On Friday, a committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a report declaring that it was "factually established" that the U.S. tortured detainees in Europe in the period 2002-2005 and describing that torture in graphic detail. -- The New York Times indicated, by burying the report on page 14 of Friday's paper and page 7 of Saturday's paper (where Paris Hilton's jail time figured on the front page), that it couldn't care less. -- The Council of Europe is the 47-member body of states in the European region that adopted, in 1950, the European Convention on Human Rights, which serves as the basis for the European Court of Human Rights. -- PACE is made up of representatives elected by the national parliaments of the member states from among their membership. -- PACE has powers to investigate, recommend, and advise, and plays an important role in the European political context. -- On Sept. 6, 2006, PACE President René van der Linden said, in response to President George W. Bush's announcement of the existence of secret CIA prisons, that kidnapping people and torturing them in secret "is what criminals do, not democratic governments." -- Thus it was a significant event on Friday when the Legal Affairs Committee of PACE adopted a report finding that the U.S. was responsible for torturing detainees in Europe, in Poland and Romania. -- The report affirmed, among other things, that -- 1) it regarded the existence of the secret detentions operated by the CIA as "factually established"; -- 2) their secrecy was maintained by "strict observance of the rules of confidentiality laid down in the NATO framework"; -- 3) the "implementation of this program has given rise to repeated serious breaches of human rights"; -- 4) Detainees were tortured using "[c]ertain 'enhanced' interrogation methods" that "fulfil the definition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Convention against Torture." -- New York Times coverage of these developments paid as much attention to the pro forma denials as to the charges, and, incredibly, did not even mention the word "torture" while describing "[p]risoners guarded by silent men in black masks and dark visors . . . held naked in cramped cells and shackled to walls . . .[v]entilation holes in the cells [that] released bursts of hot or freezing air, with temperature used as a form of extreme pressure to wear down prisoners . . . water-boarding . . . relentless blasts of music and sound, from rap to cackling laughter and screams." -- The PACE committee report called on "the media to fully perform their role as champions of transparency, truth, tolerance, and of human rights and dignity"; instead, the New York Times decided to reproduce the torturers' brief....
'HIGH-VALUE' DETAINEES WERE HELD IN SECRET CIA DETENTION CENTERS IN POLAND AND ROMANIA, SAYS PACE COMMITTEE
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)
June 8, 2007
STRASBOURG -- So-called U.S. "high-value" detainees (HVD) -- whose existence were revealed by President Bush in September 2006 -- were held in secret CIA detention centers in Poland and Romania between 2002 and 2005, according to a report of the Legal Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) adopted today.
The report was based in part on the cross-referenced testimonies of over thirty serving and former members of intelligence services in the U.S. and Europe, and on a new analysis of computer "data strings" from the international flight planning system.
It describes in detail the scope and functioning of the U.S.'s "high-value detainees" program, which it says was set up by the CIA "with the cooperation of official European partners belonging to Government services" and kept secret for many years thanks to strict observance of the rules of confidentiality laid down in the NATO framework.
The program "has given rise to repeated serious breaches of human rights," the committee declared, including the torture of detainees.
In an explanatory memorandum, rapporteur Dick Marty (Switzerland, ALDE) also revealed:
• U.S. "high-value detainees" (HVDs) were held at the Stare Kiejkuty intelligence training base during the period from 2002 to 2005
• A secret agreement between the U.S. and NATO allies in October 2001 provided the framework for the CIA to hold "high-value detainees" in Europe
• Former Polish President Kwasniewski and former Romanian President Iliescu knew about and authorized such secret detentions
• Flights to Poland -- including one that may have carried Khalid Sheikh Mohammed from Kabul to Szymany on 7 March 2003 -- were deliberately disguised through the filing of "dummy" flight plans and the complicity of Polish air traffic controllers (see graphic 1)
• Mistaken terror suspect Khaled El-Masri was "homeward rendered" by the CIA from Kabul to the Bezat-Kuçova Aerodrome in Albania on 28 May 2004 (see graphic 3)
The committee said that only Bosnia and Herzegovina and Canada, a Council of Europe observer state, had fully acknowledged their responsibilities with regard to the unlawful transfers of detainees.
The parliamentarians said information as well as evidence concerning the liability of the state's representatives for serious violations of human rights "must not be considered as worthy of protection as state secrets."
The disclosure of the truth, they said, "is the the best way of restoring the vital cooperation between secret services for the prevention and suppression of terrorism."
Adopted draft resolution and recommendation
SECRET DETENTIONS AND ILLEGAL TRANSFERS OF DETAINEES INVOLVING COUNCIL OF EUROPE MEMBER STATES: SECOND REPORT
Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights Rapporteur: Mr Dick Marty, Switzerland, ALDE
** Provisional version **
A. DRAFT RESOLUTION
1. The Parliamentary Assembly recalls its Resolution 1507 (2006) and Recommendation 1754 (2006), and refers to the report of 12 June 2006 revealing the existence of a "spider's web" of illegal transfers of detainees woven by the CIA in which Council of Europe member states were involved, and expressing suspicions that secret places of detention might exist in Poland and Romania.
2. It now considers it factually established that such secret detention centers operated by the CIA have existed for some years in these two countries, though not ruling out the possibility that secret CIA detentions may also have occurred in other Council of Europe member states.
3. Analysis of the data on the movements of certain aircraft, obtained from different sources, including international air traffic control authorities, and supplemented by numerous credible and concordant testimonies, has enabled the places in question to be identified.
4. These secret places of detention formed part of the "HVD" (High Value Detainees) program publicly referred to by the President of the United States on 6 September 2006.
5. Analysis of this program, on the basis of information obtained from many sources on both sides of the Atlantic, shows that detainees considered especially sensitive -- some of whom were mentioned by the President of the United States -- were held in Poland. For logistical and security reasons, detainees considered to be less important were held in Romania.
6. The "HVD" program was set up by the CIA with the co-operation of official European partners belonging to Government services and kept secret for many years thanks to strict observance of the rules of confidentiality laid down in the NATO framework. The implementation of this program has given rise to repeated serious breaches of human rights.
7. The detainees were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, sometimes protracted. Certain "enhanced" interrogation methods used fulfil the definition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Convention against Torture. Furthermore, secret detention as such is contrary to many international undertakings both of the United States and of the Council of Europe member states concerned.
8. The Assembly earnestly deplores the fact that the concepts of state secrecy or national security are invoked by many Governments (United States, Poland, Romania, "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," Italy, and Germany, as well as the Russian Federation in the Northern Caucasus) to obstruct judicial and/or parliamentary proceedings aimed at ascertaining the responsibilities of the executive in relation to grave allegations of human rights violations and at rehabilitating and compensating the alleged victims of such violations.
9. Information as well as evidence concerning the civil, criminal, or political liability of the state's representatives for serious violations of human rights must not be considered as worthy of protection as state secrets. If it is not possible to separate such cases from true, legitimate state secrets, appropriate procedures must be put into place ensuring that the culprits are held accountable for their actions while preserving state secrecy.
10. The scope of the executive's reserved area, exempted by virtue of state secrecy and national security from parliamentary and judicial review under legislation or in accordance with practice dating from the worst period of the Cold War, must be reconsidered to take into account the principles of democracy and rule of law.
11. The Assembly is also anxious about the threats to the European governments' freedom of action resulting from their covert involvement in the CIA's unlawful activities. The disclosure of the truth, necessary on grounds of principle, is also the best way of restoring the vital cooperation between secret services for the prevention and suppression of terrorism on a sound and sustainable basis.
12. Only Bosnia and Herzegovina and Canada, the latter an observer to the Council of Europe, have fully acknowledged their responsibilities with regard to the unlawful transfers of detainees.
13. The Romanian parliamentary delegation has shown a firm resolve to co-operate with the Assembly, but has itself encountered the government authorities' reluctance to shed all possible light on the CIA's questionable activities in Romanian territory.
14. In Italy, the trial of the kidnappers of Abu Omar runs into obstacles due to considerations of state secrecy. The Assembly is deeply perturbed by the proceedings brought recently against the Milan public prosecutors themselves for breach of state secrecy. It regards such proceedings as intolerable impediments to the independence of justice.
15. In Germany, the work of the Bundestag commission of inquiry is proceeding energetically. But the prosecutorial authorities, engaged in the hunt for the kidnappers of Khaled El-Masri, still meets with lack of co-operation on the part of the American and Macedonian authorities. Khaled El-Masri still awaits the rehabilitation and redress of damage owing to him, in the same way as Maher Arar, the victim in a comparable case in Canada.
16. The Assembly solemnly restates its position that terrorism can and must be combated by methods consistent with human rights and rule of law. This position of principle, founded on the values upheld by the Council of Europe, is also the one that best guarantees the effectiveness of the fight against terrorism in the long term.
17. The Assembly therefore calls upon:
17.1. the parliaments and judicial authorities of all Council of Europe member states;
17.1.1. to elucidate fully, by reducing to a reasonable minimum the restrictions of transparency founded on concepts of state secrecy and national security, the secret services' wrongful acts committed on their territory with regard to secret detentions and unlawful transfers of detainees; and
17.1.2. to ensure that the victims of such unlawful acts are fittingly rehabilitated and compensated;
17.2. the media to fully perform their role as champions of transparency, truth, tolerance, and of human rights and dignity; and
17.3. the competent authorities of all member states to implement the other proposals embodied in its Resolution 1507 (2006).
18. Finally, the Assembly reaffirms the importance of setting up within it a genuine European parliamentary inquiry mechanism.
B. DRAFT RECOMMENDATION
1. The Parliamentary Assembly refers to its Resolution . . . (2007). It also recalls its Recommendation 1754 (2006), noting with regret that the Committee of Ministers has not as yet acted positively either on its own proposals or on those of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe submitted in June 2006, which the Assembly fully endorses.
2. The Assembly condemns the deafening silence of the Committee of Ministers as regards the third public statement of the Council of Europe Anti-Torture Committee concerning the existence of secret detention facilities in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, made on 13 March 2007. It urges the Committee of Ministers to play its full part as the decision-making body of the Council of Europe, the organization which is guardian of human rights in Europe.
3. Given that the concepts of state secrecy or national security are invoked by many governments to obstruct judicial or parliamentary proceedings aimed at ascertaining the responsibilities of the government authorities in relation to grave allegations of human rights violations and at rehabilitating and compensating the presumed victims of such violations, the Assembly invites the Committees of Ministers to prepare a recommendation on the matter, in order:
3.1. to ensure that secrets concerning the civil, criminal, or political liability of the State's representatives for grave human rights violations committed in their name are excluded from protection as state secrets;
3.2. to introduce appropriate procedures ensuring that the culprits are accountable for their actions while preserving lawful state secrecy and national security, if secrets unworthy of protection are inextricably linked with lawful state secrets.
4. The Committee of Ministers should be guided in particular by the Canadian procedures followed in the case of Maher Arar and by national parliamentary inquiry procedures such as the rules of the German Bundestag commissions of inquiry providing for the possibility of the commission's appointing a special investigator.
5. The Committee of Ministers is invited to inform the Assembly, before the end of 2007, of the progress of its work on the implementation of the Secretary General's proposals, and of the Assembly's Recommendation 1754 (2006).
Mr. Marty's explanatory memorandum (PDF)
Appendix 3 – graphic (PDF)
Background: chronology and other documents
http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/APFeaturesManager/defaultArtSiteView.asp?ID=362 The investigation into secret detentions in Europe: a chronology
8 June 2007: Following several months of additional inquiry, Swiss Senator Dick Marty is due to submit a second report on "alleged secret detentions and illegal inter-state transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states" to PACE's Legal Affairs Committee, focusing in particular on secret detentions. If approved, the report is due to be debated by the plenary Assembly on Wednesday 27 June in Strasbourg.
14 February 2007: In a report, the European Parliament comes to similar conclusions to Mr. Marty, saying EU countries "turned a blind eye" to extraordinary renditions across their territory and airspace.
6 September 2006: PACE President René van der Linden reacts to U.S. President George Bush's admission of the existence of secret CIA prisons by declaring that kidnapping people and torturing them in secret "is what criminals do, not democratic governments." Such activities will not make citizens safer in the long run, he says.
30 June 2006: Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis makes concrete proposals to European governments for laws to control the activities of foreign intelligence services in Europe, reviewing state immunity, and making better use of existing controls on over-flights, including requiring landing and search of civil flights engaged in state functions.
27 June 2006: The plenary Assembly debates Mr Marty's report and calls for the dismantling of the system of secret prisons, oversight of foreign intelligence services operating in Europe and a common strategy for fighting terrorism which does not undermine human rights.
7 June 2006: Presenting his first report, Dick Marty says he has exposed a global "spider's web" of illegal U.S. detentions and transfers, and alleges collusion in this system by fourteen Council of Europe member states, seven of whom may have violated the rights of named individuals.
17 March 2006: In an opinion, legal experts from the Council of Europe's Venice Commission say that, under the Human Rights Convention and other international laws, member states should refuse to allow transit of prisoners where there is a risk of torture. If this is suspected, they should search civil planes or refuse overflight to state planes.
1 March 2006: Analyzing governments' replies to his inquiry using powers under the European Convention on Human Rights, Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis says Europe appears to be "a happy hunting-ground for foreign security services" and calls for better safeguards against abuse.
7 November 2005: Following media reports, the Parliamentary Assembly appoints Senator Dick Marty, a Swiss former prosecutor, to conduct a parliamentary inquiry into "alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states." PACE President René van der Linden declares: "This issue goes to the very heart of the Council of Europe's human rights mandate."
Other relevant Assembly documents:
* Report on enforced disappearances (2005)
http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=http://assembly.coe.int/Documents/WorkingDocs/doc05/EDOC10679.htm * Report on the control of internal security services in Council of Europe member states (1999)
http://assembly.coe.int/main.asp?Link=/documents/workingdocs/doc99/edoc8301.htm * Report on the lawfulness of detentions by the United States in Guantánamo Bay (2005)
SECRET PRISONS IN 2 COUNTRIES HELD QAEDA SUSPECTS, REPORT SAYS
By Stephen Grey and Doreen Carvajal
New York Times
June 8, 2007
LONDON -- Investigators have confirmed the existence of clandestine C.I.A. prisons in Romania and Poland housing leading members of Al Qaeda, contends a new report from the Council of Europe, the European human rights monitoring agency.
Dick Marty, the Swiss senator leading the inquiry, said in a recent interview that his conclusions were based on information from intelligence agents on both sides of the Atlantic, including members of the C.I.A. counterterrorism center. The report is to be released on Friday.
The report says the jails operated from 2003 to 2005. “Large numbers of people have been abducted from various locations across the world and transferred to countries where they have been persecuted and where it is known that torture is common practice,” it says.
These suspects included Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the confessed master planner for the Sept. 11 attacks; Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a member of the Hamburg, Germany, cell that organized the conspiracy; and Abu Zubaida, believed to have been a senior figure in Al Qaeda.
The report says that some of the information comes from trusted intelligence agents, who reported directly to former President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland and to two former Romanian leaders, Ion Iliescu and Traian Basescu.
The governments of Poland and Romania have denied the existence of such prisons, and officials could not be reached for comment on Thursday. Poland has criticized Mr. Marty and his investigators in the past for not traveling there to investigate the compound that the report describes as a prison.
The current president, Lech Kaczynski, has said that since he came to power in December 2005 “there has been no secret prison -- I am 100 percent sure of it,” adding, “I am assured there never were any in the past either.”
Romania has repeatedly denied the presence of a secret prison there.
But last year, President Bush acknowledged for the first time that terrorism suspects had been held in C.I.A.-run prisons overseas, without specifying where.
Paul Gimigliano, a C.I.A. spokesman, said Thursday that, “While I’ve yet to see the report, Europe has been the source of grossly inaccurate allegations about the C.I.A. and counterterrorism,” and he added, “People should remember that Europeans have benefited from the agency’s bold, lawful work to disrupt terrorist plots.”
The report contends, “What was previously just a set of allegations is now proven.” An advance copy of the report was obtained by the British Channel 4 program “Dispatches” and provided to the New York Times.
Apart from the statements of what his report describes as former and serving intelligence agents, Mr. Marty quotes aviation records that he suggests provide detailed evidence of clandestine visits by C.I.A. planes to Szymany, in Poland; as well as the text of confidential military agreements signed between the United States and Romania that, he suggests, allowed the establishment of a C.I.A. base in the country.
Mr. Marty said the C.I.A.’s partners in establishing the secret prisons were the military intelligence agencies of both countries, which reported only to their presidents and defense ministers. Neither the countries’ prime ministers nor the two Parliaments’ intelligence committees were consulted or informed.
Prisoners in the secret jails were subjected to sleep deprivation and water-boarding, or simulated drowning, said Mr. Marty, who also said that the two jails had been divided into two categories.
The main C.I.A. jail was centered in a Soviet-era military compound at Stare Kjekuty, in northeastern Poland, where about a dozen high-level terrorism suspects were jailed, the report concludes. Lower-level prisoners from Afghanistan and Iraq were held in a military base near the Black Sea in Romania, the report contends.
Jails were staffed entirely by the C.I.A., and local guards secured the perimeters, the report says. “The local authorities were not supposed to be aware of the exact number or the identities of the prisoners who passed through the facilities -- this was information that they did not ‘need to know,’” the report said.
Mr. Marty said last month in an interview with the Swiss newspaper *La Liberté* that the report relied on information from disaffected C.I.A. agents and other intelligence officials on the other side of the Atlantic. Many of the agents said they were surprised that the prisons remained a secret for so many years. “They spoke to me because they found what was happening to be disgusting,” he was quoted as saying.
The report includes more specific conclusions than a study issued in June last year that contended that at least 14 European countries had accepted secret transfers of terrorism suspects by the United States. That report listed a web of landing points around the world that it said had been used by American authorities for its air network.
The new report contends that the C.I.A. took extraordinary measures to cover its activities. When C.I.A. jets flew to the Szymany airport in Poland, they used flight plans with “fictitious routes,” it says, giving no indication that the airport was the destination. Polish air traffic controllers -- working with military intelligence -- completed the cover-up, the report says.
Although the report singled out Poland and Romania, it said that it could not rule out the possibility that other European countries permitted these jails to operate.
Among its accusations, this report said NATO agreements, under the guise of waging a “war on terror,” provided the framework that the C.I.A. used to expand its European operations after Sept. 11.
The Marty report says it would be pointless for researchers to visit the Polish compound because “we have no doubts about the capability of those who would have removed any traces of the prisoner’s presence.”
--Mark Mazzetti contributed reporting from Washington.
RIGHTS GROUP OFFERS GRIM VIEW OF C.I.A. JAILS
By Doreen Carvajal
New York Times
June 9, 2007
PARIS -- In a report on Friday, the lead investigator for the Council of Europe gave a bleak description of secret prisons run by the Central Intelligence Agency in Eastern Europe, with information he said was gleaned from anonymous intelligence agents.
Prisoners guarded by silent men in black masks and dark visors were held naked in cramped cells and shackled to walls, according to the report, which was prepared by Dick Marty, a Swiss senator investigating C.I.A. operations for the Council of Europe, a 46-nation rights group.
Ventilation holes in the cells released bursts of hot or freezing air, with temperature used as a form of extreme pressure to wear down prisoners, the investigators found. Prisoners were also subjected to water-boarding, a form of simulated drowning, and relentless blasts of music and sound, from rap to cackling laughter and screams, the report says.
The report, which runs more than 100 pages, says the prisons were operated exclusively by Americans in Poland and Romania from 2003 to 2006. It relies heavily on testimony from C.I.A. agents.
Critics in Poland and Romania attacked Mr. Marty’s use of anonymous sources and issued categorical denials, as they have done repeatedly. Denis MacShane, a British member of Parliament and longtime critic of Mr. Marty, complained that the investigator “makes grave allegations to two European Union member states, Poland and Romania, without any proof at all.”
Tomasz Szeratics, a spokesman for the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “We shall not make any comments on Dick Marty’s latest report until we receive it officially and analyze the evidence presented. The Polish position remains unchanged and it is very clear: There were no secret C.I.A. detention centers on the territory of the Republic of Poland.”
But Mr. Marty said at a news conference in Paris that anonymous testimony was backed by thousands of flight records showing prisoner transfers, including private planes linked to the C.I.A. that made 10 flights from Afghanistan and Dubai to the Szczytno-Szymany International Airport in Poland between 2002 and 2005.
That was the closest airport to a Soviet-era military compound where about a dozen high-level terror suspects were jailed, the report charges. The local authorities formed secure buffer zones around the jails, which were operated exclusively by Americans, Mr. Marty reported.
Lower-level prisoners from Afghanistan and Iraq were held at a military base near the Black Sea in Romania, the report says. The Romanians were restricted to the buffer zone.
“Our Romanian officers do not know what happened inside those areas because we sealed them off and we had control,” the report cites a senior military agent as saying.
The details of prison life were given by retired and current American intelligence agents who had been promised confidentiality, the report says.
Their motives were varied, Mr. Marty said. “For 15 years, I have interviewed people as an investigating magistrate and I have always noticed that at a certain point, people with secrets need to talk,” he said.
Others justified the grim treatment, the reports said, saying, in one instance: “Here’s my question. Was the guy a terrorist? ’Cause if he’s a terrorist, then I figure he got what was coming to him.”
According to the report, suspects were often held for months with no contact except with masked, silent guards who would push meals of cheese, potatoes, and bread through hatches.
When prisoners resisted, the report says, one investigator considered it a welcome sign. “You know they are starting to crack,” he said, “So you hold out. You push them over the edge.”