December 27, 2002
0246 IST

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CIA using third degree on Al Qaeda,
Taliban prisoners: report

US intelligence officials are using third degree methods to elicit information from Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners in its overseas detention centres, and if these techniques did not work, were shipping them to countries where torture is common, a Washington Post report said on Thursday.

The Central Intelligence Agency is using the 'stress-and-duress technique' to break its prisoners' silence in detention centres at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, the Diego Garcia Islands in the Indian Ocean and other secret detention centres, it said.

Prisoners in Bagram are held in metal shipping containers and kept standing or kneeling for hours in black hoods or spray-painted goggles, intelligence specialists familiar with CIA interrogation methods were quoted as saying.

At times, the detainees are held in awkward, painful positions and deprived of sleep with a 24-hour bombardment of lights, part of the 'stress-and-duress techniques', they said.

While specially trained CIA officials personally supervised the interrogation of Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, lower level captives were handed over to foreign intelligence agencies - notably those of Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, with a list of questions the agency wanted answered.

These 'extraordinary renditions' do not have legal sanction and usually involve countries with security services known for using brutal methods, the paper reported.

According to US officials, nearly 3,000 suspected Al Qaeda members and supporters have been detained worldwide since September 11, 2001. About 625 are at the US military's confinement facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Some officials estimated that fewer than 100 captives have been 'rendered' to other countries.

While the Guantanamo Bay center is open to visits by military lawyers, reporters and the Red Cross, the Bagram centre is strictly off-limits for officials of even other US agencies, the Post reported.

The US government publicly denounces the use of torture, but each of the national security officials interviewed for the Post's article defended the use of violence against captives as 'just and necessary'. They expressed confidence that the American public would back their view.

"If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, you probably are not doing your job," said one official who has supervised the capture and transfer of accused terrorists.

The CIA refused to comment.

The method of arrest of the suspects was also violent, the daily said.

Abu Zubaida, who is believed to be the most important Al Qaeda member in detention, was shot in the groin during his capture in Pakistan in March.

Officials said he is now cooperating and his information has led to the capture of other Al Qaeda members.

The capture of Al Qaeda leaders Ramzi Binalshibh in Pakistan, Omar al Faruq in Indonesia, Abd al Rahim al Nashiri in Kuwait and Muhammad al Darbi in Yemen were all partly the outcome of information gathered during interrogation, they said.

All four are now in CIA custody.


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