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‘Just kill them’: New book reveals shocking details about CIA's torture program

A razor wire-topped fence at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where several detainees were sent after being tortured at the US's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) black sites, on 9 April 2014. (Via AFP)

A new book has come up with shocking details of the top American spy agency’s controversial torture program in the early years of the US so-called “war on terror”.

Cathy Scott Clark, a British journalist, and author, speaking at a virtual panel hosted by the New America think tank on Monday, introduced her forthcoming book ‘The Forever Prisoner’, which will hit the stands next week.

She revealed details of an undisclosed meeting of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) where senior intelligence officials discussed various controversial methods to deal with individuals subjected to rendition and "enhanced interrogation techniques".

While examining several options, including holding them in detention, transferring them to another country, and prosecuting them, one top official was cited as asking: "Why don't we just kill them?"

"You hear revelations like that, which I found a bit alarming," she said in a virtual panel.

Her book focuses on the case of Guantanamo inmate Abu Zubaydah, who was interrogated using techniques that amounted to torture, including being waterboarded 83 times in one month, hung naked from a ceiling, and deprived of sleep for 11 consecutive days.

The Guantanamo Bay detention center, also known as “Gitmo” became synonymous with prisoner abuse and torture in the early years of the US so-called “war on terror”.

President George Bush’s administration selected Guantanamo, a desolate place near the eastern tip of Cuba because it was under full control of the US military and relatively close to the mainland, but beyond the reach of American courts.

The idea was that if the detainees were held away from US soil, they would have no legal right to seek a judge’s order of habeas corpus, which protects against unlawful imprisonment.

Guantanamo detainees were subjected to widespread abuse, humiliation, and torture during their interrogations, the accounts of which were gradually exposed to the outside world by the few inspectors who visited the prison and some of the inmates who were released years later.

Clark, who had co-authored six books with journalist Adrian Levy, interviewed several top US military and intelligence officials, including James Mitchell, one of the architects of the torture program.

She also said that despite persistent denial from US officials, there is a link between Mitchell and other creators of the CIA's torture program and gross abuses that occurred at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, which was captured by the US following the 2003 invasion of the country.

The prison witnessed rampant physical, psychological and sexual abuse by American forces.

Clark noted that her book also details “how the CIA's enhanced interrogation program absolutely, definitely led to abuses in the US military as well".

"The same people... were involved in putting together training programs, training materials, training the CIA, training interrogators to go to Guantanamo, training interrogators at Bagram, and then interrogators who went to Abu Ghraib.

"Jim [Mitchell] can rightly say 'I didn't design what went wrong at Abu Ghraib', but he has to accept the responsibility that he created something that got out of control."

Abu Ghraib, once notorious as former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's torture chamber, was under American control from 2003 to 2006.

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