Unsealed CIA Memos Provide Shocking 'Salt Pit' Black Site Details

Tyler Durden's picture

A new batch of 274 CIA documents connected with Bush era torture have just been made public as a result of a lawsuit brought by families of victims. Contained in the documents are newly unearthed details on the CIA's "black site" program which reached its peak under Bush's 'war on terror' as well as shocking details revealing how the agency integrated its contract psychologists into its 'enhanced interrogation' program in order to give torture a veneer of legality. While much of this story of CIA torture has already slowly come to light over the past few years, especially with the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report, the just released documents capture internal high level agency discussions revealing a cover-up in action.

Many of the memos focus on the CIA's infamous 'Cobalt' site in Afghanistan (also code named The Salt Pit), routinely described in headlines as the "sadistic dungeon" and "dark prison" for its full sensory deprivation darkness which detainees experienced round the clock, sometimes for years, as well as the two psychologists credited with designing the program of brutal interrogation techniques: John "Bruce" Jessen and James Mitchell. 

Two surviving prisoners and the family of a detainee who died at the Colbalt site reached an out-of-court settlement with the CIA psychologists in August after a lawsuit was brought for their role in the torture. As was hoped, the CIA and Pentagon were forced to declassify the documents related to the case in pretrial discovery. 

Satellite image of Cobalt site, also called the Salt Pitt, from now public documents.

The documents show the psychologists had been directly involved in designing and implementing torture, and that the blurring of lines between CIA interrogators and the psychologists originally brought in for "research" and development of techniques had agency leadership worried over future legal ramifications. Jessen himself had spent 10 days at the Cobalt facility in November 2002 where he was involved in interrogating Gul Rahman - a suspected militant who died of hypothermia while chained naked from the waist down to a concrete floor. He died 5 days after Jessen left. 

Ironically, a key fact rarely highlighted is that Gul Rahman was captured among Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-i-Islami faction, which itself had previously been funded and vastly expanded by the CIA  as part of Operation Cyclone. By 2010 terror leader Hekmatyar himself would enter negotiations with then President Karzai, and by 2017 would be fully reconciled with the US-backed government in Kabul.

Dr. Bruce Jessen, left, and Dr. James Mitchell, psychologists who contracted with the C.I.A.

The Guardian summarizes the newly released "Chronology of Significant Events" court findings covering the specific time period of Rahman's slow death at the Salt Pit as follows:

  • November 2002: Rahman wearing only socks and diaper; supervisor has concern regarding hypothermia
  • Rahman subjected to 48 hours of sleep deprivation, rough treatment, cold shower and other measures but remained noncompliant.
  • Subjected to cold conditions and minimum food and sleep... confused due to dehydration and fatigue.
  • Cable recommends future use of continued environmental deprivations with interrogations 18 out of 24 hours daily
  • Linguist asks questions about the temperature at which hypothermia occurs
  • November 19 2200 hrs guard check - Rahman is alive.
  • 2300 hrs guard check - Rahman is alive.
  • November 20 0400 hrs guard check - Rahman is alive.
  • 0800 hrs guard check - Rahman is alive.
  • 1000 hrs guard check - Rahman is dead.

The Guardian further describes the now declassified documents as providing "the fullest picture yet of what the three men suffered [associated with the lawsuit] in that secret CIA dungeon – and of how fatefully their lives intersected with the rise and fall of James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the men who designed the torture regime."

Highlighted below are some revealing sections from the newly released batch of CIA torture memos - some of the below were already available before the latest release:

CIA contracted psychologists created an “Exploitation Draft Plan” which involved holding captives in soundproof cells in hidden facilities that were beyond the reach of the Red Cross, the press, and even internal US government oversight. The plan notes: No International Red Cross [IRC] nor even US observers. Detainees were essentially "disappeared" individuals and not even family members knowing their fates. Rahman's family didn't know of his whereabouts or death for seven years until an AP report unearthed his name. As noted in the below memo, Pentagon involvement ended with capture and transfer as a DoD psychologist accompanied the captive "unbeknown to the subject" after which the CIA psychologists would be involved in interrogation. 

Particularly intense "interrogation" sessions involved medical personnel attending to detainee wounds, and even applying antibiotics, so that torture could continue: "The straps were removed: subjects breathing continued to be rapid. Subject was then instructed to off the [water] board under his own power, which he did. The interrogators pointed to the small box and said, 'you know what to do.'... At 1130 hours, taken out of small box, hooded, and made to stand against a cell wall: at 1230 hrs, back into the large box (unhooded)--note that medical officers dressed as security team member at this time gave subject Betadine to clean wound. Subject was also given a topical antibiotic to apply to the leg wound... At 1450 hrs, back to large box. At 1601 hrs into small box: 1612 hrs, subject was heard crying/wimpering/chanting, 1635 went from small box to floor, sitting down hooded; and 1655 hrs, returned to large box, unhooded..."

CIA leadership envisioned that psychologists Jessen and Mitchel would provide a legally "defensible" veneer to torture sessions (after being paid $81 million). So long as their personal assessments vouched for detainees being of mentally sound mind, "enhanced interrogations" could be initiated. "In my read of the DOJ memo, providing we abide by our water board process on [redacted] (qualified medical staff present, the defensible exam is done and we follow our procedures) I believe the water board can be approved by CTC/LGL [CIA's internal legal review team] without the need for further input from DOJ." Jessen and Mitchel were paid $81 million by the CIA in the process.

CIA leadership suggested psych evals be done from afar based on mere review of a file in order to set up a minimally invasive rubber stamp process. "to get waterboard approvals, we need a psychological evaluation... [Name redacted] indicated that we need to make a 'defensible' psychological analysis indicating that, given the individual's particular mental disposition, he would not suffer prolonged and sever psychological problems resulting from the enhanced interrogation techniques... can OTS make a defensible analysis based on a file review on the targets? Or do they need to have a psych eval done on the ground, face-to-face?  [Name redacted] indicates that all it must [be] is 'defensible.'"

Doctors and nurses were requested to be present during sessions. One email with the subject line "Medical coverage planning" asked "There would be nurses on site correct?" This was presumably to allow torture to continue after detainees were injured, wounded, or sick - while also preventing those running the program from being legally exposed to prosecution. 

Internal admissions of "blatant disregard for ethics": CIA contracted psychologists' ethics were questioned even by colleagues. They "have both shown blatant disregard for the ethics shared by almost all of their colleagues." Other emails admitted: “No professional in the field would credit their later judgments as psychologists assessing the subjects of their enhanced measures." And also, “if some untoward outcome is later to be explained, their sole use in this role will be indefensible.”

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Rebelrebel7's picture

Ex FBI agent Ted Gunderson said that he had an informant at a CIA child sex slave auction and they auction children off  for $50,000!

Watch "Ted Gunderson (3 of 10) Gulf Coast 9/11 Truth Symposium" on YouTube


Ms No's picture

He was one of the few who came out at the get go and said that the Oklahoma City bombing was an inside job.  His audience was a nation too stupid to care and more interested in watching a TV show then spending any amount of time monitoring what might be going on in their nation.  I guess they expected it to self sustaining.  If people would have given a shit then we wouldn't be here now.  RIP Ted. 

Lost in translation's picture

How is it that the American public can know that their own government tortures human beings on the other side of the planet, and yet somehow believe that the same will not be done to them?

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

- Gal 6:7, KJV

HRH Feant2's picture

It is being done to them. It is legal and common practice to administer ECT (electro convulsive therapy) to veterans at every VA hospital in the US.

ECT is nothing less than electronic lobotomy. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroconvulsive_therapy

Legal. Allowed. And fucking so-called psychiatrists are peddling this crap as a treatment, today, every day, in the USSA.

Eyes Opened's picture

Boo FUCKING Hoo...

Karma's a bitch....

King of Ruperts Land's picture

Are these two professionals still walking around?

Rebelrebel7's picture

An excellent reason to avoid doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists in particular.

Award winning ex FBI agent Ted Gunderson discusses government satanic black cult operations including Oklahoma city bombing, 1993 WTC bombing, 2001 WTC bombing, and CIA satanic child abduction ring for sex slaves and human sacrifice:

Watch "Ted Gunderson (3 of 10) Gulf Coast 9/11 Truth Symposium" on YouTube




Ted Gunderson is a retired award winning FBI agent discussing extrajudicial murder by the government :


Watch "Ted Gunderson (1 of 10) Gulf Coast 9/11 Truth Symposium" on YouTube


Everybody, please post this on social media! It's us against them! They can't beat the entire country! 

Ephesians 6:12 

New International Version

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

 1 John 5:19 

New International Version

"We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one."



StinkyLebinowitz's picture

Someone explain to me how this comes close to competing with putting someone in a cage and then burning them to death and maybe then I will give a shit what the CIA did in their "black sites".

Games Without Frontiers's picture

You don't have to give a shit, just no bitching and moaning when US lackeys are stripped naked and frozen to death.

foxenburg's picture

@stinky. You have neatly put it in a nutshell. There is nothing to chose between ISIS and Uncle Sam. I think ISIS is the more honest of the two; they don't try and bullshit the rest of the world that they are defending freedom or some such crap. They just say openly - "oppose us and we'll murder, rape, enslave you." Also, if you leave them alone, to themselves, in their desert homeland they will probably not try and invade Oklahoma, kill all the locals and steal the oil.

Eyes Opened's picture

"There is nothing to choose between ISIS and Uncle Sam."


Thats because ISIS & Uncle Sam are 2 side of the same coin...

Or... more bluntly Uncle Sam IS ISIS....

deoldefarte's picture

IMHO this is worse.
At least death by fire is quicker.
Death by CIA way would involve weeks, even months
of extreme pain.
So tell me how: "this comes close"??

headless blogger's picture

The USA needs to put those 2 psychopathic "Psychologists" away for life in prison or put them on trial for murder; throw away the key. That would be a start. They should make a public announcement to the world, that they plan on putting more of these psychos away.

These people, along with thousands of taxpayer funded politicians and Administrators (of various sorts) should be next.

They are responsible for the deaths, maiming, displacement of millions and millions of people and have Damaged our nation beyond repair.


Yars Revenge's picture

Torture is a very poor means of extracting information out of someone.

This has been known since the Spanish Inquisition.

Tom_Pain's picture

I wasn't expecting a post about the Spanish Inquisition.

HedgeJunkie's picture

No one "expects" the Spanish Inquisition!

virgule's picture

Only if you watch the old Monty Python

Eyes Opened's picture

Torture is NEVER about intel gathering.... we all know that...

Yars Revenge's picture

Torture is a very poor means of extracting information out of someone.

This has been known since the Spanish Inquisition.

any_mouse's picture

It is a terror technique. Information gathering is cover.

Look at the images of the psychos who were paid 81 mill. Very demented, perverted individuals.

The CIA is not defending you and me.

Games Without Frontiers's picture

When I see an expose like this I first think "and this is just what we know about"........

HRH Feant2's picture

Why do veterans have to be exposed to ECT as a fucking treatment? ECT is not a treatment. It is torture. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroconvulsive_therapy

1 Alabama's picture

the doctor is coo coo in the head about some things.


r0mulus's picture

Yep. Beyond horrific, and only scratching the surface...
I'd like to think there is justice somewhere for these psychopaths, but a frank examination of history only evidences the opposite.


"...you know what to do" [subject enters small box]

foxenburg's picture

"You know what to do"....before the guy contorted himself into a very small box for god know how many hours or days.

And the guy giving the orders would have spoken in a mild mid-west accent along the lines of "Honey, I'm home. How's the kids?". And he's almost surely one of the 77% of Americans who apparently believe in angels. 


ConnectingTheDots's picture

"Honey, I'm home. How's the kids?".

Sounds a lot like what the German concentration camp guards used to say after coming home after a hard day at "work".

hondah35's picture

ok, we can take you out to Cobalt but there will be total darkness or you can do some more naked pyramid here at Abu Ghraib, Which will it be?

Son of Captain Nemo's picture

The meal ticket (http://www.ae911truth.org/) that made the Jessen/Mitchell hour possible, and why when it completely end for U.S. it will be nothing less than SPECTACULAR!...

You know I wouldn't be at all surprised if one day we found out that Josef Mengele came from somewhere in Chicago or Detroit and simply changed his identity through the OSS to "observe" like these guys did (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPrMah9htzk) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRfhUezbKLw) and like the rest of them lived comfortably in their old age in Argentina and Brazil dying "peacefully" in their sleep.

Say what you will about the worst of the worst that these two guys represent, the absolute WORST comes from the ones in the trenches "just following orders" like the ones at Nuremberg more than likely never followed that didn't do this (http://www.whale.to/b/starvation_of_germans.html), or this (http://worldobserveronline.com/2013/06/13/rape-iraqi-women-us-forces-wea...), or this (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Ghraib_prison), or this (https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/souvenirs-of-torture-in-vietnam/Conten...)

Nothings changed folks! Been there... Done that... Still here... BUT NOT FOR MUCH LONGER!

After all we are the best at making a production out of torture, murder and theft and the ones who promoted this lie will be first in line to be eaten alive, drawn and quartered or slow roasted on a spit by none other than the Russians, Syrians and Iranians!... Because we sure as hell know and understand that Langely and DoD have no conscience and no self respect given the level of failure and destruction they keep perpetuating NO MATTER WHAT!

In closing what makes it all the more horrific is knowing that every member of the U.S. military and CIA 16 years later knows the unvarnished truth that 9/11 was the worst lie to give the "Bobbsey Twins" a job. And yet they will continue their long march of perpetual shame into "the kiln" until there is nothing left of either them or the rest of U.S.!

Raising a glass to the last "Mission Accomplished" Bruce, James and the camo that continues to protect them no matter how horrific the crimes and treason they commit WILL NEVER SEE COMIN!!!

rockface's picture

I'm not interested in any pity party for jihadists.

Jack Oliver's picture

Jihadist's is just another name for Zio/US sponsored mercenaries !!!

Posa's picture

It's not about them; it's about us.

Abaco's picture

What about the people who aren't jihadist but get swept up in our insane, and phony, war on terror, and are tortured? Dull  ind you have there.

Abaco's picture

Torture someone in my family and I will kill you.  I expect the Iraqi and Afghanistan have a similar view.  Can you articulate just whay we are in Afghanistan and Iraq today killing people? The War on Terror (tm) is bullshit. If you believe the offical story of 9/11 it was the Saudis, not the Iraqi's, who attacked us and in response we invaded Iraq.  If Bin Laden was the master mind, and we were taking defensive action, why did we let him escape down the Pakistani side of Tora Bora when Delta had him trapped?  If we are so worried about terrorists attacking us why do we leave our borders undefended and import islamic radicals?

We are killing people all over the world with our justification being a complete lie.


HRH Feant2's picture

There are some seriously fucked up people in this world. You never think that a doctor is going to be the fucked up person claiming to help you and lying so they can torture you.

Hey folks, that Doctor claiming to help you? They lied.

tigerbean's picture

Hurry! we need to send the torturees and their families tens of millions of dollars... NOW!!

Posa's picture

Hurry. We need to indict war criminals... get them to sing... go up the chain

tigerbean's picture

BTW why are these two civilian psychologists and their associates being thrown under the proverbial bus when we don't even know how the contract was sold to them in the first place?


virgule's picture

What's the difference with nazis doctors in concentration camps? (by that I mean war crimes and execution)

Catahoula's picture

It was only muslim islamists. Open the doors again and have some good fun

frontierland's picture

We could use a Salt Pit here too, for all the Anti-Whites.

drewster3's picture

Not denying that waterboarding is unethical and completely uncalled for, but the definition of torture 'ain't what it used to be". I understand that the fear and dread of being potentially drowned can strike fear into the victim via waterboarding, but at the end of the day, not a hair on the victim's his head is harmed (not counting the inclusion of additional hypothermia treatment). The torture is purely psychological. Again, not saying I agree with waterboarding; it is unethical and it produces nothing useful in the form of a confession. It's what could be called Western Civilization torture.

The reason I go off on this is that I just clicked over here from watching some of BestGore's horrific videos of beheadings and other atrocities. Compare waterboarding to the plight of a victim who's body is hacked with a machete, had his hands cut off, has his stomach punctured and his intestines slowly pulled out, then at the end he is slowly beheaded over a 10-minute period with a dull butter knife. Raw, unedited video. It is absolutely gut-wrenching.

No rational person would use the single word "torture" as an all-encompassing term to describe both of the above activities without more defining language. Clearly there are gradations to levels of torture, and clearly one activity in the above examples is worse for the victim than the other. However, in our current culture, anything called torture is equally bad - on all levels, and should be treated as such. However, from any practical, thoughtful and honest viewpoint, all tortures are not equal.

Eyes Opened's picture


"but at the end of the day, not a hair on the victim's his head is harmed"

Yeah... US torture is sooo much more civilised don't you think ??

The "beauty" of waterboarding is that it CAN be inflicted day after day, hour after hour & no end in sight... also no evidence, kinda like when an abusive spouse covers a victim with a pillow before striking them so as to leave no bruises... very civilised....



"Clearly there are gradations to levels of torture, and clearly one activity in the above examples is worse for the victim than the other. However, in our current culture, anything called torture is equally bad"


The fact that u can rationalise torture with a statement  like this speaks volumes about your humanity...

You do NOT understand what FREEDOM really means, for you or for anyone else....

Posa's picture

Plus these "enhanced interrpgations" don't elicit useful info... just a field day for sadists who get off on torturing humans... sickos and their supporters at work

Abaco's picture

He did not rationalize torture.  He made a distinction between types of torture. Your knee jerk reaction is an example of why it is damn near impossible to have a rational discussion of almost any issue.

iadr's picture

No. Your irrationality and mental/moral failure here, is.

Cthonic's picture

I've offered to waterboard people like you to see if they might recant their position; strangely enough, none have taken me up on it.

PrivetHedge's picture

You are failing to mention that WE sponsor the ISIS terrorists that do the beheading.

We know where the terrorists are and what they are doing because our US/Israeli special forces are leading them and showing them where the Russians and Syrians are.

There is therefore NO REASON to torture ANYONE, the whole exercise is sadism and satanism: There is no intelligence requirement.