Condi and Khalid El-Masri: Perhaps We’re Not the Ones to Teach Afghans about Rule of Law?

I chuckled to myself when I read Steven Aftergood’s post on our efforts to instill rule of law in Afghanistan. Not that I don’t support the goal, mind you. But I question whether the United States is in a position anymore to be teaching others about rule of law. Consider this quote from the DOD status report on Afghanistan:

The latest survey of Afghan perceptions of the Afghan Government’s rule of law capacity shows an almost 7 percent decline in Afghans’ confidence in their government’s ability to deliver reliable formal justice. This is likely due to continued corruption and to the slow progress in hiring and placing justice professionals at the provincial level.

To begin with, we’re having our own problems with hiring and placing justice professionals.

But it’s things like this cable that make it really clear we shouldn’t be the ones to teach Afghans about rule of law. After the United States kidnapped Khalid el-Masri and sent him to the Salt Pit–which the US has insisted was under Afghan custody to avoid prosecuting Gul Rahman’s killers–he was tortured and ultimately dumped back in Macedonia. El-Masri tried to sue the CIA for his treatment, but that was of course dismissed using state secrets. And then in 2006-2007, as Germany tried to conduct its own investigation into el-Masri’s kidnapping, the US applied heavy pressure to get the Germans to withdraw warrants for the arrest of el-Masri’s kidnappers.

Which brings us to this cable.

Just as the German prosecutor issued arrest warrants for 13 CIA personnel, Condi Rice and Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met in DC for a discussion of Mideast peace efforts. After they met, Steinmeier told the German press that Condi had assured him that the arrest warrants wouldn’t affect German-US relations.

Steinmeier told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that he had raised the issue with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who “assured me there would be no negative impact on German-American relations.”

Steinmeier, whose remarks were released a day ahead of publication on Sunday, said he told Rice the warrants could only be served in Germany at present, but the government expected the court to issue international warrants at some stage.

The cable describes a February 6, 2007 meeting in which the Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Germany, John Koenig, “corrected” the impression that Steinmeier had gotten from his meeting with Condi the week before.

In a February 6 discussion with German Deputy National Security Adviser Rolf Nikel, the DCM reiterated our strong concerns about the possible issuance of international arrest warrants in the al-Masri case. The DCM noted that the reports in the German media of the discussion on the issue between the Secretary and FM Steinmeier in Washington were not accurate, in that the media reports suggest the USG was not troubled by developments in the al-Masri case. The DCM emphasized that this was not the case and that issuance of international arrest warrants would have a negative impact on our bilateral relationship. He reminded Nikel of the repercussions to U.S.-Italian bilateral relations in the wake of a similar move by Italian authorities last year.

Koenig goes on to note that the government would have political problems in the US if the Germans issued the international arrest warrants.

The DCM pointed out that the USG would likewise have a difficult time in managing domestic political implications if international arrest warrants are issued.

Now, as Scott Horton notes, one of the most interesting things about this cable is its recipient: Condi Rice.

But the most noteworthy thing about this cable is the addressee—Condoleezza Rice. Might she and her legal advisor, John Bellinger, have had an interest in the El-Masri case that went beyond their purely professional interest in U.S.-German diplomatic relations? The decision to “snatch” El-Masri and lock him up in the “salt pit” involved the extraordinary renditions program, and it seems as a matter of routine that this would have required not only the approval of the CIA’s top echelon but also the White House-based National Security Council. It’s highly likely that Rice and Bellinger would have been involved in the decision to “snatch” and imprison El-Masri. If authority was given by Rice, then responsibility for the mistake—which might well include criminal law accountability—may also rest with her, and this fact would also not have escaped Koenig as he performed his diplomatic duties.

But it’s even better than what Horton lays out, since this was obviously a hastily called meeting in response to Steinmeier’s quotation of Condi’s assurances the warrants wouldn’t cause a problem. Note the specific language Koenig uses:

The DCM noted that the reports in the German media of the discussion on the issue between the Secretary and FM Steinmeier in Washington were not accurate, in that the media reports suggest the USG was not troubled by developments in the al-Masri case.

He’s not telling the Germans that Steinmeier was wrong, that he mis-quoted Condi. Rather, Koenig’s simply saying that the content–what Condi had said–was wrong.

I agree with Horton that Condi and John Bellinger may well have personal liability in el-Masri’s kidnapping and torture. But it appears, in addition, that Condi lied to her German counterpart to create the public appearance that the US had no concerns about the arrest warrants, and then sent her subordinate to correct that statement. That is, Condi used her counterpart to create the false impression that she, personally, had no concerns about the arrest warrants.

So to cover up a crime largely committed by the US in the Afghan’s own country, the Secretary of State appears to have lied to her counterpart, and then secretly corrected her lie.

But back to Aftergood’s post on what we have to teach the Afghans about rule of law. As he notes, a recent Congressional Research Service report on the topic mentioned a strategy document written under the leadership of Condi’s successor at State, “U.S. Strategy for Anti-Corruption in Afghanistan,” which is “not available publicly.” The report includes the four main pillars of this strategy. And the first of those?

Pillar 1: Tackle the pervasive culture of impunity and improve and expand access to the state justice sector, by increasing capacity and reducing corruption in the justice sector’s institutions;

So you see, Condi’s successor’s plan to teach the Afghans about Rule of Law starts with us telling them they need to “tackle the pervasive culture of impunity” (to say nothing about access to justice, on which we have our own problems as well).

I guess Condi isn’t the only Secretary of State saying one thing and then doing another.

  1. bmaz says:

    Maybe we should have sent the Comey College of Rule of Law Knowledge – er Lockheed – to Afghanistan and they would be all schooled up now.

    • Mary says:

      One thing the Lockheed School of Law pulled off – it seemed to work well to get Comey out of Lockheed and otherwise lucratively placed before the “other shoe” dropped on the story of the guy running his own private army with US funds. The other shoe being that he was using Lockheed contracts to funnel it all into existence. I guess after time spent at DOJ, it never occured to Lockheed’s GC that there might be anything wrong with using govt money to run a private kill crew.

      EW – thanks for linking the cable. The thing that really caught my eye with it is the reference the fact that the US took some kind of retaliatory action against Italy when warrants were issued there –

      He reminded Nikel of the repercussions to the U.S. –Italian bilateral relations in the wake of a similar move by Italian authorities last year.

      Not, you know, that it was meant to be a threat or anything like that. I mean, Guido just happened to point out how the little 6 yo down the street got her legs broken when her dad wasn’t cooperative and wouldn’t it be a shame for something like that to happen to your little one – – not that he’s threatening that anything will happen, course not.

      Be nice to know what those repercussions were, but since I’m just a citizen, I’m not in the need to know loop.

      Another thing that is going to bite with respect to the European Human Rights case is the outright acknowledgement by Nikel that legally the warrants should be issued – but a politically corrupt decision to kowtow to US money/power political interests was likely to override German law.

      From a judicial standpoint, the facts are clear and the Munich prosecutor has acted correctly. Politically speaking, said Nikel, Germany would have to examine the implications for relations with the U.S

      . emph added

      The killer, though, is that the moral midget sending the cable about how hard his crew were working to cover up for Khalid el-Masri’s kidnappers, finishes up with this:

      … [Nikel] noted our political differences … for example … the alleged use of renditions

      emph added

  2. 1der says:

    “…saying one thing and then doing another.”

    Seems to be a feature and not a bug of our Ruling Elites, whether the Executive has a D or an R behind their name.

  3. BoxTurtle says:

    Were I in the Afgan government, I would tell America to butt out until Pillar I was applied in America.

    It also appears that the Afgan’s have as much respect for the law as we do. They get bribed by banks. They get bribed by foreign governments. They rig elections. They arrange accidents for those who disagree with them. They torture.

    Boxturtle (In short, we’ve taught our Western Ways quite well)

  4. tjbs says:

    Extraordinary renditions program,means an illegal KIDNAPPING program, right ?

    So what was 1939 Germany like with the war criminals strutting about boasting of their control methods ?

    • harpie says:

      [FAIR]: So the paper [NYT] will publish a story that reiterates the most explosive allegations in the cable, but not the cable itself. This is curious.

      curiouser and curiouser…

  5. jcc2455 says:


    Great reporting as usual. However, I think you’ve jumped to one conclusion.

    “He’s not telling the Germans that Steinmeier was wrong, that he mis-quoted Condi. Rather, Koenig’s simply saying that the content–what Condi had said–was wrong.”

    The cable doesn’t say that what Condi said was wrong. It’s extremely carefully written, careful in particular not to claim any firsthand knowledge of what actually transpired in the Condi meeting, and says only that the media reports were inaccurate, i.e. that Condi and the U.S. are concerned about the El-Masri case, whereas the press reports of the meeting say she said the U.S. isn’t concerned.

    As the cable is written, Condi could have said in the meeting that the U.S. is concerned about the case, but whoever leaked the contents of the meeting to the press misconstrued what Condi said in the meeting OR Condi did say the U.S. wasn’t concerned and the DCM is cleaning up after her. The latter may be more likely, but you can’t say that’s what actually happened based on the cable’s language.

    • emptywheel says:

      Maybe. But note this was not LEAKED from the meeting. Steinmeier said it on the record, ostensibly quoting Condi directly. Now, they may be trying not to say that Steinmeier misspoke–though they don’t ask for a correction, which would seem to be protocol if Steinmeier misspoke on such an issue. But you’re right, it’s possible that Condi, a known liar, didn’t say what someone said she did.

      • jcc2455 says:

        Right you are, as usual. We all depend on you to be much more careful than my sloppy reading in this instance. Thank you for all your great work.

  6. phred says:

    We are becoming an international laughingstock. Well, at least we earned our increasingly disreputable reputation fairly.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      laughingstock? If it weren’t for our military and the money we spread around to foreign politicians, we’d be a pariah.

      Boxturtle (That, and the fact that we managed to get almost everyone to dirty their hands in this War On Terror)

      • phred says:

        Good point : )

        By laughingstock I simply meant deserving of ridicule. I did not mean to suggest that anything we have done lately is remotely funny.

        Every time I have the misfortune of hearing some official or another lecturing other countries about corruption, human rights, the rule of law, etc., my seethe-o-meter goes right off scale. It is so egregiously offensive that I can hardly stand it. So I mock them as the corrupt lying two-faced murderous weasels that they are. In short ridicule.

        The world could do with a good deal more of it. Humiliation sometimes succeeds where other tactics fail to force politicians to behave better.

  7. Jeff Kaye says:

    Condi and the others do what they must to save America their asses.

    El Pais today tells a story of how the US embassy repeatedly intervened on Spanish prosecutions. They intervened with the Spanish attorney general and state prosecutors’ offices to quelch investigations by judges like Garzon. This includes the El Masri case, in play there because the rendition flight presumably stopped over in Palma. Also the death of Spanish cameraman Jose Couso in Iraq.

    We knew much of this, but it’s nice to see the names and hear them say with their own words re handling the cases “discretamente de Gobierno a Gobierno” (informe “confidencial” del 1 de febrero de 2007).”

    The article is only in Spanish, but I think one can get the drift from the quote above.

    H/T Daphne Eviatar

    • BoxTurtle says:

      babelfish does a decent job of translating the page.


      It appears as though despite outward calm, ObamaLLP and BushCo were really worried about foreign prosecutions.

      Boxturtle (Pause to visualize Bush and Cheney and their lawyers perpwalked across the tarmac at The Hague)

    • Mary says:

      I still remember waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back when, as some of the torture flight info was very first coming out, there was a pretty public exchange between Spain and the US embassy there, where the Ambassador flat out swore that no plane that actually had a person in it ever landed in Spain, just empty flights. He gave the absolute utmost diplomatic assurances.

    • john in sacramento says:

      According to my very limited Spanish it looks like they interfered in Baltazar Garzon’s investigation

      el juez Baltasar Garzón había publicado en EL PAÍS un artículo en el que abogaba por una investigación judicial sobre esa guerra. “650.000 muertos son un argumento suficiente para que esa investigación se aborde sin más dilación”

      Paraphrasing …

      Baltasar Garzón wrote an article asking for an investigation into the war to begin immediately because 650,000 have died needlessly


      los informes secretos muestran que la embajada contó con buena información sobre la marcha de las causas judiciales y con la colaboración de autoridades del Gobierno, así como del fiscal general del Estado y los fiscales Javier Zaragoza y Vicente González Mota. Para conseguirlo, el embajador y colaboradores suyos presionaron a ministros y responsables de Exteriores o Justicia, visitaron a altos cargos de la Audiencia Nacional en sus propios despachos, se reunieron con jueces y utilizaron las visitas de políticos estadounidenses a España para intentar que los procedimientos judiciales naufragaran.

      Paraphrasing …

      The secret cables show the collaboration between the Spanish Government officials and American politicians in sabotaging any judicial investigations

      I pretty sure they’re alluding to Garzon’s investigation here

      Torturas en Guantánamo

      Similares actuaciones se han producido tras la apertura en 2009, también en la Audiencia, de un tercer procedimiento judicial por torturas en Guantánamo . En este caso, además, EE UU ha puesto de relieve la preocupación de Washington por la posible aplicación en España de la “jurisdicción universal” a la hora de enjuiciar crímenes cometidos en otros países. Así se pone de relieve, por ejemplo, en el documento “secreto” redactado el 26 de junio del año pasado con motivo de la visita a Madrid de Janet Napolitano, fiscal general de EE UU, ya con Alan D. Solomont como nuevo embajador nombrado por la Administración Obama: “Un tema reciente e irritante en las relaciones bilaterales se refiere a los esfuerzos de algunos jueces que invocan la jurisdicción universal para procesar a ex altos cargos del Gobierno de EE UU por su presunta implicación en torturas en Guantánamo”.

      Paraphrasing …

      Beginning at a third hearing (Garzon’s? I think) on the torture at GitMo, Washington was preoccupied by the Universal War Crimes Jurisdiction (think Pinochet). And in a cable from June 26 of last year from US Ambassador Alan J Solomont to Janet Napolitano says

      “A recent and irritating subject in the bilateral relations talks about the efforts of some judges who invoke the universal jurisdiction to process to ex- stops positions of the Government of the USA by their presumed implication in tortures in Guantánamo”.

      There’s more there that I’ll have to catch up on later. Gotta step out for a minute

      Thanks Jeff

      • lysias says:

        No wonder the powers that be saw to it that Garzón was investigated, indicted, and suspended from his judgeship on some pretty fishy-looking technicalities.

  8. R.H. Green says:

    “…strong concerns about the issuance of arrest warrants in the al-Masri case.”

    Note the spelling of the name here. The arrest warrants were related to the El-Masri case, the one supposedly based upon a case of mistaken identity. Still, the government officials seemed not to have realized their doggedness in the face of facts.

  9. ottogrendel says:

    I came across this relevant paragraph today:

    “If the universal empire abates its drive for total sovereignty (as must be acknowledged when reaching its limits), it does not retreat from its claims to superiority or acknowledge the rights of others. Upholding the ideal of cosmic order, the higher right derived from overwhelming greatness, it admits no legitimate dissent, but stands for a single law, which is its law. There is right, as Thucydides pointed out, only between equals; the universal empire acknowledges no international law as restricting its sovereignty; whatever it finds fitting for itself is just.” –Robert Wesson in “The Imperial Order”

    • tjbs says:

      I came across this relevant paragraph today:

      “If the universal empire abates its drive for total sovereignty Spectrum Dominance (as must be acknowledged when reaching its limits), it does not retreat from its claims to superiority or acknowledge the rights of others. Upholding the ideal of cosmic order, the higher right derived from overwhelming greatness, it admits no legitimate dissent, but stands for a single law, which is its law. There is right, as Thucydides pointed out, only between equals; the universal empire acknowledges no international law as restricting its sovereignty; whatever it finds fitting for itself is just.” –Robert Wesson in “The Imperial Order”

      Wasn’t that a cheney or rumsfeld quote ?

  10. alank says:

    This is interesting, but Condi reported to the White House. The suggestion she’s responsible for the torture policy and other abuses of human rights assumes she made it herself. That’s an unlikely contingency. She may have supported such policies but the matter of rule of law is one the policy makers themselves have to address. The current White House have followed in lockstep these policies and furthered them. That’s worth noting, as well, in this context.

    • Mary says:

      Not exactly.

      The sales pitch on the kidnap to torture programs was that they were supposedly rare and was only authorized vis a vis National Security Council approval – at least, the upgraded/degraded Nat Sec C that they put together that excluded Powell as Sec of State.

      Per our torture treaties, typically you would have had to go to the Sec of State to transport someone to a nationstate known to engage in torture, like Egypt and Syria and some of our other torture destinations. The Sec of State is supposed to make sure there are assurances in place that no one transferred there will be abused. Later, that became Condi’s job – but while it was Powell’s they ran a special subset of the Nat Sec Council that excluded the Sec of State and his counsel, Taft, to make the torture shipment determinations.

      So either you buy their spiel that no one was rendered without Nat Sec Council being advised and authorizing it – in which case she was in the loop and Bellinger, as her counsel both as NSAdvisor and at State was in the loop on torture; or you ask them why they lied about renditions needing to be authorized by anyone other than a CIA analyst who took pleasure trips to watch guys being waterboarded.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      That’ll put the Brits in a tough spot. Do they treat America like they’re treating Israel or will they change directions and treat Israel like they will America?

      My bet is that this’ll get buried for 50 years, right beside the David Kelly “suicide” paperwork.

      Boxturtle (In 2060, the Brits will demand an apology from whomever is CEO at the tme)

  11. MadDog says:

    OT – A July 9, 2008 Wikileaks cable from the Ottawa Embassy about a July 2, 2008 meeting between the US and the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) who expressed disdain for the Canadian judiciary and Canadian public which I’m sure will come as no surpise to Skdadl and company:

    …Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Director Judd discussed domestic and foreign terror threats with Counselor of the State Department Cohen in Ottawa on July 2. Judd admitted that CSIS was increasingly distracted from its mission by legal challenges that could endanger foreign intelligence-sharing with Canadian agencies…

    …Director Judd ascribed an “Alice in Wonderland” worldview to Canadians and their courts, whose judges have tied CSIS “in knots,” making it ever more difficult to detect and prevent terror attacks in Canada and abroad. The situation, he commented, left government security agencies on the defensive and losing public support for their effort to protect Canada
    and its allies…

    …Judd derided recent judgments in Canada’s courts that threaten to undermine foreign government intelligence and information-sharing with Canada. These judgments posit that Canadian authorities cannot use information that “may have been” derived from torture, and that any Canadian public official who conveys such information may be subject to criminal prosecution. This, he commented, put the government in a reverse-onus situation whereby it would have to “prove” the innocence of partner nations in the face of assumed wrongdoing…

    • MadDog says:

      Avast Ye, Scallywags! More Wikileaks cables this time one from February 12, 2008 via the NYT on Blackwater pirate hunting off the coast of Somalia:

      …U.S. security firm, Blackwater Worldwide (BW), has received permission from the Government of Djibouti to operate an armed ship from the port of Djibouti, to protect commercial shipping from pirates off the coast of Somalia. Blackwater’s U.S.-flagged ship is expected to arrive in early March, and will have a crew of 33 AmCits, including three 6-man armed teams who will operate in continuous shifts. The Djiboutian Navy will secure Blackwater’s weapons (i.e., .50-caliber machine guns) while ashore in Djibouti. Blackwater does not intend to take any pirates into custody, but will use lethal force against pirates if necessary

      …a) Hassan Said Khaireh–triple-hatted as Djibouti’s national security advisor, head of the security/intelligence service, and director of President Guelleh’s Military Office–has given BW permission to operate its armed ship in Djibouti. BW met with Hassan Said on Feb. 7, following an earlier meeting in WashDC between BW’s CEO Erik Prince and Cofer Black with Djiboutian Amb. to the U.S. Robleh Olhaye. This is the only such arrangement so far that BW has made with a host government in the region, but BW will likely engage Oman and Kenya in the future (e.g., in the event of a mechanical malfunction, the only facilities capable of repairing BW’s ship are located in Mombasa.) Within the USG, BW has briefed AFRICOM, CENTCOM, and Embassy Nairobi officials

      …e) BW has no intention of taking any pirates into custody. While the French have previously put pirates ashore in Puntland, Downey said BW had no plans to do so, either in Somalia or Kenya (noting that Kenya’s bilateral PUC agreements with the USG and HMG were government-to-government). BW will share its SOP with Embassies Djibouti and Nairobi once approved; SOP is currently under legal review, as there is “no precedent for a paramilitary operation in a purely commercial environment.” While asserting that international maritime law allows the use of lethal force against pirates, BW also recognizes the need to respect international humanitarian obligations. Of concern, for example, is whether BW would be responsible for assisting injured pirates, if doing so endangered BW’s ability to protect its client(s)

      (My Bold)

      If Blackwater isn’t going to take any pirates into custody, does that mean Blackwater is going to keelhaul them or just have them walk the fockin’ plank?

      • MadDog says:

        Mark Mazzeti of the NYT on Blackwater’s pleasure cruise pirate-hunting jaunt:

        Besieged by criminal inquiries and Congressional investigators, how could the world’s most controversial private security company drum up new business? By battling pirates on the high seas, of course…


        …Lawsuits filed later by crew members on the McArthur made life on the ship sound little improved from the days of Blackbeard.

        One former crew member said, according to legal documents, that the ship’s captain, who had been drinking during a port call in Jordan, ordered him “placed in irons” (handcuffed to a towel rack) after he was accused of giving an unauthorized interview to his hometown newspaper in Minnesota. The captain, according to the lawsuit, also threatened to place the sailor in a straitjacket…

  12. Mary says:

    So a US soldier shoots a “Taliban leader” sleeping in a jail cell, just because. The soldier might have mental issues or other problems – or might not (at least he didn’t spend a week beating and suffocating the *detainee* in a sleeping bag while beating his kidnapped children and staging their mock executions before killing him). But the end of the story is what makes me shake my head even more.

    The Army says it’s not sure of the name of the Taliban leader killed…

    Thanks JIS. It’s good to know that Eric Holder’s on the job. I saw him just yesterday, affirming that people who broke the law (you know, the law about how its illegal to tell on kidnappers, torturers and killers) would face consequences.

  13. klynn says:

    This Lawrence Wilkerson interview link about Wiki Leaks was posted on Morning Swim.

    It is a must see.

    My son and I did a listing of all the content from the WikiLeaks dump that fell under “ripe for a disinformation campaign” vs. “real info” being revealed for an end goal of justice.

    Our list fell heavy on the “disinformation/psych-ops” side and light on the “end goal of justice” side.

    Wilkerson sounds like he agrees.

    Absolutely great interview. Closing comment is a keeper.

    My son also noted that this “distraction” comes at an interesting time… foreclosure fraud needing to be confronted, the possible new “stick it to the people on health care” and the Cat Food Commission denying benefits.

    He noted how similar all that is going on is so similar to Italy and Mussolini’s efforts to create confusion and distraction and then become the “solution” creating the path to fascism.

    My son’s closing words, “Threatening basic rights and needs is the work of evil. Trying to hide such threats with confusion and distractions is beyond evil and it is clearly a plan.”

  14. Mary says:

    Apparently a cable(s) re: the embassy’s take on the impact of the Aafia Siddiqui verdict are in the release bunch

    The guilty verdict against Dr. Aafia Siddiqui has sparked public protests and condemnation of the U.S. The response to the verdict has resurrected familiar allegations that Dr. Siddiqui was kidnapped by Pakistani intelligence agencies and the FBI, unlawfully detained by the U.S. in Afghanistan, and physically and mentally abused by American soldiers.

    No mention, even in the cables, of the hot button topic of her children, or her daughter/maybe maybenot daughter, showing up.

    Both the government and the NGO community spoke out against the verdict.

    In Islamabad, Pakistan,s Professional Forum (PPF), along with other civil society groups, staged a protest against Siddiqui,s “illegal detention.” These protestors claimed that only Pakistani courts had jurisdiction over this case and accused the government of not doing enough to secure her release. On February 5, the Punjab Provincial Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution expressing solidarity with Siddiqui and her family and called on the federal government to provide all diplomatic and legal support to her case. The Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) passed a resolution “condemning the decision and the indifferent attitude of the Pakistani Government,, towards the case.” Supreme Court Bar Association Secretary Raja Zulqarnain also criticized the verdict and repeated similar accusations that the U.S., rather than a champion of human rights, was a violator of human rights.

    While a lot of this info was on this site without need to get to an embassy cable ;) it’s nice to know they were passing on the info. Apparently they still weren’t bothering with info re: her children – one of the major issues that makes the topic so volatile there. That’s what we pay the Exec branch and media for – ignoring the elephants in the room. Not everyone can do it so well.

    Anyway- this bit is highlighted in yellow by THe Guardian.

    During a meeting with DCM and POLOFFs on February 8, a group of moderate Muslim religious leaders expressed very strong feelings about the Siddiqui case and the guilty verdict. The religious leaders were unified in their belief that Siddiqui did not receive a fair trial and called for mercy on the grounds that she was a woman. They claimed that the verdict detracted from President Obama,s efforts to reach out to the Muslim community and that he should step in and release Siddiqui as a show of good faith towards the world,s Muslims.

    If you pull up the link (it’s hosted by The Guardian) take a look at the (C) paragraph – 2. Not because it has anything much new or interesting, but bc it basically takes news reports in Pak and on the web and HRCP speculation that has been out there already. But it’s the paragraph that talks about the Pakistani belief that the FBI and USG was involved in her detention. Interesting, that widely published info somehow becomes “classified” in a cable. And that would be because? Obviously – not because it’s been widely published – so why is it classified in the cable? Because it touches on info that is classified?

    Links to other related cables – I’m not sure I buy The Guardian’s take on them, though.
    Bagram officials deny detaining
    Embassy denies knowledge of children
    Story, plus some links to other cables

  15. Mary says:

    One thing of note in this cable that the Guardian story treats as evidence that the US maybe didn’t really know much
    (this is the cable that gets this heading “US embassy cables: Bagram officials deny detaining Aafia Siddiqui”) is the timeline.

    I’ve pointed this out before, but the cable makes it really clear.

    July 31 of 2008, the embassy is sending out cables about these kinds of things going on in Pakistani courts:

    Islamabad attorney Javed Jaffrey filed a habeas corpus petition July 29 on behalf of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani national who allegedly has been held and mistreated at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility since 2004. The court July 30 ordered Interior Ministry Secretary Shah to report on her alleged detention on September 9.

    There have been a spate of press reports about Siddiqui following a July 6 press conference in which UK journalist Yvonne Ridley accused the U.S. of holding and perhaps torturing an unnamed woman in solitary confinement since 2004 at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility. The IHC ordered Interior Ministry Secretary Kamal Shah to report on Siddique’s status, but for now the court exempted the other respondents, who include the Embassy’s Legal Attach, President Musharraf, and former President Farooq Ahmad Leghari. The IHC adjourned the case until September 9.

    emph added

    The context of this is that it was about a week later that lo and behold – Siddiqui shows up on the radar in Afghanistan and everyone falls all over themselves to put the story out on Aug 4 about her “arrest” and the fact that she was in Afghanistan for her shootouts in mid July. Before the Habeas Petition was filed. So no one in Pakistan has to show up and testify about her.

    As of the July 31 cable “Bagram” does have custody of Siddiqui, according the story the US puts out in August. While the embassy is sending its cable, the US military and FBI supposedly DO have custody of Siddiqui in Afghanistan. That’s the whole basis of her charge in August – her actions while in US custody in Afghanistan in MID-July. So the US is letting the habeas petition play out while they are secretly holding her, until they realize that the High Court is getting ready to make Ministers testify about her – then she gets pulled out of the wool in August.

    So while all that interested me – what the Guardian is highlighting is this:

    Comment: It is unclear who is paying Jaffrey and/or orchestrating this campaign on Siddiqui’s behalf. Siddiqui has family living in Karachi and noted politicians, including Imran Khan, continue their vocal support for her cause. Bagram officials have assured us that they have not been holding Siddiqui for the last four years, as has been alleged. End comment

    That’s pretty priceless. A cable that “Bagram officials” (who the US is going to later concede have her on the very date of the cable, and have her shot up to boot) are giving assurances “that they have not been holding Siddiqui for the last four years, as has been alleged.”

    But no word of having her right then and there. Uh huh – that makes all the innocent protestations that much more believable. Right.

  16. timbo says:

    This just goes to prove that suitcases full of cash can’t buy “Rule of Law”…or, er, on second thought, maybe it can if we just send more suitcase of cash to sort out the problem. Yeah, yeah, that’s got to work!