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High Value Detainee

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See also: Intelligence interrogation, U.S., George W. Bush Administration
See also: Extrajudicial detention, U.S., George W. Bush Administration

A High Value Detainee was a term used in George W. Bush Administration policy documents to refer to persons believed to either to know critical information of terrorist threats against the United States, and to constitute a continuing danger if released. After their capture, they were held in undisclosed confinement facilities operated by the Central Intelligence Agency, but, by 2007, transferred to Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

These were the individuals for whom specific authorization was given to use enhanced interrogation techniques, which went beyond the methods generally accepted as within U.S. and international law as defined in military interrogation guidance. The methods, however, were used within an initial framework legal guidance that they did not constitute torture, although at least one method, waterboarding, has subsequently been deemed torture by U.S. officials such as Susan Crawford, convening authority of Military Commissions.

The original definition, provided by a Central Intelligence Agency assistant general counsel, whose name was redacted from the released document, [1] was:

"A detainee who, at time of capture, we have reason to believe:

  1. is a senior member of al-Qaeda or an al-Qaeda associated terrorist group (Jemaah Islamiya, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, al-Zarqawi Group, etc.)
  2. has knowledge of imminent terrorist threats against the USA, its military forces, its citizens and organizations, or its allies, or that has/had direct involvement in planning and preparing terrorist actions against the USA or its allies, or assisting the al-Qaeda leadership in planning and preparing such terrorist actions; and
  3. if released, constitutes a clear and continuing threat to the USA or its allies.: [2]

Identified detainees

Persons in this category, listed by the apparently most common name in biographical information,[3] and with dates from the ICRC report,[4] include: [5]

Name Nationality Place of Arrest Date of Arrest
Abu Zubaydah Palestinian Faisalabad, Pakistan 28 March 2002
Ramzi Binalshibh Yemeni Karachi, Pakistan 11 September 2002
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri Saudi Dubai October 2002
Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi Saudi Rawalpindi, Pakistan 1 March 2003
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Pakistani Rawalpindi, Pakistan 1 March 2003
Majid Khan Pakistani Karachi, Pakistan 5 March 2003
Ammar al-Baluchi Pakistani Karachi, Pakistan 29 April 2003
Khallad Yemeni Karachi, Pakistan 29 April 2003
Zubair Malaysian Bangkok, Thailand 8 June 2003
Lillie Malaysian Bangkok, Thailand 11 August 2003
Hambali Indonesian Ayutthaya, Thailand 11 August 2003
Gouled Hassan Dourad Somali Djibouti 4 March 2004
Haytham al-Kini Tanzanian Gujarat, Pakistan 25 July 2004
Abu Faraj Libyan Mardan, Pakistan 2 May 2005

International Red Cross review

While press access was denied, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) did visit the High Value Detainees, at Guantanamo Bay detention camp, in October 2006, speaking to them privately. ICRC reports are usually kept confidential between the ICRC and the government involved, but this report was leaked. It was sent to John Rizzo, acting general counsel of the CIA, by Geoff Loane, head of the regional delegation, in February 2007.[4]

The ICRC made the assumption that international humanitarian law applied to the detainees, a point disputed by the Administration. Within that context, they had made requests to visit detainees since 2002, which had been refused. They were given access to the HVD after President Bush made a public announcement of their presence at Guantanamo.

The report formally concluded that "the allegations of the fourteen include descriptions of treatment and interrogation techniques — singly or in combination — that amounted to torture and/or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment." The United States position is that "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" would have to violate relevant U.S. law cited at the time of the ratification of the Convention against Torture.

Results of interrogations

Michael Hayden, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Michael Mukasey, former Attorney General, said "fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of al-Qaeda came from those interrogations...Details of these successes, and the methods used to obtain them, were disclosed repeatedly in more than 30 congressional briefings and hearings beginning in 2002, and open to all members of the Intelligence Committees of both Houses of Congress beginning in September 2006. Any protestation of ignorance of those details, particularly by members of those committees, is pretense."[6] In particular, the interrogations of the first HVD, Abu Zubaydah, provided key information that led to capture of many of the others. [7]

On May 9, 2008, a U.S. Military Commission announced it planned to try five defendants for 9/11 related charges. [8]

References

  1. Steven Bradbury, Office of the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice (May 10, 2005), Memorandum for John A. Rizzo, Senior Deputy General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency, Re: Application of 18 USC 2340-2340A to Certain Techniques That May Be Used in the Interrogation of a High Value al Qaeda Detainee
  2. Fax for Daniel Levin, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, from [name redacted] Assistant General Counsel, CIA; January 4, 2005; quoted by Bradbury in May 10 memo
  3. All have many aliases, which are redirected
  4. 4.0 4.1 ICRC Report on the Treatment of 14 "High Value Detainees" in CIA Custody, International Committee of the Red Cross, February 14, 2007
  5. High Value Detainee Biographies, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
  6. Michael Hayden and Michael Mukasey (April 17, 2009), "The President Ties His Own Hands on Terror: The point of interrogation is intelligence, not confession", Wall Street Journal
  7. Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice (August 1, 2002.), Memorandum for John Rizzo, Acting General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency: Interrogation of al Qaeda Operative
  8. Office of Military Commissions (May 8, 2008), Referred Charges