Also on Wednesday, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. named two government lawyers with national security experience as staff directors of task forces set up by President Obama to analyze detention issues.These men are not exactly household names, although Fried has had some notoriety over the years, having to act as apologist for Bush policies to the Europeans. Here's a bit about how he operated from a Craig Murray blog posting from May 2006, US officials give weight to reports of CIA kidnappings in Europe:
J. Douglas Wilson, a senior federal prosecutor in California, is to lead an analysis of guidelines for interrogation and transfer of detainees to other countries. Brad Wiegmann, a senior Justice Department national security lawyer, is to help lead a task force charged with recommending the legal rules for detention of future terrorism suspects.
"More than one source in the CIA...told us that between 30 and 50 people have been transported by extraordinary rendition," Italian Socialist MEP and committee rapporteur Giovanni Claudio Fava told reporters in Strasbourg.One of these MEPs (members of the European Parliament), Roger Helmer, wrote in February 2006 about his encounter with Fried on the question of extraordinary renditions and use of European countries for CIA secret flights:
According to Mr Fava, the information MEPs received when meeting with the US state department's top legal advisor, John Bellinger, assistant secretary of state Daniel Fried, members of the US Congress, lawyers and NGO representatives had been "patchy and inconsistent."
Appeals for senior US officials to explain their government’s actions to the parliament are unlikely to pass first base. Asked last week whether the US was going to comply with MEP demands, assistant secretary for European affairs Daniel Fried avoided the question with the usual Washington mantra. “America was committed to protecting people against terrorism and would do so according to existing legal conditions and values,” he said. The administration was already talking to “thoughtful Europeans.” But does that mean MEPs?Who is going to look deeper into the qualifications of Mr. Fried to take on this post? Why was he picked. A reporter for the Washington Post asked Mr. Fried directly about the rendition issue at a "press roundtable", November 2005 in Berlin. What he got back was classic Bush double-talk and obfuscation. Listen to Holder's new Guantanamo "special envoy" talk around the rendition issue:
Question: Ambassador Fried, my name's Craig Whitlock, with the Washington Post here in Berlin. I want to follow up on some of your comments about terrorism. As you may know, there has been an increasing level of discomfort as of late in Europe with some of the tactics and methods the United States has used in the war on terrorism. There's a German prosecutor who's been investigating the alleged rendition of a German citizen from the Balkans to Afghanistan. A few days ago, Italian prosecutors from Milan filed extradition requests for 22 CIA operatives involved in kidnapping in (inaudible), and in the last couple of weeks there have been a number of (inaudible) in Europe, including the Council of Europe, who have said they're going to investigate reports of the CIA operating secret jails for terrorism suspects in eastern Europe. What sort of response have you been hearing from your European allies in regards to the U.S. methods like these in the war on terrorism? Are you hearing a lot of complaints, and is this affecting relations in terms of security methods and tactics in the war on terrorism?The Usual Suspects - Wiegmann and Wilson
Ambassador Fried: I have not heard a great deal from my European colleagues. I'm aware of course of the press reports. I'm not going to discuss the allegations either way. It is true that these issues are debated in Europe; they are debated in the United States. The recent terrorist bombings in Amman, Jordan -- the suicide bombings of the hotels -- remind us, as if we needed reminding, of the kind of terrorist enemy we face. I suppose I'm glad I live in a country where these issues are debated. We act, the United States acts, and will act, consistent with the law and with international norms. These are difficult issues; it is a difficult enemy we're fighting. I wish that we didn't face an enemy that obeys no rules, but we do have rules to obey and we will obey them.
I certainly never heard of these two career attorneys. I did a little preliminary investigation, and they seem like highly suspect characters to put in charge of a task force to investigate detention and interrogation issues for the government, and the viability of the current Army Field Manual as a guideline for interrogations.
According to AFP:
The Attorney General appointed J. Douglas Wilson, currently the chief of the National Security Unit in the US Attorney’s Office for the northern district of California to lead a task force that will review US policies on interrogation and the transfer of detainees.
Wilson’s team will review whether the “Army Field Manual interrogation guidelines … provide an appropriate means of acquiring the intelligence to protect the nation, and whether different or additional interrogation guidance is necessary,” the US Justice Department said.
It will also examine US policy on rendition—the transfer of individuals to other nations for interrogation—and will establish rules ensuring policies “comply with domestic and international legal obligations … and that individuals do not face torture or inhumane treatment.”
Brad Wiegmann, a deputy chief of staff in the National Security Division of the Department of Justice, was appointed to lead a review of US detention policies, together with a representative of the Department of Defense.