamo when he learned about it during the administration of President George W. Bush.
“Torture is a very effective method to get somebody to say something you want them to say. It is not an effective method to get somebody to tell the truth or reliable information,” he said.
“Torture doesn’t work,” said Alberto Mora, the former General Counsel of the US Navy in the George W. Bush administration during 2001-2006.
“I’m afraid that (US) President (Donald) Trump has seen too many television shows and hasn’t spoken enough to interrogation professionals or military law enforcement professionals who understand that non-abusive relationship-based interrogation techniques are vastly more effective at producing truthful information faster than torture.”
Mark, along with other officials was quoted after President Donald Trump asked for recommendations on whether torture works, if secret CIA black sites should be used again to interrogate suspects and whether the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay should not only stay open, but should accept future detainees, according to a draft executive order that signals sweeping changes to U.S. interrogation and detention policy. The Associated Press and other news organizations obtained a copy.
If the Trump administration resuscitates policies used under the Bush administration, it could jeopardize relations and intelligence sharing between the United States and European allies such as Britain. Prime Minister Teresa May, who is scheduled to meet Trump on Friday, told reporters that Britain “absolutely” condemns the use of torture.
The American Civil Liberties Union warned that if past policies return, the United States could see itself in the middle of a flurry of legal challenges at home and internationally. Torture is prohibited under international law.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that a draft executive order calling for a review of interrogation techniques banned under the Obama administration—and raising the possibility of reopening CIA secret torture sites—did, in fact, come from the White House. That’s contrary to the claims of presidential press secretary Sean Spicer, who said Wednesday that it did not. The Daily Kos quotes from interviews Laura Pitter of Human Rights Watch and Mark gave to The Guardian.
Donald Trump has used his first TV interview as president to say he believes torture “absolutely” works and that the US should “fight fire with fire.”
Speaking to ABC News, Trump said he would defer to the defence secretary, James Mattis, and CIA director, Mike Pompeo, to determine what can and cannot be done legally to combat the spread of terrorism.
But asked about the efficacy of tactics such as waterboarding, Trump said: “absolutely I feel it works.”
Mark and Steven Kleinman, who succeeded Mark as the Chair of the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) Research Committee warned against and weakening of the prohibitions against torture.
Senior advisors to the FBI-led team that interrogates terrorist suspects has blasted an impending executive order from Donald Trump as a dangerous and ignorant potential return to torture.
Opposition was quickly coalescing to an executive order the US president was expected to issue that would create a pathway to restoring the detention of terrorism suspects at facilities known as “black sites”, formally ending Barack Obama’s thwarted order to close the Guantánamo Bay wartime prison. This would also remove limitations on coercive interrogation techniques set by a longstanding army field manual intended to ensure humane military interrogations, which is mostly compliant with the Geneva Conventions.
Senator John McCain, a torture survivor and co-author of a 2015 law barring the security agencies from using interrogation techniques that surpass the prohibitions in the army field manual, pledged defiance over a return to torture.
Fallon, the former Guantánamo investigative official, said the call for surpassing the torture prohibitions was not coming from interrogators. “It’s against what practitioners are calling for. What President Trump needs to recognize is that interrogations professionals are not looking for additional techniques, they’re looking for the science to aid existing techniques,” he said.
Hours after the supposed draft order leaked, representatives of the CIA and the Pentagon distanced themselves from the unfolding political fracas.
“At this time, the US army has not made any requests to review Army Field Manual 2-22.3,” a spokesman told the Guardian, using the formal designation for the interrogations field manual. Similarly, CIA sources leaked to Yahoo News that Pompeo was blindsided by the draft of the order.
In the days following September 11, the United States was still reeling from the attacks on the World Trade Center. Almost everyone was terrified of another attack. In hopes of obtaining intelligence, the Bush administration developed methods of torture to “break” prisoners of the so-called war on terror. These men would be stripped of their humanity, beaten and waterboarded. Less well known is the fact that they were also systematically sexually humiliated and sexually assaulted.
The decision to use these techniques in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and other secret locations would forever change the face of the United States. It would open the door to the use of multiple forms of torture that would cause prisoners physical, psychological… and sexual trauma.
The Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF) was created by the Department of Defense to investigate detainees in the War on Terror. Mark Fallon, the CITF’s deputy commander, was in Guantanamo to gather enough information on the detainees to try them.
Zero Impunity met with Fallon — 27 years as a NCIS Special Agent followed by 2 years as a senior executive in the Dept. of Homeland Security — on October 19, 2016. Fallon, a retiree with laughing eyes, is still haunted by the time he spent at Guantanamo. He was one of only a handful of high-ranking officials with whom Zero Impunity met. Zero Impunity also met with Alberto Mora, former General Counsel of the Navy, who also tried to sound the alarm, as well as Steven Kleinman, a career military intelligence officer at the Department of Defense, who was blacklisted after he criticized brutal interrogation methods in 2003. who tried to sound the alarm about what was happening in Guantanamo, to denounce these “shameful and deplorable” acts.
Fallon is known for his extensive experience as an interrogator while serving as a special agent. This man of austere appearance spent years blending into criminal networks, disguising himself at times as a drug dealer, an elephant poacher and an arms trafficker. Fallon began investigating Al Qaeda in the 1990s, so it was logical for the American authorities to call on him when they decided to set up an intelligence service on the prisoners detained in Guantanamo.