Global Policy Forum

CIA Whisked Detainees From Guantanamo Before Giving Access to Lawyers

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Four "high-value" prisoners were flown out of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility just months after they arrived in 2003, before the Supreme Court could grant them access to lawyers. They were transferred to a CIA "black site" for two years of interrogation, during which time they could not speak with attorneys or human rights observers. The AP discovered that top White House, Justice Department, Pentagon and CIA officials were involved in the prisoner transfer, which law professor Jonathon Hafetz called "a shell game to hide detainees from the courts." This incident suggests that Washington is willing to go to great lengths to keep "valuable" prisoners outside the US court system.

 

By Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman

August 6, 2010
Huffington Post


A white, unmarked Boeing 737 landed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before dawn on a CIA mission so secretive, many in the nation's war on terrorism were kept in the dark.

Four of the nation's most highly valued terrorist prisoners were aboard.

They arrived at Guantanamo on Sept. 24, 2003, years earlier than the U.S. has ever disclosed. Then, months later, they were just as quietly whisked away before the Supreme Court could give them access to lawyers.

The transfer allowed the U.S. to interrogate the detainees in CIA "black sites" for two more years without allowing them to speak with attorneys or human rights observers or challenge their detention in U.S. courts. Had they remained at the Guantanamo Bay prison for just three more months, they would have been afforded those rights.

"This was all just a shell game to hide detainees from the courts," said Jonathan Hafetz, a Seton Hall University law professor who has represented several detainees.

Removing them from Guantanamo Bay underscores how worried President George W. Bush's administration was that the Supreme Court might lift the veil of secrecy on the detention program. It also shows how insistent the Bush administration was that terrorists must be held outside the U.S. court system.

Years later, the program's legacy continues to complicate President Barack Obama's efforts to prosecute the terrorists behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The arrival and speedy departure from Guantanamo were pieced together by The Associated Press using flight records and interviews with current and former U.S. officials and others familiar with the CIA's detention program. All spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the program.

Top officials at the White House, Justice Department, Pentagon and CIA consulted on the prisoner transfer, officials said.

 


 


 

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