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Context of 'October 2003: OLC Issues Opinion on Status of Protected Persons In Iraq'

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Iraqi national Hiwa Abdul Rahman Rashul, later to be nicknamed “Triple-X,” is captured by Kurdish soldiers on suspicion that he is a member of Al-Ansar al-Islam, a militant group operating in northern Iraq. [Washington Post, 10/24/2004] He is then handed over to the CIA, which takes him outside of Iraq to a secret facility in Afghanistan. [New York Times, 9/10/2004]

Entity Tags: Hiwa Abdul Rahman Rashul

Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives, War in Afghanistan

White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales asks the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) to provide an opinion on protected persons in Iraq and more specifically on the status of the detained Hiwa Abdul Rahman Rashul, an Iraqi prisoner being held in Afghanistan. In a one-page memo, Jack L. Goldsmith, head of the OLC, rules that Rashul is a “protected person” with rights under the Fourth Geneva Convention and therefore has to be returned to Iraq. Goldsmith also decides that non-Iraqis, who came to Iraq after the invasion, do not qualify for protection under the Geneva Conventions. [Washington Post, 10/24/2004]

Entity Tags: International Committee of the Red Cross, Hiwa Abdul Rahman Rashul, George J. Tenet, Donald Rumsfeld

Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives

The CIA complies with the Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) opinion that Hiwa Abdul Rahman Rashul should be returned to Iraq (see October 2003). But CIA Director George Tenet asks Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to see that Rashul is hidden from Red Cross survey teams and that he not be given a registration number. The secretary of defense complies with the request. On June 16, 2004, [Christian Science Monitor, 6/17/2004] Rumsfeld will admit that he ordered Rashul to be hidden from the Red Cross in order to prevent the detainee’s interrogation from being interrupted. [CBS News, 6/18/2004] For the next seven months, Rashul remains a so-called “ghost detainee” at the High Value Detention facility near the Baghdad airport at Camp Cropper. [US News and World Report, 6/21/2004]

Entity Tags: Hiwa Abdul Rahman Rashul, Muhammed Al-Zery

Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives

Jack Goldsmith, the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), sends a classified memo to a number of general counsels: the State Department’s William Howard Taft IV, the Defense Department’s William Haynes, the White House’s chief counsel for national security John Bellinger, the CIA’s Scott Muller, and the White House’s Alberto Gonzales. The memo is a draft opinion that concludes the US government can withdraw “protected persons” (a classification of the Geneva Conventions) who are illegal aliens from Iraq to other countries to facilitate interrogation—in other words, the US can subject them to rendition. Goldsmith says the US can also rendition so-called “protective persons” who have not been accused of a crime and who are not illegal aliens in Iraq, as long as the custody is for a brief period. [US Department of Justice, 3/19/2004 pdf file; Cross, 2005; American Civil Liberties Union [PDF], 1/28/2009 pdf file] The memo correlates with another Justice Department memo rejecting “protected person” status for some who are detained by US forces in Iraq (see March 18, 2004).

Entity Tags: Office of Legal Counsel (DOJ), Geneva Conventions, Alberto R. Gonzales, Jack Goldsmith, John Bellinger, William J. Haynes, William Howard Taft IV, US Department of Justice, Scott Muller

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

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