CIA used ‘fictional’ tale of US prison rape to intimidate teen terror suspect

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, May 6, 2010 22:11 EDT
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A shocking yet “fictional” tale of prison rape by “black guys” and “big Nazis” in an American prison was used by a CIA interrogator to intimidate 15-year-old terrorism suspect Omar Khadr as he was held in a U.S.-operated prison in Afghanistan, according to testimony at a Thursday hearing.

Washington Independent reporter Spencer Ackerman, filing from the Guantanamo Bay prison complex in Cuba, summarized the ordeal:

Interrogator #1 would tell the detainee, “I know you’re lying about something.” And so, for an instruction about the consequences of lying, Khadr learned that lying “not so seriously” wouldn’t land him in a place like “Cuba” — meaning, presumably, Guantanamo Bay — but in an American prison instead. And this one time, a “poor little 20-year-old kid” sent from Afghanistan ended up in an American prison for lying to an American. “A bunch of big black guys and big Nazis noticed the little Afghan didn’t speak their language, and prayed five times a day — he’s Muslim,” Interrogator #1 said. Although the fictitious inmates were criminals, “they’re still patriotic,” and the guards “can’t be everywhere at once.”

“So this one unfortunate time, he’s in the shower by himself, and these four big black guys show up — and it’s terrible something would happen — but they caught him in the shower and raped him. And it’s terrible that these things happen, the kid got hurt and ended up dying,” Interrogator #1 said. “It’s all a fictitious story.”

McClatchy Newspapers reporter Carol Rosenberg added:

Under Pentagon ground rules, reporters covering the hearing are not allowed to include the interrogator’s real name in their dispatches from Guantanamo. Canadian newspapers have published the name, however, and his testimony in other cases is available at the McClatchyDC website and elsewhere.

Interrogator No. 1 also gave an on-the-record interview with The Toronto Star in 2008 and his name was widely published in accounts of his court martial in September 2005.

Khadr was 15 years old in 2002, when he allegedly killed a US sergeant with a grenade. At age 17, Khadr was placed in a special program at the camp that intentionally deprived him of sleep, and moved him every 3 hours for 21 days in order to prepare him to speak to government officials, according to secret documents leaked to media in 2008.

Ackerman noted that “every other interrogator” who questioned Khadr testified that he was cooperative — except for Interrogator #1, who said Khadr lied.

Pentagon bans reporters from future Gitmo hearings

In spite of the Pentagon’s rules for covering the hearing, four reporters named the interrogator. They are Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Sun, Paul Koring of the Globe and Mail and Steven Edwards of the National Post, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The Pentagon has banned them from any future coverage of Gitmo hearings.

“That reporters are being punished for disclosing information that has been publicly available for years is nothing short of absurd – any gag order that covers this kind of information is not just overbroad but nonsensical,” read a statement by ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer, published in a media advisory. “Plainly, no legitimate government interest is served by suppressing information that is already well known. We strongly urge the Defense Department to reconsider its rash, draconian and unconstitutional decision to bar these four reporters from future tribunals. If allowed to stand, this decision will discourage legitimate reporting and add yet another entry to the long list of reasons why the military commissions ought to be shut down for good.”

The ACLU was recently called out by John Rizzo, the CIA’s former top attorney, for uncovering the identities of several interrogators and turning over to defense attorneys photos of the men taken by private investigators. The civil liberties group, however, was not certain if the faces pictured belonged to the interrogators, which is why the prisoners were queried.

Once guards found the images of interrogators in the prisoners’ cells, Rizzo took to conservative-leaning newspaper The Washington Times and effectively confirmed before the world that the men pictured were indeed CIA.

He called the revelation of their identities a leak worse than the Valerie Plame affair and said he’d asked the Justice Department for an investigation.

“Hey ACLU? You got the right people,” chirped FireDogLake blogger Marcy Wheeler. “John Rizzo–who was closely involved with the torturers–has now confirmed it for you in print.

“All of which sort of highlights the problems with this witch hunt. To support it (in the Moonie Times before it goes under, I should note), Rizzo is arguing that faces are now classified. Not identities. Faces. Yet it didn’t have its torturers wandering around in burkas to hide those faces, which made them readily available for PIs to photograph. But the PIs presumably couldn’t be sure of the identities behind those faces until either the detainees at Gitmo confirmed them … or until someone like John Rizzo went and told a newspaper they were ‘undercover people who were involved in the interrogations program.’”

Rizzo said the CIA was “very concerned” for the safety of their agents, but did not elaborate on how men behind bars, cut off from the outside world, could pose such a threat.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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