[Ppnews] U.S. citizens secretly interrogated in secret foreign prisons
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue May 1 18:40:55 EDT 2007
Do secret interrogations continue?
By Nat Hentoff
April 30, 2007
Americans know many details of the firing of U.S. attorneys and
Don Imus -- along with the horror at Virginia Tech. But how many are
aware that the FBI has been interrogating terrorism suspects --
including an American citizen -- in secret Ethiopian prisons?
On April 5, the Associated Press reported that Ethiopia was
under pressure "to release details of detainees from 19 countries...
including women and children [who] have been transferred secretly and
illegally. An investigation by the Associated Press found that CIA
and FBI agents have been interrogating the detainees." As John
Sifton, a deeply experienced researcher at Human Rights Watch, said
on the national Democracy Now radio and Internet program (April 5),
these suspects would previously have been held as enemy combatants at
Guantanamo Bay or the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. But "the Bush
administration has shifted gears, and now they have the FBI
interrogating people... by local forces, the Ethiopians, the
Kenyans... That's why we call it a sort of outsourced Guantanamo."
These interrogations purportedly are to weed out al Qaeda
conspirators and cells in the Horn of Africa.
The American prisoner, Amir Mohamed Meshal of Tinton Falls,
N.J., held since late January, was questioned several times by FBI
agents as American officials admit without being charged and without
having a U.S. consular official present, or an attorney. But Meshal
has a very active and properly indignant attorney in Jonathan Hafetz
of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. On April 2,
he wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanding that she
get the Ethiopian government to release his client. Also, writing to
Miss Rice was Rep. Rush Holt, New Jersey Democrat, about his
constituent, Amir Meshal: "Our government," Mr. Holt told Miss Rice,
"cannot allow an American citizen to be held by the Ethiopian
government in violation of international law and our own due
process." As of this writing, Miss Rice has not replied to the congressman.
Fortunately, Mr. Holt is chairman of the House Select
Intelligence Oversight Panel. I expect that in addition to finding
out why his constituent was outsourced to Ethiopia, the congressman
will also ask FBI Director Robert Mueller, CIA Director Michael
Hayden and other high-level intelligence officials why they have been
directly responsible, in this case of an American citizen, for
working with the Ethiopian government to violate international law
and the very basis of our system of justice, due process. (If they
are not directly responsible, who's running their shops?)
It also would be very useful and indeed necessary if our rule of
law is to have credibility at home and in the world to find out from
the president and Vice President Cheney how they justify this
outsourcing of an American citizen to an Ethiopian dungeon.
Meanwhile, what's happening to American citizen Amir Meshal? In
a dispatch from Addis Ababa on April 12, The Washington Post quoted
FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko, who "confirmed that there were no
charges against Meshal, and State Department officials said the FBI
told them that no charges were pending." So, Mr. Meshal was set to be
released from the secret prison and flown back to the United States
where, unlike Ethiopia, every citizen is guaranteed due process of law.
Not so fast. The same Washington Post story revealed that Mr.
Meshal is still imprisoned. (As of this writing, he remains in his
cell.) Why? "State Department officials booking his flight discovered
that his name had been placed on a no-fly list at the request of the
FBI and no airline would take him, U.S. officials said." Then, on
Friday, April 13, Mr. Meshal did get out of that lockup to be hauled
before an Ethiopian military tribunal. The New York Times on April 14
added: "No news media or members of the public were allowed at the
hearing (before the military tribunal), and American officials said
that they, too, were barred from attending. Ethiopian officials did
not disclose details. Ethiopian Foreign Ministry officials said they
were not authorized to talk about it." Did any FBI agent on the scene
call Mr. Mueller? Did any American State Department person there try
to reach Miss Rice?
Last year, the president said that no one was still being held
in CIA secret prisons, although they remain open, as permitted by the
Military Commissions Act of 2006. On what authority has (as reported
by The Washington Post) "the FBI carried out interrogations of dozens
of detainees in Ethiopian secret prisons?"
What of the international treaties against torture and other
abuses by which we are bound? What about American citizen Amir
Mohamed Meshal of Tinton Falls, N.J.? Has his citizenship been suspended?
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