Alex Constantine - October 6, 2009
By Daphne Eviatar
The Center for Constitutional Rights says it just learned today that the government has videotapes of the interrogation of its client, Mohammed al Qahtani, a Saudi Arabian man who was subjected to the “First Special Interrogation Plan” overseen by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Although CCR has been representing al Qahtani for years, since at least October 2006, when he filed his petition for habeas corpus with the federal court, the government never disclosed the existence of these videotapes, CCR said today, although they should have been turned over as potentially exculpatory evidence.
The videotapes, which a judge has ordered the government to produce, are expected to reveal al Qahtani’s condition toward the end of three months of intensive solitary confinement and isolation just before the special interrogation plan was implemented. In a letter to his superiors, FBI Deputy Assistant Director T.J. Harrington described al Qahtani at the time as “evidencing behavior consistent with extreme psychological trauma (talking to non-existent people, reportedly hearing voices, crouching in a corner of the cell covered with a sheet for hours on end).” Harrington was reporting on the possible abuse of men in U.S. custody.
The interrogation of al Qahtani included severe sleep deprivation, isolation, sexual humiliation, prolonged exposure to hot and cold and threats to him and his family.
The government has alleged that al Qahtani intended to participate in the 9/11 attacks, but although the other alleged 9/11 co-conspirators have all been charged by the military commissions, the Convening Authority of the military commissions dismissed the charges against al Qahtani last year.
She has also said that he was tortured.