Lawmakers troubled by ‘Ghost Detainees’

Topics:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress may keep up the focus on the prison abuse scandal following the disclosure that the military has concealed as many as 100 “ghost detainees” from the Red Cross.

The presence of prisoners held by the CIA outside of the military’s usual system of registration and care was an important finding of an Army investigation completed last month. Defense officials had previously only acknowledged eight such prisoners.

But on Thursday, Gen. Paul Kern, who oversaw the Army investigation of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the number was “in the dozens, perhaps up to 100.”

Kern said he could not be precise because he did not have documentation. Maj. Gen. George Fay, who investigated military intelligence officers at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, said he doubts the figure is as high as 100. “I think it’s somewhere in the area of maybe two dozen or so — maybe more,” he said.

Senators criticized the CIA’s lack of cooperation in providing the information.

“The situation with the CIA and ghost soldiers is beginning to look like a bad movie,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield declined to comment on the number of cases. He noted the agency’s inspector general is reviewing the CIA’s involvement in detention and interrogations in Iraq. “We take these matters very seriously and are determined to examine thoroughly any allegations of abuse,” he said.

The generals and the authors of a separate report on prison abuses discussed their investigations in a series of hearings Thursday by the Senate and House Armed Services committees.

Fay said the Army made several requests to the CIA station chief in Iraq for information about the detainees.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said in recent months that it suspects the United States is hiding detainees in lockups across the globe. Terror suspects reported by the FBI as captured have never turned up in detention centers, and the United States has failed to reply to agency demands for a list of everyone it’s holding, the agency said.

Under the Geneva Conventions, the United States is obliged to give the neutral, Swiss-run humanitarian agency access to prisoners of war and other detainees to check on their conditions and allow them to send messages to their families.



At Thursday’s hearing, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said, “It’s totally unacceptable that documents that are requested from the CIA have not been forthcoming” and urged the committee to “weigh in on the issue.” McCain said President Bush’s nominee to head the CIA, Republican Rep. Porter Goss of Florida, should be asked about the matter.

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Senate committee, said he may hold a hearing on the “ghost detainee” issue.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 7
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    AP/Jae C. Hong

    Your summer in extreme weather

    California drought

    Since May, California has faced a historic drought, resulting in the loss of 63 trillion gallons of water. 95.4 percent of the state is now experiencing "severe" drought conditions, which is only a marginal improvement from 97.5 percent last week.

    A recent study published in the journal Science found that the Earth has actually risen about 0.16 inches in the past 18 months because of the extreme loss of groundwater. The drought is particularly devastating for California's enormous agriculture industry and will cost the state $2.2 billion this year, cutting over 17,000 jobs in the process.

       

    Meteorologists blame the drought on a large zone (almost 4 miles high and 2,000 miles long) of high pressure in the atmosphere off the West Coast which blocks Pacific winter storms from reaching land. High pressure zones come and go, but this one has been stationary since December 2012.

    Darin Epperly

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Great Plains tornadoes

    From June 16-18 this year, the Midwest was slammed by a series of four tornadoes, all ranking as category EF4--meaning the winds reached up to 200 miles per hour. An unlucky town called Pilger in Nebraska was hit especially hard, suffering through twin tornadoes, an extreme event that may only occur every few decades. The two that swept through the town killed two people, injured 16 and demolished as many as 50 homes.   

    "It was terribly wide," local resident Marianne Pesotta said to CNN affiliate KETV-TV. "I drove east [to escape]. I could see how bad it was. I had to get out of there."   

    But atmospheric scientist Jeff Weber cautions against connecting these events with climate change. "This is not a climate signal," he said in an interview with NBC News. "This is a meteorological signal."

    AP/Detroit News, David Coates

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Michigan flooding

    On Aug. 11, Detroit's wettest day in 89 years -- with rainfall at 4.57 inches -- resulted in the flooding of at least five major freeways, leading to three deaths, more than 1,000 cars being abandoned on the road and thousands of ruined basements. Gov. Rick Snyder declared it a disaster. It took officials two full days to clear the roads. Weeks later, FEMA is finally set to begin assessing damage.   

    Heavy rainfall events are becoming more and more common, and some scientists have attributed the trend to climate change, since the atmosphere can hold more moisture at higher temperatures. Mashable's Andrew Freedman wrote on the increasing incidence of this type of weather: "This means that storms, from localized thunderstorms to massive hurricanes, have more energy to work with, and are able to wring out greater amounts of rain or snow in heavy bursts. In general, more precipitation is now coming in shorter, heavier bursts compared to a few decades ago, and this is putting strain on urban infrastructure such as sewer systems that are unable to handle such sudden influxes of water."

    AP/The Fresno Bee, Eric Paul Zamora

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Yosemite wildfires

    An extreme wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park forced authorities to evacuate 13,000 nearby residents, while the Madera County sheriff declared a local emergency. The summer has been marked by several wildfires due to California's extreme drought, which causes vegetation to become perfect kindling.   

    Surprisingly, however, firefighters have done an admirable job containing the blazes. According to the L.A. Times, firefighters with the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection have fought over 4,000 fires so far in 2014 -- an increase of over 500 fires from the same time in 2013.

    Reuters/Eugene Tanner

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Hawaii hurricanes

    Hurricane Iselle was set to be the first hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii in 22 years. It was downgraded to a tropical storm and didn't end up being nearly as disastrous as it could have been, but it still managed to essentially shut down the entire state for a day, as businesses and residents hunkered down in preparation, with many boarding up their windows to guard against strong gusts. The storm resulted in downed trees, 21,000 people out of power and a number of damaged homes.

    Debbie Arita, a local from the Big Island described her experience: "We could hear the wind howling through the doors. The light poles in the parking lot were bobbing up and down with all the wind and rain."

    Reuters/NASA

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Florida red tide

    A major red tide bloom can reach more than 100 miles along the coast and around 30 miles offshore. Although you can't really see it in the above photo, the effects are devastating for wildlife. This summer, Florida was hit by an enormous, lingering red tide, also known as a harmful algae bloom (HAB), which occurs when algae grow out of control. HABs are toxic to fish, crabs, octopuses and other sea creatures, and this one resulted in the death of thousands of fish. When the HAB gets close enough to shore, it can also have an effect on air quality, making it harder for people to breathe.   

    The HAB is currently closest to land near Pinellas County in the Gulf of Mexico, where it is 5-10 miles offshore.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>