Pulitzer-Winning Reporter Fights for Access to CIA Torture Records

MANHATTAN (CN) – An investigative journalist claims in a federal complaint that the CIA has stonewalled his demand to access records on torture conducted at secret “black sites.”

Represented by the firm Ballard Spahr and the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Raymond Bonner brought his suit Wednesday in Manhattan.

The 7-page filing says Bonner filed a request on Dec. 15, 2017, with the Freedom of Information Act for CIA materials about its history of interrogation practices, and about the capture, interrogation and detention of Palestinian-born Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, more commonly known as Abu Zubaydah.

Held at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since his 2002 capture in Pakistan, the eye-patch wearing Abu Zubaydah is a central figure of a study carried out by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence of the CIA detention and interrogation program.

Only a 524-page page summary of the Senate report is publicly available, and Bonner notes that Abu Zubaydah’s name appears in it 1,001 times.

In addition to various CIA memoranda, emails and documents prepared in July 2002, Bonner also wants access to the CIA manual for interrogation techniques, which CIA Deputy Director Operations Richard Stolz said was assembled in March of 1964.

Bonner wants a transcript of the Senate committee’s June 1998 hearing on the manual where Stolz testified, and he wants Abu Zubaydah’s psychological assessment, dated July 2002.

Bonner said he clarified his request per the CIA’s instructions in January ut has not heard back since, amounting to a constructive denial.

Representatives for the CIA declined to comment on Bonner’s complaint.

Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to keep open the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, marking a formal reversal of his predecessor’s eight-year effort to shut it down.

Trump famously defended torture during his 2016 presidential campaign. “Don’t tell me it doesn’t work — torture works,” the then-candidate had said during a campaign event at a South Carolina retirement community. “Half these guys [say]: ‘Torture doesn’t work.’ Believe me, it works.”

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