German prosecutors want CIA agents extradited
US - The CIA's No-Questions-Asked Travel Agent
Milan judge suspends trial challenging CIA extraordinary renditions
TIMELINE: CIA "renditions" and secret prisons
Groups Sue US Over Fate of 39 'Disappeared'
Demandan a EEUU por desaparecidos
US - Desaparecidos de la guerra contra el terror
Moazzam Begg : The disappeared
Secret prisons run by the CIA did exist
Revelan nombres de 39 detenidos por la CIA que están desaparecidos
Nuevas denuncias contra Estados Unidos por las cárceles de la CIA en Europa
US - A Senate panel rejects Bush's secret interrogations
An Interrogation Role Model
Boeing unit sued over CIA flights
On extraordinary renditions
Post-9/11 Renditions: An Extraordinary Violation of International Law
The CIA's latest "ghost detainee"
Rendition victim sent to mental institution after arson attack
US: 3 anti-torture activists convicted for trespassing during protest
US/Iraq - Six Questions for Tara McKelvey on Detainee Abuse
CIA agents’ testimony to boost new report into secret renditions
USA: Another CIA detainee transferred to Guantánamo
Africa's secret - the men, women and children 'vanished' in the war on terror
Europeans Critical of Rendition by U.S.
Guantanamo Prisoner Issue Will Be Topic of Brooklyn College Discussion
La Justicia alemana emitió una orden de arresto contra 13 presuntos agentes de la CIA
Boeing Accused of Running Torture Travel Agency
Missing Presumed Tortured

Junio 27, 2007

German prosecutors want CIA agents extradited

Mon Jun 25, 2007 11:18 AM ET

By Louis Charbonneau

BERLIN (Reuters) - Prosecutors in Munich, Germany, are requesting the extradition from the United States of 13 suspected CIA agents they say took part in the 2003 kidnapping of a German citizen.

Earlier this year, a Munich court ordered the arrest of the 13 on suspicion of kidnapping Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese descent who says he was flown from Macedonia to Afghanistan where he was imprisoned for months and tortured.

The chief prosecutor in the Bavarian state capital, August Stern, said on Monday he now wants them extradited to Germany for trial.

"These are persons who we believe were involved in the abduction of Mr. Masri," Stern told Reuters by telephone. "It (the request) affects all 13 suspected CIA agents."

Stern said he had formally made the request to the German federal government in Berlin for it to be passed on to Washington.

The Masri case has focused media attention on CIA kidnappings of suspected terrorists for interrogation in third countries. The practice, called "extraordinary rendition", has caused tensions inside Germany, and between Berlin and Washington.

The German government could block the Munich prosecutors' demand if it deemed it harmful to public interest. But this could spark an angry backlash in Germany, where the case has been under investigation for 1-1/2 years.

Last week an Italian judge effectively froze the trial of U.S. and Italian spies charged with kidnapping a terrorism suspect in Milan in 2003 and then flying him to Egypt, where he says he was tortured.

The Italian prosecutors accuse the government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi of exerting undue influence in order to get "uncomfortable" cases like this put on ice.


U.S. officials privately describe the Munich prosecutors' call as an annoyance in German-U.S. relations. They say Germany wants to reap the benefits from the interrogation of suspected terrorists while publicly keeping its hands clean.

German weekly Der Spiegel cited unnamed U.S. diplomats as saying that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had told German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier that the investigation of the CIA agents was "problematic".

The Munich prosecutors had not requested the extradition of the agents earlier because they were still trying to identify them. The agents had used fake names during the operation but German authorities have made progress on identifying them.

"We now have partial names," Stern said, adding that they had enough information on their identities to request their extradition.

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Junio 20, 2007

US - The CIA's No-Questions-Asked Travel Agent

A private corporation joins Bush administration's conspiracy to obstruct justice
by Nat Hentoff
June 19th, 2007 8:51 PM

CIA director Michael Hayden, defending the practice of sending terrorism suspects to countries that interrogate by torture via secret "renditions," told USA Today last month that this program is "lawful, in keeping with Western values.

"I've never managed a more sensitive, law-abiding workforce [than the CIA] in my life," added the former head of the National Security Agency, which has long engaged in lawless spying on American phone calls and e-mails.

In its story, USA Today failed to note that a 1998 U.S. law, the Foreign Affairs and Restructuring Act, explicitly states: "It shall be the policy of the United States not to expel, extradite or otherwise effect the involuntary return of any person to a country in which there are substantial grounds for believing the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture."

The ACLU, in its lawsuit against Boeing's subsidiary, Jeppesen DataPlan (which, among other things, operates an elite travel agency), is representing three victims of the CIA's renditions—an Ethiopian, Italian, and Egyptian. In court papers, the ACLU reveals how this branch of the world's largest aerospace company collaborates with Hayden's "men in black" to ignore both our laws and international treaties:

"In providing its services to the CIA, Jeppesen knew or reasonably should have known that plaintiffs would be subjected to forced disappearances, detention, and torture in countries where such practices are routine. Indeed, according to published reports, Jeppesen had actual knowledge of its activities [violating the Alien Tort Statute of 1789]."

The ACLU then goes to the smoking gun in this case, as first reported by The New Yorker's Jane Mayer in "The CIA's Travel Agent" (October 30, 2006):

"A former Jeppesen employee, who asked not to be identified, said recently that he had been startled to learn, during an internal corporate meeting, about the company's involvement with the rendition flights. At the meeting, he recalled, Bob Overby, the managing director of Jeppesen International Trip Planning, said, 'We do all of the extraordinary rendition flights—you know, the torture flights. Let's face it, some of these flights end up that way.'"

Mayer also reported that Overby was heard to say that the CIA flights paid well because the agency had no worries about how it spent the taxpayers' money.

After I saw Mayer's story last October, I called Jeppesen's San Jose, California, headquarters for a reaction. Nobody would talk to me. So I called Boeing's Chicago headquarters. All I got was a round of "no comments."

Once the ACLU lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Jose on May 30, 2007, Mike Pound, a spokesman for Jeppesen, told the Associated Press the next day:

"We don't know the purpose of the trip for which we do a flight plan. We don't need to know specific details. It's the customer's business, and we do the business that we are contracted for. It's not our practice to ever inquire about the purpose of a trip."

How interesting it would be to contrast that corporate alibi with what Overby might say in a courtroom, under oath, about Jeppesen's frequent spare-no-expenses customer.

But before this case can get before a judge and jury, I predict—and I'll be delighted to be wrong—that the Bush administration will intervene and argue that the case cannot be heard on national-security grounds, because the CIA's "sources and methods" could be revealed to the enemy. This is the "state secrets" privilege that the Bush Justice Department has invoked more than any previous administration—with the result that an open-society judge in another important case said, "Democracy dies behind closed doors."

That judge was the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals' Damon Keith in 2002, when then–Attorney General John Ashcroft, tearing up the First Amendment, closed deportation hearings for alleged terrorism suspects to the press. Ruling against Ashcroft, Judge Keith emphasized: "The only safeguard against this extraordinary government power is the public."

And that's why the current ACLU lawsuit against Boeing's Jeppesen travel agency is so vital. Neither the Congress nor the courts have yet directly probed the so-called legal basis on which George W. Bush gave the CIA "special powers" to conduct these renditions (the text of which order he will not release).

But at least in this case, the public may be able to hold up to scrutiny the practice of CIA agents, all in black, dragging their hooded, shackled prisoners onto Boeing 737s for journeys meticulously planned by the Jeppesen travel agency, on their way to other countries' torture chambers.

Michael Hayden may then finally be called before a Congressional committee. There, he would be confronted and ordered to provide the specific laws that have permitted him to orchestrate this spider's web of rendition flights.

Also, if there are indeed such laws that legitimize torture—the practice of which everyone in this administration indignantly denies—then why does the Justice Department need to invoke "state secrets" in these cases?

What will become clear to the public, if there is a trial, is that this administration's pervasive "national security" secrecy and lawlessness have actually created a far-ranging conspiracy to obstruct justice. And in these "torture flight" cases, such private corporations as Boeing and its Jeppesen travel agency criminally become part of this conspiracy, which has twisted the rule of law out of any recognizable shape.

The ACLU distills the significance of this lawsuit in a key passage: "Jeppesen's role as coordinator with virtually all public and private third parties [in these international kidnappings] permitted the CIA to conduct its illegal activities below the radar of public scrutiny—and beyond the reach of the rule of law.

"In short, without the assistance of Jeppesen and other corporations, the US . . . rendition program could not have gotten off the ground."

With the Fourth of July coming up, I'd like to remind Michael Hayden why we had a revolution: to be free of arbitrary rulers and their secret prisons. But now, just in time for Independence Day, Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Washington Square legal services have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of New York against the CIA and the Justice, Defense, and State departments to get all the secrets of these CIA "renditions." I'll keep you posted.


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Junio 19, 2007

Milan judge suspends trial challenging CIA extraordinary renditions

By Colleen Barry, Associated Press Writer
Published: 19 June 2007

An Italian judge yesterday suspended the first trial involving the CIA's extraordinary rendition program until the country's highest court can rule on the government's challenge that evidence used to build the case was classified.

The Italian government has asked the Constitutional Court to throw out the indictments against the 26 American defendants, all but one identified by prosecutors as CIA agents. They are accused of kidnapping an Egyptian terror suspect from a Milan street on Feb. 17, 2003.

In an argument that would effectively scuttle the case, state lawyers have said that the judge who issued the indictments unlawfully relied on state secrets to justify the charges. The high court is to also hear another similar challenge saying prosecutors had gone too far by wiretapping phone conversations of Italian secret service agents.

The 26 Americans have left Italy, and a senior US official has said they would not be turned over for prosecution even if Rome requests it. The government has not yet responded to prosecutors' requests to seek their extradition, and the justice minister has indicated that the Constitutional Court's ruling would be a key factor.

On Monday, Judge Oscar Magi suspended the trial until Oct. 24, agreeing to a request by the defense to put the trial on hold until the Constitutional Court's ruling, which is expected on Oct. 19.

The ruling will indicate whether the trial will have the power to publicly air details of the US renditions - moving terrorism suspects from country to country without public legal proceedings.

The judge also stopped the clock on the statute of limitations until the trial reconvenes. The statute of limitations on the charge of abduction with aggravating circumstances is 12½ years from the date of the crime; four years and four months have elapsed.

"It's a very clean decision," said Alessia Sorgato, a lawyer for several American defendants. "It's like sealing the case in Tupperware and putting it in the freezer."

Italian prosecutors say Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was abducted in an operation coordinated by the CIA and Italian intelligence, then transferred to US bases in Italy and Germany before being moved to Egypt, where he was imprisoned for four years. Nasr, who was released Feb. 11, said he was tortured.

Prosecutor Armando Spataro argued vigorously that the court must continue its deliberations despite the pending case in the highest court, denying that any state secrets were involved in the preparation of the case and expressing confidence that the Constitutional Court's decision would back him up.

Prosecutors said the decision effectively gives the government inordinate powers to interfere with the justice system. "Is it possible to have a system in which a trial can be suspended anytime any government decides to launch a conflict?" co-prosecutor Ferdinando Pomarici said.

Besides the Americans, seven Italians also were indicted in the case, including Nicolo Pollari, the former chief of military intelligence. Pollari has denied any involvement by Italian intelligence in the abduction.

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Junio 11, 2007

TIMELINE: CIA "renditions" and secret prisons

Fri Jun 8, 2007 7:58AM EDT

(Reuters) - A European investigator said on Friday he had proof the CIA ran secret prisons in Poland and Romania to interrogate suspects in its war on terrorism.

At the same time, an Italian court began trying 26 Americans in absentia over the alleged kidnapping and secret transfer of a terrorist suspect in 2003.

Here is chronology of events in the international controversy over CIA secret prisons for terrorist suspects and the use of U.S. "extraordinary renditions" to move detainees covertly around the world.

Nov 2005 - Washington Post reports CIA has been hiding and interrogating al Qaeda captives at secret facilities in Eastern Europe. Other media reports name Poland and Romania, which both deny hosting such centers.

May 2006 - U.S. judge dismisses lawsuit against former head of the CIA and several of its employees by German Khaled el-Masri, who says he was abducted and tortured by the agency, including being held for months in Afghanistan.

June 7, 2006 - Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty says in report that more than 20 countries, mostly in Europe, colluded in a "global spider's web" of secret U.S. CIA prisons and prisoner transfers. But he concedes he cannot prove his allegations that CIA ran secret prisons in Poland and Romania.

June 2006 - European Parliament committee backs draft report saying CIA or other U.S. services have been "directly responsible for the illegal seizure, removal, abduction and detention of terrorist suspects on the territory of (EU) member states".

Amnesty International says there is "irrefutable evidence of European complicity" with illegal U.S. renditions.

July 2006 - In the first arrests anywhere in connection with renditions, Italy arrests two of its intelligence officials for suspected involvement in alleged CIA kidnap of a terrorism suspect, Abu Omar, in Milan in 2003.

September 2006 - President George W. Bush acknowledges CIA has interrogated dozens of suspects at undisclosed overseas locations and says the last 14 of those held have been sent to U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

December 2006 - Italian prosecutors ask a judge to order CIA agents and Italian spies to stand trial over Abu Omar kidnap.

Jan 2007 - German court orders arrest of 13 people, reported to be CIA agents, suspected of involvement in abduction of Khaled el-Masri in 2003-4.

Feb 2007 - European Parliament passes final report, after year of investigations, saying European governments and secret services accepted and concealed secret U.S. flights carrying terrorism suspects across Europe. Spain, Romania, Poland and Italy are among the countries most criticized.

June 2007 - Six human rights groups list 39 people they say have "disappeared" while in U.S. custody.

European investigator says he has proof Poland and Romania housed secret CIA prisons on behalf of the United States.

Twenty six U.S. citizens go on trial in absentia in Milan accused of kidnapping a Muslim in 2003 and flying him to Egypt. Italian spies, including the former head of the SISMI intelligence agency, are accused of helping the U.S. citizens carry out the so-called extraordinary rendition.

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Groups Sue US Over Fate of 39 'Disappeared'

by Jim Lobe

Three human rights groups sued the US government Thursday to force it to disclose what it knows about the fate of more than three dozen detainees in the "global war on terror" who are believed to have been held by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in secret prisons at some point over the past five years and who remain unaccounted for.

The three New York-based groups – Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the International Human Rights Clinic of New York University School of Law – filed their suit under the Freedom of Information Act, alleging that the government is withholding documents that can shed light on what happened to the 39 "disappeared" detainees and where they might be found.

"What we're asking is where are these 39 people now, and what's happened to them since they 'disappeared'?" said Joanne Mariner, Terrorism and Counterterrorism director at Human Rights Watch, which, while not a plaintiff in the case, contributed to a report, also released Thursday, that forms the basis of the lawsuit.

"It is already a serious abuse to hold them in secret CIA prisons. Now we fear they may have been transferred to countries where they face further secret detention and abuse," she added.

The 21-page report, to which two other groups – London-based Cageprisoners and Reprieve – also contributed, details the names and other information about 39 people who "disappeared" after their apprehension. Most were detained in Pakistan between 2001 and 2005.

The report, entitled "Off the Record", also records the detention of the wives or young children – in one case, as young as six months old – of several of the detainees. The six groups said it was the most comprehensive listing of detainees who have disappeared that has been compiled since the launch of the war on terror in late 2001.

"The duty of governments to protect people from acts of terrorism is not in question," said Amnesty's senior research director, Claudio Cordone, in London. "But seizing men, women and even children, and placing people in secret locations deprived of the most basic safeguards for any detainees most definitely is. The US administration must end this illegal and morally repugnant practice once and for all."

For its part, the CIA declined to confirm or deny the accuracy of the information presented in the rights groups' report.

"When it comes to the CIA and the fight against terror, there's no shortage of inaccurate allegations," said the agency's spokesman, Paul Gimigliano. "The plain truth is that we act in strict accord with American law, and that our counter-terror initiatives – which are subject to careful review and oversight – have been very effective in disrupting plots and saving lives."

The report comes amid renewed controversy over the George W. Bush administration's detention practices on a number of fronts.

On Friday, the long-awaited prosecution in absentia of 25 CIA operatives, as well as Italy's former intelligence head, alleged to have abducted an imam off the streets of Milan in February 2003 as part of Washington's program of "extraordinary rendition", will get underway in northern Italy's largest metropolis. The imam, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, was flown to Egypt where, according to his account, he was severely tortured during interrogation before being released to house arrest.

On the same day, the Council of Europe's chief investigator of the extraordinary rendition program's operations in Europe, Swiss senator Dick Marty, is expected to release his latest report on the CIA's use of secret prisons, or so-called "black sites", in Europe, notably in Poland and Romania.

At home, the CIA's methods have also come under renewed attack. Late last month, the government's Intelligence Science Board released a blistering report criticizing the harsher interrogation techniques used by the CIA – ranging from stress positions and sleep deprivation to exposure to heat and cold and so-called water-boarding – as ineffective and even counterproductive. Rights groups have called such methods torture, while Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's former counselor, Philip Zelikow, denounced them as "immoral" during a widely-noted lecture the previous month.

Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a report just last week which questioned the value of the CIA's secret detention and interrogation program, suggesting that whatever gains it has made in obtaining intelligence are outweighed by the negative publicity it has generated and the likelihood that it has also elicited false information.

Finally, the American Civil Liberties Union last week sued a subsidiary of Boeing involved in the CIA's rendition program on behalf of three individuals, including an Egyptian, Ethiopian, and an Italian who were captured in one country and then sent to secret detention sites where they were allegedly tortured.

Like torture, enforced disappearance – a practice initiated by the Nazis under the notorious "Night and Fog" decrees that became widely used by military dictatorships against suspected political dissidents in Latin America in the 1970's – violates a number of human rights treaties ratified by the US

"Since the end of Latin America's dirty wars, the world has rejected the use of 'disappearances' as a fundamental violation of international law," said Meg Satterthwaite, director of New York University's human rights program"Despite this universal condemnation, our research shows that the United States has tried to vanish both the people in this report, and the rule of law. Enforced disappearances are illegal, regardless of who carries them out."

Bush himself publicly acknowledged for the first time last September that the CIA has operated secret prisons in various parts of the world, when he announced the transfer of 14 "high-value" detainees, including the alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, from CIA custody to the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

At the time, he insisted that no other detainees were being held by the CIA, although the agency reportedly transferred yet another alleged senior al-Qaeda operative, Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi to Guantanamo in April. This suggested that he had also been held for some time, although probably in some form of "proxy detention" in a third country, rather than a CIA-controlled "black site".

More than a hundred terrorist suspects are believed to have been subject to the rendition program, but most of those eventually were sent to Guantanamo or released or otherwise have been accounted for.

Of the 39 who remain unaccounted for, the report divided them into three groups – three whose detention by the US was officially acknowledged at one time; 18 about whom there is strong evidence, including witness testimony, that the US held them in secret detention; and the remainder about whom there is some evidence of their being held by the US in secret detention.

Although most of the individuals on the list were originally detained in Pakistan, many are nationals from other countries, including Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, and Spain. Other initial seizures took place in Iran, Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan.

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. After his capture, according to the report, they were used by the CIA as "leverage to force their father to cooperate with the United States."

(Inter Press Service)

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Demandan a EEUU por desaparecidos

Desaparecidos de la guerra contra el terror
Por Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON, 8 jun (IPS) - El gobierno de Estados Unidos afronta ante la justicia una demanda para que revele el paradero de al menos 39 detenidos-desaparecidos en el marco de su "guerra contra el terrorismo".

Las tres organizaciones de derechos humanos a cargo de la querella estiman que la Agencia Central de Inteligencia (CIA) mantiene desde hace cinco años a los desaparecidos en cárceles secretas.

El capítulo estadounidense de Amnistía Internacional, el Centro de Derechos Constitucionales y la Clínica Internacional de Derechos Humanos de la Facultad de Derecho, de la Universidad de Nueva York, entablaron la demanda en el marco de la ley de Libertad de Información.

Las tres organizaciones con sede en Nueva York sostienen que el gobierno retiene documentos que pueden contribuir a conocer el destino de 39 detenidos- desaparecidos y proporcionar datos sobre su paradero.

"Queremos saber dónde están esas 39 personas ahora y qué les pasó desde el momento de su desaparición", señaló Joanne Mariner, a cargo de investigaciones sobre terrorismo y antiterrorismo de la organización Human Rights Watch (HRW).

A pesar de no ser demandante, HRW contribuyó con un informe sobre el que se basa el proceso, publicado el jueves, el mismo día en que se presentó la querella.

"Ya es un grave abuso mantenerlas en prisiones secretas de la CIA. Y ahora tememos que las puedan haber transferido a países donde pueden seguir en cárceles secretas y más abusos", añadió.

El informe de 21 páginas, para que el que realizaron aportes también las organizaciones Cageprisioners y Reprieve, ambas con sede en Londres, menciona la identidad y otros datos de 39 personas desaparecidas tras su detención.

En su mayoría fueron apresados en Pakistán entre 2001 y 2005.

El documento "Off the Record" ("fuera de registro", en inglés) también registra la detención de esposas o hijos, e incluso el caso de un bebé de seis meses, de las personas que fueron apresadas.

Las seis organizaciones indicaron que se trata del listado más completo de personas detenidas-desaparecidas que se haya compilado desde que Estados Unidos declaró su guerra contra el terror en 2001.

"Nosotros no cuestionamos el deber del gobierno de proteger a las personas de atentados terroristas", declaró desde Londres el director de investigaciones de Amnistía, Claudio Cordone.

"Pero sí se cuestiona el secuestro de hombres, mujeres y hasta niños y el hecho de mantenerlos en prisiones secretas privándolos de los derechos más básicos de cualquier detenido. El gobierno de Estados Unidos debe terminar de una vez por todas con esa práctica ilegal y moralmente repugnante", enfatizó.

Por su parte, la CIA se negó a confirmar o desmentir la veracidad de la información de la investigación de las organizaciones de derechos humanos.

"Cuando se trata de la CIA y de la lucha antiterrorista, no faltan acusaciones de inexactitudes", alegó el portavoz de la agencia, Paul Gimigliano.

"La verdad lisa y llana es que actuamos de acuerdo con la legislación estadounidense y que nuestras iniciativas antiterroristas, sometidas a un cuidadoso análisis y supervisión, han sido muy eficaces para desbaratar conspiraciones y salvar vidas", añadió.

La publicación del informe coincide con una renovada polémica por varios aspectos de las prácticas de detención del gobierno de George W. Bush.

Este viernes comenzó en la septentrional ciudad italiana de Milán el tan esperado proceso en ausencia de 25 agentes de la CIA y del ex jefe de Inteligencia de Italia por el supuesto secuestro de un imán en las calles de esa ciudad en febrero de 2003.

El hecho se habría enmarcado en el programa de Washington de "entregas extraordinarias", que consiste en la detención de un sospechoso en un país y su entrega a las autoridades de otro donde la tortura y los tratos inhumanos son habituales.

El imán Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr fue trasladado a Egipto donde, según sus relatos, fue torturado durante un interrogatorio antes de ser liberado bajo arresto domiciliario.

En el ámbito local, la CIA también es cuestionada.

El mes pasado, la gubernamental Junta de Ciencia de la Interrogación publicó un duro informe que cuestiona las técnicas violentas utilizadas por la agencia porque no son efectivas y son contraproducentes.

Las organizaciones de derechos humanos las calificaron de tortura y el ex asesor de la secretaria de Estado (canciller) Condoleezza Rice, Philip Zelikow, las había considerado "inmorales".

Mientras, el Comité de Inteligencia del Senado publicó la semana pasada un informe que cuestiona el valor del programa de interrogatorios y detenciones secretas de la CIA.

Además, sugiere que la información de inteligencia obtenida por estos medios no compensan la publicidad negativa ni evitan la recaudación de datos falsa.

Por último, la Unión Estadounidense de Libertades Civiles demandó la semana pasada a una subsidiaria de la aerolínea Boeing, involucrada en el programa de entregas extraordinarias de la CIA, en representación de un egipcio, un etiope y un italiano trasladados a cárceles secretas donde habrían sido torturados.

Al igual que la tortura, las desapariciones forzosas violan varios tratados de derechos humanos ratificados por Estados Unidos.

Esa práctica se inició con el conocido decreto "Nacht und Nebel" ("noche y niebla"), del régimen nazi alemán durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial (1939-1945), y fue muy utilizado por las dictaduras militares de América Latina en los años 70 para eliminar opositores.

El propio Bush reconoció por primera vez en septiembre de 2006 que la CIA tenía prisiones secretas en varias partes del mundo.

Bush anunció entonces la transferencia de 14 presos destacados, incluido el supuesto estratega de los atentados del 11 de septiembre de 2001 contra Nueva York y Washington, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, de una cárcel de la CIA al centro de detención en la base naval estadounidense de Guantánamo, Cuba.

Cientos de supuestos terroristas habrían sido detenidos y trasladados en el marco del programa de entregas extraordinarias, aunque la mayoría de ellos enviados luego a Guantánamo, liberados o habrían corrido otra suerte, según las explicaciones oficiales.

El informe reagrupa en tres categorías a las 39 aún desaparecido. Tres de ellos pertenecen al grupo de los que Estados Unidos en algún momento reconoció, a nivel oficial, haber detenido, de otros 18 hay pruebas sólidas, incluidos testimonios de testigos, de que permanecieron en prisiones secretas.

Del resto existe alguna prueba de que están en algún centro de detención secreto.

La mayoría de esas personas habrían sido originalmente detenidas en Pakistán. Figuran ciudadanos de Egipto, Kenia, Libia, Marruecos y España. También se habrían realizado secuestros en Irán, Iraq, Somalia y Sudán.

Respecto de los casos en que familiares de presuntos terroristas habrían sido detenidos, el informe señala que algunos fueron liberados y otros no aparecen.

Los hijos de siete y nueve años de Khalid Sheikh Mohammed habrían sido apresados por las fuerzas de seguridad pakistaníes en septiembre de 2002. Y una vez que él fue secuestrado, según el informe, los niños fueron utilizados por la CIA para "obligar al padre a cooperar con Estados Unidos". (FIN/IPS/traen-vf-mj/jl/ks/na mm ip sp hd/07) (FIN/2007)

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Junio 9, 2007

US - Desaparecidos de la guerra contra el terror

Jim Lobe

El gobierno de Estados Unidos afronta ante la justicia una demanda para que revele el paradero de al menos 39 detenidos-desaparecidos en el marco de su "guerra contra el terrorismo".

Las tres organizaciones de derechos humanos a cargo de la querella estiman que la Agencia Central de Inteligencia (CIA) mantiene desde hace cinco años a los desaparecidos en cárceles secretas.

El capítulo estadounidense de Amnistía Internacional, el Centro de Derechos Constitucionales y la Clínica Internacional de Derechos Humanos de la Facultad de Derecho, de la Universidad de Nueva York, entablaron la demanda en el marco de la ley de Libertad de Información.

Las tres organizaciones con sede en Nueva York sostienen que el gobierno retiene documentos que pueden contribuir a conocer el destino de 39 detenidos- desaparecidos y proporcionar datos sobre su paradero.

"Queremos saber dónde están esas 39 personas ahora y qué les pasó desde el momento de su desaparición", señaló Joanne Mariner, a cargo de investigaciones sobre terrorismo y antiterrorismo de la organización Human Rights Watch (HRW).

A pesar de no ser demandante, HRW contribuyó con un informe sobre el que se basa el proceso, publicado el jueves, el mismo día en que se presentó la querella.

"Ya es un grave abuso mantenerlas en prisiones secretas de la CIA. Y ahora tememos que las puedan haber transferido a países donde pueden seguir en cárceles secretas y más abusos", añadió.

El informe de 21 páginas, para que el que realizaron aportes también las organizaciones Cageprisioners y Reprieve, ambas con sede en Londres, menciona la identidad y otros datos de 39 personas desaparecidas tras su detención.

En su mayoría fueron apresados en Pakistán entre 2001 y 2005.

El documento "Off the Record" ("fuera de registro", en inglés) también registra la detención de esposas o hijos, e incluso el caso de un bebé de seis meses, de las personas que fueron apresadas.

Las seis organizaciones indicaron que se trata del listado más completo de personas detenidas-desaparecidas que se haya compilado desde que Estados Unidos declaró su guerra contra el terror en 2001.

"Nosotros no cuestionamos el deber del gobierno de proteger a las personas de atentados terroristas", declaró desde Londres el director de investigaciones de Amnistía, Claudio Cordone.

"Pero sí se cuestiona el secuestro de hombres, mujeres y hasta niños y el hecho de mantenerlos en prisiones secretas privándolos de los derechos más básicos de cualquier detenido. El gobierno de Estados Unidos debe terminar de una vez por todas con esa práctica ilegal y moralmente repugnante", enfatizó.

Por su parte, la CIA se negó a confirmar o desmentir la veracidad de la información de la investigación de las organizaciones de derechos humanos.

"Cuando se trata de la CIA y de la lucha antiterrorista, no faltan acusaciones de inexactitudes", alegó el portavoz de la agencia, Paul Gimigliano.

"La verdad lisa y llana es que actuamos de acuerdo con la legislación estadounidense y que nuestras iniciativas antiterroristas, sometidas a un cuidadoso análisis y supervisión, han sido muy eficaces para desbaratar conspiraciones y salvar vidas", añadió.

La publicación del informe coincide con una renovada polémica por varios aspectos de las prácticas de detención del gobierno de George W. Bush.

Este viernes comenzó en la septentrional ciudad italiana de Milán el tan esperado proceso en ausencia de 25 agentes de la CIA y del ex jefe de Inteligencia de Italia por el supuesto secuestro de un imán en las calles de esa ciudad en febrero de 2003.

El hecho se habría enmarcado en el programa de Washington de "entregas extraordinarias", que consiste en la detención de un sospechoso en un país y su entrega a las autoridades de otro donde la tortura y los tratos inhumanos son habituales.

El imán Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr fue trasladado a Egipto donde, según sus relatos, fue torturado durante un interrogatorio antes de ser liberado bajo arresto domiciliario.

En el ámbito local, la CIA también es cuestionada.

El mes pasado, la gubernamental Junta de Ciencia de la Interrogación publicó un duro informe que cuestiona las técnicas violentas utilizadas por la agencia porque no son efectivas y son contraproducentes.

Las organizaciones de derechos humanos las calificaron de tortura y el ex asesor de la secretaria de Estado (canciller) Condoleezza Rice, Philip Zelikow, las había considerado "inmorales".

Mientras, el Comité de Inteligencia del Senado publicó la semana pasada un informe que cuestiona el valor del programa de interrogatorios y detenciones secretas de la CIA.

Además, sugiere que la información de inteligencia obtenida por estos medios no compensan la publicidad negativa ni evitan la recaudación de datos falsa.

Por último, la Unión Estadounidense de Libertades Civiles demandó la semana pasada a una subsidiaria de la aerolínea Boeing, involucrada en el programa de entregas extraordinarias de la CIA, en representación de un egipcio, un etiope y un italiano trasladados a cárceles secretas donde habrían sido torturados.

Al igual que la tortura, las desapariciones forzosas violan varios tratados de derechos humanos ratificados por Estados Unidos.

Esa práctica se inició con el conocido decreto "Nacht und Nebel" ("noche y niebla"), del régimen nazi alemán durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial (1939-1945), y fue muy utilizado por las dictaduras militares de América Latina en los años 70 para eliminar opositores.

El propio Bush reconoció por primera vez en septiembre de 2006 que la CIA tenía prisiones secretas en varias partes del mundo.

Bush anunció entonces la transferencia de 14 presos destacados, incluido el supuesto estratega de los atentados del 11 de septiembre de 2001 contra Nueva York y Washington, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, de una cárcel de la CIA al centro de detención en la base naval estadounidense de Guantánamo, Cuba.

Cientos de supuestos terroristas habrían sido detenidos y trasladados en el marco del programa de entregas extraordinarias, aunque la mayoría de ellos enviados luego a Guantánamo, liberados o habrían corrido otra suerte, según las explicaciones oficiales.

El informe reagrupa en tres categorías a las 39 aún desaparecido. Tres de ellos pertenecen al grupo de los que Estados Unidos en algún momento reconoció, a nivel oficial, haber detenido, de otros 18 hay pruebas sólidas, incluidos testimonios de testigos, de que permanecieron en prisiones secretas.

Del resto existe alguna prueba de que están en algún centro de detención secreto.

La mayoría de esas personas habrían sido originalmente detenidas en Pakistán. Figuran ciudadanos de Egipto, Kenia, Libia, Marruecos y España. También se habrían realizado secuestros en Irán, Iraq, Somalia y Sudán.

Respecto de los casos en que familiares de presuntos terroristas habrían sido detenidos, el informe señala que algunos fueron liberados y otros no aparecen.

Los hijos de siete y nueve años de Khalid Sheikh Mohammed habrían sido apresados por las fuerzas de seguridad pakistaníes en septiembre de 2002. Y una vez que él fue secuestrado, según el informe, los niños fueron utilizados por la CIA para "obligar al padre a cooperar con Estados Unidos".

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Junio 8, 2007

Moazzam Begg : The disappeared

The disappeared

If there's one thing worse than being sent to Guantánamo, it's not being sent to Guantánamo.

Moazzam Begg

I attracted more than a few looks of disbelief when I told an audience at a community meeting recently that I was actually looking forward to going to Guantánamo Bay. Their reaction was predictable but I wanted to explain why I would make such a bizarre statement. Although Guantánamo Bay contains the world's most notorious prison, it is by no means the world's worst.

All of the men incarcerated at Guantánamo have had to pass through a process that the CIA terms its "extraordinary renditions programme" which includes abduction, torture and false imprisonment in "ghost" detention sites and "dark prisons" dotted around Asia, Africa and Europe. But some of the men at these places never made it to Guantánamo. Some of them have disappeared altogether.

A report issued today by six leading human rights organisations - including Amnesty International, CagePrisoners, Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights - entitled Off the Record: US Responsibility for Enforced Disappearances in the War on Terror documents the cases of 39 individuals who have been "disappeared". It even names relatives of suspects who were themselves detained in secret prisons, including children as young as seven years old. Some of these individuals have been in custody for nearly six years, despite claims by the US administration that there are no longer any people being held in their "high-value detainee" programme at undisclosed locations.

One of those highlighted in the report is Ali Abdul-Hamid al-Fakhiri, aka Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a Libyan dissident whose arrest in Pakistan during November 2001 was hailed by the Bush administration at the time as the "capture of the highest ranking member of al-Qaida". Many in the Bush administration now would like the name of Ibn al-Shaykh to vanish - as indeed he has - but it's one name people on all sides of the political spectrum cannot afford to forget. Not because of what he did, but because of what he said and why he said it.

I first heard about Ibn al-Shaykh when I was held by US forces in Kandahar, Afghanistan. One detainee there told me how he had been taken away by the Americans, alive, in a perforated "taboot" (Arabic for coffin). But that wasn't the last I heard of Ibn al-Shaykh. In spring 2002, I was moved to the US Bagram Airbase detention centre. The CIA warned me here about what had happened to him and what could happen to me. I was told he'd been seated in the very chair I was being interrogated in and his failure to cooperate earned him a one-way trip to Egypt where, they told me, he told his whole story within hours. If I did not "confess" my crimes, they said, I too would be joining him. This period was by far the most frightening for me during my three years of captivity, not least because of Egypt's infamous reputation for human rights violations. Thankfully I was spared this fate, but others were not.

Ibn al-Shaykh may have been a prize catch for the CIA, but what he confessed to, according to them, would become one of the most significant justifications used by the US-led coalition to launch a war even more devastating than the one during in which he was captured: the invasion of Iraq. Whether by severe torture or coercion, it is known Ibn al-Shaykh "confessed" that al-Qaida operatives received training from Saddam Hussein's regime in the acquisition and use of weapons of mass destruction. Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, the secretary of state at the time, and other US officials repeatedly cited Mr Libi's information as "credible" evidence that Iraq was training al-Qaida members.

The paper confirms that Ibn al-Shaykh was regularly whisked off to various secret detention sites including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Poland and even a warship, the USS Bataan. However, in January 2004, Ibn al-Shaykh recanted the information he had provided and his recantation was confirmed soon enough even by US intelligence: no WMD in Iraq and no al-Qaida link to it. But the invasion of Iraq was already in its second year. Tens of thousands of people had been killed and al-Qaida, unbeknownst to Ibn al-Shaykh, had finally arrived in Iraq - because of the invasion.

On July 19, 2006, Ibn al-Shaykh was included in the "Terrorists No Longer a Threat" list as part of the US congressional record. A few months later, several alleged "high-ranking al-Qaida operatives" were sent from undisclosed locations - the existence of which the US administration had hitherto denied - to Guantánamo Bay, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Since that time some of these men have been given limited access to legal representatives and their stories are beginning to come out. But Ibn al-Shaykh is not one of them.

So what became of Ibn al-Shaykh? The paper states: "At least one US official has acknowledged US involvement in elements of his treatment, including questioning and transferring to a third country for interrogation". Reports mention that he has tuberculosis and may be close to death in his solitary confinement cell after being returned to his place of origin: Gadafy's Libya. I expect Ibn al-Shaykh will never be able to tell his story now, something that might have emerged had he made it to Guantánamo.

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Secret prisons run by the CIA did exist

Note: the report is available at http://www.usawatch.org/docs/marty607.pdf



Secret prisons run by the CIA did exist in Europe to facilitate the worldwide kidnap and torture of terror suspects according to an official investigation.

Dick Marty, the author of a report for the Council of Europe, told Channel 4's Dispatches programme - 'we can now confirm that there were secret CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.'

The governments of both countries have vigorously denied any involvement.

But investigators found that the facilities were run by CIA operatives reporting directly to the offices of the country's presidents.

Suspicions 'right all along'

Remember all those stories about little white planes rendering kidnapped American terror suspects to secret gulags in eastern Europe?

Well, they weren't conspiracy theories, it turns out. Last June, the Council of Europe's investigator expressed his suspicions; now he calls it "established fact."

Dick Marty said: "We can now confirm that there were secret CIA prisons in Poland and there were secret CIA prisons in Romania."

Dick Marty's report, says his suspicions were right all along.

Employing what he calls his own intelligence methods, and drawing on multiple sources, he concludes that secret CIA detention facilities have actually existed for several years in Poland and Romania.

The CIA, it says, was able to fly prisoners to these ghost prisons thanks to an agreement signed by all NATO members, including Britain, granting "blanket over flight clearances" to US forces involved in the War on Terror."

The report says that using fictitious flight plans that gave no indication of what the destination would be, the CIA's highest value detainees were flown to Szymany airport in north-eastern Poland.

The jail itself is a nearby former Soviet-era military compound. The Marty report providing the first concrete evidence of the secret prison's existence.

Dick Marty said: "The Polish prison was focused on those considered the most important terrorists, the ring leaders of the movement. We think there were about a dozen people."

Among them, they report says, Khaled Sheikh Mohamed, the man who conceived 9/11 and Ramzi Binalshibh, a member of the 9/11 Hamburg cell.

These, the names of 39 other "ghost detainees" -- whom Amnesty International claims have vanished into the CIA gulag.

Rendered from countries including Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Sudan, they include children as young as seven; six human rights groups today filed a lawsuit seeking information on their whereabouts.

The Marty report states that the CIA employed "enhanced methods" of interrogation.

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Revelan nombres de 39 detenidos por la CIA que están desaparecidos

(nota: el informe está disponible en http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR510932007)


Londres, 7 de junio. Los nombres de 39 personas que estuvieron detenidas en las cárceles secretas de la estadunidense Agencia Central de Inteligencia (CIA), y de las cuales no se tienen noticias, fueron revelados este jueves por seis agrupaciones de defensa de los derechos humanos.

Las organizaciones británicas Amnistía Internacional, Cageprisoners y Reprieve, y los grupos humanitarios estadunidenses Human Rights Watch, Center for Constitutional Rights y Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice revelaron esos nombres en un informe de 21 páginas.

Esta lista suministra la identidad de cuatro personas consideradas desaparecidas y proporciona detalles (nombres, nacionalidades) de 39 oriundas de Egipto, Kenia, Libia, Marruecos, Pakistán y España.

El documento subraya los aspectos del programa de detención de la CIA que el gobierno de Estados Unidos trató activamente de disimular, así como los lugares donde los prisioneros pudieron haber sido detenidos, los malos tratos que todos ellos sufrieron y los países a los cuales posiblemente fueron trasladados.

El presidente estadunidense, George W. Bush, reconoció en septiembre pasado la existencia del programa de cárceles secretas, pero su gobierno precisó que tras el traslado a Guantánamo de 14 sospechosos de ser miembros importantes de Al Qaeda, la CIA ya no tenía más prisioneros.

El informe revela también, según las organizaciones, que familiares de las personas detenidas, entre ellas las esposas o niños de sólo siete años de edad, también estuvieron presos en secreto, y cita el caso de Jalid Sheij Mohammed, considerado el principal responsable de los atentados del 11 de septiembre 2001 en Estados Unidos, cuyos hijos de siete y nueve años fueron detenidos en septiembre de 2002.

"Según testigos, fueron llevados a un centro de detención para adultos donde permanecieron durante cuatro meses mientras los agentes estadunidenses los interrogaban sobre su padre", dice el documento.

Un despacho de la agencia Dpa indicó que el gobierno de Estados Unidos pagó varios millones de dólares a dos ex militantes del grupo rebelde islámico filipino Abu Sayyaf, por haber ayudado a localizar y matar a dos de los terroristas más buscados en Filipinas, Jadafi Yanyalani y Abu Solaiman, liquidados entre finales de 2006 y enero pasado.

Según el despacho, la embajadora de Estados Unidos en Filipinas, Kristie Kenney, entregó hoy la recompensa de 7.4 millones de euros en la isla de Yolo, situada a unos mil kilómetros de Manila.

La policía italiana se desdijo este jueves a propósito del anunciado arresto de 10 islamitas acusados de apoyar a una célula del Grupo Salafista para la Predicación y el Combate Argelino, e indicó que sólo una persona fue detenida en Londres.

La detención de un hombre de 46 años, Habib Ignaoua, sobre quien pesaba una orden de arresto europea, fue confirmada el jueves por la Scotland Yard.

Respecto de los 10 arrestos comunicados hoy por la mañana, un portavoz de la policía de Milán precisó que "tres órdenes de arresto fueron ejecutadas en Italia contra personas ya encarceladas, mientras que (las otras) seis órdenes de arresto conciernen a gente imposible de encontrar, que podrían haber muerto ya en atentados terroristas".

Mientras, el Comité Judicial del Senado estadunidense aprobó este jueves un proyecto de ley que restablecería los derechos legales básicos para los detenidos en la base militar de "Guantánamo.

La iniciativa, que retoma el derecho de habeas corpus, fue aprobado por el comité por 11 votos contra ocho y se elevará ahora al pleno del Senado para su consideración.

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Nuevas denuncias contra Estados Unidos por las cárceles de la CIA en Europa

Más informes señalan que la administración Bush mantuvo bases en Polonia y Rumania en 2003 y 2005, violando la ley con acuerdo de la OTAN.


La CIA estadounidense tuvo cárceles secretas en Polonia y Rumania entre 2003 y 2005 para interrogar y torturar a sospechosos de terrorismo con acuerdo de la OTAN, afirmó hoy el jefe investigador del Consejo de Europa en un segundo informe sobre el caso.

Al presentar su informe en París, el senador suizo e investigador Dick Marty acusó a Alemania e Italia de obstruir sus investigaciones sobre el supuesto rol en el programa de detenciones secretas de países del Consejo, el principal organismo supervisor del respeto de los derechos humanos de Europa. Polonia, Rumania y Alemania rechazaron las acusaciones del informe, el segundo presentado por Marty.

Aunque el Consejo Europeo no es parte de la Unión Europea (UE), ningún país ingresó a la UE sin haber sido primero parte del Consejo, cuyas recomendaciones no vinculantes tienen no obstante gran peso moral sobre sus miembros.

"Las instalaciones de detención secretas fueron dirigidas directa y exclusivamente por la CIA", la Agencia Central de Inteligencia estadounidense, dijo Marty en su informe, que citó fuentes de la CIA a las que no identificó.

"Tenemos suficientes fundamentos para creer que las más altas autoridades estatales estaban al tanto de las actividades ilegales de la CIA en sus territorios", prosiguió el informe, citado por la agencia de noticias DPA.

El investigador agregó que individuos detenidos durante algunos años en las cárceles sufrieron de "tratos degradantes y de las llamadas ’técnicas avanzadas de interrogatorio’ (un eufemismo que oculta un tipo de tortura)".

"Todo esto es inaceptable bajo las leyes de los países de Europa", agregó el investigador, que aseguró que también en Estados Unidos estas acciones contravienen a la ley.

Siempre según el informe, el autoproclamado "cerebro" de los atentados del 11 de septiembre de 2001 en Estados Unidos, el comandante militar de Al Qaeda, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, estuvo preso en una de las cárceles secretas en Polonia.

El año pasado, Marty acusó a 14 países europeos de complicidad con Estados Unidos en una serie de violaciones de los derechos humanos al ayudar a la CIA a trasladar a detenidos en vuelos secretos a cárceles también clandestinas.

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Junio 1, 2007

US - A Senate panel rejects Bush's secret interrogations

As administration lawyers scramble to find a new legal underpinning for "tough" interrogation techniques, the Senate Intelligence Committee slams a once-secret CIA program and its methods.

By Mark Benjamin

Jun. 01, 2007 | The Senate Intelligence Committee has signaled to the White House that an infamously abusive secret CIA program to interrogate high-level al-Qaida types may have to be scrapped, given "the damage the program does to the image of the United States abroad." It is a stinging rejection of a program that President Bush late last year called "one of the most successful intelligence efforts in American history" and comes as administration lawyers are reportedly crafting new, secret rules to govern it.

The rebuke to the White House was delivered in written comments that were passed by the committee last week and released Thursday to accompany the annual bill authorizing intelligence activities. Military intelligence experts and human rights advocates have already slammed the abusive techniques purportedly employed by the CIA -- sleep deprivation, stress positions, slapping, induced hypothermia and simulated drowning, or "waterboarding" -- for producing unreliable intelligence from subjects who will say anything to make the pain stop. Now the senators on the intelligence panel, which has direct oversight over the CIA, seem to agree, according to the testy language passed last week. "The Committee believes," wrote the senators, "that consideration should be given to whether it is the best means to obtain a full and reliable intelligence debriefing of a detainee."

This skeptical view comes months after Bush endorsed the "tough" techniques as particularly effective in a Sept. 6 White House press conference, during which he also revealed the existence of the previously secret CIA program. And the Intelligence Committee said in these new comments that the skepticism might have come much earlier, if only the White House hadn't kept all the panel members except the chair and the ranking minority member in the dark for the past five years. "The administration's decision to withhold the program's existence from the full committee membership for five years was unfortunate in that it unnecessarily hindered congressional oversight of the program."

The committee also dumped cold water on the White House argument that the CIA should operate under separate, special rules that would allow tougher interrogation methods that are clearly off limits to the military. (The same day that Bush announced the existence of the CIA program, Pentagon officials held their own press conference to disavow coercive interrogations and announced the release of a revised interrogation manual tailor-fitted to the Geneva Conventions.) The intelligence panel's statement frowns on any special arrangement to allow the CIA to use what Bush has referred to euphemistically as "an alternative set of procedures."

"Both Congress and the administration," wrote the panel, "must continue to evaluate whether having a separate CIA detention program that operates under different interrogation rules than those applicable to military and law enforcement officers is necessary, lawful, and in the best interests of the United States."

The stiff message from the Intelligence Committee was passed in a voice vote on an amendment offered by the chairman, Sen. John D. Rockefeller, D-W.V., but members of both parties told Salon it reflected a bipartisan consensus. "While the language in the provision is a bit stronger than I would have preferred," said Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., vice chairman of the committee, in a statement to Salon, "I am in agreement with the broad concerns it lays out." Explained a committee aide, "It lays out some concerns that the committee has ... It says that the committee is not sure that this program is the way to go as we move forward." Though the message does include the concession that "individuals detained in the program have provided valuable information that has led to the identification of terrorists and the disruption of terror plots," that bipartisan meeting of the minds makes this language a solid shot across the White House's bow.

The sharp retort couldn't come at a worse time for the White House. Administration lawyers are reported to be hard at work at new rules to govern the CIA interrogation program. The rules have been seen as an effort to burrow a hole in the Military Commissions Act passed by Congress late last year, which would seem to bar abusive interrogations outright. That law also requires the Bush administration to publish an executive order providing some legal rationale for the continuation of the CIA's interrogation program. But the executive order has long been delayed, reportedly as the administration struggles to draft a rationale that would allow the CIA to go further than the military when questioning so-called high-value detainees.

Meanwhile, the status of the CIA's secret interrogation program remains unclear. President Bush said that the network of secret prisons used for interrogations was empty when he unveiled the program late last year. But then on April 27, the Pentagon announced that Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, a former top advisor to Osama bin Laden, had arrived at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He had been in CIA custody for months, but the agency had declined to alert the International Committee of the Red Cross of his detention. His treatment at the hands of the CIA during that period is unknown.

-- By Mark Benjamin

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Mayo 31, 2007

An Interrogation Role Model

U.S. picked up tactics — including torture — from Israeli intelligence

By Yossi Melman
International Consortium of Investigative Reporters

TEL AVIV, Israel — The King Hussein bridge is the most direct route from Amman to Jerusalem, but it was not a trip Marwan Ibrahim Mahmoud Jabour wanted to make — he had no choice. It was September 2006, and Jabour, a 30-year-old Jordanian engineer who says he made the mistake of going to Afghanistan in a fruitless attempt to join the jihad, had spent the last two years as a U.S. prisoner — possibly in Afghanistan but he wasn't sure, since his captors had never revealed the location. According to a sworn affidavit he gave to an Israeli military court, he'd spent much of that time naked and alone in a tiny cell with a bucket to serve as a toilet, being subjected to loud music and hot or freezing temperatures, presumably to soften him up for interrogations that went on for as long as 14 straight hours.

But now, apparently, the Americans were done with Jabour. They'd drugged him and sent him on a jet back to the Middle East. The trip was what is known in the U.S. war on terror as an "extraordinary rendition," the transfer of a terror suspect to a foreign country for interrogation — and sometimes torture, human rights activists charge — outside of any legal process. Jabour says he never faced a judge, a prosecutor or a jury. When asked for comment on Jabour's affidavit, the CIA cited its standing policy of not commenting on allegations of extraordinary rendition.

Jabour found himself in the back seat of a car driven by Jordanian intelligence agents. At the other side of the King Hussein bridge, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, they handed him over to Israeli intelligence agents. In his affidavit, Jabour said that one of the Israelis mocked him in greeting: "Welcome, Osama bin Laden. Where are you coming from?"

Jabour's case is the first documented instance of a terror suspect who was not linked to Hezbollah or Palestinian terror groups making his way from American hands to Israeli custody. That such a thing could happen should probably come as no surprise, given the traditionally close cooperation between the United States and Israel on security matters. The controversial techniques Jabour says his American captors used were not concocted out of thin air; many were perfected and put into regular practice by the Israelis, who in the post-9/11 era have quietly become one of the world's most important exporters of interrogation and counterterrorism methods decried by human rights groups as constituting torture and violating basic human rights.

One of Israel's "students," the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has found, has been the United States. For its part, the United States reciprocates through continued massive military aid and assistance to Israel, thanks in no small part to strong Israeli lobbying of the U.S. Congress. ICIJ's database of foreign military assistance shows that Israeli governmental entities spent more than $30 million in the three years after September 11, 2001, on expenditures governed by the Foreign Agents Registration Act, including lobbying Congress and the executive branch.

Since the late 1940s, the United States has given Israel nearly $50 billion in military assistance — financial aid and access to weaponry that has helped make the Israeli armed forces one of the most technologically sophisticated, powerful militaries on the planet. Since 9/11, Israel has remained the No. 1 recipient of U.S. military aid, pulling in more than $9 billion in the three years after the terrorist attacks.

While other countries have been influenced by U.S. aid, Israel has influenced its patron as well. In the post-9/11 world, the United States has turned to Israel for advice and training for urban combat against insurgents in Iraq and has borrowed controversial tactics that Israeli forces have used against Palestinians. In Iraq and elsewhere, the United States also has emulated Israel's hard-nosed methods against terrorism, allegedly including the use of torture in interrogations. The growing closeness between the two intelligence services also raises the question of just how far Washington will go in the future in continuing to apply one of Israel's most controversial anti-terrorism techniques: targeted killings. (See related story.)
Learning from the best

Since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, U.S. intelligence officials have visited Tel Aviv to meet with their counterparts from Mossad, Israel's version of the CIA, and Shabak (or Shin Bet), the Israeli counterintelligence and anti-terrorism agency, as well as the Aman, Israel's military intelligence service, according to Israeli intelligence and diplomatic sources who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly with ICIJ. In addition to exchanging information on terrorist organizations with their Israeli hosts, the visitors are reported to have viewed presentations by special forces units of the Israeli Defense Forces and the Israeli National Police describing methods and equipment employed by Israel in anti-terrorism operations.

According to those same sources, other countries have also sent their own intelligence officials to learn from the Israeli experience and to be briefed and trained by their Israeli counterparts. Almost every week, the sources said, the Tel Aviv-based headquarters of Mossad, Shabak and Aman host guests from South America, Africa, Eastern and Western Europe and South Asia, including countries such as Indonesia, which does not even have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

Visitors also talk about ways to block the flow of financial funding from the United States, Europe and Latin America to Palestinian militants. "Under the disguise of donating money to Palestinian charity, contributions are channeled to terrorist groups in Gaza and [the] West Bank," says a senior Israeli official dealing with terrorist issues at Israel's National Security Council. "Before 9/11, it was hard for us to persuade governments that money raised in mosques in their respective countries found its way to buy weapons and explosives in the Palestinians areas which eventually was turned against innocent Israelis. In the last two to three years, we find more attention to our claims and readiness to cooperate. On several occasions we provided names of charities and bank accounts in the UK, Italy, Paraguay, Argentina and a few other countries, and the security services there followed accordingly and took action. Offices were raided, documents confiscated and in some rare cases accounts were frozen."

Additionally, at least twice a year, delegates from various branches of the Israeli intelligence community visit the United States to exchange information and engage in brainstorming sessions with their U.S. counterparts. These discussions are "frank, open and intimate," according to an Israeli intelligence source who has been involved.

Due in part to these exchanges of ideas, the United States has been able to copy and learn from Israeli counterterrorist methods. Although Israel certainly did not invent techniques such as clandestine kidnapping or the use of stress positions during interrogation, it was one of the first countries to employ those techniques as part of a broader counterterrorism campaign.
Eichmann case a precedent

The CIA's abduction of Egyptian cleric Hassan Osama Nasr (also known as Abu Omar) as he walked to a Milan mosque in 2003, for example, had a famous precedent — the 1960 Mossad operation that tracked, cornered and abducted Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"He [Eichmann] passed our car, which was parked on the margin," Rafi Eitan, the Mossad officer in charge of the operation, recounted in an interview with ICIJ. "One member of our team, Tzvi Malchin, was shadowing and closing in on him. It all took a few seconds. Tzvi jumped on him. Both of them fell down into a ditch. Tzvi grabbed him. We opened the door, and Tzvi put him inside." The parallels with the 2003 Abu Omar abduction are striking, where, according to Italian prosecutors investigating the involvement of 26 Americans, Omar was grabbed off the street by CIA agents and thrown into a waiting van.

Just as the detainees of CIA "extraordinary renditions" are reported to have been hidden at secret prisons and transported across borders in clandestine flights, Eichmann was taken to a safe house in the Argentine capital, interrogated, sedated and dressed in the uniform of a crew member of El Al, Israel's national airline. He then was driven to the airport, forced to board an Israeli aircraft and flown to Israel for trial, according to Eitan and other published accounts of the operation. Eichmann was later convicted and put to death.

Twenty-six years later, the Mossad conducted a similar operation. According to interviews with relatives and Israeli intelligence officials involved in the operation, in the fall of 1986, the agency acted against Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli technician who worked at Israel's secret nuclear reactor in Dimona. Vanunu was fired, left the country and then revealed to The (London) Sunday Times that Israel had produced in Dimona sufficient plutonium to manufacture 200 nuclear bombs. The Israeli government instructed the Mossad to abduct Vanunu and bring him to justice in Israel.

Mossad teams tracked Vanunu in London, where a female agent seduced him and persuaded him to accompany her to a "love nest" in Rome. There he was kidnapped by other Mossad operatives, sedated and taken by force to a yacht that sailed to a rendezvous off the Italian coast with an Israel naval boat manned by cadets.

"In the middle of the sailing we were told to put anchor off the Italian coast," according to the recollections of the Israeli cadets relayed to ICIJ by Israeli intelligence sources. "We didn't bother to ask why. We were only cadet officers who hoped to be soon commissioned. After three days, I believe, a yacht arrived near us at the middle of the night. We were all asked to stay in our cabins — only a few officers were allowed to be on the deck. Only a few days later by word of mouth and rumors spreading around, we found out that a group of people, mostly male and few females in civilian clothes, had boarded our ship. They stayed throughout the remaining sail in their cabins. A few weeks later when the government announced that Vanunu was captured, we understood that we were the ship which was ferrying him."

When the boat reached Israeli soil, Vanunu was interrogated, charged and convicted of treason, espionage and unauthorized disclosure of secrets.

He served 18 years in prison.

Despite the strong similarities between Israeli abductions and those carried out by the CIA after 9/11, one important distinction remains: Eichmann and Vanunu were eventually put on public trial, whereas Jabour and his fellow "ghost" detainees by the United States have rarely been subject to official legal proceedings — or legal protections.
Similar techniques

When the United States invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, the close U.S.-Israeli relationship became even more pronounced.

U.S. forces soon found themselves in a bloody, protracted struggle against non-uniformed Iraqi insurgents in Iraqi cities and villages, a conflict that bears eerie parallels to Israel's battles with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. American forces knew where to turn for advice.

According to American and British newspapers, U.S. soldiers journeyed to Israel to train in a mockup of an Arab town that the Israeli army has used to prepare for urban warfare in the occupied territories, and the Israeli Defense Forces sent urban warfare specialists to Fort Bragg in North Carolina to help train U.S. special forces for counterinsurgency operations.

Not surprisingly, U.S. forces in Iraq began using an array of tactics previously employed by the Israelis in the occupied territories. When U.S. Marines conducted house-to-house searches for insurgents, they used portable battering rams to knock holes through interior walls as a way of avoiding booby-trapped doors — one of the classic urban warfare tactics borrowed from the Israelis.

U.S. forces also began demolishing houses and buildings used by insurgents, mimicking the controversial Israeli practice of using bulldozers to take down the homes of Palestinian militants or their families. And, as the Israelis had done, the Americans cordoned off villages and neighborhoods suspected of harboring insurgents and set up armed checkpoints through which Iraqis were forced to pass.

"I see no difference between us and the Palestinians," an Iraqi man named Tariq told The New York Times in 2003. "We didn't expect anything like this after Saddam fell."

The U.S. Army officer formerly in charge of the now-infamous Abu Ghraib prison, Col. Janis Karpinski, told British Broadcasting Corp. radio in 2004 that during a visit to a U.S. intelligence center in Baghdad, she met an Israeli who was involved in interrogating Iraqi prisoners.

"I asked him what did he do there, was he an interpreter? He was clearly from the Middle East," said Karpinski, who was demoted from her previous rank of brigadier general after the revelations of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. "He said, 'Well, I do some of the interrogation here. I speak Arabic but I'm not an Arab. I'm from Israel.' " The Israeli government has strongly denied that any of its own interrogators were working with the Americans in Iraq, as has Virginia-based CACI, the large American defense contractor that performed interrogations at Abu Ghraib.

However, some of the techniques used by American interrogators — such as putting hoods on prisoners and subjecting them to loud music, and forcing them to remain in painful physical positions — bear discomforting similarities to controversial techniques Israeli intelligence has used for decades.

Beginning with Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Israeli intelligence agencies — mainly the Shabak — have interrogated Arab and Palestinian terrorism suspects. For years, Shabak interrogators used brutal methods that included sleep deprivation, hanging subjects from walls and threats of sexual assault. Rough treatment of interrogation subjects essentially was legal. Even after a 1987 special inquiry commission led by former Israeli Supreme Court Judge Moshe Landau found that Israeli interrogators not only used torture to compel confessions, but also were instructed by superiors to lie about it to the courts, it recommended that interrogators be allowed to continue "moderate physical pressure" on suspects who might have information about an impending terrorist attack.

In a 1999 ruling, the Israeli Supreme Court described in detail some of the methods used by Israeli interrogators. One particularly violent practice was the "forceful shaking of the suspect's upper torso, back and forth, repeatedly, in a manner which causes the neck and head to dangle and vacillate rapidly." The court noted that "the shaking method is likely to cause serious brain damage, harm the spinal cord, cause the suspect to lose consciousness, vomit and urinate uncontrollably and suffer serious headaches." Another technique was the "shabach" position, in which a prisoner would be left between interrogations in a small chair with his arms tied, in a position that "causes serious muscle pain in the arms, the neck and headaches." Interrogators also covered the subject's head with a sack and played "powerfully loud music" in the room.

The Israeli Supreme Court decided that such practices were illegal. But Israeli human rights activists contend that the ban was never fully enforced and that Israeli interrogators sometimes continue to mistreat prisoners today.

For example, a Palestinian government official who was arrested and held by the Israelis for six weeks in the summer of 2005 later said that interrogators had left him tied for six to seven hours straight in the "shabach" position. "It caused a lot of pain in my neck," Palestinian Minister of Labor Mohammed Barghouthi told The Christian Science Monitor. "But the psychological pain is much worse."
Coming home

Marwan Ibrahim Mahmoud Jabour said in his sworn affidavit that he would find himself subjected to similar — but even more intense — mistreatment by U.S. interrogators before he ended up on Israel's doorstep.

In Jabour's sworn affidavit, he presents himself as little more than a would-be jihadist. In subsequent interviews with human rights groups and The Washington Post, he acknowledges having facilitated transportation and assistance for al Qaeda fighters fleeing Afghanistan into Pakistan after the 2001 U.S. invasion; a U.S. counterterrorism official described him as "an all-around bad guy" who had contact with senior al Qaeda officials.

The offspring of Palestinian refugees, he spent his youth in Jordan and Saudi Arabia before moving to Pakistan in the 1990s to study computer engineering. While in Pakistan he found religion, and a few years later he tried to answer the call of Saudi religious leaders who were urging followers to take up jihad against the Russians in Chechnya. Jabour managed to make his way to Kabul, where he got a few months of rudimentary firearms instruction in a camp operated by the Taliban before being told that the Chechens didn't really want any more Arab fighters. He returned to Pakistan and got married. A couple of years later, after the September 11 attacks led to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, he again felt the call — not to fight for al Qaeda, but "to protect Afghanistan as a Muslim country." Jabour went to Afghanistan and tried to join a group of Arab fighters, but when the Taliban deserted them on the front line, he decided to go home again without firing a shot.

Jabour made the mistake of befriending an assortment of wounded, destitute ex-comrades who wandered into Pakistan after the conflict, his affidavit goes on. In 2004, he says, Pakistani intelligence agents forced him and a friend into a car, put hoods on their heads and took them to a facility in Lahore where Jabour was beaten and tortured for several days before his captors handed him over to the Americans.

He then describes a haze of sedative injections and a jet ride. Jabour found himself in a nameless facility where he says men in black uniforms and masks stripped off Jabour's clothes, bound him and put him in a tiny cell with a bucket for a toilet. He remained naked and bound for three months, with a video camera suspended from the ceiling watching his every move. Outside, large speakers played jet engine noises.

According to Jabour's affidavit, a U.S. interrogator told him that "whenever you hear this sound, you will remember why you are here" — a reference to the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

After interrogators questioned Jabour, he related, they would throw him back in his cell, tie him in various uncomfortable positions and then subject him to loud noises and music, sometimes for up to four days at a time. "I would scream for them to stop … and I would tell them I was going to talk," he says. On other occasions, he says in the affidavit, interrogators tied a rope to his handcuffs and lifted him up for several minutes at a time or squeezed him in a tiny closet that had breathing holes punched in the door (he would later tell human rights advocates and journalists that he was threatened only with being put in the closet).

By the time a year had passed, the affidavit goes on, the severity of Jabour's treatment eased somewhat. He was still subjected to interrogations, but he was in a larger cell and his captors let him out occasionally to watch documentary films on DVD or to take books out of the facility's library, which had thousands of books in Arabic and other languages. Eventually, they gave him a drawing pad and an electronic chessboard.

By then, apparently, the United States had decided that Jabour either had no more useful information to offer or was too small of a catch to bother keeping in custody. In July 2006, a clerk at the facility suddenly told Jabour that he was about to be transferred. "Where to?" Jabour asked. The American, the affidavit says, told him he didn't know. The next day, guards came to Jabour's cell, bound him in chains, taped cotton over his eyes and put plugs in his ears. He says he was driven to an airport, loaded on another jet and injected with something that made him lose consciousness.

After the jet landed hours later, Jabour reports that he was carried into a building. When his blindfold was removed, he was in a room with portraits of King Hussein and King Abdullah on the wall. Jabour was back in Jordan, the land of his birth. Jordanian agents began questioning him, he says, but the sessions were less brutal. "The interrogators told me they know everything I've been through," he says. For the first time, he was allowed to meet with a Red Cross representative. He also was allowed to see his parents and other relatives.

But instead of releasing Jabour, the Jordanians turned the former U.S. prisoner over to the Israelis. While U.S. interrogators reportedly have used the threat of rendition to Israel to frighten captives into talking, Jabour says that after a humiliating initial search (in which he was stripped and forced to squat several times), the Israelis didn't treat him quite as roughly as the Americans had. He relates that he was questioned by a Shabak interrogator named Levi, who talked to him roughly a dozen times, three to four hours each time. Levi had Jabour tell his life story, while Levi took notes on a computer. None of the questions had anything to do with Israel or its national security, Jabour recalled in the affidavit.

Even so, Jabour was held without charges and was not allowed to see an attorney for the first month of his Israeli captivity. Then, in late September 2006, he finally got a chance to speak with Nizar Mahajna, a lawyer for the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, an Israeli human rights organization, who happened to run in to Jabour in the Kishon Prison where Jabar's military court hearing was taking place.

"I'm not one of them," Mahajna quotes Jabour as telling him, meaning that he was not a Palestinian from the West Bank or Gaza. "Do you have time for me?"

"He seemed very frightened," the attorney would later recall.

In October 2006, Israeli security sources told ICIJ that Jabour most likely would be charged with membership in a terrorist organization, unauthorized military training and posing a threat to state security.

But apparently, over the next several weeks, Israeli officials changed their minds and decided that the former U.S. prisoner was not so much of a threat after all. In November 2006, the day before a military court was scheduled to consider extending his remand, authorities simply released him to relatives in Gaza.


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Mayo 30, 2007

Boeing unit sued over CIA flights

May 30, 2007

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK, May 30 (Reuters) - The American Civil Liberties Union is suing a Boeing Co. unit it accuses of helping the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency transfer foreign suspects to overseas prisons where it says
they were held and tortured.

The New York-based rights group said it would file a suit against Jeppesen Dataplan Inc. on Wednesday, charging that the company
provided flight and logistical support to at least 15 aircraft on 70 so-called "rendition" flights.

The suit, to be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, is being made on behalf of Binyam Mohamed,
Abou Elkassim Britel and Ahmed Agiza, who the ACLU said were abducted by the CIA, detained and tortured.

The complaint alleges Jeppesen organized flights over a four-year
period to countries "it knew or reasonably should have known that detainees are routinely tortured or otherwise abused in contravention
of universally accepted standards."

"Extraordinary rendition should be condemned. It should not be seen as
a source of corporate profit," Anthony Romero, ACLU executive director, told a news conference.

A European Parliament-backed report found at least 1,245 CIA flights
were made into or over Europe in the four years after the September 11,
2001 attacks on the United States.

Washington acknowledges the secret transfer of suspects to
third countries but denies torturing them or handing them over to countries that did. Jeppesen declined to comment on the ACLU suit,
and would not say if the CIA was a customer.

According to the ACLU, Jeppesen played a key role in what it called Washington's extraordinary rendition program, providing aircraft crew
with itineraries, preparing flight plans, procuring landing permits
from foreign governments and helping with customs clearance and
ground transportation.


Steven Watt, an ACLU attorney, said that without Jeppesen's services
the rendition program could not have operated.

"It's both illegal and immoral for a corporation to profit from kidnapping and torture and any corporation that knowingly does so
must be held to account," he said.

Romero warned other companies involved in a "program that is illegal
and aids the government in the practices of torture" that they too
are at risk of liability in U.S. courts.

"There are a number of other corporations that are involved with
such efforts, whether they are military contractors at Guantanamo or personnel services in Iraq," he said. The ACLU did not say whether
it was considering further legal action.

The suit claims Jeppesen knew the purpose of the rendition flights. It
is to be filed under the Alien Tort Statute, which permits foreigners
to bring claims in the United States for violations of the law of nations or a U.S. treaty.

British resident Mohamed and Italian citizen Britel were separately arrested in Pakistan in 2002, while Egyptian citizen Agiza was apprehended in Sweden in 2001, the ACLU said.

Mohamed is now held at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. military prison in Cuba, Britel was convicted and imprisoned in Morocco on terrorism-related charges, while Agiza was convicted and imprisoned in Egypt for being
a member of a banned group.

The ACLU also said on Wednesday it would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the dismissal of a lawsuit against former CIA Director George Tenet and 10 CIA employees by a German who says he was kidnapped and tortured
by the agency.

In March, a U.S. appeals court upheld the dismissal of the suit,
brought by Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese origin, after agreeing with government arguments that moving forward with the case would pose a risk of exposing state secrets.

(Additional reporting by Bill Rigby)

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Mayo 26, 2007

On extraordinary renditions

By Stephanie Ramage

About a month ago, the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs heard the brief but scathing testimony of Michael F. Scheuer, chief of the CIA's Bin Laden unit under former President Bill Clinton and creator of the CIA's rendition policy. His testimony centered on "extraordinary renditions," the practice of placing terrorism suspects in prison in countries known to employ harsh interrogation techniques, including torture. But other interesting things came to light as well.

Scheuer was head of the CIA's Bin Laden tracking unit under Clinton from 1996 to 1999 and special advisor to the unit from September 2001 to November 2004 under President Bush.

Scheuer's testimony on April 17, at a hearing entitled "Extraordinary Rendition in U.S. Counter terrorism Policy: The Impact on Transatlantic Relations," received almost zero press coverage, but the transcript is available on the committee's Web site (www.foreignaffairs.house.gov/110/sch041707.htm).

First, he explained how Clinton launched the renditions program: "President Clinton and his national security team directed the CIA to take each captured al-Qaida leader to the country which had an outstanding legal process for him [a warrant]."

He continued, "The CIA warned the president and the National Security Council that the U.S. State Department had and would identify the countries to which the captured fighters were being delivered as human rights abusers."

In response, Clinton "asked if the CIA could get each receiving country to guarantee that it would treat the person according to its own laws. This was no problem and we did so."

The key phrase is "its own laws." What is perfectly legal in Jordan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia would result in a Department of Corrections overhaul here in the U.S. Scheuer says of Clinton, his national security advisor Sandy Berger and his counter-terrorism coordinator Richard Clarke: "I have read and been told that Mr. Clinton, Mr. Burger and Mr. Clarke have said since 9/11 that they insisted that each receiving country treat the rendered person it received according to U.S. legal standards. To the best of my memory that is a lie."

Scheuer also told the congressional committee, "To the best of my knowledge, not a single target of rendition has ever been kidnapped by CIA officers. The claims to the contrary by the Swedish government regarding Mr. Aghiza and his associate, and those by the Italian government regarding Abu Omar, are either misstatements or lies by those governments. Indeed, it is passing strange that European leaders are here today to complain about very successful and security-enhancing U.S. government counterterrorism operations, when their European Union presides over the earth's single largest terrorist safe haven and has done so for a quarter century. The E.U.'s policy of easily attainable political asylum and its prohibition against deporting wanted or convicted terrorists to countries with the death penalty have made Europe a major, consistent and invulnerable source of terrorist threats to the United States … Not one single al-Qaida leader has ever been rendered on the basis of any CIA officer's 'hunch' or 'guess' or 'caprice.'"

He concluded his remarks to the congressional committee by saying, "I am unable to speak with authority about the conditions these men found in the Middle Eastern prisons they were delivered to at President Clinton's direction. I would not, however, be surprised if their treatment was not up to U.S. standards, but this is a matter of no concern as the rendition program's goal was to protect America and the rendered fighters delivered to Middle Eastern governments are now either dead or in places from which they cannot harm America."

How the CIA treats its criminal suspects and how the American military treats its prisoners of war—with a few notable exceptions like Abu Ghraib—are two entirely different things. Throughout its history, the American military has treated its POWs with the understanding that they are not criminals but merely soldiers doing the bidding of their governments.

In his fascinating book, "Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 Until the Present," Yale University historian Michael B. Oren quotes from a letter written by Capt. William Bainbridge during the Barbary Wars regarding the capture of a Moroccan man-o'-war crew. "I sincerely hope that this capture may be productive of good effects to the U.S.," wrote Bainbridge, who stressed the "lenity" and "humanity" shown to the prisoners "to impress on their mind a favorable opinion of the American character."

The year was 1803 and hundreds of American sailors were being held in North African prisons, starved, forced to hard labor and in some cases probably raped, and yet our young nation believed that we should enlighten those countries rather than stoop to their degradation.

I would venture that this policy of treating prisoners decently in order to educate them regarding America's respect for human life and dignity has won more ground for us as a country and a culture than any battle in history.

The CIA's prisoners, though, are not POWs. They are criminal suspects. If we are not prosecuting them, the nation that is doing so is free to apply its own standards. But if we are prosecuting them, we need to own the process from beginning to end under maximum-security American correctional standards. They may think of themselves as soldiers in a holy war, but we should treat them like the common criminals they are. Given the admiration Islamic extremists have for torture, our use of it or approval of it only grants terrorists an exalted status that they do not deserve. SP

Stephanie Ramage is news editor of The Sunday Paper.

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Mayo 23, 2007

Post-9/11 Renditions: An Extraordinary Violation of International Law

Some say lack of due process in kidnappings and detention at secret prisons amounts to war crimes

By Michael Bilton
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

PORTSMOUTH, England — A plane lands in darkness and is directed to a far corner of an airfield, well out of public view. A group of men described as "masked ninjas" — wearing black overalls and hoods with slits for their eyes, nose and mouth — descend the aircraft steps and make their way to a nearby airport building. Inside a small room the detainee is waiting under armed guard, perhaps already blindfolded. He is immediately hooded as a process known as a "twenty-minute takeout" begins. Soon he is aboard the plane, on his way to another country to be harshly interrogated and possibly tortured.

That is what happened to two Egyptian asylum seekers in Sweden on December 18, 2001, and to numerous other terrorist suspects since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Events like this rarely happened before 9/11, but many sources claim that the CIA began frequent use of the practice almost immediately afterward. Now its pattern is familiar and so is its odd name: "extraordinary rendition."

The United States has never acknowledged such renditions, but the CIA's activities have been extensively studied and documented by European and other governments, as well as organizations that monitor human rights violations. One such inquiry, by Sweden's parliamentary ombudsman, was set in motion when the Egyptian asylum seekers were swept away — and Sweden landed in hot water with the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

Extraordinary rendition may be a new term, but it is not a new practice — the English did it in the 17th century, shipping prisoners to Scotland to be tortured. Secret prisons are not a recent invention either. Britain ran such a camp holding Nazi prisoners at Bad Nenndorf, Germany, after World War II. Evidence of ill treatment there was kept secret for 60 years. America also had a secret postwar camp known only as "P.O. Box 1142" at Fort Hunt next to the Potomac River in Virginia just outside of Washington, D.C. There, former U.S. interrogators have now disclosed, more than 3,400 Nazi prisoners were kept "off the books" in violation of the Geneva Conventions while they were interrogated about vital technical intelligence that could be useful to America.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the United States captured terrorist suspects overseas and "rendered" them back to the U.S. or to a third country to face trial. The CIA's extraordinary renditions reported to have occurred after 9/11 are quite different. What makes them extraordinary is that there is no judicial proceeding or due process of law; after the kidnapping, terrorist suspects simply disappear into a system of secret prisons for long-term detention and interrogation, sometimes accompanied by torture.

Human rights advocates and some legal scholars argue that extraordinary renditions are violations of international law, with some characterizing them as war crimes. For example, Professor Jordan J. Paust of the University of Houston, a former U.S. Army lawyer who is an expert on international law, has presented a formal analysis asserting that U.S. government leaders and those who planned or took part in extraordinary renditions could be prosecuted for committing war crimes.

The program began after the 9/11 attacks; within a week, President Bush signed a classified presidential "finding" authorizing an unprecedented range of covert operations, including capturing terrorists in foreign nations and what the Washington Post characterized as "the expenditure of vast funds to coax foreign intelligence services into a new era of cooperation with the CIA." A portent of what was about to be unleashed came when Vice President Cheney said on NBC's "Meet the Press," "We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will. We've got to spend time in the shadows of the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion."

Foreign intelligence services — including those inside the European Union — worked closely with their CIA counterparts in hunting those suspected of planning the 9/11 attacks or being al Qaeda members. According to journalist Stephen Grey's respected chronology of known renditions before and after 9/11, terrorist suspects were being picked up under the new programs within weeks of the planes crashing in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Reports indicate that these men were tracked down, handed over to CIA special operations teams and then flown to secret detention centers where harsh techniques were used in their interrogation.

This article examines three thoroughly documented extraordinary renditions.
Sweden criticized by U.N. panel

Soon after 9/11, Swedish security police lodged objections to applications for asylum from two Egyptians, Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed El Zari. Even before the Swedish government officially decided to return them to Egypt, a report by the Swedish ombudsman relates that the CIA offered use of an aircraft so the men could be expelled the moment a formal order was issued.

According to this report — which was based in large part on interviews with and documentation provided by Swedish security officials — at midday on December 18, 2001, CIA officials told their Swedish counterparts there would be no room on the plane for the Swedish security police. When the Swedes objected, the CIA relented but insisted that a security check would have to be conducted on the two detainees at Bromma Airport near Stockholm. That being Swedish territory, the Swedes believed they were in charge of the deportation of two men from their country. It did not turn out that way.

A few hours after the expulsion order was official, the men were arrested. They arrived at Bromma about 8:30 p.m. Swedish counterterrorism officers and CIA officials were present, along with the security police.

"Just before 9 p.m. the American plane touched down," according to the ombudsman's report, "Officer Y went to speak to the occupants of the plane. These included, in addition to its crew, a security team of seven or eight, among them a doctor and two Egyptian officials. Officer Y informed the American officials that A. [Agiza] and E.Z. [El Zari] were waiting in the vehicles parked in front of the police station [at Bromma Airport] and the Americans were taken to them.

"The security team, all of whom were disguised by hoods around their heads, then went up to the vehicles in which A. and E.Z. were sitting. One of the men was taken first to the police station by the team. Inside the station, in a small changing room, the American officials conducted what they had referred to as a security check.

"According to reports, a doctor was present in the changing room. When the check had been completed, the second man was sent for and the same procedure repeated.

"The inquiry has revealed that this security check comprised at least the following. A. and E.Z. were subjected to a body search, their clothes were cut to pieces and placed in bags, their hair was thoroughly examined, as were their oral cavities and ears. In addition they were handcuffed and their ankles fettered, each was then dressed in an overall and photographed. Finally loose hoods without holes for their eyes were placed over their heads. A. and E.Z. were then taken out of the police station in bare feet and led to the aircraft.

"In addition, K.J. lawyer has reported that E.Z. said that the security team had forced him to lean forwards in the changing room and he had then felt some object being inserted into his anal cavity. Afterwards he was equipped with a diaper. According to K.J., E.Z. then felt calmer, as if 'all the muscles in his body were slack.' E.Z. was, however, fully conscious for the entire journey. K.J. has added that E.Z. was blindfolded and placed in a hood and also forced to lie in an uncomfortable position on board the aircraft. …

"According to … witnesses, the security team conducted the security inspection rapidly, efficiently and professionally. The members of the team did not speak to each other but communicated using hand signals. …"

A Council of Europe inquiry obtained data from Eurocontrol, the European air traffic control agency, showing that the aircraft involved was a Gulfstream 5 executive jet with the call sign N379P, owned by Premier Executive Transport Services. The plane had set out on a prearranged two-day trip from the United States to board the two detainees in Sweden, take them to Egypt and then return to the U.S. after a brief refueling stop in Scotland.

This Eurocontrol data indicated that the executive jet that day covered many thousands of miles. It took off from Dulles International Airport during the early hours of December 18, flew direct to Cairo and collected two Egyptian officials; after refueling, it immediately headed for Sweden. The plane was on the ground at Bromma for just 65 minutes before heading back to Egypt.

According to the Swedish ombudsman's report: "Just two representatives of the Security Police were on board the plane: officer Y and the civilian interpreter. The original intention had been for three people to accompany the plane to Egypt but late in the day they were informed by the captain of the plane that there was only room for two from the Swedish Security Police. A. and E.Z. were placed at the rear of the plane, each lying on a mattress to which they were strapped. Their handcuffs, ankle fetters and hoods were not removed during the flight to Egypt.

"The transport log drawn up by officer Y contains the following entry: 'They were kept under observation for the entire time and the guards were changed every other hour. The doctor in the escort inspected them all the time. … [T]he body-search at the airport and the use of handcuffs and fetters was at the express order of the captain of the aircraft. In addition, it was noted that the explanation for requiring A. and E.Z. to wear hoods was that this was a policy that had been laid down on the basis of the events of September 11, 2001, about the transport of deportees with terrorist links.

"At about 3 a.m. the plane landed at Cairo. A. and E.Z. disembarked and were received by Egyptian officials. They were then driven off in a transit bus."

Despite Egypt's diplomatic assurance to Sweden that the two men would be treated humanely, Human Rights Watch says, based on testimony subsequently given by one of the two men, that they were subsequently tortured. U.N. Committees later decided Sweden had violated the Geneva Conventions by sending the men to Egypt.

"Egypt's promise not to torture was a mere fig leaf for the Swedish authorities," said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, an independent non-governmental advocacy organization. "Transferring people to countries where they face torture violates international law, regardless of what empty promises a country gives… The U.N. committee noted that Egypt had a well-documented history of torture abuses, especially when dealing with terrorism suspects. It said that Egypt's routine use of torture, in combination with interest in Agiza by the U.S. as well as Egypt, should have led to a 'natural conclusion' that he was at risk of torture upon return."

Egypt — a key ally of the United States — has long been the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, after only Israel. Its secret police are notorious for their brutality during interrogations. The U.S. State Department noted in a 2002 human rights report their frequent torture of prisoners, during which people were stripped, blindfolded, suspended from the ceiling or door frame with their feet just touching the floor; beaten with whips, fists, metal rods; subjected to electric shocks; and doused with cold water.
Canada apologizes to citizen

Canadian citizen Maher Arar was born in Syria in 1970 and emigrated to Canada as a teenager, settling in Montreal. In September 2002, he visited Tunisia with his family and was returning home to Canada via the United States. At New York's Kennedy International Airport he was arrested, strip-searched and then held in an immigration detention center for 12 days. On October 8, he was told he was being deported to Syria. Shackled, he was taken to New Jersey, put on an executive jet and flown to Jordan. The next day, blindfolded, he was driven across the border to Syria and taken to Far Falestin, the notorious detention center run by the Syrian military intelligence.

Witnesses to a Commission of Inquiry in Canada testified what they and Arar experienced in Far Falestin: "[They] closed the cell door. It was like a grave, exactly like a grave. It had no light. It was three feet wide. It was six feet deep. It was seven feet high." Arar told the Commission he met the person he later discovered was the head interrogator, identified as George Salloum, and gave this account:

Salloum introduced him to "the chair" — a torture device capable of breaking a detainee's back. Arar could hear fellow prisoners screaming with pain. Soon he was receiving the same treatment. He was beaten about his body, four lashes with a two-foot-long electric cable that had been shredded. Then he was asked questions. The torture would stop and start, getting worse and worse. He admitted being trained by al Qaeda in Afghanistan only because he had decided to "say anything" necessary to avoid torture. He was constantly warned that "tomorrow will be worse." He slept only two or three hours a night, on a cold concrete floor, known to his guards only by his cell number: Two.

Arar reported that he and other detainees were doused with cold water and had the soles of their feet beaten with thick black plastic cables. Another detainee told investigators that he was ordered to undress, except for his underwear. Interrogators then poured cold water on his body while he stood. He was then laid on the floor and, as interrogators trained a fan on him, more cold water was poured over him. They asked him to raise his legs from the knee and started beating him with black rubber cables.

Arar confessed to membership in al Qaeda, even though the Canadian Commission of Inquiry subsequently found that he had absolutely no connection with the organization or terrorism. After 10 months and 10 days of detention, he was transferred to Sednaya Prison, also in Syria, where he reported that conditions were "like heaven" compared with Far Falestin. On October 5, 2003, he was released from custody after signing a "confession" given to him by a Syrian prosecutor. He has since been awarded $8.9 million in damages (and an official apology) by the Canadian government but remains on a U.S. terrorist watch list.
How the CIA's cover was blown

The aircraft used to transfer detainees from one country to another were supposed to be part of a clandestine CIA operation, but a sloppy mistake blew their cover and helped European investigators create a comprehensive record of renditions.

One frequently used aircraft was Gulfstream N379P, whose trips included delivery of Agiza and El Zari to Egypt. The company that owned it, Premier Executive Transport Services, was a CIA front whose officers had post office box addresses where 325 fictitious names also were registered. The plane's connection began to emerge when another of its renditions got under way at 2:40 a.m. on October 23, 2001, at a little-used terminal at Karachi International Airport in Pakistan.

A 27-year-old Yemeni man, Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, had been apprehended by the Pakistan intelligence service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). He was taken blindfolded and in chains to be handed over to the CIA. Suspected of involvement in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, he had been reported missing for three weeks from Karachi University, where he was studying microbiology. He was flown from Pakistan to Jordan and then promptly disappeared.

What gave this transfer significance was the clumsy way in which it was handled. According to Pakistani sources, an airport official at the Karachi airport demanded a landing fee from the CIA plane. The crew refused. ISI agents then instructed airport staff that they would pay the fees, and the plane took off. But the incident created a minor stir that drew attention to the Gulfstream, which had been tucked away in a quiet corner of the airport so as not to be conspicuous.

On October 26, 2001, Masood Anwar, a Pakistani journalist with The News in Islamabad, wrote how Mohammed claimed he had been flown out of the country aboard a plane bearing tail number N379P. Those details ricocheted via the Internet among spy-hunters, bloggers and plane-spotting enthusiasts curious about precisely how the newly declared war on terrorism was being conducted.

Research by human rights groups, journalists and European governments subsequently revealed that the CIA had operated some 30 aircraft disguised by the use of companies like Premier Executive Transport Services and in other ways. Other aircraft were leased to operating companies and their subsidiaries. Eurocontrol data showed that 32 such aircraft made at least 1,245 stopovers in the various European countries.

Dozens of flights went to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the U.S. was detaining terrorism suspects. European investigators believed many of the flights were for extraordinary renditions. Eurocontrol data show the CIA planes made the following stopovers between October 2001 and the end of 2005: 76 in Azerbaijan; 72 in Jordan; 61 in Egypt; 52 in Turkmenistan; 46 in Uzbekistan; 40 in Iraq; 40 in Morocco; 38 in Afghanistan; and 14 in Libya.


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Mayo 22, 2007

The CIA's latest "ghost detainee"

New details confirm a CIA prisoner disappeared in U.S. custody for months, renewing suspicions the agency could be violating the law and using torture.

By Mark Benjamin

May 22, 2007 | WASHINGTON -- In late April the Pentagon announced with fanfare that Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, a former top advisor to Osama bin Laden, was in custody at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Although al-Hadi was "one of al-Qaida's highest ranking and experienced senior operatives" and may have been planning attacks on Western targets at the time of his capture, he would be treated humanely, the Pentagon said. Military officials had alerted the International Committee of the Red Cross that al-Hadi was in their custody, and said they would grant the Red Cross access to monitor his treatment.

But as the Pentagon also noted in late April, al-Hadi was not a new prisoner; he had been in CIA custody since the fall of 2006. And Salon has discovered that, in contrast to the protocols followed by the Pentagon, the CIA kept al-Hadi's months-long detention a secret -- not only from the public but from the Red Cross as well, raising new questions about the CIA's treatment of prisoners in the war on terrorism. While the U.S. military recently adopted new rules for interrogation in the wake of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, legal and human rights experts say the CIA may be continuing to flout the law -- potentially using abusive interrogation tactics at secret prisons known as "black sites" -- at the direction of the Bush White House.

Red Cross officials confirmed to Salon that the CIA did not alert them during the months that al-Hadi was a prisoner with the agency. "We have repeatedly asked U.S. authorities to be notified and have access to all detainees, including those held by the CIA," said Simon Schorno, a spokesman for the Red Cross in Washington. "But we did not have access to Mr. al-Hadi before his transfer [to military custody]. For us, that is problematic."

The Red Cross' access to detainees, set forth in the Geneva Conventions, is premised on the idea that anonymous, secret detentions create conditions conducive to torture. During the worst abuses at Abu Ghraib, for example, some "ghost detainees" were kept off the books at the military prison and hidden from the Red Cross. One of those prisoners, Manadel al-Jamadi, died during a CIA interrogation in a shower room at Abu Ghraib on Nov. 4, 2003. The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology later ruled al-Jamadi's death a homicide, caused by "blunt force injuries to the torso complicated by compromised respiration."

The CIA's secret imprisonment and interrogation of suspected terrorists, first exposed by news reports and eventually confirmed by Bush at a press conference last Sept. 6, allegedly involved an array of inhumane tactics. At black sites scattered around the globe, the CIA reportedly subjected high-value detainees like al-Hadi to sleep deprivation, stress positions, slapping, induced hypothermia and "waterboarding," or simulated drowning. Bush did not discuss any specific techniques on Sept. 6, but said the CIA's actions had been approved by the Justice Department and were "designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution and our treaty obligations." The program, Bush said, "has given us information that has saved innocent lives by helping us stop new attacks."

But the future of the CIA's interrogation program had been "put into question," Bush acknowledged, by the Supreme Court decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld last year, which held that all detainees -- including high-value prisoners in the hands of the CIA -- are protected by some provisions of the Geneva Conventions. Bush called some of the protections "vague" and asked Congress to pass a new law to clarify permissible treatment of prisoners by the military -- while at the same time ensuring "that the CIA program goes forward."

A battle ensued on Capitol Hill, with Bush officials fighting vigorously to exempt the CIA from tighter rules on prisoner treatment.

The White House apparently lost when Congress overwhelmingly passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006. It forbids detainee abuse, using specific language that experts on human rights and international law say would be hard, if not impossible, to circumvent legally.

Those experts were subsequently shocked by what Bush said in the East Room of the White House when he signed the bill last October. "This bill will allow the Central Intelligence Agency to continue its program for questioning key terrorist leaders and operatives," Bush said. "[The CIA] program has been one of the most successful intelligence efforts in American history."

Attorneys were baffled: How could the CIA lawfully continue interrogations like the ones that had reportedly been conducted in the past? "The administration wanted these prohibitions on the military and not on the CIA, but it did not work out that way," said Scott Horton, who chairs the International Law Committee at the New York City Bar Association, referring to the new legislation. The rules of the Military Commissions Act cover all prisoners in U.S. custody, presumably including those in the custody of the CIA.

Al-Hadi's treatment during his months of CIA detention remains unknown. A CIA statement to Salon responding to questions about al-Hadi said that the United States "does not conduct or condone torture, and the CIA's terrorist interrogation program operates in strict accord with American laws and treaty obligations." Close to the time of al-Hadi's detainment by the CIA, meanwhile, Bush announced that 14 other high-value detainees were being transferred to Guantánamo, leaving the CIA black sites empty -- though Bush said the top-secret prisons might be used again in the future.

Since the Red Cross was never alerted that the CIA was holding al-Hadi, there is no way to independently corroborate the CIA's claims about al-Hadi's treatment. But at the least, he is proof that secret CIA prisons are still in operation. "They did not shut them down, and al-Hadi made this obvious," said Horton. "So this raises the question of CIA interrogation techniques. I've been asked many times what I think is going on. And I say I absolutely don't know."

Al-Hadi's case and the mystery surrounding CIA detainees, experts say, underscore a stark divide between the CIA and the Pentagon on ground rules for treating detainees three years after the Abu Ghraib scandal stained the reputation of the United States worldwide. In its statement to Salon, the CIA also said that it had no legal responsibility to alert the Red Cross of al-Hadi's status, calling him an "unlawful combatant," a categorization that critics charge the Bush administration has used to circumvent the Geneva Conventions. The CIA acknowledged that the Department of Defense alerted the Red Cross about al-Hadi -- but suggested DoD was not required to do so. "Although, as unlawful combatants, these detainees have no legal claim to ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] visits, those visits have been arranged at Guantánamo," the CIA said. (In a statement to Salon, the Pentagon said only that the Red Cross has access to all detainees at Guantánamo).

"There is a concern that a different set of standards and rules are being applied to the CIA as opposed to the military," said Hina Shamsi, an attorney for Human Rights First. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch, a different organization, has assembled a list of 38 detainees believed to have been held in CIA custody during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who, unlike al-Hadi, seem to have disappeared altogether.

Specific authority for covert operations in the war on terrorism were put in place by a secret "presidential finding" signed by Bush six days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, authorizing broad covert action by the CIA to capture, detain or kill members of al-Qaida anywhere in the world. Mary Ellen O'Connell, a professor of international law at Notre Dame Law School, said the al-Hadi case raises the possibility that the president has secretly given the CIA a new mandate to operate outside the constraints of the new law put in place by Congress last year. "This suggests that the president has signed some sort of additional authority for the CIA," she said.

When the Pentagon unveiled new rules for interrogation at a press conference last September, Lt. Gen. John Kimmons, the Army deputy chief of staff for intelligence, said, "No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices." The Army's revised manual explicitly bars abusive tactics such as hooding, forced nudity, sexual humiliation and mock executions.

But while military leaders may be more focused on following the letter of the law now, the White House may be behind the CIA's continued interest in tough interrogations, says John Sifton of Human Rights Watch. "It is better to speak of it as a divergence between the military and the White House," rather than the military and the CIA, he said. "The White House has wanted to take the gloves off with detainees and has used the CIA as their proxy."


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Mayo 19, 2007

Rendition victim sent to mental institution after arson attack

By Tony Paterson in Berlin
Published: 19 May 2007

German authorities have been accused of failing to help a man who set fire to a supermarket while suffering from severe depression caused by his kidnapping, imprisonment and torture by the CIA.

Khaled el-Masri has been a "psychological wreck" and has lived in constant fear that his children would be shot for the three years since he was released from an Afghan prison by the US, according to his lawyer.

The lawyer, Manfred Gnjidic, was attempting to explain why the 43-year-old German of Lebanese descent went berserk at a supermarket in the southern city of Ulm on Thursday and set fire to it, injuring no one but causing half a million euros of damage.

German state prosecutors committed Masri to a psychiatric institution for an indefinite period immediately after the arson attack. Mr Gnjidic said yesterday that in common with other victims of the CIA's controversial "renditions" programme, Masri had been severely traumatised by his experiences and had been unable to recover.

"This is an example of what happens to torture victims when they are left on their own and not given any proper treatment," Mr Gnjidic said. He said he had asked doctors and appealed to the government for help in providing the kind of psychiatric care his client badly needed, but nobody had offered to take him.

He said that since his release from a CIA prison in Afghanistan in May 2004, Masri had received only superficial treatment at a centre for torture victims. "Mr Masri has been left alone. One cannot simply sit back and wait until a case like this explodes," he insisted. "He lives cooped up most of the time in his apartment and in constant fear that his children could be shot. He has suffered a complete nervous breakdown," he added.

Khaled el-Masri was the focus of international attention in 2004 after he was released from US captivity and dumped on a road near the border between Macedonia and Albania where he was told by guards: "Don't bother telling anybody what happened to you - they won't believe you."

But he later revealed to the American press how the CIA had mistaken him for an al-Qa'ida suspect and kidnapped him while he was on holiday and travelling through Macedonia on a coach in December 2003. Masri was then flown to a CIA renditions prison in Afghanistan where he was beaten and sexually abused by his captors for five months before they realised they had detained the wrong person.

His case is the subject of a major parliamentary investigation in Germany over the extent to which the then government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had knowledge of the kidnapping. In America, his case has been frequently cited by human rights activists in their campaign to stop the practice of renditions.

German state prosecutors issued international warrants for the arrest of several suspected CIA agents alleged to have taken part in Masri's abduction and torture in January after US courts refused to take up his case, claiming that to do so would jeopardise national security.

Yesterday it emerged that Masri's arson attack was the latest in a long line of acts of desperation that appeared to stem from the deep psychological trauma he had been suffering from since his captivity.

Prosecutors said that Masri also faced charges for allegedly attacking an instructor who had been teaching him how to drive lorries. They said Masri had lost his temper after the instructor criticised him for failing to attend his lessons.

Prior to his arson attack on the Metro supermarket, they said Masri had spat in the face of one of the store's female staff after she refused to take back an iPod he had bought there.


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Mayo 11, 2007

US: 3 anti-torture activists convicted for trespassing during protest

The Associated Press

A judge convicted three activists of trespassing Thursday, a month after they were arrested while protesting a company they said helped the CIA take terrorist suspects to other countries for interrogation.

The protesters were arrested April 9 at the Johnston County Airport when they passed through a gate at the headquarters of Aero Contractors, a private air carrier. None will serve jail time, and charges against five others were dismissed.

Francis Coyle of Orange County and Steve Woolford of Chatham County received 14-day suspended sentences, and Barbara Zelter of Wake County received a one-day suspended sentence. They were fined $50 and ordered to stay away from Aero Contractors' property.

All three plan to appeal.

"It will give us an opportunity to shed some light on the crimes being perpetrated by our government," said Zelter, a senior staffer with the North Carolina Council of Churches.

The activists accused Aero Contractors of supplying planes used by the CIA to covertly shuttle terrorism suspects to countries where they were possibly tortured. The company has said it does work for the government, but has declined to discuss any details.

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US/Iraq - Six Questions for Tara McKelvey on Detainee Abuse

BY Ken Silverstein

Tara McKelvey is the author of the new book Monstering: Inside America’s Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War, which tells the story of the Abu Ghraib scandal and, more broadly, examines the pattern of detainee abuse in Iraq. McKelvey, a senior editor at The American Prospect and a research fellow at the NYU School of Law’s Center on Law and Security, lives in Washington, D.C. I recently asked her six questions about what she learned while researching her book.

1. The general story of the abuses at Abu Ghraib has by now been well covered. What has the media missed?

The media only focused on the photographs. They missed the fact that the abuse was systematic and that the worst things were not even shown in the pictures. That’s what my book is about: what happened beyond the frame of the Abu Ghraib photos. Thousands of detainees have gone through U.S.-run facilities in Iraq, but thousands more—anyone held for less than fourteen days—were never registered or tracked. Human-rights reports and interviews I conducted show that some of the worst abuses took place at short-term facilities—a police station in Samarra, a school gymnasium, a trailer, and places like that, where individuals were held for up to two weeks. It’s also important to remember that reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as numerous military documents, show that 70 to 90 percent of the detainees had no information that would have been useful to the troops.

2. Who is ultimately responsible for the abuses?

If there’s a smoking gun, it’s in the hands of John C. Yoo. He worked at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, and he’s the guy behind the August 1, 2002, memo that said interrogators could do what they wanted as long as the intensity of pain inflicted was less than “that which accompany serious physical injury such as death or organ failure.” It created conditions that allowed for almost any sort of physical abuse. So guys like Yoo and Timothy Flanagan, who was deputy White House counsel under Alberto R. Gonzales, discussed techniques like stress positions and sleep deprivation that were approved for high-level Al Qaeda suspects—and those techniques were used on Iraqi civilians. I had a heartfelt conversation with Flanagan and told him what I had heard from Iraqis: that these techniques had been used on men, women and children in Iraq. He feels bad about it; I know he does. But the fact is that he and Yoo and some of these other people from the best law schools and universities in this country were the ones who came up with the legal definitions that allowed for the abuse to happen.

“When [Lynndie England] told me she’d quit her job over the conditions at the plant, I was surprised. She had stood up to what she thought was wrong.”

3. What was Donald Rumsfeld’s role?

Rumsfeld has had a very lackadaisical attitude towards the Geneva Conventions. On February 8, 2002, he said, “The reality is that the set of facts that exist today with respect to Al Qaeda and Taliban were not necessarily the kinds of facts that were considered when the Geneva Conventions were fashioned.” On May 4 of 2004, after the pictures from Abu Ghraib were published, he told a journalist that the Geneva Conventions “did not precisely apply” in Iraq. There has also been testimony from people who say Rumsfeld got nightly briefings about what was gathered during interrogations.

4. Have those guilty of detainee abuse been held accountable?

More than 260 soldiers have faced punishment for detainee-related incidents since October 2001. Of those, nine individuals, all except one below the rank of captain, have been sentenced to time behind bars. Keep in mind, that’s just the military; meanwhile, there are about 100,000 contractors in Iraq, almost as many as there are troops. But only one contractor has been punished for a detainee-related crime, and that was in Afghanistan. Not a single contractor in Iraq has been punished. I doubt all those contractors are angels; we know, for instance, that several were implicated in the Abu Ghraib scandal—but those cases never went anywhere. This is not just a prison scandal. It’s a huge blow to America’s image and it’s something we’ll be dealing with for generations.

5. What do you think of former CIA director George Tenet’s recent comments in which he defended the use of tough tactics against detainees?

Tenet has said in interviews that we didn’t employ torture, that everything was authorized, and that the attorney general told us the techniques did not amount to torture. This goes back to John Yoo, who along with others broadened the definition of what was allowable. Some of the stuff, like “stress positions,” seems benign. But it covers a lot of ground. It means you can be kept crouching and not allowed to move for 45 minutes, but then they can move you into another stress position. There’s one stress position, called a “Palestinian Hanging,” which was apparently pretty common at Abu Ghraib. Your arms are pulled behind your back, and you’re hung from your arms. I interviewed a ghost detainee who was put in that position and he said it was incredibly painful. One detainee, al-Jamadi, died after being put in that position. We don’t know if these techniques are still allowed. Officially they say “no,” but we have no idea.
“This is not just a prison scandal. It’s a huge blow to America’s image and it’s something we’ll be dealing with for generations.”

6. You got an exclusive print interview with Lynndie England. What was your impression of her?

Part of her defense was that she was a compliant personality but in fact, as I discovered, she’d been a whistleblower. She had worked at a chicken processing plant in Moorefield, West Virginia, and had walked off the job to protest lousy assembly line practices. Less than a year later, a PETA investigator went into the plant undercover and filmed incredibly horrific acts of animal abuse. It made it into the national media, which called it a “mini Abu Ghraib.” When she told me she’d quit her job over the conditions at the plant, I was surprised. She had stood up to what she thought was wrong. Lynndie England—and all of the people at Abu Ghraib—had the option to say “no” to the abuse. There was a combination of events that allowed the detainee abuses to happen, it wasn’t just administration policy or Lynndie’s psychopathic boyfriend, or any one thing. I was so shocked about the abuse when I first heard about it from Iraqis, and I wondered how such horrible things could happen. But by the time I’d finished the book and saw how everything had come together, the abuse seemed almost inevitable.


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Mayo 9, 2007

CIA agents’ testimony to boost new report into secret renditions


GENEVA • Swiss Senator Dick Marty said yesterday that the latest volume of his report for the Council of Europe into the alleged secret transfer of terrorist suspects by the United States will include statements from disgruntled CIA agents.

“They spoke to me because they found what was happening to be disgusting,” Marty said in an interview with Swiss newspaper La Liberte.

Their statements will help to “strengthen the findings of the first report published on June 6, 2006, on the secret activities of the CIA in Europe,” Marty said.

The latest volume of his report will be presented to the Council of Europe on June 8 in Paris.

Last year’s report found that 14 European countries colluded in or tolerated the secret transfer of terrorist suspects by the United States, and two of them—Poland and Romania—may have harboured CIA detention centres.

The report identified a “spider’s web” of landing points around the world used by the US authorities for the practice of “extraordinary rendition”—the undercover transfer of security suspects to third countries or US-run detention centres.

The Swiss senator told La Liberte that he believed Western governments had signed secret agreements after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States to give more power to their security services.

“This is why some countries are opposed to my investigations,” he said.

Marty would not specify which countries he had in mind, but did say that Britain, France and Germany “knew what was happening... but they didn’t act.”

He also believes secret flights by the US Central Intelligence Agency are continuing, “but I like to think this is not happening any more in Europe.” He was also sharply critical of the so-called “war on terror” launched by US President George W Bush after September 11, saying it was an excuse to attack personal freedoms.

“The war on terror is a pretext to curb individual liberties. These (liberties) irritate those who are in power,” Marty said.

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Abril 30, 2007


CCR / FIDH Joint Press Release


Today, Germany’s Federal Prosecutor announced she would not proceed with an investigation against Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales and other high-ranking U.S. officials for torture and other war crimes committed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo. The 400-page complaint was filed on November 14, 2006, by Berlin Attorney Wolfgang Kaleck on behalf of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), 42 other international and national human rights groups, 12 Iraqi citizens who were held in Abu Ghraib, and one Saudi citizen still held at Guantánamo.

Attorneys said they are contemplating an appeal of the decision as well as filing in other countries.

“At bottom, this is a political and not a legal decision,” said CCR President Michael Ratner. “We will continue to pursue Rumsfeld, Gonzales and the others in the future - they should not feel they can travel outside the U.S. without risk,” continued Ratner. “Our goal is no safe haven for torturers.”

Prominent jurists, scholars and human rights experts from around the world had examined the complaint and found it sound. Many signed on in support.

The complaint states that because of the failure of authorities in the United States and Iraq to launch any independent investigation into the responsibility of high-level U.S. officials for torture despite a documented paper trail and government memos implicating them in direct as well as command responsibility for torture, and because the U.S. has refused to join the International Criminal Court, it is the legal obligation of states such as Germany to take up cases under their universal jurisdiction laws.

In her decision not to go forward with an investigation, Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms argued that the crimes were committed outside of Germany and the defendants neither reside in Germany, nor are currently located in Germany, nor will soon enter Germany’s territory. However, the German law of universal jurisdiction expressly states that it is a universal duty to fight torture and other serious crimes, no matter where they occur or what the nationality of the perpetrators and victims is.

“Since its passage in 2002, not one of the many cases brought under our fine law of universal jurisdiction has been pursued by the prosecutor’s office,” said German attorney Wolfgang Kaleck. “Is this law meant only to look good on the books but never to be invoked?” In the same time period, according to human rights activists, other countries including the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, Denmark, and France have exercised universal jurisdiction and brought to justice perpetrators from countries such as Afghanistan, Mauretania, Argentina, Uganda and more.

The prosecutor also stated that investigations would not have had a reasonable chance of succeeding, but, in addition to providing extensive evidence in the form of publicly-available documents and government memos, attorneys had secured the cooperation of Gen. Janis Karpinski, former commander of Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, as well as other witnesses and victims who were willing to travel to Germany to testify before the court in Karlsruhe or meet with prosecutors to help them determine how to proceed with the case.

An earlier version of the complaint was lodged in fall 2004. In dismissing that case in February 2005 in response to heavy public pressure from the U.S., the former federal prosecutor stated that there were no indications that the authorities and courts of the United States were refraining from holding officials accountable. Yet more than two years later, only low-ranking officials have ever been charged. Although U.S. military and civilian personnel have been implicated in hundreds of known instances of detainee abuse, internal displacement, torture, and death, very few have been prosecuted in the U.S. anywhere else.

“We will continue to work for justice for the victims of these crimes,” said FIDH. “Torturers are enemies of all humankind - they can be brought to justice anywhere.”

Contact: Claire Tixeire, FIDH, (French, English): (0041) 79331 2450; (001) 6467631685 Mahdis Keshavarz, Riptide Communications, 212.260.5000

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USA: Another CIA detainee transferred to Guantánamo


AI Index: AMR 51/082/2007 (Public)
News Service No: 084
27 April 2007

The Pentagon today announced that a “high value” detainee, ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, has been transferred to the US Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay. The Pentagon has not revealed when or where he was detained, only that “prior to his arrival at Guantánamo Bay, he was held in CIA custody”.

“This announcement raises a number of immediate questions: When was ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi taken into custody? How long has he been in CIA detention? Where has he been he held and what were his confinement conditions?. The lack of information around this transfer only adds to the deep concerns surrounding the USA’s conduct in the so-called ‘war on terror’,” said Amnesty International.

Other questions raised by the announcement include the following:

* If ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi was arrested prior to September 2006, where was he on 6 September 2006 when President Bush confirmed the existence of the secret CIA detention program, but stated that no one was at that time held in it?
* Has he been subjected to the “alternative interrogation techniques” previously authorized for use by the CIA, but not elaborated upon by President Bush?
* How many other people are in CIA custody?

“As well as answering all such questions, the USA should put an end to all secret detentions immediately and bring its detention policies and practices into full compliance with international law,” said Amnesty International.

Information about ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi’s background remains confused. In January 2002, a US official in Pakistan reportedly claimed that “Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, who ran some of bin Laden’s training camps, has been captured”. However, reports in Pakistan indicated that he was made al-Qaida’s field commander in south-western Afghanistan in late 2005, and today’s statement from the US Department of Defense claims that al-Iraqi was responsible for cross-border attacks in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2004.

‘Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, an Iraqi national, joins 14 other “high-value” detainees who were transferred from the secret CIA program in early September 2006. Their cases have been put before Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs), panels of three military officers who can rely on coerced and secret evidence in assessing the detainee’s so-called “enemy combatant” status. A number of these detainees have alleged that they were subjected to torture in CIA custody. Details of their allegations have not been made public.

The 14 detainees still have no access to legal counsel. In denying access to lawyers, the government has argued that they have knowledge of the secret CIA program, including conditions of confinement, location of detention facilities, and interrogation techniques, that are classified as top secret and would damage national security if made public.

Secret detention violates the USA’s international legal obligations, as the two expert treaty monitoring bodies, the UN Committee against Torture and the UN Human Rights Committee made clear to the US government last year.

Confirmation of a detainee’s “unlawful enemy combatant” status renders him eligible for trial by military commission. The “high value” detainees may face trial by commission under procedures that fail to comply with international law and standards. The commissions have the power to hand down death sentences.

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Abril 27, 2007

Africa's secret - the men, women and children 'vanished' in the war on terror


Fleeing war-torn Somalia, the refugees trapped and missing without rights

Xan Rice in Moshi, Tanzania
Monday April 23, 2007
The Guardian

Fatma Ahmed Chande was cold. It was 3am and raining. The 25-year-old Tanzanian woman was kneeling on the taxiway at Nairobi's international airport.

Headlights from a convoy of police vehicles punched holes in the darkness. She saw a group of blindfolded men being led towards a plane. She recognised some of the shackled women and children who followed them.

A policeman jerked Ms Ahmed's scarf over her eyes. He tied her hands behind her back with a pair of plastic handcuffs that cut into her wrists. It was the same man who had threatened to kill her if she did not admit that her husband had supported al-Qaida terrorists in Somalia.

"This is it," she thought. "I am going to die."

The quiet 25-year-old from Moshi, at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, did not die in the early hours of January 27. But the ordeal that had begun when she was arrested at Kenya's northern border three weeks before while fleeing the war in Somalia was far from over.

Bundled aboard African Express flight AXK-527 she was about to become part of the first mass "renditions" in Africa, where prisoners accused of supporting terrorists in Somalia were secretly transferred from country to country for interrogation outside the boundaries of domestic or international law.

Along with at least 85 others from 20 countries, she was flown back to Somalia - a war zone with no effective government or law - and on to Ethiopia. There, American intelligence agents joined the interrogations - photographing and taking DNA samples, even from the children.


On April 7, three months after her arrest, Ms Ahmed was released. Salim Awadh Salim, her husband and father of her unborn baby, is still in detention. So, too, are 78 of the other passengers aboard the three secret rendition flights. At least 18 are children under 15.

Ethiopia admits holding 36 other "suspected international terrorists" but has refused to give the Red Cross access to them. The rest of the "ghost plane" passengers are missing.

Recuperating at her parents' house in Moshi, Ms Ahmed made her allegations to the Guardian in the hope that it would pressure Ethiopia into releasing her husband and the other prisoners. She described how she had married in 2000 and moved to the Kenyan coastal town of Mombasa, where her husband ran a mobile phone repair shop.

When his business soured last year, he decided to try his luck in the Somali capital Mogadishu, where a loose coalition of clan-based courts had established law and order for the first time since 1991. She joined him in August.

War was brewing. Ethiopia, backed by the US, accused the Somali Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC) of links to al-Qaida. As Ethiopian troops pushed towards Mogadishu in late December, the couple joined thousands of people fleeing south by road. They joined up with two Swahili-speaking women who were also trying to reach Kenya. Halima Badroudine had three young children. Fatma Ahmed Abdulrahman had a son aged about six.

"They told us that their husbands were Somalis who had stayed behind in Mogadishu," said Ms Ahmed.

The truth was more complicated. Ms Badroudine is married to Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, a Comorian; Ms Abdulrahman to a Kenyan called Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan. Both men are al-Qaida members accused of prominent roles in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

When the group crossed into Kenya at Kiunga, on Somalia's southern tip, Ms Ahmed thought she was safe. But Kenyan anti-terror police identified and detained Ms Badroudine and Ms Abdulrahman. The problem for Ms Ahmed and her husband, and dozens of others detained at the border at the same time, was that they too were presumed "guilty" of supporting the Islamists.

They were separated and repeatedly interrogated. Ms Ahmed slept on a floor in a cell with other arrested women and children. There was no water to wash.

After 10 days, she was flown to Nairobi. The aggressive questioning continued. One Kenyan interrogator asked if she was willing to separate from Salim. When she said no, he beat his fist on the table. "He wanted to make me admit that my husband was a member of al-Qaida," she said. "He said he would strangle me if I did not tell the truth."

She insists Salim had never had close contact with the SCIC in Mogadishu - or with al-Qaida members anywhere.

Though she had her Tanzanian passport with her, the police refused to acknowledge her nationality. Her husband, who had since also been flown to Nairobi, had his Kenyan passport and birth certificate, but was also documented as an "illegal immigrant".

Pressure was building on the Kenyan government to lay formal charges or release the prisoners. Kenya's Muslim Human Rights Forum filed an application to force the government to produce them in court. Instead, it produced three flight manifests. The first two were African Express charters to Mogadishu on January 20 and 27, one showing Ms Ahmed and her husband among the passengers. A third, operated by Blue Bird Aviation, had flown to Baidoa, Somalia's temporary capital, on February 10.

In Mogadishu, where insurgents were already beginning to ambush Ethiopian troops, Ms Ahmed was held in a tiny cell with about 20 other women and children, including a Swede, a Sudanese, and a pregnant Yemeni. After nine days, they were flown to Addis Ababa.

In the new jail, the prisoners were given mattresses, prayer mats, pizza and fruit. The Yemeni woman was taken to hospital to give birth. A doctor discovered Ms Ahmed was pregnant. She was spared more in-depth interrogation, but some of her cellmates were not so fortunate. "They told me the Americans were questioning them and wanted to know about their husbands," she said.


Her own experience with US agents was limited to being photographed, fingerprinted and supplying a saliva sample to a male investigator. And she was allowed a brief conversation with Salim, who said Americans had been questioning him. In Nairobi he had been told he was being held at the US's request.

The FBI has acknowledged having access to the prisoners in Ethiopia, but denies it was involved in the renditions.

"We are suspicious of allegations made by people deported from this country as undesirable elements," said a spokesman for the Kenyan government, who denied that the FBI had access to the prisoners in Kenya. "But if they feel any law has been broken they are welcome to file an official complaint."

On April 7 Ms Ahmed was put on a flight to Kilimanjaro. Her escort promised that her husband and the others would be released with a week.

It has now been 16 days.

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Abril 18, 2007

Europeans Critical of Rendition by U.S.

By DESMOND BUTLER Associated Press Writer

April 18,2007 | WASHINGTON -- Members of the European Parliament who were behind a critical report on CIA anti-terrorism tactics have been challenging Bush administration and congressional officials with their findings.

The delegation told a congressional panel Tuesday that a CIA practice of spiriting away terrorism suspects was illegal and scheduled a news conference Wednesday to discuss their findings.

The delegation, which includes members of a European Parliament civil liberties panel, briefed members of two House Foreign Affairs subcommittees during a hearing on renditions -- the practice of grabbing suspected terrorists in one country and delivering them to another.

The parliamentarians also responded to complaints by CIA Director Michael Hayden that their report had exaggerated greatly the extent of CIA renditions.

Carlo Fava, author of a committee report accusing Britain, Poland, Italy and other nations of colluding with the CIA to transport terror suspects to clandestine prisons in third countries, told the members of Congress that the parliament considers rendition "an illegal instrument used by the United States in the fight against terrorism," according to prepared testimony.

"For us as European parliamentarians, the very notion of 'rendition' or 'extradition' done outside the control of any judicial authority within the territory of the European Union is a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights," said Jonathan Evans, chairman of the European delegation.

Hayden privately made the case to European diplomats in Washington last month that the CIA renditions were an essential tool that had helped the United States and European countries fight international terror, according to a Western official familiar with Hayden's remarks.

During the luncheon, which was first described in The Washington Post, he said that the renditions carried out by the United States before and after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have all been "conducted within the law."

Moreover, the Western official who spoke about Hayden's comments said the CIA chief told the Europeans the renditions had occurred with the knowledge and many times the assistance of the countries where the suspects were seized. The official requested anonymity because Hayden's remarks were made to a private audience.

Sarah Ludford, vice chairwoman of the parliamentary committee, told the congressional panel that Hayden's claim about European involvement matched the findings of their investigation.

"We in fact agree with CIA director Michael Hayden, who is quoted in the press today complaining about the agency's critics in Europe," she said.

The parliament has condemned the collaboration of European governments and their attempts to hide their involvement.

Ludford said the committee had found that rendition was not only illegal but counterproductive because it undermines the cooperation of police and judicial bodies in fighting terror, among other reasons.

"Many of us are hugely inspired by the constitutional values of the United States and very troubled indeed at the great damage done to the reputation and credibility of the United States by the human rights breaches of the last five years and indeed of its effectiveness in counterterrorism," she said.


Associated Press Writer Katherine Shrader contributed to this report.

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Abril 17, 2007

Guantanamo Prisoner Issue Will Be Topic of Brooklyn College Discussion

by Brooklyn Eagle (edit@brooklyneagle.net), published online 04-16-2007

Granddaughter of Rosenbergs To Speak

BROOKLYN — On Wednesday, April 18 at 3:30 p.m., Brooklyn College will present “Disappeared in New York and Guantanamo: Arbitrary Detention and Torture Post 9-11,” the annual Konefsky Lecture given by Rachel Meeropol, staff lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights, in the Bedford Room, second floor of the Student Center.

Meeropol is the granddaughter of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and the daughter of Robert Meeropol. She has worked extensively on prisoner-rights issues following September 11, 2001 and is now seeking to provide legal representation for the detainees in Guantanamo, Cuba. She is co-author of “America’s Disappeared: Secret Imprisonment, Detainees, and the ‘War on Terror.’”

The Center for Constitutional Rights is a non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The annual lecture to be given by Meeropol is named for the late Samuel J. Konefsky, professor of political science at Brooklyn College for more than thirty-five years. Professor Konefsky was a major intellectual presence in the department and on campus beginning in the mid-1930s. He authored several critically acclaimed books, including “Chief Justice Stone and the Supreme Court” (1945) and “The Constitutional World of Mr. Justice Frankfurter” (1949).

Admission is free. For more information, please call (718) 951-5306. The lecture is sponsored by the Ethyle R. Wolfe Institute for the Humanities.

Brooklyn College is one of the eleven senior colleges of the City University of New York. The College ranks in the Top 10 nationally in Princeton Review’s 2006 guidebook, America’s Best Value Colleges. The Princeton Review’s 2003 edition of The Best 345 Colleges also named Brooklyn College the “Most Beautiful Campus” for its Georgian-style buildings and landscaped quadrangle.

© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2007

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Enero 31, 2007

La Justicia alemana emitió una orden de arresto contra 13 presuntos agentes de la CIA

Están acusados por el secuestro de un alemán de origen libanés al que supuestamente confundieron con un terrorista y mantuvieron detenido por cinco meses en Afganistán, donde también lo habrían torturado. Los pedidos de arresto no son válidos en Estados Unidos, pero los acusados pueden ser detenidos en Europa.

La Fiscalía de la ciudad alemana de Munich emitió una orden de arresto contra 13 presuntos agentes de la CIA estadounidense acusados de "privación de la libertad y graves lesiones corporales" por el caso de un ciudadano alemán de origen libanés que, supuestamente confundido con un terrorista, habría pasado cinco meses secuestrado ilegalmente en poder de la agencia norteamericana.

Según su propio testimonio, Jaled Al Masri fue detenido el 31 de diciembre de 2003 por la policía de Macedonia cuando ingresó a ese país desde Serbia y entregado semanas después a agentes de la Agencia Central de Inteligencia estadounidense que lo trasladaron a una cárcel afgana en la que fue torturado y donde permaneció prácticamente hasta su liberación el 28 de mayo de 2004 en Albania.

El caso está vinculado con las pesquisas en torno a los vuelos secretos que realizó la agencia norteamericana en Europa para el traslado de presuntos terroristas detenidos entre varios puntos del globo. El avión que según la investigación trasladó a Al Masri salió de Palma (España), pasó por Skopje (para recoger al detenido) y siguió hacia Bagdad, primero, y Kabul, después. La Fiscalía alemana cree que varios de los vuelos de la CIA salieron de Palma.

Hace más de un año, la Fiscalía recibió del abogado de Al Masri una lista con los nombres de 15 pasajeros y tripulantes del avión. La Policía española, que hizo un gran aporte a las pesquisas, tiene copia de los pasaportes de los acusados. Aunque se trata de documentos falsos, los investigadores, según medios alemanes, pudieron determinar la verdadera identidad de varios de ellos.

La cadena alemana NDR reveló que la mayoría de los imputados –presuntos agentes de la CIA- vive en el estado norteamericano de Carolina del Norte.

Aunque las órdenes de captura no tienen validez en Estados Unidos –cuya Justicia se negó a cooperar en las investigaciones-, los pedidos impedirían a los acusados viajar a Europa, donde sí pueden ser detenidos.

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Diciembre 8, 2006

Boeing Accused of Running Torture Travel Agency

By Rick Anderson, Seattle Weekly. Posted December 2, 2006.

A British author and an ex-prisoner's attorney say that records uncovered by Spanish investigators show Boeing has a direct role in "extreme renditions" -- planning and organizing the flights through a unit of its Seattle commercial airplane division.

Since 2003, human-rights investigators and news media reports have described a Boeing Business Jet as one of the most-dreaded planes in the Central Intelligence Agency's clandestine air force. The modified 737 -- a model rolled out in Renton in 2001 -- was built for executive fun and comfort. But it is alleged to be the flagship of the CIA's "extreme rendition" squadron, ferrying suspected terrorists to secret agency prisons or countries where the U.S. is said to outsource torture.

The use of this jet, with a 6,000-mile flying range and plush customized cabin, has until now been Boeing's only connection to the prison airlifts. But a British author and an ex-prisoner's attorney say that records uncovered by Spanish investigators show Boeing has a more direct role -- planning and organizing the flights through a unit of its Seattle commercial airplane division.

Boeing won't confirm or deny the claim. But the Spanish documents, and an investigation by Amnesty International and the Council of Europe, indicate Boeing was making arrangements for as many as 1,000 rendition flights through 14 countries by four CIA planes, including that notorious Boeing Business Jet.

"Travel agent for the CIA seems the right words," Stephen Grey says of Boeing's role. A British author, he has written about prisoner rendition and the CIA's global torture program in his new book, Ghost Plane, in which he has documented about 90 rendition flights.

The Bush administration has acknowledged transfers of Al Qaeda suspects to Guantánamo Bay but has denied the U.S. engages in torture-transfer flights. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in 2005 that the United States "does not use the airspace or the airports of any county" for such purposes. Senate Democrats, who take control in January, are promising a full investigation.

According to Grey and others, a wholly owned Boeing subsidiary called Jeppesen Inc. cleared the airways and runways for the CIA, providing landing and navigation assistance, scheduling flight crews, and booking hotels for them. Jeppesen is a unit of Boeing's Seattle-based Commercial Aviation Division.

The cargo of prisoners includes many who say they were tortured and others who claim to have been mistakenly abducted and abused. One detainee, Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese decent who is suing the CIA and aviation companies under the Alien Tort Statute for alleged Fifth Amendment (due process) violations, says he now plans to add Boeing to his lawsuit.

Masri "was injected with a drug and chained to the floor of the plane," says his attorney, Ben Wizner of the New York ACLU. "I don't think anybody would hold Boeing responsible for manufacturing the plane. However, the emergence of [Boeing's flight-assistance role] changes all that."

The prisoner flights, launched by the Clinton administration to transfer foreign suspects to trial in the United States, became a darker undertaking following 9/11. George W. Bush approved what critics say amounts to the kidnapping of foreign nationals, some flown to countries such as Morocco or Egypt, known for abusive interrogation techniques. Others were taken to a system of CIA prisons in Afghanistan and Europe, or the U.S. compound in Guantánamo, rights groups say.

In his book, Grey cites documents showing Boeing made travel arrangements for the CIA flights. He does not specifically name Boeing, but in a phone conversation last week with Seattle Weekly, Grey confirmed that Spanish government documents he obtained name Jeppesen's International Trip Planning unit as rendition flights planner.

Boeing bought the Denver-based company, then called Jeppesen Sanderson, in 2000 for $1.5 billion from the (Chicago) Tribune Co., whose mixed portfolio includes the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Cubs. John Hayhurst, then a Boeing vice president here, hailed Jeppesen as "another enduring global brand" for Boeing's business roster. Boeing later bought two related companies and expanded the Jeppesen unit, offering electronic mapping and navigation services to airline, general aviation, and government customers along with flight and trip planning.

Spain's largest newspaper, El Pais, last year reported that Jeppesen was named the CIA's flight arranger in investigative documents compiled by Spanish police. More recently, The New Yorker magazine noted the connection, reporting "it is not widely known that the [CIA] has turned to a division of Boeing, the publicly traded blue-chip behemoth, to handle many of the logistical and navigational details for these [rendition] trips."

On its Web site, Boeing boasts: "From Aachen to Zhengzhou, King Airs to 747s, Jeppesen has done it all."

But what, exactly, has it done? How deep is Boeing's involvement in the rendition flights? The company won't specifically say. From Chicago headquarters, Boeing spokesperson Tim Neale points out that flight planning is done for "thousands and thousands of customers each year. It's done on a confidential basis, and unless a customer authorizes us to comment, we can't."

He adds: "Jeppesen's flight planning process is to provide the route that is going to be followed, how much fuel is needed on board, where they will stop, and how many people will be on board, for weight reasons.

"We don't necessarily know very much about the purpose of a flight because that information isn't necessary to create a flight plan. What somebody's going to do when they get off is not part of that plan."

It's not publicly known how much Boeing, the nation's No. 2 defense contractor, earned from the flights. The CIA, a stand-alone agency, does not reveal its contracts and agency work can be billed through other government departments, including the Pentagon. Jeppesen has done $7.7 million in defense contracting since Boeing bought it in 2000, based on a review of Pentagon records.

Grey says he plans to soon post on the Internet "assorted aviation documents including Jeppesen planning data" that confirm Boeing's role (Update: Grey posted the flight logs recently at www.ghostplane.net.). The documents include, he says, a 2004 Boeing-arranged flight on the Boeing jet from Morocco through Spain and on to Afghanistan, which coincides with the Masri case.

Masri was mistaken as an Al Qaeda suspect and arrested by Macedonia officials on New Year's Eve 2003. In a Virginia federal lawsuit filed against ex-CIA Director George Tenet and others, Masri says he was "forcibly abducted" in Macedonia and handed over to U.S. officials. He was beaten, drugged, and eventually flown to a CIA prison in Afghanistan, he says. Five months after his abduction, the suit notes, "Mr. El-Masri was deposited at night, without explanation, on a hill in Albania" -- and that was two months after U.S. officials realized they made a mistake, the suit says.

The lawsuit was thrown out earlier this year, not because it lacked merit but because it could lead to disclosure of state secrets, a federal judge ruled. Masri is appealing and Wizner, his attorney, was scheduled to make his arguments this week before a Virginia appeals court.

"Obviously," says Wizner, "before we can add Boeing to the suit, we have to get it reinstated. It's a real hurdle -- the CIA is, in effect, claiming immunity, that they're never liable in such cases." He's buoyed by three federal court rulings in recent months that rejected similar government-secrets argument -- all of them cases involving challenges to warrantless eavesdropping authorized by President Bush.

"If the el-Masri suit can continue, we would try to develop evidence that people within Jeppesen were aware that detainees were being subjected to human rights abuses on these flights," Wizner says. "If we can show that, Boeing should by all rights be a defendant."


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Missing Presumed Tortured

By Stephen Grey
The New Statesman

Monday 20 November 200

More than 7,000 prisoners have been captured in America's war on terror. Just 700 ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Between extraordinary rendition to foreign jails and disappearance into the CIA's "black sites", what happened to the rest?

Sana'a, Yemen - By the gates of the Old City, Muhammad Bashmilah was walking, talking, and laughing in the crowd - behaving like a man without a care in the world. Bargaining with the spice traders and joking with passers-by; at last he was free.

A 33-year-old businessman, Bashmilah has an impish sense of humour; his eyes sparkled as he chatted about his country and the khat leaves that all the young men were chewing. But when I began my interview by asking for the story of his past three years, his mood shifted. His face narrowed, his eyes calmed, and he stared beyond me - as if looking directly into the nether world from which he had so recently emerged.
For 11 months, Bashmilah was held in one of the CIA's most secret prisons - its so-called "black sites" - so secret that he had no idea in which country, or even on which continent, he was being held. He was flown there, in chains and wearing a blindfold, from another jail in Afghanistan; his guards wore masks; and he was held in a 10ft by 13ft cell with two video cameras that watched his every move. He was shackled to the floor with a chain of 110 links.
From the times of evening prayer given to him by the guards, the cold winter temperatures, and the number of hours spent flying to this secret jail, he suspected that he was held somewhere in eastern Europe - but he could not be sure.

When he arrived at the prison, said Bashmilah, he was greeted by an interrogator with the words: "Welcome to your new home." He implied that Bashmilah would never be released. "I had gone there without any reason, without any proof, without any accusation," he said. His mental state collapsed and he went on hunger strike for ten days - until he was force-fed food through his nostrils. Finally released after months in detention without being charged with any crime, Bashmilah was one of the first prisoners to provide an inside account of the most secret part of the CIA's detention system.

On 6 September, President George W Bush finally confirmed the existence of secret CIA jails such as the one that held Bashmilah. He added something chilling - a declaration that there were now "no terrorists in the CIA programme", that the many prisoners held with Bashmilah were all gone. It was a statement that hinted at something very dark - that the United States has "disappeared" hundreds of prisoners to an uncertain fate.

Let's examine the arithmetic of this systematic disappearance. In the first years after the attacks of 11 September, thousands of Taliban or suspected terrorist suspects were captured. Just in Afghanistan, the US admitted processing more than 6,000 prisoners. Pakistan has said it handed over around 500 captives to the US; Iran said it sent 1,000 across the border to Afghanistan. Of all these, some were released and just over 700 ended up in Guantanamo, Cuba. But the simple act of subtraction shows that thousands are missing. More than five years after 9/11, where are they all? We know that many were rendered to foreign jails, both by the CIA and directly by the US military. But how many precisely? The answer is still classified. No audit of the fate of all these souls has ever been published.

Bush's Next Big Scandal

Since the publications of photographs from Abu Ghraib, the Bush administration has faced a string of scandals concerning its conduct of the war on terror: from abuses of prisoners by the US military, to the rendition of terrorist suspects to jails in places such as Egypt and Syria, where torture is routine, a process first described in the New Statesman in May 2004. International outrage, inquiries launched against CIA activities by prosecutors in Europe, as well as clear instructions from the US Supreme Court that, in its reaction to 9/11, Congress had not issued the president with a "blank cheque", have all challenged the administration's venture into what vice-president Dick Cheney called "the dark side" of warfare.

But if Bush hoped to appease his critics with his public acknowledgement of the CIA's secret programmes, and his promise to bring some of America's most important captives to an open military trial at Guantanamo, then he will be disappointed. After last week's midterm elections, the administration will face legislators more emboldened to probe its conduct. And the issue of disappearances - of the fate of the missing prisoners held by the CIA and the Pentagon - threatens to become the next big scandal.

It was in early 2002, when the camp at Guantanamo Bay was opening up, that I heard from a source close to the CIA that most of the media were missing the point. As cameras showed images of chained prisoners being wheeled across the base on trolleys, there was predictable outrage. But the source described these images as "the press release".

This was what Washington wanted the world to see. Beyond Cuba was a concealed network of prisons around the globe that were becoming home to thousands more prisoners. The CIA had its own secret facilities, but many more were held in jails run by foreign allies. There are some good operational reasons for keeping the arrest of suspected terrorists secret. Sometimes, in the short term, deception makes good tactical sense; staying quiet about an arrest may keep the enemy guessing. Sometimes it can be for diplomatic reasons: secrecy may help to persuade countries such as Egypt to accept a prisoner.

But why is it so sensitive to confirm what happened to these prisoners, to detail how many were transferred where and when? Why should a country receiving prisoners be so embarrassed? And why - when countries such as Egypt have come clean and said "yes, we received 70 to 80 prisoners rendered by the United States" - will the United States itself not confirm what it did? Despite admitting, in general, that the CIA carries out renditions, the US has yet to own up to a single specific case of transferring a prisoner to foreign custody.

The explanation for the secrecy is one that most of the CIA officers involved in rendition will quite freely admit - a transfer to places such as Egypt or Uzbekistan (a country known for boiling prisoners alive) will inevitably involve torture. And knowingly sending a prisoner to face torture is, under both US and international law, an illegal act. Revealing the fate of the missing prisoners may be just too politically embarrassing.

Justifying War With Torture

One of those "disappeared", for example, is the former al- Qaeda camp commander Ibn-al Shaykh al-Libi, who was captured in late 2001. Al-Libi was first interrogated by the FBI but, according to those involved, he was then snatched by the CIA and rendered to Cairo. It was while he was under Egyptian interrogation that al-Libi provided an important piece of "testimony": that Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship with al-Qaeda. It was an erroneous claim, since formally withdrawn by the CIA, but was used as part of the justification for the war in Iraq. Al-Libi's anonymous testimony was cited by Colin Powell before the United Nations. But no one mentioned where the intelligence came from.

After his interrogation in Egypt, al-Libi was sent back to US custody in Afghanistan. But now he has disappeared. Perhaps he has been sent to Libya? He is certainly a more important prisoner than the vast majority at Guantanamo. Yet sending al-Libi to the Cuban camp, put ting him on public trial and allowing him to tell his story would be a political disaster. So he remains hidden.
Other key prisoners are missing too - others whose stories would shock the public conscience. The US, for example, has never acknowledged what it did with German citizen Mohammed Haydar Zammar. He was captured in December 2001, one of the first in custody who was connected to the Hamburg cell that carried out the 9/11 attacks. And, again, instead of being held in US hands, he was rendered in secret to Damascus. He has never been brought to a public trial or had any chance to reveal how he was treated.

The cases of al-Libi and Zammar, who according to fellow prisoners in Syria was brutally tortured, illustrate the corrosive effect of the policy of disappearance. While the secrecy may protect the US from legal jeopardy and from political embarrassment, it also makes the threat of torture self-fulfilling. If you send a prisoner to Damascus, Tripoli or Tashkent, how can you hope to protect that prisoner - to ensure a fair trial or see that he stays alive - if you keep that rendition quiet? Secrecy protects the torturer; and it denies those innocent, those wrongly accused of crimes of terrorism and caught up in these renditions, any chance of justice.
Last month, Bush signed into law his new Military Commissions Act, which provides for the trial at Guantanamo of top al-Qaeda leaders. The act grants fewer rights to defendants than the Nazis got at Nuremberg. And yet, in this strange world, the rights now granted to men such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man who devised the 9/11 attack and who will now be brought to trial, still rank far higher than the rights of the small fry, those much less significant players behind bars in foreign jails. In this new justice, the big terrorists are granted privileges, and the other missing prisoners, subtracted from the public record, are disappeared off the face of the earth. That's the mathematics of torture.

14 European countries admit allowing the CIA to run secret prisons or carry out renditions on their territory

7,000+ prisoners have been captured in America's war on terror

450 prisoners are thought to be held at Guantanamo
10 prisoners at Guantanamo have been convicted

40 countries have citizens held in Guantanamo
$18,000 was spent by two alleged CIA agents at the Milan-Savoy hotel during an illegal rendition operation in Italy

Stephen Grey is the author of Ghost Plane: the inside story of the CIA's secret rendition programme published by C Hurst & Co (£16.95)
Research by Maria Stella.

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