US DOJ authorized illegal transfers of detainees out of Iraq for interrogation

The Washington Post reported Sunday that in response to a request by the CIA, the US Justice Department drafted a memo in March 2004 that authorized the transfer of detainees out of Iraq for interrogation. International law experts say this is an unconventional and disturbing circumvention and reinterpretation of the Geneva Convention, Article 49 of which prohibits "[i]ndividual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory . . . regardless of their motive." The memo of March 19, written by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, acknowledged that both Iraqi citizens and foreigners in Iraq are protected by the Convention, but permits the CIA to take Iraqis out of the country for interrogation for a "brief but not indefinite period." It also permitted the CIA to permanently remove persons deemed to be "illegal aliens" under "local immigration law." One intelligence official said that the CIA has used the memo as legal support to transfer nearly a dozen detainees out of Iraq in the last six months, concealing them from the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Washington Post has more.

 

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