Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Post-9/11, post-invasion of Afghanistan, it was open season on jihadis. For more background on Deghayes, check out this wikipedia entry about him. Beyond a description of the torture that Deghayes says was inflicted upon him after the US subsequently transported him to Guantanamo, the entry is enlightening for its presentation of the way that administrative tribunals evaluated detainees. Detainees, like Deghayes, were only provided with an unclassified summary of evidence against them, although a personal representative was allowed to aid the tribunal in its determination while not, paradoxically, acting as an advocate.
In an MI5 report on the interrogation of Omar Deghayes, a Libyan-born British resident held by the Americans at Bagram airbase north of Kabul, an officer wrote to his superiors in London: Deghayes was brought to the interview room manacled and hooded. When the hood was removed, Deghayes looked pale and shaky.
After offering water and asking Deghayes whether he felt well enough to continue, the officers introduced themselves as Paul and Martin, and explained the role of MI5.
They warned Deghayes that he was facing a long period of incarceration in US hands and that they would not consider helping him unless he told them everything they wanted to know. Deghayes was mumbling and incoherent at times but the officers told him they knew he was lying when he answered questions about links with jihadist organisations in Libya.
After another interrogation a week later, an MI5 officer reported back to London that Deghayes was thinner but mentally alert. Throughout the interview Deghayes expectorated rather disgustingly into a tissue as if he were still tubercular. These moments usually coincided with those answers where he was most evasive.
Deghayes told the officers that he was suffering internal bleeding and complained that no evidence had been presented against him. He was also being treated badly, with head-braces and lock-down positions being the order of the day, wrote the officer. He was treated better by the Pakistanis; what kind of world was it where the Americans were more barbaric than the Pakistanis? We listened but did not omment.
Hence, we will never know whether there was independent corroboration of any of statements set forth in the summary of evidence memoranda provided Deghayes. To the extent that they were true, we will also never know whether the enumerated facts actually justified an enemy combatant designation or merely constituted an after the fact rationalization for Deghayes' continued confinement. We do, however, know that there is good reason to be skeptical, given what the Washington Post discovered when the entire case file for Murat Kurnaz was accidentally declassified.