Kit Klarenberg investigates the troubling links between the CIA’s clandestine Guantanamo Bay torture program and MKULTRA-era mind control experiments.
GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA — In March the CIA declassified a 2008 CIA Inspector General report on the agency’s treatment of 9/11 suspect Ammar al-Baluchi at overseas ‘black sites’ and Guantanamo Bay. The report was released as a result of legal submissions and its shocking contents offer an unprecedentedly candid snapshot of the brutal physical and psychological torment to which he and hundreds of others were subjected by the agency over many years, under its global torture program.
The nephew of purported 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Baluchi was arrested in Pakistan in April 2003. He was accused of serving as a “key lieutenant” within al-Qaeda and its chief “bagman,” having provided pivotal financial and logistical support to the 9/11 hijackers. U.S. officials declared his capture would offer crucial information on the plot, prevent future attacks by the terrorist group, and potentially even lead to the apprehension of Osama bin Laden. Despite years of incarceration, interrogation and torture, none of this proved to be true.
Quoting contemporary cables, the Inspector General’s report tracks Baluchi’s induction at the “Salt Pit,” a CIA black site in Afghanistan, in detail. New arrivals were physically examined, their beards and heads shaved, and then put through a “non-enhanced” psychological assessment to determine their “willingness to cooperate without enhanced techniques…displace their expectations and begin the conditioning of subjects.”
The cable’s nameless author stated that, depending on his “resistance level,” staff did not intend to employ enhanced techniques against Baluchi “unless directed by headquarters.”
The distinction between enhanced and non-enhanced interrogation methods was evidently something of a misnomer. If initially uncooperative, Baluchi would be “immediately” placed in the “standing sleep deprivation position” for up to 12 hours; this agonizing technique was considered “non-enhanced” if applied for less than three days.
In response to the cable, CIA HQ at Langley signed off on a welter of enhanced techniques to be used on Baluchi, including “the facial attention grasp,” facial and abdominal slaps, numerous excruciating stress positions, “cramped confinement,” sleep deprivation lasting up to 180 hours, dousing with freezing water, starvation, “loud music or white noise” 24 hours a day, cessation of access to reading material, and “walling” – slamming his head against a flat surface.
Based on his initial psychological evaluation, it was ruled that none of these unspeakable horrors would inflict “permanent psychological or emotional harm” on Baluchi. This was the universal approach to using “enhanced techniques,” based on the assumption that their use in U.S. military SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) training did not cause lasting harm. But, while in SERE training the subject is typically confined for only a couple of days, and knows it is training and they will soon be released, the black site prisoners had to endure months or years of brutalizing treatment, with little to no prospect of escape….