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Gul Rahman

Gul Rahman was tortured and died at a CIA black site in 2002. (Photo: Courtesy of Gul Rahman's family/AP)

Where Is the Body of This Man Tortured to Death by the CIA?

The family of Gul Rahman is demanding answers as lawmakers prepare to revisit the agency's legacy of torture during Gina Haspel's confirmation hearing

Jessica Corbett

As the Senate prepares to reexamine the CIA's dark history of torture amid mounting opposition to Gina Haspel's nomination to run the agency, the family of an Afghan man who was tortured to death at a black site near Kabul, Afghanistan is demanding answers about what happened to his body.

Gul Rahman vanished from a refugee camp in October of 2002 and was taken to a secret CIA prison called "the Salt Pit," where he was "beaten, doused with cold water, and left shackled in a cold cell, naked from the waist down." He was found dead in his cell on November 20, 2002.

While internal investigations "recorded that the CIA ordered a freezer to preserve the body for an autopsy, and summarized an autopsy report that listed the likely cause of death as hypothermia," the Guardian notes that "no records relating to the disposition of Rahman's remains have been released."

In 2015, his nephew sued the pair of psychologists who were hired to design the CIA's torture program. The lawsuit led to a settlement that acknowledged "Gul Rahman was subjected to abuses in the CIA program that resulted in his death and pain and suffering to his family," but pleas that the government "at least present the dead body to us" have gone unfulfilled.

Now, Rahman's family, with help from the ACLU, has sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the U.S. government in hopes of finding out what happened to his remains.

"Honoring this small but significant request will help bring his family, including his mother, his wife, and three daughters, long-needed closure," ACLU attorney Steven Watt told the Guardian. "It will also shed further light on one of the most controversial and tragic aspects of the CIA's now-defunct torture program."

The CIA's torture program is facing renewed scrutiny after President Donald Trump's appointed Haspel to serve as the agency's new director. In the early 2000s, as Common Dreams has reported, Haspel played a "leading role in running an agency black site where detainees were systematically and gruesomely abused."

Haspel's nomination requires a Senate confirmation, and human rights advocates from across the globe have rallied together to pressure lawmakers to reject her nomination.

In a letter to senators on Thursday, a coalition of rights groups wrote that it "remains undisputed that Ms. Haspel was deeply involved in the CIA's now-defunct torture program" and argued "a vote to confirm her is incompatible with a meaningful commitment to the prohibition on torture."


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