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Senate Report on CIA Torture

Stress Positions/Shackling

The CIA put detainees in painful stress positions and shackled them, often in conjunction with sleep deprivation. At Detention Site Cobalt, “detainees were shackled to the wall” while in their cells. Several of the cells “included a bar across the top of the cell” where detainees were “shackled to the bar with their hands above their heads, forcing them to stand.” A high-ranking CIA official “provided inaccurate information on the CIA’s use of stress positions” in a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on April 12, 2007. 

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was "at times, 'put in the standing position, handcuffed and shackled.'" In December 2002, he was left “with his arms shackled over his head for as long as 16 hours” – well in excess of the “[d]raft OMS [CIA Office of Medical Services] guidelines on interrogations, [which] noted that detainees could be shackled with their arms above their heads for ‘roughly two hours without great concern.’” One interrogator tried to use “improvised stress positions that caused cuts and bruises resulting in the intervention of a medical officer, who was concerned that al-Nashiri’s shoulders would be dislocated using the stress positions.” Some detainees were forced into stress positions despite injuries; for example, two detainees with broken feet were subjected to “standing sleep deprivation.” One of them was also subjected to “cramped confinement, stress positions, and walling, despite CIA headquarters having not approved their use.” Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was subjected to “stress positions [and] standing sleep deprivation (with his hands at or above head level).” He was also subjected to a “horizontal stress position that had not previously been approved by CIA headquarters,” and “suffered from pedal edema resulting from extended standing.” Abu Ja’far al-Iraqi was put in stress positions and “shackled in the standing position for 54 hours as part of sleep deprivation, and experienced swelling in his lower legs requiring blood thinner and spiral ace bandages.” Furthermore, “inaccurate information about the effectiveness of [such] techniques was provided to the [Senate Intelligence] Committee” by the CIA. One interrogator had his certification removed by the CIA “for placing a broom handle behind the knees of a detainee while that detainee was in a stress position.” Gul Rahman was “shackled to the wall of his cell in a position that required [him] to rest on the bare concrete floor” a day before “the guards found [his] dead body.” 

Abu Zubaydah was “placed in a stress position, left on the waterboard with a cloth over his face, or locked in one of two confinement boxes” whenever he was left alone during his period of interrogation. He “spent a total of 266 hours (11 days, 2 hours) in the large (coffin size) confinement box and 29 hours in a small confinement box, which had a width of 21 inches, a depth of 2.5 feet, and a height of 2.5 feet.” Zubaydah was also threatened that “the only way he would leave the facility was in the coffin-sized confinement box.”