AP confirms 4 high value detainees were transferred from Guantanamo to secret CIA prisons in 2003, reveals code name of Romanian prison

The Associated Press confirmed that 4 high value detainees were secretly moved to a secret site at Guantanamo Bay, called ‘Strawberry Fields’ in 2003, years earlier than has been disclosed, then whisked back into overseas prisons before the Supreme Court could give them access to lawyers. The AP piece confirms something earlier revealed in the ICRC report completed in 2007 and released last year: that at least four of the High Value Detainees were in Gitmo in 2003-2004, until they were moved again precisely to hide them from the ICRC.

The transfer allowed the U.S. to interrogate the detainees in CIA “black sites” for two more years without allowing them to speak with attorneys or human rights observers or challenge their detention in U.S. courts. Had they remained at the Guantanamo Bay prison for just three more months, they would have been afforded those rights.

AP says that on Sept. 24, 2003, a white, unmarked Boeing 737 landed at Guantanamo Bay. At least four al-Qaida operatives were aboard: Abu Zubaydah, Abd al-Nashiri, Ramzi Binalshibh and Mustafa al-Hawsawi.

The flight started in Kabul, where the CIA picked up al-Hawsawi at the  secret prison known as the Salt Pit. The Boeing 737 then flew to  Szymany, Poland, where a CIA team picked up 9/11 mastermind Khalid  Sheikh Mohammed and took him to Bucharest, Romania, to the new prison,  code-named Britelite.

Next it was on to Rabat, Morocco, where the Moroccans ran an interrogation facility used by the CIA.

At 8:10 p.m. on Sept. 23, 2003, the Boeing 737 took off from a runway in Rabat. On board were al-Hawsawi, al-Nashiri, Zubaydah and Binalshibh.  At 1 a.m. the following day, the plane touched down at Guantanamo.

Unlike the overseas black sites, there was no waterboarding or other  harsh interrogation tactics at Strawberry Fields, officials said. It was a holding facility, a place for some of the key figures in the 9/11  attacks to await trial.

On 27 March 2004 a Gulfstream IV jet left Cuba. The plane landed in Rabat the next morning. By the time the Supreme Court ruled June 28 that detainees should have access to U.S. courts, the CIA had once again scattered Zubaydah, al-Nashiri and the others throughout the black sites.

These revelations also confirm the finding of the UN’s secret detention report, namely that Rahim al-Nashiri got moved from Thailand to Poland in December 5, 2002. And it reveals that the death threats used against al-Nashiri –reportedly investigated by John Durham – happened on Polish soil.

In his book “State of War,” James Risen wrote that after the prisoners were shuffled from one black site prison to another (P. 30) “the CIA set up one of its secret prisons in Guantanamo, separate from the main Camp X-Ray, but closed it down after U.S. court rulings began to cast doubt on whether prisoners held in Guantanamo would come under the protections of U.S. law.” On the same page and continuing to page 31 he discusses Bright Light, which in his book he says the location was secret but noted that KSM and AZ were held there.

Two years later, after The Washington Post revealed the existence of the program, Bush emptied the prison network. Fourteen men, including the four who had been at Guantanamo Bay years earlier, were moved to the island prison. They have remained there ever since.

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