Council of Europe confirms Raw Story report identifying secret CIA 'black site' in Poland
Confirmation of two prisons suggests possibility of facilities in other countries
A new report by the Council of Europe leaked Thursday to the Guardian and the New York Times confirms a March, 2007 RAW STORY report identifying a secret Central Intelligence Agency detention facility at Stare Kjekuty in northeastern Poland.
The Council's report (pdf), released today, confirms authoritatively that secret "black sites" existed in both Romania and Poland. It identifies the location of the Polish facility as being in Stare Kjekuty, the location identified by RAW STORY.
No credit was given to Alexandrovna or Dastych in any of the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press or Guardian reports, though RAW STORY provided each of the four news organizations with the report directly to reporters at each outlet.
"There is now enough evidence to state that secret detention facilities run by the CIA did exist in Europe from 2003 to 2005, in particular in Poland and Romania," the Council's report says.
"The secret detention facilities in Europe were run directly and exclusively by the CIA," the report continues. "While it is likely that very few people in the countries concerned, including in the governments themselves, knew of the existence of the centers, we have sufficient grounds to declare that the highest state authorities were aware of the CIAs illegal activities on their territories."
Excerpts of the report can be read here. The network of CIA prisons in Eastern Europe was first identified by Dana Priest in the Washington Post.
Written by Raw Story Managing Editor Larisa Alexandrovna and former Polish intelligence officer David Dastych, RAW STORY's report, "Soviet-era compound in northern Poland was site of secret CIA interrogation, detentions," quoted a secret British intelligence memo which stated that only the Polish prime minister and top Polish intelligence brass were told. Prime Minister Tony Blair told Poland's then-Prime Minister Leszek Miller to keep the information secret, even from his own government.
“Miller was asked to keep it as tight as possible,” the memo said.
Miller denied the report the following day in the Polish press.
"Once again I refute that there were secret prisons in Poland," Miller said. "Tony Blair never spoke with me about this because there was nothing to talk about."
A top US official denied allegations of torture in the report. The CIA refused to confirm or deny it.
“We never tortured anyone,” one former senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity. “We sent them to countries that did torture, but not on this scale.”
The Council's report also identifies a secret facility in Romania located by the Black Sea.
A memo sent by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs which was printed in a Swiss newspaper identified this facility earlier this year.
"The Embassy has learnt from its own sources that 23 Iraqi and Afghan citizens have been interrogated in Mihail Kogalniceanu’s base in the city of Constanza on the Black Sea shore," the memo said, according to a RAW STORY translation. "Similar interrogations centers exist also in Ukraine, in Kosovo, in Macedonia and in Bulgaria."
The Egyptians played down the memo's contents, saying the fax intercepted by the Swiss was simply a retelling of allegations by Human Rights Watch posted on the Internet.
In April 2002, according to British foreign intelligence sources (MI6), senior officials in the Bush and Blair administrations decided that the Bagram base near Kabul in Afghanistan could not operate successfully in the Bush administration’s “no holds barred” policy towards suspected terrorists.
MI6 officials say the two administrations then decided to fly high-value suspected terrorists to secret gulags in Eastern Europe. The CIA-operated flights would pass through the air space of a number of countries – among them Britain, Germany, Spain and Poland. European Union officials and human rights groups would later say these interrogations may have violated the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Convention against Torture, to which the United States and Poland are both signatories.
After a series of secret meetings chaired by MI6 chief Sir John Scarlett in London and then-CIA Director George Tenet in Washington, Polish intelligence was invited to join the project, British and Polish intelligence sources say.
American and European governments have condemned inquiries into the secret facilities. In their report, the Council rebuffed such accusations.
"We are fully aware of the seriousness of the terrorist threat and the danger it poses to our societies," the report states. "However, we believe that the end does not justify the means ... The fight against terrorism must not serve as an excuse for systematic recourse to illegal acts, massive violation of fundamental human rights and contempt for the rule of law."
Parts of this article excerpt an earlier Raw Story article, "Soviet-era compound in northern Poland was site of secret CIA interrogation, detentions."