Poland and Lithuania Haunted by Their Involvement in Hosting CIA Torture Prisons


In the long search for accountability for the torturers of the Bush administration, which has largely been shut down by President Obama, lawyers and human rights activists have either had to try shaming the US through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, or have had to focus on other countries, particularly those that hosted secret CIA torture prisons, or had explicit involvement in extraordinary rendition.

Successes have been rare, but hugely important — the conviction of CIA officials and operatives in Italy, for the blatant daylight kidnap of Abu Omar, a cleric, on a street in Milan in February 2003, and the court victory in Macedonia of Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen kidnapped in Macedonia, where he had gone on a holiday, and sent to a CIA “black site” in 2003 until the US realized that his was a case of mistaken identity. In the UK, the whiff of complicity in torture at the highest levels of the Blair government led to pay-offs for the British nationals and residents sent to Guantánamo.

Court cases were also launched in Spain, although they were suppressed, in part because of US involvement (under President Obama), and currently there are efforts to hold the US accountable before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights for its use of Djibouti in a number of cases involving “extraordinary rendition” and “black sites.”

Perhaps the most enduring of the ongoing investigations is in Poland, one of three European countries that hosted CIA “black sites,” the others being Romania and Lithuania. A long-running prosecutor-led investigation in Poland has led to three “high-value detainees” at the Polish site, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Abu Zubaydah and Walid bin Attash — being granted victim status, and the prison’s existence continues to nag at the consciences of those in Poland who are appalled that a torture site on Polish soil — at Stare Kiejkuty, in the north east of the country — was used from December 2002 to September 2003, and was the place where Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times.

In December, the determination of those seeking accountability paid off when the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg held a hearing to examine the role of the Polish authorities in the extraordinary rendition, secret detention and torture of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. A ruling on that is expected sometime this year.

New information about the “black site” in Poland

Reporters too keep digging away at the story, and the latest is Adam Goldman of the Washington Post. In “The hidden history of the CIA’s prison in Poland,” published on January 23, Goldman reported that former CIA officials, speaking anonymously, had told him that, early in 2003, the US had paid the Polish government $15 million for the use of Stare Kiejkuty, which “had been flown from Germany via diplomatic pouch,” was packed in “a pair of large cardboard boxes,” and was picked up from the US Embassy in Warsaw by two CIA officials, who then took the boxes to the headquarters of the Polish intelligence service (Agencja Wywiadu), where, as Goldman reported, they “were met by Col. ­Andrzej Derlatka, deputy chief of the intelligence service, and two of his associates.”

Goldman proceeded to recap how Poland became the location for a “black site,” explaining how, after the capture in Faisalabad, Pakistan of Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, better known as Abu Zubaydah (or Zubaida), on March 28, 2002, the CIA “needed a place to stash its first ‘high-value’ detainee.” Goldman also described Zubaydah as “a man who was thought to be closely tied to the al-Qaeda leadership and might know of follow-on plots,” but this is being generous to the CIA and the Bush administration, as there were certainly some within America’s intelligence apparatus who knew this not to be true.

Nevertheless, the US sought a place where Zubaydah could be interrogated away from prying eyes — a torture prison far from the US mainland, in other words. Goldman wrote that Cambodia and Thailand “offered to help,” but Cambodia “turned out to be the less desirable of the two.” Agency officers told their bosses that the proposed site was “infested with snakes,” so Thailand was chosen instead. Months later, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, suspected of involvement in the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, was taken to the site about an hour’s drive from Bangkok.

With more “high-value detainees” expected, a former senior agency official told Goldman that a more suitable location was required. “It was just a chicken coop we remodeled,” the official said. When the CIA “reached out to foreign intelligence services,” Poland responded. The Polish intelligence service, Goldman wrote, “had a training base with a villa that the CIA could use in Stare Kiejkuty, a three-hour drive north of Warsaw.” He added, “Polish officials asked whether the CIA could make some improvements to the facility. The CIA obliged, paying nearly $300,000 to outfit it with security cameras.”

Even so, the building was “not spacious.” It was a two-storey villa, but it could only hold a handful of prisoners. To create more space, a “large shed behind the house” was also “converted into a cell.”  The agency official told Goldman, “It was pretty spartan,” and also explained that there was an additional room where cooperative prisoners “could ride a stationary bike or use a treadmill.”

Al-Nashiri and Zubaydah were flown to the Polish site, code-named “Quartz,” on December 5, 2002. Five days later, Goldman wrote, “an e-mail went out to agency employees that the interrogation program was up and running, and under the supervision of the Special Missions Department of the Counterterrorism Center (CTC). Officials then began shutting down the prison in Thailand, eliminating all traces of the CIA presence.”

Goldman also noted that former CIA officials told him that Mike Sealy, a senior intelligence officer, was appointed to run the site. He was described as a ‘program manager’ and was briefed on the torture program developed by the CIA and approved by Jay S. Bybee of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in the “torture memos” written by John Yoo.

With the usual careful language of the mainstream media, Goldman refused to describe the torture program honestly, instead calling it “an escalating series of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ that were formulated at the CIA and approved by Justice Department lawyers,” which “included slapping, sleep deprivation and waterboarding, a technique that involved pouring water over the shrouded face of the detainee and creating the sensation of drowning” — more accurate, as ever, would be to describe it as a form of controlled drowning that the torturers of the Spanish Inquisition at least had the honesty to describe as “tortura del agua.”

Sealy apparently “oversaw about half a dozen or so special protective officers whom the CIA had sent to provide security,” although “the number of analysts and officers varied.” Goldman added that Polish officials “could visit a common area where lunch was served, but they didn’t have access to the detainees.”

Describing “problems in the implementation of the interrogation protocols,” Goldman wrote that CIA officials “clashed over the importance of Nashiri’s alleged role in the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.” A former official said, “He was an idiot. He couldn’t read or comprehend a comic book,” rather undermining the case being made at Guantánamo by prosecutors in his trial by military commission. As Goldman explained, however, other CTC officials thought otherwise — that he “was a key al-Qaeda figure and was withholding information.”

Two former US intelligence officials told Goldman that there was “a tense meeting in December 2002,” at which senior CIA officials “decided that they needed to get tougher with him,” and sent in Albert El-Gamil, “a CIA linguist who had once worked for the FBI in New York.” El-Gamil, as Goldman explained, “was of Egyptian descent and spoke Arabic fluently, but he was not a trained interrogator,” and it was he who, notoriously, “subjected Nashiri to a mock execution” and put a drill to his head while he was blindfolded, events recorded in the CIA Inspector General’s 2004 report into detention and interrogations.

Goldman noted that senior CIA officials only found out about these abusive episodes in January 2003, via a security guard. Sealy and El-Gamil were then taken out of Poland and dismissed from the program, leaving the CIA soon after, according to several officials.

In his article, Goldman also reported what happened to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after his capture in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in March 2003. After being flown to Poland, he apparently “proved difficult to break, even when water­boarded,” according to several former CIA officials who spoke to Goldman, who also reported that KSM “would count off the seconds, between 20 and 40, knowing that the simulated drowning always ended within a certain period.”

One official told Goldman that, on one occasion, KSM “fell asleep on the waterboard between sessions,” while other officials “stated that he finally crumbled after extended sleep deprivation,” which sounds likely, as prolonged sleep deprivation is horrendous, although how useful his information was remains questionable.

Goldman also reported that KSM’s ego allowed his interrogators to secure information, which may well be true — although it may be that it would have been even easier getting him to talk without the torture, through proper, detailed rapport-building. As Goldman described it, “He liked to lecture the CIA officers, who would then steer the conversations in ways that benefited them,” and he also “liked to joust with his inquisitors.”

Goldman’s sources also told him that Abu Zubaydah “provided important information to his interrogators.” He apparently “identified people in photographs and gave what one official called ‘hundreds of data points,'” although, again, how reliable that information was is open to question. Abu Zubaydah’s identifications of people from photographs litter the classified military files from Guantánamo, which were released by Wikileaks in 2011, but they are, in general, both vague and unreliable. As the Washington Post explained in March 2009, “not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu [Zubaydah]’s tortured confessions.” The Post added that, according to former senior government officials, “Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu [Zubaydah] — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was obtained before waterboarding was introduced.”

Officials also told Goldman that Abu Zubaydah “was even willing to help get new detainees to talk,” and a former official said that he stated, “Allah knows I am only human and knows that I will be forgiven.”

Goldman also noted that former officials involved in the torture program — Jose Rodriguez, the CIA’s former deputy director of operations, for example — have said that it produced “dramatic positive results,” although he noted that the Senate Intelligence Committee “intends to challenge such assertions” when — if — its 6,000-page report on the torture program, which was completed over a year ago, but has not yet seen the light of day, even in a severely redacted form, is made public. He quoted Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the committee, stating that the report provides “a detailed, factual description of how interrogation techniques were used, the conditions under which detainees were held, and the intelligence that was — or wasn’t — gained from the program.”

According to Goldman, the committee “intends to release portions” of its report in the not too distant future.

Goldman’s article concluded with him noting that the CIA eventually had to leave Poland, “fearing that maintaining one location for too long risked exposure” — a sure sign that senior officials knew that what they were doing was wrong, however much John Yoo and Jay Bybee had tried to pretend it wasn’t. When it closed in September 2003, Goldman reported that the CIA “scattered detainees to Romania, Morocco and, later, Lithuania,” and added, “Looking for a long-term solution, the CIA paid the Moroccans $20 million to build a prison it never used that was code-named ‘Bombay.'” Curiously, he fails to mention “Strawberry Fields,” the facility within Guantánamo (exposed in 2010 by Matt Apuzzo and Goldman himself, when he was working for the Associated Press), where at least some of the “high-value detainees” were sent from September 2003 to March 2004, when they were flown out again. This was because the Bush administration had realized that, via Rasul v. Bush (the prisoners’ habeas corpus case decided in June 2004), the Supreme Court was going to allow lawyers into the prison.

He added that the “black sites” in Romania and Lithuania were closed before Porter Goss stepped down as CIA director in May 2006, with some prisoners “sent to a Moroccan jail that had been previously used,” while others “were sent to a new CIA prison in Kabul called ‘Fernando,'” which had replaced the notorious “Salt Pit,” and he also notes that it was from these locations that the 14 “high-value detainees” were flown to Guantánamo in September 2006.

Senior Polish ex-intelligence official calls for transparency on “black site”

Adam Goldman’s article prompted Marek Siwiec, the head of Poland’s National Security Bureau from 1997 to 2004, including the years when the “black site” was open, to call for a “Commission of Public Trust” to be established to “expose what happened in Poland,” as Reuters described it.

Siwiec, who is now with the European Parliament, told Reuters, “The poor truth is better than a perfect lie. At this moment we have a number of poor lies and this creates a situation that I think should be changed. We have the position of common sense, the majority of people, who say: ‘Of course there was something, whatever it was.'”

He made it clear that he “had not been informed of any decision to let the CIA run a jail in Poland at that time, when he was a security adviser to then-president Aleksander Kwasniewski,” but as Reuters explained, “his call for a full investigation is the closest any senior Polish intelligence official, past or present, has come to acknowledging Poland has a case to answer on the matter.” He added that a commission “could unearth the truth, find out why it happened without apportioning blame to individuals, and of course the conclusions should be: Never again.”

As Reuters explained, “If any state officially acknowledges a role — and activists say Poland is the most likely to do so — that could lead to prosecutions of officials and to governments being forced to reveal details of sensitive dealings with US intelligence.”

Siwiec is one of several Polish officials, including then-president Kwasniewski, who were identified by Dick Marty in his 2007 Council of Europe report as officials who, as Reuters put it, “may be held accountable for knowing about or authorizing a CIA jail,” although they have all denied the allegations. Siwiec, in fact, sued Marty for claiming he had known about the “black site,” and the lawsuit was only dropped when Marty claimed parliamentary immunity.

As Reuters explained, the situation is difficult because, under Polish and international laws regarding torture and illegal detention, “anybody who knew about or authorised a CIA jail in Poland could be prosecuted — a factor that may discourage people who were involved from discussing candidly what happened.”

That, of course, is a problem that is not unique to Poland, of course, and which adds to the difficulties of securing accountability for America’s torture program in any country that may have been at all implicated (even to the extent of intelligence sharing, or turning a blind eye while rendition flights passed through their airspace or used their airports). However, when speaking about Adam Goldman’s article, Marek Siwiec called the information “credible,” but made a point of adding that Poland “should not leave to others to reveal what happened on its soil.”

Lithuanian court allows investigation on behalf of “high-value detainee” 

Mustafa al-Hawsawi.In further good news, a court in Lithuania has given another “high-value detainee,” Mustafa al-Hawsawi (one of the 14 sent to Guantánamo in September 2006), the right to “an investigation into his alleged torture in a secret CIA detention centre in the country,” as Amnesty International described it in a news release. Al-Hawsawi was seized in Pakistan in 2003, and investigations into his case indicate that he was rendered to a CIA torture prison in the village of Antaviliai, in Lithuania, for some time between September 2004 and September 2006, although al-Hawsawi himself has not been able to speak publicly about his experiences.

The case was brought by REDRESS, the London-based organization that works with victims of torture, along with the Lithuanian organization Human Rights Monitoring Institute, and as Sarah Fulton of REDRESS explained to me, because of the issues around classification, REDRESS brought the complaint drawing on their own analysis of where it is likely that he was held, using only public sources. Representatives of REDRESS were not allowed access to him, and those who have — military and civilian defense lawyers in the US — aren’t allowed to report anything he has said, an unacceptable state of total secrecy that applies to all the “high-value detainees” in Guantánamo. REDRESS’s page on al-Hawsawi’s case is here, and see here for their press release about the decision.

Amnesty International described the Lithuanian decision as “a breakthrough for justice,” after years of stonewalling by the Lithuanian government, and Julia Hall, Amnesty’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights, stated, “The court’s decision in the case of Mustafa al-Hawsawi is a real victory in the pursuit of accountability for Lithuania’s alleged complicity in the CIA rendition and secret detention programmes. The Lithuanian court has set an example for all of Europe and the USA by upholding the rule of law and recognizing that victims of torture and enforced disappearance at the hands of the CIA and European agents have an absolute right to a thorough investigation.”

She added, “The Lithuanian government and Prosecutor General must now open a full and effective investigation into Mustafa al-Hawsawi’s claims and ensure that any other individuals who have alleged that they were held in secret CIA detention there are afforded the same right.”

The Regional Court in Vilnius ruled that Mustafa al-Hawsawi’s claims “involved violations under the Lithuanian Constitution and international agreements and that he had a right to a full investigation,” adding that the previous refusal to investigate, made by the Prosecutor General in October 2013, had been “groundless.” A lower court had upheld that decision, but this new ruling paves the way for a new investigation.

Amnesty International also noted that the Prosecutor General had refused to initiate an investigation into the case of Abu Zubaydah, who was held in Lithuania after Poland, and stated that any new investigation in Lithuania should include him too.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the four-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

27 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Julia Hall wrote:

    Thanks for covering the Lithuania story, Andy. There was virtually nothing in the English speaking press/media on it, which is odd. It is such an important court decision: the first time that a domestic court (as opposed to the European Court of Human Rights, which is a supranational, regional court) in an EU member state has ruled that the people held in secret CIA detention have an absolute right to a full and effective investigation. Trying to drum some interest in this story, but the most a few have done on this side is tweeted our release! You are consistent and dogged and I am so grateful!

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks to everyone who has been liking and sharing this. It’s always reassuring when there is movement regarding accountability for torture, although as Julia Hall mentions above, there was virtually nothing in the English speaking media about the court ruling in Lithuania, even though it is the first time that a domestic court in an EU member state has ruled that the people held in secret CIA detention have an absolute right to a full and effective investigation.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Julia. I believe you should also be credited as consistent and dogged, especially in the face of such disgraceful indifference from the media. I’m frankly rather appalled that no English language media have picked up on it.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Afifah Kuddah wrote:

    Excellent article and here’s hoping that one day truth will be the common currency amongst people and not falsehood and lies…

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Wouldn’t that be a good world, Afifah? Unfortunately, I find most of the people in positions of power and authority and wealth these days to be sorely lacking in principles. Lying and spin and a horrendous sense of entitlement seem to be their chief preoccupations …

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Dave Colding wrote:

    Thank you andy for your articles, interviews, and for me, the eye-opener, “The Guantanamo Files.”

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Dave. You’ve made my day! Thanks for the wonderfully supportive words, and I’m very pleased that you find my book so compelling!

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    London Guantánamo Campaign wrote:

    Good article, one of the reasons investigations are important is to make rendition – which is still ongoing – not ongoing in Europe, which is one of the things we campaign on. There is proof that European states are still involved though 🙁

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, London Guantánamo Campaign, for the comments and the link to the article. At least we in Europe can keep pushing for accountability, whatever happens – or doesn’t happen – in the US, although it’s hugely important, of course, for the 6,000-page torture report to be issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee under the leadership of Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Regina Kaniewski wrote:

    VERY disappointing and disturbing

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Margaret Heller wrote:


  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Regina and Margaret, for your comments, and for your interest in this ongoing disgrace.

  13. Anna says...

    Hi Andy,

    Goldman may have used politically correct language insead of calling torture by its name, but if that was the price to pay for the printing of his article, his ‘sin’ herewith is forgiven (by me at least) :-).

    His article has had tremendous impact in Polish media, Senator Pinior apparently is on radio and TV all the time (and so was Goldman himself for a while), even ex-prime minister Miller on whose watch the prison was established suddenly does not deny its existence anymore, he’s now concentrating on shifting the blame on the president of that period, Aleksander Kwaśniewski.

    The prosecutors in Cracow have finally ‘admitted’ that charges have been levelled against a former civil servant, without mentioning him by name, but it’s quite safe to guess it’s Siemiatkowski, as that name was already mentioned some two years ago.

    The 15 million bribe apparently appealed to the imagination of both public and press and as far as I can tell from afar, Goldman’s article may well turn out to have been the unexpected point of no return to the previous rhetoric of total denial. May he continue to do his good deeds in peace!

    Coupled with the Lithuanian positive reversal and potential competition between the two countries (whose relationship has been plagued by mistrust over the last few years) in wanting to be the most democratic one of the two, this suddenly offers some positive news :-). Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Oh, that’s great news, Anna, about the impact Adam Goldman’s story has had in Poland. I’m glad the 15 million struck a chord with the Polish people. It’s the first time, I think, that we’ve exlicitly had a price tag put on complicity in torture. How disgusting …
    And I’m with you about finding forgiveness for the language used in the article. I certainly didn’t mean to take anything away from Adam Goldman, who has been digging away at this story for years, first with the Associated Press and now with the Washington Post – but I find that I can longer put up with the editors who refuse to call torture what it is. As I sometimes explain, in New York Times-speak, to these people waterboarding is not torture, but “an enhanced interrogation technique that some human rights advocates describe as torture.”

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Neil Mckenna wrote:

    Thanks for the article, as ever, Andy. The Lithuanian court decision is encouraging, no?

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, it certainly is, Neil. I wasn’t expecting it. I thought Lithuania had figured out how to shut the door on it all, like Romania.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Neil Mckenna wrote:

    I can only hope a precedent’s set – that some of those those involved in rendition in Romania will want to right the wrongs and start talking as in Lithuania and Poland …

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    I’m told (by my friend Anna, at 13, above) that Adam Goldman’s revelations have stirred up a hornet’s nest in Poland, Neil, and senior figures are aware that blanket denials are no longer tenable. Apparently the equivalent of Judas’s 30 pieces of silver – the $15 million the Polish government took in payment from the US – has struck a chord with the Polish people.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Neil Mckenna wrote:

    $15 million? Bloody hell, state terror sure comes cheap in some circumstances

    I hope that Siwiec discloses more, that others in Poland follow …

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    For full details, Neil, check the comment by Anna.
    I agree re: $15m – it doesn’t seem much for what was at stake. So now we know the cost of a moral compass …

  21. Anna says...

    Hi Andy, I absolutely share your horror with the mainstream press’s political incorrectness, refusing to call a horse a horse and know you did not mean to criticise Goldman for complying with this which probably was the price for being printed at all.
    Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised at all, if it were some editor who changed this without asking his permission.

    Amazingly, even that phenomenon seems to be shifting in Polish press in the sense that finally they start writing about ‘presumed terrorists’ or ‘persons suspected/accused of terrorism’ rather than the usual ‘terrorists’. These may seem minor changes but I think they are indicative of a change in perception and appraisal of the whole matter of the ‘war on terror’ maybe not being quite what US propaganda suggests it is.

    Here’s a Polish interview with Goldman, with a Polish voice-over, but you might be able to catch the original in the background:
    ‘He’s the one who wrote about the CIA prison in Poland’, a tell-tale title.

    And for those who like a little dose of what Germans call “Schadenfreude”, US defense minister Hagel just visited Poland (to discuss military cooperation, but who knows, maybe also how to keep the lid on the Kiejkuty pressure cooker, as thanks to Snowden even Obama now knows that only a personal meeting might assure any secrecy at all).

    He also visited the ancestral village of his great grandparents, but Poland apparently is iced over, the winter finally struck.
    The village authorities only sanded the route to this house, not the rest …
    The first victim was a cameraman who went down (no harm to him or camera), then two US embassy officials and others followed. Apparently a US embassy lady on black -very- high heels managed to remain vertical. The comments section under the newspaper article was heartwarming … No offense, but once in a while one does need to see at least a part of the empire go down on their bum, if I may say so … :-).

    By the way, the 15 million, awful as they are, apparently went to the secret service not the Polish government as such and of course now, many would like to know where it went … So that also can be expected to keep the subject alive. Never thought I would ever be gratefull for evidence of corruption -excuse me, payment for services by a friendly coalition partner. But here we are, it eventually did serve an excellent purpose: an outcry for accountability and transparency, even if it is for the wrong reasons.

  22. anna says...

    Bet that Siwiec wouldn’t have disclosed anything, were it not for the 15 million bombshell. Just a few days ago he was still concentrating on making sure he himself would not be blamed. EP elections are coming up, that also may have contributed to his otherwise very laudable initiative. Finally Senator Pinior is not alone anymore and no one can accuse him anymore of inventing his claims, after he was publically ridiculed and called names by ex prime minister Miller. Now the joke is on the latter, sometimes there is a measure of justice, although of course the battle is far from won.

    What is sad for all of us, is that the real issue -the horrid violation of the most basic human rights- plays virtually no part in all this. However, sometimes we have to settle for poor means to reach the ultimate objective: a minimum of justice for the victims, official acknowledgment of their suffering. For me, punishing the perpetrators is secondary, although of course also vital if our democracies are to retain any of their principles.

    I think we can expect more tongues to loosen up, now that threatening witnesses, including villagers near Stare Kiejkuty, has become ridiculous. Who knows, some might now be willing to speak openly, become a TV celebrity of sorts …

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Anna, for the detailed updates. I hope to hear more from you as the story continues to unfold. I am extremely glad that Josef Pinior – who I was delighted to meet with you three years ago – is being vindicated. Of course, it has been obvious – for eight years – to anyone closely studying the crimes of the “war on terror” that there had been a secret CIA torture prison in Poland. That became clear in December 2005, when the Washington Post and Human Rights Watch broke the stories about the European prisons, but, as we now realize, it has taken that long for the evidence to become so compelling that people can no longer content themselves with thinking that “our” governments don’t do this sort of thing. I am sometimes amazed at how enduring are the notions that “we” are the good guys, who can do no wrong, and that, if we do, it’s only because we’ve been under a lot of pressure – that being a paraphrase of the conclusion, four years ago, of the US Justice Department’s ethics investigation into the behavior of John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee, who wrote and approved the “torture memos’ in 2002. The original conclusion, you’ll recall, was that Yoo and Bybee had been guilty of “professional misconduct,” which would have allowed sanctions to be applied to them – thereby, possibly, opening a can of worms regarding the torture program – but a veteran DoJ fixer was allowed to rewrite the conclusion, instead deciding that they had only exercised “poor judgement,” because of the pressure everyone was under after 9/11. (Also see my article, “What Torture Is, and Why It’s Illegal and Not ‘Poor Judgment’
    What is Article 2.2 of the UN Convention Against Torture, again? Oh yes: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

  24. arcticredriver says...

    Thanks Andy for another long and detailed coverage of horrible cruelty and incompetence on the part of the Military Intelligence Complex tm that has reduced public safety.

    Goldman also noted that former officials involved in the torture program — Jose Rodriguez, the CIA’s former deputy director of operations, for example — have said that it produced “dramatic positive results,”

    Rodriguez may be taking a leaf from Dick Cheney’s playbook. He may be refusing to acknowledge when events have caught up with his misconceptions and exposed them as falsehoods. As the senior CIA officer in charge of the torture program wouldn’t he have been responsible for the tortured confessions from Ibn Al Sheikh Al Libi — that Iraq sent trainers to show al Qaeda fighters how to use Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in terror attacks against the USA and other western nations?

    Well, events caught up with him, and if he had an ounce of loyalty to the USA, he would have to acknowledge there had not been even a grain of truth to this result. Dick Cheney continues to claim there was proof Mohammed Atta traveled to Prague to meet with Iraqi secret agents — even though his bank’s ATMs snapshot cameras show that he used his ATM at the same time Cheney repeated the claim he was in Prague. It sounds to me as if war criminal Rodriguez’s claim of “dramatic positive results,” similarly relies of refusing to recognize the evidence that the CIA’s torture of Al Libi eventually broke him so he would confess to anything.

    I believe it would be in the USA’s best interests, the best interests of public safety around the world, if Jose Rodriguez were also to face war crimes charges — following a real investigation, with no cover-ups, and no damaging information suppressed on bogus claims of national security.

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, arcticredriver. Yes, it’s rather depressing, isn’t it, how much people like Cheney and Rodriguez get away with their unsubstantiated claims for the success of their illegal and counter-productive endeavors. It’s another reason why we need to see the 6,000-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on the efficacy – or lack of it – of the torture program.

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    […] house raid in Faisalabad, Pakistan, on the same night that another house raid led to the capture of Abu Zubaydah, who was mistakenly identified as a senior figure in al-Qaeda, and for whom the CIA’s torture […]

  27. The Guantanamo Experiment & A Collective Test of Human(e) Traits | THE YIN FACTOR says...

    […] raid in Faisalabad, Pakistan, on the same night that another house raid led to the capture of Abu Zubaydah, who was mistakenly identified as a senior figure in al-Qaeda, and for whom the CIA’s torture […]

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion

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Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo


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