Secret CIA Prisons Revealed: White House ‘Uneasy’

November 3rd, 2005 - by admin

The (Australian) Herald-Sun & Dana Priest and Josh White / Washington Post – 2005-11-03 00:15:24,5481,17125216,00.html

White House Uneasy on ‘Secret’ Prisons
The (Australian) Herald-Sun

WASHINGTON (November 3, 2005) — The White House has refused to confirm or deny reports that the CIA operates secret prisons, known as “black sites,” for Al-Qaeda suspects in Eastern Europe and other places around the world.

President George W. Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said the United States will do what is necessary to fight and win the war on terrorism. “The president has been very clear we’re doing that in a way that is consistent with our values and that is why he’s been very clear that the United States will not torture,” Mr Hadley said.

“The United States will conduct its activities in compliance with law, (and) international obligations,” he said.

The Washington Post reported [See story below] that the prisons are, or have been, located in eight countries including Thailand, Afghanistan and “several democracies in Eastern Europe” since the system was set up after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The names of the eastern European countries were withheld by the Post “at the request of senior US officials,” who argued that the disclosure might disrupt counterterrorism efforts. Thailand denied there was a prison there.

Mr Hadley and White House spokesman Scott McClellan refused to confirm or deny the Post report. “I would say that the president’s most important responsibility is to protect the American people,” McClellan said.

The refusal to discuss the matter was echoed by US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the Central Intelligence Agency.

But former president Jimmy Carter denounced what he said was “a profound and radical change in the basic policies or moral values of our country” in reaction to the report. “This is just one indication of what has been done under this administration to change the policies that have persisted all the way through our history,” said Mr Carter, who championed human rights during his 1977-81 presidency.

The existence of secret CIA detention centres has long been claimed. Amnesty International denounced an “archipelago” of prisons in June as a “gulag of our times.” But the report that eastern European countries were among the locations is new.

Czech Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan was quoted by the on-line news outlet as saying that the Czech Republic recently turned down a US request to set up a detention centre on its territory.

“The negotiations took place around a month ago,” he was quoted as saying. The Americans “made an effort to install something of the sort here, but they did not succeed.” Separately, Hungary’s intelligence chief, Andras Toth, said Budapest had not been approached, telling AFP, “The mere suggestion of this is absurd.”

The Central Intelligence Agency has sent more than 100 suspects to the hidden global internment network, the Post said, indicating that the number was a rough estimate and did not include prisoners picked up from Iraq.

About 30 of the detainees, considered major terrorism suspects, have been held at “black sites” organised by the CIA in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, it said.

Locations in Thailand and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba were closed in 2003 and 2004, the daily said. Another in Afghanistan known as the “Salt Pit” was moved inside Bagram Air Base.

Over 70 other detainees, with less direct involvement in alleged terrorism and having limited intelligence value, have been delivered to intelligence services in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Afghanistan and other countries, the daily added.

The Post said virtually nothing is known about who is kept in the secret facilities, what interrogation methods are employed with them, or how decisions are made about whether they should be detained or for how long.

The covert prison system is “known only to a handful of officials in the United States and, usually, only to the president and a few top intelligence officers in each host country,” it said.

The system has been increasingly debated within the CIA where some consider it unsustainable and a diversion from its main espionage mission, the report said.

The idea of holding suspects outside the United States, where it is illegal to hold people in isolation and in secret prisons, was not under consideration before September 11, former government officials told the daily. “The issue of detaining and interrogating people was never, ever discussed,” said one former senior CIA intelligence officer. “It was against the culture and they believed information was best gleaned by other means.”

© Herald and Weekly Times
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Policies on Terrorism Suspects Come Under Fire —
Democrats Say CIA’s Covert Prisons Hurt US Image; UN Official on Torture to Conduct Inquiry

Dana Priest and Josh White / Washington Post

WASHINGTON (November 3, 2005) — The Bush administration’s policies for holding and detaining suspected terrorists came under sharp scrutiny and criticism yesterday after disclosure that the CIA had set up covert prisons in several Eastern European democracies and other countries.

The UN special rapporteur on torture said he would seek more information about the covert prisons, referred to in classified documents as “black sites.” Congressional Democrats and human rights groups warned that the secret system would damage the US image overseas.

House Democrats said they plan to introduce a motion as early as today to endorse language in the defense spending package written by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), which would bar cruel and inhuman treatment of prisoners in US custody, including those in CIA hands. The motion would instruct House conferees to accept McCain’s precise measure.

Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa.), ranking Democrat on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, urged the United States to adopt a doctrine of “no torture, no excuses,” and said Congress needs to speak on the issue. “The United States of America and the values we reflect abhor human rights violators and uphold human rights,” Murtha said in a statement.

McCain’s amendment was endorsed last month by the Senate, 90 to 9, over the objections of the White House, which said it would restrict the president’s ability to protect the country. The House Democrats said they already have 15 GOP supporters for their motion, and Republicans have told the White House they expect it to pass, an Appropriations Committee spokesman said.

The CIA and the White House are seeking language that would exempt prisoners held by the agency, which would include the 30 or so al Qaeda figures that sources said are being held in the black sites. Neither the White House nor the CIA will officially comment on the secret prison system, but intelligence officials have said in interviews that the arrangement is essential to gaining information about possible terrorist activities.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the CIA’s covert detention system has at times established facilities in eight countries, including, among others, Thailand, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Those facilities are now closed.

The Post did not publish the names of Eastern European countries involved in the program, at the request of senior US officials. They argued that doing so could damage counterterrorism efforts in those countries and elsewhere, and could lead to retaliation by terrorists.

The governments of Russia and Bulgaria issued statements saying no such facility existed in their countries, Reuters reported. Thailand also denied hosting such a facility.

Yesterday, administration officials were buffeted by questions about the black sites.

“The fact that they are secret, assuming there are such sites, does not mean” torture would be tolerated there, national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley told reporters.

“Some people say that the test of your principles [is] what you do when no one’s looking,” he said. “And the president has insisted that whether it is in the public or it is in the private, the same principles will apply and the same principles will be respected. And to the extent people do not meet up, measure up to those principles, there will be accountability and responsibility.”

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack also declined to talk specifically about the sites, saying, “These are difficult issues. And we have ongoing discussions on a variety of different fronts with countries around the world about these issues, because the threat from terrorism . . . is a common threat to democracies and peace-loving nations.”

Human rights groups said the al Qaeda prisoners should be brought to trial, rather than held indefinitely in covert prisons in which they have no recognized legal rights. “We think these people should be prosecuted and punished fully for the murders of thousands of people,” said Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. “What is really clear is that this is a dead-end policy and they are close to the dead end.”

John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has been pushing for more than a year to conduct a review of the CIA’s interrogation and detention practices. Yesterday, he lashed out at the administration for not being more forthcoming.

“They have made it clear that anyone who suggests that oversight is needed should be labeled as unpatriotic,” he said.

Manfred Nowak, the UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, said he had heard allegations of secret detention facilities sponsored by the United States, but had not heard of any in Eastern Europe before yesterday.

“Every secret place of detention is usually a higher risk for ill treatment, that’s the danger of secrecy,” Nowak said in a telephone interview from Austria, adding that he wants to pursue access to all US detention facilities outside its territory.

Nowak and his predecessor have been trying to gain access to the US military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay since it opened in early 2002.

Last week, the Bush administration invited UN experts to Guantanamo but offered a one-day visit with no ability to talk to detainees. Nowak said he would not accept because a “guided tour” would not allow him to probe allegations of abuse.

“I have many allegations that detainees have been abused while in Guantanamo,” he said. “If I didn’t have plenty of allegations, I wouldn’t bother the United States government with trying to visit.”

A senior US official, speaking anonymously yesterday, said the administration is unlikely to budge: “The offer they have is the final offer. We are not prepared to open Guantanamo up to just anyone who wants to come in and talk to detainees.”

Staff writers R. Jeffrey Smith and Jonathan Weisman and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Alleged CIA Detention Camp in Eastern Europe Sparks Outrage
Mark Beunderman /

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS (November 2, 2005) — A media report alleging the CIA runs a secret camp in eastern Europe where it interrogates al Qaeda suspects has caused strong concern in Europe, with MEPs calling for an EU investigation into the matter.

According to an article in leading US newspaper the Washington Post on Wednesday (2 November), the US intelligence branch, the CIA, has detained top Al Qaeda suspects at a compound dating back to the Soviet era and located somewhere in eastern Europe.

The newspaper does not say if the camp is located on existing EU territory or in Romania or Bulgaria, for example.

It is also unclear if there is more than one camp, with the paper sometimes referring to the “eastern European countries” concerned in the plural, adding that US officials advised against publication of the countries’ names for fear of terrorist reprisals.

Senior intelligence sources told the Washington Post that the al Qaeda prisoners are held in complete isolation from the outside world, have no recognised legal rights, and are probably subject to the CIA’s controversial “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques”.

European Commission and EU diplomats on Wednesday (2 November) declined to comment on the report. “This is an issue between the US and any member states concerned”, a commission spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana indicated that “this has nothing to do with the European Union”.

MEPs want Brussels to take action
But MEPs have called for an urgent EU investigation into the matter.
UK liberal MEP and member of the parliament’s civil liberties committee baroness Sarah Ludford said “I will be asking commissioner Frattini to check out urgently this suggestion that EU member states may be implicated in the most barbaric practices of the misguided US ‘war on terror'”.

She added that if EU member states were involved “this has the most devastating implications for the EU’s credibility in upholding human rights and the rule of law”.

Dutch green MEP Kathalijne Buitenweg, also a member of the civil liberties committee as well as of the EU-US parliamentary delegation said that “Mr Solana should clarify with the Americans what exactly is going on”.

“If human rights are violated in an EU country, or in a candidate member state, than this is an EU issue”, she added.

Ms Buitenweg indicated the parliament’s civil liberties and foreign affairs committees should discuss ways for the European Parliament to further research the issue itself.

The member announced she would personally raise the question at an EU-US parliamentary meeting in December.

Trauma from Soviet Times
The matter looks set to cause outrage in eastern Europe, which is traditionally strongly allied with the US but which also experienced grave human rights violations in the past by former communist secret services.

Slovak centre-right MEP Miroslav Mikolasik said these memories made him “convinced” that the CIA camp cannot possibly be located in his own country.

“We had too painful experiences from the Soviet time with the conditions under which political prisoners were held”, he said, adding “We hate these kinds of procedures”.

The Wahington Post notes that CIA interrogators abroad are permitted to use the CIA’s “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques”.

The techniques, prohibited under the US’ own military law as well as under UN rules, include tactics such as “waterboarding,” in which a prisoner is made to believe he or she is drowning.

© 2005
Printed from

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.