Thursday, December 08, 2005


Memo suggests sending militant to nation that uses torture

Ken Silverstein, Los Angeles Times

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Washington -- Although Bush administration officials have denied that they transfer terrorist suspects to countries where they are likely to be abused, a classified memorandum described in a court case indicates that the Pentagon has considered sending a captured militant abroad to be interrogated under threat of torture.

The classified memo is summarized -- its contents are blacked out -- in a petition filed by attorneys for Majid Mahmud Abdu Ahmad, a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The March 17, 2004, Defense Department memo indicated that U.S. officials were frustrated in trying to obtain information from Ahmad, according to the description of the classified memo in the court petition. The officials suggested sending Ahmad to an unspecified foreign country that employed torture in order to increase chances of extracting information from him, according to the petition's description of the memo.

The precise contents of the Pentagon memo on Ahmad were not revealed, but the memo was described in the petition by New York attorney Marc Falkoff, who contested the transfer of Ahmad and 12 other Yemenis in Washington this year.

Falkoff's petition quoted a section of the memo. After the quotation is Falkoff's interpretation of the classified memo's significance: "There is only one meaning that can be gleaned from this short passage. The government believes that Mr. Ahmad has information that it wants but that it cannot extract without torturing him." The petition continues, with one segment redacted (indicated by ellipsis): "Because torture is not ... allowed personnel at Guantanamo, the recommendation is that Mr. Ahmad should be sent to another country where he can be interrogated under torture."

Falkoff's description was not disputed by U.S. government lawyers or by U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, who read the actual Pentagon document. The judge ruled in favor of the Yemenis on March 12, and Ahmad has not been transferred from the Guantanamo Bay prison.

The memo appears to call into question repeated assertions by the administration that it does not use foreign governments to abuse suspected militants.

Pentagon officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Ahmad was captured in Pakistan after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001. The federal government charges that Ahmad was a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden and participated in "military operations against the United States and/or its coalition partners." Falkoff denies that his client has any links to terrorism.

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