The CIA's Black Torture Hole In Poland
Meet Deuce Martinez. Career narcotics agent turned Five-Star CIA interrogator. Credited with getting Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Ramzi Binalshibh to talk.
Waterboarding, belly slaps, sleep deprivation and more. Martinez didn't like getting his hands dirty with the physical abuse, he waited in the wings while others did it and then conducted the interrogations. If the detainee stopped cooperating, it was back to the torture, then back to Martinez. Ultimately, they talked. The value of their information? The CIA says huge, even accounting for the misinformation they were fed. Of course, there's no way to test that theory.
Where did this all occur? Inside the CIA's black hole of choice -- in Poland. [More...]
Poland was picked because there were no local cultural and religious ties to Al Qaeda, making infiltration or attack by sympathizers unlikely, one C.I.A. officer said. Most important, Polish intelligence officials were eager to cooperate.
“Poland is the 51st state,” one former C.I.A. official recalls James L. Pavitt, then director of the agency’s clandestine service, declaring. “Americans have no idea.”
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 100 times during a two week period.
Where is Martinez now?
Like many other C.I.A. officers in the post-9/11 security boom, Mr. Martinez left the agency for more lucrative work with government contractors.
His life today is quiet by comparison with the secret interrogations of 2002 and 2003. But Mr. Martinez has not turned away entirely from his old world. He now works for Mitchell & Jessen Associates, a consulting company run by former military psychologists who advised the C.I.A. on the use of harsh tactics in the secret program.
Martinez refused to be interviewed for the article.
[H]is role was described by colleagues. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, director of the C.I.A., and a lawyer representing Mr. Martinez asked that he not be named in this article, saying that the former interrogator believed that the use of his name would invade his privacy and might jeopardize his safety.
The New York Times, noting that Mr. Martinez had never worked undercover and that others involved in the campaign against Al Qaeda have been named in news articles and books, declined the request.
Good for the Times. As to why the CIA turned to a narcotics agent who didn't speak Arabic and had no formal interrogation skills -- the Times notes that the CIA had made a sudden decision to use "harsh interrogation techniques" without doing research or having the personnel.
In its scramble, the agency made the momentous decision to use harsh methods the United States had long condemned. With little research or reflection, it borrowed its techniques from an American military training program modeled on the torture repertories of the Soviet Union and other cold-war adversaries, a lineage that would come to haunt the agency.
It located its overseas jails based largely on which foreign intelligence officials were most accommodating and rushed to move the prisoners when word of locations leaked.
After the [9/11] attacks, officials recognized that tracking drug lords was not so different from searching for terrorist masterminds, and Mr. Martinez was among a half dozen or so narcotics analysts moved to the Counterterrorist Center to become “targeting officers” in the hunt for Al Qaeda.
Colleagues say Mr. Martinez, then 36, threw himself into the new work with a passion.
His expertise: analyzing wiretaps and intercepted communications of drug cartels.
On a wall at the American Embassy in Islamabad, he posted a large, blank piece of paper. He wrote Abu Zubaydah’s phone number at the center. Then, over a week or so, he and others added more and more linked phone numbers from the eavesdropping files of the National Security Agency and Pakistani intelligence.
His first conquest was Abu Zubaydah. Found in Pakistan, shot three times during his capture, sent for medical treatment and then to a black hole in Thailand for interrogation.
It was at the Thai jail, not far from Bangkok, that Mr. Martinez first tried his hand at interrogation on Abu Zubaydah, who refused to speak Arabic with his captors but spoke passable English. It was also there, as previously reported, that the C.I.A. would first try physical pressure to get information, including the near-drowning of waterboarding. The methods came from the military’s SERE training program, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, which many of the C.I.A.’s paramilitary officers had themselves completed. A small version of SERE had long operated at the C.I.A.’s Virginia training site, known as The Farm.
President Bush told us the U.S. does not engage in torture. What a liar. Thank goodness he'll be gone soon, 7 months and counting. Worst President Ever. As for Deuce Martinez, goodbye and good riddance. I hope our tax dollars aren't going to pay him a pension.
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