The U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has acknowledged for the first time that two of its officials traveled 14 years ago to a secret Central Intelligence Agency detention site in Afghanistan, where they trained staff at a facility described by an intelligence official as “the closest thing he has seen to a dungeon,” CBS News reports. The admission came in response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, which was filed after BOP denied having any record of involvement with the detention site.
The BOP’s 2002 visit to the site, known as “The Salt Pit” and COBALT, was documented in a 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture, interrogation, and detention. The report notes that prison officials determined the site was “not inhumane” despite seeing detainees forced to stand for days naked and shackled to walls in total darkness at a 45-degree temperature. Loud music played around the clock and the detainees were given only buckets for their waste.
The CIA asked for the BOP inspection because agents worried that conditions were too harsh for them to elicit reliable intelligence, said the Senate report. During the prison officials’ visit, one detainee died from apparent hypothermia.
Editors Note: The Crime Report first reported this story in 2015. See “The Mystery of the BOP, CIA and Afghanistan.”