Saturday, December 10, 2005
Poland named as main base for secret CIA terror interrogations
POLAND is the CIA's main centre for detaining terrorist suspects in Europe at
clandestine prisons, a leading human rights investigator has claimed.
Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst with Human Rights Watch, said his
organisation had documents proving Poland was "the main base" for interrogating
prisoners and showing Romania was a transit point for moving terror suspects.
Poland's leaders continue vigorously to deny any involvement in alleged
secret CIA prisons.
But Mr Garlasco claimed: "Poland was the main base of interrogating prisoners
and Romania was more of a hub.
"This is what our sources from within the CIA tell us and what is shown from
the documents we gathered."
Mr Garlasco said an "operation on such a scale could not have happened
without the knowledge of the Polish authorities. There are people who took part
in it, there are flight records."
He said about 25 important terror suspects were interrogated in Poland near a
former military airport in Szymany, in the north, and in a much larger facility
in the south.
Meanwhile, there was confusion over whether Scottish police were
investigating claims by Green MSP Mark Ruskell that CIA "torture flights" landed
secretly at an RAF base en route to other countries. Fife Constabulary Chief
Constable Peter Wilson wrote to Mr Ruskell informing him that "inquiries" would
be made into the claims. A force spokesman yesterday said an investigation was
But Mr Wilson, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in
Scotland, later told The Scotsman that no formal inquiry would be held into
claims that RAF Leuchars, or any other Scottish airport, had been used for the
so-called "extraordinary rendition" flights, as there was no evidence any crime
had taken place or was being planned.
Several Scottish airports, including Prestwick, Glasgow, Edinburgh and
Inverness, are already known to have been used by at least 176 secret flights
carrying Islamic militants abroad for interrogation that would be illegal in
Greater Manchester Chief Constable Michael Todd has agreed to meet the head
of a leading human rights group to discuss a possible probe into claims the
"torture flights" have landed on airports throughout the UK.
Eight Countries Reject U.S.-Backed Secret Interrogations
– Many adults around the world are against allowing the United States to covertly question suspected terrorists inside their countries, according to a poll by Ipsos-Public Affairs released by the Associated Press. At least 60 per cent of respondents in Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain and South Korea reject the idea. Conversely, 63 per cent of Americans believe the practice is warranted.
Last month, the Washington Post reported on the existence of secret U.S. prisons for purported terrorism suspects located in Eastern Europe. On Nov. 7, U.S. president George W. Bush declared, "Anything we do to (protect the American people), any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture." The Bush administration has neither confirmed nor denied the report.
The reports of the so-called "black sites" have caused diplomatic tension in Europe, as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is believed to have covertly transported detainees by private charter between locations, in a possible violation of a country’s airspace.
This week, U.S. state secretary Condoleezza Rice responded to European questions about the secret prisons issue, by saying that the actions of the U.S. have "prevented attacks in Europe" and "saved innocent lives." Rice added, "We cannot discuss information that would compromise intelligence, law enforcement and military operations. We expect other nations share this view."
At least two-thirds of respondents in Italy, Spain, Canada, Britain and Germany believe the use of torture against suspected terrorists to obtain information about terrorism activities is rarely or never justified. France was next on the list with 65 per cent, followed by the U.S. with 59 per cent, Mexico with 58 per cent, and South Korea with 43 per cent.
Would you support or oppose allowing the United States to secretly interrogate suspected terrorists in (Country) to try to obtain information about terrorist activities?
How do you feel about the use of torture against suspected terrorists to obtain information about terrorism activities? Can that often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?
Source: Ipsos-Public Affairs / Associated Press
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 8,964 adults in the Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, South Korea and the United States, conducted from Nov. 15 to Nov. 28, 2005. Margin of error for each sample is 3.1 per cent.
Conspiracy to Torture
Consider just two words: 'command responsibility.' Those words stand among the most resolutely enduring principles established after World War II by the Nuremberg Tribunals. Today they pose a special threat to President Bush, Vice President Cheney and the other officials who actively promote what Secretary of State Rice, in Germany, insisted the Administration 'does not authorize or condone.' To carry out physically and psychically brutal interrogations outside all international norms has required the Administration to corrupt the ordinary meaning of language itself. 'We do not torture' (Bush). 'What we do does not come close to torture' (Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss). Such denials continue despite twelve reports from the Defense Department documenting the opposite--never mind Congressional testimony, journalistic investigations and NGO reports making common knowledge of waterboarding, sleep deprivation, near-fatal beatings and mock executions. "
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Prosecutor, Time Reporter Meet
By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer 48 minutes ago
Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than an hour Thursday morning
at a law firm representing Viveca Novak, a Time magazine reporter whose
testimony was being sought in the CIA leak case.
Fitzgerald and an associate emerged from the office of attorney Hank Schuelke
at 11:30 a.m. EDT, declined to answer questions and rode away in a taxi cab. A
short time later, a court stenographer left the building.
An hour later, Schuelke escorted Novak from the building and helped her flag
a taxi. He declined comment when asked if she had provided sworn testimony in
Fitzgerald's investigation of the leak of an undercover CIA agent's
The special counsel's meeting with Novak and Schuelke comes a day after
Fitzgerald spent three hours meeting with grand jurors about the leak inquiry,
which so far has yielded the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of
staff, I. Lewis Libby.
Fitzgerald had been seeking testimony from Novak about her conversations with
Robert Luskin, an attorney for deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove, who
is still under investigation.
Novak, a reporter in Time's Washington bureau, had agreed to cooperate in
Fitzgerald's investigation, according to an article in the Dec. 5 issue of the
For nearly two years, Fitzgerald has been looking into who in the
administration leaked the identity of CIA undercover agent Valerie Plame's
identity to the news media.
Plame's CIA status was disclosed eight days after her husband, former U.S.
ambassador Joseph Wilson, publicly accused the administration of twisting
intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat in the run-up to the war.
Rove's legal problems stem from the fact that it was not until more than a
year into the criminal investigation that he told the prosecutor about
disclosing Plame's CIA status to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper on July 11,
Rove says he did not disclose the Cooper conversation to investigators
because he had forgotten it. It occurred days before Plame's identity was
revealed by the media.
The presidential adviser revealed the CIA employment of Wilson's wife to
Cooper two days after another conversation in which Rove and conservative
columnist Robert Novak discussed Plame's CIA status.
Robert Novak was the first journalist to disclose Plame's identity, on July
14, 2003. Cooper co-wrote a Time article about Plame on July 17, 2003.
Robert Novak and Viveca Novak are not related.
Viveca Novak specifically has been asked to testify under oath about
conversations she had with Luskin starting in May 2004, the magazine
Novak, part of a team tracking the CIA case for Time, has written or
contributed to articles in which Luskin characterized the nature of what was
said between Rove and Cooper, the first Time reporter who testified in the
On the Web:
Office of Special Counsel:
Rice admits mistakes in war on terror
Speaking after a meeting with Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, Ms. Rice again insisted that the U.S. did not ``condone'' torture. ``It is against U.S. law,'' she said.
But she appeared to concede for the first time that the Bush administration's uncompromising policy of ``rendition'' against terrorist suspects had sometimes gone wrong.
``We recognise that any policy will sometimes result in errors,'' said U.S. Secretary of State. She added: ``When this happens we will do everything we can to rectify it.''
Her comments in Berlin came at the start of her five-day tour, which takes in Romania, Ukraine and Brussels.
Wave of criticism
The visit has been accompanied by a wave of criticism from across Europe over the CIA's practice of transferring terrorist suspects to third countries for interrogation.
There were also new and embarrassing revelations on Tuesday that the CIA had closed down its secret jails in eastern Europe after their existence was revealed early last month by the Washington Post. According to ABC, citing CIA officials, the prisons believed to be in Poland and Romania were shut last month.
The 11 Al-Qaeda suspects held there were flown to North Africa before Dr. Rice's trip, the network said.
Dr. Rice's unusual concession to U.S. critics appears to be an attempt to deflect outrage in Germany over the case of Khalid Masri — a German national mistakenly kidnapped by the CIA in December 2003.
Standing next to Dr. Rice, Ms. Merkel on Tuesday said the U.S. had ``accepted'' it had ``erroneously taken'' Mr. Masri, who spent five months in a freezing Afghan jail after the CIA grabbed him in Macedonia.
The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday announced that it was suing the CIA and its Director at the time George Tenet over h is case. Mr. Masri had been due to address a press conference — but was unable to attend after U.S. officials refused him permission to enter the country. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Plane crashes into apartments in Iran
• Over 120 dead as plane crashes whilst attempting emergeny landing
• All 94 passenger dead who were mostly Iranian journalists and cameramen
• Iranian officials blame US sanctions which prevent aircraft maintenence
"Rescue teams are required to employ their maximum capability to save and help the survivors" - PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
US Defense of Torture Transport Makes No Sense Says Legal Expert
The robust defense of rendition offered yesterday by the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, marks the export to a European audience of a position on torture that is becoming increasingly uncomfortable for the Bush administration.
Ms Rice's arguments yesterday hinge on her insistence that rendition was a legitimate and necessary tool for the changed circumstances brought by the war on terror. "The captured terrorists of the 21st century do not fit easily into traditional systems of criminal or military justice," she said.
Ms Rice went on to note that the practice had been deployed "for decades" before the terror attacks of September 11 2001. "Its use is not unique to the United States, or to the current administration," she said.
However, her assurances that spiriting terror suspects away to clandestine prisons is a legitimate tactic did not carry much weight with human rights organisations or legal scholars yesterday.
They argued that the sole use of extraordinary rendition was to transport a suspect to a locale that was beyond the reach of the law - and so at risk of torture.
"The argument makes no sense unless there is an assumption that the purpose of rendition is to send people to a place where things could be done to them that could not be done in the United States," said David Luban, a law professor at Georgetown University who is presently a visiting professor at Stanford University.
"Rendition doesn't become a tool in the war against terror unless people are being sent to a place where they can be interrogated harshly."
In her statement yesterday, Ms Rice said rendition was necessary in instances where local governments did not have the capacity to prosecute a terror suspect, or in cases where al-Qaida members were operating in remote areas far from an operational justice system.
However, the majority of the two dozen or so terror suspects known to have been subjected to rendition were captured in urban areas. Some were taken in Europe.
"Most of the ghost detainees on the list were captured in major cities like Bangkok and Karachi," said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch.
Amid the outrage in Europe over the secret prisons, the administration faces calls at home from Democrats for an investigation into the treatment of so-called "ghost detainees". The vice-president, Dick Cheney, meanwhile, has been criticised for resisting efforts to include the CIA in a ban on "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of detainees.
However, in her remarks yesterday, Ms Rice appeared to offer repeated and firm assurances that al-Qaida suspects transported to clandestine prisons for interrogation would not be subjected to torture. "The US does not permit, tolerate or condone torture under any circumstances," she said.
Critics say that depends on one's definition of torture. During the last four years, they say the Bush administration has adopted an exceedingly narrow definition of torture, allowing interrogators to use a variety of harsh techniques such as stress positions, sleep deprivation, and waterboarding, where suspects are strapped to a board and plunged into water.
"The reason she is able to say that the United States does not engage in torture is that the administration has redefined torture to exclude any technique that they use," said Tom Malinowski, Washington director of Human Rights Watch. "What makes this awkward for Secretary Rice is that the state department has continued to condemn as torture techniques such as waterboarding when they are used by other countries - in other words the very techniques the CIA has used against these high level detainees."
Other critics noted yesterday that the utility of information gathered under duress was also unclear. Some intelligence gathered from such suspects has proved unreliable most notoriously in the case of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, who told his interrogators before the war in Iraq that Saddam Hussein's regime was training al-Qaida terrorists in the use of chemical and biological weapons.
Al-Libi later recanted, but the flawed intelligence was used by the then secretary of state, Colin Powell, in March 2003 to make his case for war to the United Nations.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005
Monday, December 05, 2005
Founder of Teen Torture Center Movement, Ambassador De Sade Mel Sembler to Lead Legal Fund Drive for Pedophilic Literary Artist, I. "Scooter" Libby
Libby, former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, was indicted last month on perjury and obstruction charges in connection with the disclosure of a covert CIA agent's name.
The fund, which was formed several weeks ago, has received assistance from friends, colleagues and former government officials, according to former Justice Department spokeswoman Barbara Comstock, who is helping Libby. That group includes former United Nations Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick.
Other contributors include investor Howard Leach, lobbyist Wayne Berman, both of whom help raise money for President Bush's campaigns; Richard Carlson, president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 1992-1997; former presidential candidates Steve Forbes and Jack Kemp; and former Sens. Fred Thompson of Tennessee and Alan Simpson of Wyoming.
Ex-CIA director James Woolsey also is helping, as are magazine publisher Philip Merrill, a former president and ex-chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and Mideast historian Bernard Lewis.
Sembler, who was called the chairman of the defense fund drive in at least one report, did not return a phone message or a message left at his Treasure Island home Thursday asking for comment.
Sembler is chairman of the board and founder of the Sembler Co., which owns and operates Baywalk, the downtown shopping and entertainment center. The company is also redeveloping Crossroads Shopping Center at Tyrone Boulevard and 66th Street N.
The company is developing its first residential project on Beach Drive NE with developer Jimmy Aviram. It is also slated to buy land in the unincorporated Lealman area for townhomes and has asked for rezoning of industrial land on Park Street in Seminole to build a small shopping center.
Sembler, a longtime Republican fundraiser, has helped candidates at all levels, from St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker up to both President Bushes.
From 1997-2000, he was the Republican National Committee finance chairman. He served as ambassador to Australia and Nauru from 1989 to 1993, and most recently as ambassador to Italy.
Information from Times files was used in this report.
Frist votes aid HCA's business interests - Sunday, 12/04/05
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is pushing a "healthy America" plan that includes tax breaks to help the poor buy insurance and legal limits on excessive jury awards that Frist says hurt access to care.
Frist's plan would do something else besides help the poor and reduce what he says are frivolous lawsuits.
It would help make money for HCA Inc., the Nashville-based hospital company that's been the foundation of the Frist family's wealth.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Straw was last week pressured into writing to Condoleezza Rice, his US counterpart, in Britain's capacity as president of the European Union, to request "clarification" of claims that the CIA had used private jets to ferry terror suspects for interrogation - even torture - in secret prisons in Europe.
The Foreign Secretary's second letter, which is understood to have been written on behalf of the British government, follows growing anger on both sides of the Atlantic at the so-called "extraordinary rendition" missions passing through British airspace or stopping at airports across the country. Straw's letter to Washington asks Rice for more details on the flights. Rice, the US Secretary of State, will be forced to answer the EU-wide concerns about the so-called "black sites", set out in Straw's communication, when she visits Europe this week.
But Scotland on Sunday has established that the Foreign Secretary has also made an individual approach to Britain's closest ally for more information about US activities in, and above, the UK. The approach came as it emerged that a US civil rights groups says it is taking the CIA to court to stop the transportation of terror suspects to countries outside US legal authority. The American Civil Liberties Union, which is acting for a man allegedly flown to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan, said the intelligence agency has broken both US and international law.
"It is wrong for anyone to say we have not pressed the Americans on this," one senior source close to the Foreign Office said last night. "We have asked questions. We have done it officially and less officially and we hope to start getting some more information on this in the next few days."
Straw is understood to have written to Rice last week, appealing for more information on the scale and nature of CIA flights through the UK. Campaigners claim that CIA-owned jets have passed through UK airports - including six in Scotland - on more than 200 occasions since the start of the international war on terror four years ago.
Ministers have been accused of displaying a "lack of curiosity" in not questioning the flights in the past. But their belated attempts to find out what the CIA planes have been doing in the UK since 2001 were last night greeted with caution by civil rights campaigners.
THEY go by names such as N581GA and N44982, N8068V and N379P - featureless identifiers that reveal nothing of their intriguing role in the fight against international terrorism.
The aircraft of the "ghost fleet", the CIA-owned collection of jets that has criss-crossed the globe diligently and incessantly since September 11, 2001, have been regular sights on the tarmac of Scotland's airports.
On at least 170 occasions, at Prestwick, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leuchars, Inverness and Wick, the Gulfstreams have touched down and hung around for anything from a few minutes to overnight stays. Yet, while the world's news pages have gradually come alive to allegations of "extraordinary rendition", to the prospect of detainees being carried on the planes, drugged and ferried to "black sites" where they could be tortured in private, they have remained unmolested by the UK authorities.
It was a remarkably neighbourly gesture, particularly at a time of increased international scrutiny, when other foreign governments were either demanding explanations from the Americans or banning "ghost flights" from their air space. Chris Mullin, a Foreign Office minister until earlier this year, last week observed that his colleagues had shown a marked "lack of curiosity" about the developing mystery surrounding the flights.
Human Rights minister Ian Pearson attempted to set the record straight, telling MPs: "When it comes to 'black sites' and, indeed, when it comes to rendition ... it is right for us to ask the US for more information, and we are actively doing that."
As of March, 108 detainees were known to have died in US military and CIA custody. At least 26 deaths have been investigated as criminal homicides.
The justification for the UK staying out of the issue may, however, be taken away from politicians and the legal system, if human rights campaigners are successful in forcing the authorities to take action to investigate the growing suspicions.