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)

  1. Detainee describes torture at CIA ‘black sites’

    A suburban Baltimore high-school graduate who alegedly becomae an operative for al-Qaeda spome to a military jury for the first time, giving a detailed account this week of the brutal forced feedings, waterboarding and other physical and sexual abuse he endured during his 2003 to 2006 detention in the CIA’s overseas prison network.

    Majid Khan, now 41, became the first former prisoner of the “black sites” to openly testify on the cruel “enhanced interrogation techniques” used at the secret facilities. He described dungeon-like conditions, humiliating stretches of nudity with only a hood on his head, sometimes while his arms were chained in ways that made sleep impossible, and being nearly drowned in icy cold water in tubs at two sites, once while an interrogator counted down from 10 before water was poured into his nose and mouth.

    Khan offered the accounting to a jury of eight US military officers who on Oct. 29 deliberated for less than three hours and sentenced him to 26 years in prison, starting from his guilty plea in February 2012.

    But the sentence is largely symbolic; Khan and his lawyers reached a secret deal this year with a senior Pentagon official in which his actual sentence could end as early as February and no later than February 2025 in exchange for a guilty plea and agreeing to cooperate with the government.

    Jurors were told they could sentence Khan in a range of 25 to 40 years for four terrorism charges, including murder in violation of the laws of war, for delivering $50,000 from Pakistan to an al-Qaeda affiliate in early 2003. The money was allegedly used in a deadly bombing of a Marriott hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, in August 2003, while Khan was a prisoner of the CIA. (NYT)