June 17, 2004 – The Pentagon confirmed today that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered military officials to hold an Iraqi man in a prison near Baghdad without notifying the Red Cross. The military claims the unidentified man is a member of Ansar Al-Islam, an armed rebel group based in northern Iraq. Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman said it was appropriate to hold detainees for brief periods without notification if they were viewed as an "active threat" in wartime. But failing to assign detainees a prisoner identification number and refusing to notify the Red Cross as to their status appears to be a violation of the Geneva Convention.
The Pentagon says Rumsfeld ordered the man held in secret last November at the request of former CIA director George Tenet, who referred to him as a "high value" detainee. The military has been holding the man at Camp Cropper, a prison facility near Baghdad Airport.
The New York Times reports that other "ghost detainees" have been hidden in Iraq from the Red Cross. A report by Army Major General Antonio Taguba completed in March criticized the practice of keeping prisoners in secret.