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Guantanamo Bay detainee from Baltimore County details torture

Majid Khan, a former Maryland resident, says he was subjected to more incidents of mistreatment while in CIA custody at Guantanamo than previously disclosed.
Majid Khan, a former Maryland resident, says he was subjected to more incidents of mistreatment while in CIA custody at Guantanamo than previously disclosed. (AP)

An Owings Mills High School graduate who helped al-Qaida carry out a deadly hotel bombing in Indonesia endured years of torture by the CIA, including being waterboarded in an ice bath, his lawyers said Tuesday.

Majid Khan's attorneys submitted notes describing the harsh treatment for review by the U.S. government, and they were declassified after a formal review. The notes provide new details beyond the actions described in a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's interrogation program.

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The CIA's detention and interrogation program has proved to be one of the most controversial aspects of the U.S. campaign against terrorism after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The partial release of the Senate report in December revealed a campaign of brutal interrogations that yielded limited intelligence, investigators concluded.

J. Wells Dixon, one of Khan's lawyers, said his client's experiences show there are more details that ought to be made public and a need for scrutiny of the interrogation program.

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"As layers of secrecy have been peeled away throughout the Obama administration, we see more and more evidence of CIA savagery and treachery," Dixon said in a statement.

In March, Khan's lawyers at the nonprofit Center for Constitutional Rights submitted notes describing his recollections of his treatment so they could be reviewed for declassification. The government declassified the documents in May, and on Tuesday his attorneys released excerpts describing a campaign that included:

•Being waterboarded twice in 2003.

•Being hung from a wooden board for three days and not fed.

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•Spending nearly all of 2003 in complete darkness.

•Being held in solitary confinement for almost two years between 2004 and 2006.

Dixon called for the complete disclosure of the Senate report and for the Justice Department to reopen a criminal investigation into allegations of CIA torture.

"This is the only way to ensure that the U.S. never again resorts to torture and the only way to move the country forward," Dixon said.

Marc Raimondi, a Justice Department spokesman, said that the probe was thorough and that the department stands by its decision not to file charges against anyone involved in the interrogation program.

The CIA declined to comment, but has said previously that its interrogation program generated information that was useful in confronting Khan after his capture. The agency also has said that information he divulged aided other investigations.

In the CIA's response to the Senate report, the agency said it was cautious about the information Khan provided. "Majid Khan has been uncooperative during debriefings and admitted to withholding information," a CIA analyst wrote, according to the response. "Majid stated his implicit intention to lie to debriefers."

Khan came to Baltimore County in 1996 as a teenager, used his cricket skills to succeed at baseball, got good grades in school and landed a high-paying job. But in 2003 he was captured in Karachi, Pakistan, and accused of plotting with al-Qaida. Khan was held for years in CIA "black sites" before being transferred to the Guantanamo Bay detention center in 2006.

At his arraignment in 2012, Khan admitted that he had taken orders from Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and had delivered $50,000 to an al-Qaida contact in Thailand in late 2002.

The money was used to fund a suicide attack on the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed 11 people and injured 81. Khan said he did not know the money would be used for that purpose.

He could be sentenced to 19 years in prison under a deal struck with prosecutors. His sentence is to be imposed by next year.

Senate investigators, writing in the declassified summary of the torture report, found that Khan provided details of his activities and ties to other terrorists while he was in the custody of a foreign government, whose investigators interrogated him using "rapport-building techniques" rather than violence.

But in CIA custody, the investigators found, Khan was subject to a range of brutal techniques.

The Senate report found indications that Khan was placed in an ice bath, but the account provided by his lawyers goes into greater detail. They say that Khan was shackled and hooded by interrogators and subjected to waterboarding — a technique designed to simulate drowning.

"An interrogator forced Khan's head under the water until he thought he would drown," the lawyers wrote. "The interrogator would pull Khan's head out of the water to demand answers to questions, and then force his head back under the water, repeatedly."

Khan went on hunger strike before he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay, the Senate report found, and tried to hurt himself a number of times, including "an attempt to cut into his skin at the elbow joint using a filed toothbrush."

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