Another C.I.A. Ghost Detainee

Salon today has an article about another CIA ghost detainee, Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, kept in a secret overseas prisons for months, undisclosed to the Red Cross and finally transferred to Guantanamo.

The C.I.A. (read White House) takes the position that these detainees are unlawful combatents and not entitled to protections of the Geneva conventions.

While the U.S. military recently adopted new rules for interrogation in the wake of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, legal and human rights experts say the CIA may be continuing to flout the law -- potentially using abusive interrogation tactics at secret prisons known as "black sites" -- at the direction of the Bush White House.

Red Cross officials confirmed to Salon that the CIA did not alert them during the months that al-Hadi was a prisoner with the agency. "We have repeatedly asked U.S. authorities to be notified and have access to all detainees, including those held by the CIA," said Simon Schorno, a spokesman for the Red Cross in Washington. "But we did not have access to Mr. al-Hadi before his transfer [to military custody]. For us, that is problematic."


Congress made it clear in passing the Military Commissions Act that torture was not an available option for the C.I.A.

The White House apparently lost when Congress overwhelmingly passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006. It forbids detainee abuse, using specific language that experts on human rights and international law say would be hard, if not impossible, to circumvent legally.

Those experts were subsequently shocked by what Bush said in the East Room of the White House when he signed the bill last October. "This bill will allow the Central Intelligence Agency to continue its program for questioning key terrorist leaders and operatives," Bush said. "[The CIA] program has been one of the most successful intelligence efforts in American history."

Since the Red Cross wasn't told about al-Hadi, there's no way to know if he was tortured while in CIA custody.

In its statement to Salon, the CIA also said that it had no legal responsibility to alert the Red Cross of al-Hadi's status, calling him an "unlawful combatant," a categorization that critics charge the Bush administration has used to circumvent the Geneva Conventions. The CIA acknowledged that the Department of Defense alerted the Red Cross about al-Hadi -- but suggested DoD was not required to do so.

The Red Cross is being allowed to see all the Guantanamo detainees, although grudgingly:

"Although, as unlawful combatants, these detainees have no legal claim to ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] visits, those visits have been arranged at Guantánamo," the CIA said.

The question arises whether the CIA detainees, the ghost prisoners, are being treated differently than the DOD detainees.

Specific authority for covert operations in the war on terrorism were put in place by a secret "presidential finding" signed by Bush six days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, authorizing broad covert action by the CIA to capture, detain or kill members of al-Qaida anywhere in the world. Mary Ellen O'Connell, a professor of international law at Notre Dame Law School, said the al-Hadi case raises the possibility that the president has secretly given the CIA a new mandate to operate outside the constraints of the new law put in place by Congress last year. "This suggests that the president has signed some sort of additional authority for the CIA," she said.

John Sifton of Human Rights Watch adds:

"It is better to speak of it as a divergence between the military and the White House," rather than the military and the CIA, he said. "The White House has wanted to take the gloves off with detainees and has used the CIA as their proxy."

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  • Display: Sort:
    666 words in story? (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 22, 2007 at 11:54:45 AM EST
    You're possessed J.

    The anti-Evangelical Law Schools post (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 22, 2007 at 11:55:40 AM EST
    is now easily understood . . .

    667 including 'more' (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Tue May 22, 2007 at 01:10:31 PM EST
    Thanks god for more otherwise it would a clear case of possession.

    Remember this (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by scribe on Tue May 22, 2007 at 12:17:11 PM EST
    when you talk about Gonzo, Yoo, Ashcroft, Delahunty and all the others holding law licenses, who have made these atrocities happen:

    "A lawyer's character is not to be determined by his transactions with the strong but by his dealings with the weak.  It is not the integrity occasioned by compunction, but the moral fiber revealed in the midst of temptation that is the true measure of a man."

    In re Honig, 89 A.2d 411 (1952).

    For what it's worth, Honig drew a deed for signature by a long-time client, through which the client, in some financial straits, was to deed over to Honig some realty (though owing Honig no money).  Honig then went to the hospital where the client was critically ill and facing major surgery and got him to sign the deed, then insisted on retaining for himself the "bargain" and showed no repentance or other desire to undo the transaction.

    By a vote of 4-3, Honig was suspended from practice for two years.  The quote above comes from the dissent.  The three dissenters would have disbarred him.

    If this is the punishment justice metes out for something as minimal - in the world of things and events - as a lawyer deeding a client's house to himself - one has to wonder what sort of punishment would, indeed, be appropriate for the architects and designers of a system of torture.

    scribe (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue May 22, 2007 at 12:58:19 PM EST
    If this is the punishment justice metes out for something as minimal - in the world of things and events - as a lawyer deeding a client's house to himself

    Minimal? Stealing a persons home?



    Property Rights ppJ (none / 0) (#7)
    by squeaky on Tue May 22, 2007 at 01:14:51 PM EST
    Stealing a house is huge but torturing people or shooting looters no problem.

    That's a social liberal for ya.


    squeaky (none / 0) (#9)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue May 22, 2007 at 01:29:41 PM EST
    Stealing a person's home and calling the crime "minimal."

    That's a socialist for you.

    Remember, food is.

    Especially someone else's.


    If you bothered to read the case, you'd find that (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by scribe on Tue May 22, 2007 at 01:45:43 PM EST
    the lawyer in question ultimately undid the transaction, and deeded the house back to the client though, to be sure, the client wound up being out about $1000 (in 1952 dollars) spent in chasing the lawyer down.  

    Immediately preceding the quote I posted above, the Court's dissenters (who wanted to disbar the lawyer) said this:

    The [lawyer] here not only took undue advantage of a client who was peculiarly in need of trustworthy professional assistance, but he persisted for months in the prosecution of his reprehensible course of conduct to keep his client's property.  His was no error in judgment occasioned by the temptation of the moment, but a crafty scheme for his own enrichment at his client's expense;  a scheme quickly devised, to be sure, yet pursued at leisure.

    Sound familiar?

    As to your comments, Jim, I set you up to rant about the horrors of stealing a house - that transaction then totally unwound with ultimately no harm to the client save a few dollars spent - while you simultaneously drew into your embrace not only the idea of torture in secret dungeons, but also Gonzo's, Card's, Rover's and Bushie's  behavior in setting upon Ashcroft while in the hospital.

    I think this counts as - what - hitting a trifecta?


    scribe (none / 0) (#18)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue May 22, 2007 at 03:04:00 PM EST
    So it is minimal to steal a person's home if he chases you down, spends $5K (07 $'s) doing it and you give it back?

    I don't think so.

    As to whatever happened at the hospital:

    1. Comey could have stopped it all by calling Gonzales/Card and telling them Ashcroft approved, and making a simpe offer to meet the next morning.

    Is it "minimal" that he chose to not communicate, instead deciding to get into a "turf war?"

    1. If I had been Bush, and since I wouldn't have known that Ashcroft had agreed, you are 100% right that I would have wanted an explanation as to why the new ACTING AG wouldn't sign something that had been signed 25 times in a row.

    2. Ashcroft was in the hospital with gallstones. They are painful. Very painful. But quit acting like he was on his death bed. He wasn't.

    Dunegons? Torture? To bad you didn't throw in Amerika, Nazis, Islamophonics.. I'd have given you 50 style points...

    scribe (none / 0) (#10)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue May 22, 2007 at 01:31:10 PM EST
    and scribe....before you get in a dither, "socialist" is meant as a political philsophy, not as a person...

    Wishing Geneva Were Inapplicable Doesnt Make It So (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by DanAllNews on Tue May 22, 2007 at 12:35:34 PM EST
    The C.I.A. (read White House) takes the position that these detainees are unlawful combatents and not entitled to protections of the Geneva conventions.

    Makes you wonder whether anyone in the Bush White House has ever read the Geneva conventions. "Unlawful combatant" is a category of detainee defined in the Geneva conventions, is it not? -- a category still afforded certain protections (though, obviously, not the same as those for "prisoners of war") under the Geneva conventions. And in order to treat a prisoner as an "unlawful combatant", the capturing/detaining entity must establish such status through a competant tribunal process... unless I'm way off in my interpretation... but it seems pretty straightforward to this non-lawyer type.

    You've got that right. (none / 0) (#12)
    by Gabriel Malor on Tue May 22, 2007 at 01:46:26 PM EST
    unless I'm way off in my interpretation

    No, you've got things pretty much right. The Geneva Conventions apply to international armed conflicts, generally. They contain minimum standards for all parties, including unlawful combatants. They contain expanded protections for lawful combatants and the most expansive protections for non-combatants. If a question arises as to what status a particular person belongs to, he must be afforded a competent proceeding to determine his status.

    The factor you haven't addressed here is whether the conflict is an "international armed conflict" and therefore subject to the GenCons. Though the plurality opinion in Hamdan claims not to have to reach that issue because it claims Common Article Three has become customary international law, it seems to have ruled nevertheless (and paradoxically) that conflict with Al Qaida (not Taliban and not Iraqi Republican Guard) is one which is both global and non-international in nature.

    The purpose of that ruling is that for the minimum protections of Common Article Three to apply, the conflict must be: "not of an international character." That's why Justice Stevens tried to hard to somehow admit that the conflict with Al Qaida is "global" and yet somehow "not of an international character."


    Sarcasm Alert (none / 0) (#8)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue May 22, 2007 at 01:27:56 PM EST
    Since the Red Cross wasn't told about al-Hadi, there's no way to know if he was tortured while in CIA custody.

    Hi, I'm from the Red Cross, Mr. al-Hadi. Have you been tortured.

    al-Hadi: Yes!

    Hey case closed. What else do you need.

    Timing on the Announcement (none / 0) (#14)
    by A DC Wonk on Tue May 22, 2007 at 01:57:13 PM EST
    In April, the Admin made the "dramatic" announcement it had captured him -- but they had had him for quite a while.

    So, here's my question: anyone know what day that was and what else was going on in politics at the time?

    The obvious question: was the timing of the announcement meant to distract the country from some bad news (e.g., DOJ, Gonzales, etc.)?  After all, we've had al-Hadi for a while, why was it announced that day ?

    Oh, not again... (none / 0) (#15)
    by Gabriel Malor on Tue May 22, 2007 at 02:07:45 PM EST
    DC Wonk, the "question the timing" response was done to death for al-Hadi on the day of the announcement. See here for Jeralyn's post in which she wonders "Is the Administration just in need of a positive news story for the weekend?"

    A DC Wonk (none / 0) (#20)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue May 22, 2007 at 03:36:32 PM EST
    You don't announce good news on Friday, you announce bad news....

    Wait......is news of capturing a terrorist, bad??


    BBC TV (none / 0) (#16)
    by HK on Tue May 22, 2007 at 02:49:05 PM EST
    Is screening a programme this Thursday (24th May) on BBC 2 for those who are in the UK or have access to this channel elsewhere.  It is called Mystery Flights and it is about the CIA flights that have been landing secretly in Poland.

    DA (none / 0) (#30)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue May 22, 2007 at 05:47:05 PM EST
    When it suits them.

    Like any other administration.

    DA (none / 0) (#34)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue May 22, 2007 at 08:11:22 PM EST
    Your problem is that you are a slow learner. I have never been "for" Bush. Just his actions against the terrorists..which I have stated time and again.

    Not being a Demo Left winger I find that I can support one position and oppose another quite easily.

    Try it, if you can.


    Wait (none / 0) (#36)
    by Repack Rider on Wed May 23, 2007 at 02:49:41 AM EST
    I have never been "for" Bush. Just his actions against the terrorists

    Bush took action against terrorists?

    When?  Did it make the papers?

    How can I find out more about this?  It must be the best kept secret of the last five years.


    bush took action ... (none / 0) (#37)
    by Sailor on Wed May 23, 2007 at 09:34:56 AM EST
    ... by giving them airtime:
    U.S. Government Gave Airtime to Terrorists, Official Admits

    Al Hurra television, the U.S. government's $63 million-a-year effort at public diplomacy broadcasting in the Middle East, is run by executives and officials who cannot speak Arabic, according to a senior official who oversees the program.

    That might explain why critics say the service has recently been caught broadcasting terrorist messages, including an hour-long tirade on the importance of anti-Jewish violence, among other questionable pieces.

    and increasing their money flow:
    In one of the most troubling trends, U.S. officials said that al Qaeda's command base in Pakistan is increasingly being funded by cash coming out of Iraq, where the terrorist network's operatives are raising substantial sums from donations to the anti-American insurgency as well as from kidnappings of wealthy Iraqis and other criminal activity.
    and their recruiting.

    bush is the best friend OBL/AQ ever had.