A Saudi suspected of involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks was tortured at the U.S. detention site in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Washington Post reported yesterday, citing a U.S. official.
Susan Crawford, the Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo detainees to trial, told the Post that the suspect cannot be tried because he was tortured.
U.S. military interrogators subjected Mohammed al-Qahtani, 30, to sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a "life-threatening condition," Crawford said.
"We tortured Qahtani," Crawford told the newspaper. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case" for prosecution.
Qahtani, alleged to be the 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 attacks, was denied entry to the United States one month before the attacks but was captured in Afghanistan and flown to Guantanamo in January 2002.
He was interrogated over 50 days from November 2002 to January 2003, though he was held in isolation until April 2003, according to the Post.
"The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent," Crawford told the Post.
"You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge" to call it torture, she said.
Crawford dismissed war crimes charges against him in May 2008.
Crawford, 61, is a retired judge who previously worked for the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Robert Gates named her the top authority on whether to try Guantanamo detainees in February 2007.