Six human rights groups on Wednesday released a list of 39 people they believe have been secretly imprisoned by the United States and whose whereabouts are unknown, calling on the Bush administration to abandon such detentions, reports the New York Times. The list includes terrorism suspects and those thought to have ties to militant groups. In some suspects' cases, officials acknowledge that they were at one time in United States custody. In others, the rights groups say, there is other evidence, sometimes sketchy, that they had at least once been in American hands.
The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University, one of the six groups, said the recent American practice mimiced “disappearances” of political opponents under Latin American dictators. “Enforced disappearances are illegal, regardless of who carries them out,” said a spokeswoman. The Bush administration has defended secretly detaining some suspects as a necessity of the fight against terrorism because officials do not want to tip off terrorist groups that their operatives are in custody. They say the comparison with past Latin American regimes is unfair, because those seized by the Americans are not killed and their whereabouts will eventually be revealed.