Most every blogger has already commented on this extensively, but Rumsfeld's personal involvement in the "ghosting" of detainees has enormous implications. There is no question that the detainee was operating in the Iraqi theater and Bush has explicitly stated that the Geneva Conventions apply there, though the "exception" to the convention for unlawful combatants may have been viewed as controlling. Nonetheless, ghosting is an entirely different matter than torture, and there is no conceivable rationale, even a morally abominable one, that can be used to justify it. The White House's real war is on accountability.
We may be hearing much more about Camp Cropper and ghosting in the near future.
Bloggers: Atrios, Discourse.net, Digby, Tapped...
Other Press: Reuters: Bush Backs Rumsfeld in Hiding of Iraq Prisoner.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush voiced support for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Thursday after the Pentagon said Rumsfeld ordered the detention of a terrorist suspect in Iraq who was held for more than seven months without notifying the Red Cross.Al-Jazeera: Rumsfeld Ordered 'Ghost" Detention.
"I'm never disappointed in my secretary of defense. He's doing a fabulous job and America's lucky to have him in the position he's in," Bush told reporters at the White House when asked if he was disappointed at Rumsfeld's move.
"The secretary and I discussed that for the first time this morning," added Bush, sitting next to Rumsfeld. He noted that the secretary had called a news conference later in the day and would address the issue.
Senior Pentagon and intelligence officials, have confirmed that the prisoner, suspected of being a "terrorist", was hidden along with other "ghost detainees", largely to prevent the International Committee of the Red Cross from monitoring their treatment and conditions.BBC: Rumsfeld Ordered 'Ghost Detainee'
Rumsfeld's order last November came at the request of George Tenet, the CIA director who resigned this month, according Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.
Both assigning a prisoner number and notifying the Red Cross are required under the Geneva Conventions and other international humanitarian laws.
"I will acknowledge that the ICRC should have been notified about this prisoner earlier," Whitman said. "He will be assigned an identification number and, if appropriate, moved into the general prison population."
The US military has been secretly holding a suspected terrorist in Iraq on the orders of the Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.LA Times: Rumsfeld, Tenet Linked to Secret Detention of a Prisoner
The Iraq man has been held since last November at a high-risk prison near Baghdad, without being listed on any roll or assigned a prisoner number.
Both conditions violate the Geneva Convention on treatment of prisoners.
A Pentagon spokesman said the US would end the shadowy status of the prisoner and allow the Red Cross to visit him.
The spokesman confirmed a report in the New York Times that CIA chief George Tenet - who steps down from the post next month - had asked Mr Rumsfeld to have the prisoner secretly detained.
The treatment in effect made him a 'ghost detainee'.
The secret detention of the prisoner was first reported in the June 21 issue of U.S. News & World Report, and Rumsfeld's involvement was reported Wednesday by NBC News.Fox News: Hiding 'Prisoner XXX' was Legal.
CIA officials captured the man in July and spirited him out of Iraq. He was returned in October after the Justice Department issued a legal opinion stating that the international law embodied in the Geneva Convention forbade removing a prisoner of war from the nation in which he was captured, U.S. and intelligence officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
At Tenet's request, Rumsfeld wrote a memo ordering Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the ground commander in Iraq, not to assign the detainee a serial number and added words to the effect, an unidentified U.S. official said, of "do not acknowledge that we are detaining him to any international organization" — an apparent reference to the Red Cross.
Sanchez, head of Joint Task Force 7, the military command in Baghdad directing the war, complied with Rumsfeld's order "in violation of international law," the official added.
U.S. officials disputed any accusations that the military's handling of "XXX" was illegal, stating that a detainee who represents a direct threat to coalition forces does not have to be registered with the ICRC "right away."Lying Liars. Rumsfeld's Orders Violate Geneva Convention.
"The Geneva Convention does not require that someone like this be immediately registered," one official said. "This guy was involved in terrorist activity in Iraq, and was involved in planning attacks on coalition forces."