German torture case against CIA official

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) on Oct. 19 filed a criminal complaint against a high-ranking CIA official for mistreatment of Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen who was detained and allegedly tortured for four months in 2003. El-Masri was on vacation in Macedonia when he was mistaken for Khalid al-Masri, a suspect in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. El-Masri was then transported to Afghanistan where he was detained and questioned for four months under the direction of Alfreda Frances Bikowsky. At the time, Bikowsky was deputy chief of the Central Intelligence Agency's Bin Laden Issue Station. ECCHR asserts in the complaint that the US Senate Torture Report ties Bikowsky to el-Masri's detention, and ECCHR requests that the German federal prosecutor investigate.

The majority of the ECCHR's complaint is based on the Senate report released in December, which examined "enhanced interrogation techniques" employed during the Bush administration. Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against two psychologists who devised the torture techniques used on three former CIA prisoners. In June Guantánamo detainee Majid Khan alleged that the CIA's torture techniques went beyond those described in the Senate Intelligence Committee report.

From Jurist, Oct. 19. Used with permission.

Note: At least a dozen more people were subjected to waterboarding-like tactics in CIA custody than the agency has admitted, according to documents cited by the Senate report. The CIA maintains it only subjected three detainees to waterboarding: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abdel Rahim Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah. But agency interrogators apparently subjected at least 12 others to a similar technique, known as "water dousing," that also created a drowning sensation or chilled body temperature—sometimes through "immersion" in water, and often without use of a board. An interrogator cited in the Senate report considered water dousing's departure from waterboarding to be "a distinction without a difference." Gul Rahman, an Afghan, is the only detainee known to have died in CIA custody—of hypothermia after suffering such a treatement. (The Guardian, Oct. 16)