[Ppnews] America's Secret Prisons

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Mar 16 14:48:57 EDT 2010


America's Secret Prisons

By Stephen Lendman

16 March, 2010

On January 28 in TomDispatch.com, Anand Gopal headlined, "Night 
Raids, Hidden Detention Centers, the 'Black Jail,' and the Dogs of 
War in Afghanistan," recounting unreported US media stories about 
killings, abductions, detentions, interrogations, and torture in "a 
series of prisons on US military bases around the country." Bagram 
prison, for example, is "a facility with a notorious reputation for 
abusive behavior," including brutalizing torture and cold-blooded murder.

Even worse is the "Black Jail," a facility consisting of individual 
windowless concrete cells with bright 24-hour lighting, described by 
one former detainee as "the most dangerous and fearful place" in 
which prisoners endure appalling treatment.

The pattern is predictable. US/NATO convoys are attacked or reports 
of Taliban forces are received. Americans respond accordingly, 
rounding up suspects, mostly innocent civilians, and detaining them 
for interrogations, torture, abuse and degrading treatment - not just 
in Afghanistan but in secret black sites globally, according to a 
January 26 UN Human Rights Council (HRC) report detailing practices 
engaged in by various countries including America, by far the world's 
worst offender in its war on terror - one waged against humanity for 
unchallengeable power and total global dominance.

Besides Guantanamo, Afghanistan and Iraq, HRC said the CIA runs 
scores of offshore secret prisons in over 66 countries worldwide for 
dissidents and alleged terrorists - in Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, 
Morocco, Syria, Libya, Tunisia, India, Pakistan, Russia, Uzbekistan, 
Sudan, Zimbabwe, Ethopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Poland, Romania, Bosnia, 
Kosovo, Thailand, Diego Garcia, and elsewhere.

Post-9/11, "the United States embarked on a process of reducing and 
removing various human rights and other protection mechanisms" 
through numerous laws and administrative acts including:

-- the September 18, 2001 joint House-Senate Authorization for Use of 
Military Force (AUMF) for "the use of United States Armed Forces 
against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the 
United States";

-- the October 2001 USA Patriot Act (just renewed) that shredded 
civil liberty protections, including due process, freedom of 
association, and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures;

-- the October 2002 House-Senate "Joint Resolution to Authorize the 
Use of the United States Armed Forces Against Iraq," even though the 
country (and Afghanistan) posed no threat to America, had no ability 
or intention to strike, or did so on 9/11 or any other time;

-- the November 2001 Military Order Number 1 authorizing the 
president to capture, kidnap or otherwise arrest non-citizens (and 
later citizens) anywhere in the world for any reason and hold them 
indefinitely without charge, evidence, or due process and judicial 
fairness protections in a civil court;

-- numerous presidential Executive Orders, memorandums, findings, 
National and Homeland Security Presidential Directives, and other 
documents authorizing the abduction, detention, torture, and killing 
of alleged terrorists;

-- National Presidential Directive 51 granting the president 
dictatorial power to declare a national emergency, followed by 
martial law without congressional approval;

-- the February 2002, a presidential memorandum declaring Geneva's 
Common Article 3 (prohibiting torture and other lawless acts) and 
Third Geneva, pertaining to prisoners of war, null and void for 
"al-Qaeda or Taliban detainees;"

-- the November 2002 Homeland Security Act creating a national Gestapo;

-- the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act denying detainees habeas rights 
and authorizing the use cruel, abusive, inhumane or degrading 
treatment in the interests of national security;

-- the 2006 Military Commissions Act, known as "the torture 
authorization act," granted the executive sweeping unconstitutional 
powers to detain, interrogate and prosecute alleged terror suspects 
and collaborators (including US citizens), imprison them indefinitely 
in military prisons without proof of guilt, and deny them habeas and 
judicial fairness protections; and

-- various other actions subverting the letter and spirit of 
international and US laws to pursue a global war on terror, including 
worldwide detention centers, claiming human rights laws there don't apply.

"One of the consequences of this policy was that many detainees were 
kept secretly and without access to the protection accorded to those 
in custody" under international and US laws.

Secret Detention Under International Law

For purposes of HRC's report, they occur when governments authorize, 
consent, support or acquiesce to depriving persons of their liberty; 
where they're denied contact with the outside world, including legal 
counsel; or when states neither confirm or deny knowledge or 
involvement in detaining alleged terrorists or suspected collaborators.

The practice is abhorrent and irreconcilable with international human 
rights and humanitarian law. Under no circumstances is it justified, 
yet America is a serial offender.

As arbitrary arrests, they deny personal liberty and security. Among 
other international law provisions, they violate Article 1 of the 
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) stating:

"Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one 
shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention," and other 
provisions affirming fundamental international law rights.

The UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights Working Group on 
Arbitrary Detention calls secret ones arbitrary and illegal by 
denying detainees information on charges against them, a prompt 
hearing before a judge, and right to a fair trial according to 
established international law principles.

Secret detentions take many forms, including black sites for "High 
Value Detainees (HVD)," where they're physically and psychologically 
tortured for extended periods to extract confessions that are 
inadmissible in courts, according to international law.

The UN's study showed detainees held incommunicado often aren't 
charged with a crime, informed of charges, provided counsel, allowed 
time to prepare a proper defense, or tried by impartial tribunals to 
establish their guilt or innocence.

Under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons 
from Enforced Disappearance, the practice places individuals outside 
legal protections, and is conducive to coercing confessions under 
torture and other abusive treatment.

The Rome Statute's Article 7 calls "enforced disappearance of person" 
a crime against humanity if it's committed as part of a widespread or 
systematic attack directed against a civilian population." In all 
respects, it's abhorrent, illegal, and unjustifiable.

Geneva, applying to all conflicts, allows war prisoner and civilian 
detentions - the former to be released when hostilities end; the 
latter held under very strict conditions, namely:

-- if it's "necessary for imperative reasons of security," and

-- for penal prosecutions for individuals charged with a crime.

America's "unlawful enemy combatant" designation has no legitimacy in 
international law under any conditions or circumstances.

Geneva mandates detainees be registered and held in officially 
recognized facilities. Incommunicado detentions are strictly prohibited.

America's Secret Gulag

HRC called a country complicit in secret detentions under these conditions:

-- when one nation asks another to do it;

-- when a country won't identify persons on airplanes passing through 
their airports or airspace after information about CIA detentions are 
known; and

-- when a nation "knowingly (takes) advantage of the situation by 
sending questions to the State which detains the person or by 
soliciting or receiving information from persons" held secretly; this 
applies to at least the following states:

-- Britain;

-- Germany;

-- Canada;

-- Australia;

-- Italy;

-- Kenya; and

-- Macedonia.

In June 2007, in a report for the Council of Europe, Swiss politician 
and former state prosecutor, Dick Marty, said he had:

"enough evidence to state that secret detention facilities run by the 
CIA did exist in Europe from 2003 to 2005, in particular in Poland 
and Romania. (He noted that) the majority of detainees brought to 
Romania were extracted 'out of theater(s) of conflict.' This phrase 
pertains to transfers from Afghanistan and Iraq.

In August 2009, The New York Times also reported that former US 
intelligence officials oversaw the construction of three small CIA 
facilities, each for about a half dozen detainees, one being "a 
renovated building on a busy street in Bucharest, Romania."

In Poland from 2003 - 2005, eight High Value Detainees (HVDs) were 
allegedly held in Stare Kiejkuty village, including Khalid Sheik 
Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 mastermind based on his torture-extracted 
confession, rendering it void and inadmissible according to law. 
Besides the UN Convention Against Torture, the Supreme Court ruled 
Brown v. Mississippi (February 1936):

"The rack and torture chamber may not be substituted for the witness 
stand," and an earlier Court (in Fisher v. State - November 1926) 
called coerced confessions "the chief iniquity, the crowning infamy 
(and) the curse of all countries."

Yet Mohammed's will be used against him in a planned kangaroo 
proceeding. So will those extracted from his four alleged 
co-conspirators, denying them any measure of justice, even though, in 
all likelihood, they're innocent.

Marty reported information from civil aviation records on 
CIA-operated planes landing at Szymany airport in northeastern Poland 
and the Mihail Kogalniceanu military airfield in Romania from 2003 - 
2005. He also explained how they were disguised using fake flight plans.

HRC's report revealed further evidence about front company flights 
from Bangkok, Thailand to Szymany on December 5, 2002 ("disguised 
under multiple layers of secrecy" to avoid US "fingerprints") and 
others from December 3 - 6, 2002.

Other data "demonstrate(d) that a Boeing 737 aircraft flew to Romania 
in September 2003" from Dulles Airport, Washington DC on September 20, 2003.

Romania supplied information about secret CIA detention centers and 
flights to and from the nation's territory, but wouldn't confirm or 
deny if prisoners left planes on its soil.

However, Lithuanian officials gave the CIA a building for as many as 
eight alleged terrorists where they were held for over a year until 
late 2005, after which they were moved because of public disclosure. 
In November 2009, it was learned that the facility was built inside 
an exclusive riding academy in Antaviliai, and that Lithuania 
cooperated with CIA detentions in 2004. Two Afghanistan to Vilnius 
flights were identified - on September 20, 2004 and on July 28, 2005.

In November 2009, the Lithuanian government confirmed that its State 
Security Department (SSD) received requests to "equip 
facilities....suitable for hold detainees," but it wouldn't admit 
they were used for that purpose.

When late 2005 Washington Post and ABC News reports revealed Eastern 
European detentions, prisoners were allegedly moved from Europe to 
other undisclosed black sites, possibly in war zones or Africa.

Guantanamo has at least one black site, "unnamed and officially 
unacknowledged" out of sight about a mile north of Camp Delta. "The 
unacknowledged 'Camp No' is described as having no guard towers and 
being surrounded with concertina wire, with one part of the compound 
having 'the same appearance as the interrogation centers at other 
prison camps.' " It's not known if the CIA or Joint Special 
Operations Command runs it.

Other reports reveal American black sites at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo 
and Eagle Base in Tuzla, Bosnia. The Council of Europe's Human Rights 
Commissioner, Alvaro Gil-Robles, told Le Monde he was "shocked" by 
Camp Bondsteel's facility, "a smaller version of Guantanamo." In 
December 2005, UN Kosovo Ombudsman, Marek Antoni Nowicki, said:

"There can be no doubt that for years there has been a prison in the 
Bondsteel base with no external civilian or judicial oversight. (It) 
looks like the pictures we have seen of Guantanamo Bay." A Tuzla 
detainee said he was also held at a secret Diego Garcia facility. 
He's now at a Syria black site.

Afghanistan hold hundreds of detainees in numerous facilities, 
including three well-known ones at Bagram airbase (called "The 
Hanger), and two others near Kabul - the "Dark Prison" (with no 
lights, heating or decoration) and the "Salt Pit." Another is in the 
Panjshir valley, north of Kabul, and three others are called Rissat, 
Rissat 2, and "Prison Number Three."

In all US and black site facilities, former detainees (ones lucky to 
be released) describe nightmarish treatment, including:

-- being hooded or blindfolded;

-- painfully shackled for extended periods;

-- exposed to extreme heat and cold;

-- kept naked;

-- waterboarded numerous times;

-- held in isolation or tiny cells with other prisoners where 
sleeping must occur in shifts;

-- severe physical and psychological treatment creating permanent 
trauma for many;

-- beatings;

-- continuous blaring noises or music;

-- 24-hour bright light or total darkness;

-- sleep deprivation for days;

-- painful stress positions for extended periods;

-- being sodomized;

-- denied food, too little, or inedible kinds;

-- painful force-feeding for hunger strikers;

-- denied medical care;

-- coerced to confess to offenses they never committed;

-- hung from steel bars in their cells or from metal hooks in 
interrogation rooms for extended periods;

-- kept in tubs of ice water creating hypothermia;

-- threatened with or attacked by dogs;

-- given electro-shocks; and

-- other cruel, abusive and degrading treatment.

In Iraq, the same practices occurred, exposed at Abu Ghraib, but at 
other facilities as well throughout the country, including at Forward 
Operating Base Tiger in Al-Anbar Province, a base outside Mosul, a 
temporary holding camp near Nasiriyah, a Tikrit Forward Operating 
Base, and others.

In 2005, it was learned that America secretly captured, transferred 
and detained alleged terrorists at its own sites, sending many to 
secret ones in other states.

After the 2001 Afghan invasion, the CIA was involved straightaway in 
US and foreign black site detentions and torture, yet in its January 
13, 2006 report to the Committee Against Torture, the Bush 
administration claimed:

"The United States does not transfer persons to countries where (it's 
believed) it is 'more likely than not' that they will be tortured. 
The United States obtains assurances, as appropriate, from a foreign 
government to which a detainee is transferred that it will not 
torture the individual being transferred."

Clear evidence shows otherwise - that prisoners were subjected to 
cruel, inhumane, abusive and degrading treatment at US and foreign 
sites, contrary to Bush administration assurances and later from the 
equally culpable Obama administration.

After promising to respect human rights and close Guantanamo and 
other detention facilities as expeditiously as possible, and refrain 
from operating new ones, it's kept them open, endorsed preventive 
detentions without charges, continues extraordinary renditions to 
black sites, and embraces torture as official US policy like the Bush 

America's torture prisons still flourish as secretly and abusively as 
under George Bush despite promises of more humane practices, quickly 
broken to pursue America's imperial agenda for unchallengeable power 
and total global dominance.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on 
Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at 
lendmanstephen at sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at 
<http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/>sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to 
cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive 
Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US 
Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are 
archived for easy listening.



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