A Bush administration official responsible for reviewing practices at Guantanamo Bay says the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Washington Post reported.
"We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani," Susan J. Crawford told the Post. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case" for prosecution.
Crawford is the first senior Bush administration official who investigates Guantanamo dealings to publicly say a detainee was tortured.
"The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual," she told the Post. "This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for."
Interrogation techniques used on Qahtani included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold. He was hospitalized twice.
Qahtani, allegedly planning to be the plot's 20th hijacker, was interrogated from November 2002 to January 2003 after being captured in Afghanistan.
"There's no doubt in my mind he would've been on one of those planes had he gained access to the country in August 2001," Crawford said of Qahtani, who remains detained at Guantanamo.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said in an e-mail to the Post that investigations into detention operations "concluded the interrogation methods used at GTMO, including the special techniques used on Qahtani in 2002, were lawful."