U.S. Says Guantanamo Detainee Can Tell Polish Officials About His Treatment In CIA Custody

The Biden administration filed a letter with the Supreme Court Friday to allow a Guantanamo Bay detainee to provide intelligence to Polish officials about his torture in CIA custody following the 9/11 attacks.

The detainee, Abu Zubaydah, was detained and tortured abroad for two decades. Zubaydah was presumed to be a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda, and the government still believes he "was an associate and longtime terrorist ally of Osama bin Laden."

Zubaydah's lawyers still say the CIA was mistaken in believing that he was part of the group who orchestrated the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Detainees' communications normally are limited to family, but the government noted that there has already been a public court case in the U.S. involving Zubaydah that included a now redacted declaration from him describing the CIA's treatment toward him in custody.

However, any declaration written for Polish officials would be subject to a "security review," and information "that could prejudice the security interests of the United States" could still be redacted, the government said in the letter.

The government assured that the review "would not prevent him from describing his treatment while in CIA custody."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Guantanamo Bay Detainment
The main gate at the prison in Guantanamo at the U.S. Guantanamo Naval Base on Oct. 16, 2018, in Guantanamo Base, Cuba. Sylvie Laneteaume/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration's court filing follows arguments the Supreme Court heard in a case involving him earlier this month. The case is about a request by Zubaydah and his lawyer to question two former CIA contractors about Zubaydah's detention in Poland. The Biden administration, like the Trump administration before it, has opposed the questioning.

The fact that Zubaydah was held at so-called CIA black sites in both Thailand and Poland has been widely reported. The U.S. government has also allowed the disclosure of information about how he was treated. But the government has stopped short of acknowledging the locations of the black sites set up after 9/11 to gather intelligence about terrorist plots against Americans. The government has cited national security and its commitments to foreign partners in opposing the testimony of the former CIA contractors in Zubaydah's case.

The high court is expected to rule in the case in coming months.

Zubaydah spent four years at CIA black sites before being transferred to Guantanamo in 2006. According to a 2014 Senate report on the CIA program, among other things Zubaydah was waterboarded more than 80 times and spent over 11 days in a coffin-size confinement box. The extreme interrogation techniques used as part of the program are now widely viewed as torture.

The justices will next hear arguments in cases beginning Nov. 1.