Wednesday, June 27, 2007

US / CIA Secret Prisons Not So Secret Anymore

New Report documents European complicity in CIA Secret Prisons though European leaders deny knowledge

PARIS, June 8 — In a report on last Friday, the lead investigator for the Council of Europe gave a bleak description of secret prisons run by the Central Intelligence Agency in Eastern Europe, with information he said was gleaned from anonymous intelligence agents.

“Large numbers of people have been abducted from various locations across the world and transferred to countries where they have been persecuted and where it is known that torture is common practice,” it says..

From In an interview with Swiss senator Dick Marty,author of Council of Europe report on CIA activities in Europe
(THIERRY OBERLE / Le Figaro (FRance) 8jun2007)
What does your inquiry reveal?

"We focused our investigations on secret detention sites in Eastern Europe. We obtained evidence, on the basis of collated information, of the existence of illegal prisons in countries working closely with the United States, such as Poland.

We have details about the program drawn up by the CIA. The plan, now officially suspended in Europe, sought to export the antiterrorist struggle beyond United States' borders in order to escape the legal constraints imposed by US law.

The subcontracting established in our countries reflects a lack of respect for the European partners. It is in an insulting attitude. The United States decided to pursue a war without rules against terrorism.

The alleged terrorists kidnapped, then tortured and held in rogue states such as Syria had neither civil rights nor rights of war. They became even more dangerous, because they thus enjoyed sympathy in some circles. The mistake was not to treat them for what they are - criminal groups to be prosecuted using appropriate legislation. ..Its policy has resulted in disaster."

Note: Breach of Human Rights Treaties
Clandestine prisons and secret CIA flights involving European countries would breach the continent's human rights treaties, although the Council of Europe has no power to punish countries. The council, which is separate from the European Union, was set up four years after World War II to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe.

Officials at the EU have said previously that they trust the denials of Poland and Romania about hosting secret jails.

Did France participate in the CIA programme?

"The French intelligence services were notified of the US secret programmes, but they did not participate in them directly."

Several sources have told us that the DGSE [General Directorate of External Security] knew what was being planned. There was no cooperation, because the CIA mistrusted France, and the latter has its own rather successful methods, since France warned the United States before 11 September of the imminence of a terrorist attack on its territory."

But Mr. Marty said at a news conference in Paris that anonymous testimony was backed by thousands of flight records showing prisoner transfers, including private planes linked to the C.I.A. that made 10 flights from Afghanistan and Dubai to the Szczytno-Szymany International Airport in Poland between 2002 and 2005.

That was the closest airport to a Soviet-era military compound where about a dozen high-level terror suspects were jailed, the report charges. The local authorities formed secure buffer zones around the jails, which were operated exclusively by Americans, Mr. Marty reported.

Lower-level prisoners from Afghanistan and Iraq were held at a military base near the Black Sea in Romania, the report says.“Our Romanian officers do not know what happened inside those areas because we sealed them off and we had control,” the report cites a senior military agent as saying.

Former Romanian President Ion Iliescu, mentioned in a list of ranking officials who allegedly had knowledge of the prisons, dismissed Marty's report as "stupid."

Poland Outright Denies allegations:

Following a meeting with President Bush in Gdansk, Polish President Lech Kaczynski told reporters: "I know nothing about any CIA prisons in Poland." His predecessor, Aleksander Kwasniewski, who was president in 2001-05, said: "I deny it. I've said as much several times.

Details of Prison Life in CIA controlled Secret Prisons

The details of prison life were given by retired and current American intelligence agents who had been promised confidentiality, the report says.

Their motives were varied, Mr. Marty said. “For 15 years, I have interviewed people as an investigating magistrate and I have always noticed that at a certain point, people with secrets need to talk,” he said.

Others justified the grim treatment, the reports said, saying, in one instance: “Here’s my question. Was the guy a terrorist? ’Cause if he’s a terrorist, then I figure he got what was coming to him.” (Of course if it turns out he wasn't a terrorist, it comes down to the person just having bad luck.)

The repoters told of prisoners being kept naked for weeks, sometimes attached to a "shackling ring" in cells. Buckets served as toilets. Masked guards who never spoke were the only contact for those consigned to four-month isolation regimes. The silent guards would push meals of cheese, potatoes and bread through hatches.

Cells, sometimes equipped with video cameras, were cramped and kept extremely hot or cold, the report said. Prisoners had to listen to irritating noises, including "torture music," rock or rap as well as "distorted" verses of the Quran, it said.

Prisoners in the secret jails were subjected to sleep deprivation and water-boarding, or simulated drowning.

When prisoners resisted, the report says, one investigator considered it a welcome sign. “You know they are starting to crack,” he said, “So you hold out. You push them over the edge.”

Wives And Children of suspects also held

Regarding cases where family members of terrorist suspects have been held, the report noted that some have been released, while others remain unaccounted for.

The seven- and nine-year-old sons of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were reportedly apprehended by Pakistani security forces in September 2002 and subsequently questioned about his possible whereabouts. The wives and children of other detainees in secret CIA custody have also been held in custody and interrogated, either as potential sources of information or to secure the capture of their husband or father.

Bush admits to the Secret prisons

The US last year admitted the existence of such prisons in its “war on terror” but said they were no longer in use. President George W Bush said last September that all secret prison sites were “empty”. (Though few believe his statement is actually true, there is some question if he himself has been told that, perhaps by the Vice President who seems to have directed the subversive activities.)

Marty's report said Poland and Romania hosted secret prisons under a special post-Sept. 11 CIA program to "kill, capture and detain" key terrorist suspects. It said the jails grew out of a secret pact within NATO shortly after the terror attacks on the U.S.

The pact "allowed the CIA to be able to move around Europe unobstructed, without undergoing any control and, especially, the NATO (security) protocol on secrecy was applied," Marty said.

Bush: Terrorism Suspects Held in Secret CIA Prisons Should Not Be Allowed to Reveal Details

The Bush administration has told a federal judge that terrorism suspects held in secret CIA prisons should not be allowed to reveal details of the "alternative interrogation methods" that their captors used to get them to talk.

The government says in new court filings that those interrogation methods are now among the nation's most sensitive national security secrets and that their release -- even to the detainees' own attorneys -- "could reasonably be expected to cause extremely grave damage." Terrorists could use the information to train in counter-interrogation techniques and foil government efforts to elicit information about their methods and plots, according to government documents submitted to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton.

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