Mock Executions

by Patrick Appel

The long awaited CIA torture report is due out on Monday. Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff have a preview:

According to two sourcesone who has read a draft of the paper and one who was briefed on itthe report describes how one detainee, suspected USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was threatened with a gun and a power drill during the course of CIA interrogation. According to the sources, who like others quoted in this article asked not to be named while discussing sensitive information, Nashiri's interrogators brandished the gun in an effort to convince him that he was going to be shot. Interrogators also turned on a power drill and held it near him. "The purpose was to scare him into giving [information] up," said one of the sources. A federal law banning the use of torture expressly forbids threatening a detainee with "imminent death."

The report also says, according to the sources, that a mock execution was staged in a room next to a detainee, during which a gunshot was fired in an effort to make the suspect believe that another prisoner had been killed. The inspector general's report alludes to more than one mock execution. 

Marcy Wheeler thinks this is why the torture tapes were destroyed, a plausible theory. After reading about Bush-era torture for years researching the subject for Andrew, I thought that I had lost the ability to be shocked, but this goes beyond what even I dreamt possible. The description above reminds me of nothing so much as the Iranian mock executions performed during the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Mark Bowden had a harrowing description of them in his latest book. The Iranians didn't threaten the Americans with drills, as far as I know. What we did actually sounds far worse.