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Trump Backpedals from Reopening Black Site Prisons Abroad | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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President Trump signs addition executive orders in the Oval Office on Saturday. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Washington-The Donald Trump administration stepped back from an earlier draft executive order that would have called for a review on whether the United States should reopen overseas “black site” prisons, where CIA-led interrogation techniques often condemned as torture were used.

The black site prisons were used under President George W. Bush to detain terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The New York Times, citing unidentified officials, on Saturday said the White House was circulating a revised version that did not have language that contemplated reopening the prisons.

A senior administration official confirmed the initial draft was no longer under consideration. “It was a transition draft never under serious consideration by the administration,” the official said. “We have abandoned that transition draft.”

The now-defunct CIA program used so-called enhanced interrogation practices, that were criticized around the world and denounced by former President Barack Obama and other senior U.S. officials as torture.

Neither Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo nor Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had been consulted about the draft order before it was leaked on Jan. 25, according to officials.

The CIA ran a prison where accused terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda, such as Abu Zubayadah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri were waterboarded in 2003, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials.

Trump, who has pushed for tougher interrogation techniques, said he would consult with Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis before authorizing any new policy.

Waterboarding — which is now banned for use under federal law — is intended to simulate the feeling of being drowned. A person is strapped to a board with the upper part of his body on a downward incline.

Then, a cloth is placed over the person’s mouth, and water is poured over his face, causing the person to have difficulty breathing and to feel as though his lungs are filling with water.