Wednesday, June 07, 2006

There were secret CIA prisons in Poland (updated)

That’s the conclusion of a seven month long investigation by the Council of Europe. But the evidence remains weak and the report is just a rehash of old material.

The BBC has seen advanced copies of a report by Swiss MP Dick Marty:

The report is quoted as saying: "It is now clear - although we are still far from having established the truth - that authorities in several European countries actively participated with the CIA in these unlawful activities."

Countries such as Spain, Turkey, Britain, Germany and Cyprus provided "staging posts" for rendition operations, says the report.

Mr Marty is said to have concluded that the "spider's web" of US rendition flights is based on an "utterly alien" approach that breaches human rights.
The most serious charges are reportedly levelled at Poland and Romania, where Mr Marty says there is enough evidence to support suspicions that CIA secret prisons were established.

The evidence, that has been made public anyway, is based on flight logs showing that planes did indeed touch down in northern Poland, but little else.

I argued last year that the view that Poland was the site of ‘gulags’ – one journalists last year even went as far as to call them the ‘US Auschwitz’ - was based on stereotypes of central Europe, not reality.

The original report, by Human Rights Watch singled out Poland and Romania as the site of prisons where terrorist suspects were tortured.

HRW’s evidence seems to be based, only, on the flight logs of CIA aircraft from 2001 to 2004. "The indications are that prisoners in Afghanistan are being (taken) to facilities in Europe and other countries in the world," HRW’s Mark Garlasco, a former civilian intelligence officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency, told AP.

He said that in September 2003, a Boeing 737 flew from Washington to Kabul, Afghanistan, making stops along the way in the Czech Republic and Uzbekistan. On Sept. 22, the plane flew on to Szymany Airfield in Poland, and then to Sale, Morocco, and finally to Guantanamo Bay.

Since then accusations have been made against a whole host of countries in Europe. Records show that over 100 CIA planes touched down in the UK, for instance. In Poland we only have evidence of a handful of flights landing. But we have no evidence that anyone actually got off these planes.

Poles remain nonplussed by the accusations. But Prime Minister Marcinkiewicz has reacted angrily, saying these alllegations "are slanderous'

Pawel Wronski, a journalist at Gazeta Wyborcza, has been investigating the Polish connection to the CIA secret prison story ever since its publication by the Washington Post. He told Radio Polonia:

'I was at Szymany airport, but there is no possibility to build a prison there where the CIA can keep people, because there are no fences around this airport. Noone has given me any information where these prisons are in Poland.'

Update 19.00: Inside the ‘spider’s web’

Reading through the reports 67 pages (yawn!) 90 percent of which is a re-hash of material in the public domain, you have to feel sorry for Dick Marty. He’s been given a bum job.

As he says himself in the introduction, he is not an ‘investigator’ but merely a reporter. He has no powers to coerce governments, secret service agents, or even his mother to tell him anything. So what he has to ‘report’ is limited, largely, to him trying to stick together material that we already know.

His conclusion is this:

there is no formal evidence at this stage …of secret detention centers in Poland, Romania or other C & E states…even though serious indicators continue to exist and grow stronger (my emphasis).

So, though there is ‘no evidence’ there is ‘serious indicators’ and it’s on these serious indicators’ that Marty has concluded that that 'authorities in several European countries actively participated with the CIA'.

But what are these ‘serious indicators?

Flight logs, satellite photos (showing buildings, planes…) and a few ‘contacts’, mostly the same ones as used by Human Rights watch and the Washington Post. The report says of Poland:

‘We were able to identity several specific locators at a civil airport and a secret service base…which would be suitable for the secret detention of persons from abroad.’

So has he found a couple of wardrobes, or what?

The report reminds us that the policy of ‘rendition’ – steeling people of the street and banging them up in another country without trial – began under the second Clinton administration, not George W Bush’s.

He names 11 places around the world where such ‘suitable places’ exist, including Cairo, Istanbul, Kabul, Bucharest and Szymany airstrip in northern Poland.

One of the CIA flights, N313P, from Kabul to Guantanamo Bay touched down in Szymany airstrip on 22 September, 2003. It stayed there for 67 minutes. Then it went to Romania and then to Rabat, Morocco.

Marty thinks that, as there was no need to refuel in Poland, evil things must be afoot.

‘One may deduce that this flight,’ says Marty,’ that this was a CIA flight, culminating in a detainee drop off in Poland.’

Sadly, Marty never really does convince from this logic that prisoners were held in Poland. Rendition is occurring - and many other things by a half out of control CIA - but the evidence of anything sinister going on in Poland remains as weak as it was seven months ago.

Read Dick Marty’s report in full (67 pages, pdf format


Gustav said...

Still waiting for definitive evidence.

Still waiting...

Still waiting...

beatroot said...

Me looks like the report is going to be a bit of a rehash of the HRW report - but with 'cross referenced' dates of flight logs...

Gustav said...

Got the report here in the office - haven't read it yet, I'll e-mail you relevant sections. Talking to those who have read the report, it says that Poland didn't cooperate with the investigators, (ie didn't give them requested flight logs), but the planes are in satellite images, etc.

Still, waiting for the pics of somebody being tortured...

beatroot said...

tak...waiting for satellite images of people being tortured....

Gary said...

Rendition now leads to CIA secret detention

roman said...

Your header for this post "There were secret CIA prisons in Poland"
Based on the lack of evidence in your post, the prisons are far from established fact but you seem to have jumped to this conclusion. Is it wishful thinking or, I hope, a "lure" to entice your readers into reading the post? The lure worked on me but left me unfulfilled based on the headline's promise. Reminds of a few dates I had, lots of tease and no action.

Anonymous said...

LOL ... this blog is not about politics - it is about what little Beatroot imagines politics might be.

But you cluelessness if frightening. You are offending the millions who died in Gulags and Aushwitz by comparing their fate to the current US prisons .. if you see no difference, you are a moron.

Frank Partisan said...

They were tourist flights.

The Polish government's desire to be the US's representative in the region, would cause them to salivate, for the chance to torture detainees.

sonia said...

I am trying mighty hard to say something clever about this bizarre controversy which I simply don't understand. I always been told by my parents (since I was a little girl) that United States was the most evil regime in the universe. Since then, I have found a few regimes that were far, far worse. But from time to time some news reports reassure me that I didn't inherit the genes of complete liars and imbeciles....

beatroot said...

Roman: The headline is then followed by the opening sentence: that’s the conclusion of the report…” I was being neutral to the report in the first post because I hadn’t read it. My views are clear by the sentence:

“I argued last year that the view Poland was the site of ‘gulags’ – one journalists even went as far as to call them the ‘US Auschwitz’ - was based on stereotypes of central Europe, not reality.”

In fact, if you read the posts I did on this in last November – one of which I linked to in the piece – then you will see that I do not now nor never have believed there is evidence of CIA prisons in Poland. Period.

Anon: (snigger) I am starting to find your very limited intelligence quite entertaining. Go back to the post, read it, click on the link US Auschwitz and then come back and tell me who’s the moron..

Keep trying to formulate a political point. If you practice very hard you might just make one, one day. Even you!

Ren: Yup, they were tourist flight on a CIA money making venture to raise enough cash to buy all the coke in Bolivia. These were the CIA ‘no frills’ ‘budget’ airline flights (free with in-flight service!) for people of a middle eastern appearance only.

Sonia: it's a very serious controversy. The US is stealing people off the street and throwing them in prisons without trial without being told where they are and often, torturing them. If Poladn is involved as well that is a very serious accusation.

sonia said...

it's a very serious controversy. The US is stealing people off the street and throwing them in prisons without trial without being told where they are and often, torturing them. If Poladn is involved as well that is a very serious accusation

Bush = Hitler, right? There is a reputation to maintain here.

It sort of reminds me of this story: a man who suspects his wife is cheating on him, hires a private dick who follows the wife to the hotel, and sees her enter a room with her lover. 'But did you peep through the key hole ?'. 'Yes, but it was dark inside, I didn't see anything'. 'Oh! the uncertainty of it!!!', laments the husband.

That how you are, the Western liberals, still not completely certain if US government (and other allied governments) are torturing terrorist suspects...

Of course they are torturing them! And you don't really want to know it, bacause then the ball would be in your court: what can you say about it ? (which you haven't said before), what can you do about it ?

In a world where people ROUTINELY compare Bush to Hitler when he cuts taxes for the rich or wants to drill oil in Alaska, we simply do not have a way to express REAL outrage...

beatroot said...

How did we jump from Bush to Hitler?

But if you think that it is OK to take people off the street, take them to a secret place, torture them, but refuse to arrest them for anything and even refuse to acknowledge that they have been 'renditioned' then western values - those which we cherish - mean nothing. Nothing at all.

If this is a 'battle of civilizations', as the neo-cons think it is, then the battle should be about values, standards and behaviour. We will not win that battle by acting like pigs.

Anyway, what was that about Bush and Hitler?

Agnes said...

Sonia, do you have any idea how the Communist cells fucntioned? What you can't extract in 8 hours you won't in ten lifetimes. Very much the same with these people, I guess. It is not only immoral: it is also useless.

This Bush-Hitler comparison is idiotic, sorry. And dangerous, and cheap. People seem to love it...

sonia said...

Bush-Hitler comparison is idiotic, sorry

I agree. That's my point. Afterwards, there is no more ammunition left...

Sonia, do you have any idea how the Communist cells fucntioned? What you can't extract in 8 hours you won't in ten lifetimes

I never said I was pro-torture (if that's what you imply...). I am just not shocked by it...

Agnes said...

What I meant Sonia, is that after 8 or 10 hours there was no information to extract anymore because all evidences were destroyed(i.e. one had to resist as long, and I have reasons to believe that the terrorist cells follow that pattern. I know you are not pro torture, I never implied that.

As for Romania, we can wait till that seven sleepers wake up to find out what is going on here.

beatroot said...

What is all this about Romanians?

Sonia: who are these people who compare Bush to Hitler? They sound very slapable! It's very hard being anti-war when you have these wankers on your side...

Agnes said...

All this about Romanians is 1. the CIA prisons (everybody denies everything, _with the complicity of the press_) and the Romanian hostages in Iraq in my last comment.

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