US reveals new pieces of Gitmo hearings

June 15, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Accused al-Qaida mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed complained that interrogators tortured lies out of him, though he proudly took credit for more than two dozen other terror plots, according to sections of government transcripts released Monday. "I make up stories," Mohammed said at one point in his 2007 hearing at Guantanamo Bay.

In broken English, he described an interrogation in which he was asked the location of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

"Where is he? I don't know," Mohammed said. "Then he torture me. Then I said, 'Yes, he is in this area or this is al-Qaida which I don't know him.' I said no, they torture me."

Yet at the same military tribunal hearing, Mohammed ticked off a list of 29 terror plots in which he took part.

The transcripts were released as part of a lawsuit in which the American Civil Liberties Union is seeking documents and details of the government's terror detainee programs.

Previous accounts of the military tribunal hearings had been made public, but the Obama administration went back and reviewed the still-secret sections and determined that more could be released.

ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner called on the Obama administration to disclose more details, saying the new materials "provide further evidence of brutal torture and abuse in the CIA's interrogation program and demonstrate beyond doubt that this information has been suppressed solely to avoid embarrassment and growing demands for accountability."

Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said the new materials were released voluntarily by the government, which is keeping other portions secret to protect intelligence-gathering sources and methods.

Most of the new material centers around the detainees' claims of abuse during interrogations while being held overseas in CIA custody.

One detainee, Abu Zubaydah, told the tribunal that after months "of suffering and torture, physically and mentally, they did not care about my injuries."

Zubaydah was the first detainee subjected to Bush administration-approved harsh interrogation techniques, which included a simulated form of drowning known as waterboarding, slamming the suspect into walls and prolonged period of nudity.

Zubaydah claimed in the hearing that he "nearly died four times."

"After a few months went by, during which I almost lost my mind and my life, they made sure I didn't die," Zubaydah said in his statement to the tribunal.

He claimed that after many months of such treatment, authorities concluded he was not the No. 3 person in al-Qaida as they had long believed.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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