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Ghost Detainees Scandal Linked to Highest Levels of the White House

Gulf News | October 27 2004

The scandal of Iraqi "ghost detainees", prisoners not officially recorded by the United States, has links to top levels at the White House, Gulf News has reliably learnt.

An official from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says that senior cabinet members, including National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, were aware of the scandal and refused the humanitarian organisation access to the prisoners.

Until now the White House has insisted that acts like prisoner abuse, keeping prisoners in isolation and denying they are being detained were committed by a "few bad apples".

President George W. Bush has said that maltreatment was the "wrongdoing of a few".

However, the official told Gulf News that the issue of "ghost detainees" was raised by ICRC at a meeting in January in Washington.

ICRC President Jakob Kellenburger met with Rice, US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, to discuss widespread maltreatment of Iraqi prisoners. This was before the abuse of prisoners became public on April 28 this year.

Also raised at the Washington meeting was the issue of ghost detainees. "Officially there was only one admitted to by the US," Red Cross media spokes-person Antonella Notari said in Geneva yesterday.

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had acknowledged in November that he ordered a senior Iraqi detainee be held without it being recorded at Iraq’s Camp Cropper detention centre.

"But we knew there were others," Notari said. "We have a policy of asking for access to all prisoners wherever they are held, whether it is in the so-called war on terror or the Iraq war. We ask to see all prisoners and their area of detention. We asked to get access to these ghost detainees. Rice, Powell and Wolfowitz denied us access."

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