AP: Detainees Whisked Out of Gitmo To Avoid Compliance With Anticpated Court Ruling

Through an examination of flight records and interviews with U.S. officials and others, the AP has learned the Bush Administration used "Ghost Air," the secret airline that flew detainees to overseas "black hole" prisons for harsh interrogation, to whisk four high-level detainees out of Gitmo and back to a black hole overseas prison -- right before the Supreme Court was to rule on whether detainees can have access to the courts.

Who were they? None other than Abu Zubaydah, Abd al-Nashiri, Ramzi Binalshibh and Mustafa al-Hawsawi. [More...]

In early March 2004, as the legal documents piled up at the Supreme Court, the high court announced that oral arguments would be held in April. After that, a ruling could come at any time, and everyone at the island prison — secretly or not — would be covered.

On March 27, just as the sun was setting on Guantanamo, a Gulfstream IV jet left Cuba. The plane landed in Rabat the next morning. By the time the Supreme Court ruled June 28 that detainees should have access to U.S. courts, the CIA had once again scattered Zubaydah, al-Nashiri and the others throughout the black sites.

The ACLU is outraged and renewing its call for an investigation into the Bush torture program.

"This revelation illustrates the lengths to which the Bush administration went in order to shield its conduct from the courts and keep prisoners outside the protection of the law. Secret detention constitutes a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, and the officials who authorized the CIA's secret prisons and torture program should be held accountable.

"The Bush administration's efforts to defeat the courts' jurisdiction must be added to the list of abuses that the current administration has thus far failed to prosecute or even to investigate. The Justice Department has initiated a criminal investigation into instances in which CIA interrogators exceeded their authority, but that investigation is too narrow. The Justice Department's investigation should examine not just the conduct of interrogators, but the conduct of the officials who authorized torture. The Obama administration's failure to hold senior officials accountable undermines the rule of law."

Also interesting in the AP findings, is that the Bush Adminstration built a CIA prison at Gitmo to house the high level detainees coming from overseas black holes. It was called "Strawberry Fields."

The existence of a CIA prison at Guantanamo was reported in 2004, but it has always been unclear who was there. Unlike the overseas black sites, there was no waterboarding or other harsh interrogation tactics at Strawberry Fields, officials said. It was a holding facility, a place for some of the key figures in the 9/11 attacks to await trial.

Is anyone else humming "Strawberry Fields forever?" Once there, the intent was you never get out, except in a pine box.

(Note: The AP doesn't use the term "Ghost Air", it's one I've been using since this post in 2005. My first post on the secret flights was here in 2004, and all Ghost Air coverage is accessible here.)

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    This is the kind of information that (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Anne on Sat Aug 07, 2010 at 09:28:57 AM EST
    would likely have come out if our newly-majority Democratic "leaders" had not announced after the 2006 elections that impeachment was off the table.

    It's also information that would have come out if our Democratic president had not decided we were only going to look forward, not back.

    It's not too late to investigate, but this president isn't going to get behind it - nor, I suspect, will most of the Democratic caucus - because there is too great a risk that one thing will lead to another, and before you know it, there might be some interesting facts emerging about the complicity of the Congress during the Bush years, what the current administration is doing, and who in the Congress is in on that.

    The Protection Racket will prevail; count on it.

    I suppose the one's who (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by jondee on Sat Aug 07, 2010 at 09:58:43 AM EST
    are tortured and found to know nothing, or become so undone and disoriented that it's impossible to disentangle the useful info from the desperate gibberish, are the "human shields" the real terrorists hide behind..

    How about some harsh interrogations to pin down the locale of all those billions that went "missing" during the WOT? That's something I might be willing to get behind.


    With my WA State senators and reps (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by shoephone on Sat Aug 07, 2010 at 01:58:46 PM EST
    (mostly Dems) falling all over themselves to fight for Boeing's "right" to contracts with the U.S. government -- Boeing, which has already screwed WA State by moving its headquarters to Chicago, and its 787 assembly to South Carolina, a non-union state-- it's doubtful there will be any congressional support for further investigations into the rendition and torture. Jeppessen Dataplan, the Boeing subsidiary that flew those flights, seems to be off the hook and out of the public's consciousness. The Dems cannot be trusted on this. They are part of the problem. Money is involved.

    And the ACLU has a lot of strong evidence, regarding the names listed in the post, and others as well. Binyam Mohammed was flown from Guantanamo to a black site in Morocco, where he was tortured for 18 months, then to the U.S. govt's "Dark Prison" in Afghanistan, to be tortured there. After getting no information out of him, they finally flew him back to Guantanamo.

    Yes, the term "ghost planes" must be used. But forget about the AP filling that role. And after Dana Preist's softening of the recent series on defense intelligence, it's unlikely any of the major news agencies will have the courage. Jane Mayer is the only journalist with the sources and the credibility to keep telling this story.