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CIA Detainee Left With Brain Damage After Being Used As Training Prop To Teach Torture Techniques

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Ammar al-Baluchi

The eighth amendment to the constitution of the United States says, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

Contrary to popular belief, this protection also extends to non-citizens of the United States.

So long as they are within the borders of the United States…

Enter, the CIA black site, where the intelligence agency is free to do whatever it wants to people held there beyond the prying eyes of the public and where civil rights need not apply.

The agency is coming under fire after the emergence of a scathing report about the treatment of detainees.

A CIA detainee developed “moderate to severe brain damage” while being used to teach interrogators torture techniques.

Ammar al-Baluchi was held at multiple CIA black sites over the course of three years during the 2000s before he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay where he has been awaiting trial by military tribunal ever since.

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The trial has been stuck in pre-trial hearings for the past 10 years over multiple issues regarding the debatable legality of the CIA’s actions in acquiring and torturing Baluchi.

A 2008 report details some of what could generously be called issues in the treatment and interrogation of Baluchi. Interrogators at a black site called “Salt Pit” reportedly went beyond their guidelines in torturing Baluchi without approval.

The torture went beyond the CIA’s guidelines.

According to the report, interrogators would place a stick behind the knees in a stress position that involved leaning back while kneeling as well as throwing ice-cold water on Baluchi.

These “techniques” were not approved by the CIA in their guidelines, nor by the interrogators’ superiors.

Baluchi later admitted that, while being tortured extensively by the CIA, “he was terrified and lied to get agency officers to stop the measures…” Baluchi also said that “he was afraid to tell a lie and was afraid to tell the truth because he did not know how either would be received.”

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The fact that Baluchi would say anything to get the interrogators to stop is unsurprising and in line with the reasons why experienced interrogators believe that torture is ineffective for acquiring accurate information.

Baluchi was used as a training implement for interrogators.

One of the approved techniques that were used repeatedly on Baluchi was that of “walling” which involved standing the detainee against a flexible plywood wall and using a rolled-up towel placed around the neck “bounce” the detainee’s head off of the wall.

Baluchi was subjected to walling repeatedly to certify new interrogators for the technique. To be clear, Baluchi was subjected to torture by a line of people, as a training aid.

Baluchi’s terrorist connections and possible past crimes are difficult to ascertain after 20 years of torture, CIA intervention, and military judicial bureaucracy muddying the water, but a few things are certain.

Ammar al-Baluchi has not received a fair trial. Ammar al-Baluchi was held and tortured for years in secret CIA facilities. Ammar al-Baluchi has received “moderate to severe brain damage” due to his treatment at the hands of the CIA.

This doesn’t really seem like the way that the good guys handle themselves.

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Dan O'Reilly is a writer who covers news, politics, and social justice. Follow him on Twitter.