Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login

CIA Detainee Torture, Memory Loss, and the Bush Administration's Falsification of History

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010) Donate to DU
leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-13-07 12:35 PM
Original message
CIA Detainee Torture, Memory Loss, and the Bush Administration's Falsification of History
Edited on Thu Dec-13-07 01:31 PM by leveymg
A pattern of torture and memory erasure is at the heart of the mistreatment of prisoners in George W. Bush's Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). Indeed, torture is not so much about extracting information from terrorists, the actual result is to reduce the mental capacity of prisoners so that the false history created by the Administration and its stenographers in the corporate media can never be corrected.


Jose Padilla's torture has been well-documented. He was subjected to prolonged psychological torture by sensory deprivation and isolation leaving him in a near vegetative state, unable to recall important events or assist in his own defense. The British press has described what was actually was done to him, and its effects. See,,,1970084,... :

Is Padilla really that dangerous? Far from it: his warders describe him as so docile and inactive that he could be mistaken for "a piece of furniture". The purpose of these measures appeared to be to sustain the regime under which he had lived for more than three years: total sensory deprivation. He had been kept in a blacked-out cell, unable to see or hear anything beyond it. Most importantly, he had had no human contact, except for being bounced off the walls from time to time by his interrogators. As a result, he appears to have lost his mind. I don't mean this metaphorically. I mean that his mind is no longer there.

The forensic psychiatrist who examined him says that he "does not appreciate the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him, is unable to render assistance to counsel, and has impairments in reasoning as the result of a mental illness, ie, post-traumatic stress disorder, complicated by the neuropsychiatric effects of prolonged isolation". Jos Padilla appears to have been lobotomised: not medically, but socially.

If this was an attempt to extract information, it was ineffective: the authorities held him without charge for three and half years. Then, threatened by a supreme court ruling, they suddenly dropped their claims that he was trying to detonate a dirty bomb. They have now charged him with some vague and lesser offences to do with support for terrorism. He is unlikely to be the only person subjected to this regime. Another "enemy combatant", Ali al-Marri, claims to have been subject to the same total isolation and sensory deprivation, in the same naval prison in South Carolina. God knows what is being done to people who have disappeared into the CIA's foreign oubliettes.


Abu Zubaydah was the first "high value" al-Qaeda figure captured in March 2002. He had been at bin Laden's side going back at least to the early 1990s. He ran several major militant training camps on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he trained thousands of jihadists, including six of the 9/11 hijackers. Zubydah is identified by U.S. intelligence as the author of the plan to attack the USS Cole, and was a key organizer present at an al-Qaeda planning summit held in Kuala Lumpur in early January 2000 at which the Cole and 9/11 attacks were mapped out in detail.

Despite his categorization by US and allied intelligence as a very important al Qaeda leader, and long period in positions of responsibility within al Qaeda, it is now claimed -- rather implausibly -- that he had long been insane. Zubaydah's story, however, has not been adequately documented, as he's had no access to the courts. The primary source for information about his psychological state has come from a book by Ronald Suskind, whose sources appear to have spun the story to make it seem that Zubaydah was insane before his capture, in an apparent effort to cast doubt on the details that have emerged from other sources about his role within al-Qaeda. Most notably, Abu Zubaydah worked closely with Luai Sakka, identified as a double-agent working with U.S. and Syrian intelligence. See,

What has been acknowledged is that Zubaydah was the first GWOT prisoner held by the U.S. to be waterboarded, a form of torture involving partial drowning and the cutting off of oxygen to the brain. The neuropsychiatric effects of partial drowning and oxygen deprivation are well-documented in medical literature. The common results of partial or short periods of oxygen deprivation are dizzyness, disorientation, and memory loss. When blood oxygen levels fall below a certain level, the result is loss of consciousness, death of brain cells, permanent neurological damage, and if prolonged for more than a couple minutes, death. The logical conclusion is that Zubaydah, described as insane by U.S. intelligence sources, suffered lasting psychological and neurological damage as the result of waterboarding and perhaps other forms of torture while in custody. See, tp://


Here's a description of what happens to the human brain during near-drowning:

Near Drowning

Every year, thousands of children suffer brain damage as the result of near drowning, choking, near hanging, near-electrocution, cardiac arrest, cyanide and carbon monoxide poisoning, and lightening strikes. These incidents deprive areas of the brain of vital new change oxygen, causing an anoxic ischemic encephalopathy (AIE), which in severe cases can result in coma. Swelling cuts off the brains blood supply, leading to the accumulation of toxic levels of cell wastes which further aggravates the swelling.

Anoxia is the complete cessation for a period of time of oxygen flow to the brain, resulting in brain cell death. Irreparable damage can result after about a minute of cut-off of oxygenated blood to the brain. Brain damage can also result from a drop in blood oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia. Hypoxia is most commonly encountered among victims of heart attacks, in near-drowning accidents, climbers at high altitude, and scuba divers who surface too rapidly resulting in a build-up of nitrogen bubbles in the blood. It is also a result of prolonged or repeated waterboarding with inadequate administration of oxygen:

insult to the brain that can cause injury is anoxia. Anoxia is a condition in which there is an absence of oxygen supply to an organ's tissues, even if there is adequate blood flow to the tissue. Hypoxia refers to a decrease in oxygen supply rather than a complete absence of oxygen, and ischemia is inadequate blood supply, as is seen in cases in which the brain swells. In any of these cases, without adequate oxygen, a biochemical cascade called the ischemic cascade is unleashed, and the cells of the brain can die within several minutes. This type of injury is often seen in near-drowning victims, in heart attack patients (particularly those who have suffered a cardiac arrest), or in people who suffer significant blood loss from other injuries that then causes a decrease in blood flow to the brain due to circulatory (hypovolemic) shock.

Waterboarding obviously places extreme stresses on the mind and body. The danger of brain damage is high, even if conducted by "experts" monitored by trained medical personnel. Torture that cuts off the supply of oxygen can result in permanent neurological damage or death in a very short period of time:

In 1999, the Clinton County (NY) District Attorney's office and the New York Prosecutors Training Institute hosted the nation's leading experts in the prosecution and investigation of strangulation cases. Strack and McClane presented their findings at the three-day conference, "Detection and Prosecution of Strangulation in Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Cases".


Carotid arteries are the major vessels that transport oxygenated blood from the heart and lungs to the brain. These are the arteries at the side of the neck that persons administering CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) check for pulses. Jugular veins are the major vessels that transport deoxygenated blood from the brain back to the heart.

The general clinical sequence of a victim who is being strangled is one of severe pain, followed by unconsciousness, followed by brain death. The victim will lose consciousness by any one or all of the following: blocking of the carotid arteries (depriving the brain of oxygen), blocking of the jugular veins (preventing deoxygenated blood from exiting the brain) and closing off the airway, causing the victim to be unable to breath. Only 11 pounds of pressure placed on both carotid arteries for 10 seconds is necessary to cause unconsciousness. However, if pressure is released immediately, consciousness will be regained within 10 seconds. After 50 seconds of continuous oxygen deprivation, the victim rarely recovers.


The well-documented torture of Jose Padilla shows the effect of obscuring the facts of his alleged involvement in terrorism, aiding an effort by the Administration to develop a false history. People being tortured tend to say what they think their torturers want to hear, and the trauma of torture often results in degraded or altered memories: See,

Quite what rubbish was spouted by Padilla during these years of "dependency and terror" before he lost his mind to such an extent that his warders described him as "so docile and inactive that he could be mistaken for 'a piece of furniture'" is unknown. His own desperate confessions and where they led have yet to be revealed. What is clear, however, is that other confessions, themselves produced under duress by "high-value" detainees held in secret CIA prisons, formed the basis of the "dirty bomb" allegation. According to the government, Padilla approached training camp facilitator Abu Zubaydah (captured in Pakistan five weeks before him) and 9/11 kingpin Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (captured in 2003) with plans for the bomb and was apprehended after Zubaydah identified him to the FBI. Less vigorously reported were admissions by the government itself that both Zubaydah and KSM were "skeptical" about the plot. Other insider comments indicated that Zubaydah actually dismissed Padilla as "a maladroit extremist," telling his interrogators that he was so "ignorant" that he believed he could "separate plutonium" from other nuclear materials by "rapidly swinging over his head a bucket filled with fissionable material."

It's also clear that another man who was picked out by Zubaydah in relation to the same dubious plot Binyam Mohammed al-Habashi, an Ethiopian-born British resident who was captured in Pakistan a week after Zubaydah suffered even more severely than Padilla. Rendered by the CIA to Morocco, where he was tortured for 18 months and had his penis repeatedly cut by razors, and then transferred to Guantnamo via the CIA's own "Dark Prison" near Kabul a medieval torture prison with the addition of 24-hour amplified music and noise Mohammed admitted to being a part of the whole Zubaydah-KSM-Padilla "dirty bomb" plot, but later explained that he had confessed to whatever his U.S.-directed Moroccan torturers told him to, and had never even met Padilla.

While Binyam Mohammed remains in Guantnamo unsure if the authorities will release him (as requested by the British government) or will attempt to reinstate the charges against him in a military commission (following their collapse in June 2006, when the Supreme Court judged them illegal, and their reintroduction via last fall's Military Commissions Act) the "dirty bomb" allegation against Padilla was dropped in November 2005, just days before the Supreme Court was due to look at the legality of his detention. Apparently the administration was unwilling to allow Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to testify, lest they reveal that they had been tortured.

Unlike in Guantnamo's "enemy combatant" tribunals and in the military commissions, which the administration is still trying to revive after further setbacks in June evidence obtained through torture is inadmissible in U.S. courts, because it is illegal, immoral, and unreliable. And however much the administration may try to deny it, the "dirty bomb" allegation is a perfect demonstration of the hole into which the administration has dug itself: a "plot" whose existence was only ever announced through torture whether of Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Jos Padilla, or Binyam Mohammed that lives only in this world of tortured confessions and cannot be verified in the real world.



Torture of prisoners, particularly sensory deprivation and water boarding, have spoilt any chance of developing a complete and accurate public record documenting exactly what al-Qaeda was doing, who was directing the organization, and for what reasons. This is not mere conjecture.

In addition to the confirmed cases of CIA waterboarding of Abu Zudayah and Abd al-Rahom al-Nashiri, detainees rendered to third countries have been reportedly waterboarded, including Khalid Sheikh Mohamed (KSM) and Ramzi bin al Sheibh. These "high-value" detainees also planned or attended the January 2000 Kuala Lumpur meeting from which several 9/11 hjackers transited to the U.S. as the CIA watched.

The consequences of torture of prisoners are not just moral and legal. They go to what we understand about events, our responses to them, and Bush-Cheney' war on history.


Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
AuntPatsy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-13-07 12:38 PM
Response to Original message
1. Its sickening to hear people attempt to excuse these horrors...
I can't believe we are still arguing about these horrors years after it's occurred and obviously is still occurring with no resolutions seemingly in sight..
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
sicksicksick_N_tired Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-13-07 12:53 PM
Response to Original message
2. I have long held the belief the neocon gulags were for creating assets,...
,...e.g. human intelligence via brainwashing and torture, whatever it takes.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
countryjake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-13-07 01:10 PM
Response to Original message
3. Here's the scariest part...
The elephant in the room in Padilla's case his detention, in brutal isolation, as an "enemy combatant" for 43 months in a military brig, and its effect on his mental health was swept aside as though it had never existed, not only during the trial itself, in which the judge, Marcia G. Cooke, explicitly barred both the prosecution and the defense from speaking about it, but also in much of the mainstream media coverage of the verdict.

This is shocking beyond belief. In a country in which far too many people have expressed their utter indifference to the fate of non-Americans detained by their government in the "War on Terror," the treatment of Padilla should at least have set alarm bells ringing. Unlike foreigners, who, according to the president, can be picked up anywhere in the world and imprisoned, tortured, and held forever without charge or trial, American citizens are supposed to be protected against this kind of treatment. Padilla's case emphatically proves that this is no longer true.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-13-07 01:21 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Agreed. That is the worst form of memory erasure, of the electorate.
Either we quickly grasp the fact that we understand about the GWOT is altered history, or we're all subject to torture next time.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
countryjake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-13-07 02:09 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Well, I'm being "rendered insane" just reading about all of it...
and then hearing it totally twisted into knots, as the MSM reports what they want us to "know" and "believe". Talk about thought crimes!

Which brings us to this:

H.R. 1955: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007

Hell, they won't even need to bother with the torture...just toss us into a hole somewhere.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
hootinholler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-13-07 02:20 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Being aware of all the crap is torture.
Finding the depth of the roots of this evil able to write history explains partially the impotence of 'the opposition.'

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
bleever Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-13-07 02:51 PM
Response to Original message
7. This is excellent work, leveymg.
And I think it is very, very important.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
DemReadingDU Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-13-07 09:55 PM
Response to Original message
8. evening kick
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
bobthedrummer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-13-07 11:50 PM
Response to Original message
9. When memories and minds are erased/manipulated by tactics and techniques
Edited on Fri Dec-14-07 12:15 AM by bobthedrummer
employed by the US intelligence community there is no doubt that we've entered what has been one of the most secretive and controversial areas of intelligence history-mind control.

Here's a bit of existing documentation and supportive material about the types of mind control programs generally known as MK ULTRA which were authorized by DCI Allen Dulles from a proposal presented by Richard McGarrah Helms in April 1954 allegedly as a response to the statements of US POW's during the Korean War.

MK (in the CIA prefix system then in use) designated operations/projects that were run by what was called the Technical Services Division/TSD, organizationally located in what was called Plans or DDP (Richard M. Helms was Deputy Director of Plans prior to becoming DCI).

The chief administrator of mind control programs was the TSD's Sidney Gottlieb, prior to becoming at least 149 sub-projects known as MK ULTRA these mind control related projects had other names such as BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE.

When John McCone became DCI (1961) he reorganized the agency and in 1962 Plans became the Directorate of Science & Technology/DS&T. A covert operations fieldman, Seymour Russell, was appointed to head the Technical Services Staff (previously TSD) with Sidney Gottlieb as his #2-Gottlieb retained his status for MK ULTRA.

In 1963 the CIA's Inspector General reviewed MK ULTRA and issued a report to the DCI. Here is a redacted copy of that report from's archives.

In June 1964 MK ULTRA became MK SEARCH. has a collection of MK ULTRA related documents

Richard M. Helms became DCI-the blowback from Watergate resulted in his final days at the CIA being spent destroying files about a number of illegal black budget funded operations, including mind control research--he didn't destroy them all.

When President Ford replaced Richard Nixon the demand for an investigation into the US intelligence community's activities resulted in what was known as the Rockefeller Committee, and former OSS member Senator Frank Church (D. Idaho) issued what became known as the Church Committee Report, linked below.

"Intelligence Activities And The Rights Of Americans: Final Report Of The Select Committee To Study Governmental Operations With Respect To Intelligence Activities" (4-26-1976 from archives)

SCOTUS decided a FOIA case in which the names of the institutions and individuals involved in MK ULTRA research were repeatedly denied. Here's a link to that case.
"CIA V. Sims, 471 U.S. 159 (1985)" /

Some of the mind control projects involved directed energy and radiation, President Clinton publicly apologized for "excesses" of the US during the Cold War era, and he did authorize the creation of the Office on Human Radiation Experiments.

A staff memo about MK ULTRA to members of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments is very informative to researchers-below is a copy of that June 27, 1994 staff memo from The National Security Archive

Richard M. Helms wasn't able to destroy all the files about mind control and another FOIA request from a reporter seeking them was granted by a federal court on August 19, 2002

"CIA must disclose some operational files" (Reporters Committee for Free

I've got an active thread in the Wisconsin Forum that has some posts about the role of my State and it's citizens in quite a number of things. I found out that the US biological warfare programs at Fort Detrick originated from the efforts of Ira L. Baldwin a bacteriologist from the UW-Madison.

Ira L. Baldwin had another Wisconsinite as his student, Frank Olson. Frank Olson was recruited into intelligence work (including some work at Fort Detrick). Frank Olson was surreptitiously administered lsd (for billing purposes government lsd was later indexed as EA 1729) and died mysteriously.

Then I found out that Louis Jolyon West also was a UW-Madison alumnus, as well as some other prominent researchers into behavior modification and developmental psychology.

Here is a post that details these "coincidences".

"Wisconsin and some black operations" (posted 7-28-2007)

I hope researchers and readers find this post helpful, and keep doing what you're doing Mark!

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
ConsAreLiars Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 02:24 AM
Response to Reply #9
12. Meet the new Nazis, same as the old Nazis. (K&R)
There is a very long history. They have been around a long time. Now they have state power in the US and free rein, with the democratic side ineffective. This is what they do.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
bobthedrummer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 11:18 AM
Response to Reply #12
14. I've met both types-and I've been fighting against them since 1965 n/t
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
bleever Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-13-07 11:53 PM
Response to Original message
10. This topic deserves more attention
than this one post, so please keep putting it out there.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Swamp Rat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-13-07 11:55 PM
Response to Original message
11. k&r
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
L. Coyote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 03:12 AM
Response to Original message
13. Thanks for describing the tip of the iceburg so succinctly.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
K Gardner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 11:34 AM
Response to Original message
15. Now, if they'd only give the "detainees" anabolic steroids, maybe there would be an intense
investigation and lots of high profile media coverage. :sarcasm:

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
bobthedrummer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 02:15 PM
Response to Original message
16. k
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
countryjake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-15-07 10:48 PM
Response to Original message
17. kick for the weekend crowd
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
bobthedrummer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-17-07 12:24 PM
Response to Original message
18. A let's not forget kick
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
bobthedrummer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-18-07 06:42 PM
Response to Original message
19. k
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Thu Jul 19th 2018, 01:15 AM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]

Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010) Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators

Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC