Tuesday, December 06, 2005


ABC: European secret prisons located

Mon Dec 05, 2005 at 11:54:06 PM PDT

ABC's Nightline this morning opened with a segment by Brian Ross on the secret prisons maintained in Europe by the CIA (no link yet). It opened emphatically by pointing out that Condoleeza Rice's statement this morning avoided denying that the secret prisons exist. Then Ross announced that ABC had discovered the two countries in which the prisons were located. Ross also reported that the CIA requested that ABC not reveal which countries those are, citing national security.

In the rest of his report, Ross did not explicitly identify which countries those are, so it appears that ABC is for now giving in to the CIA's request. On the other hand, Ross did go on to discuss at some length the frequent allegations that these prisons are located in Poland and Roumania. That seems to be a pretty clear indication that those are the two countries in question, as far as ABC knows. There would be no point in Ross mulling over allegations that he had learned are mistaken. So Ross formally complied with the CIA request to suppress the news, while sticking his thumb in their eyes.

Ross also said that the CIA claimed to him that all prisoners in those two prisons had been transfered out of Europe to Africa before Rice actually arrived in Europe. It sounded like the transfer was done in a rush to help Rice save face. That is a token of how much traction this issue has in Europe, and how fearful the Bush administration is.

Here is a link to a story by Brian Ross and Richard Esposito posted on the Nightline page at ABC. It covers much of the same material, though it is not a transcript of the program:

Two CIA secret prisons were operating in Eastern Europe until last month when they were shut down following Human Rights Watch reports of their existence in Poland and Romania.

Current and former CIA officers speaking to ABC News on the condition of confidentiality say the United States scrambled to get all the suspects off European soil before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived there today. The officers say 11 top al Qaeda suspects have now been moved to a new CIA facility in the North African desert.

CIA officials asked ABC News not the name the specific countries where the prisons were located, citing security concerns.

The CIA declines to comment, but current and former intelligence officials tell ABC News that 11 top al Qaeda figures were all held at one point on a former Soviet air base in one Eastern European country. Several of them were later moved to a second Eastern European country.

All but one of these 11 high-value al Qaeda prisoners were subjected to the harshest interrogation techniques in the CIA's secret arsenal, the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" authorized for use by about 14 CIA officers and first reported by ABC News on Nov. 18....

The CIA has used a small fleet of private jets to move top al Qaeda suspects from Afghanistan and the Middle East to Eastern Europe, where Human Rights Watch has identified Poland and Romania as the countries that housed secret sites...

Sources tell ABC that the CIA's secret prisons have existed since March 2002 when one was established in Thailand to house the first important al Qaeda target captured. Sources tell ABC that the approval for another secret prison was granted last year by a North African nation.

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