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Rumsfeld Admits to "Ghosting" Detainee

By David Swanson

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has admitted that he "ghosted" a detainee, meaning that he made the decision to hold a prisoner without keeping any records of the fact.

While prisoners of war can be theoretically stripped of their rights by calling them other names (like "unlawful combatants"), they are probably most effectively stripped of all rights by keeping their imprisonment secret. That is what Rumsfeld says he did.

An account of what we know on this matter can be found on page 110 of a new report by Congressman John Conyers called "The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Cover-ups in the Iraq War."

Following a catalog of evidence of other crimes sanctioned by top Bush Administration officials, the report reads:

"We also have an admission that George Tenet specifically approved the ghosting in Iraq of a specific individual, and that Mr. Rumsfeld admitted to approving of ghosting of detainees as a special matter. During a press conference in June 2004, Secretary Rumsfeld confirmed not only that he was asked by CIA Director George Tenet to hide a specific detainee, but also that he hid the detainee and that the detainee was lost in the system for more than eight months:

"Q -- Mr. Secretary, I'd like to ask why last November you ordered the U.S. military to keep a suspected Ansar al-Islam prisoner in Iraq [Hiwa Abdul Rahman Rashul] secret from the Red Cross. He's now been secret for more than seven months. And there are other such shadowy prisoners in Iraq who are being kept secret from the Red Cross.

"SEC. RUMSFELD: With respect to the -- I want to separate the two. Iraq, my understanding is that the investigations on that subject are going forward. With respect to the detainee you're talking about, I'm not an expert on this, but I was requested by the Director of Central Intelligence to take custody of an Iraqi national who was believed to be a high-ranking member of Ansar al-Islam. And we did so. We were asked to not immediately register the individual. And we did that. It would -- it was -- he was brought to the attention of the Department, the senior level of the Department I think late last month. And we're in the process of registering him with the ICRC at the present time . . ."

This is from June 17, 2004, and can be found here.

This is the Secretary of Defense publicly stating that the Director of the CIA told him not to register a prisoner with the Red Cross, and that he obeyed, and that several months later the prisoner was still not registered.

Why do Nuremberg Principles III and IV both come to mind?

Principle III
The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.

Principle IV
The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

Why was the CIA calling the shots here? Because they had taken Mr. Rashul out of Iraq for "questioning" at an undisclosed location. They were transferring him to military custody.

Rumsfeld agreed to keep Rashul off the books, and issued a classified order, that the New York Daily News reported on June 20, 2004, as reading: "Notification of the presence and or status of the detainee to the International Committee of the Red Cross, or any international or national aid organization, is prohibited pending further guidance."

General Sanchez issued his own order to implement Secretary Rumsfeld's order. Sanchez' order, as reported in the media, "accepts custody and detains Hiwa Abdul Rahman Rashul, a high-ranking Ansar al-Islam member;" orders that he "remain segregated and isolated from the remainder of the detainee population;" "[o]nly military personnel and debriefers will have access to the detainee. . . . Knowledge of the presence of this detainee will be strictly limited on a need-to-know basis." "Any reports from interrogations or debriefings will contain only the mininum [sic] amount of source information . . ."

The ghosting of Rashul can neither be blamed on low-ranking personnel nor be described as an isolated incident.

In a statement to investigators, Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the top military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib, said that in September 2003, the CIA requested that the military intelligence officials "continue to make cells available for their detainees and that they not have to go through the normal in processing procedures."

Army General Paul Kern testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in September 2004, that the U.S. had held as many as 100 ghost detainees in Iraq.

Rumsfeld himself has confirmed that this was no isolated incident:

"Q -- But then why wasn't the -- why wasn't the Red Cross told, and are there other such prisoners being detained without the knowledge of the Red Cross?

"SEC. RUMSFELD: There are -- there are instances where that occurs. And a request was made to do that, and we did."

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Dave: can you believe it? Rumsfeld (part of the cabal) stated that he went along with Tenet. No crap. This whole war and its justification are illegal. This "administration" cuts taxes for the wealthy and tries to do away with Medicaid and Medicare. Just what the hell are the elderly supposed to live on? These bastards could care less unless it concerns stuffing their oversize pockets with money. May they roast in hell, the bastards. No child left behind? They left everyone behind. I hope democracy is not gone forever and will appear with the advent of a new president (hopefully progressive)

When I lived in Guatemala, people routinely disappeared. They were called desaparacidos. Later they might turn up in a garbage dump or be found hanging from a bridge. You might say these people were ghosted before being disappeared.

Ghosting, huh? Why do I feel like I am in Buenos Aires in the 1970s right before the Dirty War began, all of a sudden? I think those top Argentine government officials also claimed they were doing whatever they were doing in the name of patriotism and for the good of the country.

The Administration tries to defend these types of practices by scaring us with terrorism, and saying that the practices are practiced on those who deserve no rights. But if there are no rights, no procedures to defend those rights, and no legal recourse for "certain people" that certain other people can choose, without any review by anyone else who is relatively impartial, then anyone can disappear, anyone can become a "ghost", anyone can be tortured. Allowing some of these loopholes, not necessarily "ghosting" per se (but close), under the Patriot Act was a huge, bipartisan mistake, which many Dems defend by saying "we thought that we could trust the Administration". Of course you can't, but even if you could, a United States that starts removing its Constitutional bridles from the government must eventually begin itself turning into another USSR or a northern version of one of the "banana" dictatorships that, showing warning flashes of our dark side, we helped create. As it happens, it feels like the transition is happening sooner than later. But perhaps We the People allowed this pattern to develop, by standing by when it seemed to be happening mostly to other people in other lands. And now our chickenhawks have come home to roost.

Am I really living in America, the Land of the Free? Do I run a risk of having my phone tapped because this email puts me on a list? Will there come a knock on our door in the middle of the night? And we send officials to Iraq to monitor THEIR election results? The rest of the world watches our government in horror and a certain amount of disbelief that our citizens ignore what is going on, saying, "Cant do anything about the mess in DC." Really!

When I was a child and young adult , I used to think that the German people were horrible for allowing Hitler to take over and do the awful things that he did. Now I feel very humble, because I live in a country that is doing terrible things and am not able to stop it. I despise what my country has become and I grew up thinking we were wonderful

Move. Here, I'll make sandwiches and sing Bon Voyage.

love the country, cant stand the asswipes who are mis-running it.
love it or fix it, redneck.

I know, I've felt like that. I actually supported this mess and believed that we were right in what we were doing until I woke up to the fact that the whole thing was a lie and there were no WMDs.
I guess the German people had a point. The government had such a control over them as ours does us, that we are limited in what we can do against them now that they've got such a grip on the country.
Look what happens to people who disagree with them-they're disappeared and sent to black sites in strange countries.

The brazen admissions of Rumsfeld with regard to ghosting and offering
to authorize such with willingness and alacrity, indeed are horrific, shocking and proof positive of the practise of torture and other cruel and unusual punishment. These are not only grossly undemocratic but are clear war crimes, gross violations of the U.S. Constitution, for which this Administration has manifested the utmost contempt, and violations of the Geneva Convention, the U.N. Charter on Human rights, other prohibitions on torture, the U.S. army rules on interrogation of prisoners, and a manifestion of a total lack of all human decency. They mock the denials of G.W.B. on torture and all claims to be christians or "compassionate conservatives".

All of these cruelties cry out for impeachment, trial, and substantial punishment, at a minimum - a long term of imprisonment.

Those who have the courage to take positive steps to bring this about deserve our praise and gratitude.

An interesting little rhyme goes thus:

Georgy Porgy told a lie,
tortured prisoners, made them cry.
When Cindy Sheehan went his way,
Georgy Porgy ran away.

The defining moment has arrived:

We either move forward to restore our Constitution, our liberty, and our strong sense of justice, or we descend further into a deep chasm of evil and jungle law from which we will never escape.

Why is everyone so surprised. When any leader, such as Bush, who is suffering from mental problems, i.e. Delusions of grandeur and sociopathic tendencies, has the illusion that he himself is God and that anything he does is ordained by a higher God who speaks only to him. That person will also surround himself with people who are likewise mentally challenged and will follow him without question and defend his every action. The people of the USA had better wake up very soon lest they are prepared for the consequences of what Bush and his minions have in store for the future. You haven't seen anything yet since the best is yet to come. What has happened to the Senate and Congress that they sit back and do nothing to break this chain that Bush has around the necks of the people of this country. Why doesn't even one of them have the balls to start an impeachment process for Bush and call for the firing of his minions. There is still time to bring back the greatness and self-respect of this country but the clock is ticking.

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