Ex-detainees, Officials Say Torture Doesn’t Work

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.”

Event Date

Sexual Violence: The US’s “Psychological” Weapon Against Terrorism

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.

Event Date
Zero Impunity

New Guantánamo intelligence upends old ‘worst of the worst’ assumptions

Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg interviewed Mark for this piece on the flawed intelligence that led to many Guantanamo Bay detainees to remain prisoners. Mark said that the early intelligence was ofter grossly wrong and often based on the sketchiest bit of intelligence.  Mark explained that the facts didn’t change, but evolved and could now be interpreted differently.

Event Date
Miami Herald

Former Federal Agents Urge Supreme Court to Hear Case Involving FBI Torture

HRF issued a release about Mark and two former FBI agents filed an amicus brief, urging the Supreme Court to hear a case about possible constitutional violations committed by FBI agents during an overseas counterterrorism operation.  Mark, Don Borelli and Joe Navarro, from the FBI said: “FBI agents are required to adhere to the Constitution whenever and wherever they carry out their work.”

Event Date
Human Rights First

Marine Crew In Alps Tragedy Misinformed, Lawyer Argues

The Washington Post reported on a Marine Corps jet that severed a gondola cable, killing 20 in the Italian Alps.  Mark testified that his team of investigators found no evidence to support rumors of a “cable care club” consisting of aviators who had flown below gondola cables. Mark also testified about a video camera found in the front cockpit after the incident.

Marine Pilot Sought to Get Back Into Jet, Witness Says

The LA Times reported on a Marine pilot destroying the videotape of a flight where he killed 20 skiers in the Italian Alps.

Mark said the tape was important because it would have provided irrefutable evidence about what happened during the flight.  Mark considered his work a criminal investigation from the day it began, on Feb. 4, 1998, even thought a formal order for a criminal investigation wasn’t issued until March 14. The dates were important to prosecutors and defense lawyers because the prosecution contends Ashby should have known an inquiry was underway when he helped get rid of the tape a few days later.

Event Date
Los Angles Times

High Risk Training — The New Norm for NCIS

The Navy News Service reported on the new FLETC Counterterrorism Operations Training Facility and the manner in which NCIS was having to train personnel to deploy into combat zones.  Mark underscored the importance of the new facilities and said “High-risk operations are becoming the norm for agents around the world.”

Event Date
Navy News Service