What happened to terror suspects Washington turned over to foreign governments?
Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball
Newsweek Web Exclusive
The CIA quietly moved scores of detainees out of its own "black site" prisons in recent years and turned them over to foreign governments, refusing to provide the International Red Cross any information about their treatment or whereabouts, according to a report made public this week.
Although President Bush made a brief public allusion to the transfers in September 2006, the
There is substantial reason to believe that these "ghost detainees" included some high-profile suspects, including Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a Libyan-born jihadist captured in
When Red Cross officials later pressed for information about what happened to such "ghost" detainees,
The Red Cross remains "gravely concerned" that a "significant number" of these prisoners may have been subjected to abusive treatment—and that the organization "has not received any clarification of the fate of these persons," the report states. The long-secret 41-page Red Cross report received national attention last month after journalist Mark Danner obtained a copy and wrote about it in considerable detail for The New York Review of Books. (The report was posted in its entirety this week on The
The report includes graphic and at times gruesome accounts by high-value detainees at Guantánamo Bay—including Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others—describing how they were suffocated during waterboarding, locked in coffinlike boxes, had collars wrapped around their necks and then were smashed into the walls of their cells. The detainees also described to Red Cross interviewers how they had cold water poured over their bodies, were placed in frigid interrogation rooms, were forced to stand naked in painful stress positions for hours on end and were denied toilet access, resulting in the detainees' having to defecate and urinate on themselves, according to the report.
The Red Cross concluded, based on the "consistency" of the accounts of the detainees in separate interviews, that the prisoners had been subjected to what "amounted to torture and/or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."
But the report documents the treatment of only those 14 high-value CIA detainees whom President Bush publicly announced in September 2006 had been transferred to Guantánamo. Because the Bush administration had a preexisting arrangement to permit the Red Cross access to detainees at Guantánamo, the transfer to the
In fact, agency officials have confirmed that as many as 100 detainees had gone through the detention program after it was created following the 9/11 attacks. Then-Vice President Dick Cheney acknowledged late last year that 33 of those detainees were subjected to "enhanced interrogation" techniques under the program. As the former Bush official pointed out, "You can do the math"—meaning that most of the detainees in CIA custody (and who were being held in secret sites around the globe) were never sent to Guantánamo. A footnote in the Red Cross report suggests that it inquired about the status of as many as 38 detainees who were in agency custody. The report concludes that the "majority" of these detainees were instead sent back to their countries of origin.
Many of these countries—such as
"The majority of the people in the CIA program are unaccounted for," said John Sifton, a human-rights investigator and lawyer who has closely monitored the CIA program. "We don't know what happened to them."
The CIA refused to comment on any aspect of the Red Cross report. A CIA spokesman, Paul Gimigliano, added, however, that the agency under its new director, Leon Panetta, "has taken decisive steps to ensure that the CIA abides by the president's executive orders," which forbid cruel or inhumane treatment of detainees. Panetta "also has stated repeatedly that no one who took actions based on legal guidance from the Department of Justice at the time should be investigated, let alone punished."
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs