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Friday, July 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

No Hard Feelings, Alleged Torture Victim Says

MANHATTAN (CN) - A man accused of financing the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks "holds no grudge against the CIA for his torture, and saw the suffering of those who tortured," his attorney said Friday.

Ammar al-Baluchi's civilian attorney James Connell issued the statement Friday afternoon, in response to CIA officials' attempted justification of tortures documented in the Senate Intelligence Committee's so-called "torture report" this week.

Connell told Courthouse News on Friday that he is preparing to fly to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for another round of pretrial hearings that start Monday. He said the military court issued guidance that attorneys may refer only to the "four corners" of the report's summary, but not to any of the information contained in the redactions.

Connell said it was "very strange" that the report revealed so little about his client's treatment, and so much about that of his co-defendants.

The Senate report cited "rectal hydration," waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and death, citing other detainees by name, but little if anything specific about the treatment of al-Baluchi.

Al-Baluchi was subjected to four days of unspecified "enhanced interrogation techniques" from May 17 to 20, 2003, according to the Senate report.

During those four days of interrogations, al-Baluchi "saw the humanity, and the suffering, of those who tortured him," attorney Connell said in the statement.

The 525-page Executive Summary and Findings and Conclusions, extracted from a 6,000-page report that has not been made public, revealed what CIA interrogators did to many captives, but is thin on details of the treatment of al-Baluchi.

Baluchi could be sentenced to death if convicted by a military commission of financing the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that left nearly 3,000 people dead in New York City, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

The CIA maintains that its interrogation of al-Baluchi helped the agency find Osama bin Laden and uncover a planned terrorist attack on a U.S. embassy in Karachi, Pakistan, though those assertions are contradicted in the Senate report.

Pakistani authorities who used "rapport-building" interrogation techniques on al-Baluchi found him one of their "more chatty" captives, but Baluchi provided "fabricated" information to his CIA interrogators, according to the Senate report.

Referring to the Karachi plot, the report stated: "The operation and arrests were conducted unilaterally by Pakistani authorities and were unrelated to any reporting from the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program."

"The CIA and its defenders are using Mr. al-Baluchi as a scapegoat for its illegal and reprehensible use of torture," Connell said in the statement. "The United States spent incredible amounts of money, energy, and American credibility, and now the CIA is pointing at Mr. al Baluchi to justify its massive torture infrastructure."

The CIA detention and interrogation program cost more than $300 million "non-personnel costs" alone, according to the Senate report.

The CIA did not respond to Connell's statement by press time. A CIA spokesman referred to its 136-page report on the agency's view of the intelligence al-Baluchi is said to have provided under enhanced interrogation.

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