Wednesday, November 02, 2005

black sites: europe is the new guantanamo

continuing with wapo day, courtesy of dkos, we find this explosive story on the post's front page:

The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.

The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.

The hidden global internment network is a central element in the CIA's unconventional war on terrorism. It depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress charged with overseeing the CIA's covert actions.

The existence and locations of the facilities -- referred to as "black sites" in classified White House, CIA, Justice Department and congressional documents -- are known to only a handful of officials in the United States and, usually, only to the president and a few top intelligence officers in each host country.

The CIA and the White House, citing national security concerns and the value of the program, have dissuaded Congress from demanding that the agency answer questions in open testimony about the conditions under which captives are held. Virtually nothing is known about who is kept in the facilities, what interrogation methods are employed with them, or how decisions are made about whether they should be detained or for how long.

While the Defense Department has produced volumes of public reports and testimony about its detention practices and rules after the abuse scandals at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and at Guantanamo Bay, the CIA has not even acknowledged the existence of its black sites. To do so, say officials familiar with the program, could open the U.S. government to legal challenges, particularly in foreign courts, and increase the risk of political condemnation at home and abroad.

wow. so the CIA is operating top-secret gulags where detainees are kept in complete isolation, possibly for the rest of their lives, and they are considered to have no rights whatsoever, no chance that they will ever see justice (guilty or innocent), and especially no right to defend themselves if they feel they are wrongly detained. what goes on in these prisons? nobody outside the CIA really knows... hell, nobody even knows where they are. but the CIA is allowed to use thei "enhanced interrogation techniques".

it's not just against US or UN law either... it's even illegal in the countries where these prisons are located!

Legal experts and intelligence officials said that the CIA's internment practices also would be considered illegal under the laws of several host countries, where detainees have rights to have a lawyer or to mount a defense against allegations of wrongdoing.

Host countries have signed the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as has the United States. Yet CIA interrogators in the overseas sites are permitted to use the CIA's approved "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques," some of which are prohibited by the U.N. convention and by U.S. military law. They include tactics such as "waterboarding," in which a prisoner is made to believe he or she is drowning.

wow. nasty things are being done in our name on european soil. it's poetic in a sense that this is apparently happening in a former soviet country, as it's the kind of thing you'd expect to hear about the KGB doing.

so tell us, wapo, where pray tell are these illegal detention facilities?

The Washington Post is not publishing the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the covert program, at the request of senior U.S. officials. They argued that the disclosure might disrupt counterterrorism efforts in those countries and elsewhere and could make them targets of possible terrorist retaliation.

that's right. in this story, the post simultaneously breaks and refuses to break major news. it protects the bush administration (and the CIA) at the same time that it prints information damaging to the administration. sure, we get the broad strokes—something is rotten in the state of ___________. but the post leaves out the most important detail: where?

someone has seemingly forgotten the 6 Ws of journalism: we are given a taste of the who, when, what, why, and how, but we don't get to know where. wapo knows where, but won't tell us.

isn't the job of journalists to report? why print the story but leave out the most important detail?

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