I Was Tortured for Days Thanks to Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell. A "Sorry" Would Be Nice | Opinion

I understand that Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell will be testifying this week at the Guantánamo military commissions about their torture project. Of course they don't call it that—the methods devised by these mercenary psychologists are, we are told, only "enhanced interrogation techniques"—but I have been on the receiving end, and I prefer to be honest.

Even though I am a nobody, a taxi driver from Karachi, I am a "forever prisoner" down here in this awful Cuban prison, 17 years into my detention without trial. If they appear in person, I hope they will stop by my cell in Camp Six. I am still waiting for an apology.

Jessen and Mitchell helped to bring torture into the Twenty-First Century. They formed a company that was paid $81 million to operate the interrogation program that was used on me and others. They have been unapologetic about this—defiant, even. Their lawyer, James T. Smith, says his clients were "public servants whose actions ... were authorized by the U.S. government, legal and done in an effort to protect innocent lives."

I doubt many innocent people were saved by torturing me. I was minding my own business in Karachi when I was kidnapped and sold to the U.S. for a bounty by Pakistani authorities, with the assurance that I was a terrorist called Hassan Ghul. The U.S. later captured the real Ghul, but rather than admit their mistake, they took me to the "Dark Prison" in Kabul and applied some of the methods promoted by Jessen and Mitchell.

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The two "doctors" assured the military men who hired them and the lawyers and politicians who signed it off that their techniques were entirely "painless". Let me take you through the one described as "a technique in which the detainees' wrists were tied together above their heads and they were unable to lean against a wall or lie down." I was put down a hole, suspended by my wrists from two chains that were locked to a horizontal metal bar at a height where my feet could barely touch the ground. I was left in total darkness for days—perhaps a week. Without food. Standing on tiptoe in my own excrement.

Later I learned that this was something Jessen and Mitchell picked up from the Spanish Inquisition, who called it strappado. The Inquisition did this to make people suffer (normally fellow Christians who were deemed heretics and tortured into admitting it) and were at least more honest than Jessen and Mitchell (whose technique was practiced entirely on Muslims). I felt my shoulders gradually dislocating. The pain was excruciating.

Jessen and Mitchell also advocated the use of waterboarding. I have heard that some years back, Dr. Mitchell said most people would prefer to have their legs broken than to be waterboarded, but he appears to have changed his mind when he got his $81 million contract. "I don't know that it's painful," he said more recently. "I'm using the word distressing." The right word is torture.

They encouraged the CIA to destroy video footage that was made of the interrogations because it was too graphic: "I thought they were ugly and they would, you know, potentially endanger our lives by putting our pictures out so that the bad guys could see us," Mitchell explained.

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I am told Jessen and Mitchell have been "indemnified"—perhaps by as much as $5 million—for the nuissance of being sued for torturing people. They apparently got to keep all their $81 million. And for what? For permanently damaging the reputation of the United States as a country built on laws and sworn to defend freedom. For inflicting hideous physical and psychological pain on scores of innocent men like me. For making it almost impossible to bring the alleged masterminds of 9/11 to justice—19 years later, the lawyers are still arguing whether their treatment has been so uncivilized that the whole case should be dismissed.

In common with their handlers at the CIA and the politicians in charge, Jessen and Mitchell have suffered no consequences. Meanwhile, simply for being in the wrong place and the wrong time, a victim of mistaken identity, I have suffered not only physical torture but the deep and lasting pain of being separated from my son. Jawad is 17 years old now, and I have never met him, let alone touched him.

The past cannot be undone but we can try to build a better future. As a start, I would like the two men to stop by my cell this week and say that simple word "sorry". I am not allowed to go anywhere. I will be waiting.

Ahmed Rabbani is a taxi driver from Karachi, sold to US forces for a bounty and held as prisoner without charge for 17 years (and counting.)

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.

I Was Tortured for Days Thanks to Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell. A "Sorry" Would Be Nice | Opinion | Opinion