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Senate Report on CIA Torture

Sensory Deprivation/Solitary Confinement

In 2003, interrogation guidelines identified “the use of loud music” and “isolation” as “’standard techniques” that required advance approval “whenever feasible.” According to the report, “[n]umerous detainees were subjected to the extended use of white noise.” In 2005, “the CIA asserted to OLC  [Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel] that loud music and white noise, constant light, and 24-hour shackling were all for security purposes.” 

Abu Zubaydah spent “47 days in total solitary detention without being asked any question,” and “was also kept in a cell with bright lights with white noise or loud music playing.” Ramzi bin al-Shibh was subjected to “sensory dislocation,” which involved “exposing him to loud noise in a white room with white lights, keeping him ‘unclothed and subjected to uncomfortably cool temperatures,’ and shackling.” 

Detainees at the CIA’s Detention Site Cobalt in Afghanistan were subjected to “isolation in total darkness,” “the use of loud music,” “sensory deprivation, extended isolation,” and “hooding.” At one point, Federal Bureau of Prisons personnel visited Detention Site Cobalt. They said that “[t]hey [had] never been in a facility where individuals are so sensory deprived, i.e., constant white noise, no talking, everyone in the dark, with the guards wearing a light on their head when they collected and escorted a detainee to an interrogation cell, detainees constantly being shackled to the wall or floor, and the starkness of each cell (concrete and bars).”