Saturday, August 17, 2013

U.S. to U.N.: 'The United States Does Not Operate Any Secret Detention Facilities'

    In a report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture, the Obama administration made its most unequivocal denial of the existence of secret detention facilities operated by any part of the U.S. government.  The document is a response to "55 questions prepared by the Committee and transmitted to the United States on January 10, 2010..." ranging from CIA rendition to allegations of torture by Chicago police in the 1980s. Among those questions were several regarding the detention of suspected terrorists and combatants.  Question 5(a) read in part:
Please provide information on: 
(a) Whether the State party has adopted a policy that ensures that no one is detained in any secret detention facility under its de facto effective control and that publicly condemns secret detention, pursuant the Committee's previous concluding observations (para. 17). Please disclose detailed information on the existence of any such facilities, in the past and present, and the authority under which they have been established.
      Although the answer provided by the United States is somewhat lengthy, it contains this flat denial [emphasis added]:
The United States does not operate any secret detention facilities. In some contexts, the United States operates battlefield transit and screening facilities, the locations of which are often classified for reasons of military necessity. All such facilities are operated consistent with applicable U.S. law and policy and international law, including Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, and DoD Directive 2310.01E. The ICRC and relevant host governments are informed about these facilities, and the ICRC has access to allindividuals interned by the United States in the context of armed conflict, consistent with DoD policy.
    As recently as January 2013, the Washington Post reported that some secret arrests and detentions were still taking place, and details in that case are still murky.
    The report to the U.N. also makes a flat denial regarding allegations stemming from 2007 reports of a secret detention facility on the island of Diego Garcia, a British territory in the Indian Ocean:
The United States does not detain any persons on Diego Garcia. As indicated above in response to Question 5(a), the United States does not have and has never had a detention facility on Diego Garcia.
Note: A version of this article first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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