One of the psychologists paid tens of millions of dollars by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to oversee the interrogation of prisoners in the so-called War on Terror provided new details on Monday about the torture of a Guantánamo Bay detainee at CIA “black site” in Thailand.
The New York Times reports James E. Mitchell told a military judge during a pretrial hearing at Guantánamo that Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri—a Saudi national facing possible execution for allegedly masterminding the deadly 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen—broke quickly under torture and became so obedient that he would crawl into a cramped confinement box before guards ordered him to do so.
Initially, guards had to force al-Nashiri into the box. But according to Mitchell, the prisoner “liked being in the box” and would “get in and close it himself.”
Annie W. Morgan, a former Air Force defense attorney who is a member of al-Nashiri’s legal team, told the Times that when she heard Mitchell’s testimony,
“I got the image of crate-training a dog and became nauseous.”
“That was the goal of the program, to create a sense of learned helplessness and to become completely dependent upon and submissive to his captors,” she added, referencing a tactic taught in U.S. torture programs and documents dating back to the 1950s.
Gail Helt, a former CIA analyst who advocates Guantánamo’s closure, tweeted, “Imagine the hell Mr. Nashiri experienced outside of that box that made him prefer being inside it.”