Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Torturers' Accomplices

detention centre?

THE British government has collaborated with the CIA in secretly flying detainees to places where they could be tortured. It also tried to obstruct any investigation into what was going on.

So did the Italian intelligence service. So did European Union foreign minister Javier Solana, and other top EU officials.

Poland, celebrating its freedom and membership of the EU and NATO by sending its young people to provide cheap labour and prostitutes for Britain, and cheap soldiers for the US in Iraq, has also opened its skies to US "secret rendition" flights and its soil to house a secret US detention centre.

That might raise unpleasant associations in people's minds. Poles have understandably and rightly taken exception to American media carelessly calling Auschwitz a "Polish" concentration camp, when it was of course a German Nazi concentration camp established at Oswiecim on occupied Polish soil. So far, the numbers of people taken to Poland by the CIA are fairly small.
Though Halliburtons profited by contracts for the cages at Guantanamo base, we have not heard of any US companies finding it worthwhile to establish a factory for detainee labour, the way IG Farben used up slave labour in the plant it set up, behind the infamous sign "Arbeit Macht Frei", at Oswiecim.

But without even being under occupation, the Polish government is acquiescing in what may one day be called, to the chagrin of most Poles, a "Polish detention camp".

The European Parliament has issued a report on CIA "torture flights" which identifies the site of a suspected secret US detention centre in the EU - at Stare Kiejkuty in Poland. It says EU governments, including the British, knew about the practice known as "extraordinary rendition" - secret CIA flights transferring detainees to locations where they risked being tortured - but made a concerted attempt to obstruct investigations.

The MEPs single out Geoff Hoon, Labour's minister for Europe, deploring his attitude to their special committee's inquiry. They also cite the chief legal adviser to the Foreign Office, Sir Michael Wood, as holding the view that "receiving or possessing" information extracted under torture, if there was no direct participation in the torture, was not per se banned under international law. Sir Michael declined to give evidence to the committee.

The European report points out British involvment with the CIA in the process. Two UK residents, Bisher al-Rawi, an Iraqi citizen , and Jamil el-Banna, a Jordanian citizen, seized in the Gambia in 2002 were "turned over to US agents and flown to Afghanistan and then to Guantánamo, where they remain detained without trial or any form of judicial assistance", the report says. Their abduction was helped "by partly erroneous information" supplied by MI5.

Binyam Mohammed, an Ethiopian citizen and UK resident arrested in Pakistan was held in Morocco where questions "appear to have been inspired by information supplied by the UK". His lawyer has described what the report called "horrific torture".

Martin Mubanga, a UK citizen arrested in Zambia in 2002 was flown to Guantánamo Bay, and interrogated by British officials, then held and tortured for four years before being released without trial.

The European report, released on November 28, says CIA Gulfstream jets landed in secret at Szymany airport in Poland. There was circumstantial evidence, it said, that there may have been a secret detention centre at the nearby intelligence training centre at Stare Kiejkuty. Records of an EU and NATO meeting with US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, last December confirmed "member states had knowledge of the [US] programme of extraordinary renditions and secret prisons".

It criticises EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and counter-terrorism coordinator Gijs de Vries for a lack of cooperation with the inquiry, and NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer for declining to give evidence.

At least 1,245 CIA rendition flights used European airspace or landed at European airports, the report said. It accused the former head of Italy's Sismi intelligence service, Nicolo Pollari, of "concealing the truth" when he told the committee Italian agents played no part in the CIA kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in 2003. It says Sismi officials had an active role in the abduction of Abu Omar, who had been "held incommunicado and tortured ever since".

There were 170 stopovers at British airports by CIA planes which came from, or were bound for, countries linked with "extraordinary rendition circuits". Though some British MPs and newspapers have assisted the investigation, the Blair government stands condemned for assisting the CIA and refusing to assist the investigation.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights group Liberty, said: "Our government wept hot tears for torture victims in Saddam Hussein's Iraq but adamantly refuses to investigate CIA torture flights despite growing international pressure. The silence in Whitehall is damning."

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At 1:24 AM, Blogger Renegade Eye said...

Very powerful and important posts. The more rights we lose, the more the terrorists win.


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