Who Removed Terrorism Suspect Abu Zubaydah’s Eye and Why?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Abu Zubaydah
Nearly 10 years ago, detainee Abu Zubaydah lost his left eye while in the custody of the CIA at a secret location. To this day he says he doesn’t know why the Americans removed it.
During his capture in Pakistan in March 2002, Zubaydah was shot several times, in the leg, groin and stomach. But he did not sustain any injuries to his eyes, face or head.
U.S. officials were mum on the subject of Zubaydah’s eye. Then a counterterrorism official recently told Truthout that “Zubaydah had a preexisting eye condition when he was captured” and medical personnel tried to treat the problem, but were forced to surgically remove the eye.
One possible explanation for why the detainee lost his eye has to do with authorized torture techniques. In the one of the interrogation memos drafted by former Justice Department attorney John Yoo, the “gouging” of a prisoner’s eyes was deemed “arguably legal under the president’s executive powers unless ‘specific intent’ to harm the prisoner could be proven.”
Another detainee, Omar Deghayes, who was released after six years for lack of evidence, told the British media that an American guard at Guantánamo gouged both of his eyes, causing temporary blindness in one eye and permanent loss of sight in the other.
As for Zubaydah, when he was captured, the administration of President George W. Bush touted him as “al-Qaeda’s chief of operations and top recruiter” and “a senior terrorist leader and a trusted associate of Osama bin Laden” who supposedly was going to “provide the names of terrorists around the world and which targets they planned to hit.” In fact, Zubaydah was apparently little more than a minor logistics operative who arranged travel for wives and children. According to Ron Suskind in his book The One-Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11, when it became clear that Zubaydah was a non-player in the world of terrorism, Bush said to CIA director George Tenet, “I said he was important. You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?”
In September 2009, in response to Zubaydah’s petition for habeas corpus rights, the Department of Defense finally admitted that there was no evidence that Zubaydah was involved in terrorism or that he was even a member of al-Qaeda.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
How I Fought to Survive Guantánamo (by Patrick Barkham, The Guardian)
Abu Zubaydah (Wikipedia)


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