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U.S. won’t close CIA ‘black sites’ for now

The government will not dismantle overseas locations where a former Guantanamo detainee claims he was interrogated by the CIA, a prosecutor says.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The government will not dismantle overseas locations where a former Guantanamo detainee claims he was interrogated by the CIA before he was brought to the United States for trial on terrorism charges, a prosecutor said Thursday.

David Raskin told U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan that the United States would preserve the locations for now even though it does not plan to use at trial any statements Ahmed Ghailani made while he was in the custody of any other government agencies.

Kaplan set a Sept. 13, 2010, date for the trial of Ghailani on charges that he participated in the Aug. 7, 1998, bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

Authorities allege he was a bomb-maker, document forger and aide to Osama bin Laden when he aided the attacks at embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.

Ghailani was brought to the United States last month. The government has not decided whether to seek the death penalty if it wins a conviction.

Defense wants access to sites
The Tanzanian, captured in Pakistan in 2004, was held at secret overseas locations by the United States before he was moved to the naval prison in Cuba in 2006. He is the first Guantanamo detainee to be brought to a U.S. civilian court for trial.

In court papers Tuesday, Ghailani's lawyers asked the government to preserve secret locations known as "black sites" so they can inspect them as they gather evidence for his trial.

"It appears undeniable that the defendant was subjected to harsh conditions and harsh interrogation techniques while detained in CIA 'Black Sites,'" the lawyers wrote.

They said "it is believed that the defendant was interrogated and made statements after being subjected to a `harsh regime employing a combination of physical and psychological ill-treatment with an aim of obtaining compliance and extracting information.'"

They said his treatment at the locations will be relevant if the government seeks the death penalty in the case. Raskin said the government has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty.

CIA had said it would close sites
Kaplan said he was pleased that the government will not dismantle the locations, as the CIA had indicated earlier this year it intended to do.

"Then I don't have to look at the classified information no matter how titillating it may be," the judge said.

Raskin said the case against Ghailani will not be very different from the evidence shown to a jury at the 2001 trial of four other men charged in the embassy bombings. That trial resulted in life prison sentences for the defendants.

Bin Laden, who remains a fugitive, is a defendant in the case as well.