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Detainee Zubaydah a key figure in Senate report

Published:Thursday | December 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM


Abu Zubaydah was the CIA's guinea pig. He was the first high-profile al Qaida terror suspect captured after the September 11 attacks, and the first to vanish into the spy agency's secret prisons, the first subjected to grinding white noise and sleep- deprivation tactics, and the first to gasp under the simulated drowning of waterboarding. Zubaydah's stark ordeal became the CIA's blueprint for the brutal treatment of terror suspects, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee's report released on Tuesday.

The newly released report cites Zubaydah's detention in Pakistan in March 2002 as a turning point in the Bush administration's no-holds-barred approach to terror suspects and the CIA's development of coercive interrogation tactics.

The United States brutalised scores of terror suspects with interrogation tactics that turned secret CIA prisons into chambers of suffering and did nothing to make America safer after the 9/11 attacks, Senate investigators concluded Tuesday.

The committee report accused the CIA of offering a misleading version about what it was doing with its "black site" captives and deceiving the nation about the effectiveness of its techniques. The report was the first public accounting of tactics employed after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and it described far harsher actions than had been widely known.

The tactics employed included confinement to small boxes, weeks of sleep deprivation, simulated drowning, slapping and slamming, and threats to kill, harm or sexually abuse families of the captives. The report catalogued the use of ice baths, death threats, shackling in the cold, and much more, including waterboarding. Many detainees developed psychological problems.

The case of Abu Zubaydah offers a personal view of those experiences.