CIA ‘black site’ photos come to light


The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY ADAM GOLD­MAN­man@wash­ Julie Tate con­trib­uted to this re­port.

De­fense at­tor­neys de­mand cache be turned over

Mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tors this year learned about a mas­sive cache of CIA pho­to­graphs of its for­mer over­seas “black sites” while re­view­ing ma­te­rial col­lected for the Se­nate in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the agency’s in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­gram, U.S. of­fi­cials said.

The ex­is­tence of the ap­prox­i­mately 14,000 pho­to­graphs will prob­a­bly cause yet another de­lay in the mil­i­tary com­mis­sions at Guan­tanamo Bay, Cuba, as at­tor­neys for the de­fen­dants de­mand that all the im­ages be turned over and the gov­ern­ment wades through the ma­te­rial to de­cide what it thinks is rel­e­vant to the pro­ceed­ings.

De­fense at­tor­neys said they have not yet been in­formed about the pho­to­graphs and said it is un­ac­cept­able that they should come to light now, more than three years af­ter the ar­raign­ment of Khalid Sheik Mo­hammed and four other de­fen­dants ac­cused of plan­ning the Sept. 11, 2001, at­tacks.

The death penalty cases against the five men first be­gan in 2008 un­der the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion and was aban­doned by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion for a planned trial in fed­eral court in New York. That ef­fort col­lapsed, and the pros­e­cu­tion was re­turned to the mil­i­tary in 2011.

Also on trial at Guan­tanamo is Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi of Ye­meni de­scent who also was held by the CIA. He could re­ceive the death penalty for his al­leged role in the 2000 bomb­ing of the USS Cole in Ye­men.

“If the gov­ern­ment does pro­vide these photos to the de­fense— which is still an ‘if ’ at this point— it would be bet­ter late than never,” said Air Force Capt. Michael Schwartz, a mil­i­tary at­tor­ney for Waleed bin At­tash, one of the five de­fen­dants in the 9/11 mil­i­tary com­mis­sion. “Re­ceiv­ing im­por­tant dis­cov­ery like this so far into the case is go­ing to fur­ther de­lay this trial.”

The elec­tronic im­ages de­pict ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal shots of fa­cil­i­ties where the CIA held al-Qaeda sus­pects af­ter 9/11, but they do not show de­tainee in­ter­ro­ga­tions, in­clud­ing the tor­ture of some sus­pects who were sub­jected to wa­ter­board­ing and other bru­tal tech­niques.

They do in­clude im­ages of naked de­tainees dur­ing trans­port, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cials, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the ma­te­rial re­mains clas­si­fied.

The pic­tures also show CIA per­son­nel and mem­bers of for­eign in­tel­li­gence ser­vices, as well as psy­chol­o­gists Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, among the ar­chi­tects of the in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­gram.

The gov­ern­ment will prob­a­bly re­sist any at­tempt to turn over photos of CIA of­fi­cers and other per­son­nel, ar­gu­ing that it could en­dan­ger their per­sonal se­cu­rity, while the de­fense will want to iden­tify po­ten­tial wit­nesses.

Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, the chief mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor, de­clined to com­ment on the photos, but he said in Fe­bru­ary that his team was scour­ing the full, clas­si­fied 6,700-page Se­nate re­port.

Lt. Col. Myles B. Cag­gins III, De­fense Depart­ment spokesman for Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sions, said in an e-mail: “The pros­e­cu­tion is mak­ing progress in re­view­ing the full re­port in or­der to com­ply with dis­cov­ery obli­ga­tions re­quired by law.”

Mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tors be­gan re­view­ing the re­port ear­lier this year in a se­cure lo­ca­tion at the Hart Se­nate Of­fice Build­ing. Of­fi­cials said pros­e­cu­tors learned there were more pic­tures avail­able than those con­tained in the full re­port, which in­cludes mostly mug shots of de­tainees.

The re­port’s de­clas­si­fied ex­ec­u­tive sum­mary makes ref­er­ence only to a pic­ture of a wooden wa­ter­board in Afghanistan and de­tainees be­ing trans­ported to black sites.

It’s un­clear whether the mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tors have been able to re­view all the pho­to­graphs and why they hadn’t un­earthed them years ear­lier. For­mer U.S. of­fi­cials said Martins’s team was sup­posed to have the same ac­cess as Se­nate in­ves­ti­ga­tors and fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors to shared elec­tronic drives con­tain­ing agency doc­u­ments at a se­cret lo­ca­tion in Vir­ginia.

“It raises the ques­tion whether the agency is be­ing co­op­er­a­tive with the pros­e­cu­tors,” said James Har­ring­ton, the civil­ian at­tor­ney for 9/11 de­fen­dant Ramzi Bi­nal­shibh. “It’s be­yond pre­pos­ter­ous.” The CIA de­clined to com­ment. Among the im­ages are those of cells and bath­rooms at the de­ten­tion sites, in­clud­ing a fa­cil­ity in Afghanistan known as “Salt Pit,” where the wa­ter­board was pho­tographed.

A U.S. of­fi­cial de­scribed the pho­to­graphs of the Salt Pit as look­ing like a dun­geon. The of­fi­cial added that many of the pic­tures ap­pear to have been taken for bud­getary rea­sons to doc­u­ment how money was be­ing spent.

The bulk of the pho­to­graphs de­pict black sites in Thai­land, Afghanistan and Poland. There are fewer shots of pris­ons in Ro­ma­nia and Lithua­nia, which were among the last to be used be­fore they­were closed in 2006.

A for­mer in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cial who re­viewed some of the pho­to­graphs of the prison in Thai­land de­scribed them as non­de­script.

“It looked like a prison,” the for­mer of­fi­cial said. “It all looked ac­cept­able.”

AU.S. of­fi­cial said there are also pho­to­graphs of con­fine­ment boxes where de­tainees such as Abu Zubay­dah, who is now at Guan­tanamo, were forced into for hours.

Also among the pho­to­graphs are im­ages of Zubay­dah shortly af­ter he was cap­tured in 2002; he was wounded in the leg dur­ing a shootout with Pak­istani se­cu­rity forces. The pic­tures show his in­jury.

Later shots show him wear­ing an eye patch. A for­mer CIA of­fi­cial said Zubay­dah had a pre­ex­ist­ing eye in­jury that was in­fected when the agency cap­tured him. The eye was later re­moved.

“Why is it we are still learn­ing about this stuff?” said Joe Mar­gulies, Zubay­dah’s at­tor­ney. “Who knows what is still out there? What else is there? That’s what is ap­palling.”

James Con­nell, de­fense at­tor­ney for Am­mar al-Baluchi, one of the 9/11 de­fen­dants, filed a mo­tion in Jan­uary 2013 to com­pel pro­duc­tion of “doc­u­ments and in­for­ma­tion” re­lat­ing to where the “ac­cused or a po­ten­tial wit­ness have been con­fined.”

Con­nell said the mil­i­tary judge over­see­ing the case hasn’t ruled on that mo­tion.

“If pic­tures from black sites ex­ist, they are crime scene pho­to­graphs,” Con­nell said. “The mil­i­tary com­mis­sion rules re­quire the pros­e­cu­tion to turn them over to the de­fense, but fed­eral and in­ter­na­tional pros­e­cu­tors should also get a copy — not to men­tion the public.”


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