A former Army Ranger hired by the CIA to conduct interrogations was charged with assaulting an Afghan detainee who died after two days of beatings, the first time civilian charges have been brought in the investigation of prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. \nA four-count grand jury indictment was handed up Thursday in Raleigh, North Carolina, against David Passaro, 38, for the death of Abdul Wali on June 21 last year. \nAttorney General John Ashcroft said Passaro was accused of "brutally assaulting" Wali at a US base in Asadabad, Afghanistan. \nAsked why Passaro was not charged with torture or other more serious offenses, Ashcroft said the indictment was based on the best evidence available. He said more serious charges could be brought if new evidence is found. \nThe charges were brought on the same day that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters he ordered an alleged member of an Iraqi militant group held without notifying international authorities in a timely fashion, as required under the Geneva Conventions governing treatment of prisoners. He said he did so at the request of CIA Director George Tenet, adding such a decision would be made to prevent the prisoner's interrogation from being interrupted. \nThe detainee was never held at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and is not there now, Rumsfeld said. He did not offer specifics about the detainee's whereabouts. \nAn intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that in January, the CIA asked where the detainee was and the military couldn't locate him. Rumsfeld disputed that. \n"He wasn't lost in the system," Rumsfeld said at the Pentagon, adding "there is no question at all" that he received humane treatment. \nThe Iraqi prisoner was described by Rumsfeld as a high-ranking member of the Ansar al-Islam group, which is believed to have orchestrated some of the bombings and guerrilla warfare there. \nAn intelligence official said the detainee was captured in late June or early July by Kurdish forces in northern Iraq and taken to an undisclosed location outside of Iraq because he was believed to be involved in terrorist activities. The detainee stayed at that location from early July until the end of October, when the CIA got legal guidance that he should be considered an unlawful combatant and returned to Iraq, the official said. \nHe now will be given an identification number, as required, with formal notification to the International Committee of the Red Cross to follow. \nThe Bush administration has been stung by harsh criticism at home and abroad over mistreatment of prisoners, most notably at Abu Ghraib. \nIn a sworn statement to Army investigators obtained by USA Today, Army Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Jordan, the top military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib when abuses occurred, said he was under intense pressure from the White House, Pentagon and CIA last fall to get better information from detainees. He also said he had worked out a procedure with CIA interrogators to hide five or six inmates from Red Cross inspectors in October, the newspaper reported in Friday editions. \nJordan's statement said he was reminded of the need to improve intelligence "many, many, many times" and the pressure included a visit to the prison by an aide to White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, the paper reported. \nTo rebut Jordan's account, the White House arranged an interview with White House homeland security adviser Fran Townsend before, but in anticipation of, the newspaper's publication. Townsend, who last fall was Rice's deputy for combating terrorism, said she visited Abu Ghraib and even walked through a cellblock but "we never discussed interrogation. We never discussed interrogation techniques. That wasn't the focus." \n"I did not go there to pressure them to do anything they weren't doing," Townsend added. "I really wanted to understand how they were taking the information they had and what they were doing with it so that I could ... think through how we could make that dissemination of information most effective." \nWali, the prisoner who died last year in Afghanistan, was described as having participated in rocket attacks against a US base in mountainous northeast Afghanistan about 8km from the border with Pakistan. Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters are active in the region, Ashcroft said. \nUS officials wanted to talk to Wali, and on June 18 last year he came to the base gate to surrender, according to court documents. Wali died in a cell at the base after two days of beatings by Passaro, who used "his hands and feet and a large flashlight," the indictment alleged.
He used to preside over Latin America’s largest country and its 214 million people. Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro now lives in a small Florida town and eats alone in a fast-food restaurant. Bolsonaro, 67, has found an unusual refuge in the US, where he arrived in late December last year, several days before his supporters stormed government buildings in Brasilia in an attempt to overturn the election victory of his rival, Brazilain President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. At home, Bolsonaro is being investigated over his alleged involvement in the unrest, which he denies. From the lavish presidential palace, Bolsonaro, a political
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee (李家超) yesterday unveiled a promotion campaign that would include 500,000 free flights to lure back visitors, businesses and investors to the financial hub after more than three years of tough COVID-19 curbs. The “Hello Hong Kong” campaign was launched with dancers and flashing neon lights in the territory’s main convention center, next to its famous harbor, with a backdrop bearing the slogan in various languages including Russian and Spanish. Lee, speaking in English, said the campaign would show that the territory was open for tourism, and was aimed at boosting business and investment in the Chinese
RISING RISK: With no communication between nations flying jets closely over the South China Sea, one mistake by a pilot could quickly escalate a situation, an expert said The China Coast Guard (CCG) maintained near-daily patrols at key features across the disputed South China Sea last year, ramping up its presence as tensions over the waterway with Southeast Asian neighbors remain high, new tracking data shows. Patrols in the waters surrounding the Vanguard Bank off Vietnam, an area known for its oil and gas reserves and the site of repeated standoffs between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels, more than doubled to 310 days last year, the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said. The number of days Chinese ships patrolled near Second Thomas Shoal (Renai Shoal, 仁愛暗) in the Spratly Islands (Nansha
There could be some relief to 150,000 commuters who endure hours-long waits to cross the road border between Malaysia and Singapore, Malaysian newspaper The Star reported. The Malaysian government has proposed a “single clearance system” to ease traffic along the Johor-Singapore Causeway, the report said. Such waits often require cross-border workers on the Malaysian side to wake up as early as 4am to get to work on time in Singapore. The proposal, still in its initial stages, would involve Malaysian immigration officials being stationed on the Singapore side of the causeway, with Singaporean officials stationed on the Malaysian side, in the southern