Surviving a CIA ‘Black Site’
The kidnap and torture program of the Bush administration, with its secret CIA “black site” prisons and “torture taxi” flights on private jets, saw a little light of day this week. I spoke to Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah in his first broadcast interview. Bashmilah was a victim of the CIA’s so-called extraordinary rendition program, in which people are grabbed from their homes, out of airports, off the streets, and are whisked away, far from the prying eyes of the U.S. Congress, the press, far from the reach of the courts, to countries where cruelty and torture are routine.
Bashmilah is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and by the New York University School of Law International Human Rights Clinic in a lawsuit with four other victims of CIA rendition. They are suing not the
Through a translator, over the phone from his home in
After signing a false confession, he was told he was going to be released. In the process of being led through the Jordanian intelligence facility, he lifted his blindfold. “I saw another man who had a Western look. He was white and somewhat overweight and had dark glasses on. I realized then that they were probably handing me over to some other agency, because during the interrogations I had with the Jordanians, one of the threats was that if I did not confess, they will hand me over to American intelligence.” He was prepared for transit, stripped “completely naked. They started taking pictures from all directions. And they also started to beat me on my sides and also my feet. And then they put me in a position similar to the position of prostration in Muslim prayer, which is similar to the fetal position. And in that position, one of them inserted his finger in my anus very violently. I was in terrible pain, and I started to scream. When they started taking pictures, I could see that they were people who were masked. They were dressed in black from head to toe, and they were also wearing surgical gloves.”
He says he was put in a diaper, had his eyes and ears covered, a bag was put over his head, and he had additional earphones put on his head to block noise. He was then flown to
While Bashmilah was being interrogated and tortured, he was also visited by “psychiatrists.” “[T]he therapy mainly consisted of trying to look at my thoughts and trying to interpret them for me, and in addition to some tranquilizers.”
Bashmilah attempted suicide three times, staged a hunger strike that was painfully ended with a feeding tube forced down his nose, and was denied access to a lawyer, to any human-rights group, to the International Committee of the Red Cross. In effect, he was disappeared.
On May 5, 2005, he was transferred to a prison in
Mohamed Bashmilah said there were cameras in his cells and interrogation rooms. Perhaps tapes were made of his ordeal. Let’s hope that the CIA doesn’t destroy these, too.
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 650 stations in