A recently unearthed cache of photographs of CIA black sites is threatening to further complicate the proceedings of the 9/11 military commission as attorneys for the men detained at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility are demanding the release of the documents as evidence of the U.S. torture program.
U.S. officials told the Washington Post that the roughly 14,000 photographs were discovered earlier this year by military prosecutors reviewing documents on the intelligence agency’s interrogation program ahead of the Senate Intelligence Committee report.
The classified materials reportedly depict “external and internal shots of facilities where the CIA held al-Qaeda suspects after 9/11” —including the infamous “Salt Pit” in Afghanistan—as well as sites in Thailand, Poland, Lithuania, and Romania. While the images don’t explicitly show the interrogations, there are pictures of naked detainees stripped naked for transport, as well as of torture devices, such as a waterboard and confinement boxes.
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The collection also reportedly contains images of CIA officers and others perpetrators of the torture program, including torture program architects Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell. The U.S. government is expected to resist attempts to turn over the images, arguing that by doing so would endanger the personal security of those pictured.
“If the government does provide these photos to the defense—which is still an ‘if’ at this point—it would be better late than never,” said Air Force Capt. Michael Schwartz, attorney for Waleed bin Attash, one of the five defendants in the 9/11 military commission.
James Connell, who represents 9/11 defendant Ammar al-Baluchi, agreed. “If pictures from black sites exist,” Connell said, “they are crime scene photographs.”
“Why is it we are still learning about this stuff?” added Joe Margulies, attorney for Abu Zubaydah, who has been held for more than 12 years without ever being charged with a crime. “Who knows what is still out there? What else is there? That’s what is appalling.”
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