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CIA interrogation facility outside Kabul

“The Salt Pit”
CIA Interrogation Facility outsitde Kabul

On March 3, 2005, an article by Dana Priest titled “CIA Avoids Scrutiny of Detainee Treatment” and published in The Washington Post exposed the existence of a secretly-run CIA interrogation facility in Afghanistan code-named the “Salt Pit.” Located to the north of Kabul’s business district, the Salt Pit was reportedly an abandoned brick factory built on a 10-acre site, consisting of a three-story building, as well as several smaller buildings.

The facility was established as an interrogation center following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. In addition to serving as a detention facility, the site was reportedly also used to train Afghan counterrorism forces. Eventually the site was expanded to include a probable CIA station which was accessible only to CIA agents and a small number of Afghan guards. Before the Salt Pit became operational it is believed that CIA interrogations took place in a number of heavily secured metal shipping containers at Bagram air base.

Although designated as an Aghan “host-nation facility”, manned by Afghan guards, the site was, according to the report, financed entirely using CIA funds, covering salaries, maintenance and electricity, among others. This was meant to provide some level of protection for CIA officers for actions being perpetrated within the confines of the site. The CIA also reportedly determined who would be detained at the facility.

As of the time of the Washington Post article, the brick factory had already been torn down. This followed the November 2002 death of an Afghan detainee at the “Salt Pit” who froze to death overnight after having been stripped naked, was buried and kept “off-the-books”. The CIA case officer in charge of the facility has since reportedly been promoted, though an investigation by the CIA Inspector General had been opened. As of mid-March 2005, the US Justice Department was reportedly considering pressing charges in that case.

Though the “Salt Pit” has reportedly been closed, it is believed to have been replaced by another facility.

The “Salt Pit” was only one part of a worldwide network of detention centers established since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.