Friday, December 16, 2005

CIA scandal raises level of terrorist threat in Poland

When the Polish prime minister ordered an enquiry into the allegations of secret CIA torture sites in Poland last week, because he thought claims by Human Rights Watch and others “put Poland in danger”, was he thinking about possible terrorist attacks?

A report from the Polish Center of Strategic Studies and Forecasts appears to agree with him. Ryszard Machnikowski, head of the think-tank, thinks that the speculation of ‘black site prisons’ in northeast Poland has risen the level of threat from ‘radical Islamist suicide bombers’.

If so then I hope al-Qaeda doesn’t read the German Stern magazine. This week it published the most detailed ‘evidence’ of CIA camps near the northeastern town Stare Kiejkuty in the Mazuria lakes district, popular with millions of tourists.

The magazine describes a Polish military base with an ‘inner zone’ that even regular Polish officers don’t have access to.

The 100-metre by 50metre wide ‘zone’ has a three metre high barbed wire fence around it, and has had prisoners there until as recently as last month, when they were moved on to camps in Northern Africa.

Earlier this week, the Council of Europe said that the claims of secret CIA camps in Poland were ‘credible’.

In a belated attempt to stem the speculation, Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz has launched an investigation to be concluded before Christmas.

But Poland's former intelligence chief, Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, has again denied the claims. He says that just because CIA operatives have been coming and going in Poland – and he says thet there have been only around 10 landings of CIA leased plans in Poland, as opposed to over 450 in Germany - does not mean that they are bringing terrorist suspects with them. Their duties include training Polish officers, apparently. Which is feasible.

But could it be that Polish, and other Secret Services in Europe, are out of control? When Polish politicians deny the existence of camps in Poland could it be that they are telling the truth, and have no clue what is going on within their borders?

The Polish Intelligence services always was the most autonomous in the Soviet bloc. And after Poland democratized in the late nineteen eighties they kept that level of control. Since then a series of scandals involving ex-communist politicians have caused many people to assume that Polish spooks still have links with the past and are unaccountable.

One of the first things that the new, conservative PiS-led government did when it was elected this autumn was to sack the entire top level of the service.

If any real, concrete evidence of the camps does turn up – and we are still relying on circumstance and mysterious ‘inside sources' for that evidence - with gross abuses of human rights going on behind the barbered wire fence, then expect PM Marcinkiewicz to be pointing the blame at officers like Zbigniew Siemaitowski and his connections with the ex-communist opposition.


Bicyclemark said...

So i guess these investigations would consist mainly of people walking around looking for prisons and knocking on doors. "hello.. is this a secret prison? No? well have a nice day."

beatroot said...

Yeah, I love the idea of going 'looking for secret prisons'. They will be literally leaving no stone unturned, just in case they find one under there.

The report is out very soon so we will see that planes did land here and that a few people werer kept for a while...and that will be it, officially.