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CIA Held Man at Afghan Black Site, Despite Knowing They Had Wrong Person

© Flickr / Justin NormanTorture
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A recently released internal report from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reveals their agents knew early on they had made an error and arrested the wrong man, yet continued the detention for four months at a clandestine black site.

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German citizen Khaleed al Masri, 53, was brought to a secret prison in Afghanistan in 2004, despite that the agency knew almost immediately that he was not a terrorist and did not know anyone associated with terrorist activities. 

The heavily redacted 90-page report, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), admits that the innocent man was kept in a “small cell with some clothing, bedding and a bucket for his waste.” Masri has long maintained that he was tortured — including being sodomized during a medical examination.

“I was taken from the car, and led to a building where I was severely beaten by people's fists and what felt like a thick stick. Someone sliced the clothes off my body, and when I would not remove my underwear, I was beaten again until someone forcibly removed them from me. I was thrown on the floor, my hands were pulled behind me, and someone's boot was placed on my back. Then I felt something firm being forced inside my anus,” Masri wrote in a statement, released by the ACLU.

Masri claims that he was then dragged across a floor, and surrounded by seven or eight men in ski masks who dressed him in a diaper and track suit before blindfolding him and placing a hood over his head. He documented how he was then thrown on the floor of an airplane, felt two injections, and was rendered “nearly unconscious.” 

When Masri woke up, he was in Afghanistan.

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One of the more repulsive details in the new release, aside from the many pages of redacted text, is that the CIA acknowledged Masri was innocent, but could not figure out how to to release him without admitting that they had made a mistake. Eventually, Masri was dumped in Albania, and the agency pretended the incident never occurred.

The inspector general’s report on Masri’s case blames the wrongful arrest on “a series of breakdowns in tradecraft, process, management and oversight.” One glaring oversight is that his passport went unexamined for months, despite that the premise under which he was detained was that Macedonian security agents believed him to be a member of al Qaida and using a fake passport. Three months into his detention the passport was sent to experts who “promptly determined that al Masri’s German passport was genuine.”

“The lack of rigor in justifying action against an individual suspected of terrorist connections; the lack of understanding of the legal requirements of detention and rendition; the lack of guidance provided to officers making critical operations decisions with significant international implications; and the lack of management oversight,” the report states, in detailing the errors surrounding Masri’s arrest and continued detainment.

Masri is now represented by the ACLU, and is seeking an apology from US President Barack Obama.

“This is the very least President Obama can do… before leaving office,” Jamil Dakwar, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program, wrote in a statement.

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