'I Wished They Had Killed Me': Victim of CIA Says Torture Worse Than You Know
Majid Khan, kidnapped by U.S. officials in 2003, said abuse was more brutal than anything which appeared in Senate's investigative report last year
A Guantanamo Bay detainee turned government witness has accused the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of using even more disturbing forms of torture and abuse during secret interrogations than were included in the U.S. Senate's redacted report last year.
In a newly declassified account published Tuesday by Reuters, Majid Khan said that agents subjected him to waterboarding, poured ice water on his genitals, sexually assaulted him, and threatened to beat him with a hammer, baseball bats, sticks, and leather belts, among other abuses that were not detailed in the Senate report.
"Khan said his feet and lower legs were placed in tall boot-like metal cuffs that dug into his flesh and immobilized his legs. He said he felt that his legs would break if he fell forward while restrained by the cuffs," writes Reuters investigative journalist David Rohde.
"I lived in anxiety every moment of every single day about the fear and anticipation of the unknown," Khan said to his lawyers. "Sometimes, I was struggling and drowning under water, or driving a car and I could not stop."
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Khan is now 35 years old and has been in U.S. custody since 2003. He was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2006, where he is still being held.
In 2012, Khan pleaded guilty to delivering $50,000 to al Qaeda operatives in Indonesia and plotting with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to carry out attacks in the U.S.
As Human Rights Watch explained at the time, the guilty plea came "in exchange for a promise of a reduced sentence if he agreed to cooperate, presumably by providing evidence against other Guantanamo detainees."
The 27-page account released Tuesday, compiled by Khan's lawyers over the past seven years, "matches some of the most disturbing findings of the U.S. Senate report, the product of a five-year review by Democratic staffers of 6.3 million internal CIA documents," including forced rectal feedings, Rohde writes.
In the interviews with his lawyers, Khan described a carnival-like atmosphere of abuse when he arrived at the CIA detention facility.
"I wished they had killed me," Khan told his lawyers. He said that he experienced excruciating pain when hung naked from poles and that guards repeatedly held his head under ice water.
"'Son, we are going to take care of you,'" Khan said his interrogators told him. "'We are going to send you to a place you cannot imagine.'"
Current and former CIA officials declined to comment on Khan's account.
According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents Khan, he is unique among Guantanamo detainees for two reasons.
First, as a citizen of Pakistan, he has long had political asylum in the U.S. and has other substantial ties to the country, including having lived, worked, and been educated near Baltimore, Maryland.
Second, "in March 2003, Khan was captured and forcibly disappeared by the United States," according to CCR. "There is no serious dispute that he was abducted, imprisoned, and tortured by U.S. officials... Nor is there any serious dispute that Majid Khan’s detention and interrogation violated U.S. and international law."
The Senate report, which was released last December, found that the CIA's use of torture was not effective in acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.
In a July 2003 session, Khan said, CIA guards hooded and hung him from a metal pole for several days and repeatedly poured ice water on his mouth, nose and genitals. At one point, he said, they forced him to sit naked on a wooden box during a 15-minute videotaped interrogation. After that, Khan said, he was shackled to a wall, which prevented him from sleeping.
When a doctor arrived to check his condition, Khan begged for help, he said. Instead, Khan said, the doctor instructed the guards to again hang him from the metal bar. After hanging from the pole for 24 hours, Khan was forced to write a "confession" while being videotaped naked.
In a statement on Tuesday, Khan's CCR lawyer J. Wells Dixon said that the newly released details "confirm that the CIA has repeatedly and continuously lied about the torture program."
Dixon added, "As layers of secrecy have been peeled away throughout the Obama administration, we see more and more evidence of CIA savagery and treachery."
Dixon called for the government to fire CIA director John Brennan, release the full Senate torture report and Panetta Review, and reopen the Justice Department's criminal investigation into the torture program.
"This is the only way to ensure that the U.S. never again resorts to torture, and the only way to move the country forward," Dixon said.
Kahn is scheduled to be sentenced by a military judge in Guantanamo Bay by February, although his lawyers are attempting to have his case moved to U.S. federal courts. He faces up to 19 years in prison.