Thursday, July 22, 2004


So is the American who's reported to have tortured Afghan prisoners working for the U.S. government or isn't he? I was coming to the conclusion that his claims of a connection were just braggadocio, and inept braggadocio at that, based on this AP story from yesterday:

Idema said a four-star Pentagon official named Heather Anderson "applauded our efforts" and wanted to place the group "under contract" — an offer they refused for fear it would limit their freedom to operate.

There are no four-star female officers in the entire U.S. military. The name Heather Anderson is not listed in the Pentagon phone book.

But it turns out that Heather Anderson isn't a figment of Idema's imagination. Soj at Flogging the Simian, who's been blogging on Idema rather relentlessly, points to a Christian Science Monitor story that ID's her:

Idema ... named Heather Anderson, the acting director of security for Stephen Cambone, the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, as his main point of contact.

"We were in touch with the Pentagon, at the highest level, sometimes five times a day," said Idema, who wore military khakis and dark sunglasses. "Miss Anderson in fact applauded our efforts and told us in a phone conversation that in fact they wanted to place us under contract."...

Mr. Cambone, an aide to Rumsfeld and the first ever undersecretary of defense for intelligence, has supported the use of private contractors in investigative work, according to published statements. He came under fire when the Abu Ghraib prison inquiry broke when it came to light that his office had approved interrogation practices that human rights activists say violate the Geneva Convention.

Interesting. Of course, this may prove nothing about government awareness of Idema's work -- as Soj says, "It could be that those emails and faxes were just Idema bugging her office for their security checks to be completed."

But here's something odd, from an article Soj cited in an earlier post -- a profile of Idema from the Raleigh, North Carolina, News & Observer. The profile points out that in 1994 Idema was "convicted of 59 federal counts of using telephones and fax machines to commit fraud and conspiracy," for which he received a four-year prison sentence, but notes that

The court granted him considerable leeway from the conditions of his bail as he awaited trial. He was allowed to travel around the country for Special Operations expos; to meetings in Washington at the Department of Defense and with the International Associations of Chiefs of Police; to Raleigh for surgery on his pet dog, a Tibetan Shepherd named Sergeant.

Is that odd for a guy up on a federal felony rap? Why such deference?

And, as Sadly, No! notes, we know that when Idema contacted the U.S. military, he certainly heard back:

The U.S. military acknowledged Thursday it held an Afghan man for a month after taking custody of him from a trio of American counterterror vigilantes who have since been arrested on charges of torturing prisoners at a private jail they ran in the Afghan capital.

More as this develops....

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