Hassan Ghul’s World Travels

[World map]

World map by Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL

Adam Goldman significantly fleshes out the story of what happened to Hassan Ghul after he was picked up in Iraq in 2004. It appears that Ghul may have been freed by the Pakistanis sometime after January 2007 because of his ties to Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has close ties to the ISI.

The whole article is worthwhile for its depiction of Pakistan’s protection of Ghul (as is this story which describes the arrest of a bunch of the Pakistanis who helped us find Osama bin Laden).

But I wanted to call attention to a weird detail in Goldman’s story.

In a joint operation with the Kurds, Ghul was nabbed in northern Iraq in January 2004, former CIA officials said. Pakistan was furious when it learned the CIA had Ghul and pressed the U.S. to return him.Instead, Ghul was taken to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan but was later removed over questions about whether the transfer was legal, former CIA officials said. Ghul then was taken to a CIA “black site” — a secret prison — in Eastern Europe and provided information about bin Laden’s most trusted courier before he was exposed to harsh interrogation techniques. Ghul’s information later allowed the CIA to realize that finding the courier probably would lead to bin Laden.

This seems to confirm that the 2004 discussions on the legality of removing a detainee from Iraq pertained, in part, to Ghul (it also seems to confirm that the detainee tortured in August 2004 was not Ghul, but another Ghul).

What does it mean, though, that in response to concerns about the legality of removing him from Iraq, we then moved him from Afghanistan (another country we arguably occupied) to one of our “black sites”?

And given that he was reportedly cooperating from early after his capture, was he moved to the black site solely to keep him hidden further away?

37 replies
  1. MadDog says:

    There continues to be interesting aspects to the Hassan Ghul story.

    As we’ve discussed here a number of times, the original “story” about Hassan Ghul had him being captured trying to enter Iraq by the Kurds and turned over to the US Military.

    As that “story” went, he was sometime later turned over to the CIA.

    A week after Hassan Ghul’s capture as the “story” reportedly goes, George W. Bush was crowing about his capture.

    In Adam Goldman’s piece today, the CIA “figured out” Hassan Ghul was traveling to Iraq and set up an operation with the Kurds to capture him.

    How the CIA “figured this out” is left to our imaginations.

    If today’s Adam Goldman “story” is true, Hassan Ghul was never in the hands of the US Military unless somehow the CIA accidently on purpose dropped him into General Sanchez’s lap. Doubtful, but then this is the Hassan Ghul story.

    Then there’s the curious bit about Hassan Ghul never having an ISN (Internment Serial Number). KSM has one. So does almost every single other detainee. Why not Hassan Ghul?

    There’s also the curious bit about the CIA “torturinginterrogating” Hassan Ghul for years and somehow never finding out that he was an asset of Pakistan’s ISI. Mighty strange, isn’t it?

    I could go on, but I’m beginning to think the other readers here are starting to think I’m cuckoo and making all this stuff up.

    I’m starting to think that myself. *g*

    • chetnolian says:

      “There’s also the curious bit about the CIA “torturinginterrogating” Hassan Ghul for years and somehow never finding out that he was an asset of Pakistan’s ISI. Mighty strange, isn’t it?”

      Well no, not if you think torture doesn’t work and victims just tell interrogators what they want to know. If they didn’t ask, you wouldn’t tell.

    • bobschacht says:

      Thanks for helping us put “2+2” together. I think sometimes the Press and our Gov’t, hopes that we don’t take the time to “connect the dots.” Thanks for helping us in the task of dot-connecting.

      Bob in AZ

  2. papau says:

    He never told them the ISI connection because they already knew it (that was why ISI complained to begin with). He did not have an ISN number because he was a guest that was detained – not a prisoner (the difference is we pretend you are not working against us).

    Meanwhile Obama gives the finger to the war powers act and dares the House to impeach or even pointlessly try to put into spending bills wording that ends Libya war spending (which he will ignore after signing a “signing statement document” ala GW Bush doing on the advice of a few USSC judges).

    Hard to see when the reign of GW Bush ended and that “yes we can” Democrat that was to the left of Hillary began.

    But if they impeach some folks in Congress would say that it was racist – so we better fight that idea. /s

  3. bluewombat says:

    I’m not clever enough to sort out all the ins and outs of this story, but I believe it was a violation of the Geneva Conventions to move him from Iraq for questioning in another country, although the fact that he isn’t an Iraqi citizen may cloud that a bit.

  4. MadDog says:

    OT – On a subject near and dear to us, via Wired:

    Lawmakers Propose Warrant Requirement for GPS Data

    Two lawmakers announced legislation Wednesday that for the first time would explicitly require authorities to obtain a court warrant to get geolocational information on a suspect’s movements. It’s a position clearly at odds with the Obama administration.

    The “Geolocational Privacy and Surveillance Act” (.pdf) comes amid a hodgepodge of conflicting court rulings (.pdf) about whether such data — obtained from mobile phones, hidden trackers affixed to vehicles, navigation devices and laptops — should be protected by the Fourth Amendment.

    The proposal by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) comes nearly three months after the Obama administration petitioned the Supreme Court to allow the government, without a court warrant, to secretly install GPS devices on suspects’ vehicles to track their every move…

    • bmaz says:

      Reid, as a ploy to get them to not link this to the defense spending bill, promised them the ability to bring this separately; he will, however, make sure it is defeated.

  5. MadDog says:

    More OT – Via the AP:

    WikiLeaks grand jury witness refuses to testify

    …David House, a founding member of the Bradley Manning Support Network, said he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination after being subpoenaed to the federal courthouse in Alexandria. Prosecutors have convened a grand jury there to investigate the WikiLeaks disclosures.

    House told reporters after his appearance that nearly all the questions posed by prosecutors centered on Bradley Manning, who is being held at Fort Leavenworth while military authorities conduct their own investigation into whether he illegally leaked sensitive documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. House said he was not asked any questions about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange…

    • bmaz says:

      You know, some of this Manning/WikiLeaks clatter is just off the deep end anymore. It was one thing to fight to get wrongful confinement conditions corrected; it is quite another to just spew a bunch of rubbish and make a mockery of the rule of law and legal process.

      The report here is House says he was not asked one thing about WikiLeaks, only about Manning.

      If that is true, and I bet it is, then this whole manufactured outrage by some of these folks is rubbish. Manning is absolutely an appropriate subject of inquiry by an investigatory grand jury. To say otherwise is absurd. And if House does not really have some legitimate criminal exposure in relation to his interaction with Manning, and he may well not, he just committed fraud on a Federal grand jury by malignantly claiming a privilege to which he is not entitled. If he does have a legitimate position of criminal exposure, he is either insane making this kind of racket or receiving some of the worst legal advice in the history of criminal law. A grand jury is NOT a show trial, and the fact there were no WikiLeaks areas of inquiry, only legitimate Manning questions, puts the lie to the entire schticht.

      • MadDog says:

        An interesting observation!

        This does seem to be an act of political theater and not likely to go over well in the grand jury room.

        As IANAL, I’m curious though why you view a pleading of the 5th if House had a legal vulnerability as awful legal advice. Isn’t that typical advice to those with legal vulnerabilities?

        Or were you just referring to House’s press interviews as insane?

        • bmaz says:

          His freaking lawyer admitted House has no criminal exposure! That is why:

          His lawyer Peter Krupp said that while House has done nothing wrong, he invoked his right against self-incrimination because “any testimony he would give would be manipulated to be used against him.” Krupp also accused prosecutors of using the grand jury to trample on House’s right to freely associate with Manning or other WikiLeaks supporters.

          I have been around criminal law a long time, and this is simply fucking outrageous. You do not get to invoke the 5th on a lark or to be cute or as a PR protest. You cannot do that. And this idiot lawyer Krupp up and admitted that is exactly what they were doing. Krupp ought to be referred to whatever bar he is a member of on ethics charges if what he stated is true. If it is not true, and House has actual criminal exposure, then it is some of the most pathetic lawyering I have ever seen and they should both shut the fuck up and hope House does not get reeled in. It is simply insane no matter how you look at it.

          • jawbone says:

            BMAZ, I’m not a lawyer, but isn’t anyone like House opening himself up to possible gotcha’s as soon as they open their mouths to say anything except “I plead the 5th.” House’s computers have been taken from him when he re-entered the US, so there might be things on his computer which he ight not even remember. If asked about those things, could he not be caught in a perjury trap?

            I would be exceedingly uncomfortable is his situation.

            • bmaz says:

              I would be too, which is exactly why I would not be constantly yammering to every soul in sight, and the press, constantly about everything, and sure as heck would not have a lawyer that inferred to the press I was pleading the 5th without legitimate basis. This is a clown show.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Precisely the situation the USG wanted to put him in. Credible critics are as unwelcome as a tsunami on the Potomac; ask Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame.

  6. MadDog says:

    And even more OT – Again, via the AP:

    CIA air base in works for Persian Gulf

    Preparing for a worst-case scenario in Yemen, the United States is building a secret CIA air base in the Persian Gulf region to target al-Qaida terrorists there, in case anti-American factions win the current power struggle and shut U.S. forces out, The Associated Press has learned…

    …The Associated Press has withheld the exact location of the base at the request of U.S. officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because portions of the military and CIA missions in Yemen are classified…

    • MadDog says:

      I’m guessing the CIA air base would be an expansion of the existing JSOC facilities across the Gulf of Aden in Djibouti. This would seem to be confirmed via an article yesterday in Strategy Page:

      …The U.S. has been basing more armed UAVs across the Gulf of Aden, in Djibouti, for flying recon missions over Yemen. The UAVs, with an endurance of 15-20 hours (depending on how many missiles carried), require about two hours to Yemen and back, from their Djibouti base. For over a year now the American JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) have been increasing its fleet of UAVs in Djibouti. JSOC has, for the last decade, devoted most of its efforts to monitoring, and occasionally intervening, in Somalia. But the JSOC demand for UAVs, to watch Somalia, the waters off Somalia (where pirates proliferate) and Yemen has grown rapidly in the last year. So now the CIA is moving some of its UAVs in Djibouti, mainly to monitor al Qaeda activity in Yemen…

    • MadDog says:

      And another interesting tidbit from that AP piece:

      …The U.S. forces are also taking advantage of the fact that more al-Qaida operatives are exposing themselves as they move from their hideouts across the country to command troops challenging the government.

      That has led to the arrests of al-Qaida operatives by Yemeni forces, guided by U.S. intelligence intercepts, and those operatives are talking under joint U.S.-Yemeni interrogation, providing key information on al-Qaida operations and locations, U.S. officials said.

      That in turn led to the best opportunity in more than a year to hit U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in early May. A host of technical difficulties meant three separate attempts, by two types of unmanned armed drone-craft and war planes all failed, prompting some grousing among intelligence agencies that CIA-led strikes might net better results…

      (My Bold)

      Not just Predator and Reaper drones, but piloted war planes! Given the geography, twas likely Navy F-18s rather than Air Force planes.

    • MadDog says:

      As this Christian Science Monitor article today makes clear, the US war in Yemen is on!

      US covert attacks in Yemen: A better template for the war on terror?

      …Consensus in Washington on Al Qaeda remaining a threat may explain why President Obama faces virtually no opposition to what amounts to a covert war in Yemen – even as he battles Congress over the US military engagement in Libya…

      …“Our approach has been to develop operations in each of these areas [Yemen, Somalia, and North Africa] that will contain Al Qaeda and go after them so they have no place to escape,” Mr. Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee on June 9…


      …Announcing he plans to offer a Senate resolution authorizing Mr. Obama to use military force in Yemen, Senator Graham added, “I don’t think we [in Congress] should be on the sidelines. I think we should support the president”…

    • harpie says:

      Wow! You’re a one dog news feed today, MadDog! Thanks.

      I found the article @16 particularly interesting….haven’t had a chance to read all the rest, yet.

      • MadDog says:

        You’re welcome!

        This dog believes in the maxim that more news is better than less news. *g*

  7. blueskybigstar says:

    “It appears that Ghul may have been freed by the Pakistanis sometime after January 2007 because of his ties to Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has close ties to the ISI.”

    As we know who have been following this story, the boy terrorist caught in India for the Mumbai incident detailed how David Headley, who turned out to be a CIA agent, planned, financed, equipped, and trained the attackers for their mission.

    If the ISI has ties to Lashkar-e-Taiba, then it could not be more of a tie than the CIA has.

    When people say things that don’t make sense as you have pointed out and already have a history of not telling the truth, then they are probably still lying.

    • PeasantParty says:

      As we know who have been following this story, the boy terrorist caught in India for the Mumbai incident detailed how David Headley, who turned out to be a CIA agent, planned, financed, equipped, and trained the attackers for their mission


      Yes, and probably why Pakistan went berserk over our latest CIA motorcyclist murder/blood money episode.

      Is it just me or do all of you see that the intelligence agencies have failed to plan long term on these type things? I mean, seriously! I guess when you see the mind set they have it seems that they feel nothing they do will ever wrap back around and grab them by the ankles. It causes me great distress and shame that this garbage continues.

    • harpie says:

      Is U.S. Attack on Libya Legal? Rep. Dennis Kucinich Debates Former Reagan Attorney Robert Turner; Democracy Now!; 6/16/11

      On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 10 members of Congress sued President Obama for violating the War Powers Act of 1973 by failing to obtain congressional approval for military operations in Libya longer than 60 days. We host a debate between Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, one of the congressmembers suing President Obama, and Robert Turner, who worked as an attorney in the Reagan White House and is a longtime critic of the War Powers Act. “President Obama’s position is absolutely clear: we are not engaged in war in Libya and thus if the War Powers Resolution were constitutional, it still would not apply,” Turner says. “I ask you, if another country sent 2,000 planes over the United States and some of those missions dropped bombs on us, would that be an act of war against the United States?,” says Kucinich. “That is exactly what we have done in Libya.”

    • bobschacht says:

      OK, I’m probably wrong about the secret airfield. But this whole shtick about the war in Libya not being a war descends to the level of “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” And now, as shown in these comments, it appears that we are in an (unacknowledged) war in Yemen, all without Congressional approval via the War Powers act.

      We live in a war-crazed nation, led by an unhealthy synergy between the two major parties. Do we really have to elect a Libertarian to get out of this eternal war?

      Bob in AZ

  8. WilliamOckham says:

    What does it mean, though, that in response to concerns about the legality of removing him from Iraq, we then moved him from Afghanistan (another country we arguably occupied) to one of our “black sites”?

    That is a very big question. I am currently a few thousand miles from my notes on all the Geneva Convention discussions that were going on in the CIA during 2004, but I think I find this all very interesting. I think it hints at some sort of struggle between DoD and the agency at that time. I would guess that DoD must have evicted Ghul from Bagram. The Ghost prisoner controversy was heating at that time.

    Also, note that the story says the CIA had about 24 prisoners when they shut down the secret prison network. 14 went to Gitmo. That leaves roughly 10 unaccounted for.

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