March 14, 2008, Washington, DC – Today, an attorney from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) provided the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence with an unprecedented classified briefing on details of the CIA’s torture program. Gitanjali Gutierrez, CCR staff attorney, provided a thorough account of what was done to CCR client Majid Khan and of the on-the-ground implementation of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program. For the first time, Congress was briefed on details of the program by an individual independent from the Executive Branch and its official version of the CIA's practices.
The content of the briefing will be withheld from the public because the CIA deems the details classified. The government has required the attorneys for Mr. Khan to agree to a strict protective order to be able to meet with their client that has prevented them from publicly disclosing his treatment.
CCR represents former Baltimore resident and CIA ghost detainee Majid Khan, who spent three and half years in secret CIA prisons before reappearing at Guantanamo in September 2006. In court filings, CCR attorneys have asked a judge to order the preservation of all evidence relating to Majid’s torture at CIA black sites and to declare that the interrogation methods used against Majid constitute torture. The declassified versions of the filings are heavily redacted, with any details of Majid’s treatment censored.
“Few outside of the Bush administration deny that the CIA has been operating a program of state-sanctioned torture,” said CCR attorney Gitanjali Gutierrez. “Yet the CIA seeks to avoid any accountability for its acts and, in fact, clings to its attitude that torture is ‘business as usual.’ As American citizens who learned details about the actual implementation of the torture program, we have turned to the Senate Committee to safeguard this country from an agency that is operating criminally, shamefully and dangerously.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee briefing was only open to members of the committee and their staff.. The briefing came less than a week after President Bush vetoed an intelligence authorization bill passed by both houses of Congress that would have prohibited the coercive interrogation practices publicly believed to be part of the CIA ghost detention program. Last month, CIA Director Michael Hayden officially acknowledged for the first time that three men had been waterboarded by the United States. The White House subsequently defended the use of waterboarding, reserving the right to use it again and controversially reasserting that it does not violate any laws.
"Majid Khan was disappeared and tortured for years by the U.S. government,” said CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren. “This was the first time any member of Congress has had the opportunity to hear what happened to him, but hearing second hand in a secret committee briefing is not enough. It is past time for Congress to intervene to stop torture and secret detention, and for the public to know what has been done in our name.”
CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last six years – sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the first attorney to meet with a former CIA “ghost detainee” now held at Guantanamo. CCR has been responsible for organizing and coordinating a coalition of hundreds of pro-bono lawyers in order to defend the men at Guantanamo. On December 5, CCR represented the detainees along with co-counsel before the Supreme Court; the ruling is expected this spring.
For more information and documents relating to Majid Khan, go to the Khan v. Obama and Khan v. Gates cases page.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.