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US Supreme Court agrees to decide case of Guantanamo detainee seeking details on CIA 'black sites'

17:25  26 april  2021
17:25  26 april  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide a case from a Guantanamo Bay detainee who is battling with the federal government for information about his detention in a CIA "black site" following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The court will likely hear arguments this fall.

Abu Zubaydah is seeking a court order to subpoena two CIA contractors who developed the interrogation techniques used by President George W. Bush's administration in overseas facilities in the wake of the attacks, which lawmakers in both parties, international courts and human rights groups have called torture. The federal government counters that the information Zubaydah wants would reveal state secrets.

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Zubaydah was picked up by Pakistani authorities working with the CIA in 2002 and was believed to be a high-level member of al-Qaida. A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2014 found the CIA "significantly overstated" Zubaydah's role in al-Qaida.

After a federal district court quashed the subpoenas because of the risk that government secrets could be revealed, the California-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ordered that the sensitive details be segregated from other information that potentially could be released. The 2-to-1 majority wrote that it agreed much of the information should be kept secret but ruled the district court erred by protecting all of it.

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a group of people standing in front of a building: U.S. Military's Prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on Jan. 26, 2017. © Thomas Watkins/AFP via Getty Images U.S. Military's Prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on Jan. 26, 2017.

In a dissent, Judge Ronald Gould wrote that the decision "jeopardizes critical national security concerns in the hope that the district court will be able to segregate secret information from public information that could be discovered."

President Donald Trump's administration appealed to the Supreme Court in December.

Zubaydah, the first detainee in the CIA program, was subjected to waterboarding and noise and sleep deprivation, according to the Senate committee’s report and court documents. He also spent hundreds of hours in a "confinement box," which officials have described as "coffin-sized."

In 2015, the European Court on Human Rights found Zubaydah was detained at a CIA site in Poland and said it was "inconceivable" he was not also tortured there.

Zubaydah filed a criminal complaint in Poland in 2010, seeking to hold officials responsible for their role in his detention. His request for the subpoenas is tied to that case and his effort to establish the details of the facility – precisely the kind of information that the U.S. government says would undermine national security.

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"The United States has declassified a significant amount of information regarding the former CIA program, including the details of Abu Zubaydah’s treatment," the Trump administration told the court last year. "The United States, however, determined that certain categories of information – including the identities of its foreign intelligence partners and the location of former CIA detention facilities in their countries – could not be declassified without risking undue harm to the national security."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Supreme Court agrees to decide case of Guantanamo detainee seeking details on CIA 'black sites'

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