Report Gives Details on CIA Prisons
Saturday, June 9, 2007
PARIS, June 8 -- 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.
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."
Disclosure of the existence of CIA prisons in Eastern Europe, but not the specific countries where they were located, by The Washington Post in 2005 triggered widespread anger in Europe. The Council of Europe commissioned Marty to find out all he could about the program.
In the report, Marty expressed deep disapproval of U.S. practices with the prisoners. "We must banish forever the Bush Administration mindset that effectively says, 'if it is illegal for us to use such a practice at home or on our own citizens, let us export or outsource it so we will not be held to account for it,' " the report concluded.
The report was also critical of European governments for having allowed the prisons or the transport of prisoners through their airspace. Many did not cooperate with the investigation, the report said, nor did NATO or the United States.
Investigators relied primarily on sources they did not identify in the report, but Marty said they spoke to more than 30 serving or retired members of intelligence services in the United States and Europe as well as civilians performing contract work for intelligence agencies.
The report provided new details about the CIA's purported methods of operation, detention tactics and detainees in the secret facilities. The report said evidence indicated that in order to bypass civilian authorities the CIA used emergency provisions approved by the NATO alliance after the Sept. 11 attacks to partner with European military and intelligence agencies.
"The CIA's clandestine operations in Europe -- including its transfers and secret detentions of HVDs [high-value detainees] -- were sustained and kept secret only through their operational dependence on alliances and partnerships in what is more traditionally the military sphere," the report said.
The secret "high-value" prisoner program was given the NATO classification of "Cosmic Top Secret," according to the report.