Money

CIA Torture Supervisor Reportedly Owns Million-Dollar Home

| by Michael Allen

News reports stated last week that two psychologists who designed CIA torture tactics made $81 million from the U.S. government, despite their lack of experience in interrogating detainees.

However, they weren't the only ones to have profited from torture.

Now, the Intercept reports that Matthew Zirbel, a CIA agent, "was in charge of the Salt Pit, a 'black site' in Afghanistan referred to in the recent Senate torture report as 'Cobalt,' where detainees were routinely brutalized and which one visitor described as a 'dungeon.'"

Rolling Stone noted that the Senate report on torture stated: "At times, the detainees at COBALT were walked around naked or were shackled with their hands above their heads for extended periods of time. Other times, the detainees at COBALT were subjected to what was described as a 'rough takedown,' in which approximately five CIA officers would scream at a detainee, drag him outside of his cell, cut his clothes off, and secure him with Mylar tape. The detainee would then be hooded and dragged up and down a long corridor while being slapped and punched."

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The Daily Beast adds: "A Senate aide who briefed reporters on the condition that he not be identified said that the Cobalt site was run by a junior officer with no relevant experience, and that this person had 'issues' in his background that should have disqualified him from working for the CIA at all. The aide didn’t specify what those issues were, but suggested that the CIA should have flagged them. The committee found that some employees at the site lacked proper training and had “histories of violence and mistreatment of others ... At the Cobalt facility, the CIA also forced some detainees who had broken feet or legs to stand in stress-inducing positions, despite having earlier pledged that they wouldn’t subject those wounded individuals to treatment that might exacerbate their injuries."

The Guardian reported that the Senate report said the CIA interrogated a detainee named Gul Rahman at the Cobalt facility with “48 hours of sleep deprivation, auditory overload, total darkness, isolation, a cold shower and rough treatment."

After CIA headquarters recommended “enhanced measures," a CIA officer ordered the half-naked Rahman to be “shackled to the wall of his cell in a position that required the detainee to rest on the bare concrete floor," added the Senate report.

Rahman was found dead on Nov. 20, 2002. An internal CIA report claimed that he died from hypothermia, “in part from having been forced to sit on the bare concrete floor without pants."

However, his death was not revealed by the CIA or the U.S. government, but rather by the Associated Press in 2010.

The Intercept notes that the Senate report said Rahman didn't even qualify for the “standard for detention" and his case was a “mistaken identity.” The Senate report claims that Zirbel’s initial report to CIA headquarters about Rahman included “misstatements and omissions.” However, an official at the CIA recommended Zirbel for a $2,500 bonus for “consistently superior work,” reports The Intercept.

The Intercept adds:

It’s not clear if Zirbel currently works for the CIA, or government, but wherever he is, he certainly doesn’t appear to he hurting for money. Public records show he owns several properties, including the house in Great Falls, which he bought in 2006 for $1.3 million and still owns. The house sits on five wooded acres and is apparently being rented for $4,500 per month, so Zirbel lives elsewhere.

... Incidentally, Zirbel’s estate in Virginia is about 200 miles southeast of Loretto, Pennsylvania. That’s where CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, the only person ever sentenced to prison time over the torture program, is currently shacked up at a federal correctional institute.

The CIA would not comment about Zirbel.

Sources: Intercept, Rolling Stone, The Daily Beast, Associated Press, The Guardian / Image Credit: CIA Logo