The Forever Prisoner (2021) Movie Script

Alex Gibney: In 2002, from
a secret location in Thailand,
CIA officers
cabled headquarters
with details
about the interrogation
of a prisoner.
Techniques to be used
might cause him to die,
in which case
he would be cremated
so his body
would not be found.
But if he survived,
there was a concern.
Would the agency give
reasonable assurances
that the prisoner
would remain in isolation,
possibly forever?
Headquarters reassured
the team.
The detainee "will never
be placed in a situation
"where he has
any significant contact
"with others
"and should remain
for the remainder
of his life."
Nearly 20 years later,
the CIA has kept its promise.
The detainee lives
in Camp 5
in Guantanamo Prison
on the southeastern tip
of Cuba,
a few hundred yards
from an ocean
he can hear
but is not allowed to see.
He's never been charged
with a crime.
He's never been permitted
to challenge his detention.
He's been told
that will never change.
Alberto J. Mora:
There was a fear and fury
that gripped the nation
after 9/11.
I was in the Pentagon
the day the aircraft hit
and then worked in the Pentagon
for the next four years.
There was the fear
that the next attack
would come tomorrow
or that afternoon
or in the next half hour.
And the fury
at the sheer inhumanity
of 3,000 murders.
There was
a bedrock conviction
that the individuals
who had planned this attack
and executed it
had opted
out of the human race.
I don't think there was
an American who didn't feel
that we had
to go back hard.
That was
the national emotion.
And I think in the process,
we lost our bearings in time.
Lawrence Wilkerson:
We did some really
stupid things
in those first few days
based on our fear
and based on an attempt
to try and secure the people.
There was this expectation
we're going
to get hit again,
it's going to hit
the White House
is going to hit
the State Department.
I looked out my window
and saw National Airport,
and I said, whoa,
that's about ten seconds away.
And I didn't want to stay
in my office, you know.
That's how,
that's how frenetic
the atmosphere was
at that time.
I think those
first few days
were a struggle
in the mind
for the President
and the Vice President.
They had failed
to the order
of Pearl Harbor.
So they were very afraid
the American people
were going
to throw them out.
I want you all to know
this nation stands
with the good people
of New York City
and New Jersey
and Connecticut
as we mourn the loss
of thousands
of our citizens.
George, we can't hear you!
President George W. Bush:
I can hear you.
I can hear you, the rest
of the world hears you,
and the people who knocked
these buildings down
will hear
all of us soon.
In its righteous anger,
America would strike back...
with unmatched
fury and force.
The invasion
of Afghanistan.
Peter Jennings:
If you're just tuning in
for the first time
to watch another program,
it-it's hard to begin
where to tell you
how much has happened today.
Shock and awe in Iraq...
...which led to ISIS.
Which led to more terror
and more targeted killing.
The global war on terror
has cost us
eight trillion dollars.
Nine hundred thousand people
have been killed.
Thirty-eight million
have been displaced.
As President Bush promised,
we have made ourselves heard.
With all our money
and might,
did we inspire the world
with our ideals?
We retreated
from Afghanistan in defeat,
leaving resentment
and betrayal in our wake.
What led us
to this place?
I would argue
that it all started
as a failure
of intelligence,
both of our
intelligence agencies
and ourselves
as citizens
in our refusal
to listen to anything
but what we wanted
to hear.
Live from Camp David,
a special edition
of "Meet the Press"
with Tim Russert.
An exclusive interview with
Vice President Dick Cheney.
And we are green top
in the shadows
of the presidential retreat
at Camp David.
Mr. Vice President,
good morning and welcome.
Morning, Tim.
There have been
restrictions placed
on the United States
intelligence gathering,
reluctance to use
unsavory characters,
those who violated
human rights to assist
in intelligence gathering.
Will we lift some
of those restrictions?
Well, I think so.
I think, uh,
if you're gonna deal only
with, uh, sort of, uh...
officially approved
certified good guys,
you're not going to find out
what the bad guys are doing.
It is a mean, nasty, dangerous,
dirty business out there,
and we have to operate
in that arena.
Uh, I'm convinced
we can do it.
We can do it successfully,
but we need to make certain
that we have not tied
the hands, if you will,
of our
intelligence communities
in terms of accomplishing
their mission.
John Rizzo: I knew
based on my experience
that CIA would be directed,
be given legal authorities
that it had never had.
So I was trying to think
of every conceivable
and legal action
we could take
on a covert basis to counter
what had just happened
and also,
above all, prevent
another 9/11
from happening.
Scatter, scatter,
please go home.
I remember that morning
there was an evacuation
of the CIA headquarters.
Let's go.
I saw my fellow
employees walking,
many running,
to their cars.
It quickly developed
a huge gridlock.
So I thought to myself,
well, to hell with it,
I'm just going
to stay here.
So I closed the door
of my office.
And honestly, in those
first few minutes,
I started scribbling down
uh, the implications
of what was happening
and what CIA
might be asked to do
in the wake
of these attacks.
I was literally brainstorming
at that point.
It was quite clear
with a threat like Al-Qaeda,
we were going to have
a problem with intelligence,
especially the kind
you get on the battlefield.
So people started
looking around
for who could be
the best
to interrogate anyone detained
on that battlefield.
And lo and behold,
there weren't any.
The best we could do
was 12 or 13
who had done it before
at the FBI.
Daniel J. Jones: I came
to the Senate from spending
a number of years in the FBI
doing counter-terrorism work,
specifically Al-Qaeda
international operations.
And I think the CIA
truly believed,
Tenet particularly,
that it was their fault
for not catching 9/11.
After all, they never
passed information
about the hijackers
to the FBI.
So they wanted to be the
individuals with the successes.
They wanted to be
the tip of the spear,
so to speak, in this fight,
notwithstanding the fact
that they weren't prepared.
And this wasn't
something the CIA
has historically engaged in.
But six days after 9/11,
a covert action authority
was signed by the President
giving different US
government agencies,
particularly the CIA,
special secret powers
to battle Al-Qaeda
and keep the country safe.
Rizzo: Capture and detain
senior Al-Qaeda officials.
These are words
I wrote that first morning.
But of course,
prior to 9/11,
CIA had never captured
or detained anybody.
They would sometimes
question people
that a foreign
allied government
had captured overseas.
But we had never
operated a system
where we would do
the capturing
and we would do the holding
and we would do the detaining.
So again, this was
tabula rasa for us
at that point.
It was decided
CIA would be responsible
for the top echelon
of Al-Qaeda.
By that point,
the military had stood up
the detention facility
in Guantanamo Bay.
The thought was that
would be largely preserved
for lower-ranking officials
but that the CIA
would take the lead
for capturing
the higher-level officials.
Jones: The CIA did do
research on detention
and eventually concluded
it was a bad idea.
Somebody said the thought
of holding someone endlessly
is incredibly scary to me.
I don't want to be called back
from retirement to say,
what do I do with this guy?
And yet they begin a detention
interrogation program.
Gibney: The interrogation
program was designed,
in the words of the CIA,
to do something different.
When publicly revealed,
that difference set off
a media firestorm.
George Tenet:
It's been portrayed as this--
we sat around
the campfire and said,
"Oh boy, now we go get
to torture people."
Well, we don't
torture people.
Let me say that again to you.
We don't torture people.
-Come on, George.
-We don't torture people--
-Khalid Shaikh Mohammed?
We don't torture--
-We do not...
-It's torture.
-I don't talk about techniques,
and we don't torture people.
Now listen to--
No, listen to me.
I want you to listen to me.
I know that this program
has saved lives.
I know
we've disrupted plots.
Gibney: For years,
the CIA promoted
its new interrogation program
as a success.
George Tenet was awarded
the Presidential Medal
of Freedom.
The CIA worked closely with
celebrated Hollywood filmmakers
to promote a fable
that its
interrogation techniques
were tough but necessary
and were responsible
for locating the hideout
of Osama Bin Laden.
It's one of the great stories
of our time.
When critics tried to sort
truth from fiction,
they found
alternate accounts hidden
behind the black lines
of redactions
and at the bottom
of shredding machines.
Finding out
what really happened
would require
putting together
bits and pieces
of evidence that remained
along with testimony
not censored by the CIA.
Rizzo: As soon as
the President signed
the Presidential finding,
CIA began planning.
The way I was thinking was
to just pull everything
out of the toolkit.
I mean, we were starting
at square one.
We were scouting
potential locations
where these
Al-Qaeda officials,
if captured,
would be held.
And the event that really
propelled it, of course,
was when we did capture
our first high-level official,
a man named
Abu Zubaydah.
News Anchor:
US officials tell NBC News
Zubaydah may have been
nabbed just in time.
Intelligence reports indicate
he was already planning
the next wave
of terrorist attacks
against US targets.
Gibney: Abu Zubaydah
is the forever prisoner
at the heart of this story.
His capture, detention,
and interrogation by the CIA
is the origin story
of America's failure
of intelligence
and our retreat
from the ideals
we claim to be fighting for.
For many years, it was
an impossible story to tell
because the CIA prevented
key witnesses from talking.
One of those was
the ex-FBI agent Ali Soufan.
When he first testified
in Congress,
he was behind
a black screen.
When he wrote his account
of interrogating Abu Zubaydah,
he was ruthlessly redacted
by the CIA,
which even censored the use
of his own
first person pronoun.
It's very difficult, to me,
to put it out for you
when I cannot talk
about the story,
the, you know
what's going on.
So you can,
you can see that.
You can see here
the one-letter word.
Gibney: Rather than fight
an endless legal battle,
Soufan chose to publish
with whole pages blacked out.
It was the protest
that made my interview
with Soufan very difficult.
You call this guy Boris.
-Is Boris his real name?
I cannot talk about,
uh, about him,
and I cannot even mention
his real name.
This is Boris.
His real name
is James Mitchell.
He also wrote a book
about the interrogation
of Abu Zubaydah.
But Mitchell's book had
the full cooperation
of the CIA.
Because Mitchell was
the inventor of EITs,
the acronym for what
the CIA called
Interrogation Techniques
and what the rest
of the world called torture.
If my boss tells me
it's legal,
especially if the President
has approved it,
I'm not going to get
into the nuances
about what some guy
in the basement
or what some journalist
thinks about it.
Because they're free
to trade places with me
any time they think
they can do a better job
of protecting Americans.
Gibney: If you hear
a little bit of agitation
in Mitchell's voice,
it's on account
of his own frustration
with how the CIA
has portrayed his role.
So we agree
to an interview.
Then I sued the CIA
to get Soufan's book
the CIA backed down.
Soufan agreed to sit down
one more time,
knowing he could now tell me
what really happened.
Since 9/11,
I was nonstop traveling
around the world,
and finally, I came back
around Easter of 2002,
and I was hoping to go with,
uh, spend some Easter time
with the family
in Pennsylvania.
But I got a phone call.
They said, "You're going
to be going to
interview Abu Zubaydah."
They called me because
I've been investigating
Al-Qaeda for a while.
I was involved in the
East Africa embassy bombings,
the "USS Cole" attack,
and I had sources reporting
on Abu Zubaydah.
So Abu Zubaydah wasn't
a character that came
out of nowhere to me.
Abu Zubaydah was
an individual,
a terrorist, an operative,
that I've been following,
uh, on for a while.
And that's why, at the time,
the FBI and the CIA,
they felt that
I should be there
helping the CIA
interrogating Abu Zubaydah.
Abu Zubaydah was captured
in a firefight
in Pakistan,
and he was
immediately whisked
to the then brand-new
first CIA detention facility.
Personnel were assigned there
in, literally, days.
Ali Soufan:
We came with the CIA,
a couple of officers
plus a medic
and two doctors.
They made it clear to us,
me and Steve Gaudin
who was my partner
at the time,
that we're not there
to interrogate Abu Zubaydah.
We're just there to assist
the CIA in the interrogation
because of the knowledge
and the expertise
we have on this subject.
They basically read us
these instructions of,
"Hey, listen, it's
a whole 'nother ball game.
"It's a whole
another world now.
"This is all about preventing
the next September 11th.
This isn't about prosecution."
It changed...
the scope and nature
of pretty much everything
Ali and I had probably
ever done before to that day.
So we got to this location,
pretty rural area.
It wasn't like
we walked into
this nice, beautiful "site,"
so to speak.
It was just like a house.
Next thing we know,
an ambulance gets there,
and they carry Zubaydah
by Ali and I
into the house.
Soufan: Abu Zubaydah
was finally captured
in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
He tried to escape,
and he was shot in the process.
So he required
intensive medical care.
Steve Gaudin:
He had been shot
a number of times,
mostly abdominal
and in the leg.
But, and this was very strange
to both Ali and I,
the folks in charge
for some reason
were starting to doubt
whether or not
he was actually Abu Zubaydah.
We went to the chief of base,
and we said, "When do you want
to start the interview?"
And he said,
"Look, me and my guys,
"we have no idea
who the guy is.
"We don't know anything
about these groups.
You know about this guy,
don't you?"
We're like, "Yeah."
He said, "Well, pff,
"what are you waiting for?
Go and start
interrogating him."
So Steve and I,
we go in.
Abu Zubaydah was handcuffed
to the gurney.
He has a bag, a big bag
on his, on his head.
I said, "Salaam alaikum,
alaikum as-salaam,
peace be upon you."
And I said,
"What's your name?"
And he looked very different
than the pictures.
He does not have a beard.
It seems that he had
some procedure
in order to alter
his, his shape.
And he had a cloudy eye.
One of his eyes was,
like, getting infected,
and he was kind of
looking confused,
"Who the heck is this guy
who's speaking Arabic to me
and where the hell
am I, right?"
So I said,
"What's your name?"
And he said "Daoud,"
one of his aliases.
It means David in Arabic.
And I said, "Okay,
so what if I call you Hani?
He had that, "oh, my gig is up"
look on his face.
Hani is the name
that his mother
nicknamed him as a child.
So he was shocked to hear
that name coming from me.
Hesham Abu Zubaidah:
His birth name actually
is Zayn al-Abidin.
But my mother
called him Hani.
And he was five
or six years older than me.
He was a really great artist.
He, he liked to draw.
I remember the first drawing
I saw from him.
He had a hand holding a pen
and drawing an eye.
And the eye had
a tear coming out it.
He carried pain with him.
He used to express
his feeling by drawing.
When I go
through his diary,
I have so much good memory
with that guy.
He was a really nice,
funny older brother.
I don't remember
his being religious.
He used to play piano,
he used to have
a girlfriend upstairs,
you know,
and he used to smoke,
go out with his friends.
Gibney: When Abu Zubaydah
was captured in Pakistan,
FBI and CIA agents
thought they had nabbed
a diabolical
Al-Qaeda mastermind.
They found photos
of his many disguises,
a bundle of fake passports,
an address book
of Al-Qaeda operatives,
and a videotape
taken from a hideout
in Afghanistan.
Gibney: If the video
was incriminating,
there were other materials
that showed evidence
of a more complex character.
There was a diary in which
the young Hani spoke
to himself in the future,
hoping that that future Hani,
Hani number two,
would have the wisdom
to understand
the troubled life
of Hani one,
a Palestinian in exile.
The ship
is like a ghost...
Gibney: After growing up
in Saudi Arabia,
he left home
and spent a few years
traveling the world,
gliding in and out
of colleges,
odd jobs, and love affairs.
His diaries are filled
with hookups and romances
as he tries to reconcile
his sexual desires
with the dictates of Islam.
From Bangkok to Manila
to St. Louis,
he was a rootless wanderer
whose life soundtrack was
the music of Chris de Burgh.
Can you hear me?
Hear my call
Gibney: In 1991,
he found himself in India,
harboring a growing anger
over Israel's treatment
of his fellow Palestinians.
That sense
of injustice led him,
like so many Muslim men,
to the land of jihad.
"To hell with Chris de Burgh"
wrote Hani 1,
"I desire to be a martyr."
Take me home
Soufan: Abu Zubaydah
went to Afghanistan
in the early '90s.
And during a battle
against the Najibullah regime,
he was hit with a bullet,
and he lost his memory.
After he recovered,
he went to Al-Qaeda,
and he said he wanted
to join Al-Qaeda.
But they were very hesitant
to allow somebody
like him to join
because of his
state of mind.
So the approval never came,
and he took it personal.
And I don't think he ever
forgave Al-Qaeda for that.
So he started
to do it himself.
Gibney: He became
an independent facilitator
based in Pakistan,
forging passports
and arranging travel
and connections.
He established
a secret network
among many of the jihadis,
who wanted access to
the Khalden training camp
in Afghanistan.
While many came
from different groups
and for different reasons,
Khalden became
a recruiting pool
of operatives
for Bin Laden.
Khalden was not part
of Al-Qaeda,
but many in Washington
were convinced it was.
Rizzo: Abu Zubaydah,
in those early days,
was deemed a very big fish
in the Al-Qaeda organization.
He was one of the few names
that was certainly
recognizable to me.
Prior to 9/11,
the intelligence we had
on the Al-Qaeda hierarchy
was woefully lacking.
Beyond Bin Laden
and his deputy al-Zawahiri,
we really had picked up
the identities
of very few
of the more senior
Al-Qaeda officials.
Abu Zubaydah was
one of the few
that had actually come up
on the radar screen.
And he seemed
to be popping up constantly
as a facilitator,
perhaps operational commander.
Every time, seemingly,
we would chase down
a possible lead
to an Al-Qaeda facility
or individual,
Abu Zubaydah's name
would be attached to it.
In his pre-9/11 diaries,
Abu Zubaydah distanced
himself from Bin Laden.
While he railed against America
for its support of Israel,
he objected to the way
that Bin Laden
was willing
to kill innocents.
Still, he operated
as a kind of travel agent
for all kinds of jihadis,
including Al-Qaeda
foot soldiers.
That confused the CIA.
Field agents identified him
as an independent.
But analysts in Washington
were determined to believe
that he was the number three
or four in Al-Qaeda.
It appears that they thought
he was a central character
from whom they could extract
all manner of intelligence
on Al-Qaeda
for the one hand
and, more importantly,
for intelligence
on what was coming next.
Our main goal was to see
if there is
imminent threat,
so we didn't really
have time to play.
So during that conversation,
we said,
"How do you think
you get caught, Hani?
"What were you doing
that led us to you?
What mistakes did you do?"
And all of a sudden,
he talked about an operation
that he was planning to do.
There was an attack in a country
friendly to the United States.
We forced the US government
to hand over a copy
of Ali Soufan's notes
from his interrogation
of Abu Zubaydah.
The plot revealed
by Zubaydah
involved $100,000
from Saudi Arabia
for an operation to be
conducted in Palestine.
It was a pretty
advanced operation.
So he thought because
of all these calls
and what he was trying to do,
he got caught.
We had no idea
about that operation.
So we, uh, wrote it.
We sent it back
to headquarters,
and we waited.
Back at CIA headquarters,
George Tenet was thrilled
that Abu Zubaydah was talking
and helping to prevent
future plots.
He wanted to congratulate
the CIA agents involved.
But when Tenet was told that
FBI agents were responsible,
he flew into a rage.
He ordered his subordinates
to find a CIA team
to take over
the interrogation.
The FBI officials on the scene
thought that Zubaydah
was cooperating
and that they were building
a rapport with him.
That was not articulated
to me at the time.
CIA officials were convinced
that he was withholding
far more sensitive
and important stuff,
so I was not told that,
look, the FBI guys think
Zubaydah is telling
everything he knows.
It's just going
to take some time.
But if I had been told
and I'd relayed that
to my CIA management,
I think the response would be,
from CIA management,
"Well, time is
the one thing we don't have."
Gibney: Time plays
a strange role in this story.
There was enormous pressure
to get information
out of Abu Zubaydah
to prevent future attacks.
That's usually
the rationale for torture.
It's called
the ticking time bomb theory.
While the bomb is ticking,
there's no time
to play nice
with bad guys.
But strangely,
the CIA wasn't ready
to take the gloves off.
The agency needed to invent
a new kind of interrogation
that would not land
its agents in jail,
and that would take time.
Meanwhile, in Thailand,
FBI interrogators
were getting
vital information
out of Abu Zubaydah
Out of the blue,
the CIA sent a cable
telling the agents
to stop the interrogation.
That confused
the FBI agents.
What happened
to all the urgency?
But orders are orders.
They were told
to wait for a team
from CIA headquarters
to arrive.
Back in Washington,
the CIA was desperately
trying to figure out
who should be on the team.
And now, there was
no more time left to lose.
The video you're about to see
is a deposition from a lawsuit
brought against key players
of the CIA
interrogation program.
Woman: Can you raise
your right hand, please?
Do you
solemnly swear that...
Other right hand, please.
Gibney: The man wearing
the blue and white tie
is Jose Rodriguez.
In 2002,
he was the head
of the CIA's
Counterterrorism Center,
or CTC.
-Yes, I do.
-Gibney: He was the man
Tenet leaned on to replace
the FBI interrogators
and to find someone
to invent overnight
a new CIA
interrogation program.
Lawyer: I want
to direct your attention
to the time period
in which, um,
doctors Mitchell
and Jessen were hired.
-Lawyer: Um...
And, uh,
for the record,
doctors Mitchell and Jessen
are here today.
Um, did you select
Dr. Mitchell
to work with CTC?
Once he was recommended
and I met, uh, Dr. Mitchell,
yes, I recommended him
to continue working with us.
Lawyer: Okay.
Um, I want to read you
a passage from your book
"Hard Measures."
-Do you see that there?
-Rodriguez: Mm-hmm.
-Lawyer: That looks like you.
-Rodriguez: That looks like me?
Yeah. Um...
and, um, if you could take
a look at page 55.
-Rodriguez: Mm-hmm.
-Lawyer: You see that?
And in the second
full paragraph
is the sentence, "Within
two days of AZ's capture,
"we tracked down
the contractor
"and asked if he would
accompany a team
"of CTC officers
to the black site
where we hoped Abu Zubaydah
would be interrogated."
-Do you see that?
-Rodriguez: Yes.
Lawyer: First of all,
the reference to AZ
is Abu Zubaydah, correct?
-Rodriguez: Correct.
-Lawyer: And the reference
to the contractor
is Dr. Mitchell.
Is that correct?
-Rodriguez: Correct.
-Lawyer: Okay.
How did you reach him
within two days
of AZ's capture?
Well, I assume that
he was at headquarters.
Somebody, you know,
somebody reached him.
I did not reach him myself.
Somebody in
the Counterterrorism Center
reached him.
Jim Mitchell was identified
because one of
the chief lawyers
in the
counterterrorism division
happened to be married
to another CIA employee
who was in something called
the Office
of Technical Services.
This involved psychologists.
And there was
a psychologist on contract,
Jim Mitchell,
who had written
a report for the CIA.
This report was based
on what was believed
to be an Al-Qaeda manual,
and it included details
on interrogations.
Gibney: The manual was called
"The Manchester Manual"
in honor of where it was found
in Manchester, England,
by Ali Soufan.
Soufan: I was
in Manchester investigating
a member of Al-Qaeda.
And we did
a search of his house
where we found
a handwritten book,
"The Manchester Manual."
It's mostly
about urban warfare.
And it has a section about
what happens if you get caught.
What should you
expect to endure?
It talks about
very harsh techniques,
beatings, rape,
they're going to be sodomized,
their family going
to be tortured.
These are the things
that were ingrained
in the head
of Qaeda operatives.
Soufan recognized it
as a kind of
terrorist pamphlet.
But the CIA imagined
it might be
a window into
the Islamist mind.
So they hired a psychologist
named James Mitchell
to analyze it.
He and his colleague,
Bruce Jessen,
concluded that the manual
was a diabolical guide
to play mind games
on interrogators,
which could only be overcome
through harsh physical
and psychological
Even though those
techniques were milder
than the torture
expected by the manual,
the message found favor
at the agency.
Mitchell, who had
no experience
interrogating anyone,
was the only candidate
for the job of inventing
the CIA's new system
of interrogation.
Jones: There was
no blue ribbon commission.
There was no outreach
to the FBI
or to the Department
of Defense
or any other US agency,
or foreign entity,
for that matter.
The CIA's hiring policy
was much more casual.
A CTC lawyer whose pictures
have been scrubbed
from the internet
just asked his wife
if she knew anyone
who might be good
for the job.
Jones: This lawyer says,
"Abu Zubaydah's been captured.
I don't know what we're going
to do with this guy."
And she says, "Well,
I got a guy in my office
"who just wrote a report
"on this believed-to-be
an Al-Qaeda training manual.
You should talk to him."
Mitchell: I got
a phone call from the CIA
and they said, "You need
to come in tomorrow."
I was curious
because that was,
you know, that sounds like
comic book, uh, material.
So I went.
I parked in the furthest space
in the parking lot,
the only place
I could find.
That building is a labyrinth
of hallways and rooms.
I got to the door,
and they rushed me
into the room,
told me that they had
captured Abu Zubaydah,
and asked me
if I would deploy
with the interrogation team
to help them... recognize
if he was using
sophisticated resistance
to interrogation techniques
to resist
providing information.
Lawyer: He said he provided
psychological support.
What does that mean?
He provided, uh, research
and applied
psychological support,
-uh, to the agency.
-Lawyer: Mm-hmm.
Um, so he did research?
I assume so.
You don't know?
Jones: So Jim Mitchell
walks in the door,
says that I have experience
in interrogations,
describes what he would do,
and Jose Rodriguez says,
"You're hired,
"and we're going
to put you on a flight
to the first detention site
right now."
No other vetting.
Those first few days
were very chaotic.
He was very wounded
and sometimes while we
were talking to him,
the doctors had to come in
and change bandages,
or change dressings.
And sometimes, the,
the medical folks would say,
"You can't talk to him
for a little while.
We need to let him rest."
They said he was dehydrated.
So Stephen and I
were caring for him.
We put ice on his lips.
Ali is holding his hand.
Ali's rubbing his forehead.
Ali's praying with him,
saying, "Hang in there, brother.
"Don't worry. We're going
to take care of you.
You're going to be okay."
He defecates
all over himself.
Later on, I don't know,
two or three o'clock
in the morning,
the medic came in
and he said,
"Is this guy important?"
And I said,
"Yeah, I believe so."
He said,
"Well, if, you know,
"if you think
he knows information,
"you better get it
from him now.
You better go
and talk to him now."
I said, "Why?"
He said, "Because he's septic.
"I don't think he will live
to see the morning."
So the chief of base wrote
a cable about the situation,
and the answer came back,
short and sweet:
"Death is not an option."
We had to come up
with a cover story
to take him to a hospital.
We were wearing
military uniforms,
said he was one
of our soldiers,
that he went crazy
and he got shot.
And that's why we're
taking him for medical care.
Abu Zubaydah,
top field commander,
is talking.
The trouble is,
American interrogators
are not sure
whether to believe him.
Donald Rumsfeld:
I don't know
that I want to give
a day-to-day report
on, on his, uh,
how enthusiastic he is
about his situation.
Um... he is not well.
He's got
several bullet holes in him,
and, uh...
well, how fast he'll recover
and when he'll start
cooperating, time will tell.
Jones: While Abu Zubaydah
is in the hospital,
things begin to change.
It's during
this period of time
that Jim Mitchell is sent
to the detention site.
He goes merely
as an observer
and to provide feedback
to CIA headquarters.
But his influence
becomes very clear.
They talk about
returning Abu Zubaydah
to the detention site
in an all-white room,
which is very bright,
kept cold.
He'll be kept naked
and sleep deprived.
These are the ideas
that are coming about.
Even though he's not
particularly doing
the interrogation,
these are his ideas
that he's pushing forward.
Gibney: They weren't
asking you at that time
to help with interrogations,
or were they?
Not to do
They were help-- asking me
to help brainstorm
with the interrogation team,
the whole interrogation team,
uh, any countermeasures
that they might use,
if he was employing
resistance techniques.
Soufan: He stayed
in the hospital, recovering.
We get a clearance
from the doctors
that we can talk to him,
and we went back
to talking about
what he knows
about a plot.
So I asked him,
"Do you know if Bin Laden
is planning to do anything?"
He said, "Yes,
Al-Qaeda is planning
"to do something.
He has his own people."
I said, "Are you aware of
an operation that's ongoing?"
He said, "Yes,
there's an operation
against an American facility
in a foreign country."
So I said,
"Who's doing this operation?
He said, "al-Zayyat."
We know al-Zayyat
is an alias
for Abu Mohamed al-Masri,
who was the mastermind
of the East Africa
embassy bombings.
Gaudin: So Ali and I
came up with a plan
to show him a photo
of this guy,
and if he identifies him,
he's working with us.
I'm not saying he's giving us
the keys to the kingdom,
but we can walk out
of the room and go,
"Hey, I think we're
at the point now we can
start asking him questions
to answers we don't know."
So I had
this electronic organizer,
the HP Jordana.
Steve had downloaded
the poster of
the 22 most-wanted terrorists
that the FBI released
after 9/11.
It had the people
who were involved
in the East Africa
embassy bombings,
the "USS Cole,"
and the Khobar bombing.
All these individuals,
from Mugniyah
to Bin Laden.
So, Steve clicks a photo,
gives me the Palm Pilot.
I didn't look at it to check
if it's the right person,
but I showed Abu Zubaydah.
I said, "Is this the guy?"
And Abu Zubaydah said,
"No, it's not."
I was convinced that al-Zayyat
is Abu Mohamed al-Masri,
and I thought that
he's playing games.
So I was really frustrated.
I'm like, "Dude,
we saved your life.
"We're sitting here
like your next of kin,
and you're still
playing games with us."
And Abu Zubaydah
had enough of me.
He said, "Come on, brother,
I'm not playing games.
You know who the guy is."
I said,
"Who the fuck is he then?"
And he said,
"Well, this is Mokhtar."
And when he said "Mokhtar,"
my heart stopped.
Mokhtar, as Abu Zubaydah
identified from the picture,
was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
After 9/11, we had
an operation in Afghanistan
where they found videotapes
and documents
in Al-Qaeda's
military community.
One of the videos
is Bin Laden talking
to a paraplegic mullah.
He's talking about 9/11,
praising the operatives
and the operation.
And every time he talks,
he points towards
an individual
next to the camera
and he says, "Mokhtar."
Soufan: And then he starts
talking about people
having dreams that
there is Al-Qaeda
playing karate
with America
and Mokhtar is the trainer,
and he's pointing
at Mokhtar.
So we knew that
Mokhtar is important,
but we had no idea
who Mokhtar was.
But we cannot show
Abu Zubaydah that we
did not know that.
So I said,
"Oh, Mokhtar."
He said, "Yeah, you know,
the guy who did
the plane operation."
Basically 9/11.
So he told me that
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed
came to visit him.
He had a plan
to take Cessna planes
and fly them into
the World Trade Center,
and he needed resources
for this operation.
Zubaydah told him,
"This is way above me.
I don't have this capability,
nor such resources."
But according
to Abu Zubaydah,
when KSM briefed
the idea later on
to Osama Bin Laden
and some of his
senior lieutenants,
Bin Laden was
not excited about it.
He commented, "Why do you
want to go to war
"with an axe
when you can go
with a bulldozer?"
Man: You better
get out of the way!
But again, we cannot
make him feel
that he gave us something
we didn't know.
So I looked at the picture,
I'm like,
"Oh, Steve,
you gave me KSM's photo,
come on, man."
And Steve looked at it,
and then Steve realized
exactly what was going on.
We leave the room and Ali
and I are just shaking.
Did that really just happen?
We just identified
who did 9/11.
That was a huge moment.
So we send it to the CIA.
We were kind of, like, high.
We just identified KSM
as the mastermind of 9/11,
and we get another plot.
You know, we were doing our job
and you just feel that,
you know, wow,
it's working well.
Right. So you're pleased
about that.
Rizzo: I was still hearing
progress reports nightly
from our CIA people.
And they were
increasingly convinced
that while he was providing
some good information,
he was definitely
holding back
on the more important stuff,
namely the location
and timing
of another
major terrorist attack.
So that led to people from
our Counterterrorism Center
deciding that the normal
interrogation techniques
that had been applied
up to that point
weren't going to work.
Something more aggressive
had to be done.
Abu Zubaydah was moved
from the hospital,
and they took him back
to the site
that we originally were in.
And, at the black site,
a new team from CTC
had shown up.
The team was comprised
of individuals
that I will give aliases to,
and these aliases
I used in my book.
So there is Wilson,
one of the top
CIA behavioral analysts.
He had a lot of experience
in different regions,
especially the Middle East.
I worked with him before.
Then there was Ed.
He's a CIA interrogator.
We did a few
interrogations together.
There was Frank.
He was a polygrapher.
And then they had
a contractor.
I call him Boris.
But since then, he has been
actively vocal, uh, about this,
so I don't think
anybody will mind me
calling him with his real name,
James Mitchell.
The people who had conducted
a lot of interrogations before
failed to do the job
that the CIA wanted.
So they were looking to use
what I knew about psychology
as a weapon
against our enemies
so that we could
get them to talk.
Wilson introduced Mitchell,
saying that he knows
about interrogation.
He has a strategy.
The strategy can work.
Steve and I were just
looking at each other.
I'm like,
"Well, it's working."
You know, "If, uh, if
it's working, why break it?"
Now, it was like,
"Stop what you're doing.
"'The A-Team' is coming in
and they're taking over.
You guys are done."
Mitchell said, look,
you take everything
away from him
to the point that
his life, his death,
his comfort all depends
on the interrogator.
Mitchell said,
and I'll never forget
the way his fingers moved,
"We need to diminish
his capacity to resist."
This way, he will immediately
start cooperating
and give you
everything you want.
And he will see
only one interrogator.
Only one interrogator.
Nobody else.
The next time
you meet with him,
you say, "Our boss
is upset with you."
You introduce the boss,
which is going to be Ed.
And then you walk
and you'll never see him again.
That's it.
So Ed is going to be his god.
Gibney: With a new god
came a new white Heaven.
Years later,
while in Guantanamo,
Abu Zubaydah penned
descriptions and drawings
of what happened
to him in Thailand.
So they put him in the cell.
They put cameras,
hidden CCTV.
They were recording
He's totally naked.
He has nothing.
So then Ed walks in,
and Ed tells him,
"Tell me what
I want to know."
And Abu Zubaydah
looks at him and he said,
"What do you want to know?"
An Ed cannot
tell him anything.
The only thing,
the only thing that Ed can do,
the instructions
from "the expert"
is to turn and get out.
So they add something
to make Abu Zubaydah's life
more uncomfortable:
loud music.
Then, you wait
for 12 hours or so
and then he does it again.
"Tell me what
I want to know."
"Well, what do you
want to know?"
You walk out.
The music that
they played initially
was music
that the guards had.
And it was as bad for us
as it was for him
because we're
in that same building,
not far from where he's at,
and it's blaring.
Eventually, we went
to white noise generators
because nobody wanted
to listen to that music.
So it goes from this
to sleep deprivation,
"24 hours didn't work.
Maybe we need 48 hours.
Oh, 48 hours didn't work.
Maybe we need 72 hours."
And nothing's coming out.
So they decided to go back
to the loud music,
the same song again
and again and again, very loud.
Gibney: Do you remember
what the song was?
I think it was, uh,
Red Hot Chili Peppers.
It was the only CD
that somebody had.
Something like, you know,
it was just going, going around.
What I got you got
to give it to your mama
What I got you've got
to give it to your papa
I used to like them until now.
I never listened to them again.
Give it away, give it away,
give it away now
Give it away,
give it away,
give it away now
Give it away, give it away,
give it away now
I can't tell if I'm
a kingpin or a pauper
I spoke with Wilson,
the other psychologist,
and I said,
"This is crazy."
And he said, "Look, this guy
is supposedly an expert.
"He knows what he's doing.
"What if he's successful?
That will be really good.
"You know, we don't have
the time and the experts
"to talk to
all these people.
Give him a chance."
But I looked at Wilson,
and I think
he was just being
a good soldier
and saying
the company line.
But a decision has been made
in a place way higher
than all of us.
At one point, they had
everything approved
by Gonzales.
And my thing is like,
"Who the hell is Gonzales?
Is he from DOJ?"
I had no idea
who Gonzales was at the time.
And he said, "No, I,
I think he's Bush's lawyer."
I was like,
"But is he part of DOJ?
He said,
"I... don't think so.
I think he's part
of the White House."
So I said,
"No, we need DOJ."
They came back and said,
"DOJ gave verbal approval."
"Verbal approval
don't mean anything.
"You're in the CIA.
I'm in the FBI.
"You know what
the saying is,
if it's not on paper,
it doesn't exist."
Gibney: The man
who gave verbal approval
was John Yoo from
the Department of Justice.
He provided
unofficial reassurance
to the CIA,
the White House,
and the US Attorney General
that Mitchell's experiments
need not be considered torture
as long as the interrogators
didn't intend
to cause severe pain
or suffering.
These things were going on
in April, in May.
all intelligence
that was
flowing before stopped.
And people in D.C.
were asking...
"What's going on?"
A few days and nothing
is coming out from that base.
Even though everything
that they requested
has been approved.
And nothing's coming out.
So Wilson mounted
a campaign
to bring Steve and I back
to the interrogation room.
And this was
the first violation
of the cardinal rule
of Mitchell,
that he will only see
one person.
It is going to be Ed,
and he's his god.
Now, all of a sudden...
we're back.
I made a cup of tea, and I
brought it to Abu Zubaydah,
I said, "Take it.
That will make you feel better."
We covered him
to help him warm up.
That's something
I told Wilson
when he brought us back in.
I said, "I will never talk
to him naked. Period.
"I will never do that.
I know that's your rule.
It's approved by Langley,
but I won't go in."
Abu Zubaydah took the tea,
he drank some,
and he looked at me
and he smiled.
It was tough
to reengage Abu Zubaydah.
He really had no clue
what's happening,
But we tried
to reengage him,
and we were able
to bring him back.
We started the rapport again.
And sometimes
he's that guy
that you can sit down
and talk to about everything,
from social justice
to economic justice.
That guy wasn't
a typical Qaeda operative.
Rarely he talked
about religion.
He was more into
American corporations
controlling the world,
the United States
destroying grain
and agricultural products
to maintain prices,
and the fact that
Americans spend more money
on their pets
when people are hungry
around the world.
And I don't argue with him.
I take these opportunities
for us to build rapport.
So I can be lectured
about all these
kind of things,
you know,
I give him something.
This is one of the things
that I give him,
to lecture me
about his views
of the United States
and the world.
So I said, "Look, I'm going
to go and get a soda.
You want anything?"
He said, "Pepsi."
I said,
"Are you kidding me?
"After lecturing me
for an hour
"about American corporations,
you want Pepsi?"
He said, "Yeah,
I'm embarrassed,
but I like Pepsi."
But Mitchell continued
to interfere.
Like, one point,
for example,
we came to talk to him,
Steve and I.
We walked in the room,
in the cell,
and it was freezing cold.
Freezing cold.
And remember, Abu Zubaydah
was totally nude
and on the floor,
on a cement floor.
He looked bluish.
I went back and said,
"Are you playing
with the temperature?"
And he said,
"No, no, no."
I said, "Well, go
and check him out."
So he puts a mask,
he goes in,
he checks his vitals,
and he comes back.
And he was basically like,
There's nothing going on.
He's fine."
As if we're making
that thing up.
Gibney: And it was
temperature manipulation--
Well, I saw
that temperature.
I saw the temperature
manipulation thing,
but I don't recall--
I don't actually re--
And I have no reason
to hide it. I--
because I don't,
you know what I mean?
But I don't remember
temperature manipulation.
I don't remember anybody
specifically manipulating
the temperature.
I don't remember that.
I've seen it in reports.
If it happened, it wasn't
while I was there.
He was nude a lot.
That was something that was
discussed with the physicians
because he had
a pretty severe leg wound,
and they were concerned
about infection.
I'm not saying that that's
the only reason he was nude.
He was nude to make him feel
vulnerable and uncomfortable.
Mitchell seemed to be the one
that everybody
had to defer to,
and we would actually be
given questions saying,
"Okay, let's theorize.
"If you were going to do
an attack on the United States,
where would you do
an attack?"
And Zubaydah would say
something like,
"Well, you know,
I would look at your
biggest landmarks,
"something that would
hurt you.
"Maybe the Brooklyn Bridge
or maybe
the Statue of Liberty."
And then we would see on CNN
later that day or the next day,
the Statue of Liberty
is closed.
Brooklyn Bridge just closed.
My God.
It was, it was nuts.
Soufan: Shows you what kind
of an operative he was, right?
He kinda figured out
what's going on.
But the cornerstone
of an interrogation is
what that suspect understands
the evidence
against them to be.
So, for example, we had
three taped calls
from Abu Zubaydah.
But having
Abu Zubaydah think
we only have
three conversation
does not work.
He's going to have
a different impression
of the information
that we have against him.
So we bought a few dozen
empty audiotapes,
painstakingly marked
all these tapes
and planned
the interrogation
so that every time he is trying
to lie about something,
we turned the conversation
into a tape
that we already have.
And by luck,
on one tape,
Abu Zubaydah forgot
to hang up.
So you can hear what's going on
in the background.
So Abu Zubaydah thought
that all these tapes
are not only phone calls.
He thought we had
a wire in his house.
So we changed his impression
of what we have on him.
And he starts talking.
After the "USS Cole,"
the Taliban shut down
all the Arab training camps
in Afghanistan.
So when Khalden
was shut down,
Abu Zubaydah doesn't have
a job anymore
to bring people
to Khalden.
So he came to Afghanistan.
And this is actually
the first time
that he met
Osama Bin Laden.
And when he arrived,
they said,
"Oh, so this is Abu Zubaydah
that we hear about."
He became very well known
in the jihadi networks.
He gets the money,
he gets the operatives.
He can smuggle people
left and right.
Anything you need,
Abu Zubaydah can get it.
So they gave him
protection in Kandahar,
and he was working with them
and he was trusted.
And then 9/11 happened,
and Abu Zubaydah decided
to also capitalize.
Soufan: He wanted
to put a video out,
sell it
to Western media...
Soufan: ...saying that
all the Arab Mujahideen
now are under Bin Laden.
He is their emir
in the fight
against the United States
and so forth,
and he wanted to do
different operations.
They got intelligence
that Abu Zubaydah had sent
an American citizen
named Jose Padilla
to KSM
so that he could send him
to the United States
to join "the others
already on the ground"
and do possibly
a dirty bomb
or if not that,
some other kind of an attack.
And actually,
it was not, uh...
it was not
the Muslim FBI agent
that got the information
about Jose--
You mean Ali Soufan?
It was not Soufan,
it was the other one
whose name
I can't give you,
uh, because
it's still protected
by the government,
regardless of what's known
in the press, right?
So, uh, what happened
that night was
they had been, uh...
This was a strange moment
in the interview.
Mitchell felt he needed
to throw shade on Soufan,
whom he called
"the Muslim agent."
But he also acknowledged
that the FBI, not the CIA,
obtained critical information
about Jose Padilla.
Later on, the CIA would try
to rewrite the story
and claim EITs
caused Abu Zubaydah
to spill
the beans about Padilla.
That claim was false.
Padilla was arrested
because of smart police work.
We got some information
from Abu Zubaydah
about two individuals.
Put it in a cable
and some smart
intelligence officer
in Pakistan looked at it
and was like,
"Wait a second,
I just saw the passports
"of these two guys.
It seems they fit
the description."
Someone was able to say,
"You know what?
There were these two guys,
"there was an American
and British guy,
and the American was here
to get a new passport."
They just pulled on the thread
until they figured,
okay, is this the guy?
My understanding is that
Abu Zubaydah
had actually identified
the photo of Padilla.
And I think Padilla
was arrested in May 2002.
Well, he didn't identify
a picture of Padilla.
Your understanding
is incorrect.
-He mentions--
-Gibney: You're absolutely sure?
-I was there.
-Gibney: Uh-huh.
I was there...
for all of those interrogations
and watched all of them.
So, yeah,
I'm absolutely sure.
Actually, according to
declassified cables,
Abu Zubaydah
did identify Padilla's photo.
Zubaydah also revealed
that Padilla was not
the terrorist mastermind
the CIA imagined him to be.
Soufan: They wanted to go
to the United States,
hijack a uranium truck,
steal the uranium,
and build a dirty bomb.
And Abu Zubaydah said, "So how
do you enrich the uranium?"
And literally, they told him,
"We put it in a bucket
"and we turn
the bucket very fast,
and then that's how
it will be enriched."
And he was just like,
"Yeah, that does not work."
Zubaydah was like,
"Yeah, yeah, yeah,
that's exactly
what we should do."
But he was placating them.
I don't need this guy
to make a bomb.
I need this guy because
he has an American passport.
He knew the value
that it could have
to people that were actually
planning real operations.
Soufan: He called KSM
and he told him,
"I'm sending you these two
operatives, see what they have.
If you can use them in
an operation, they are yours."
KSM did send Jose Padilla
to the United States
allegedly to blow up a series
of apartment buildings.
He was arrested
in Chicago on May 8th,
just 15 days after
Abu Zubaydah identified him.
Despite Abu Zubaydah's
the CIA and Mitchell
kept pushing
to turn up the heat.
Soufan: Even when we
were allowed back in
under our condition,
they still
were playing games.
One day I walked in and
I saw a big coffin in the room.
I actually went in it.
I'm telling you,
it's not a good feeling.
You try to be professional.
You try to focus
on the mission.
But unfortunately, you know,
every day you bring him back,
and then they try
to play that game again.
And at this point,
everything that I was seeing
was kind of like
borderline torture.
But now we're even
crossing that line.
So I called
FBI headquarters.
I asked to speak
with my boss in New York.
I said, "Please,
I-I need to leave.
"I-I cannot stay here.
"If I stay here, I...
"I will probably
arrest that guy.
I mean, this is crazy."
So he said, "Okay,
I need you to leave
the location immediately."
And that was the end
of my involvement
in the black site.
Gibney: Soufan and
the CIA polygrapher returned
to the United States.
Mysteriously, the entire
interrogation team
soon followed.
All the questions
and answers stopped.
Abu Zubaydah was left alone
in his cell
where the only sound
was the hiss of
a white noise machine.
These are more than 100 pages
of interrogation notes
from Ali Soufan.
Though heavily redacted,
we can see they contain details
about future plots
and portraits of the people
in and around Al-Qaeda,
how they worked,
and what they were planning.
To the FBI,
it was a treasure trove
of evidence and proof
that Abu Zubaydah
was cooperating.
The CIA saw it differently.
Analysts in Washington
were certain
he was holding back
because he wasn't telling them
what they wanted to hear.
It was time to take
the gloves off.
We've tortured before.
We tortured
in the Philippines.
We tortured in Vietnam.
We are one of
the most violent people
on the face of the Earth.
To deny that is
to deny reality.
But we were the leaders
of the effort
to push through
the United Nations
the Convention against Torture
and Cruel
and Unusual Punishment.
We were the leaders
in getting
that phrase in there
that essentially says,
"No in extremis
national security conditions
warrant going beyond this."
After 9/11, we obviated
the whole thing.
We said, because of
national security concerns,
that's out the window.
This was the first time
that torture as a policy
was authorized
by the highest power
in the land.
Gibney: President Bush
paved the way for torture
when he signed an order saying
that the Geneva Conventions
did not apply
to Al-Qaeda.
That allowed George Tenet
to try something different
so long as Abu Zubaydah
was believed
to be a member
of Al-Qaeda.
President Bush today
has decided that Al-Qaeda
is an international
terrorist group
under the treaty.
Gibney: If members
of Al-Qaeda were different
from other prisoners of war,
then perhaps different
interrogation techniques
could be used,
but not so different as
to cause permanent damage,
which could be
evidence of torture.
That led the CIA
to retrofit a program
developed after
the Korean War,
in which we brutalized
our own soldiers
to prepare them to resist
the brutality of others.
If we did it to ourselves,
how bad could it be?
Col. Steven Kleinman:
When I started, I was
a human intelligence officer,
but then I had
an opportunity
to go on the other side
of the table
and work
in resistance training.
The CIA Enhanced
Interrogation Program
is the product
of the government's fear
of what they saw happen
during the Korean War.
the Chinese interrogators
were masterful
in their ability to manipulate.
They knew how to get people
to say things
that they didn't want to say,
and the CIA would say,
"Wow, if they can do that,
what else can they do?"
Allow me to introduce
our American visitors.
I must ask you to forgive
their somewhat
lackadaisical manners,
but I have conditioned them
or "brainwashed" them,
which I understand is
the new American word.
Take this scarf.
And strangle Ed Mavole.
-Hey, Sarge. Cut it out. What--
Quiet, Ed, please.
Now you just
sit there quietly
and cooperate.
Yes, ma'am.
The popular fear
of brainwashing,
making prisoners do
or say anything,
led every branch
of the military
to create schools
for soldiers
to learn how to survive,
evade capture,
resist interrogation
and, if possible, escape.
The so-called SERE School
for the Air Force
near Spokane, Washington,
is where James Mitchell
taught resistance.
Mitchell: The basic course
is several weeks long,
and there's two parts.
There's the bugs
and berries part of it
where, you know, they teach you
how to survive and evade.
And then there's
the second part of it,
which is the resistance
to interrogation lab.
And in that,
they essentially have
what I would call
an undergraduate course
for protecting secrets.
Our emotions
can marshal resources
that we never knew
that we had available.
But those
very same emotions,
either fear or anger
or anxiety,
can also cripple us
in survival situations.
Eyes on the ground!
They expose you to a variety
of interrogation strategies
and teach you
how to resist.
It's a phenomenally
professional program
from, from beginning to end.
And it was Jim Mitchell
who helped develop
that program.
He was actually known for being
a stickler for safety,
because when they're performing
as interrogators,
they were simulating torture.
What we tried
to teach people is
how to be resilient
in the face of stress,
of coercion, even torture,
so that you will not
create propaganda.
I went to SERE School.
SERE School
is teaching people,
if you get captured,
how to stay alive.
It's teaching people
how to resist.
It's not eliciting information
from people.
Jones: These techniques
were used in a coercive way
to get someone to admit
to something they didn't do,
to get them
to say anything.
It was never devised
even by the worst regimes,
as a means to obtain
accurate intelligence.
And that was
Jim's experience.
He was observing
our US service members
being exposed to some
of these techniques
during training.
Gibney: So the purpose
of the school is not
to teach interrogation.
It was to teach people
how to resist interrogation.
-Is that right?
-Yeah, that's the purpose
of the...
That's the purpose
of the survival school,
is to teach people
how to resist interrogation.
But you know what, if you don't
understand interrogation,
you're not going to do
a very good job resisting it.
It isn't gonna happen.
The kind of interrogation
Mitchell was interested in
was rooted in another
psychological experiment
in which dogs were jolted
with electric shocks.
The idea was to create,
in animals,
a feeling called
"learned helplessness."
To get humans
into that state,
interrogators would
subject prisoners
to SERE techniques
until they were helpless
and would do
or say anything.
Lawyer: Why did you think
Dr. Mitchell was qualified?
Because of his experience
with SERE
and because we needed
to do something different
than what had been
done before,
and he looked like
the right person to do it.
Lawyer: Why did he look like
the right person to do it?
Because he had
a tremendous expertise
and, uh...
he, uh, had
a good vision
for what needed
to be done.
What did he have
tremendous expertise in?
Lawyer: What was his,
uh, SERE experience,
to your knowledge in,
at that time?
He had spent
many years, uh,
with the Air Force,
uh, working on SERE.
Lawyer: Okay.
Did he have...
was there any other source
of his tremendous expertise?
Uh, the expertise I was
interested in was SERE.
Once the CIA concluded
that he was
withholding information,
they pulled everybody back
in the early summer,
and it was clear to me
in the conversations that
were going around the table
that they had decided
they were going to use
physical coercion
against Abu Zubaydah.
And I thought...
well, if you're gonna use it,
then you ought
to use something--
not that you should use it
or even that
it was desirable
or even that it was legal.
But if you're going
to do that,
then you ought to consider
using the things
that they've been using
at the SERE schools
because they don't produce
a lot of lasting injuries.
They don't produce injuries.
So I gave them
a list of techniques
that they could consider.
Once they decided
they were going
to go forward with it,
they began to, I guess...
I mean, we've got
all of the documents
released from the CIA,
so it's perfectly...
We can trace it,
you don't have to depend
on my memory.
Interviewer: I'm just
trying to reconcile too,
because we interviewed
James Mitchell,
and he puts the timeline
more towards June, July
that he proposes
the EIT program.
So, I'm just trying
to figure out, I'm just trying--
Well, that's not--
Yeah, that's not correct.
I mean, uh,
by June and July,
I was heavy
into discussions with the,
with the, uh,
Justice Department.
All I can tell you was
I was first told
about this idea
of Enhanced
Interrogation Techniques
in... sometime
in early to mid April.
Gibney: When exactly were
the techniques invented?
The answer is the difference
between a wink and a nod
and a written plan.
In April and May,
Mitchell was experimenting
with SERE techniques
for which he had
no official legal approval.
To go further,
the techniques would have
to be codified
and approved in writing.
Rizzo: There was a team
that came up to my office
one afternoon,
you know, unannounced.
I mean,
I had no preview.
I was just told it was
a matter of some urgency
about an operational proposal.
That's all I knew.
And I was gobsmacked.
My very first reaction was,
you guys are crazy.
This is, we shouldn't
be doing this.
We've never done
this kind of thing before.
But I remember walking
around the CIA compound,
smoking a cigar,
trying to absorb
what I'd just been told.
And I started to play out
the scenarios in my head,
that, okay,
I go in to
the CIA director.
I say,
"We shouldn't do this.
"This is barbaric.
It may
or may not be legal."
And on the other hand,
I thought, well, here
are all the experts.
Saying that, that these kinds
of aggressive measures
are the only ones
that we believe
will cause Abu Zubaydah
to tell us completely
what he knows about
another terrorist attack.
And the idea
of the consequences
was something I couldn't
countenance on myself.
So that led
to a couple meetings
in George Tenet's office
with the senior
CIA leadership.
Lawyer: So did you propose
any other list
other than this list
-to Mr. Rizzo
or to the department?
Lawyer: So you never proposed
any other list
-other than this list
to Mr. Rizzo?
Lawyer: Did you propose
any other list
other than this list
to the Department of Justice?
Mitchell: They began
to work back and forth
with the Justice Department,
but they needed approval
from Tenet to go forward.
And so I met
with Tenet, Rizzo.
Jose Rodriguez
took me up there,
and there were several
other people in the room.
He asked me to describe
the techniques,
and I described them.
Rizzo: They went through
each of these techniques.
Attention grasps,
Sort of a shock and awe
Mitchell: Facial slaps,
a couple of stress positions...
Extended sleep deprivation
for days.
And the most
controversial one was,
of course, waterboarding.
Rizzo: I'd never heard
of waterboarding.
I didn't even know
what the term meant.
Simulated drowning is the way
it was described to me.
And there was another one
that called for a mock burial.
It sounded something
out of Edgar Allan Poe.
I think it was.
So Tenet gets up
to get a cigar.
He didn't smoke
in the building,
but he had a cigar
quite frequently.
He motions with his head
for Rizzo to walk
over there with him,
and he leans forward
and he says in a way
that I don't think
I'm supposed to hear.
"Make sure this is legal
before we go forward
with this."
So that's when I decided
to seek
definitive legal guidance
from the Department
of Justice
as to whether any or all
of these techniques
were legal
and if any crossed
the line into torture.
Gibney: While the lawyers
in Washington worked
to make sure that
no one would be prosecuted
for using Mitchell's techniques
on Abu Zubaydah,
the prisoner himself
remained in Thailand, alone.
When all intelligence stopped
coming from Abu Zubaydah,
Mueller asked Tenet
why the intelligence stopped
from Abu Zubaydah,
what happened
with Abu Zubaydah.
And Tenet's response
to him was,
"Your guys
really messed him up.
So we're, we're trying
to fix him."
This was shocking to me,
because if you are trying
to get EITs approved,
even though you were
doing it before,
if you're trying
to get EITs approved...
because of the
ticking bomb scenario, right,
you don't leave a guy
with nobody interrogating him.
Mitchell: There's a difference
between a ticking time bomb
and a looming time bomb.
At some point,
we realized
that it was
a looming time bomb,
not a ticking time bomb.
Uh, and, um...
So that's-- Of course,
we didn't know it at that time.
You'd have to ask the CIA
why they had that long.
I didn't, you know,
I wasn't in charge.
I didn't do it.
I'm not making light of it.
It was a long time.
Lawyer 2: Do you know
whether Abu Zubaydah
was asked any questions
during the isolation phase?
Did I know?
-Lawyer 2: Do you know now?
-Do I know now?
Uh, I've come--
yeah, I've come to learn that
there was a period of time
where he was
not asked questions.
Lawyer 2: And at the time,
did you know that?
At, at the very beginning,
as the techniques
were being described to me?
-At that point in time?
-Lawyer 2: At the time
when you were seeking
the Department
of Justice's opinion
on the techniques?
No, I don't believe so.
Jones: The CIA is tasked
with stopping the next attack.
Abu Zubaydah has been
providing intelligence
up until this point.
And yet they leave him,
the only
high-value detainee,
alone without any contact.
During that period,
there are analysts still
sending in requirements.
One analyst says,
"I want to learn more
about an individual
"who is in
Abu Zubaydah's address book.
Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti."
Of course,
nobody is around
to ask about
Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.
Nearly a decade later,
we finally obtained
Bin Laden's location,
and it's through a man
named Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.
So this lost opportunity
to ask Abu Zubaydah
in July of 2002,
when he's providing information
about a man in his address book
who is Osama Bin Laden's
personal assistant
is a remarkable failure.
Abu Zubaydah's isolation
was not about Abu Zubaydah.
It was about the politics
and legal opinions, right?
This was the idea
that we need to go hard.
We want it on paper that
you will not prosecute us
for engaging in torture.
From the very beginning
in late 2001,
there were people
in the Agency,
in the
Counterterrorism Division,
in their legal department
discussing torture.
And they're using
the word "torture."
One email says
in the subject line,
"Torture update"
And the lawyers,
not the operators,
not people who are
out in the field,
lawyers are discussing
how the CIA
can engage in torture
without being prosecuted
later on.
And in fact, they reach out
to the Department of Justice
to try to obtain
a declination of prosecution,
which says, "If we engage
in torture,
will you agree
not to prosecute us?"
After that initial
briefing by our people,
I convened a meeting
at the White House.
The initial reaction,
not just of the
Justice Department lawyers,
but the White House counsel,
and the National Security
Council legal advisors
was what
my initial reaction was.
What, what is this stuff,
I mean, you know,
it was just
so beyond anything
any of us could have
even contemplated.
None of the lawyers
assembled there said,
"You guys are crazy.
"This administration
is never going
"to do something
like that.
"This is immoral,
it is illegal.
End of story."
None of them did that.
There's two kinds of lawyers.
There's one
that comes in and says,
"What do you want to do, boss?
I'll tell you if it's legal."
And then there's the other one
that comes in and says,
"What do you want to do, boss?
I'll make it legal."
Well, I found out
there were six of those,
at least six of those
second type
in the administration.
Starts with White House
Counsel Alberto Gonzales.
But the real Machiavelli
in the whole thing,
and that's an insult
to Machiavelli,
was David Addington,
Dick Cheney's go-to man
for everything
of a legal nature.
We used to call him when he was
in the Pentagon, "Weird David."
We thought no one
would listen to David.
He's so crazy.
David was crafting
the, the whole business
of cover for torture
from the
Vice President's office,
using John Yoo
using Jay Bybee.
And the lawyers
are omnipresent.
If you get a bunch of them
whose whole philosophy is,
"Tell me what you want
to do, Mr. President,
and I'll make it legal,"
they mean it.
Jones: At the very end,
end of July,
Condoleezza Rice
is pushing back.
"How can you tell me
"sleep deprivation,
"putting someone
in a coffin-shaped box,
"how can you tell me
this won't result
"in lasting harm?
How could you
possibly say that?"
So Mitchell and company
go back to the SERE Program
and they say,
"Has there ever been
any lasting harm
with these techniques?"
And the SERE Program says,
"Hold on.
"First of all,
this is a training scenario.
"We expose these members
very briefly
"to techniques used
by our enemies
"that don't believe
in Geneva.
"And second of all,
are you thinking
"about using this
for intelligence collection?
Because this doesn't--
this isn't for that."
Raise your right hand.
Gibney: For some reason,
the CIA never consulted
its own experts.
One of them
was Charles Morgan,
a psychiatrist
who had studied
the effects of
the SERE Program
and knew that
some soldiers had died
and many others
suffered from PTSD.
With respect to stress,
it was well known
with the data
we had presented
and were publishing
in the science community
that the level of stress
in the training program
was creating hormone changes
and psychological changes
greater than we'd
ever measured in humans,
in human experiments
and that that stress
was capable
of being traumatic
in the training program,
that it had that capacity.
So, I would have said that.
The second point
would have been
that, um...
as a way of using techniques
to get information,
it was probably
a very dumb idea.
And I would
say that because
the impact of stress
on human cognition
cognitive functioning
and human memory.
Rapport-building techniques
is, is the way to go
if you want
to get accurate data.
That never gets reported
back to Rice.
A month or two later,
we received the final
written opinion,
the first of many
over the years,
now euphemistically
referred to
as the torture memos.
The first memo was predicated
on facts presented
by the CIA.
But it also stated that
if those facts were to change,
the legal basis for torture
might disappear.
And what if the facts
weren't facts at all?
As support for EITs,
the CIA presented
a psychological assessment
of Abu Zubaydah
as a rationale
for why the agency
would have to subject him
to something different.
Here, take a look at this,
or-or scan through it quickly.
-And talk about the
psychological assessment
of how important this was
in terms of setting up
this whole
enhanced interrogation program.
Yeah, this is it.
This is the document.
It's really overly generous
to call this
a psychological assessment.
That's the label
they give to it.
Um, but, um,
what it is,
an-an-and to this day,
so far as I know,
we don't know who wrote it.
What we know is that
it was faxed to John Yoo,
who is a lawyer in the Office
of Legal Counsel
on the 24th of July
of 2002,
when Yoo was drafting
the torture memo.
In the memo that approves
the enhanced interrogation
of Abu Zubaydah,
John Yoo recognizes
that these techniques
could have lasting
destructive effect
on Abu Zubaydah.
And for that reason,
it is important, he says,
to know something
about his background
and psychological profile.
So lo and behold,
this document appears,
which says, here's--
here's who he is.
Soufan: They made
their legal position
based on facts presented
to them by the CIA.
And their facts are what?
That Abu Zubaydah
was not cooperating.
Which is a lie.
He was.
There was a discussion
about the CIA representation
that Abu Zubaydah
is resisting interrogation
and that he's
a trained resister.
But there's no evidence
of that whatsoever.
In fact, all of
the documentary evidence
suggests that Abu Zubaydah
always cooperated.
Joe Margulies: It claims,
"Abu Zubaydah is currently
the third or fourth man
in Al-Qaeda." That's wrong.
He wasn't even
a member of Al-Qaeda,
and we knew that.
There was only one person
who ever identified
Abu Zubaydah
as number three
or four in Al-Qaeda.
And we know this
because CTC legal,
the top of CTC legal,
the people who's providing
this information
to the Department of Justice,
discussed the fact
that there was one person
who said this
and the person
retracted that
in June or July of 2002,
prior to
the DOJ legal opinion.
Yet they keep it in there.
"A planner of
the September 11 hijackings."
That's wrong.
"Alleged to have written
Al-Qaeda's manual
on resistance techniques."
That's wrong.
"Involved in every major
terrorist operation."
That's wrong.
"Served as
the operational planner
for the Millennium plot."
That's wrong.
"Directed the startup
of a Bin Laden cell
in Jordan."
"Managed a network
of training camps
for Al-Qaeda."
No. It's-- there's nothing.
The CIA claims
presented as facts
resulted in
official legal approval
for the new Enhanced
Interrogation Techniques.
The only question was
who would decide in the field
when to throw the prisoner
against the wall
and when to waterboard him.
At some point,
Jose Rodriguez came up
to me and said,
"Will you do
these interrogations?"
And I said... "No."
And then one
of his senior guys
leaned into me and said,
"You've watched him now
for months.
"You've seen
all the intelligence.
"You know what
we're up against.
"And if you're not
willing to help,
how can we ask
somebody else to?"
I wasn't willing
to stand by.
I knew that I would feel
much worse about myself
if there had been
a big smoking hole
in Los Angeles
that had killed
a bunch of people
and I had walked away
from something
that the Justice Department
said was legal,
that I was unwilling
to help them with.
I said, "I will do it,
but I need help
because I don't know
everything I need to know."
And they had worked
with Doc Jessen,
so they agreed
to bring him in.
He had been through
several interrogation courses.
He's brilliant
and much more familiar
with these things
than I was.
I don't know exactly
how it happened,
but Jose Rodriguez...
Is that okay?
Jose Rodriguez, uh...
who already had
a relationship with Jim,
they had a discussion
about the tactics,
uh, that are used
at the SERE School to train
not just the standard folks
but the special operators
in particular.
Jose told me that
he asked Jim what he needed,
and Jim said that
he would like me to help him.
Lawyer: So what led you
to conclude that they were
"eminently qualified"?
I just took it for granted
that they knew
what they were doing.
Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen
helped develop the best
to Interrogation program
in the world, bar none.
But here's what
should have happened.
After their presentation,
George Tenet
should have said,
"I really appreciate
you coming by,
"but just a few questions
before you leave.
"I didn't see here--
Tell me about the,
"the real-world interrogations
"that you've
actually conducted?
"Oh. None. Okay.
"Well, how about
the real-world interrogations
"that you've observed?
"Oh, well,
maybe a couple? Okay.
"Um, alright. Well,
"but you've worked in the
intelligence world before? No.
"But you do have
a deep understanding of--
"No, not that either.
"All right, well,
so you've actually,
"your experience is
all about teaching resistance,
"which was actually--
we were mimicking the
"what we call torture
"by countries that weren't
signatory to Geneva Convention.
"And the doctrine was,
if I recall,
"that that...
"is not useful
for anything but propaganda
"and false confessions,
"I'm the, I'm the director
of Central Intelligence,
"I deal with information.
That'd be on the other end
"of the spectrum
from intelligence.
"So why is it that
we could switch...
"We really can't.
Well, gentlemen,
"you are the best at teaching
resistance to interrogation.
"We need to hire you
to train everybody
"in this room
that ever goes overseas.
"But when it comes
to interrogation,
thank you for your time."
Gibney: There's
that word again: time.
As it turned out,
the CIA was so grateful
for Mitchell
and Jessen's time
that the agency paid
the psychologists
$1,800 a day
to go back to Thailand
to interrogate Abu Zubaydah.
While they weren't
they were armed
with one important weapon,
a decision from
the Department of Justice
that would allow them
to torture Abu Zubaydah
within seconds of death
without fear of prosecution.
A fateful decision was made
at the beginning
of his interrogation
to videotape the sessions.
We were just trying to ponder
every worst-case scenario.
That he dies
while in CIA custody.
The possibility would exist
that somewhere
somehow someone
would accuse CIA
of purposely killing him.
They begin at 11:50 a.m.
on August 4th.
Abu Zubaydah is hooded.
A coffin-shaped box
is brought into the room.
Abu Zubaydah is unhooded
and shown the box...
the insinuation being,
of course,
that he could be killed
and buried there.
Within seven hours,
around six p.m. that night,
Abu Zubaydah is waterboarded
for the first time.
He's in isolation
for 47 days.
Within six hours,
he's waterboarded,
and he has these convulsions
and he vomits.
And for 17 days,
Abu Zubaydah
is tortured nonstop.
Lawyer: I was reading
through the cables
from Abu Zubaydah's
Do remember those cables?
Uh, it's been 15 years.
Lawyer: Okay, let's,
let's show them to you.
This is a cable regarding
the interrogation
of Abu Zubaydah, correct?
And it goes through a number
of Enhanced
Interrogation Techniques,
-Rodriguez: Yes.
-Lawyer: It describes walling
and, um, and it describes
the confinement box.
And in paragraph nine,
it says,
the "subject has not provided
any new threat
or elaborated on
any old threat information."
-Do you see that?
Lawyer: Um, when you read
that kind of thing,
was there any sense
that the Enhanced
Interrogation Techniques
were not being effective?
-At that point.
-Lawyer: At that point what?
At that point,
they were not being effective.
-Eventually, they were.
-Lawyer: Okay.
In what regard
did you then dial it back?
Because I'm reading
these cables
and it looks like
for 17 days,
he's being waterboarded
and he's put in confined,
in-in a confinement box
and put in stress positions
and walled.
-Am I wrong about that?
-Man: Objection.
Jones: He spent 11 days
in the coffin-shaped box
several days
in a much smaller box.
If he wasn't in the smaller box
or in the coffin-shaped box,
he was on the waterboard
with a towel over his face
or in
a sleep deprivation position,
essentially hanging
from the cell.
Margulies: He was put
in these boxes,
not much wider
than his shoulders
and not much higher
than him.
And he was just left there,
260-some hours
to urinate
and defecate on himself.
That's not in the cables,
but his drawings capture that.
Most people misunderstand
or they don't understand
or they haven't bothered
to understand
the way that EITs were used.
EITs were used
to shape cooperation.
So what you did is
you put them in a situation
where they were uncomfortable,
and then as soon as they started
working with you,
even a little bit,
you-you cut back on that
and shift to
social influence techniques.
Mitchell and Jessen themselves
engaged in the waterboarding.
They engaged in
all of the Enhanced
Interrogation Techniques.
And yet they had never applied
these techniques
to any members
of the US military.
They were only observers.
The initial legal opinion
approved everything
but waterboarding.
But Jim Mitchell said
he would not do this
unless waterboarding
was approved
because it's an absolutely
convincing technique.
The Justice Department said
you could waterboard from
20 to 40 seconds,
give them three full breaths
and then waterboard again
for 20 minutes.
The first time we waterboarded
Abu Zubaydah,
it was clear to me
that that was too much water
and it was too long.
So what we did was
we cut back
to pours that were
eight seconds.
You can easily hold
your breath for eight seconds.
And then there were
two pours
that were 20 seconds
and one pour
that was 40 seconds.
Gibney: Eighty-three times,
was that the number?
That's the number
of times it was poured.
We know now
that he was waterboarded
83 times in the month
of August alone
and what
the waterboarding is, right,
sometimes you'll
see it described as
"simulated drowning."
There's nothing "simulated"
about it at all.
It's drowning, right?
You are strapped to a board,
your legs,
your chest, your arms,
and your head
is strapped down
so you cannot move.
You're utterly immobilized.
And your neck
is lower than your feet.
Then they wrap your face
in something
to obstruct breathing,
but that allows water
to pass through.
And then they pour water
up your nose
and down your throat
so that you breathe the water.
And if you breathe water,
you will drown.
And so, straining
against the straps,
unable to move,
you begin to drown.
And the art of this
particular torture
is to know just the moment
when the brain
convinces the person
they are about to drown.
You are about to die.
And at just that instant,
when you have just given up
into hysteria
because you are
about to drown,
that's when they
raise the board
and you vomit.
And just as you take
the first breath,
they put it down again
and then do it again.
Mitchell: He wasn't
waterboarded on a board.
He was waterboarded
on a hospital surgical gurney.
Because that's what the CIA
wanted him waterboarded on.
I can't tell you the number,
but it took more than a handful
of security guards
to raise it up
so he could clear
his nasal passages.
Jones: The cables show that
he's having involuntary spasms.
He's weeping,
he's crying out for Allah.
Mitchell: We weren't interested
in drowning him.
We were interested
in getting him
to want to work with us.
We weren't interested
in making him suffer.
Nobody was interested
in that.
Now, you know,
because it is an art,
one time they waited
too long
and they didn't
raise him up fast enough.
And he actually did come
very, very close to dying.
Jones: During
one waterboarding session,
Abu Zubaydah became
completely unresponsive,
with bubbles rising
out of his mouth
and needed to have
medical intervention.
Gibney: Following
his near-death experience,
Abu Zubaydah
became compliant,
just like the dogs
who'd been shocked.
As Mitchell predicted,
Abu Zubaydah
learned helplessness.
This is a perilous course
for the CIA to undertake.
So we made
a collective decision
that no one in CIA
would be required
to take part in it
if their moral, ethical,
or just personal dictates
could not do it.
They were hardcore
about continuing this,
but after 72 hours,
I became convinced
and Doc Jessen became convinced
that while he had
a lot of information
that could help us
stop threats in other countries
and help us identify
the structure of Al-Qaeda,
he didn't know anything
about attacks
that were on the ground
in place
in the United States.
And so Doc Jessen
and I said,
"Hey, we don't need
to do this."
Within six days of using
the Enhanced
Interrogation Techniques,
there were calls by
the detention site team
requesting CIA headquarters'
permission to stop.
People at the detention site
are upset, choking up,
wanting to leave
the detention site,
wanting to quit the program,
wanting to go back home.
They wrote that
they were reaching
the legal limits
on what they could do.
Jose Rodriguez responds,
"Do not put your legal concerns
in writing.
Not helpful."
Lawyer: Were you involved
in ordering
Doctors Mitchell and Jessen
to continue to waterboard
Abu Zubaydah?
-Lawyer: Why?
Well, I was the head of it,
and my analysts were concerned
that perhaps
he was not compliant.
Lawyer: Mm-hmm.
It says,
"For several days,"
Dr. Mitchell writes,
"We questioned
"the necessity
of continuing the EITs,
"but every day
we received cables,
"phone calls, or emails
instructing us
"to continue waterboarding
Abu Zubaydah.
"At one point, Bruce
and I pushed back hard
"and threatened to quit.
"We were told, quote,
he's turning you.
"You are not turning him.
"The officers
we were dealing with,
"mid-level CTC officials
"really pissed us off by saying,
'You've lost your spine.'"
"You've lost your spine.
He's turned you."
They called us pussies.
They said--
Lawyer: "If we didn't keep
waterboarding Abu Zubaydah
"and another attack
happened in United States,
it would be, quote, unquote,
'Your fault.'"
Is that,
to your knowledge, true?
Uh, I don't know what
mid-level officials
will tell, were telling,
uh... Mitchell.
Lawyer: Mm-hmm. Did you direct
any mid-level officials
-to say that kind
of thing to Mitchell?
There came a point
when Dr. Jessen and I said,
"We're not going to continue
doing this, you know.
"We don't think
it's necessary to continue
to waterboard
Abu Zubaydah."
At one point, they requested
that CIA personnel travel
to the detention site
and observe
what they were doing.
CIA headquarters declined.
So the detention site
personnel decided
to put together
a "Best Of" tape.
And the purpose
of that tape was
to depict
the absolute worst moments
of torture of Abu Zubaydah,
to make it very visceral.
So CIA headquarters
would view this tape
and say,
"Okay, we need to stop.
We agree. Stop torturing
Abu Zubaydah."
Instead, headquarters
told them to keep going.
After they viewed the tape?
-After they viewed the tape.
The detention site personnel
were surprised.
They blamed it on
a poor video link.
They can't quite see
the quality
of how bad it is
with this tape.
They couldn't believe
that anyone could view
what was happening
and tell them to keep going.
Gibney: In Washington,
psychologist Terry DeMay,
the head of CIA's Office
of Medical Services,
raised a ruckus.
After receiving
a series of secret messages
from nurses
at the black site,
DeMay would later
denounce the interrogation
as an amateurish experiment,
not safe or effective.
To get a firsthand assessment,
Jose Rodriguez sent a team
from headquarters to Thailand.
Among them were the lawyer
who had recommended
Mitchell for the job
and an analyst
named Alfreda Bikowsky,
whose enthusiasm
for harsh interrogations
would earn her the nickname
"The Queen of Torture."
I suggested that they be
in the room
with us unmasked
while we did
the waterboarding
so they could see
what it was really like.
And we waterboarded him
one last time,
and the most senior person
there said,
"We don't need
to do this anymore.
"We concur that he probably
doesn't know anything
"about current threats
inside the United States
"or he's, you know, he's,
he's not going
to share them."
And, um... literally,
we bathed him and told him
we weren't going to,
you know, nothing bad
was going to happen to him,
uh, and, uh...
it was
a pretty touching moment.
The CIA cables from Thailand
struck a very different tone.
The detention site never said
that Abu Zubaydah
had information.
In fact, Mitchell
and others say
the program was a success,
not because it produced
vital unavailable information,
but because it proved
from the very beginning
he never had that information.
There was one other success.
Toward the end
of the torture,
when the new team
from Washington was watching,
Abu Zubaydah said he made up
a number of plots
and admitted that, yes,
he really was the number three
in Al-Qaeda.
He knew it was false.
The CIA knew it was false.
But his confession confirmed
that the CIA's techniques
could get him to say anything
to make the torture stop.
They finally get permission
to stop torturing
Abu Zubaydah,
and they call
the program a success.
And the cable recommends
using the same techniques
for other
high-value detainees.
And who wrote that cable?
Jim Mitchell.
Mitchell denies
writing the cable
but the techniques he devised
would become
standard operating procedure
for the CIA.
For a price
of over $180 million,
the CIA would contract
Mitchell and Jessen
to train and supervise
at black sites
in eight foreign countries.
Despite Mitchell's attempts
to impose guidelines,
things would spin
out of control.
Following the torture
of Abu Zubaydah,
EITs mutated like a virus
and spread throughout the CIA
to Guantanamo
and military operations
in Afghanistan and Iraq.
What evolved
from Mitchell's techniques
was revealed
in the photographs
from the prison at Abu Ghraib.
The public uproar
over those images
caused the CIA to reckon
with its own
photographic record.
The first time I knew that
Zubaydah was being videotaped
is when Jose Rodriguez
came to me and said,
"We have these videotapes.
We want to destroy them."
So that was the first
I learned that they existed.
- Interviewer:
What was your reaction?
"Whatever you do,
do not destroy them."
But, of course,
destroying evidence,
destroying videotapes,
would inevitably lead
sooner or later
to accusations of a cover-up.
I felt it was important
to have the tapes destroyed
because I needed
to protect the people
who were there
in the black sites.
-That was the primary reason.
-Lawyer: Mm-hmm.
Was there
a secondary reason?
Well, the secondary reason,
as I have said publicly,
was that the, uh...
public, the media
would not make a distinction
once the tapes
were released
between a legally
approved program
like this was
and the Abu Ghraib scandal
that involved
illegal activity.
It would make
the CIA look bad,
and it would, actually,
in my view,
you know, almost destroy
the clandestine service
because of it.
Did you have anything
to do with the destruction
of those videotapes?
Lawyer: Did you have
any conversations
with anybody
at any time
about the destruction
of those videotapes
other than your lawyers?
I told the...
I forget
what he's called,
I think the chief
of clandestine service,
that I thought those videotapes
should be destroyed
because I, I thought
they were ugly
and they would,
you know,
potentially endanger
our lives
by putting
our pictures out,
uh, so that the bad guys
could see us.
Rizzo: When I learned
that they had been destroyed,
I was beside myself.
But I was told, "Oh, your
lawyers signed off on this."
That piqued my interest,
needless to say.
But the final
approval authority
on the actual directive
to the field station
that was holding these tapes
was Mr. Rodriguez.
And it was drafted by
Mr. Rodriguez's chief of staff.
Gibney: Mr. Rodriguez's chief
of staff was Gina Haspel,
who would rise to become
the CIA director in 2017.
Neither she nor Mr. Rodriguez
was punished
or charged with a crime
for destroying evidence.
The tapes were destroyed
for one reason,
and that was because they were
so damned incriminating
with regard to going beyond,
going well beyond
anything that,
you know, you would have had
to have said, "That's torture."
That's torture,
clear and plain.
It is not covered by
the Bybee memo, the Yoo memo,
it's not covered
by anything, that's torture.
Margulies: The best evidence
of what happened is the video.
So the destruction
of the tapes was
an-an-an egregious abuse.
You could never capture
what took place
at Abu Ghraib
without the pictures.
We have a dialog
about Abu Ghraib
because the pictures exist.
Well, we don't have that
with Abu Zubaydah.
So we asked him to draw
what was done to him
as best he could
reconstruct it.
To understand it.
Jones: I came to the Senate
in January of 2007.
By the end of that year,
there was
a "New York Times" article
that came out that said
the CIA had destroyed
interrogation videotapes
from early 2002.
The Senate Intelligence
Committee had been looking
to learn more
about this program
for a very long time.
They had no idea
that tapes existed,
so they call the CIA
and demand
that the then CIA director,
Michael Hayden,
come to the Committee
to explain
the destruction of tapes.
I'm very delighted
to come on down
and lay out the facts
as we know them,
and we'll be very happy
to let the facts take us
where they will.
Michael Hayden testifies
that this was not
destruction of evidence.
In fact, the CIA has
very detailed
written records
of everything that happened
at the detention site,
so it didn't need
those videotapes.
There are written records.
And he says if the committee
wants to see those records,
of course it can see
those records.
So what does the committee
say immediately?
"We want to see
these records tomorrow."
The committee finally acquires
those heavily redacted cables
in May of 2008,
and myself and two other
Senate staffers
are sent to the CIA
to review these cables
and write a report.
The CIA eventually gave us
6.3 million pages
of documents.
We identified at least
119 CIA detainees.
Reporter: But at the heart
of this release today
is the conclusion
that the interrogations
did not make
the country safer
and that
the CIA misled
the Bush administration
about the program.
We saw constant manipulation
of the White House,
the Department of Justice,
and Congress by the CIA.
I mean, this is what
I thought would be
the most important finding
coming out of the Senate
Intelligence Committee report.
You know, misleading Bush,
misleading Obama,
misleading the Congress,
repeatedly we see this.
John Brennan,
CIA director under Obama,
made a speech
after the report came out
and said we'll never know
if we could've gotten
this intelligence
in any other way.
...and the ultimate provision
of the information
is unknown and unknowable.
Jones: But we do know,
we have an entire report,
500 pages here
with almost 3,000 footnotes
and a 7,000-page
classified report
with 38,000 footnotes
that says
we do know that, in fact,
the capture of Jose Padilla
did not come
from the waterboarding
of Abu Zubaydah.
We do know that,
because the records
are there.
We tortured some folks.
We did some things that were
contrary to our values.
It's important for us
not to,
uh, feel too sanctimonious
in retrospect
about the tough job
that those folks have.
And a lot of those folks
were working hard,
under enormous pressure,
and are real patriots.
But having said all that...
we did some things
that were wrong.
Jones: I remember hearing
that line about patriots
and thinking
about the people
who said they were resigning
from the CIA,
people who said they didn't
want to be involved
in this program
and the people who engaged
in the torture,
who defended the torture.
And this is who Obama identifies
as real patriots.
Gibney: The word "patriot"
struck a chord with me.
So long as you believe
you're a patriot,
do the ends
always justify the means?
And if we all believe that,
are we prepared
to abandon our principles
in order to defend them?
Jose Rodriguez
and James Mitchell
both live in Florida.
Mitchell's company
grossed $81 million
for his interrogation services.
Rodriguez became
an intelligence consultant
working for IBM.
He has a fondness for
Corvettes and Harleys
and owns
a 30-foot powerboat
called "Shaken, Not Stirred."
It's a great thing
about this government,
the only people
that ever stand up
and tell the truth are who,
intelligence officers,
because our culture is never
break faith with the truth.
We'll tell you, you don't have
to drag it out of us.
Mitchell: You're not
going to get me
to say I think
it's torture.
You might as well
just quit.
If you want to think
it's torture, think
what you want to think.
I'm not in the business
of controlling your mind,
nor am I in the business
of trying to coerce you
into saying something
that you don't believe
or want to comment on.
This was the least worse
of two bad choices.
Both choices suck.
Both choices are bad.
But on the one hand,
you have
thousands of dead Americans
and on the other hand,
you have
the temporary discomfort
of a terrorist.
I thought there was going to be
a major catastrophic attack
that was going to kill
millions of Americans.
And, uh...
I thought that
my government had asked me
to stop it.
And I felt responsible...
for doing that.
That's what I thought.
Gibney: From near
his home in Florida,
Mitchell can paddle
to the Gulf of Mexico.
From there,
it's a straight shot
to Cuba
and Guantanamo,
where Abu Zubaydah
lives out his days.
As its creators intended,
Gitmo is a kind of
nowhere land
outside of time and place.
The images you see here
were shot by me in 2006.
The government
won't permit me to return,
so I depend on others
to tell me
not much has changed.
Fast food,
first-run movies,
the gift shop
where I bought my T-shirt,
sporting a local joke
about interrogators.
After Thailand,
Abu Zubaydah would be sent
to black sites
in Poland,
Lithuania, and Morocco.
When he first landed
in Gitmo,
he was imprisoned
in the secret CIA unit
known as Strawberry Fields,
as in forever.
Strawberry fields forever
Recently, along with
the 13 others
held in indefinite detention,
he was moved to
Guantanamo's Camp V.
No one will say what kind
of law governs Abu Zubaydah.
So he has two legal teams,
one civilian and one
for the military commissions.
His military lawyer,
Chantell Higgins,
sees him most often.
Zayn is
a colorful storyteller.
Very funny.
Always well-dressed.
Very particular.
He's a sort of a...
how do I say it, a diva.
Gibney: Does he suffer
from some kind of PTSD?
I don't know how anyone
could have endured that
and not suffered
from PTSD.
I know that he has nightmares
about drowning.
Waking up and drowning.
Gibney: To what extent
does Abu Zubaydah remember
anything about James Mitchell?
Does he remember
who he was?
Uh, yeah, he remembers
very clearly who he was.
And does he understand
that he was the guy
who designed
these techniques?
He does.
I think all the detainees
understand that by now.
Rizzo: Abu Zubaydah was
the first high-level detainee.
But he's not
one of the ones
who have actually been charged
by the military commissions.
So his status is...
really permanent limbo.
I can't imagine
any US President
in any US administration
ever letting him go.
But what do you do
with him?
Lt. Col. Chantell Higgins:
In America,
we have this thing
called innocent
until proven guilty.
If we think they're
guilty of something
we should take them
to trial,
give them opportunity
to be heard,
sentence them accordingly,
and send them on their way.
It's just inhumane
to... detain someone...
and not give them rights.
Mora: Almost half
of the American public believes
that the use of torture
is acceptable.
There's growing acceptance
of the use of cruelty
as a tool
to address
social situations
or national security crises.
And I think in the right
combination of situations,
you have other individuals
who'll say,
"This is another tool
we should use again,"
and we'll go back to use it
despite all the reasons
why it shouldn't be
countenanced again.
For nearly 20 years,
Abu Zubaydah has been
in US custody.
In all that time,
the man with one eye
and one good leg
has remained
mostly incommunicado.
I can see some
of his drawings.
I can read censored letters,
and the briefs
of his lawyers.
But I cannot talk to him.
His voice has been kept silent,
just as the CIA promised.
He's the forever prisoner
meant to fade from memory
like old photographs
left in the sun.
Twenty years after 9/11,
I'm stirred to remember
the innocents
who died on that day.
But I'm also stirred
to remember the purpose
of that vicious attack.
It wasn't to win a war.
It was to provoke us
to abandon
the principles of democracy
we claim to live by.
The forever prisoner
is a living reminder
of one of the ideals
we abandoned:
equal justice
under the law.
As the saying goes,
there is no them,
there is only us.
If we believe in that idea,
how can we imprison a man
without charge
for the remainder of his life?
Not for what he did to us...
but for what
we did to him.