American Torturers: FBI and CIA Abuses at Dark Sites and Guantanamo

131 Pages Posted: 19 May 2023

See all articles by Mark Denbeaux

Mark Denbeaux

Seton Hall Law School

Dr. Jess Ghannam

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) - Department of Psychiatry

Abu Zubaydah

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: May 9, 2023


Despite the efforts of the federal government, particularly the Central Intelligence Agency, to conceal evidence of the actual operation of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” (“EITs”) it deployed on detainees in dark sites and at Guantanamo, a steady drumbeat of disclosures has provided an unparalleled view into this disgraceful episode in the nation’s history. One of the most dramatic revelations has been the drawings by Detainee Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn aka Abu Zubaydah (hereinafter “Mr. Abu Zubaydah”), the first victim of such EITs. These drawings viscerally convey the brutal reality the CIA sought to hide with its calculated destruction of video recordings of torture conducted by its agents. These drawings also depict the kinds of torture -- in which the FBI was also complicit -- inflicted on the artist and his fellow detainees. These tortures are, if possible, all the more disturbing as to Mr. Abu Zubaydah himself because even the torturers—CIA and FBI – now recognize that his was a case of mistaken identity. Nevertheless, he remains in detention – albeit uncharged – until this day. His drawings dovetail with the recent accounts of Dr. James Mitchell, a chief architect of the torture regime, who both wrote a book on EITs and testified in hearings on Guantanamo. These sources, together with the report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, provide the most complete – and compelling – account to date of America’s torture program.

This Report is an amalgam of the work of many individuals but special credit must be accorded Mr. Abu Zubaydah’s artistic renderings of the mistreatment he and other detainees received. All 40 of Mr. Abu Zubaydah’s drawings and descriptions of torture can be found in the Appendix. Questions regarding the Report may be addressed to Professor Emeritus Mark P. Denbeaux at

Keywords: Abu Zubaydah, FBI, CIA, GTMO, Guantanamo, torture, national security, detainees, water boarding, waterboarding, enhanced interrogation techniques, EIT, walling, black sites, terrorism, CIA, SSCI Report, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Suggested Citation

Denbeaux, Mark and Ghannam, Jess and Zubaydah, Abu, American Torturers: FBI and CIA Abuses at Dark Sites and Guantanamo (May 9, 2023). Seton Hall Law School Legal Studies Research Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Mark Denbeaux (Contact Author)

Seton Hall Law School ( email )

One Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102-5210
United States

Jess Ghannam

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) - Department of Psychiatry

982 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103
United States

Abu Zubaydah

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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