I have a slight fascination with Khalid Shaikh (sometimes spelled Sheikh) Mohammed that started when Pakistan arrested him and turned him over to the CIA over 18 months ago. He looked so undramatic in the photo, more like a domestic abuser than the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Since then, one hears of him intermittently; for example, this past summer the 9/11 commission's early reports of findings included information gleaned from KSM. Bush mentioned him during the first debate as an example of U.S. success in pursuing terrorists: "The killer -- the mastermind of the September 11th attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, is in prison."
If Human Rights Watch is to be believed, however, KSM may not be the best example to use.
At least 11 al-Qaida suspects have "disappeared" in U.S. custody, and some may have been tortured, Human Rights Watch said in a report issued Monday. [...]I'm not sure how the U.S. government can be said to have refused to acknowledge KSM's detention, considering that Bush mentioned it in front of an audience of millions that presumably included some members of HRW. Nor, if these allegations are true, do I see a way to bring the U.S. government into line with the law. The Supreme Court ruling that changed procedures at Guantanamo Bay is unlikely to be extended to persons held outside direct American control.
The report said the prisoners include the alleged architect of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, as well as Abu Zubaydah, who is believed to be a close aide to Osama bin Laden.
In refusing to disclose the prisoners' whereabouts or acknowledge the detentions, Human Rights Watch said, the U.S. government has violated international law, international treaties and the Geneva Convention. The group called on the government to bring all the prisoners "under the protection of the law."