Tag Archives: CIA Black Sites

US government covered up 14,000 photos documenting CIA secret prisons

By Thomas Gaist
June 29, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

The US government has concealed the existence of some 14,000 images documenting the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) network of secret “black site” torture and interrogation centers established after September 11, according to unnamed US officials who spoke to the Washington Post.

The existence of the photographs was known to the US military prosecutors involved in ongoing military commission cases against four alleged terrorists for at least several months prior to the publication of the media reports on Saturday, according to the Post.

The photos had never been brought forward during more than three years of hearings in the cases of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and three other alleged participants in the September 11 attacks.

After a brief attempt to conduct their trials in a New York federal court, the accused are again standing before military-run commissions established to deny basic democratic rights to “enemy combatants” captured by the US government as part of the so-called global war on terror.

Images from black sites in Thailand, Afghanistan, Poland, Lithuania, Romania and possibly others are included in the photo cache, which the Obama administration still refuses to release.

The photos, now under review by US officials, include images of naked prisoners taken during transportation to the torture sites. There are also reportedly photos of a wooden board used for waterboarding detainees at a black site in Afghanistan as well as photos of the small confinement boxes which a number of detainees were forced into for hours on end.

The concealment of the photos has prompted calls for the suspension of the commissions, pending an official investigation into the images.

In spite of ferocious efforts waged continuously by both the Bush and Obama administrations to suppress investigation of the torture programs, the basic facts are more or less known. More than 100 individuals are confirmed to have been “rendered” to secret prisons between 2002 and 2006. Individuals without any remote connection to Jihadist organizations were detained and tortured for years as a result of mistaken identity.

Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen, underwent prolonged torture and confinement in Afghanistan before being dumped by CIA officers in rural Albania after proving to his captors that his name was very similar to, but not the same as, that of the man they had intended to interrogate.

At least five of the detainees disappeared to black sites by the CIA have been confirmed to have been killed as a result of being subjected to the “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

The total number of victims may be much higher. The CIA organized more than 1,200 flights to and from locations on the European continent between 2002 and 2006, as part of its rendition and torture operations, according to a 2007 report approved by the European Union’s main legislature.

A slow trickle of detainees have been quietly released or transferred without explanation. Two Tunisians held at a CIA black site in Afghanistan for over a decade were flown back to Tunisia for release on June 15, traveling on board a US military plane. An unknown number of other detainees held by US forces at black sites were handed over to the Afghan government last December.

The refusal of the US government to release the photos, along with their secrecy in the first place, are serious crimes in themselves. As part of the cover up, the Obama administration continues to hold dozens of “enemy combatants” who have been cleared for release as early as 2009.

The collaboration of European governments in the operation of the secret torture network has also been covered up. Details of the European role in the torture network were subject to heavy redaction in the already heavily redacted Senate torture report.

Nonetheless, it is known that Poland, Lithuania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania all hosted secret prisons directly run by the CIA, while a broader circle of some 20 European states ran sites in close collaboration with the CIA.

Security personnel from the British government were directly involved in CIA torture sessions. Other collaborating governments received millions in US government money paid out by the CIA, including more than $1 million paid to Lithuania for the right to set up a single detention center.

At least three of the agency’s black sites, located in Poland, Romania and Morocco, were established from the CIA branch office in Frankfurt, Germany. The Frankfurt office, previously a “sleepy” logistics outpost for the agency, suddenly received millions of dollars’ worth of budget increases under orders from the White House, beginning in 2002.

Instead of being punished, the bureaucrats who oversaw the programs, including current CIA Director John Brennan, are now ensconced in powerful offices at the highest levels of government.

Documentation proving that the Obama administration has dismantled the vast array of resources, camps and personnel networks involved has not been forthcoming.

America’s “Blacklist” Conspiracy of Silence

By Gordon Duff
February 7, 2015
New Eastern Outlook

 

hqdefault (1)Last week the Pakistani government told the media that the ISIS leader they captured in December had a US based paymaster, something neither confirmed nor denied by the US though the press release indicated that Secretary of State John Kerry was briefed on this revelation.

There is a reason for Kerry’s silence. If ISIS is funded by the US then the black C130 aircraft that resupply them are American too. Given what we now know, it is not unreasonable to assume that Victoria Nuland, on orders from “somewhere “ordered the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 while her “betters” managed the press response and the phony half-hearted Dutch “investigation.”

This hypothesis, hardly a conspiracy theory, supports one inexorable fact; the rumors of a “Secret Shadow Government” are more fact than rumor. High level sources within the US Department of Justice tell us that every major investigation undertaken since 1990, financial fraud, terrorism, narcotics, espionage, all have been quashed, all involved silenced, removed, discredited and even killed.

All investigations end because all real investigations stumble on the same players and come to the same conclusions; America is ruled by a multi-generational crime cartel that includes the biggest names in America politics. Yesterday, an American television show got it exactly right as “fiction” is the only outlet for truth in a world turned upside down. The show was Blacklist and we will be discussing how much they got right.

The Torture Report

Recent reports of CIA torture and abuses omitted a key fact, the CIA “black site” prison system a worldwide gulag hidden on abandoned oil platforms, in underground storage facilities and psychiatric hospitals or, most often jails or prisons on trumped up charges, or on American military bases, contains more American “whistleblowers” than terrorists. Susan Lindauer was “black sited” in a psychiatric hospital on an American military base, Lee Wanta was “black sited” as was Chip Tatum, Victor Bout and Dimitri Khalezov. Gwyneth Todd escaped assassination by Bush operatives in Bahrain but Roland Carnaby, Chris Kyle, Helric Fredou, Dr.David Kelly, Michael Connell, Vince Foster, Ron Brown and John Wheeler III died mysteriously.

US Senators Paul Wellstone, Mel Carnahan along with candidates Sonny Bono and John Ashbrook were murdered, two air crashes, a “skiing accident “and accidental ingestion of crushed glass. I could add a hundred names to the list, keeping it “recent,” I would start with John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and, when I finished, it would be enough names to fill a stadium. Do you see where this is going?

Bridging the Gap Between Drama and Reality TV

An American TV drama, as is sometimes the case as with the quickly cancelled and quite excellent Rubicon, which exposed US complicity in 9/11, has broken new ground. Most are aware of America’s rendition program and CIA black site prisons. Blacklist show regularly covers these issues. It also openly admits that the CIA routinely executes prisoners. They actually show the method, prisoners hoisted in the air by electric winches, chains around their necks strangling them, something that a skilled operator can use for both interrogation and “termination with extreme prejudice” or, as they call it now, “depersonalization.”

Where the “new ground” is broken is the admission that black site prisons are America buries its secrets not its enemies. The TV show “Blacklist” openly exposes, albeit fictionally, a deep parallel with the reality behind 9/11 and so many terror attacks and the virtual army of silenced witnesses and investigators that were too valuable to be “suicided or killed,” too independent to be threatened with gag orders and too moral to be bribed.

Too often, fiction trumps reality. Last night was no exception. Yesterday was a historic day by American standards; it was “Superbowl Sunday,” now a holiday celebrating watching television and drinking beer. Nothing could be more appropriate to follow than the new season of the TV show “Blacklist.”

Let me explain. Blacklist is a TV show about a fugitive billionaire arms dealer who makes a deal with the US government to help him kill his enemies who are, for the most part, also wanted fugitives. The character is based roughly on Victor Bout.

Salon, in an article from February 2010 explains a bit about Bout and the arms trade, an article that strangely has no listed author:

“First, the substantial Jewish investment in the global arms trade permits Israel to support rebel groups worldwide through mafia channels that otherwise would be credited to Israeli government policy. For example, Russian-Jewish mafia figures are financing the Darfur separatists in Sudan (though the agency of Ukrainian-Jewish boss Viktor Bout), and the Colombian communist FARC rebels through the agency of the greatest boss of them all, the Israeli Simon Mogilevich, who bought the Hungarian anti-aircraft factories in the early 1990s…”

Gagged and Silenced

Thousands of Americans, members of the military, police, judicial, legislative, regulatory and intelligence services and agencies are currently gagged, silenced from reporting crimes against the people of the United States and the world at large.

Whistleblowers have revealed more than just classified material. They have described the enormity of what is an even greater threat, how “national security” and phony investigations are used to gag witnesses and cover up crimes.

Currently there are secret grand juries across the US that have no other purpose than to corral witnesses and threaten them with prison. No indictments ever come out of these legal monstrosities including and especially the Houston based Federal grand jury covering the Able Danger/9/11 related crimes.

In the TV drama, Blacklist, the secret to be protected wasn’t a terror plot but rather a list of government officials who were complicit in covering up crimes. “If the public finds out, if they get ahold of this list, they will hang every one of them.”

The witnesses who could and should be testifying against many of America’s top generals, members of congress, the entire Bush (41) administration, not just for torture but drug running, espionage, fraud and murder, all are silenced.

Inside the “Beltway,” the road surrounding the US capitol, insiders share the spoils of worldwide crime, protected by a legal system used to protect only the worst criminals while supposedly warring on imaginary terrorists.

The only laws consistently enforced inside the United States are those that silence those who would report complicity in treason and terrorism by the “highest in the land.

Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

 

The National security state as a criminal enterprise

By Press TV
December 15, 2014

 

Former President George W. Bush emphasizing a point during remarks given from in the East Room of the White House on Sept. 6, 2006.

Former President George W. Bush emphasizing a point during remarks given from in the East Room of the White House on Sept. 6, 2006.

 

It came from the top and that’s never been a secret.  The president authorized the building of those CIA “black sites” and the use of what came to be known as “enhanced interrogation techniques” and has spoken of this with a certain pride.

The president’s top officials essentially put in an order at the Department of Justice for “legal” justifications that would, miraculously, transform those “techniques” into something other than torture.  Its lawyers then pulled out their dictionaries and gave new meaning to tortured definitions of torture that could have come directly from the fused pens of Franz Kafka and George Orwell.  In the process, they even managed to leave the definition of torture to the torturer.  It was a performance for the ages.

Last week, former Vice President Dick Cheney, who only days after 9/11 claimed that the Bush administration was going to “work the dark side,” once again championed those techniques and the CIA agents who used them.  It was a handy reminder of just what a would-be crew of tough-guy torture instigators he and his cohorts were. The legal veneer spread thinly over the program they set in motion was meant to provide only the faintest legal cover for the “gloves” they bragged about taking off, while obscuring the issue for the American public.  After all, few in the rest of the world were likely to accept the idea that interrogation methods like waterboarding, or “the water torture” as it had once been known, were anything but torture.  Even in this country, it had been accepted as just that.  The Bush administration was, of course, helped in those years by a media that, when not cheerleading for torture, or actually lending the CIA a helpful hand, essentially banished the word from its vocabulary, unless it referred to heinously similar acts committed by countries we disliked.

All in all, it was an exercise in what the “last superpower,” the world’s “policeman,” could get away with in the backrooms of its police stations being jerry-built around the world.  And some of the techniques used with a particular brutality were evidently first demonstrated to top officials in the White House itself.

Then, of course, the CIA went out and applied those “enhanced techniques” to actual human beings with abandon, as the newly released (and somewhat redacted) executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s “torture report” indicates.  This was done even more severely than ordered (not that Cheney & Co. cared), including to a surprising number of captives that the CIA later decided were innocent of anything having to do with terror or al-Qaeda.  All of this happened, despite a law this country signed onto prohibiting the use of torture abroad.

Although what I’ve just described is now generally considered The Torture Story here, it really was only part of it.  The other part, also a CIA operation authorized at the highest levels, was “rendition” or “extraordinary rendition” as it was sometimes known.  This was a global campaign of kidnappings, aided and abetted by 54 other countries, in which “terror suspects” (again often enough innocent people) were swept off the streets of major cities as well as the backlands of the planet and “rendered” to other countries, places with their own handy torture chambers and interrogators already much practiced in “enhanced” techniques of one sort or another.

Moreover, those techniques migrated like a virus from the CIA and its “black sites” elsewhere in the US imperium, most notoriously via Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib, the American-run prison in Iraq, where images of torture and abuse of a distinctly enhanced variety then migrated home as screensavers.

What was done could not have been more criminal in nature, whether judged by US or international law.  In its wake, its perpetrators, both the torturers and the kidnappers, were protected in a major way.  Except for a few low-level figures at Abu Ghraib and one non-torturing CIA whistleblower who went to prison for releasing to a journalist the name of someone involved in the torture program, no American figure, not even those responsible for deaths at the Agency’s black sites, would be brought to court.  And of course, the men (and woman) most responsible would leave the government to write their memoirs for millions of dollars and defend what they did to the death (of others).

It’s one for the history books and, though it’s a good thing to have the Senate report made public, it wasn’t needed to know that, in the years after 9/11, when the US government created an offshore Bermuda Triangle of injustice, it also essentially became a criminal enterprise.  Recently, Republican hawks in Washington protested loudly against the release of that Senate report, suggesting that it should be suppressed lest it “inflame” our enemies.  The real question is not, however, about them at all, it’s about us. Why won’t the release of this report inflame Americans, given what their government has done in their names?

And in case you think it’s all over but for the shouting, think again, as Rebecca Gordon, author of Mainstreaming Torture, writes today in “American Torture: Past, Present, and… Future?”

AN/HRJ

 

Romania agreed to host CIA ‘black sites’ to be accepted into NATO – ex spy chief

By RT
December 14, 2014

 

A Romanian Democrat-Liberal Party (PD-L) activist prepares electoral leaflets next to a van displaying the image of PD-L candidate Ioan Talpes, former director of the Romanian Foreign Intelligence Service (S.I.E). (AFP Photo/Daniel Mihailescu)

A Romanian Democrat-Liberal Party (PD-L) activist prepares electoral leaflets next to a van displaying the image of PD-L candidate Ioan Talpes, former director of the Romanian Foreign Intelligence Service (S.I.E). (AFP Photo/Daniel Mihailescu)

 

A Romanian Democrat-Liberal Party (PD-L) activist prepares electoral leaflets next to a van displaying the image of PD-L candidate Ioan Talpes, former director of the Romanian Foreign Intelligence Service (S.I.E). (AFP Photo/Daniel Mihailescu)

Romania allowed the CIA to use a number of sites on its territory, a former head of the country’s intelligence confessed. He added that Bucharest’s bid to join NATO at the time prevented it from asking the US about the purposes of the sites.

The sites in question were called “transit centers” and Romania was unaware of whether they were used for detention, Ioan Talpes, who headed Romania’s Foreign Intelligence Service from 2000 to 2004, told the daily Adevarul in a video interview posted online on Saturday.

The Romanian side was not interested in what the Americans were doing, purposely to show them that they could trust us,” said Talpes.

AFP cited the interview, in which Talpes specifically stressed that at the time the decision was made, Bucharest was waiting to join NATO.

The ex-spy chief said talks on “sites that the Romanians would place at the disposal of CIA representatives” began after September 11, 2001.

What is certain is that we were not aware of the presence of detainees,” Talpes insisted in the interview.

The US Senate report on torture, published earlier this week, revealed among other things that 119 people were captured and held in CIA detention sites hosted by other countries.

Although none of the countries were specifically named in the heavily redacted document, the list of those assumed to be mentioned includes Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Thailand and Afghanistan.

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Romania’s president at the time, Ion Iliescu, denied earlier this week any knowledge of the so-called “black sites” in the country, AFP reports.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta said questions about the sites should be addressed to the Foreign Ministry, which hasn’t as yet commented on the issue.

Poland earlier confirmed that it housed a facility that was used to interrogate Al-Qaeda suspects between 2002 and 2003.

In July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Poland violated an international treaty to protect human rights by hosting secret CIA prisons.

ECHR also ordered Warsaw to pay €230,000 to two former secret facility detainees. Poland is appealingthe decision.

The ruling, meanwhile, could serve as a precedent for other European states alleged to have hosted CIA prisons. Romania and Lithuania have similar cases filed against them with the ECHR.