CIA interrogators threatened to kill and rape relatives of detainees, including the September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a declassified report shows.
A CIA interrogator threatened to kill the children of the the September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed if al-Qa’eda attacked the US again, according to a declassified report. Photo: AP
The report, released on Monday by the US Justice Department, said that a CIA interrogator told Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that if any other attacks happened in the United States, “We’re going to kill your children”.
Another interrogator allegedly tried to convince a detainee that his mother would be sexually assaulted in front of him. The interrogator later denied making the threat.
The report, written in 2004, was made public after a legal petition by the American Council for Civil Liberties. It also reportedly disclosed how interrogators conducted mock executions and threatened a suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole with a gun and a power drill.
“Ten years from now we’re going to be sorry we’re doing this [but] it has to be done,” one unidentified CIA officer said in the report, predicting that interrogators would someday have to appear in court to answer for such tactics.
It was released as the government launched a criminal investigation into the spy agency’s “unauthorized, improvised, inhumane” practices in the wake of the 2001 al-Qaeda attacks on the US, and as President Barack Obama ordered the creation of a new unit for interrogating terrorist suspects, taking responsibility away from the CIA.
Related article: ‘Inhumane’ CIA terror tactics spur criminal probe
The High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group will answer to the White House and be run by FBI officials from the bureau’s Washington headquarters. It will follow guidelines set by the US army’s field manual, which conforms to international law.
The president has already outlawed tactics such as waterboarding, which simulates drowning, but now other techniques such as such as subjecting prisoners to loud music for long periods and sleep deprivation will also be banned.
The new interrogation unit “will draw on experienced interrogators from different departments, including the intelligence community and law enforcement”, said an administration official, without giving details of how involved the CIA might be in the future.
FBI officers involved in early interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects have claimed that their legal questioning methods garnered better results and more useful intelligence than the heavy-handed CIA approach.
The Justice Department announced that veteran prosecutor John Durham will open a preliminary investigation into reported abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan and at CIA “black sites”, focusing on a dozen CIA officials or contractors. To the frustration of human rights groups, his scope will not include Bush lawyers who wrote memos approving “enhanced” interrogation methods.
Officials of the administration of former president George W Bush – including Dick Cheney, the former vice-president – have said torture was never used and have defended their interrogation practices as essential in defending the country.
The investigation raised the prospect of a damaging political sideshow as Mr Obama faces the challenge of pushing health care legislation through Congress.
So far only one CIA officer has been prosecuted in connection with interrogations after the September 11 attacks. David Passaro, a contractor, was found guilty in 2007 of beating a prisoner to death in Afghanistan.
An intelligence official said that the CIA welcomed the change because the agency did not want to be involved in long-term detention cases.
By Alex Spillius in Washington
Published: 6:55AM BST 25 Aug 2009
Source: The Telegraph