Wednesday, January 25, 2006

U.S. Outsourced Torture and European Governments Knew

Dick Marty is a Swiss senator and the head of a just-completed European investigation into the issue of C.I.A. secret prisons in Europe. Marty says the investigation found no evidence of secret prisons in Romania or Poland, as Human Rights Watch alleged; but there was evidence that the United States sent detainees to countries known to practice torture, and that European governments knew about it.

The Council of Europe launched its probe after allegations surfaced in November that U.S. agents interrogated key al-Qaida suspects at clandestine prisons in eastern Europe and transported some suspects to other countries passing through Europe.

Human Rights Watch identified Romania and Poland as possible sites of secret U.S.-run detention facilities. Both countries have denied involvement, and Marty's report said there was no formal, irrefutable evidence of secret CIA prisons in either country, or anywhere else in Europe.

Clandestine detention centers would violate European human rights treaties.
"On the other hand, it has been proved that individuals have been abducted, deprived of their liberty and all rights and transported to different destinations in Europe to be handed over to countries in which they have suffered degrading treatment and torture," the report said.

Eric Alterman has little doubt that the Bush administration will point to Marty's findings as proof of pure heart and clean hands [scroll up; Eric's permalink jumps to the wrong post]:

It's a rather amazing but telling sign o' the times that it will be considered a measure of exoneration of the Bush administration that the European Commission says the administration was not necessarily setting up secret gulag-style torture camps in Poland and Romania, but merely sending suspects to be tortured in nations where doing so does not present much of a problem, politically. ...Of course, this does not mean the Poland and Romania stories are false. I doubt that. We know from Brian Ross's redacted reporting on ABC News, [which] I discussed here, that the CIA probably rolled up these operations just before Condi Rice's plane touched down in these countries after they were exposed by Human Rights Watch and The Washington Post. What this means, most likely, is that the US got the Europeans to play ball on behalf of these countries' governments -- who might not survive the revelation were it confirmed at home -- or that the CIA is showing a rare degree of competence in rolling them up so effectively that the investigation can find no traces of them. Still, it is a measure of how low this administration has taken us that its new slogan may be "We don't torture (much). We just pay torturers to do our work for us."