10 July 2019 — Bureau of Investigative Journalism
One night in October 2001, shortly after al-Qaeda’s attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, a private jet touched down in Karachi. Masood Anwar, a prominent Pakistani journalist, received an unexpected tip from a friend in the airport: “There were men in masks. They took a hooded man onboard in the early hours. Someone videotaped the entire thing. No one was allowed near the site.”
Anwar’s story would lead to the heart of the CIA’s “rendition, detention, interrogation” (RDI) programme, a nine-year covert effort which saw scores of prisoners flown around the globe to be tortured in undisclosed sites.
In December 2014, after the publication of a report into CIA torture by the US Senate Select Intelligence Committee, The Bureau, alongside The Rendition Project, began a major project to trace the history of the RDI programme and uncover the facts that had been censored – redacted – in the Senate report.
We matched named prisoners to (redacted) dates of custody, dates of custody to flight records, and flight records to the sites of secret prisons across Europe and the Middle East. We traced the journeys of about 100 prisoners, and began to discern the entire scope of the programme’s development.
More than four years later, we’re publishing the results of our investigation in a 400-page report entitled CIA Torture Unredacted. It is the first time that the entirety of the CIA’s detention programme has been systematically revealed.
CIA Torture Unredacted is the most comprehensive public account of one of the most disturbing elements of the ‘War on Terror’: a global programme of systematic disappearance and torture, carried out by the world’s most powerful liberal democratic states in contravention of laws which they purport to uphold. In the face of continued obstruction and denial by the governments involved, we hope that it will stand as a central reference point for all those interested in accountability, truth and the rule of law.