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U.S. Seeks Silence on CIA Prisons

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    Court Is Asked to Bar Detainees From Talking About Interrogations By Carol D. Leonnig and Eric Rich Washington Post Staff Writers Saturday, November 4, 2006;
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2008
      Court Is Asked to Bar Detainees From Talking About Interrogations
      By Carol D. Leonnig and Eric Rich
      Washington Post Staff Writers
      Saturday, November 4, 2006; Page A01

      The Bush administration has told a federal judge that terrorism
      suspects held in secret CIA prisons should not be allowed to reveal
      details of the "alternative interrogation methods" that their captors
      used to get them to talk.

      The government says in new court filings that those interrogation
      methods are now among the nation's most sensitive national security
      secrets and that their release -- even to the detainees' own attorneys
      -- "could reasonably be expected to cause extremely grave damage."
      Terrorists could use the information to train in counter-interrogation
      techniques and foil government efforts to elicit information about
      their methods and plots, according to government documents submitted
      to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton on Oct. 26.

      "We had no way of knowing who had him or where he was," said Mahmood
      Khan, brother of Majid Khan, who was held for more than three years in
      a secret CIA prison. (By Michael Robinson Chavez -- The Washington Post)

      Detainee Policy

      Bush acknowledged the existence of secret CIA prisons abroad Sept. 6,
      2006, as he called for the authority to try prisoners by military
      commissions. On Jan. 18, 2007, the Pentagon released its rules
      for trying detainees.



      Washington Post reporter Dana Priest reported on Nov. 2 that the CIA
      operates a network of secret prisons where it holds terror
      suspects. Priest was awarded a Pulitzer Prize on April 17 for her beat
      on the CIA and the War on Terror.

      The battle over legal rights for terrorism suspects detained for years
      in CIA prisons centers on Majid Khan, a 26-year-old former Catonsville
      resident who was one of 14 high-value detainees transferred in
      September from the "black" sites to the U.S. military prison at
      Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A lawyer with the Center for Constitutional
      Rights, which represents many detainees at Guantanamo, is seeking
      emergency access to him.

      The government, in trying to block lawyers' access to the 14
      detainees, effectively asserts that the detainees' experiences are a
      secret that should never be shared with the public.

      Because Khan "was detained by CIA in this program, he may have come
      into possession of information, including locations of detention,
      conditions of detention, and alternative interrogation techniques that
      is classified at the TOP SECRET//SCI level," an affidavit from CIA
      Information Review Officer Marilyn A. Dorn states, using the acronym
      for "sensitive compartmented information."

      Gitanjali Gutierrez, an attorney for Khan's family, responded in a
      court document yesterday that there is no evidence that Khan had
      top-secret information. "Rather," she said, "the executive is
      attempting to misuse its classification authority . . . to conceal
      illegal or embarrassing executive conduct."

      Joseph Margulies, a Northwestern University law professor who has
      represented several detainees at Guantanamo, said the prisoners "can't
      even say what our government did to these guys to elicit the
      statements that are the basis for them being held. Kafka-esque doesn't
      do it justice. This is 'Alice in Wonderland.' "

      Kathleen Blomquist, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said yesterday
      that details of the CIA program must be protected from disclosure. She
      said the lawyer's proposal for talking with Khan "is inadequate to
      protect unique and potentially highly classified information that is
      vital to our country's ability to fight terrorism."

      Government lawyers also argue in court papers that detainees such as
      Khan previously held in CIA sites have no automatic right to speak to
      lawyers because the new Military Commissions Act, signed by President
      Bush last month, stripped them of access to U.S. courts. That law
      established separate military trials for terrorism suspects.

      The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is
      considering whether Guantanamo detainees have the right to challenge
      their imprisonment in U.S. courts. The government urged Walton to
      defer any decision on access to lawyers until the higher court rules.

      The government filing expresses concern that detainee attorneys will
      provide their clients with information about the outside world and
      relay information about detainees to others. In an affidavit,
      Guantanamo's staff judge advocate, Cmdr. Patrick M. McCarthy, said
      that in one case a detainee's attorney took questions from a BBC
      reporter with him into a meeting with a detainee at the camp. Such
      indirect interviews are "inconsistent with the purpose of counsel
      access" at the prison, McCarthy wrote.

      Dorn said in the court papers that for lawyers to speak to former CIA
      detainees under the security protocol used for other Guantanamo
      detainees "poses an unacceptable risk of disclosure." But detainee
      attorneys said they have followed the protocol to the letter, and none
      has been accused of releasing information without government clearance.



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