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Some of Former CIA Detainee Majid Khan’s Memories of Torture Are Declassified

majidkhanThe Center for Constitutional Rights has released new details about the torture of Majid Khan, a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay who was captured by the United States in March 2003. Khan was held in secret detention at CIA black sites until 2006 when he was transferred to Guantanamo.

According to declassified notes, his doctors were some of his “worst torturers.” Khan pleaded for a physician to help him. The physician responded by sending Khan back to an interrogation room to be hung from a metal bar, where he remained for 24 hours.

Khan had already experienced this torture. He was interrogated afterward and emasculated by guards as they “forced” him “to write his own ‘confession’ while being filmed naked if he wanted some rest.” Afterward, he was “numb” and unable to move for several days.

In May and July 2003, Khan was waterboarded.

“Guards and interrogators brought him into a bathroom with a tub,” according to CCR. “The tub was filled with water and ice.”

“Shackled and hooded, they placed Khan feet-first into the freezing water and ice. They lowered his entire body into the water and held him down, face-up in the water. An interrogator forced Khan’s head under the water until he thought he would drown.”

An interrogator then pulled Khan’s head out of the water and demanded he answer his questions. He forced his head back into the ice bath. Khan also had water and ice poured on his mouth and nose when his head was not being held under water.

Guards repeatedly beat and threatened to beat Khan with tools. In one instance, a hammer was pulled out and shown to Khan. The guard threatened to bash Khan’s head in with the hammer. Sometimes the men who threatened him smelled of alcohol.

Khan was sexually assaulted and had his “private parts” touched while he was hanging naked from the ceiling. He was subject to rectal feeding, which was included in the Senate intelligence committee’s report on CIA torture.

While at a black site, Khan was hung by his hands “from a wooden beam for three days.” He was “naked and shackled” and given water but not food. This torture also sought to destroy his masculinity.

Most of 2003 was spent in “total darkness.” He had a bucket to use as a toilet. He was given no toilet paper. He had a sleeping mat but no light. And from 2004 to 2006, he was kept in conditions of solitary confinement.

Up until January 30, the government claimed in military commissions proceedings and other settings that it controlled the thoughts and memories of prisoners. Any statements from detainees about torture experienced in CIA custody was classified. Prisoners were kept in solitary confinement to prevent them from sharing “classified information” about their experiences with fellow prisoners.

The release of the summary of the Senate intelligence committee’s report on the CIA’s use of torture in December 2014 changed the policy. Some personal recollections of torture were no longer to be considered classified.

CCR, which has represented Khan, submitted notes about some of Khan’s recollections of his experience in secret detention.

“Majid Khan’s personal experiences, notes of which were cleared by the government for release, confirm that the CIA has repeatedly and continuously lied about the torture program,” CCR declared in a released statement. “As layers of secrecy have been peeled away throughout the Obama administration, we see more and more evidence of CIA savagery and treachery. There must be greater transparency and accountability for what happened in the CIA torture program.”

The organization called for CIA director John Brennan to be fired. They demanded the full Senate report on CIA torture be released and that an internal CIA report, the “Panetta Review,” be released. They urged the Justice Department to reopen criminal investigations into the CIA torture program.

In the Senate report, horrific treatment was described. Khan was subject to sleep deprivation and stripped and shackled nude. This took place before he was even questioned by an interrogator.

Khan had his “lunch tray,” which consisted of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins, “pureed” and rectally fed to him. A feeding tube was forced into Khan’s body to make him feel helpless and help interrogators exert control over him.

Inserting feeding tubes into the rectums of prisoners was never a “medical procedure” approved nor was it ever authorized as an “enhanced interrogation technique.”

“This is a form of sexual assault masquerading as medical treatment,” Dr. Vincent Iacopino of the Physicians for Human Rights declared. “In the absence of medical necessity, it is clear that the only purpose behind this humiliating and invasive procedure [was] to inflict physical and mental pain.”

Khan was charged with various offenses by the Guantanamo military commission on February 13, 2012, and pled guilty to charges on February 29 that same year. He was scheduled to be sentenced in 2016.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."


  1. jane24
    June 2, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    This should be required reading for all, and if this were the case, perhaps some of those who have thus far stated that they approve atrocities masquerading as “enhanced interrogation methods”, would think again. How anyone could possibly imagine that such inhumanity plays any role in “keeping America safe” defeats me.

  2. kgosztola
    June 2, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks for your comment. It’s on point.

  3. John Kelly
    June 2, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    The sadistic evil that is in the hearts of people who can torture others is tacitly supported by those who do not acknowledge torture, or just assume that if it is happening it must be for a good reason.

  4. ThePurpleCrab
    June 2, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    What sick people we have on the taxpayer payroll.

  5. dubinsky
    June 2, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    was it in Afghanistan where he was tortured or is the location and nation of the site not known?

  6. June 2, 2015 at 9:23 pm
  7. June 2, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    It could’ve been in Bagram for starters, dub…!

  8. dubinsky
    June 2, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    thanks, you’re right that it COULD have been any of the places in and around Bagram (there are alleged to be more than one there).

    I wanted to know if it was a site in Afghanistan, where the place might have been run by a combination of US personnel and Afghan govt guys
    if he was moved elsewhere and abused before getting sent to Gitmo.

  9. karenjj2
    June 3, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Thank you, Kevin. I actually heard a one minute bit about this on local radio top of the hour NBC news feed. During that, I got the impression that Kahn’s memories were “partially declassified” so that he could testify against another prisoner.

    one of the news voices had an interesting question: if some of his memories are deemed lies, how can they assure that his testimony is not lies?

    The most interesting reveal — quite a bit of factual info in a local hourly news bit; too much for someone not following gitmo unless repeated for days on end– is that this may be the last opportunity during obomba admin to enable closing gitmo. By bringing Kahn to us federal court as witness, may persuade a few more congress men (fearful pansies) that gitmo prisoners need to be in us fed system.

  10. karenjj2
    June 3, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Off topic tho related to gitmo in my opinion, I strongly suspect that Jose Padilla (interesting that Padilla ‘s name popped up in phone’s suggested words after Jose P) was the first revealed military torture experiment that is the updated blueprint for the globe’s CIA -military “disappeared prisoners” post 2000. I still recall the photo of 2 armored, masked, Darth Vaders dragging orange jumpsuit barefoot shackled Padilla down the hall of the wing where he was isolated for more than a year (or two?). The gitmo pics were all too familiar after that. Interesting, too, that after torturing him to insensibility, he was run thru the federal system on charges unrelated to “terrorism” and “disappeared.”

    amazing to watch the CIA chief Bush,sr/ Chicago Boys/PNAC/ Chilean model become increasingly visible at an accelerating pace.

    Most appalling to me is our entrenched Orwellian language notably:

    customers now “consumers”

    corps now “companies”

    foxTV now “Fox News”

    prisoners now “detainees”

    humans now “targets” (for appalling example: targeted advertising)

    invasion/occupation now “preemptive defense”

    global military forces BASED in 100+ countries now “training defense forces”

    war department post ww2 is “defense dept”

    lastly, does no one smell the stench of hippocrisy (argh! Can’t spell it and phone has no suggestion) when the us cries “aggression!” when Russia defends its borders from aggression by us coup installed puppets and berates China for building/expanding a Pacific atoll?

    In light of obomba’s 2009 announced “pivot to the Pacific,” increasing “military exercises” from the 4 us bases in Korea, AND the remilitarization of Japan, China has shown remarkable restraint as has Russia with the increased us (aka NATO) militarization along its borders.

    /end rant

    11:10edt 3jn

  11. karenjj2
    June 3, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    Speaking of gitmo, no one seems to notice that Cuba has been occupied by the US military since or long before Castro’s overthrow of Batista.

    Cuba is one of the longest running off Broadway Kabuki productions that I’m aware of tho I’m sure some in South America may qualify if we consider reruns like Guatemala, Honduras, or the Philippines or the continuing (relabeled “NATO”) occupations post ww2 of Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, et. al.

    my continuing, not necessarily consoling, thought is the fact that all the electronics on which the us is dependent, INCLUDING military weaponry and ships and planes, are manufactured in CHINA. Isn’t it remotely possible that a made-in-China phone could communicate with a planes’ navigation system?

    it seems to be a tossup as to whether the senile old men will destroy the west by a bang (bombs) or a whimper (economic meltdown).

    “May you live in interesting times” indeed!

    12:16edt 3jn

  12. MidwestMike123
    June 4, 2015 at 6:57 am

    Emasculate is a poor choice of words. It has more than one meaning. One is assumed in this context, and the other is quite possible as well.