[Ppnews] Secret Prisons, Top Secret Interrogations

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Dec 22 14:21:15 EST 2006


December 22, 2006

When the Secret is the Question

Secret Prisons, Top Secret Interrogations


It's a tremendous responsibility that has been 
thrust on those who are imprisoned by George 
Bush. They have, albeit it unwittingly, become 
our allies in the war on terror. They remain 
incarcerated indefinitely thus protecting the 
rest of us (who have not yet been incarcerated) 
from the likes of them (even if they are not 
terrorists) and while incarcerated, pose no 
threat to those of us who remain free They have 
now been told that while incarcerated Mr. Bush 
was willing to entrust to them information that 
has been designated TOP SECRET. We would not have 
learned this important piece of information but for Majid Khan.

Mr. Khan is a Pakistani who recently moved from 
what was a non-existent secret prison run by the 
C.I.A. in a far-off country to the Guantánamo 
Detention camp in Cuba. Mr. Khan now has a 
lawyer. The government doesn't want Mr. Khan to 
tell his lawyer, what kinds of interrogation 
methods were being used on him (and therefore, 
shared with him) while he was in the secret 
prison. That is because conditions at Guantánamo 
are only adequate for handling information 
classified as secret. Kathleen Blomquist, a 
Justice Department Spokeswoman explains:

"information regarding the former C.I.A. 
detainees [like Mr. Khan] was classified as top 
secret. She said the information he shares with 
his counsel should "be appropriately tailored to 
accommodate a higher security level."

Why that should be is something of a mystery. 
Readers will recall that in the statement 
accompanying legislation George Bush sent 
Congress that authorized military tribunals for 
terror suspects and set rules to protect U.S. 
military personnel from facing prosecution for 
war crimes, he said, although not in these words, 
that the United States uses "alternative" 
interrogation methods that help the people being 
questioned remember things they might otherwise 
forget. Those procedures "were tough, and they 
were safe and lawful and necessary."

Ms. Blomquist's comments tell us that although 
the prisoners thought they were being tortured 
(Mr. Bush's assurances to the contrary 
notwithstanding) they were at the same time being 
given TOP SECRET INFORMATION. (Anyone wanting to 
get an idea of the kind of top-secret information 
Mr. Khan has can Google Mamdouh Habib and find 
the torture affidavit that was released by the 
Federal District Court in Washington on January 
5, 2005. It describes the top-secret information 
(such as standing on tiptoes in water up to his 
chin for hours) that was entrusted to Mr. Habib 
while in prison. Mr. Khan's experience may well 
have been no different from that. An uninformed 
reader of the affidavit might consider the 
techniques torture but for the fact that Mr. Bush doesn't do torture.)

In November the Central Intelligence Agency told 
a federal district court in Washington D.C. that 
al Qaeda suspects should not be permitted to 
describe publicly the "alternative interrogation 
methods" the CIA used on them while holding them 
in the secret prisons. The D.I.A. told the court 
that if Mr. Khan told just any person what the 
procedures were, it would cause "extremely grave 
damage to the national security." Marilyn A. 
Dorn, an official at the National Clandestine 
Service that is part of the C.I.A. told the court 
that "If specific alternative techniques were 
disclosed, it would permit terrorist 
organizations to adapt their training to counter 
the tactics that C.I.A. can employ in interrogations."

It seems safe to say that if the prisoners knew 
when being interrogated that they were being 
entrusted with "top secret" information they 
would feel quite differently about the process. 
They would take pride in having been permitted to 
participate in this very important process. They 
would not be any the less proud knowing that the 
only reason the C.I.A. shares this top secret 
information with them is that it hopes that in 
the process of sharing the information those 
being questioned will feel compelled to furnish 
additional information to their interrogators.

So long as Mr. Khan remains in prison the 
government can count on him to keep the secret he 
and the C.I.A. enjoy sharing. The obvious 
question is if Mr. Khan gets out of prison can 
the government count on him to keep his secret? 
Thanks to Mr. Bush's foresight in having Congress 
give him broad new powers, if it looks like Mr. 
Khan might get out of prison either before or 
after a trial, Mr. Bush can designate him an 
enemy combatant and keep him in prison forever. 
That may seem harsh, but if it is the only way 
the secret can be kept, then it is in everyone's 
best interest that Mr. Khan remain in jail the 
rest of his life. That way the secret will be 
preserved and we will all be safer-even Mr. Khan. 
He, however, will have to enjoy his safety in a jail cell.

Christopher Brauchli is a lawyer in Boulder, 
Colorado. He can be reached at: 
<mailto:Brauchli.56 at post.harvard.edu>Brauchli.56 at post.harvard.edu. 
Visit his website: <http://hraos.com/>http://hraos.com/

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