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Monday, May 27, 2024 | Back issues
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Feds Assailed on Fate of Man Profiled in Torture Report

(CN) - More than a decade since Gul Rahman froze to death in a secret CIA dungeon in Afghanistan, the prisoner's family is still waiting for the U.S. government to make an official statement and to return his body for burial.

Rahman had fled the war in Afghanistan with his wife and four daughters at a refugee camp near Peshawar in 2001, and U.S.-Pakistani authorities soon swept him up.

The Afghan wound up in secret CIA prison code-named Cobalt but better known as the Salt Pit in October 2002.

A heavily redacted report on CIA torture that Senate investigators released one year ago today shows that Rahman was dead within three weeks, having succumbed to hypothermia.

Rahman endured "48 hours of sleep deprivation, auditory overload, total darkness, isolation, a cold shower, and rough treatment," representing six out of 10 brutal techniques in the CIA's program, according to the Senate's summary.

"An internal CIA review and autopsy assessed that Rahman likely died from hypothermia - in part from having been forced to sit on the bare concrete floor without pants," the report continues.

In a footnote, it listed such "contributing factors" as "dehydration, lack of food, and immobility due to 'short chaining.'"

Amnesty International detailed Rahman's case in a new report Wednesday aimed at belying the pretense that the United States has shed its legacy of torture.

"Gul Rahman died in the custody of a government which routinely portrays itself as the global champion of human rights and accountability," the five-page report states. "Here then is another case that gives the lie to this claim."

Rahman's family is also suing in Washington state, alongside two survivors of CIA detention. Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, their case takes aim at the "architects" of the interrogation program: psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

In the past, the Department of Justice invoked the "state secrets privilege" to swat away similar challenges to the CIA's rendition program.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham closed a criminal investigation into the program without charges on Aug. 30, 2012, and the DOJ also declined to prosecute anyone in connection with Rahman's death.

Amnesty International says the time is now for the United States to come clean on what happened to Rahman. "Although shockingly late in the day, the USA remains under an obligation to ensure truth, remedy and accountability, which includes providing justice and redress to the family of Gul Rahman," the report states. "It can begin by formally notifying the family of Gul Rahman's death and returning his remains to them for a dignified burial."

Only the 499-page summary of the Senate report has been publicly released, and it still remains littered with redactions.

Amnesty called for the disclosure of the full, 6,700-page report, with a focus on the third volume itemizing what Sen. Diane Feinstein called the "excruciating" details of "each of the 119 known individuals who were held in CIA custody.

"This is secrecy blocking the individual and collective right to truth," the report says.

A representative for the Department of Justice declined to comment on Rahman's case, except to say it is aware of the ongoing litigation in Washington, which does not actually involve the government directly.

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