Declassified documents show that a Kuwaiti national detained by the CIA was used as a prop to teach the agency’s training interrogators about torture.
The documents, in a 2008 report by the CIA’s inspector general, were publicized on Tuesday as part of a legal battle to obtain an independent medical examination of Ammar al-Baluchi, the detainee in question.
The report offers details of Baluchi’s treatment at a “black site” north of the Afghan capital of Kabul to which he was transferred in 2003.
The interrogators violated the CIA’s own guidelines placing a stick behind his knees while he would be forced into a stress position, which involved leaning back while kneeling, and dousing him with ice-cold water.
Another torture technique practiced on Baluchi involved “walling,” where the detainee’s heels were placed against a plywood wall “which had flexibility to it,” and a rolled-up towel was put around the person’s neck.
“The interrogators would then grab the ends of the towel in front of and below the detainee’s face and shove [Baluchi] backwards into the wall, never letting go of the towel,” the report said. One of the interrogators said the goal was to “bounce” the detainee off the wall.
“Typically a session did not last for more than two hours at a time,” but the 44-year-old’s plight would last much longer because he was being used as a teaching prop, the documents mention.
One former trainee was quoted as saying that “all the interrogation students lined up to ‘wall’ Ammar so that [the instructor] could certify them on their ability to use the technique.”
‘Severe brain damage’
Before being taken to the United States’ Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, Baluchi was moved around across six CIA black sites over the course of three years.
Alka Pradhan, one of Baluchi’s attorneys, told The Guardian that a neuropsychologist carried out an MRI of Baluchi’s head in October 2018 and found “abnormalities indicating moderate to severe brain damage.”