The AP reports today that the Pentagon has “dropped charges” against Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002 who was alleged to have been the so-called “20th hijacker” on 9/11.
Known as Detainee 063, Qahtani was the subject of a 2002 meeting at Guantanamo that included former Bush lawyer Alberto Gonzales, Cheney’s lawyer David Addington, and former Rumsfeld lawyer Jim Haynes. The trio approved the interrogations at Guantanamo, with Donald Rumsfeld then authorizing the “First Special Interrogation Plan” specifically for Qahtani. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) noted that these methods included:
[F]orty-eight days of severe sleep deprivation and 20-hour interrogations, forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, physical force, prolonged stress positions and prolonged sensory overstimulation, and threats with military dogs. The aggressive techniques, standing alone and in combination, resulted in severe physical and mental pain and suffering.
“This is a very dangerous individual who has provided us with valuable intelligence,” claimed former White House press secretary Scott McClellan in 2005. But as Marcy Wheeler notes, the dismissal raises questions about the credibility of torture-based evidence.
Renowned international lawyer Philippe Sands, who has extensively studied Qahtani, talked to PBS’s Bill Moyers about the interrogations of Qahtani on Friday. “And the bottom line of it was, contrary to what the administration said, they got nothing out of him,” Sands explained. Watch it:
In 2006, Qahtani recanted a confession he said he made after he was tortured. In fact, “Qahtani never made a single statement that was not extracted through torture or the threat of torture,” CCR notes.
Records of the interrogations of Qahtani, however, were “mysteriously lost.” Cameras that “run 24 hours a day at the prison were set to automatically record over their contents,” the Guardian reported last month.