Interrogation: Legislative Development

9/11 Defense Counsel on the CIA's Response to the SSCI Study

By Wells Bennett
Friday, December 12, 2014, 2:08 PM

James Connell III, lawyer for 9/11 accused Ammar al-Baluchi, had this to say today:

"The CIA and its defenders are using Mr. al Baluchi as a scapegoat for its illegal and reprehensible use of torture," said James Connell, civilian attorney for Mr. al Baluchi.  "The United States spent incredible amounts of money, energy, and American credibility, and now the CIA is pointing at Mr. al Baluchi to justify its massive torture infrastructure."

"Despite the pain he endured, and the CIA's use of Mr. al Baluchi to retroactively justify its torture program, Mr. al Baluchi does not hold any grudges against the CIA.  He saw the humanity, and the suffering, of those who tortured him," said Connell.

In its official response to the Senate torture report, the CIA relies on its interrogation of Ammar al Baluchi to rationalize its torture program.  It claims, "Ammar, after undergoing enhanced interrogation techniques, was the first detainee to reveal what apparently was a carefully guarded al-Qa'ida secret-that Abu Ahmed served as a courier for messages to and from Bin Laden." (Page 38.)  The Senate Minority Report goes further, claiming that Mr. al Baluchi "provided this information at a CIA black site during a period of enhanced interrogation." (Page XVII.)

The CIA claim is also the plot of the film Zero Dark Thirty, which used Ammar al Baluchi as the basis for its character "Ammar."  "In its response, and in the information it obviously provided for Zero Dark Thirty, the CIA tried to portray its interrogation of Mr. al Baluchi as a success story.  In fact, the story-true or not-documents failures of democracy and American values.  Torture is always wrong." said Lt Col Sterling Thomas, military counsel for Mr. al Baluchi.
The prosecution in the military commission has refused to turn over information about CIA communications to filmmakers.  The motion seeking information about communications between the CIA and Zero Dark Thirty filmmakers (AE 195) is available at