Hassan Ghul Timeline

The known dates pertaining to Hassan Ghul’s capture and subsequent OLC memos authorizing his torture. The interesting things about this timeline are:

  • The Abu Ghraib scandal and IG Report come after they’ve detained Ghul but before they start torturing him in earnest
  • The claims to what Ghul knew changed over time
  • The approvals for his torture take place after Tenet is gone but before Goss arrives
  • Between the Cheney briefing of the Gang of Four, the CIA lie to HPSCI about torture, and Rockefeller’s requests for CIA IG materials, BushCo really was under pressure from Congress
  • Two documents to prove efficacy were created during the drafting of the Bradbury memos–but they don’t appear to claim Ghul’s torture was useful

March 16, 2003: Detainee testifies that Ghul took intended 9/11 participant, Mushabib al Hamlan, to Abu Zubaydah guest house in March 2000

January 19, 2004: General Sanchez requests investigation of Abu Ghraib abuse

January 22 or 23, 2004: Hassan Ghul detained by Kurds

January 31, 2004: Taguba appointed to conduct investigation

February 2 to 29, 2004: Taguba’s team investigating in Iraq

February 21, 2004: Directorate of Intelligence document, "US Efforts Grinding Down al-Qa’ida," says Ghul was captured while on a mission "to establish contact" with Zarqawi

February 24, 2004: Tenet mentions Ghul–along with top al Qaeda members–in hearing before SSCI

March 9, 2004: Taguba submits report

March 12, 2004: Letter to Goldsmith (possibly in support of GC opinion) claims Ghul "perform[ed] critical facilitation and finance activities for al-Qa’ida," including "transporting people, funds, and documents," and says CIA suspected Ghul of playing an active part in planning attacks against United States forces 

March 18, 2004: Jack Goldsmith concludes non-Iraqi members of al-Qaeda not "protected persons" under Geneva Convention

March 19, 2004: Jack Goldsmith drafts memo finding that US can remove some people of Iraq

April 28, 2004: Hamdi and Padilla argued before SCOTUS; Paul Clement assures the Court that we don’t torture; 60 Minutes breaks Abu Ghraib story and proves he’s wrong

May 7, 2004: CIA IG report finds torture program cruel and inhuman

June 3, 2004: Tenet announces resignation–seeks explicit approval of torture

June 15, 2004:Goldsmith informs Ashcroft he will withdraw Bybee Memo and resigns

June 17, 2004:Jack Goldsmith announces his resignation.

July 2004: Scott Muller resigns as General Counsel of CIA

July 11, 2004: Tenet resignation effective

July 20, 2004: CIA requests new legal advice from OLC (13 page letter)

July 22, 2004: Ashcroft confirms to Acting DCI (McLaughlin?) that all techniques except waterboarding legal under CAT

July 23, 2004: Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan arrested by Pakistani authorities

July 25, 2004: Capture of Ahmed Khalifan Ghailani

July 26, 2004: DNC begins

July 30, 2004: Letter to Daniel Levin including description of torture techniques

August 1, 2004: Government raises threat level, announces surveillance of financial institutions, though reports are years old; NYT publishes Khan’s name

August 2, 2004: Letter from John Rizzo to Levin, including details on when the CIA would use waterboarding and a medical and psychological assessment of Ghul

August 6, 2004: Daniel Levin advises that subject to reservations, CIA’s use of waterboarding not illegal

August 19, 2004: Letter to Daniel Levin detailing new limits on waterboarding

August 25, 2004: In letter to Daniel Levin asking to water douse Ghul, CIA claims the CIA believed (when it got custody) Ghul had actionable intelligence on "pre-election" threat to United States, had extensive connections to various al Qaeda leaders, members of the Taliban, and Zarqawi, and had tried to set up a meeting "at which elements of the pre-election threat were discussed"

December 30, 2004: Levin torture memo and CIA Background Paper on Combined Techniques

January 5, 2005: CIA faxes Daniel Levin a new definition of High Value Detainee

February 2005: Senior CIA official provides incomplete account of CIA treatment of detainees at HPSCI briefing

March 2, 2005: Memorandum for Steven G. Bradbury, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, from [redacted], DCI Counterterrorist Center, Re: Effectiveness of the CIA Counterintelligence Interrogation Techniques created

March 7 2005: CIA briefs Roberts and Rockefeller on torture

March 8, 2005: CIA briefs Roberts, Rockefeller, Goss, and Harman on torture

April 8, 2005: May 10, 2005 Bradbury memos drafted

April 15, 2005: Fax from [redacted], DCI Counterterrorist Center, Briefing Notes on the Value of Detainee Reporting created

April 20, 2005: DOJ announces Comey’s resignation

April 22, 2005: CIA sends Steven Bradbury fax on combining waterboarding and sleep deprivation

May 2005: Jello Jay Rockefeller writes to CIA IG requesting terror tape investigation materials; he doesn’t receive them

May 10, 2005: "Techniques memo" apparently addresses Ghul specifically; "Combined memo" may address Ghul as well

May 30, 2005: "CAT memo" describes Ghul’s torture and describes him as someone typical of the "High Value Detainee" subject to torture

July 9, 2005: Date of letter, purportedly from al-Zawahiri to al-Zarqawi

October 11, 2005: Release date of Zawahiri-Zarqawi letter

June 29, 2006: SCOTUS rules in Hamdan that Geneva Convention applies to al Qaeda detainees

Late summer 2006: Ghul shipped to prison in Pakistan

September 6, 2006: Other High Value Detainees shipped to Gitmo

January 2007: Ghul moved from Pakistani prison, whereabouts unknown

14 replies
  1. MadDog says:

    Are we allowed to comment on this post?

    Because I had something to add, but it includes 2 links and a couple of blockquotes, and for some reason, I get a “database connection” error message whenever I even try to “preview” it.

  2. emptywheel says:

    Yup, commnet away. I’m adding his cameo in the 9/11 Report.

    If you’re still havign problems, don’t link the links–just paste them in–WP doesn’t like recursive links that involve PDFs.

    • fatster says:

      It kind of reminds me of little children who, when they want to do something they aren’t supposed to do (say pull books off a shelf and let them fall to the floor), close their eyes tightly, and go do the forbidden thing. They think they disappear when their eyes are thus closed and you can’t see them.

  3. MadDog says:

    Twas really strange. I usually don’t get that “database connection” error unless I have too many links embedded. Oh well.


    Aha! I found what was causing “database connection” error. Tis really, really strange.

    In my comment below, I had the words “capture” and “kill” separated by a “/” instead of the word “or”. When I removed that “/” and replaced it with “or”, I no longer got the “database connection” error.

    What a very, very strange find! Try it yourself!

    The “/” doesn’t cause a problem if I use it with in/out, down/up or black/white, but it does cause a problem if you use a “/” to separate the words capture and kill.

    Anyways, here’s what I was going to add:

    One thing I neglected to mention in one of my comments here, and may buttress my hypothesis that Ghul was waterboarded by DOD folks (Special Ops, DIA, and/or DOD contractors), is the fact that Ghul was turned over to DOD by the Kurds coupled with your timeline item of:

    …February 21, 2004: Directorate of Intelligence document, “US Efforts Grinding Down al-Qa’ida,” says Ghul was captured while on a mission “to establish contact” with Zarqawi…

    The mission to capture or kill Zarqawi was one of the, if not the most, highest priorities of the US military in Iraq.

    And leading that effort, were the “black operation” Special Ops folks. Folks who operated entirely outside of the chain of command of the Multi-National Force Iraq (MNF-I) commanded by General Ricardo Sanchez.

    Their commander was General Stanley A. McChrystal who commanded:

    …Joint Special Operations Command from 2003 to 2008, where he was credited with the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq…

    And who is now, today, taken over command of:

    …International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A)…

    • MadDog says:

      And to finish making my point (which I didn’t really do *g*), consider:

      – The highest priority was to capture or kill Zarqawi. Similar to the original priority to do the same with Osama Bin Laden.

      – The Special Ops folks, who had this mission as their highest priority, had migrated from the Afghanistan warzone where EITs/torture first started on al-Qaeda captures.

      Every single Special Ops person was required to attend SERE training in order to join Special Ops.

      – Even if waterboarding was no longer used in any particular service’s SERE training (Seals, Delta Force, Rangers, etc. all had their own service SERE schools) at the time the Special Ops person attended, it is highly likely that they knew secondhand or even taught about waterboarding in the SERE curriculum and the “success” it would deliver in “breaking” the victim.

      So if one was a Special Ops person, tasked with the highest priority in Iraq of capturing or killing Zarqawi, and a prisoner like Ghul came into one’s hands, who it was claimed had come to Iraq to contact Zarqawi, what is the likelihood that waterboarding would rise to the top of the list of “interrogation techniques” for use in “breaking” the victim Ghul?

      And lastly, remember that Operation Copper Green was born as a Special Access Program in Rumsfeld’s DOD:

      …Hersh claims to have spoken to a senior CIA official who said the program was designed by Rumsfeld to wrest control of information from the CIA, and place it in the hands of the Pentagon…

      And it was:

      …run by Deputy Undersecretary Stephen Cambone. Hersh claims the special access program members were told “Grab whom you must. Do what you want”…

      We’ve only been told that the CIA waterboarded 3 people. No one that I’m aware of has stepped out and denied that the DOD’s SAP did it too, and even if they did deny it, would you believe Rumsfeld, Cambone, Wolfowitz, Feith, et al.?

      • emptywheel says:

        One more thing to consider.

        Zarqawi was a priority (and you might be suggesting he was a SF priority, which I’d buy).

        But there weren’t yet REALLY ties between AQ and Zaeqawi.

        But the govt had an incentive to say there were ties.

        • MadDog says:

          I wanted to thank you for locating and including that Rangzieb Ahmed document (15 page PDF).

          It surprised me that some of the answers on Ghul’s whereabouts included his transfer to Pakistan. I was unaware of that, and from what I could find, you may be one of the first to publicly document that proof.

          I posit the following options for consideration:

          1. The US had no further use for Ghul, so he was “extraordinarily renditioned” to Pakistan for imprisonment.

          2. The US had no further use for Ghul, so he was “extraordinarily renditioned” to Pakistan for imprisonment where he died.

          3. The US had further use for Ghul as a “double agent” (turned by EITs/torture), so he was moved to Pakistan to “assist” in furthering the GWOT via Pakistan’s ISI and our Intel community counterparts there.

    • emptywheel says:

      Right–you’re going right where I was: I thikn Ghul was waterboarded–just not by CIA.

      And remember the CIA had already told DOD their STF guys were doing things in Iraq that the CIA wasn’t allowed to do. And that STF was still flying by the seat of their pants until after Abu Ghraib broke.

      The Pakistani who talked to Ghul in a Pakistani jail said Ghul was held by the CIA in black site for 2 years, and was held for 2.5 years before he was put in Pakistani prison. That says he was held by someone–perhaps CIA

      So yeah, I think he was waterboarded by DOD. Which would make everything in the memos consistent, and would explain why they had to do the waterboard bit in Combined. CIA kept saying, “only three.” but I believe each time they do so, it’s limited to CIA.

  4. ilollipop says:

    Anyone who has got in the way of the prison transports has been met with brutal force. Bidar directed us to a small Shia neighbourhood on the edge of town where a multiple killing was still under investigation. Inside a frozen courtyard, a former policeman, Said Sardar, 25, was sat beside his crutches. On May 1 2004, he was manning a checkpoint when a car careened through. “Inside were men dressed like Arabs, but they were western men,” he said. “They had prisoners in the car.” Sardar fired a warning shot for the car to stop. “The western men returned fire and within minutes two US attack helicopters hovered above us. They fired three rockets at the police station. One screamed past me. I saw its fiery tail and blacked out.”

    He was taken to Bagram, where US military doctors had to amputate his leg. Afterwards, he said, “an American woman appeared. She said the US was sorry. It was a mistake. The men in the car were Special Forces or CIA on a mission. She gave me $500.” Sardar showed us into another room in his compound where a circle of children stared glumly at us; their fathers, all policemen, were killed in the same incident. “Five dead. Four in hospital. To protect covert US prisoner transports,” he says. Later, US helicopters were deployed in two similar incidents that left nine dead.

    Every time I read this I get angry and wonder… What would I do with $500?

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