CIA: Detainee’s torture drawings, writings, “should they exist,” to remain Top Secret

Jason Leopold reports: In 2002, not long after he was subjected to so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” by Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, psychologists under contract to the CIA, high-value detainee Abu Zubaydah made about ten drawings depicting the torture he endured while in custody of the agency.

One of the drawings Zubaydah had sketched captured in incredible detail the waterboarding sessions he underwent. Another drawing showed him being chained by his wrists to the ceiling of a CIA black site prison where he was held and another showed him strapped to a chair and being doused with water as part of a sleep deprivation program, according to two counterterrorism officials who have seen Zubaydah’s drawings.

Zubaydah drew the pictures of the torture techniques he was subjected to on a sheet of paper measuring about 8 x 11 inches and on pieces of paper about the size of an index card. In some instances, Zubaydah drew several of the torture techniques on a single piece of paper.

Zubaydah’s “artwork is very detailed right down to the straps that were used when he was on the waterboard and almost looks like a photograph,” said one of the counterterrorism officials, who requested anonymity in order to discuss classified material.

Brent Mickum, Zubaydah’s attorney, previously told Truthout that in the absence of the 92 interrogation videotapes, which the agency destroyed, the drawings Zubaydah made contain the best description of the torture techniques used against him while he was being held at the agency’s black site prison facilities.

“These are a good group of drawings and he is a pretty good artist,” Mickum told Truthout last year. Mickum said he is prohibited from discussing the contents of Zubaydah’s drawings because it remains classified. However, he said, “the depictions would be of interest” and agreed that Zubaydah “can draw and with great detail.”

Additionally, Zubaydah wrote poetry, short stories, and articles while in CIA custody. The content of his writing, however, is not known.

But the CIA refuses to release any of his drawings or writings and won’t even acknowledge that those materials actually exist. If Zubaydah’s drawings and writings do exist, the CIA said, it would be part of the agency’s “operational files,” which means “records and files detailing the actual conduct of [CIA’s] intelligence activities.”

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