The Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether the government can keep state secrets, which it claims are from a man who was tortured and incarcerated by the CIA after 9/11, at the Guantanamo bay detention center.
The case hearing Wednesday will focus on whether Abu Zubaydah – who was detained in Pakistan in 2002, and believed to have been a senior member of al-Qaida – can obtain information about his detention. Zubaydah and his lawyer are going to question two former CIA contractors regarding Zubaydah’s time in a secret CIA facility located in Poland, where he was tortured and held.
Federal appeals court sided in Zubaydah and stated that even though the government claimed that the information should remain secret, a judge should decide if any information that he seeks can be made public.
This case was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The CIA established a detention program and interrogation program to gather intelligence about terrorist plots against Americans. The agency also established secret prisons in other countries, so-called “black sites”, and used torture-like interrogation techniques.
Zubaydah was the first person to join the CIA program. He spent four years in CIA black sites, before being transferred in 2006 to Guantanamo bay. A 2014 Senate report on CIA programs states that Zubaydah spent four years at CIA black sites before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2006.
He is seeking information from James Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen, former CIA contractors who were considered to be the architects of the interrogation programme.
Zubaydah is seeking evidence from them to support a criminal investigation in Poland regarding his detention at a CIA black site. Despite the fact that the U.S. government has not publicly acknowledged the existence of a CIA blacksite in Poland, the former president and media have reported its existence.
Zubaydah’s attorney and Zubaydah note that Mitchell, Jessen, and Mitchell have both testified in previous situations, including Guantanamo hearings. Mitchell also wrote a book about his experiences. They want to know the details of Zubaydah’s torture in Poland, his medical treatment and his conditions of confinement.
Like the Trump administration, the Biden administration says that the information shouldn’t be released because it would cause significant harm to national security. Although the United States has released a lot of information about the former CIA program, certain information, such as the location of former CIA detention centers, cannot be classified without posing a threat to national security.
Initial rulings by a federal court said that Mitchell and Jessen should not be required to disclose any information. An appeals court found that the lower court had made a mistake by excluding questioning before trying to determine what information can be and cannot be disclosed.
The government stated that Zubaydah was an “associate and longtime terrorist ally” of Osama Bin Laden in its briefs to the Supreme Court. Zubaydah’s lawyers claim the CIA misunderstood him as a high-ranking member al-Qaida.