The Wrong Missing Detainee: Hassan or Janat?
Three years after his capture, human rights groups  were surprised when Ghul was not included among 14 high-value detainees who were transferred out of the CIA’s black sites program and sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2007.
Since then, he has been considered a missing, or ghost detainee . But in the heavily redacted OLC memo  dated May 30, 2005, government censors appeared to have missed a single reference to his name and confinement during a lengthy description of the interrogation techniques used against him. The reference can be found at the bottom of Page 7 in the memo , where Ghul’s surname is spelled “Gul.”
But a similar error in redaction suggests that might not be the right Gul. On PDF page 26 to 27 of Bybee’s response to the final OPR Report, this paragraph appears–with the name of Janat Gul entirely unredacted (and, it should be said, the NSC Principals discussing what kind of torture to use with him).
Deputy Attorney General James Comey. Comey joined Ashcroft at a NSC Principals Meeting on July 2, 2004 to discuss the possible interrogation of CIA detainee Janat Gul. Report at 123. Ashcroft and Comey conferred with Goldsmith after the meeting, leading to Goldsmith’s letter to Muller approving all ofthe techniques described in the Classified Bybee Memo except for the waterboard. Id
That July 2004 meeting would have been less than two months before the Gul mentioned in the CAT memo was being discussed for torture; the CAT memo references back to an August 25, 2004 letter to Daniel Levin. Which suggests that the Gul referenced in the CAT memo the same Gul referenced in Bybee’s response.
Now, I’m not positive yet that this is correct–that the Bradbury Memo referred to Janat Gul and not Hassan Ghul. Ruling out Janat Gul is a matter of timing. The best known Janat Gul was captured in January 2003 in Afghanistan. The example of Mohammed al-Qahtani notwithstanding, it’d be surprising that they would have only gotten around to torturing someone like Gul a year and a half after they captured him. Furthermore, he was processed into Gitmo in March of that year, and released in 2005 or 2006. In addition, it seems unlikely someone would be standing before a CSRT in November 2004–much less released a year or two later–if he had been tortured as recently as July and August 2004.
And then there are the details in the CAT memo, which describe someone arrested in 2004, someone with ties between Zarqawi and Afghan based al Qaeeda, and someone involved in alleged attacks designed to disrupt that year’s Presidential elections. Not only can’t this be the same guy arrested in 2003, but it sounds like Hassan Ghul.
One more detail rules out this being the Janat Gul–or at least this Janat Gul. There was a person–suspected to be Hassan Ghul–cleared to be waterboarded. But the detainee’s torturers decided not to do that because the detainee was too obese to make it medically “safe.” (See this post–which I’m going to revisit–for the logic.) Janat Gul–as can be seen by his Gitmo weight log–was just 113 pounds earlier in 2004.
In other words, I don’t know what this means. Perhaps they were torturing someone else named Janat Gul. Perhaps this is a reference to Hassan Ghul, but for some reason Bybee and his lawyer got the name wrong. Or perhaps they were torturing someone–either this Janat Gul or another one–in July 2004, and then torturing someone else, also named Gul, in August 2004 (the reference in CAT is to someone discussed in an August 2004 memo).
In any case, the unredacted OPR report seems to have a reference to an NSC principals discussion of torturing someone named Janat Gul on July 2, 2004 and that would seem to be the same person referred to in the CAT memo. But I, for one, don’t know who that is.