[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



Washington Times

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?
   <http://www.washingtontimes.com/functions/email.php?StoryID=20070429-100046-4854r>



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