By Joe Wright
The CIA global torture network is coming under much-needed revived scrutiny from the latest revelation that a secret prison existed in a Polish forest for the purpose of rendition and interrogation of suspected terrorists.
As the video report below highlights, the European Court of Human Rights has concluded that Poland fully cooperated with the establishment of the site and subsequently failed to investigate prisoner claims of torture while being held there.
Two men at the heart of the ruling were essentially kidnapped from Thailand in 2002 and brought to the site. The court’s ruling is the very first to issue a condemnation and financial penalty to a country involved in the program. The report also acknowledges that Poland housed one of the most important of the early rendition sites, and therefore might spark a wave of rulings against other countries who cooperated – believed to be more than 50 in number.
While the court’s ruling is symbolically important, until those who orchestrated the global program of kidnapping and torture are brought to justice, this might become an ongoing piece of political theater that actually covers up more than it exposes.
Transcript by Erik Shute
The European Court of Human Rights ruled Poland violated an international treaty by hosting secret CIA prisons within its borders.
“The Strasbourg based court found Poland cooperated in the ‘preparation and execution of CIA rendition, secret detention and interrogation operations on its territory'”. (Via euronews)
Among those under secret detention were Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, two alleged terrorists from Sudan who brought the case to the human rights court. BBC reports both men are currently held at Guantanamo Bay. They claim they were taken to a secret CIA prison, or black site, in a Polish forest and subjected to treatment which amounted to torture. (Via Getty Images)
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The court’s findings state:
– The two men were taken from Thailand to the Polish black site in 2002.
– Poland knew about the operations and did nothing to protect the human rights of prisoners.
– The court also found Poland failed to launch any investigation into the men’s claims. (Via European Court of Human Rights)
What’s more, lawyers from al-Nashiri told The Wall Street Journal they plan on using the court’s ruling as a defense when their client stands trial.
But this case is about more than penalties and legal defenses. This is the first ruling of its kind to condemn the CIA’s covert operation. Al Jazeera, along with other news outlets, believe this could set a new precedent and convict more countries.
“The new judgment crystallizes a decisive moment at which, for countries complicit in the ‘rendition, detention, interrogation’ program, it has become absurd to deny involvement.” (Via Al Jazeera)
The ruling has already made Poland reel in response. RT quotes a presidential spokesperson as saying,
“The ruling of the tribunal in Strasbourg on CIA jails is embarrassing for Poland and is a burden both in terms of our country’s finances as well as its image.” (Via RT)
And what about the images of the U.S. and the CIA? The New York Times reports the U.S. is outside the court’s jurisdiction, but this could help President Obama address legal questions that arose after the program ended. Remember: in his first week in office, the president shut down the detainee program and black site operations. (Via Getty Images)
The CIA black site in Poland been widely reported on since 2005. Since then, information about its history and use have seeped from Washington. The Washington Post wrote about the Polish prison just last January saying,
“The CIA prison in Poland was arguably the most important of all the black sites created by the agency after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It was the first of a trio in Europe that housed the initial wave of accused Sept. 11 conspirators.” (Via The Washington Post)
RT cites reports claiming there are 54 countries worldwide who have offered to help the CIA detain, transport, and interrogate suspects since the September 11th attacks. On Thursday, Amnesty International called for these supporting countries to be investigated as well.
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