After years of having his case hung up in federal courts, Abu Zubaydah could finally be given the opportunity to tell his story.
The Supreme Court is currently hearing the cause of United States v. Abu Zubaydah, which deals with the largely known details of a Palestinian man who was captured in Pakistan by the CIA and tortured in a barbaric fashion.
In 2002, Zubaydah, a veteran who previously fought the Soviets in Afghanistan, was shot and transferred to the CIA. It is believed that he was transported to CIA black sites, referred to colloquially as “dungeons,” in Poland, Thailand, and other countries, where he was subjected to crimes against humanity.
Zubaydah, who the CIA has admitted played no role in Al Qaeda, has been held in a secret facility within the Guantanomo Bay prison camp. The federal government has admitted that they cannot prosecute the man for any crimes, yet he has been held and cut off from the outside world (with the exception of his lawyers) as an “enemy combatant,” which many suspect is due to fear that he may go public with his story.
According to a brief filed with the Supreme Court, Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 separate times in one month, had his head repeatedly smashed against the wall, and was sleep deprived for 11 consecutive days.
Additionally, he was stripped naked and hung from hooks and stuffed into a small box for hours. The disturbing practice of “rectal hydration,” where prisoners are essentially sodomized, was also utilized.
In a 2014 Senate investigation regarding the practice, CIA torturers were exposed as using “rectal feeding” — which experts have held has no medical or physiological use — as a means to sadistically rape men by grinding up food from their lunch trays and forcing it up their rectums.
Zubaydah lost his left eye and received brain damage during his brutalization at the hands of the CIA.
Zubaydah’s attorneys have for years been battling the government to subpoena and force testimony from the two CIA psychologists who developed the torture program, James Elmer Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen, who so far have been able to invoke the “state’s secrets” rule to keep the atrocities they oversaw from the public eye. The two men were paid over $80 million dollars to develop experimental torture techniques intended to force prisoners to “collaborate.”
While the CIA’s network of torture dungeons, including the Polish facility where Zubaydah says he was abused, have been acknowledged in court cases in Europe and by Poland’s own government, the Biden administration is fighting tooth and nail to prevent Mitchell and Jessen from being forced to publicly testify under oath.
In a moment that shocked Biden administration lawyers during a hearing last week, three Supreme Court justices asked if Zubaydah would be able to testify to his torment. The victim’s attorneys stated that their client was being held incommunicado in America’s prison camp in Cuba and was not allowed to. The lawyers representing the US government did not have a proper response for why Zubaydah could not testify and promised to have an answer at a later date.
Though disturbing information regarding the CIA’s torture program is public, it is widely believed that the full extent of the savagery is still a closely guarded secret.
If the Supreme Court rules against the state secrets doctrine and forces the CIA to hand over privileged documents regarding their torture program, this could provide information that would allow the world to see the United States in a whole new different light.
Zubaydah’s testimony could also be a game-changer. So far, he has only been able to provide disturbing drawings of what he endured and witnessed to his legal team, which have been used in court arguments, such as the one below.