Wednesday, February 14, 2007

CIA prisons in Poland

Euro parliament fails to back Washington Post

14 months after the Washington Post article (see here) which claimed that Poland hosted CIA torture prisons, how far have we got to substantiating those claims?

Well, nowhere. In fact, the year long report by the European Parliament - just like the Council of Europe’s report before it - has failed to turn up anything new.

All we have in the parliament summary of the report is:

In an amendment passed with a narrow majority (356 to 323), MEPs noted that, in light of the available "circumstantial evidence", "it is not possible to acknowledge or deny that secret detention centres were based in Poland." However, notes the report, "seven of the fourteen detainees" transferred from a secret detention facility to Guantánamo in September 2006 coincide with those mentioned in a report by ABC News (published in December 2005) listing the identities of twelve top Al Qaeda suspects held in Poland.

The summary reiterates something we heard months ago after MEPs came to look for evidence in Poland that:

'Regarding the testimonies gathered during their visit to Poland, MEPs conclude that the investigation carried out by the Polish Parliament was not conducted independently and that statements given to the Committee delegation were “contradictory” and compromised by "confusion about flight logs [...] which were first said not to have been retained, then said to have probably been archived at the airport, and finally to have been sent by the Polish government to the Council of Europe."

The 'its not possible one way or another’ line is the one that the Council of Europe used, but a far cry from the aggressive allegations by Human Rights watch and the Washington Post that started this all off, all those months ago.

Journalists in Poland have turned up nothing new, and neither has anyone else, including the Washington Post and HRW.

Let’s conclude then that though CIA ‘rendition’ occurs, shamefully, the singling out of Poland and Romania was a mistake by the initial reporters, and that all the talk of US ‘gulags’ and even another Auschwitz in Central Europe was what I said it was at the time - nonsense.

Poland was main CIA European detention base -group, Reuters, December 2005


Anonymous said...

I guess two good stories outweighs the previous Murdochian crap.

sonia said...

Personally, I would prefer if a proof of CIA prisons in Poland was found, and the European Community was forced to face up to its own hypocrisy. Either they would have to impose sanctions against BOTH Poland AND United States (something they would be very unwilling to do) or they would have to shup up.

I don't know if those camps really existed or not. My chief doubt is that if they really existed, the present Polish government would probably leaked that information to embarass the hated ex-Communists who were in power when those camps allegedly existed.

beatroot said...

if they really existed, the present Polish government would probably leaked that information to embarrass the hated ex-Communists who were in power when those camps allegedly existed.

Well, indeed, Sonia. The government has been making a big thing about how the WSI and intelligence services here are really unreconstructed communist era secret services. The ex-communist SLD was in government when the ‘rendition’ flights were landing here. If the government really didn’t know about them – as Kwasniewski maintains – but they did exist, then this would prove how out of control the post-communist intelligence services really were.

So it would be a perfect case for this government to expose.

Except that they woyld not want to embarrass the US, which is the only thing that would hold them back.

If, if , if….it’s all speculation without any evidence.

Martin said...


Let us hope history proves you right.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to compare what your original article says and what other articles say.

You said "An eyewitness – the ex-director of the airport - has said that, on September 22, 2003, she saw five men get on the plane, traveling on US passports. She also said, however, that nobody got off the plane, which was on the runway for about an hour." but you didn't link to your source.,,1982532,00.html says ""As with the other 'international planes', the 737 waited at the end of the runway and did not taxi the 1km to the terminal building," she said.

Ms Przewlocka, who was under instructions not to approach the aircraft, added: "Two military vans went out to meet the 737, but it was impossible to see what happened because the planes always parked in a way that blocked our view." It was impossible to see who drove the military vehicles, which headed off in the direction of the military base at Stare Kiejkuty, or which passengers they carried, because they had tinted windows. But procedures for the "international flights" were enough to rouse suspicions.

"Before the planes arrived, high-ranking border guards would arrive from Warsaw. The regular guards would not be there. I would be told not to arrange any customs facilities," she said.

"I was issued with firm instructions never to refuse landing rights to an aircraft. On one occasion, when the runway was covered in snow, I was told that heads would roll if we did not accept the plane. A man, who paid the landing fee, also paid for the runway to be de-iced. Normally that is the duty of the airport.

"It was not always the same man making the payments but it was always a Pole dressed in civilian clothes. They would pay between four and six times the normal landing fee for civil aircraft - between 8,000 to 12,000 zlotych [£1,538 - £2,307]. They would say they needed a special service so they would make a special payment."

Whether a prison which does not officially exist and holds prisoners who are not officially prisoners and have no legal rights at all holds hundreds of thousands (as the gulags did) or just one person is a mere detail. It is still morally indefensible. You seem to think that because this prison held fewer than 20 innocent people it is just fine. Looks like you become more and more of a Tory everyday.

Anonymous said...


It is pretty plausible that the "Guantanamo Express" could refuel in Poland en route from US to the Middle East (as well as in several other countries), given the flight range of a 737.

The prison in Poland is however implausible for a very simple reason: if one already goes into the trouble of shuttling the prisoners around the world, there is not much difference where the prison is actually located. And Poland is one of the worst places in the world for such a secret prison: not only it is full of investigative journalists and has constantly changing governments (threating the secrecy of the operation), but also the geografical features would be friendly to an escaped prisoner (high population density, good transportation network, moderate climate, woods).

Determining an optimum location for such prison is left as an exercise for the reader.

Anonymous said...

^ And of course a small airport which does not have the proper safety procedures for a plane as big as a 737 would be a much better choice than a US airbase in Germany or the UK.

Poland is full of investigative journalists? Yeah right!
The population density is far from high 124/km (compared with 233 for Germany, 244 for UK and 344 for Holland), the transport network is crap, the climate is far from moderate and most of the country is not forested. And whatever government is in power they all kiss the US' arse!

Anonymous said...

Harry said:” because this prison held fewer than 20 innocent people it is just fine.”

What proof has anyone produced that there was even one person held against his will, the answer is none. Thus far we have innuendo, wild speculation and the wet dreams of various leftist commentators.

The National Enquirer has done a more professional job convincing people that the Martians have land.

The pathetic and transparent attempt by the European Parliament to smear Poland in retaliation for Poland’s support of the US confirms its status as Europe’s largest comic opera. The chief conductor of this masturbation circle being Dick Marty not one to allow the facts to obscure a good story.

Anonymous said...

^ There is plenty of proof that the USA is illegally holding countless innocent men and children. Why countless? Because the USA won't say how many it is holding. The USA has proved that it is quite willing to kidnap EU citizens as and when it sees fit. The USA has proved it is willing to ignore any international law whenever it sees fit. Poland has proved it is willing to do anything needed to get its tongue further up the the arsehole of the US govt.

Please give a more believable explanation for secret flights landing at an airport totally unsuited for them. If all it wanted to do was refuel why did the plane use an airport which has almost bugger all security when it could have used countless US bases which have infinitely better security and where fueling is quicker, easier and cheaper?

Anonymous said...

Harry said:”plenty of proof that the USA is illegally holding countless”

Not suggesting the US isn’t holding people in secret prisons; it’s just that there are none in Poland. If US planes are landing in remote airfields in Poland it could be for any number of reasons connected to covert activities. Still no proof of any people being held in captivity.

The whole issue and problem here is firing off allegations before finding any proof. A good example of this folly is Bush and Iraq’s WMDs, a steep price for unproven allegations.

Anonymous said...

^ It could be for any number of reasons connected to covert activities?

Please give five examples of covert activities which would require a plane going from Kabul to Gitmo to need to stop off at a tiny airfield in Northern Poland, instead of the hundreds of airports and US bases far more suited to refuelling aircraft. Reasons other than there being a secret CIA prison there obviously.

beatroot said...

Jan: Not suggesting the US isn’t holding people in secret prisons; it’s just that there are none in Poland.

I think that is a realistic assessment of the situation.

If you want a critique of the WHOLE WAR ON TERROR, from its very inception then I will give you one (though I have neither the space nor energy to do it now). I am 100% against all of it, hook, line and torture electrodes.

But as far as the original accusations go against Poland by HRW I think they were irresponsible bollocks. Nothing I have seen since (or more to the point, not seen) has changed my mind. Wild speculation on very thin evidence. If NGOs want to retain any credibility then they had better do better than this, otherwise shut the fuck up...

Anonymous said...

For my two zlots, questions like Harry is asking need to be asked and answered.

For sure, claims made by HRW without substantive proof were irresponsible somewhat akin to the purported WMDs as someone noted above.

Nevertheless, concluding "No, there weren't any detentions on Polish soil, that's that, and any questioning or speculation is leftist claptrap" seems irresponsible to me, too.

beatroot said...

Lets look at the original reports again and then compare with the latest er and um report from the toothless EP.

Look at what HRW were saying Dec 2005.

Poland was the heart of the CIA's secret detention network in Europe,

Note ‘heart of’…’….

We have seen no evidence that Poland was the heart of anything – in fact the UK and Germany’s airports have been much busier with these CIA planes than Poland’s…

Look at the Democracy Now report from the same time:

I think the bottom line is that the C.I.A. fears that if the names of these countries are published, the people in those countries, Eastern Europeans who have, you know, pushed away from the gulags of the past and are trying to rebuild democracies in the present, will say: ‘Hey, this is not what we want in our countries!’

Note the word ‘gulag’ there? Do these idiots know what a gulag was? Have they ever read Solzenitzen?

Again from the same period, Turkish writer Ibrahim Karagul predicted the "secret torture centres" in Eastern Europe will be recorded in history as "the United States' Auschwitzs."

To call this irresponcible journsalism is an understatement. It’s basically using eastern European stereotypes – and eastern Europe more generally, to beat the Bush administration with – and if they have to stoop that low to have a go at hapless George then it just shows what a pathetic waste of space the Democrat opposition is in the US.

Anonymous said...

Yes, BR, your point is well taken about the media, NGOs, and the EU investigators, but the questions Harry is asking are not irresponsible. Indeed, they need to be asked even tho I doubt they will ever be answered.

And all lefties should read S-tzen's Lenin in Zurich. It sure did me in.

beatroot said...

Listen Geez, I simply don't know any more than what I am writing, and neither does anyone else, apparently. But this has not stopped everyone pontificating on something they bhave no access to knowledge of. We are back to the conspiracy theorists...and life is too short for that kind of dribble.

Anonymous said...

Please give five examples of covert activities which would require a plane going from Kabul to Gitmo to need to stop off at a tiny airfield in Northern Poland, instead of the hundreds of airports and US bases far more suited to refuelling aircraft.

That's trivial. During such operation you want to keep the amount of paperwork down, and using the military bases requires paperwork.

Not that they weren't using other airports. They were. There were numerous landings at the Shannon airport in Ireland. So many in fact, that the Ireland banned them from using their airports.

The funniest part: there were 7 alleged landings in Poland and 147 in Ireland. Yet somehow that means that the prison was in Poland and not in Ireland. Probably because building a career on smearing the Poles works much better than on smearing the Irish.

Anonymous said...

But opamp, the reasons you cite lend to the suspicion, not detract from it. If refeuling was all they were doing, wouldn't it have better been done in Warsaw or in Shannon as you note? But whatever was done in conjunction with the aircraft happened in a backwater military airbase.

Anonymous said...

I meant to say at a backwater airport near a military base.

Anonymous said...

Opamp: As has been shown: using civilian airports also leads to paperwork. If paperwork was a concern then using US military bases would be far better: paperwork from US bases can be classified and kept well away from any journalists. Or it can just disappear (like the log book from HMS Conqueror after it sank the Belgrano). And then there's the issue of eye-witnesses: any eye-witnesses at a US military base would be US military, which means they either shut-up about what they saw or get locked up. Civilians can and do talk.

I would imagine that Shannon airport has two things called customs and immigration. Think the Irish would just say "No customs and immigration? But of course Mr CIA torturer."?

Anonymous said...

Opamp wrote: The funniest part: there were 7 alleged landings in Poland and 147 in Ireland.

Spot on! Besides the Irish Republic is supossed to be a neutral country. I can easily imagine and justify one NATO member helping another NATO member in its military operations. The neutrals should not get involved in this business under any circumstances.