Suit: Torture began before Bush administration sanctioned it
Published: Thursday April 23, 2009

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Detainee's lawyer claims U.S. interrogators applied pepper spray to prisoner's hemorrhoids

A man imprisoned after Sept. 11, 2001, as a suspected terrorist was tortured in numerous secret CIA prisons before Bush administration memos allowing the practice had even been written, according to a lawsuit filed in a Newark federal court on Thursday.

"Beginning in December 2001, [Rafiq] Alhami was tortured repeatedly, the lawsuit claims," reported the Associated Press.

"The methods were varied: At different times Alhami was stripped naked, threatened with dogs, shackled in painful 'stress' positions for hours, punched, kicked and exposed to extremes of heat and cold. The suit also alleges Alhami's interrogators sprayed pepper spray on his hemorrhoids, causing extreme pain."

The torture continued after Alhami was transferred to the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in January 2003, where he currently is held, according to the suit.

"His lawyer, Joshua Denbeaux, said he believed Alhami is the first person to accuse U.S. officials of torture before the Justice Department issued a 2002 memo approving controversial interrogation tactics," reported the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

"The suit names the Defense Department and more than 20 current and former military officials, including former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It seeks $10 million in damages."

The suit also names former CIA Director George Tenet and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

"'Rafiq was tortured before the memos authorizing torture were written,' Denbeaux said," according to the Ledger.

"Alhami has denied being a member of a terrorist group, and claims he was arrested based on information provided to the Iranian government by an Iranian citizen seeking a bounty," reported CBS.

"According to the lawsuit, sometime within the last 18 months Alhami was convicted in absentia in Tunisia for violating that country's Patriot Act, despite the act being passed in 2003, two years after he was detained by the U.S."

Compiled by Stephen C. Webster.

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