Poland’s Torture Palaces

My supposition that one reasons Dana Priest’s black site article precipitated the torture tape destruction is because the tapes were dangerous to the country on whose territory the CIA tortured Abu Zubaydah led to me to read something I should have already read–the July 2007 COE report on European participation in the US HVD program. This post lays out what it says about Poland. I’m still reading the report, but given the direction of the comment threads on my other posts, I wanted to get this up for discussion.

Assuming the COE report is accurate (it is based on public reports and anonymous sources, including a number of CIA sources), Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, and probably al-Nashiri, were in Poland when Dana Priest’s article ran.

In accordance with the operational arrangements described below, Poland housed what the CIA’s Counterterrorism Centre considered its “most sensitive HVDs,” a category which included several of the men whose transfer to Guantanamo Bay was announced by President Bush on 6 September 2006.

We received confirmations – each name from more than one source – of eight names of HVDs who were held in Poland between 2003 and 2005. Specifically, our sources in the CIA named Poland as the “black site” where both Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohamed (KSM) were held and questioned using “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The information known about these interrogations has formed the basis of heated debate in the United States and the wider international community, leading, in Zubaydah’s case, to high-level political and legislative manoeuvres and, in KSM’s case, to the admission of some troubling judicial precedents.

But it remains unclear on whether Abu Zubaydah was moved to Poland in 2002 or 2003. The report describes the HVD program as evolving between 2002 and 2003.

The United States negotiated its agreement with Poland to detain CIA High-Value Detainees on Polish territory in 2002 and early 2003. We have established that the first HVDs were transferred to Poland in the first half of 2003.

It describes top-level Polish officials as being aware of the program starting in 2002.

[S]ome individual high office-holders knew about and authorised Poland’s role in the CIA’s operation of secret detention facilities for High-Value Detainees on Polish territory, from 2002 to 2005.

And it describes the genesis of the program as starting in 2001.

In my understanding, the narrative of the HVD programme has played out largely over a five-year period, from September 2001 to September 2006. CIA insiders told us that there was widespread surprise that it operated and remained secret quite as long as it did. From 2004 onwards, the President was being strongly advised to place a time limit on the programme because it was regarded as having been somewhat improvisational in its nature and therefore could not be sustained: “every period in history has its bookends”.

It also admits that its sources about the Polish facility where top AQ members were held did not provide specifics about timing.

Beyond this fleeting insight, however, neither Polish nor American sources who discussed the HVD programme with us would agree to speak about the exact “operational details” of secret detentions at Stare Kiejkuty, nor would they confirm how long it was operated for, which other facilities were used as part of the same programme in Poland, nor how and when exactly the detainees left the country.

So from the report, we cannot tell whether the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah alleged to have started in August 2002–and therefore the filming of that waterboarding–happened in Poland or Thailand, which the COE report mentions briefly.

Second we have been told that Thailand hosted the first CIA “black site,” and that Abu Zubaydah was held there after his capture in 2002. CIA sources indicated to us that Thailand was used because of the ready availability of the network of local knowledge and bilateral relationships that dated back to the Vietnam War.

[footnote] One CIA source told us: “in Thailand, it was a case of ‘you stick with what you know’;” however, since the allegations pertaining to Thailand were not the direct focus of our inquiry, we did not elaborate further on these references in our discussions. The specific location of the “black site” in Thailand has been publicly alleged to be a facility in Udon Thani, near to the Udon Royal Thai Air Force Base in the north-east of the country. This base does have long-standing connections to American defence and intelligence activities overseas: during the Vietnam War it served as both a deployment base for the US Air Force and the Asian headquarters of the CIA-linked aviation enterprise, Air America.

That said, the report explains one reason why the Priest article would be so problematic for Poland. While her article didn’t name Poland, it was a reasonably easy guess (I guessed it the day her article came out). More importantly, the then-President of Poland was responsible for negotiating Poland’s participation in the program personally.

The following persons could therefore be held accountable for these activities: the President of the Republic of Poland, Aleksander KWASNIEWSKI, the Chief of the National Security Bureau (also Secretary of National Security Committee), Marek SIWIEC, the Minister of National Defence (Ministerial oversight of Military Intelligence), Jerzy SZMAJDZINSKI, and the Head of Military Intelligence, Marek DUKACZEWSKI.


There was complete consensus on the part of our key senior sources that President Kwasniewski was the foremost national authority on the HVD programme. One military intelligence source told us: “Listen, Poland agreed from the top down… From the President – yes… to provide the CIA all it needed.” Asked whether the Prime Minister and his Cabinet were briefed on the HVD programme, our source said: “Even the ABW [Internal Security Agency] and AW [Foreign Intelligence Agency] do not have access to all of our classified materials. Forget the Prime Minister; it operated directly under the President.”

Now, aside from all the reasons why Poland wouldn’t want civilized types to know they hosted our torture program for up to three years, there are reasons why Kwasniewski wouldn’t want that known as well. At the time of the Priest article, Poland had just elected a new President (Kwasniewski was term-limited, so couldn’t run, but Kwasniewski’s party did poorly in the election, so he knew an opposition party would take over). Kwasniewksi even had aspirations to becoming the UN Secretary General.

Kwasniewski wasn’t much use to use at the point Priest’s article came out–he had even already announced the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. But when a news article threatens to ruin the aspirations of statesmen, I can imagine they would make further cooperation more difficult to negotiate.

131 replies
  1. brendanx says:

    I just left this in the last post’s comments, but it’s slightly more germane to this thread:

    I read Polish (with your Czech, you could probably read it, too), and it’s been pretty disgraceful how their press (bought, I presume) offers nary a peep about this story, particularly those fine dissidents at Gazeta Wyborcza (many of whom are signatories to various PNAC documents).

    I have a feeling the Post’s Craig Whitlock is working on this story. He has had bylines in Poland this year (elections, etc.).

    A propos your Iraq observation: we’ve used Poland as an intermediary in Iraq several times in the past. A lot of Baghdad was probably built by Poles.

    • emptywheel says:

      I’ll keep your Polish in mind. When I was using my Czech regularly, Polish was the “buy one, get one free” bonus for me. But as my Czech gets rusty, so does my fake ability to read Polish.

  2. Jeff says:

    Assuming the information (in particular the EU report and Mazzetti’s most recent article), wouldn’t it be the case that the taping of the torture did not take place in Poland? The report appears to state clearly that the first HVDs were moved to Poland in early 2003, right? Which would mean that Abu Zubaydah was not moved there before 2003. And according to Mazzetti’s article, the taping of the torture stopped in late 2002.

    Again, it’s always possible we’re in the echo chamber of denial, where the timing that has appeared in Mazzetti’s article is deigned precisely to make it seem impossible that the taping took place in Poland or Europe more generally. But from the information we know, on the assumption that i’s accurate, isn’t it the case that the taping would have taken place wherever AZ and al Nashiri were before being moved to Europe?

    • emptywheel says:

      No. Its statement about 2003 is not that clear. They’ve got the airplane records starting in 2003 (including, apparently, the one KSM came in on). But they clearly assert that 1) plans, at least, started in 2002, and 2) that their sources won’t say when it began.

      In other words, the assertion that they’re sure the prisoners were there in 2003 does not extend to a denial that they may have been there earlier–they’re just not asserting it positively.

      I seem to recall reading that either the EU or the COE were going to reopen their investigation with the torture tape revelations, but I haven’t found that article.

      • Jeff says:

        Ok, but just to be clear, I was focusing on this statement, which seems pretty categorical:

        We have established that the first HVDs were transferred to Poland in the first half of 2003.

        Am I misreading the strength of that statement, or are you saying that it is undercut by other things the COE report (which is what I meant) says?

    • phred says:

      The destruction of the tapes occurred in 2005 well after AZ and Nashiri left wherever they were (Thailand presumably), so what would have motivated Thailand to destroy the tapes in 2005? If the destruction was driven by the CIA, then yes, Thailand could be it. But, if the destruction was motivated by the host country then we’re looking at Poland (or Romania ; )

  3. TheConfidenceMan says:

    All of these may be co-factors, but I still think the most immediate proximal cause of the tape destruction was the Libby indictment (the month before the tapes were destroyed). Remember, it still seems as though Addington was the prime mover behind the decision to destroy.

  4. emptywheel says:

    I’m saying that the COE report has statements that I take to be in conflict. I agree the most obvious reading of that sentence is that they started in 2003. But I’m not convinced that that rules out an earlier start. Yes, it is most likely Abu Z and al-Nashiri were in Thailand, but I don’t think we can say that for sure.

    Though I do think it safe to conclude that Stare Kiejkuty is the Bright Lights that James Risen describes–the place where all the most important HVDs were held. The report says KSM came straight from Kabul.

    The CIA assigned a group of agency officials to try to find alternative prison sites in countries scattered around the world. They were studying, said one CIA source, “how to make people disappear.”

    There were a number of third world countries, with dubious human rights records, willing to play host. One African country offered the CIA the use of an island in the middle of a large lake, according to CIA sources, and other nations were equally accommodating. Eventually, several CIA prisons were secretly established, including at least two major ones, code-named Bright Lights and Salt Pit. A small group of officials within the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center was put in charge of supporting the prisons and managing the interrogations.


    Bright Light is one of the prisons where top al Qaeda leaders–including Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the central planner of the September 11 attacks–have been held. Bright Light’s location is secret, and it has been used for only a handful of the most important al Qaeda detainees. (30)

  5. MadDog says:

    One additional reason that Poland was the state of choice for detention of the highest of the HVDs was its geographic location.

    As the COE report describes, and is further amplified by statements made by Condi “Still technically a virgin” Rice during her fire-fighting trip to Europe, NATO was up to its eyeballs in “helping” the rendition/detention desires of the Shrubble Administration.

    Germany in particular, was a key partner. It was the “nexus” of the 9/11 plotting and the German Government (particularly the Security and Law Enforcement services) would have been under substantial Shrubble Administration pressure to “help” so as to makeup for “hosting” the 9/11 plotters.

    And conveniently, Germany is right next door to Poland.

    Rice was reported at the time to have chastised/threatened several key NATO partners like Germany that they too were involved in “helping” with the rendition/detention desires of the Shrubble Administration.

    Immediately prior to her Europe trip, Rice had this to say:

    Some governments choose to cooperate with the United States in intelligence, law enforcement, or military matters. That cooperation is a two-way street. We share intelligence that has helped protect European countries from attack, helping save European lives.

    It is up to those governments and their citizens to decide if they wish to work with us to prevent terrorist attacks against their own country or other countries, and decide how much sensitive information they can make public.

    Btw, Rice’s declarative statement of: “The United States does not transport, and has not transported, detainees from one country to another for the purpose of interrogation using torture.” would be viewed by most as a bald-faced lie given the world’s legal understanding that waterboarding is in fact torture.

    Notwithstanding Shrubble and Deadeye’s weasel-wording as supplemented by Bybee writs of torture memos, Addington’s Imperial Executive hallucinations visions and sundry other minions dutifully erasing the Constitution, what they authorized and did is torture.

    • brendanx says:

      I’m curious what, in terms of “national interest”, the Poles got out of this arrangement, or what they thought they got out of it, and, more generally, from their overall foreign policy alignment with us, particularly on Iraq (which their first post-1989 premier, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, called “madness”). I don’t see they’ve gotten anything (they even antagonized the rest of Europe when they did the U.S. the favor of buying our F-16s) — indeed, they have worsened their position in regards to both their potential allies and their real menace, Russia. I have simply come to believe that their leaders have proven vainglorious or very bribable (or worse — their foreign minister is married to Anne Applebaum). It is greatly disappointing; emptywheel can doubtless sympathize with this feeling, having seen Havel, too, support our Iraq invasion.

      • MadDog says:

        A couple of things to consider wrt to the Poland-US relationship.

        Most Poles are fiercely anti-Russian with good reason (My Russian was taught to me by a Pole, so I know whereof I speak *g*)

        The US has for decades nurtured a strong anti-Russian intelligence relationship with Poland. Poland has been central in our understanding of and spying targeting against Russia.

        Whether the Poles give a rats-ass about what the rest of Europe thinks of them, the Poles, regardless of party, believe the US is their foremost ally against bad stuff happening (mostly Russia, but not exclusively so).

        Does helping the Shrubble Administration with rendition/detention help or hurt the Poles? There can be zero doubt that Poland bought itself a ton of US goodwill.

        Note: Goodwill can evaporate faster than ice-cube on a sidewalk in July. That said, tis better to have some than not.

        • brendanx says:

          Hence my mention of “the real menace, Russia”. My question was what they got out of this adventurous alliance with us in illegal invasions and interrogations. They’ve spectacularly antagonized the rest of Europe and Russia, to the exent that the Germans and Russians are poised to build a pipeline through the Baltic that circumvents them. Meanwhile, they haven’t seen that Iraq oil, they’ve bought our F-16’s, and the already flimy cover story for their support of a missile shield has been publicly exposed as an aggressive little sham by the NIE. Since Kwasniewski, they’ve only antagonized the E.U. more spectacularly through outright sabotage of E.U. negotiations. Ineptitude, or “madness”, only go so far in explaining the unreciprocated gifts they’ve bestowed on this administration in its efforts both to conquer the Middle East and to divide Europe.

          • MadDog says:

            A direct answer to your question is that they got Shrubble’s goodwill. That and $2.55 will get ‘em a Starbuck’s latte.

            So, no they bought a pig in the poke. Lipstick is gonna be extra.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Go back to thinking about this all in terms of global energy, and the comment/link someone put in to the idea of Halliburton/corporate interests cutting Poland in on Iraqi Oil.

          From a Polish perspective, it must have been something along the lines of, ‘who’s going to cut us a better deal? The US? Or Russia?’ Back in 2003, Putin had not yet got Russia back on its feet, so to speak. The US was still more dominant, so able to cut Poland a better deal. (Must have alarmed the French, BTW.)

          It’s worth noting Scott Horton’s synopsis on Putin, whose background focused on mastering energy/oil issues. Plus, according to TIME’s MOY, two interesting facts:
          1. He worked for the reformist St Petersberg mayor issuing business licenses.
          2. He practices judo (which is all about the philosophy of letting your opinion implode, as you do not meet force head-on, but rather ‘follow’ the opponent’s errors and then capitalize on their errors and the opportunities those errors create; requires self-mastery and patience).

          Putin is one smart man; course, he’s had the advantage of opposing venal idiots, which means he could probably be as dumb as a donut and still appear quite smart — at least, measured in terms of global energy control. So should I be first to predict here that Putin will be invited onto the Exec Directors of ExxonMobil before Dubya is offered a seat on the Board? (My bad.)

          • Rayne says:

            Poland has had a substantive exposure to Russia, since more than 40% of the natural gas it consumes is piped through Ukraine and Belarus from Russia (Remember the Russia-Ukraine and Russia-Belarus natural gas disputes? highly problematic for much of EU).

            In October 2003, Yukos CEO Khodorkovsky was arrested; think the charge was something along the lines of gross misuse of tax shelters. What I don’t recall is whether there was instability in pricing or supply of gas (and possibly petroleum) through Russia to Poland because of Yukos. If there was, or if Poland perceived a growing political risk to its energy supplies because they foresaw the fall of Yukos, they may have wanted to hedge their bets.

            How nice of U.S. to be so needy at that point in time…

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              Dimly recall Yukos; not sure of it’s significance with respect to Poland, but have a hunch that you are definitely on to something.

              Thx for the links in previous threads from both you and klynn; still not done catching up on those, but they are quite eye-opening.

              Mary @32, so Padilla’s the most smoldering gun among the US legal cases to watch WRT ‘torture’? Thanks; duly noted.

              Phred @ 15, FWIW, I assume that ‘content’ (and legal liablity for Bu$hCo) was the reason for tape destruction. Because torture was used, whatever ‘confessions’ were elicited in order to charge people were forced under duress; therefore, those confessions are completely unreliable. House. Of. Cards.
              Per Mary’s observation that Bu$hCo is using the courts to implement, legalize, justify, and institutionalize torture, I assume that the BushBots will try to get this case before a Republican Bush43-appointeed judge.

              SIDEBAR: Digital Video — A Few Implications
              Phred, I’d encourage you to think about digital video, rather than videotape. As someone on an earlier thread pointed out, the Europeans have a different codec than North America; you can’t simply shove a US-made video into a European video player and have it work (one is NTSC; the other is PAL). So if the tapes were created and played originally on a European system, then they’d have required ‘conversion’ (copying to a US videotape format) in order for Bu$h, et al, to watch them in the US. However, once the videotape is copied, it’s fairly static. In order to change anything, you’d have to go back to the original magnetic videotape, use it in an editing system, and the original would still remain unaltered — you’d simply be making a new VERSION (edited a bit differently) off of your original videotape. But your original tape would not change at all.

              On the other hand, digital video is quite ‘fluid’. If you have an .mov file, or certain other DV formats, you can export quite easily from one software program, then import into another and make changes — then export again, etc, etc, etc. You can change the original as easily as hitting ’save’, and any changes are then INCORPORATED BACK INTO YOUR ORIGINAL FILE.

              (Think of it this way:
              A page that you typed on an old-fashioned typewriter cannot really be altered very easily. You type a new copy, then toss the original — or file it away by date.
              But a word processed document, well… when you hit SAVE, it INCORPORATES your changes. To find the ‘original’ is possible, but a bit more nuanced.
              Similar concept applies to videotape (which is NOT a digital technology) versus DIGITAL video, in which even the ‘original’ can be altered by any future changes/edits.)

              William Ockham pointed out on a thread a few days (or weeks?) ago that there are some serious issues with respect to determining the legitimacy of digital video. (Actually, there are ways around this problem, but it’s too minutia-laden and technical for this thread.) So what media was used for the torture tapes? That’s an important question, because if it was videotape, that’s one basket of technical eggs; if it was digital video, there are other implications for tracking down the validity, provenance, and accuracy of whatever ‘copies’ may turn up.

              2002 was still early for digital video, but by 2003 — and definitely 2005 — very good DV technologies were widely available. So who knows who has those tapes (whether video, or digital video)? Who knows how they might have altered them? All the more reason to have kept legitimate, unaltered, backed up originals!

              It used to be that ‘legal evidence’ had to be protected, untampered, BECAUSE IT WAS UNIQUE. An ‘original’ implied ‘UNIQUE’. But with digital technologies, some new wrinkles enter the picture. Now, the problem is often that you need the original FOR COMPARISON PURPOSES. In other words, you don’t need it because it is the unique, only, original copy; you need it to prove that other copies are (a) bogus, or (b) altered.
              In our digital age’ the implications of easy-to-copy content raise a whole new host of issues for the legal questions surrounding evidence. Which underscores, IMHO, just how disastrously our govenment has behaved. Just deplorably badly.

              Apart from the fact that Bu$hCo tried to cover their sleazy asses by destroying evidence, we now have an even more grave problem — how do WE know that whatever turns up is ‘original’? There are ways to try and ferret that out, and research is being conducted on new video compression codecs that can shed light on what’s been altered. But William Ockham’s point, while I could argue details, is a very, very important one. And although it’s a side issue for the topic of this thread, it is related to the larger issue of the torture videos.

              Just as an aside, it’s a safe assumption that someone was paid to ‘log’ those videotapes. You watch ten seconds of tape, note the dialog, action, etc, then move on to the next ten seconds. While I find it hard to believe anyone could stomach viewing those things, someone would have in order to do two things: (1) keep a legal/written record, (2) key in on key parts of the video that were to be used in later editing. (in other words, they’d note that between minute 1:20 and 1:55, you could cut out the tape b/c the sound was muddy, or b/c nothing happened there.

              I am among those who assume there are copies of those tapes that will surface. (And I wouldn’t doubt that the Russians have one, and the Chinese have one…) I don’t say that b/c I have any kind of inside contacts in intel; I say it b/c I’ve worked around enough stuff to know that no one but a brain-dead moron fails to back up originals, or fails to make sufficient copies. It’s possible that the CIA thought all copies were destroyed, but copies are like spores; they turn up in odd places and float around silently. If they were digitized, they could be on a Flash drive, on a CD Rom, on a computer.

              • tryggth says:

                Just as an aside, it’s a safe assumption that someone was paid to ‘log’ those videotapes. You watch ten seconds of tape, note the dialog, action, etc, then move on to the next ten seconds. While I find it hard to believe anyone could stomach viewing those things…

                There is a scene in Brazil.

              • masaccio says:

                readeroftealeaves, thanks, I was wondering if in 2002-3 timeframe there was a way to translate a VHS tape to digital format?

              • phred says:

                rOTL — I agree with you that the “tapes” were “destroyed” due to their content. I think I was unclear with my mulling over the Romania question. There has been ongoing discussion about the foreign country in which the tapes were made, stored, and destroyed as if the location (and its relative stability/instability and BFF-state with respect to the US) was the determining factor in the destruction of the tapes, as motivated by the Priest article. I have not been persuaded by this point of view. I think the 3 sets of tapes in question were destroyed because of specific damning content and that the decision was driven by the interests of BushCo. If it was an issue of image as suggested in the NYT article, then the CIA would have destroyed all video (I’ll get to your point about tapes in a second).

                That said, I was trying to consider the possibility of the foreign country being the determining factor. I used the example of Romania simply because I could work out an argument for them in an hour of free time based on a cursory examination of articles in the NYT. Obviously, EW’s discussion of Poland is a better example founded an much better data. The problem I have with this argument is the one you mentioned yesterday (or the day before, I’m losing track). It does not explain why BushCo (via CIA/FBI/DoJ) lied to the 9/11 Commission and the courts repeatedly about the tapes and I’m not buying their image argument for a second. Those tapes must have revealed criminal conduct that the interested parties would not want revealed.

                The timing of the destruction ties in nicely with a bunch of things that have been discussed in these recent threads, but it seems to me the key is Brinkema, with the Priest story offering a handy cover story that the foreigners panicked, so it was all their fault. I’m not convinced (as billinturkey pointed out yesterday) that BushCo cares about the interests of foreign governments sufficiently to act against their own wishes on behalf of others. So this cover story rings hollow to me. Of course if the foreign governments physically possessed the sole discreet hard copies of the “tapes” they could destroy them without BushCo’s consent, but you and I agree that the likelihood of the “tapes” being in that state are zero (see below).

                Finally, I use the term “tapes” and “destruction” as a handy shorthand, not as a limiting statement of form or fact. As for specific technology required, it is not hard to transport and use whatever equipment you like whereever you want it. I have friends in the UK who bought a US DVD player years ago so they could watch Region 1 DVDs at home (since they are cheaper and come out sooner than Region 2). No matter how the videos were made, they could have been copied and stored in a variety of formats. They could also be destroyed no matter what form they were in, if one was thorough enough. Whether or not they still exist in some form, is a question on which I remain agnostic. For me the real question is who ordered the destruction (whether successful or not) and why.

  6. Rayne says:

    phred (10) — there were different programs (yes, yet again we have been looking at more than one program). “HVD” program was different from other detentions; as the report that Marcy has been reading says,

    Even in this context, the HVD programme is different. One senior source in the CIA Counterterrorism Centre told us: “If a guy is captured on the battlefield and sent to [Guantanamo], that’s got nothing to do with it. But I think there is a tendency in the media, in Europe and in America, to blend together what the FBI is doing, what the military is doing and what the CIA is doing – to attribute it all to the same programme. And frankly, you can’t do that. The HVD programme is a very structured, very rigorous programme.

    Explains why there were “tapes” that were handled and evaluated so carefully. If it’s very structured and rigorous, there’s other documentation, too, like classified manuals (my opinion).

    klynn — you here in this thread now? gawddamnit, but that Cheney is a sick bastard with his fingers in everything:

    Poland, which has sent troops to support the US-led forces in Iraq, has acknowledged its “ultimate objective” is to acquire supplies of Iraqi oil.

    The Polish Foreign Minister, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, said his country had never disguised the fact that it sought direct access to the oilfields.

    He was speaking as a group of Polish firms signed a deal with a subsidiary of US Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company, Halliburton.

    The US firm, Kellogg, Brown and Root, has already won million-dollar contracts to carry out reconstruction work in Iraq.

    “We have never hidden our desire for Polish oil companies to finally have access to sources of commodities,” Mr Cimoszewicz told the Polish PAP news agency.

    [Poland seeks Iraqi oil stake, BBC, 03-JUL-03]

    John Kerry may have “forgotten Poland” in the 2004 presidential debates, but Cheney obviously didn’t. I retract my comment last thread that Cheney would firewall business; he firewalled himself long after the Polish deal, by selling off his deferred stock in Halliburton (but he’s still got deferred income that he can’t be shet of). At least we know he was not only greedy but likely stupid enough to get his business stuck where we can see it.

    • phred says:

      If that’s true, then the destruction of the 3 sets of tapes is due to their content, not location, in which case it could be driven by the CIA as opposed to any need for a CYA maneuver on the part of the Polish President.

    • klynn says:


      Back to the thread just for a few. Then I have to go out for a bit. Retraction accepted!

      Sick, isn’t he?

      And phred @ 15


  7. Evolute says:


    Just a note, though at times I find your trash talk a bit smelly, I still enjoy the waft. Your straight talk is invaluable though.

    A constant lurker, as a babe suckling one of the last few veins of truth I find myself,
    at this turn of the calender watering the roots,
    nourishing tomorrow.
    So I can read you with calm satisfaction,
    with even pride a few tokens of increasingly devalued American greenbacks are thrown

    Your way.

    May the new year flourish.

    (I encourage all who are able to donate in support of this healthy platform.)

  8. SaltinWound says:

    This is making me think more about Bush in the debate blurting out, “You forgot Poland.” It’s probably making me think about it too much. But I’m wondering if he did know where these people were held; at the very least, he knew Poland was doing us special favors. And during the debate, the big idiot didn’t want to miss a chance to thank them. I wonder if “Bush was compartmented” is just another shitty cover story. One of the things this administration has always been worst at is cover stories (although I am starting to think Hayden’s initial story here–they destroyed the tapes to not blow the cover of those involved–makes sense if those involved were Polish).

    • brendanx says:

      Of course he knew where they were held. But you’re forgetting the Poland at the time had a very high profile in the occupation: they were nominally in charge of one of the three occupation zones.

  9. posaune says:

    brendex @13

    the poles got the offsets for the F-16s, and they wanted an airbase near Klodzko. at least Kwanieswki did. even PO wanted it. PiS (the twins), not so much. interesting now that Tusk, who won the election with the ex-pats in UK, wants out of iraq, and whose recent language disowns the term “war on terror” just like gordon brown.

    • brendanx says:

      PO and its newspaper GW (I won’t even mention a rag like Wprost), for all their admirable pedigrees, have been neocon vassals as far as I’m concerned, so I would strike the “even”. I was frankly surprised (pleasantly) by Tusk’s statements and visits to Brussels and Germany, but I won’t believe it about Iraq until I see it; they also want to send more to Afghanistan (in spite of the recent atrocity they committed).

      • Rayne says:

        How’s your German? Journalists from German papers Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Spiegel, Die Zeit and Die Welt have been under investigation since early August; members of parliament are also subjects and are alleged to have “leaked” classified materials regarding Germany’s possible complicity with CIA renditions.

        Maybe we should be looking in these papers?

          • Rayne says:

            Yeah, I read der Spiegel pretty regularly and my German is horrible, thank goodness for an English version.

            But the challenge may be in parsing comments; what’s spoken/written in mother tongue doesn’t always make it across. Hope somebody among us is German-literate and willing to poke around.

  10. JohnLopresti says:

    For people with electronic Pacer access, some of the documentation in the MajidKhan case though dated 2006 has depictions of his whereabouts and overseeing officials in US and abroad in possibly 2002-2003. ReggieW’s docket is the repository 1:06-cv-01690-RBW. I only do Pacer when passthrough links are afforded by the writers; $0.08/page is outside my study purview. CCR, which had grown its website in various folders, now seems under construction partly easier to access but document sets different from in prior years, though a sprinkling of the court papers appear in academic sites when germane to discussions about MK’s habeas petition case. CCR filed the original petition in re MK’s habeas September 28, 2006. The European parliament rapporteurs for the past year+ have written relatively explicitly about the unseemliness of the hidden impoundment locales. For a while I tried to find one early Judy article about a Thailand interview of likely only curveball in a hotel; I doubt she would consider approaching the unpleasantness of detainee persons.

  11. Mary says:

    Well I’ll toss my lonely theory in as well.

    In addition to the undercurrents of the DTA and exposure of black site hosts (and btw, the Italian prosecution has been going on in spite of Prodi, not because of him – and both Spain and Germany when last I looked still had active investigatons of the use of their airspace for rendition flights – with the US prior assertions to Spain that we only landed empty planes there after rendition drop offs looking less and less true) and a plethora of other things, I still go back to the Padilla case, in large part bc it is the case most likely to generate the highest level of power in the courts and also the greatest likelihood for obstruction, perjury, etc.

    One thing that happened “late” in November, but which would have been in the works for a bit before it happened and CIA would have known about, was that DOJ lost at the game of “Chicken” with Padilla’s defense lawyers and the Sup Ct and Padilla was indicted and pulled out of military detention to go face charges.

    Padilla is one of the very few cases that I am aware of where DOJ went ahead and used torture testimony to get the ball rolling on his arrest. From the moment Padilla’s lawyers claimed that the arrest warrant for Padilla involved statements from men who were tortured by the US or at its behest, without any other order of court, it would be obstruction of justice to destroy evidence of that torture. More than that, there was a whole crew at DOJ who knew that what Padilla’s lawyers were saying was true. Dan Coleman had not been shy about expressing his opinion (nor, in a separate but related situation had Jack Cloonan) and there’s no way that Mueller did not know that FBI agents believed Zubaydah was a) crazy and b) being tortured to give unreliable information. If you had an FBI agent saying he was going to arrest CIA interrogators, I have a hard time believing Tenet and Mueller didn’t both hear about that at some point.

    You also had, per Fallon’s statements in the GITMO pieces done, an FBI generated plan to take a GITMO detainee to a foreign country to be tortured – a plan that Fallon’s crew were able to put the quietus on by raising hell, but also a situation where it is pretty clear a lot of people at FBI were in the know about the torture of detainees.

    There is then the “extensive” review that Comey’s team did to review all the classified Zubaydah information (and Binyam Mohammed as well – and from accounts there should have been at a minimum still pictures of Mohammed that might well have been graphic proof of alleged US sponsored Moroccan torture) before they gave the Padilla press conference.

    All that time, there were objections on the record to the arrest warrant as based specifically on torture – and that Bush was using, not the Executive Branch, but the Judicial Branch as a wing of torture to issue arrest warrants based on torture.

    So now we have the “interesting” situation where the Judge who issued those warrants and struck down the objections originally has appointed Wainstein to head the investigation. I’d have to go back and double check dates, but I think it is likely that during some of the operative period were the FBI was getting all kinds of reports of torture (and yet still filing and never withdrawing the Padilla declaration) and where you have to think Mueller could not have “not known” about that torture (and by the 2005 June press conf, you have to think that Comey and others at DOJ couldn’t claim to not know that Coleman was saying Zubaydah was nutsy and being tortured) – – – in any event, since Wainstein served Mueller as both FBI counsel and Chief of Staff (although I’m not sure of the operative time frames), I am more than “baffled” at Mukasey’s choice of someone who might well have been giving Mueller advice and counsel on how FBI/DOJ should handle its knowledge of torture to then investigate – – – how FBI/DOJ handed its knowledg of torture.

    I also think that it is really odd that, after the very initial reports of CIA also talking to DOJ lawyers about what to do about the tapes – – that avenue has gone totally quiet.

    It kind of defies explanation that with the CIA knowing about the Padilla case, the Brinkema orders, the Hellerstein order, the cases and rulings in front of Kessler/Kennedy, the Helgerson internal investigation (and IIRC, part of the reason lawyers gave Hellerstein for not turning things over immediately is that they were being used for an internal investigation – which is presumable the Helgerson investigation) etc. – that Scott Muller would cut DOJ out of the loop and only discuss destruction of the tapes (which people in DOJ no doubt knew about) with the WH lawyers.

    Certainly, when his boys were in trouble for targetting the destruction of a missionary plane and the deaths of a mother and child in that plane – the reports are that he went to DOJ to make his best deals. Plus, he’s not an idiot and if he knew that people in DOJ likely knew about the tapes (and I can’t believe that they didn’t – not with the involvement of, as Krongard indicated, so many analysts and others involved in reviewing those tapes initially) then he knew that his crew might be looking at lots of problems if they destroyed the tapes – – – well, for that matter, he knew that his crew should ALREADY be looking at lots of trouble for failing to produce the tapes with the various court cases – in particular Padilla’s where his arrest and subsequent abuse were based on nothing more, really, than statements from torture men.

    So I think the DOJ decision to roll and take Padilla out of military detention and put him back into the court system may have also played a role.

    So you have a big issue, not just for CIA but also for FBI/DOJ, of information that will likely start a ball unravelling that will eventually get to senior DOJ officials – at FBI at a minimum and

  12. Mary says:

    Next Year’s News
    Predictions for 2008 from BorowitzReport.com

    February: Responding to the controversy over the CIAs’ waterboarding videotapes, President Bush will reaffirm his administration’s opposition to videotaping.

  13. Rayne says:

    That Borowitz is so painfully funny, isn’t he?

    Hey EW — did you also read the provisional copy of the COE report by Marty? There are different details in it, specifically about the nature of flights, that didn’t appear in the final version published this year.

    Puzzled by the lack of mention of Thailand. I think we’re dealing with a separate entity here in some way — you’re probably all over it, though. Did CIA use military facility and transport?

    • emptywheel says:

      I looked at it–but since my question right now is where Zubaydah was when Priest’s article ran, I didn’t look that closely.

      The Thai thing makes sense–Thailand has no ties to COE, so it’s outside of Marty’s jurisdiction. I’m more interested in where he’d go with Diego Garcia, reputed to be a stopping point in this system.

      Also note–he says the air transport company was different for Thailand, which would support your argument that it is different (though still CIA).

      • Rayne says:

        I mentioned the info in the provisional report in re: flight info because although the destinations/origins aren’t in COE jurisdiction, they do mention Cairo, Amman, Islamabad, Rabat, Kabul as “detainee transfer/dropoff points”, as well as Washington as a “staging point”. Why doesn’t a Thai destination show up here as well?

        Was Thailand used only later for documentation only? Was Thailand used only for certain levels within the HVD program? Was some other entity employed whose comings and goings might not have been tracked as the rest of the rendition flights that came and went through COE sites?

        I didn’t see anything in the flight info to suggest that the COE had 2005 data; think Amnesty might have it, but not published in format that shows year, only number of flights by destination/origin. We’re back to finding a repository of flight data.

        God help me, but I think I have to pony some cash to Wayne Madsen.

        • emptywheel says:

          No, I think Thailand is earlier, not later. That’s one of the reasons I think Thailand may not have been the common torture point for Zubaydah and Nashiri (who was captured in November 2002), and therefore Poland may have been. I think Thailand was an early ad lib answer–note the comment above about them already having the relationship in place. But I think they fairly quickly looked for something more stable or trustworthy for the very top HVDs–Poland.

  14. Mary says:

    Speaking of Spain (ok I was talking to myself, but still) another part of the perfect storm brewing in Nov of 05

    Spain examines CIA ‘rendition’ flights
    Inquiry targets stops at Mallorca’s airport
    Published: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2005

    …it has emerged that an investigative judge in Palma, the island’s main city, has ordered the police inquiry to be sent to Spain’s national court – to consider whether the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency was routing planes carrying terrorism suspects through Mallorca as part of its “rendition” program.

    Spain is the third country in Europe to open a judicial inquiry into potential criminal offenses committed by CIA operatives related to renditions. The other two are Germany and Italy, which on Friday requested the extradition of 22 people it said were CIA operatives who it suspected were linked to the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in 2003.

    November wasn’t looking like a good month. Padilla being put into the court system. Black site article. Spain joining Germany and Italy (with some very independent prosecutors for some of those investigations) in torture flight cases. Extradition requests for CIA agents.

    • TheraP says:

      Interesting that the 3 EU countries opening judicial inquiries against CIA personnel are all coming from former Fascist countries. Even if this is being initiated by judges, I find it fascinating that countries where democratic ideals have been perverted by fascism are the only ones wanting to prosecute these crimes by a regime that is as close to fascism as the US has ever come (to my knowledge).

      I’m not sure if that is the unifying factor here. But it sure impresses me!

  15. ezdidit says:

    There are very few protections for heads of state or government officials, for these would likely contravene participation at the International Court of Justice. Nations which provide protections for heads of state against criminal prosecution within their own legal systems would also automatically exclude themselves from the UN orgs. that formed the International Court of Justice, up to and including the Rome Statute of 2003. Civil law and money damages are another story.

    Article 5, 6 and 7 are the applicable laws: see below for the punchline in Article 7

    Under 5, The jurisdiction of the Court shall be limited to the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole. The Court has jurisdiction in accordance with this Statute with respect to the following crimes:
    (a) The crime of genocide;
    (b) Crimes against humanity;
    (c) War crimes;
    (d) The crime of aggression.

    and Article 6
    For the purpose of this Statute, “genocide” means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
    (a) Killing members of the group;
    (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
    (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

    and Article 7:
    Crimes against humanity
    1. For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:
    (a) Murder;
    (b) Extermination;
    (c) Enslavement;
    (d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population;
    (e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;
    (f) Torture;
    (g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
    (h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;
    (i) Enforced disappearance of persons;
    (j) The crime of apartheid;
    (k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

    It’s all political, as the experts seem to believe.
    The judges have to go out and raise money for their own salaries!
    I know that Bush doesn’t take the politics any more seriously than Cheney does. They should really be brought down by their own outrages, maybe by our very own bombastic Congress. There, at least, we have the theory of impeachment….

  16. Mary says:

    A bit more about the Spanish investigation, where they handed over secret info to the courts in February of this year:


    The government of Spain agreed Friday to declassify and deliver to Spanish High Court Judge Ismael Moreno intelligence documents he ordered from Spain’s National Intelligence Center pertaining to secret CIA “rendition flights”

    Just another passing note – there is still no explanation for why only 14 “high value” detainees were taken to GITMO (when there were reports of twice that number being “questioned” and held at blacksites by the CIA and reports that the CIA may still be in the blacksite torture business).

  17. Waccamaw says:

    ew –

    If there are any other luddites out there like me who don’t do on-line transactions, do you have a snail mail address to which donations can be sent?

  18. BlueStateRedHead says:

    OT by a week as it is football related, but so endearing as not to be missed. For Phred, especially, if EW could pass it on.

    A young man contemplates hanging up his Packer Jersey, the one he has worn for the past 4-5 years.

    He is 11 years old and it soon will not fit him.

    From the AP, via the NYT (still good for the good feeling fluff it seems).


  19. MadDog says:


    I also think that it is really odd that, after the very initial reports of CIA also talking to DOJ lawyers about what to do about the tapes – – that avenue has gone totally quiet.

    The silence from the DOJ is deafening. It cannot be that all the involved perps abandoned ship with Fredo, can it?


    Just another passing note – there is still no explanation for why only 14 “high value” detainees were taken to GITMO (when there were reports of twice that number being “questioned” and held at blacksites by the CIA and reports that the CIA may still be in the blacksite torture business).

    Yeah! Based on D/CIA Hayden’s own words, the HVD numbers have to be upwards of 25+. Where are the others?

    Does the Shrubble Administration think we can’t count?

  20. skdadl says:

    Still haven’t caught up entirely, but I have to check out soon. I wanted to say thanks once again to EW and bmaz and all the wise and learned readers here who teach me so much.

    Happy Hogmanay to all (sorry, EW — that involves haggis, but it also promises the finest single malts).

    There are so many good people everywhere. We do outnumber the bastards. We have to figure out how to leverage goodness, I guess.

  21. MrWhy says:

    OT and this may be more appropriate for FDL in general.

    As far as I can tell, and I’m from Canada, so YMMV, …

    Donations can be made securely via PayPal.
    Payment can also be made by credit card, but the transactions aren’t secure.

    Watching Bill Moyer’s “The Secret Government: The Government in Crisis”, and quote just seconds ago – “Just destroy all the tapes”.

  22. freepatriot says:

    I’m gonna go off topic to say HAPPY NEW YEAR to all you humans that mark time western style

    that is all

  23. Rayne says:

    EW, I’m stumped. There must be something I’m missing, coming up blank on early Thai flights. I’m buggy from combing through several hundred documents looking for 2000-2001 or 2005 data on Thai flights.

    Something is very wrong, in so many ways, and not just because anything that goes into/out of Asia is invisible.

    Just read a memo regarding the rendition of six Bosnians to Gitmo; the involvement of German military intelligence and Bosnian authorities makes me think this is a much broader conspiracy, not just the U.S. gone rogue. After reading the COE reports by Swiss Senator Dick Marty, I don’t think he captures the deliberate, willful engagement of EU states; there is a sense that his earlier work sidled up to it, but his later report is a bit more sanitary. (I don’t think this is his choice, mind you.)

    • TheraP says:

      What about getting there by ship? naval ship? oil tanker? Just a wild guess here – but why does it always have to be “disappearing” via plane? They put prisoners into “containers” in Afghanistan! Not for long maybe… but you never know.

  24. Rayne says:

    Here’s one of the things that bugs me. There are at least two renditions OUT of Thailand, and there are flight records of the arrivals into EU sites for staging/handoff/whatever. In one case, the plane is a well-know aircraft, easily identifiable.

    But I can’t come up with data on the in-bound flights to Thailand.

    I have to give this up, do something else with the family for the evening, and hope that we’re not asking ourselves about the same sorry challenges next New Year’s Eve that we’ve been wrestling with for the last handful of years. Auld lang syne.

  25. skdadl says:

    After reading the COE reports by Swiss Senator Dick Marty, I don’t think he captures the deliberate, willful engagement of EU states;

    Amnesty International says that at least 70 CIA flights to black sites touched down to refuel in Canada. The longer you think about that, the worse things seem. That many flights — from where? To where?

    Wilful engagement went far beyond the EU.

    • Rayne says:

      Yes, I know; I have just finished reading a report on Scottish involvement. There were 107 flights through Scottish airports between 2001 and 2006. Edward Horgan has documented even bigger numbers through Ireland. It’s mind-boggling how involved these countries are that we expect to be so much better than the U.S. in all this.

      One of the problems I see is the corruption of diplomatic privilege; the involved parties used diplomatic assurances for plausible deniability. [“They said it was only a diplomatic flight…we let them pass under Chicago Convention.] Ugh. But it could not be willful blindness with a gloss of plausible deniability if military intelligence and police authorities are involved in identifying and capturing detainees.

      I finally found some flight info into Thailand, although not on the key flight(s) we want; it serves as a guide since the people we are dealing with are creatures of habit. (The Scottish flight data reflects strong trends; if a flight went through Edinburgh, chances were nearly even that it would go to Egypt or Oman, and flights through Glasgow had about a 30% chance of going to Poland.) The Saifulla Paracha rendition originated in Washington, stopped in Prague and Tashkent, then arrived in Thailand. (I couldn’t pull up the data because it was embedded in a graphic; see Appendix 6, pg. 30, Reprieve.org’s report.)

      And now really, I’m off; there’s a fire in the fireplace and my spouse is holding a spot on the couch for me.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Enjoy your evening — same to everyone here!!

        Rayne, when you come back, just a quick point — in some agricultural regions of the country, crop dusters take off and land in fields and on roads. Ditto Alaskan bush pilots. So although a crop duster, small-engine plane isn’t likely to be used for long distance renditions, there are plenty of Lear jets, and smaller jets that ‘puddlejump’ all the time. I’d assume they avoid being listed on landing/takeoff logs of commercial runways and airports. I think they want to be invisble and I’m sure they manage to do it.

        (Happy New Year to all — even JodiDog, who I hope is enjoying the new treadmill s/he received for Christmas. JodiDog, be sure to do a couple minutes of ‘cool down’ and stretches after you’re done walking/jogging, but I wish you good health and energy as you enjoy your new treadmill. What a great gift you received!)

        trggygth @ 52; looks like something that I need to check out. Thx!

        massacio, [email protected] is correct; it was quite possible to convert video to DV in 2002.
        (Replaying the video on the video player, then hooking the players’ feed in/out cables into a DV camera. As the video player reads the tape, the signal is sent to the DV cassette (rather than to a tv screen). Once you have the content recorded onto the DV, you connect the video camera to a computer, open up editing software, and it will read the digital content on the DV cassette. Quite simple; anyone with a $500 DV camera, a cheapo videocassette, editing software, time and patience can do it.)
        Hope this helps.

        Looking forward to a little justice in 2008; if justice isn’t done, things will truly unravel completely out of control.

  26. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Rayne @ 63; I forgot to mention… I’ve been in float planes more than I care to recall. So although I can’t really envision them landing rendition flights on lakes, it’s one more way to avoid public, or commercial airports. (BTW: I don’t know anything about the black sites, so don’t know how lakes would fit in to transporting, or ‘disappearing’ people. But it’s something to put in the mix.)

    I’ve also landed (and taken off) on ski planes. Same story; those things can land anywhere that’s reasonably flat and has enough length to slow down (generally, snow provides enough traction that you can have a shorter-than-normal landing path on snow). One snowstorm later, and you’ll not find the tracks you laid down on an earlier visit.

    Don’t mean to make you crazy with possibilities; I’m just saying that Fish & Game guys do this all the time. Medical rescue people land and take off from really odd places sometimes. Crop dusters are like modern cowboys, and sometimes have to land in fields (but the good ones are never reckless). And I’m reasonably sure that oil and gas companies have plane and helicopter pilots with plenty of experience landing and taking off in tight, odd spots that don’t necessarily have landing strips. So it’s not like no one ever does this kind of thing…

    I’m assuming that you may not have thought about ski planes, float planes, and helicopters. For those kinds of flights, the only reporting is probably volunteers noting their observations on the Internet (quite a few of whom, I’ll bet, are pilots or aero fans.)

    Crazymaking, huh?
    But I’ve taken off and landed in places without landing strips, so it’s worth pointing out that you may be down a rabbit warren trying to find ‘legitimate’ lists of rendition flights that land or take off in airports. It would surprise me very much if that’s the way these rendition flights operated.

    The modus operandi from my flying days was this: the pilots check out of the MAIN airport, but once out in the field, they land and take off as needed. They only ‘check in’ back at the main airport when they bring the plane back for fuel and maintenance at the hangers. At least, that was my experience. Other than swapping tales over beers, no one has time to care where you went, so it would be easy for people to take flights that went unnoticed.

    I now avoid airplanes whenever possible.
    (But if you must fly, try and determine whether the pilot is also a mechanic. Always your safest bet.)

    • Rayne says:

      roTL — thanks, appreciate the guidance. The plane used in the example I cited was Gulfstream V Turbo, ID nbr N379P, so not something too small, unmarked, one of the most frequently used in early renditions. It’s likely the same one we’re looking for, just need more feedback in/out of Asia. The fact that I’m not finding info universally on a particular location is puzzling, don’t know if it’s a language barrier or worse; the language barrier isn’t proving a problem with other sites, though.

  27. posaune says:

    hi brendanx @26
    late getting back to the party (had to work, home in time for a toast).

    couple of other goings-on w polsce r.2004, IIRC:
    michnik was obsessed with the orlengate scandal hearings (russian oil co distribution rights involving polish intelligence, incl ABW (domestic intel) & AW (foreign intel) but more importantly, the WSI (military intel). WSI was a “created” 1991, but in fact the workings remained from PRL, same folks, too> huge capacity for corruption, illegal extortion, etc. Interesting to note that the WSI bunch of 1970’s hangers-on wasn’t cleaned out via re-org until 2006!

    in the meantime, Kwasniewski (with connections to orlen) was trying to make deals with shrub, in hopes of getting the iraqi army equipment contract (got totally stiffed on that one) and begging for the airbase. And finally, (Mikulski in on this one): begging for elimination of visa requirements for us-visiting poles. That was a big one that was Kwasniewski’s election ace card- he bet the election on it and lost to the twins. shrub wasn’t about to give him the time of day.

    oh, and in the middle of all of this was the referendum on the EU. what’s that saying about ireland — you can’t be irish if the country doesn’t break your heart? they really mean poland. (sigh!).


  28. LabDancer says:

    Ms E Wheel –

    It’s already the New Year for you & most of your fans & friends & supporters who post or just read here – but where I’m at there’s still some time left to thank you & them as well – tho especially you because you are why this amazing blog exists – but also them for trusting your nose as lead dog in this hunt & for following your unflagging patience for slower members of the pack like me. There aren’t many examples in our life form leave aside the ‘Tubes of those who combine your relentless pursuit of truth with your ruthlessly skeptical eyes & ears & yet able to sustain humor & patience thru out.

    That comes from one who has seen the ‘dark side’ to each of government service & academe & private enterprise. I recognize that my interest in the Plame story came from a need to understand why it was that government actors in particular asked me to do things I knew or at least felt were wrong – & even tho I resisted where ever possible or at least tried – why it was that I wasn’t able to see how much more I was being used & so how many more times I could have tried.

    It’s also why I’ve stayed. I’ve been here now so long now I’ve seen two whole generations of “Will someone please explain what’s up with Fearless Freep & Jodi?” after my own indoctrination. [If my colors on that aren’t clear, I’ll just say “Thanks Freep” & leave it at that.]

    What you do here every day is what gives meaning to freedom – & to the extent one needs to think that getting thru ones’ life requires that it has meaning – apart from family & a good dog of course – this is an awful good place to find it.

    I’ll be listening for the squeak of your wheel & the light in your posts in this New Year shortly to come & I hope for many more thereafter.

  29. Hmmm says:

    On the occasion of the New Year: May I just offer that this community has been a source of great comfort to me in 2007. As well as great unsettlement. Thank you, colleagues — if I may be so bold. Best to you all for 2008.

    On Topic: The same planes may, perhaps, have been used for other purposes in addition to detainee transport, which if true would explain the number of flights exceeding the estimated number of detainees.

    • Rayne says:

      With numbers now in the tens of thousands, I’m more surprised we don’t see C-130’s involved…

      Given that detainees may have been moved several times, I’m not at all surprised by the number of flights we’re seeing. (And of course, there must be flights carrying non-human cargo, like the cocaine-bearing flight that crashed this past autumn).

      Zubaydah, for example, must have had at least 3 flights — one to Thailand, one to Poland, and now one to Mauritania:

      …I was told by the former senior intelligence official and a government consultant that after the existence of secret C.I.A. prisons in Europe was revealed, in the Washington Post, in late 2005, the Administration responded with a new detainee center in Mauritania. After a new government friendly to the U.S. took power, in a bloodless coup d’état in August, 2005, they said, it was much easier for the intelligence community to mask secret flights there. [Hersh, New Yorker, 17-JUN-07]

      My guess is that all of these HVD’s have had at least 3 flights.

  30. TheraP says:

    Thailand…. pirates? As late as 2005 they were trying to eradicate pirates between Thailand and Malaysia. This may be off the wall, like my other question, but why not make use of clandestine, illegal activity that’s already going on? (and note the oil connection)

    KUALA LUMPUR (4/9/2005)- Pirates are making a mockery of the half-hearted efforts of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore to make the Malacca Strait safe for shipping.

    When the three littoral states launched a plan last July to coordinate patrols of the strait, they were determined to make two points. One, the waterway through which a third of the world’s trade and half its oil passes was not vulnerable to terrorist and pirate attacks. And two, the littoral states themselves were up to the task of securing the strait and assistance by foreign militaries was unnecessary.

    But four brazen pirate attacks in the strait in the past month alone have put paid to the littoral states’ pretensions.

    One saw 35 armed pirates hijack a gas tanker, something that it has long been feared might be converted by terrorists into a floating bomb and spearheaded into a port, severely disrupting world trade. Another attack saw three crewmen of a Japanese tugboat kidnapped, marking an incident in which a non-littoral state became a victim of a pirate attack.

    Here’s the link: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/S…..9Ae02.html

    Seems to me the CIA could have links with Asian (or anything) gangs/mafia and their modes of transport or modes of getting people to “cooperate.”

    # of flights. Perhaps they needed to fly their experts in and out in teams and you’d need a lot of eyes and hands to do coding and transcribing and translating and “viewing as an expert” and writing reports. (and there may have been reasons to have the teams go there personally?)

    Apologies if you think I’m off the wall here.

  31. TheraP says:

    Another quote at the end of that article that shows the US navy was specifically considering doing something about the pirates in the Spring of 2004… thus going back, I’m sure.

    last April, when US Admiral Thomas Fargo announced that the United States was considering deploying special forces on high-speed vessels along the Malacca Strait to compensate for some of the littoral states’ seeming nonchalance toward safeguarding against a terrorist incident. The Malaysian government vociferously rejected the offer.

    In light of the recent attacks, a Western diplomat treaded carefully on the question of whether the US government would make a stronger push to assist in strait security. “Ideally [the littoral states] will begin to cooperate more closely with each other,” said the diplomat, who claimed the surge in attacks was not necessarily cause to sound alarm bells: “Pirate attacks are kind of cyclical in nature.”

    But clearly the international community is watching the developments in the strait very closely, if only from a different angle than the littoral states.

    I agree that many of these “disappeared” would have been moved many times, if only to disorient them and subject them to being in a strange place with people speaking an even stranger language.

    If there was any water transport, then you have the factor of sea sickness on a small vessel. Sea sickness…. or what if you waterboarded them on a vessel? They might truly think they are drowning.

    Agree egregious – with the moonlighting pirates!

  32. TheraP says:

    Here’s one from ‘99 – specific to Thailand… and it’s a “load of gasoline” that is commandeered:

    BANGKOK, June 15 Kyodo The Thai government on Tuesday asked China for help in locating a missing cargo vessel which was apparently attacked by pirates and later sailed toward China. Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Don Pramudwinai said pirates took over the vessel, which was carrying a load of gasoline, on the evening of June 8 near Malaysia’s Tioman Island.

    Link: http://findarticles.com/p/arti…..i_54973156

    crew of 16 in a

    noncoated clean tanker with 1,247 gross tons. It was returning to Songkhla in Thailand after taking on a load of gasoline in Singapore before the pirates seized it,

    Ok, I’ve made my little point. I’m sure this fits in somehow.

    • Rayne says:

      It’s not improbable, but so far the detainees who’ve been questioned have not provided any details to suggest transport by water. The relative few that are driving White House and CIA reaction appear to have been moved only by rendition flights; it may be a bigger matter of retaining control, since ships can be attacked like the USS Cole, and more easily tracked. Look how long it took before anybody looked into the Polish black site.

      And Happy New Year to you, too!

  33. WilliamOckham says:

    Reading through Marty’s report raised in my mind a more sinister reason for the torture tapes. The tapes may have been part of the torture:

    Detainees speak hatefully about the surveillance cameras, positioned so that in every inch of the cell
    they would be observed.

    This would explain the references to recycling the tapes after two days.

    • TheraP says:

      I totally agree with that. And in addition, think how you could show one person being waterboarded – or whatever – to others. They don’t even need to know who the other prisoner is! But… here’s what we’ll do to you. So talk or else.

  34. TheraP says:

    If a detainee was flown ”to a naval ship” and ”from a naval ship” – I’m thinking something huge here… they might never know, in that case, that they’re on a ship… just moved to a cell and then from a cell.

    I know you’re looking for how they got to Thailand… And if you put together the ”Agape” network and a ship?

    I’m also thinking how many yacht owners, we talking big yachts of course, are now using little helicopters to get back and forth to land. So then, you could have pirates and helicopters.

    Ok… I’ll stop thinking and go and have some tea and some exercise. It’s just that I woke up thinking ”Thailand… pirates.”

  35. Rayne says:

    I’ve read far too much content over the last 24 hours, now forgetting where I’ve read things.

    WilliamOckham — The COE report said, “The HVD programme is a very structured, very rigorous programme.” While you’re absolutely right that photos/tapes offered threat value for use against other detainees, taping — or remote viewing – would ensure adherence to such a program; it would also allow micromanagement by folks at most senior levels.

    But one report or article that I read in the last 24 hours made the point that analysts actually in the presence of an individual being injured and not taking action could be subject to prosecution (with a section from U.S. code cited, wish I had EW’s holographic memory at this point). This may explain why there was only one or two analysts in the room; why there was a destruction of the video, in addition to other reasons; why the remoteness both in time and distance, and in the case of the president, lack of awareness of the location were a part of the process. They may have limited the exposure to U.S. prosecution so that no one could be offered immunity for testimony.

    Now I have to go and dig out that nugget; so frustrated that I didn’t bookmark that tidbit.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Okay, now I am completely ‘creeped out’ and hoping that no Blackwater types show up around my place in the dark of night — or any other time. You mentioned ‘remote viewing‘. A chill went down my spine when I read that comment.

      Online conference technologies would enable this. Add that fact to what OrionATL mentions (re Scott Horton) about Bush ‘viewing’ torture, or tapes. Then add to what Wm Ockham @ 76 mentions about how the detainees viewed the cameras as ‘hateful‘. Okay… (deep breath, confirming that no tin foil hat is on my head)… what if…?? Just who in hell was watching those ‘interrogations’?!

      I’m about to faint right out of my chair from horror — but what if these sick bastards used remoting in some way related to interogations?!
      That could certainly leave a ‘file’. It would be digital.
      I could be wrong… But it would have been possible in 2002.

      If this were a sci fi novel, GWB would have had remote access to torture sessions; whether it happened in real life is for Congress to uncover ASAP.
      IF my hypothesis has any validity, it sure helps explain why these villainous asshats are so completely flipped out about the truth leaking out regarding their torture methods, and who saw what — or gave remote instructions…? (!)

      Am I nuts?!

      Jesus, Mary, and Joesph, I hope to God I’m wrong… it never occurred to me that anyone could be so sick and twisted (smacking my forehead for the umpteenth time). But it would sure help explain deep loathing of surveillance cameras (not that simply being under surveillance constantly wouldn’t make a person nuts all by itself).

      Phred @ 85; agree with you that the essential questions distill to: who ordered the torture tapes destroyed? Why?

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        To be explicit:

        IF my hypothesis is correct, THEN
        Bush and/or Cheney
        and/or other administration officials (including Rumsfeld, Yoo, Addington, etc)
        participated — remotely — in torture and interrogations.

        That is a war crime, under both US and also international law.

        Probably didn’t happen that way, primarily to keep Bush and Cheney safely ‘firewalled’.
        But if there is any evidence that such a thing occurred, then impeachment is the only possible next step for Congress.

        • Rayne says:

          It occurred to me quite a while ago, rOTL, that a man who’d ask “Who authorized giving him pain medication?” in regards to a gun-shot KSM, would be the kind of guy who could coolly sit in and watch torture and give orders to those inflicting pain. All of it shielded from us; we have been chasing tapes, and they may tell us a lot, but we haven’t asked enough questions about the torture process and the viewing process.

          For instance:

          – was the torture both recorded and simulcast to a remote viewer?
          – does the recording capture the interaction of remote viewers?
          – was the reason why Bush was not in the know about the location of the torture site(s) in question so that he had plausible deniability removing hiim from concurrent participation in the torture by remote viewing?
          – was the reason the number of analysts in the room were limited because there were foreign agents AND Americans participating in concert in torture?
          – do the recordings show Americans in violation of American law that might also be prosecuted internationally — not torture per se, but pointedly depriving subjects of medical care they obviously need?
          – does the recording also document that remote viewers are aware that medical attention is needed, but pointed order that it is withheld, or pointedly ignore the need for care and do not order it?

          The recording issue is rather like the issue of kerning in Rathergate; we were distracted by the fight over the kerning instead of noting the lack of denial by Bush about going AWOL. We have been arguing over the nature of the recordings (tapes? digital? method of storage, destruction?) instead of asking some of the big questions.

          Did Bush, Cheney or any member of the administration view live and remotely the torture of any detainee?

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            First, thanks to all who offered feedback (and consolation).

            Now, to business, per Rayne’s list:
            – was the torture both recorded and simulcast to a remote viewer?
            ***** Okay, for the first time I am genuinely, viscerally disgusted with Jello Jay and the rest of the feckless Dems. They need to get to the bottom of this, and ASAP. Because it’s hideous. But it would also explain the Bu$hCo panic over this whole topic of torture, and also torture tapes.

            – does the recording capture the interaction of remote viewers?
            ***** Depends on the remoting technology. Those that I’ve used do capture all comments that are typed in. This is so that managers can go back later and identify key terms, key comments, key decisions. Also, anyone who misses a meeting can go online, call up the conference in question (using a passcode), and ‘catch up’ later on their own time.
            Shorter: yes, these technologies can capture written interactions, certainly in 2002.

            – was the reason why Bush was not in the know about the location of the torture site(s) in question so that he had plausible deniability removing hiim from concurrent participation in the torture by remote viewing?
            PRECISELY!! And would Congress, or the courts, think to even pose the question this way? No evidence so far; at least, none that’s public.
            But this allows Bush (and Cheney) a little ‘plausible deniability window’.
            So if Bush is asked where they occured, he doesn’t know.
            If Bush is asked what time they occurred… he ‘doesn’t know’ (since EST is different from GMT, after all).
            If Bush is asked anything other than, ‘Did you participate remotely, or using ANY kind of communication technology’, he weasels out of culpability for war crimes.

            – was the reason the number of analysts in the room were limited because there were foreign agents AND Americans participating in concert in torture?
            I just want people at the top levels of government are held accountable; otherwise, extremists gain power as people feel they can’t count on justice and will act irrationally on their own.

            – do the recordings show Americans in violation of American law that might also be prosecuted internationally — not torture per se, but pointedly depriving subjects of medical care they obviously need?
            What else would they show?
            Why else would Bu$hCo be so flipped out and panicked?

            – does the recording also document that remote viewers are aware that medical attention is needed, but pointed order that it is withheld, or pointedly ignore the need for care and do not order it?
            It doesn’t have to document this. As long as it documents torture, it’s a given that they didn’t intervene on behalf of medical needs. (Indeed, it’s logically impossible to draw any other conclusion.)

            The recording issue is rather like the issue of kerning in Rathergate; we were distracted by the fight over the kerning instead of noting the lack of denial by Bush about going AWOL. We have been arguing over the nature of the recordings (tapes? digital? method of storage, destruction?) instead of asking some of the big questions.
            This is what I was trying to point out to Phred the other day on another thread.
            You’ve nailed a key aspect that worries me.
            We’re too prone to diving down rabbit warrens.
            Eye: meet ball. Keep focus.

            Did Bush, Cheney or any member of the administration view live and remotely the torture of any detainee?
            The chances are so high as to be appalling. If one reads the finely-parsed comments from the WH, the denials-about-almost-this-thing, the distractions they toss out, it’s hard not to believe that this occurred. Or something quite close.
            The onus is on Congress to unearth this.

            • TheraP says:

              Just envision this: they’ve agreed that a detainee be stripped and placed in a chilled room, cold water thrown on them periodically, and made to stand. That would be for hours and hour and hours. And anyone who agreed to that combination of wretched treatment might tune in and watch this poor, naked, soul shivering and shaking… no food, no true “shelter,” no clothing…. I don’t care how easily bored bush might be… I could see him drawn to this.

              Sorry for laying that out there like that. I can think of worse and terrible things… just based on stuff I’ve heard. And seeing someone naked, cold, completely vulnerable… well it’s just too horrible and just too possible.

              Web Cam Torture.

              • Rayne says:

                But it explains the use of the description, “clinical”, in regards to what appeared on some of the recorded content. (Damn, I wish I could remember where that descriptor appeared…)

                rOTL –

                – does the recording also document that remote viewers are aware that medical attention is needed, but pointed order that it is withheld, or pointedly ignore the need for care and do not order it?
                It doesn’t have to document this. As long as it documents torture, it’s a given that they didn’t intervene on behalf of medical needs. (Indeed, it’s logically impossible to draw any other conclusion.)

                This was particularly pertinent in the case of KSM, because he’d suffered a gunshot to the leg and was left untreated; he characterized what happened as a result as “half-died”.

                Mary asks in the last thread what the judicial precedents were that the COE commented upon in its report; I can’t recall, need to re-read the report, but this could be it right here, a gross case of gathering ‘the fruit of the poisonous tree,’ and using it in turn to obtain more poisoned fruit from others detained because of KSM’s admissions, true or otherwise, under torture and medical duress.

                Oh, and the children. KSM’s children were there; at least one other detainee knew they were there and that they were tormented in some format to produce information from KSM. This is completely abhorrent, more so to me than the remote viewing — but what if someone viewed this remotely, too?

                The ultimate in inhumane behavior, yes?

                • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                  I was over on the other thread… Butto…
                  But I am still online, as I am just still taking in the implications.
                  My ‘gut’ sure thinks that this is what most likely occurred. It explains so much parsing and ‘legallish’ crap out of the WH.

                  It sure feels like a puzzle piece.

                  KSM’s children were there?!!
                  I’m stupified!
                  Oh. My. God.

                  (A friend of mine operates a children’s Hospice organization, and is constantly fundraising. As TheraP realizes, there are all kinds of neurological, emotional, developmental implications here… Oh. My. God. This kind of damage has lifelong implications. I’m staring at my screen in near shock. She deals with kids going through bereavement, and that’s bad enough – add torture on top and the neurological implications take us right to the dank stench of the Middle Ages.)

                  Inhumane = criminal.

                  I don’t recall ever being so angry with Congress, and ready to actually insist on an apt with my Senator’s staff, as I am this night. This is beyond anything I ever even feared. Beyond what I could have imagined.

                  But I still believe that unless it is stopped through legal means, via a legal process, it will only boomerang into more madness, violence, and suffering. Congress needs to get cajones pronto. I don’t see that the Courts have the power to do it at this point.

        • TheraP says:


          Just left you a message on the thread where you put the question. I am certain of your sanity, and your comments have always seemed to me full of good sense and wisdom. What you have concluded seems very possible to me. And I can understand the sense of overwhelming horror as you came to that conclusion. Especially having that happen to you as you perhaps sit alone. You are certainly not alone in this thought, thought it had not occurred to me until you said it. But as soon as you did, yes, it seems all too possible.

          Yes, here we’ve been sitting thinking, how did the tapes get recorded or transmitted…and few of us were thinking of bush, as I said it in the other thread, asking that the torture happen when he was exercising (or whatever) so he wouldn’t miss an “episode.”

          Thanks for requesting a reality check. Wish I could say it weren’t possible, but I fear it’s all too possible.

          I think of bush saying: “Being president is a joyful experience.” Ugh!!!

  36. Rayne says:

    Brief aside: what kind of sick f*cks use PowerPoint slides to brief their “managers” about the status of renditions?

    The whole process of snatching human beings and whisking them away to be tortured has been so freaking detached from humanity; what monsters these be.

  37. Mary says:

    The information known about these interrogations has formed the basis of heated debate in the United States and the wider international community, leading, in Zubaydah’s case, to high-level political and legislative manoeuvres and, in KSM’s case, to the admission of some troubling judicial precedents

    emph added

    Does the report spell out what the judicial precedents were in KSM’s case?

  38. Rayne says:

    Thank you much. Confirmed my suspicion that they used N379P for his move to Thailand.

    Why that particular site did not index and come up with my query is a mystery; I’d already been reading big chunks of Ghost Plane at other sites (PBS’s site on rendition, for example, which did come up in my query).

    Definitely need that book.

  39. Rayne says:

    Good gravy, that page is chock full of stuff.

    January 21, 2003. Austrian Air Force intercept and photograph an AC130 flown by Florida-based Tepper Aviation who charter planes owned by the CIA’s Rapid Air Transport. The plane is flying from Frankfurt AFB to Baku, Azerbaijan and, despite military communications equipment, is registered as a civilian plane. All US government chartered planes must have diplomatic permission to enter Austrian air space.

    They waived them through. Complicit, or willingly blind?

  40. mainsailset says:

    Yeah, to think we were both toying with idea of tossing some coins over toward Wayne Madsen…the book, just out in Sept ‘07, is already on the UPS truck to me.

    • Rayne says:

      Only problem I see, after combing through the dataset of flight info via the link, is that we are still “flying blind” when it comes to Thailand.

      I can only think that the government of Thailand has been so restrictive that no one can get within a reasonable distance of Udon Thai Royal Airport to plane spot.

      And we’re lacking flight info on Mauritania (this one still bears further validation, although I am inclined to trust Sy Hersh’s source; the newspaper that mentions Ichemmimène as a new black site prison is not available on the internet although cited by other small publications).

      Still might have to pony up money to WM.

  41. orionATL says:

    with respect to the torture tapes never leaving “the country of origin”,

    the fact that george bush was, for quite some time, fixated on using the name abu zubayed when making arguments for the “success” of the u.s. torture program

    has made me wonder lately if copies of the tapes were not made available to the white house,

    and if they might not have been viewed by the president,

    who seems to have a personality that appreciates torture.

    “plausible deniability” has never seemed like a major concern to gw.

  42. orionATL says:

    i see that scott horton has a post on the possibility of bush having viewed at least scenes from the torture tapes.

    see: harper’s, no comment, dec 27 9:11am, “in the holiday news”, “did bush watch the torture tapes”.

  43. mainsailset says:

    Damn this administration for even bringing us to this discussion. Indeed readerOfTeaLeaves, this is horrific to even conjecture about. As my mind reels I couldn’t help but wonder if Blair or any other ‘partners’ would have cared to participate. Again and again, as large as one tries to imagine, Bush has demonstrated an ability to outlarge. And again I am sickened by these thoughts.

  44. klynn says:

    My guess is if there was any “live” remote broadcast of torture, it will be explained in terms of “gathered torture and terrorist experts from around the world” viewing to help break the web of terror groups…teleconferencing for the benefit of “real-time” expert analysis…

  45. TheraP says:

    Light a candle. It may help. Try it:


    Yes, the children…. I can’t even bear to think.

    To torture an adult is one thing… a terrible thing… to break down a personality. But to harm a child, before the personality has formed, well, in the best of cases you end up with multiple personalities (created to bear the unbearable… as if it happened to “someone else”). In the worst of the cases the child goes mad, becomes like an animal. Yes, if they tortured children… and watched the parent watching it… oh, dear god…

    I tell you, most people will refuse to believe it. Or even believing it, they will refuse to think.

    This is why people deny the Holocaust… because it is unbearable to think.

    I’m thinking of TS Eliot… Four Quartets …

    Descend lower, descend only
    Into the world of perpetual solitude,
    World not world, but that which is not world,
    Internal darkness, deprivation
    And destitution of all property,
    Dessication of the world of sense,
    Evacuation of the world of fancy,
    Inoperancy of the world of spirit;

    And Dante:

    “Abandon hope all ye who enter here”

    I’m going to light another candle.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Actually, I think people can be amazingly resilient. And people can live with tremendous loss, but some assistance at key times affects the long term outcomes.

      This is medieval.
      Cheney, et al in a panic about nukes being used, so therefore extreme torture is legally permissable, and urgently pursued. I grasp all that. But it’s too late in the game.

      They’re reacting to symptoms — and making many more problems as a result.
      Leadership treats causes of trouble; neither Bush nor Cheney have the vision, strength, or stamina to do anything other than resolutely, defiantly, and belligerantly seek to expand the status quo.

      That’s futile.

      • TheraP says:

        I think people can be amazingly resilient. And people can live with tremendous loss, but some assistance at key times affects the long term outcomes.

        I agree. In fact most of us can go through almost anything so long as we have that “assistance at key times.” Truly, in my work I see that. Having even one supportive person (and sometimes I’m that one), makes a huge, huge difference.

        That is why some people fail to understand torture. It’s not just the bad stuff that is done. It is the lack of human solidarity, lack of human kindness. It is the isolation, the feeling that “no one knows” and “no one cares.” It is the uncertainty. The being cut off from everyone and everything. And then… the infliction of harm by people who have no reason to do so. You never harmed them. You don’t know them. They are strangers. And they have total control. And are treating you worse than an animal.

        So it’s not just what these people go through. It is that they are totally alone, except for the guards and torturers. No one to turn to…. that’s what makes it so awful.

  46. orionATL says:

    a few things to keep in mind:

    1) legitimacy has always been the achilles heel of the bush administration,

    dating from the days when the supreme court gave bush the presidency.

    all, repeat all, the FURIOUS ducking and dodging and lying the bush administration has done in the last eight years – on taxes, on torture, on science, on iraq, etc – has been for the

    double purpose of

    a. following its idiosyncratic, distinctly un-american agenda

    and, at the same time,

    b. maintaining its legitimacy to the great majority of americans.

    2) the torture in poland, etc., was, i would guess, little different from the torture that took place in the “brig” at charleston – thanks to yoo, comey, goldsmith, mukasey, et al.

    except , of course, that torturee jose posada was an american citizen.

    neat, huh? declare the guy an enemy combatant, hide him away on an AMERICAN military base, and then torture him.

    and those tapes were destroyed too?

    3) and then there is the torture, by american soldiers, that took place in abu grahab prison in iraq.

    as i recall, a member of national security adviser condelizza rice’s staff visited abu ghrab in november, 2004 (i work from memory – correct me if you’ve a better one) as did gen geoffrey miller a few weeks earlier.

    why, i’ve often wondered, would one of rice’s staff bother to visit a prison in iraq?

    maybe somebody in the white house was interested.

    i wonder if any of those tapes made it back to the white house movie theater?

    summary: unrestrained power is not good for humans and other living things.

    that’s why we created laws and courts.

    but then

    that was before there was a federalist society

    and before there were weak senators like sen specter and sen leahy to help the society’s agenda along.

    so now we are stuck with an entire cohort of federal judges who cannot recognize proper political conduct from improper, even given our 250-year-old historical context.

  47. sojourner says:

    ROTL, I have been reading the thread about Bhutto with great fascination and had to come over here and read through this to understand some of your comments there.

    First off, you are certainly not crazy. The first thought that went through my mind when the torture tapes came to light was that some sick sonofabitch had a good time watching them. With today’s technological abilities, why not watch it in real time, like a boxing match? I remember reading, I believe, in William L. Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” about some of the Nazi heirarchy getting off on watching the torture and murder of the Jews. There were also some movies made…

    I think you have also answered something that has puzzled me for a very long while: Why has the Congressional leadership been so willing to roll over and play dead with regard to Bush and Cheney? It has felt for a very long time that these people act as if they have a gun to their heads — and maybe they truly do! I am not excusing their behavior for a second because impeachment HAS to happen immediately and should have happened a long time ago.

    The truth, perhaps, is that the congressional leadership is very, very afraid of what Bush and Cheney might do in response to an attempt to remove them from office. Neither of these people has shown any willingness to abide by the laws everyone else follows. I think that they are both mentally unbalanced and perfectly capable of doing anything to preserve themselves.

    Sad state of affairs, but we are all complicit… We have allowed ourselves to become complacent, and have given away our power.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Sojourner, we’ve had so many good exchanges at EW’s bar over the past 16 months or so, but this is a stunner, eh?

      William L. Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” about some of the Nazi heirarchy getting off on watching the torture and murder of the Jews
      . I also read that book; my father, uncles, and cousins fought in WWII, so it was a big topic of my childhood. Shirer mentions that the Third Reich floated on a sea of booze, there were so many alcoholics in the upper echelons. My hunch: many of those were adults with undiagnosed learning disabilities (although not everyone who has problems with alcohol has LDs, there’s a lot of overlap). Hitler got rid of the competent, ethical civil servants; Bu$hCo has done the same it appears.

      I think you have also answered something that has puzzled me for a very long while: Why has the Congressional leadership been so willing to roll over and play dead with regard to Bush and Cheney?
      I’m also mystified. Meanwhile, the damage escalates. After the suspicions noted on these threads, plus reading Craig Unger’s book (”Fall of the House of Bush“) I am COMPLETELY fed up with Congressional lack of action. Just incredibly disgusted.

      The truth, perhaps, is that the congressional leadership is very, very afraid of what Bush and Cheney might do in response to an attempt to remove them from office…they are both mentally unbalanced and perfectly capable of doing anything to preserve themselves.
      I agree.
      FWIW: I came across the work of a social psychologist, Roy Baumeister, while researching something unrelated to politics. Baumeister’s recent research has upended notions of who is most likely to be ‘criminal’. Baumeister’s research that seems to have a lot of validity in the way he set up his experiments; plus, they’ve been repeated by others and his results confirmed repeatedly. It’s a bit eery in view of what we know about Bush and Cheney.

      Here’s the key revelation: people who are ‘egoists’ and who are also aggressive are the really dangerous among us. The people who are most dangerous have an exaggerated, inflated sense of their own importance and their own skills (but no real mastery of tasks or decision-making). In fact, some of Baumeister’s most aggressive, most egotistical research subjects (i.e., highest scores for ‘dangerous’) BRAGGED about the things they’d done. Wanted everyone to know what bad-ass things they’d done. (Thinking: flight suit on an aircraft carrier deck…) What’s even more interesting is how his research apparently synchs with the assessments of prison guards about who they most need to keep an eye on. Interesting, eh? (Goering, et al, fit Baumeister’s research very well, BTW.)

      …Sad state of affairs, but we are all complicit… We have allowed ourselves to become complacent, and have given away our power.
      I might have agreed two months ago, but no longer.
      I no longer blame myself for wanting to believe that American civil servants and ideals were strong enough to withstand a CheneyBush disaster.

      We were not complicit — we did NOT condone or agree to this.
      Our Congress, our courts, our Secretaries of State, and the cursed, weasely, lazy US press SHOULD HAVE conducted their affairs so that Cheney’s true nature and alliances were clear to all the US public before Nov 2000; the press should NEVER have puffed up a criminal egoist like Rove into some kind of Master Strategist — they should have exposed him as the deceitful, illegal fraud he is.

      I refuse to blame myself, or you, or my neighbors, or any commenters here for the fact that right wing ideologues found very wealthy people to fund their political agendas while the rest of us (oblivious of the danger) were doing our jobs, being ‘good citizens’ working on local issues, and exhausting ourselves driving kids soccer carpools.

      I refuse to accept one more iota of blame.
      Show me the reports from Campaign 2000 that talk about Wolfowitz, or Perle, or neocons, or who funded them, or their links with Cheney.
      Show me the news coverage that explained the Gov of Texas is only a ‘ceremonial’ position, and that Dubya had no managerial talent.
      Show me the news reports that laid out the relationships that Michael Moore so eloquently explained in Fahrenheit 9/11 between the Bushes, Carlyle Group, oil, Dubya going AWOL.

      Some of us intuited that these people were bad news, but we were let down by a host of institutions — starting with Congress, and including the US press. Capped off by the US Supreme Court, which handed down an embarressingly PARTISAN legal decision that made many of us realize the shit was starting to hit a very bizarre fan.

      Don’t you for one instant blame yourself!
      I’ve read your comments for at least a year or more, and from what I can tell you represent the very finest in this country: curiousity, openmindedness, willingness to cooperate in a larger conversation. You da best (Well… aong with the insufferable bmaz, and Mad Dogs, and Mary, and Rayne, and Phred…

      It’s not your fault, and it’s not my fault.
      And neither of us should have to spend hours and hours and hours online trying to sort out why we’ve been lied to, defrauded, and our names drug through mud and filth because OTHER PEOPLE lacked the courage to stand up to neocon Think Tanks and the Karl Roves of this world.

      You’re the best.
      It’s not your fault.
      It’s not my fault.

      We’re simply the only ones pissed off enough, and tough, enough to ask questions and call bullshit on the criminal conspiracy that took over while we were busy trying to lead decent lives.

      Another rant from rOTL, but damn, I feel a bit better now.

      Wow…. am I going to be working really late today, or what…? Yikies…

  48. rxbusa says:

    Thinking back to some of the things the Right was saying back in 2002-2003 in the “blame Clinton” era, one of the things alleged was that because of the rules employed in the Clinton years, we missed out on a lot of intelligence because they didn’t deal with “bad people” implying somehow that they weren’t tough enough or something like that. Like this old NYT story.

    Well, now I guess we are seeing what they meant and what it has led to.

  49. Rayne says:

    rOTL — here, read this synopsis of Abu Zubaida or Zubaydah. It’s a pretty good resource, although as always, the content must be viewed with skepticism since most of it comes from mainstream media and their sources.

    He’s clearly a threat, and deserved treatment as such. But note how many errors we made in handling this threat…and then the ultimate error of submitting innocent children to this vortex of horrors. We may have made him a saint, the worst thing possible if our aim is to undo al Qaeda.

    • TheraP says:

      I have found your quote. You wondered about the term “clinical.”

      The CIA repeatedly asked White House lawyer Harriet Miers over a two-year period for instructions regarding what to do with “very clinical” videotapes depicting the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques on two top Al Qaeda captives, according to former and current intelligence officials familiar with the communications (who requested anonymity when discussing the controversial issue). The tapes are believed to have included evidence of waterboarding and other interrogation methods that Bush administration critics have described as torture.

      It’s from:

      Michael Isikoff and
      Mark Hosenball
      Paper Trail

      Who authorized the CIA to destroy interrogation videos?

      Here’s the link: http://www.newsweek.com/id/76574

      I thought that this had been said by Dana Perino, and indeed she often uses the word “clinical,” but if she said it, I bet it was just a quote from the Newsweek article… unless this was their common language.

      It would be interesting to dig into that language a bit more.

  50. Rayne says:

    Thanks, TheraP. That word says a lot.

    I don’t think I read that article, may have picked up “clinical” in commentary related to the article. I wonder if this bit was a veiled threat by the intel community:

    …An extensive paper—or e-mail—trail exists documenting the contacts between Clandestine Service officials and top agency managers and between the CIA and the White House regarding what to do about the tapes, according to two former intelligence officials.

    No wonder as Laura Rozen says they have gone to complete radio silence.

    • TheraP says:

      You are most welcome. It bugged me too.

      I didn’t read that article either. And I truly think I heard it first from Perino. So I’m wondering if this particular word was used by many in the white house and throughout the web of people who knew about this.

      I agree the word says a lot
      . It reminds me of how the Nazis experimented on their prisoners. And in some ways this is exactly what happened here. Maybe in real time. As if it was like running rats through a maze or having pigeons peck a lever. “clinical” – on the one hand you think people in white coats and a medical setting… on the other, being the subject of experiments run without any ethics clearance like you’d normally have in research.

      It’s not clear from the article if Harriet Myers might have used the word or if the two sources were quoting her to that effect. But interesting that it’s in “quotes.”

      Clinical. It sounds like something akin to the Yoo torture memo – which apparently was based on medical terminology.

      I’m going to poke around a bit more and see what turns up.

  51. TheraP says:

    Yoo concluded that only evidence of a “war crime” could allow the ICC to prosecute for torture… but that bush had already “decided” these folks didn’t come under Geneva… therefore “no war crime” ….. but if a prosecutor did decide to do it anyway, then they designate the prosecutor as a “rogue prosecutor.”

    See, there’s no problem. Geneva doesn’t apply to these people (per bush) because bush designated them as outside Geneva. And anyway, no one but a “rogue prosecutor” could possibly disagree with the Decider!

    Like I’ve been saying, it’s all in the language.

  52. TheraP says:

    Ok, refresher course:

    (Oct 2, 2007 – Paul Kiel at tpm)

    During today’s hearing, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) asked Goldsmith where that definition had come from. “It came from a health care statute designed to define the circumstances under which there was an emergency situation warranting health care benefits,” he answered. He explained that “severe pain” is hard to define, and so the lawyers likely cast around for a way to define it — but that the health care code probably wasn’t the best place to look.

    Later in that same thread, from fuzz: http://www.emtala.com/faq.htm

    Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA)

    The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act is a statute which governs when and how a patient may be (1) refused treatment or (2) transferred from one hospital to another when he is in an unstable medical condition.


    Any patient who “comes to the emergency department” requesting “examination or treatment for a medical condition” must be provided with “an appropriate medical screening examination” to determine if he is suffering from an “emergency medical condition”. If he is, then the hospital is obligated to either provide him with treatment until he is stable or to transfer him to another hospital in conformance with the statute’s directives.


    If the patient does not have an “emergency medical condition”, the statute imposes no further obligation on the hospital.

    The definition provided under the statute is:

    “A medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in –
    placing the health of the individual (or, with respect to a pregnant woman, the health of the woman or her unborn child) in serious jeopardy,

    serious impairment to bodily functions, or
    serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part, or

    “With respect to a pregnant woman who is having contractions –
    that there is inadequate time to effect a safe transfer to another hospital before delivery, or
    that the transfer may pose a threat to the health or safety of the woman or her unborn child.”

    There you have it. Clinical!!!!

    Ok, it would appear that although they are torturing abroad, they are working under a statute that applies to a US hospital, so they know when the “patient” they are “treating” must get Emergency Room Treatment.

    How simple is that?

    Thereafter, I’m guessing, they all began to use the word “clinical” to describe the whole process.

  53. TheraP says:

    In contrast to the nonsense recorded above, here are a couple of comments in that tpm thread:

    NateC wrote on October 2, 2007 4:45 PM:

    I hadn’t heard this before. As a physician (an ICU physician at that) the definition had always struck me as ludicrous. Organ failure is often painless. If your liver or kidneys shut down you gradually become obtunded. Its generally thought to be a merciful way to go for the chronically ill to go.

    Some organ failure can be painful (the skin), and some can be unbearably uncomfortable, while not technically painful (heart, lung.) Still, most of our patients in the ICU with organ failure recieve sedatives and narcotics to they can tolerate the painful procedures we do to “fix” them – not for the underlying process.

    harper wrote
    on October 2, 2007 5:08 PM:

    It’s always intrigued me that Yoo & Co. ignored the perfectly good definition of torture in Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 2340:

    “As used in this chapter,

    (1) ‘torture’ means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;

    (2) ’severe mental pain or suffering’ means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from —
    (A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering….”
    plus some other well-considered ways to louse up a victim’s mind.

    Interestingly, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2340A (a) provides that Sec. 2340 applies only “outside the United States….”

    Thus, it should apply to every Blackwater or other mercenary using a qualifying “enhanced interrogation technique” on a detainee in Afghanistan, Guantanamo, Iraq, etc.

    Oh, BTW torture is a 20 year federal felony, unless the torturee dies from the torture. Then the perpetrator, if convicted, “shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.”

    • Rayne says:

      THAT’S IT. That’s the bloody piece of U.S. code I’ve been looking for all over for the last 2 days.

      18 U.S.C. Sec. 2340A (a)

      I ran across a piece of research on the renditions and subsequent torture, and it used this code in particular; there is some additional piece here that obligates immediate action if a subject is in need of medical attention.

      Thanks, TheraP. This has been one of the few times I regret not going to law school, to hunt that down.

  54. mainsailset says:

    The tape of Bush in his ranch office conference room in the aftermath of Katrina comes to mind as he video conferenced with his Heckuvajob team, add to that the Sampson comment of (paraphrase here) now that we can do this, let’s take it out for a test drive. Stone faced clinicians…
    And, since some day we’ll figure out the nexus of all this, I was thinking of Unocal purchase falling apart for China, then subsequent purchase by Chevron, and I was reminded of history & the Rockefeller family.

  55. Mary says:

    113 – Very clinical, to me, seems to indicate that they were also using the torture in the nature of human experimentation – taking all kinds of measurements as core body temperature was dropped, prolonged sleep deprivations ensued, limbs swelled and organs were stressed, the exact time of responses to waterboarding was recorded, etc. Part of the Executive Order that Bush repealed, IIRC, involved a prohibition on human experimentation, but it sounds like that went out the door. In both the overseas and the Padilla detentions there have been allegations, too, of giving drugs to heighten disorientation, hallucinations, paranoia, senses of dependence, etc.

    112 – re: that link, I’d be pretty careful unless you trace back through all the sourcing. I think you’d get better info from the Suskind book, since Dan Coleman speaks on the record and not anonymously and brings the experience he has to bear on the nature of Zubaydah’s involvement.

    The link in 112, for example, has this reference:

    Deek and Zubaida will later work together on a number of operations, for instance using the honey trade to ship drugs and weapons (see May 2000), and masterminding a millennium bomb plot in Jordan. [New Yorker, 1/22/2007]

    So the New Yorker link is given as a source for Zubaydah working with Deek to “mastermind” a millenium bomb plot in Jordan. Go read that New Yorker piece and see if you think that is what the piece actually says, anywhere.

    Here’s most of what the piece does say about Zubaydah (and it is in keeping with Suskind’s information)

    Zubaydah’s primary responsibility was to arrange transportation for people from Pakistan to Al Qaeda camps just inside Afghanistan. He maintained guest houses in two neighborhoods in Peshawar, Hayatabad and University Town, and recruits would be shuttled from the houses, over the Khyber Pass, to a military and religious training facility called Khaldan. Graduates of Khaldan then advanced to more specialized camps. Thousands of men passed through this network, and keeping track of security and logistics was a complex task involving a team of people. Zubaydah, who had a closely cropped beard and wore large glasses, was a commanding manager, but he also exhibited odd behavior. Omar Nasiri, a former spy for European intelligence agencies who met Zubaydah in the nineties on his way to Khaldan, told me that Zubaydah shuffled around his home in near-total darkness, carrying a gas lantern from room to room. He barely spoke and would often communicate by pointing.

    The travel agent/greeter role was pretty much the only role that they ever tied to Zubaydah.

    • Rayne says:

      Hence my cautionary statement about the content at the link. You’ll find there are caveats all through their work at the site, so they are aware there are issues of neutrality. Zubaydah was a threat, one that should have been followed carefully with both sigint and humint for years; taking him off the streets and torturing him severed some of the value he had, and likely created a whole new set of problems.

    • TheraP says:

      I completely agree with your description of the “clinical aspects.” God help us, we were thinking horrible thoughts yesterday… but this takes it to another level! I’m sure you’re right. I wonder if these guys have copies of what the Nazis did. Horrible stuff.

      Thank you, Mary… for leading us deeper into a lower circle of hell.

  56. orionATL says:

    were i doing torture, one of the benefits i don’t think i would overlook would be that of leaving the torturee in such a mental state as not to be able to coherently describe, or not to wish to recall, details of his interrogation.

    i suspect that this is one of the goals of the sensory deprivation torture that jose padilla apparently endured.

    recently, the german citizen who the cia kidnapped and shipped out for torture a few years ago went off the deep end (my interpretation). i doubt that this behavior was unrelated to his torture.

    mental instability following torture would seem to be an effective way of achieving “built-in” lack of credibility vis-a-vis torturee testimony.

  57. Rayne says:

    And I think this is one of two articles that cited that code: Secrets and Lies: Uncovering the truth about torture, by Amrit Singh

    What I want to know, in addition to the questions above, is whether the parsing and scrambling about what constitutes torture began before/after possible live viewing/live auditing of torture….

    bmaz (122) — I cured myself of the desire by working as an admin asst with paralegal responsibilities for a Fortune 100 legal department. I’d finished two semesters of business law, thought I should explore it further before committing to law school. Bigger assholes I have never worked for in my life. Granted, it takes some real swagger to be effective, but the guys who make it to the top of the corporate ladder never learn when to to shut it off. Eye opening, though; I encourage anybody toying with the notion of going to law school to find some way to work in that environment first. And I’m sure it’s very different to be in private practice than in the corporate world — but since I was looking at corporate law, I was cured of any interest.

    • TheraP says:

      Rayne, I grabbed the info on the memos this morning.

      Here’s some stuff:

      From: International Law of War Association

      This will give you an overview:

      Outline: http://lawofwar.org/outline.htm

      For the memos themselves and analysis:

      url: http://lawofwar.org/Torture_Memos_analysis.htm

      First torture memo was Jan 9, 2002. You’ll be able to see a timeline there for these early memos. Laying out who bush believed qualified (mostly not!) for being held under Geneva. And then the other memos (what I call the legal toothpicks underlying the whole “house of cards” they built in terms of detention, torture, etc.

      Not sure how that fits with dates these guys were grabbed.

      • Rayne says:

        Yet another question comes to mind: who was the actual first person detained, and when were they detained?

        This administration never plans ahead operationally, only politically. I have a difficult time believing they had the torture question ahead of having a subject to torture for this reason.

  58. Mary says:

    Thanks TheraP, but it’s stuff that is available from lots of others as well, I just can be more obnoxiously repetitive.

    123 – Orion, you mean something like the state Padilla’s lawyers say he was left in (too worried that he would interfere with Bush-God’s plans for GITMO detainees, and too terrified of the thought of returning to detention, to assist in his defense?

    Or something more like this:

    where the man dumped couldn’t even recognize his children.

  59. mainsailset says:

    And for Mitt who would be king, his treatment of his dog as it rode for 10 hrs on top of his van tells me he would fit right in.

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