Council of Europe: Bush prison camps confirmed in Poland, Rumania, used torture, led to Military Commissions Act
Today's report from the Council of Europe's investigator, former Swiss prosecutor Dick Marty, can be found here, along with a timeline of the investigation, and supporting documentation in the form of flight logs for the "extraordinary renditions" to and from the prisons.
Here are some excerpts from the report, which is long, detailed, and cries out for the kind of analysis we're doing on Justice Department email:
What was previously just a set of allegations is now proven: 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. Others have been held in arbitrary detention, without any precise charges levelled against them and without any judicial oversight – denied the possibility of defending themselves. Still others have simply disappeared for indefinite periods and have been held in secret prisons, including in member states of the Council of Europe, the existence and operations of which have been concealed ever since.
Estimates of the numbers held range from 8,000 to 35,000, with Colin Powell's chief-of-staff Lawrence Wilkerson's estimate at the high end.
Some individuals were kept in secret detention centres for periods of several years, where they were subjected to degrading treatment and so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” (essentially a euphemism for a kind of torture), in the name of gathering information, however unsound, which the United States claims has protected our common security. Elsewhere, others have been transferred thousands of miles into prisons whose locations they may never know, interrogated ceaselessly, physically and psychologically abused, before being released because they were plainly not the people being sought.
And the European governments are resisting accountability just as much as Bush does, what a surprise:
Some European governments have obstructed the search for the truth and are continuing to do so by invoking the concept of “state secrets”. Secrecy is invoked so as not to provide explanations to parliamentary bodies or to prevent judicial authorities from establishing the facts and prosecuting those guilty of offences [Sound familiar?]. This criticism applies to Germany and Italy, in particular. It is striking to note
that state secrets are invoked on grounds almost identical to those advanced by the authorities in the Russian Federation in its crackdown on scientists, journalists and lawyers, many of whom have been prosecuted and sentenced for alleged acts of espionage.
And now we know for sure the countries where the torture camps were:
There is now enough evidence to state that secret detention facilities run by the CIA did exist in Europe from 2003 to 2005, in particular in Poland and Romania. These two countries were already named in connection with secret detentions by Human Rights Watch in November 2005. At the explicit request of the American government, the Washington Post simply referred generically to "eastern European democracies", although it was aware of the countries actually concerned. It should be noted that ABC did also name Poland and Romania in an item on its website, but their names were removed very quickly in circumstances which were explained in our previous report. We have also had clear and detailed confirmation from our own sources, in both the American intelligence services and the countries concerned, that the two countries did host secret detention centres under a special CIA programme established by the American administration in the aftermath of 11 September 2001 to “kill, capture and detain” terrorist suspects deemed to be of “high value”.
Finally, Bush's modified limited hangout in 2006 set the political context for the MCA, which both immunized Bush's torturers for their past bad acts, and gave a putative legal framework for further torture:
When Bush decided on 6 September 2006 to reveal the existence of the covert programme implemented by the CIA to arrest, detain and interrogate overseas high-value terrorist suspects 1, he simply glossed over the most delicate aspect, such as the implementation means chosen and (not) obtaining the prior support from the United States Congress for his Administration’s “war against terrorism”.
Bush’s disclosure was carefully worded so as to provide very little factual insight that was genuinely new or unknown. It was instead couched in imperative terms that portrayed the President as a strong Commander-in-Chief trying to prevent threats to the United States by methods - such as the CIA’s interrogation techniques - which were “tough... [,Manly, ] safe, and lawful, and necessary”.
The end was portrayed as paramount – “we’re getting vital information necessary to do our jobs, and that’s to protect the American people and our allies”; the means of getting there inconsequential – “I cannot describe the specific methods used – I think you understand why” [Er, fear of criminal prosecution? Or simple human revulsion?].
Just under six weeks later, the US Congress responded to President Bush’s clarion call by passing the Military Commissions Act 2006 into law. As President Bush had expressly requested, the legislation draws distinctions between United States citizens and non-citizens, strips away the time-honoured right of detainees to challenge the basis for their detention (habeas corpus), and insulates US service personnel from prosecution for violations of Common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions. The process that lay ahead for captured terrorist suspects was thereby mapped out, whilst the Administration tried to cover the tracks that had led them there.
The report is lengthy and has plenty of detail in in it, but that's all I have time for now.
- We know that we’re holding thousands of prisoners (estimates range from 7,000 to 35,000).
- Gitmo holds only 500.
- So, where are the missing thousands? The only alternatives I can think of:
- They’ve been released
- They’re still in jail
- They’ve been disappeared.
Barring divine intervention, the bodies of the missing thousands occupy time and space in this world. Where are they?
Which door would you choose? (a), released? (b), still in jail? Or (c), disappeared?
Interestingly, there's now some evidene from McClatchy that Bush picked Door C, disappearance. Only for some children, of course:
At least 39 people from a half-dozen countries have been held in secret U.S. detention centers worldwide for three or more years, and their fates remain unknown, six human-rights groups say in a report to be released Thursday.
In five instances, the report says, U.S. authorities detained the wives or young children of suspects held in secret prisons.
Marty's report has interesting analysis of how the CIA, with the help of fake flight plans from Jeppeson, concealed its torture flights over Europe.
But he doesn't have any detail about flights over the Atlantic.
Because it would be interesting to know if the CIA followed the practice of its sister service in Argentina--throwing prisoners out of planes over the ocean.
Just a thought.
NOTE I know that Republicans think that torture just another kind of sex or even a fraternity prank but I'm writing this post for normal people, OK?