Detainee 063: serialized interrogation and torture log of Mohamed al-Kahtani

qahtani.jpg "This is the interrogation log of Mohammed al-Qahtani. It is being published in real time: each entry will appear exactly seven years after it was first recorded. The interrogation took place at Guantanamo Bay."

That is him in the photo above. He is still imprisoned in Guantanamo. The serialized logs are not for the faint of heart. By way of background, al-Qahtani was the first "war on terror detainee" the United States admitted to having tortured. Snip:

Over the course of the fifty days, Al-Qahtani, Detainee 063, is questioned by teams of interrogators working in shifts, typically for twenty hours a day. While individual entries of the log are sometimes brutal and unpleasant to read, what is particularly disturbing about the treatment Al-Qahtani receives is its relentlessness. By publishing the log in real time, this site is intended as a kind of re-enactment - to show how mistreatment which might not appear immediately as terrible as, for example, waterboarding, can nonetheless come to amount to nothing short of torture, how by being prolonged and unceasing it can become unbearable.

More about the project here. Apart from the brutality, it just gets really weird. Some of the entries go, "Played Christina Aguilera music," or,

Control began "birthday party" and placed party hat on detainee. Detainee offered birthday cake - refused. Interrogators and guards sing "God bless America". Detainee became very angry.

The entries are also available through an RSS feed and a Twitter account. To those of you in the US, remember that your tax dollars paid for every word of it. (thanks, Susannah Breslin)


  1. wow. As I read I’m trying to count the violations of the Third Geneva Convention. I know that the conventions don’t count in the USA as of 9/11, but it’s still a useful moral yardstick (and nothing more, sadly). Comparing the POW rules with Detainee 063’s records is pretty disheartening.

    “No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.”

    I’m still at the beginning, but compare that to:

    “Detainee requested to use the restroom. When offered a bottle he said that he wanted to go outside. Control told him he could not, he would have to use the bottle. Detainee agreed. As preparations were being made control was talking about his behavior and how to get off the gurney, detainee urinated in his pants.”

  2. “Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress toward more pain.”

  3. It’s weird, but on reading this, I was constantly reminded of those freaky “instant pick-up” guys with all their canned “ego up/ego down” tricks and depersonalising “if she does X you do Y” responses.

    It’s like they’ve both stumbled on the same sinister algorithm of manipulativeness. Are the interrogators seducing their detainees or are the PUAs torturing women in bars?

  4. Classic good cop/bad cop routine:

    “SGT R runs a harsh pride & ego down approach. ENS C (as rehearsed earlier) comes in and asks SGT R what he is doing. ENS C says ‘Don’t talk to him like that, he’s a human being.’ SGT R says ‘Human beings don’t kill 3000 people’ and storms out.”

    If human beings didn’t do it, I guess he’s a fan of the controlled demolition theory. Or the pod-missile theory.

  5. If you feel no shame about Torture? -I gently suggest you consider getting professional help!

    I feel the measure of a nation’s character is in which actions are called prides or shames. Anyone calling torture a thing to have pride in may be a Sociopath. IF they say Opposing Torture is anything other than a duty of sane humans- then I fear that person’s a Psychopath. I just never in my worst nightmares thought we’d have dispute over so fundamental a point of basic human sanity. Sane humans claiming Torture to be EVER needful scares me nearly beyond words. I hold proponents of any Torture whatsoever arguably are showing SELF_forfeiture of their own sanity AND humanity. Of course- denying the humanity of the humans being Tortured excuses nothing..

  6. “Interrogators gave class to new MPs in view of detainee stating the resistance training, clouded thinking, series of mistakes, and attempts to gain control that the detainee has exhibited. Interrogators ran puppet show satirizing the detainee’s involvement with Al Qaida.”

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  7. Amazing that so many doctors are present or providing support to the interrogators and by default condoning torture. I suppose they conveniently forgot their Hippocratic oath. Wonder who they are and which public hospitals they are working in nowadays. I wouldn’t want to be their patient.

  8. We used this interrogation log to build the audio for a virtual reality immersive journalism experience on what it means to be put in a stress position. We used a head mounted display and had individuals listen to the interrogation as if it was being played in the adjacent room while “standing” in a stress position. You can watch the video about this experience at:

  9. December 6, 0100: Detainee taken to porch where he can see foraging banana rats and told that he chose this life with the rats.

    Look at those banana rats. Just look at them.

    I cope by means of humor.

  10. If he was not a member of Al Qaeda, I might have sympathies. I think you are all blowing this a bit out of proportion.

  11. JohnCJ: You can’t be serious? You think it’s okay to torture?

    1. It’s a low, sub-human behaviour which achieves nothing except creating power-hungry monsters and broken, bitter people.

    2. Intelligence gathered is less in quantity and quality than good detective work (google “torture” and “unreliable”)

    3. It presumes that the person you have is indeed guilty of something. Many are in fact guilty of nothing. (google “guantanamo” and “innocent”)

    Seriously. You think it’s okay for any government to kidnap based on unfounded reasons, torture beyond the need for information, and lock up for life people who are proven innocent? (re: ‘guantanamo innocent’).

    I hope you never find yourself in similar circumstances.

    1. Thank you, Marco. You said essentially what I had planned to say to JohnCJ only less diplomatically.

      Still, JohnCJ, what you apparently lack the clarity of thought to understand that abiding by the Geneva Conventions *did* provide some small measure of protection for US citizens travelling abroad. But with that attitude, my guess is that you won’t be traveling outside of your county anytime soon, let alone out of country.

  12. “If he was not a member of Al Qaeda, I might have sympathies.”

    Why do you need sympathy to see that treating people inhumanely is wrong, perverts the course of justice and is very very stupid?

  13. November 28 – 13:00
    “Subject was given cheeseburger and MRE. He had some worry if the burger was O.K. for him to eat, he finally decided it was.”

    December 2 – 10:30
    “Control began “birthday party” and placed party hat on detainee. Detainee offered birthday cake – refused. Interrogators and guards sing “God bless America”. Detainee became very angry.”

    December 2 – 18:00
    “Third Shift began interrogation with Al-Qaida Falling Apart theme. Detainee ate one Hostess Cupcake with interrogation team.”

    JohnCJ – Fck y.

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