The CIA’s Secret Prison System Uses NATO as Cover

I haven’t read his book but I’m going to take a wild guess here that George Tenet didn’t mention anywhere in it that he had his agency, the CIA, use NATO cover to set up the secret prison system in Europe that Cheney wanted in order to circumvent US laws against torture.

The CIA exploited NATO military agreements to help it run secret prisons in Poland and Romania where alleged terrorists were held in solitary confinement for months, shackled and subjected to other mental and physical torture, according to a European investigative report released here Friday.

Some of the United States’ highest-profile terrorism suspects, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, considered the prime organizer of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, were detained and interrogated at the facility in Poland, according to the 72-page report completed for the Council of Europe, the continent’s human rights agency.

Dick Marty, a Swiss lawyer hired by the council, said the CIA conducted “clandestine operations under the NATO framework,” providing military intelligence agencies in member countries — including Poland and Romania — the cover to assist the agency in disguising the use of secret flights, operations and detention facilities from the days immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks until the fall of last year.

The report was released yesterday and within hours the Denial Machine was in full swing.

Officials speaking on behalf of the CIA, NATO, Poland and Romania on Friday criticized the report’s findings. Both Poland and Romania have denied that the CIA established secret prisons on their soil.

“The CIA’s counter-terror operations have been lawful, effective, closely reviewed, and of benefit to many people — including Europeans — by disrupting plots and saving lives,” CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said. “Our counter-terror partnerships in Europe are very strong.” He described the report as “biased and distorted.”

Of course it is. Whenever Bush Administration spokesmen use words like that, it’s practically a guarantee that whatever it is they’re attacking is not only accurate, it’s the tip of a much larger iceberg. The only truthful statement in Gimigliano’s response is “Our counter-terror partnerships in Europe are very strong.” Everything else he said is a demonstrable lie.

  1. The legality of the secret prison system is dubious at best under NATO rules and was flat-out illegal under US law until the Republican Congress passed its approval of “extraordinary rendition” after the original WaPo story came out two years ago – a law which would have been considered obviously and unambiguously unConstitutional by any administration other than Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, and the rest of Bush/Cheney’s “unitary presidency” gang.
  2. There is no evidence whatever that it was “effective” if by that you mean it produced viable, accurate intelligence on dangerous terrorist conspiriacies. It didn’t. Even the “terrorist” plots the administration has claimed were supposedly stopped because of information gleaned from terrorist suspects under torture have been at best disorganized and at worst juvenile wet-dreams that had little or no chance of success if they’d been carried out. The classic example is the group of 20-something radicals who were selling home-made shampoo on the streets of Miami to raise money for a bomb.
  3. The claim that this program has been “closely reviewed” is ludicrous on its face. The Bush Administration has been fighting hard – and said so many times – to make sure this program was secret even from the countries where it was taking place. There has been no “review” from outside the program (the Congressional Intelligence Committees knew nothing about it and when the Pubs were in charge they said openly that they didn’t want to know), nor has there been any “review” from inside the program, as we know from the statements of numerous intelligence sources over the last two years.
  4. No “benefits” from the extraordinary rendition torture program have ever been shown. There is zero credible evidence that even one life has been saved by anything it produced, and no convincing evidence that any of the “plots” it uncovered would have or could have endangered anyone. On the contrary, there’s a good deal of evidence to at least suggest that what the torture of small fry has produced has been of the “shampoo terrorists” variety: ad hoc groups with no political or financial backing from anyone hatching wishful-thinking “plots” in the comfort of their living rooms without a clue of what’s involved or how to pull it off, and without the resources to mount a successful attack on the local dog pound.

Using compliant if reluctant instruments like Tenet and subservient hacks like Porter Goss, the Bush/Cheney CIA has created an unConstitutional and incredibly expensive secret prison system that has broken numerous international laws and treaties, and cost $$hundreds of millions$$ while producing $1.80’s worth of intel.

If the fact that the US is now a torture nation doesn’t piss you off, how about the wasted money?


It should be added that those strong CT “partnerships” don’t appear to be with the govts of the nations involved but to be secret agreements between US intelligence and selected parts of the countries’ intelligence, military, and/or police establishments. The Polish govt, for example, first denied the original charges in ’05 but then, when further investigation revealed proof that US planes were landing at Polish airfields without clearance and unloading shackled passengers who were then whisked away somewhere in secret, it launched its own abortive investigation – an investigation that vanished into the ozone when the US put pressure on the Polish govt to stop it.

In other words, it seems the Polish govt hadn’t been told by its own intelligence services what was going on and was forced into giving its approval after the fact.

That doesn’t absolve them but it does indicate just how slimy and underhanded this whole rendition program has been from the beginning.

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