Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The CIA even has secret prisons?

I know many of us are already aware that the CIA looks a little more like the KGB every day, but I didn't know they were even moving into the latter's old real estate. From The Washington Post:
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.

And yes, folks, you guessed it, these covert prisons comply neither with U.N. nor U.S. prisoner treatment laws. Detainees are held indefinitely with no rights and, presumably from the contents of the article, tortured, even though many of them are of questionable intelligence value.

The article also discusses the covert system's predecessors:
The agency shoved its highest-value prisoners into metal shipping containers set up on a corner of the Bagram Air Base, which was surrounded with a triple perimeter of concertina-wire fencing.
Then came grisly reports, in the winter of 2001, that prisoners kept by allied Afghan generals in cargo containers had died of asphyxiation. The CIA asked Congress for, and was quickly granted, tens of millions of dollars to establish a larger, long-term system in Afghanistan, parts of which would be used for CIA prisoners.

...In November 2002, an inexperienced CIA case officer allegedly ordered guards to strip naked an uncooperative young detainee, chain him to the concrete floor and leave him there overnight without blankets. He froze to death, according to four U.S. government officials. The CIA officer has not been charged in the death.

Oh yeah, and these prisons are often set up without the knowledge of the host country's government, and when they find out, as Thailand did, it damages our two nations' working relationship in the War on Terrorism.

To toss out a cliche that I happen to believe in strongly, it is respect for human life and human rights that makes us different from those we fight. There is in my opinion, however, another issue that needs to be addressed, namely, why do the CIA and the Bush Administration not trust our justice system to judge and dispose of these people? Our system can handle such monsters as Manson and McVeigh and Dahmer, so why would Islamic terrorists be too much for it?

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