Poland will pay CIA torture victims


This video says about itself:

Poland admits to hosting CIA black site prisons on its soil after U.S. Senate torture report

10 December 2014

Poland has finally admitted it DID host an American black site prison after years of denying it just after a scathing report on CIA torture shed light on just how brutal the polices were. It’s the first acknowledgement by a foreign country of hosting such a site. A former Polish president says NATO was in a state of war at the time, and there was no question over allowing allies to use its territory.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Two win payout for CIA prison ordeal

Thursday 19th February 2015

POLAND’S Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said yesterday that his government would pay €230,000 (£170,000) in compensation to two men who were held in a secret CIA prison in the country.

The payout was ordered by the European Court of Human Rights, which rejected a Polish appeal against its original ruling.

The court ruled last July that Poland violated the rights of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah by allowing the CIA to imprison them and by failing to stop “the torture and inhuman or degrading treatment” they suffered.

It was the first judgement by any court on the “extraordinary renditions” programme under which the US abducted individuals from across the world and held them without trial in secret locations.

Mr Nashiri and Mr Zubaydah are still held in the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp and Mr Schetyna queried whether the compensation could be paid to them directly.

On Tuesday, the Guardian revealed the existence of a secret interrogation facility operated by the Chicago Police Department, in what the newspaper called “the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site”: here.

Diego Garcia, Bush’s and Blair’s torture island


This video from Britain says about itself:

More Lies – Torture & The Special Relationship

22 February 2008

This video contains clips highlighting the denials made by the British government concerning the use of UK territory in CIA rendition “torture” flights.

By Jean Shaoul:

US official admits to UK role in rendition to Diego Garcia

9 February 2015

A senior official from the Bush administration has admitted that the then Labour British government was complicit in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition, interrogation and torture. Britain colluded in the use of the British overseas territory of Diego Garcia by the US for its criminal activities.

The admission flatly contradicts the lies and evasions of the British government. Over a period of years, the Labour government—whose first Foreign Secretary Robin Cook famously boasted that Britain would pursue an “ethical foreign policy”—including former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, denied any involvement on no less than 54 occasions.

The lies started to unravel in 2008, when then Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that information had “just come to light” that Diego Garcia had been used as a refuelling stop for extraordinary rendition flights on just two occasions in 2002. He still denied that any detainees had ever set foot on the island, which is leased to the US.

Since then, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has continued the lies, claiming that Britain was not involved in the rendition program. The Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition has issued statements that fell apart within days, refused to provide any meaningful answers to Freedom of Information requests from human rights organisations or the media, and resisted any public inquiry into the UK’s role in the horrific crimes of US imperialism.

Shortly after taking office in 2010, Cameron promised an independent inquiry into the issue. But in 2013 he reneged on that pledge in favour of a toothless inquiry by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee that can be relied on to whitewash the government’s role when it eventually publishes its report.

The claims by Lawrence Wilkerson, former US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff between 2002 and 2005, add to the growing pressure on the British government to come clean on its involvement in the CIA’s rendition programme, global network of secret prisons and criminality. This includes kidnapping, illegal detention for years under the most inhumane conditions, torture, water boarding, sexual assault, sleep deprivation, forcing inmates to stand on broken limbs, and murder, for which no officials have stood trial.

Wilkerson’s claims—along with other evidence—could pave the way for a flood of litigation against the government. Last July, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Poland had actively assisted the CIA’s European “black sites” program.

Wilkerson’s information came from four well-placed CIA and intelligence sources, including a veteran of the renditions programme and an official who was “very much plugged in to what was going on at the CIA.” After he retired, he said Diego Garcia was known as a place to get things done “out of the limelight.”

While there was no permanent detention facility there, it was used as a transit location when other places were full, insecure or unavailable. “So you might have a case where you simply go in and use a facility at Diego Garcia for a month, or two weeks, or whatever, and you do your nefarious activities there.” [emphasis added]

He added that the British authorities must have been aware of what was going on, saying, “It’s difficult for me to think that we could do anything there of any duration to speak of without the British knowing—at least the British on the island—knowing what we were doing.” Furthermore, “A general theme I heard was that the British were very cooperative with everything.”

This is very similar to statements by Michael Blyth, a British Royal Marine, who was head of security on Diego Garcia in 2001-2002. He said in testimony to the High Court that while a permanent site was ruled out, the possibility of using the island “for the purpose of prisoner transfers and/or detention was raised occasionally … by US officials.”

The UN former special envoy on torture, Manfred Nowak, stated in 2008 that he had been told detainees were held on Diego Garcia in 2002 and 2003. Barry McCaffrey, a retired four-star US general, also said that detainees were held on Diego Garcia, but later retracted his claim.

Swiss senator Dick Marty, who led a Council of Europe investigation into the CIA’s use of European territory and air space, said that the island had been used and that some CIA officers had helped him during his investigation.

Time magazine cited a regional intelligence officer saying that a suspected Al Qaeda terrorist known as Hambali, believed to have been involved in the 2002 Bali bombing in which 202 people died, was taken to Diego Garcia and interrogated following his capture in August 2003.

Abdel Hakim Belhaj is a Libyan dissident opposed to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who is suing the British government and three officials for “extraordinary rendition” via Diego Garcia, where his aircraft refuelled, to Libya in 2004. His lawyers have cited documents found in abandoned government offices in Tripoli after the 2011 NATO-led invasion of Libya to topple the Gaddafi regime and install a puppet government.

A letter from the senior MI6 officer, Sir Mark Allen, to Libya’s intelligence chief Musa Kusa, shows that thanks to help from British intelligence, the CIA planned to use Diego Garcia as a stopover for rendering him and his pregnant wife to be tortured in Libya. Belhaj claims that during his more than four years in a Libyan prison he was interrogated by US and British intelligence agents.

While it has been known for decades that Diego Garcia has some kind of US detention facility, the British government turned down an informal request from the US in 2001 to use it for a Guantanamo-type facility to hold hundreds of suspected “terrorist” prisoners from Afghanistan. The official UK government position is that it never gave the US explicit permission to use the island for its rendition, detention and torture program.

Successive British governments have sought to cover up what was going on.

To cite but one of the most damaging examples: Last July, when asked in parliament about the records of flights to and from the island, Conservative Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds claimed the records were “incomplete due to water damage” in June 2014. A week later, he said the “previously wet paper records have been dried out… no flight records have been lost as a result of the water damage.”

But in September, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee was told that the papers had been “damaged [by water] to the point of no longer being useful.”

Ministers refused to answer questions raised in parliament over whether the US had sought permission to use Diego Garcia for Belhaj and his wife’s rendition to Libya.

Last August, David Miliband implied that further evidence could well emerge—and as a former Labour Foreign Secretary, he is in a position to know.

In December, it was revealed that Britain had made repeated requests that its role be struck out from the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s executive summary of its report into torture by the CIA, itself only a summary of a 6,700-page classified report. In the event, the CIA and the Obama administration insisted that all references to the participation of other governments were omitted.

British government torture whitewash


This video from Britain says about itself:

The Women of Reprieve

Watch some of Reprieve’s female members of staff talk about their work.

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

UK rights groups reject official inquiry into post-September 11 rendition

Government-led inquiry into alleged British involvement in rendition and torture will be a whitewash, say rights groups

Mark Townsend, home affairs editor

Saturday 8 November 2014 20.45 GMT

Britain’s leading human rights groups are to boycott the official investigation into the UK’s involvement in torture and rendition in the years after 9/11, grievously undermining the controversial inquiry.

Nine organisations have announced that they want nothing to do with the parliamentary inquiry by the intelligence and security committee (ISC) into Britain’s alleged role in the ill-treatment of detainees.

A strongly worded letter to the committee team investigating detainee allegations says that, despite raising concerns with the government more than six months ago over whether its decision to allow the ISC to lead the inquiry was “lawful or appropriate”, their concerns of an establishment cover-up remained unanswered.

The letter, obtained by the Observer, says the coalition of groups – including Reprieve, Amnesty International and Liberty – have lost all trust in the committee’s ability to uncover the truth. “Consequently, we as a collective of domestic and international non-governmental organisations do not propose to play a substantive role in the conduct of this inquiry,” the letter states.

Other signatories of the letter include Cage, Rights Watch UK, Freedom From Torture, Redress, Justice and the legal charity the Aire Centre. Their anger follows assurances by David Cameron that the inquiry into whether MI5 and MI6 were actively involved in the secret rendition and torture of UK citizens and residents would be headed by a senior judge.

When the coalition government came to power, Cameron told MPs that no other arrangement would command public confidence, and vehemently rejected suggestions that the ISC should conduct the investigation. He said that only a “judge-led inquiry” could “get to the bottom of the case”.

The boycott follows the debacle of the independent inquiry into child abuse, which has been dogged by whitewash claims and recently lost its second chair, Fiona Woolf, after she accepted that abuse survivors had lost confidence in her ability to conduct the investigation impartially.

The ISC has faced years of criticism as evidence of UK involvement in rendition has emerged, and was also condemned for failing to report on the bulk surveillance being conducted by the UK’s signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, until after it became public.

After an initial inquiry by retired appeal court judge Sir Peter Gibson was cut short two years ago as further evidence came to light of British complicity in rendition and torture, the government’s decision to hand the inquiry to the ISC was widely condemned.

“We remain unpersuaded that the decision to cut short the work of the flawed Gibson inquiry and to pass the baton on to the ISC is an adequate substitute for the establishment of an independent judicial inquiry,” states the letter.

Clare Algar, executive director of Reprieve, said: “What little credibility the ISC had left is rapidly evaporating. It should now be abundantly clear that it is simply incapable of getting to the truth on the UK’s role in rendition and torture.

“Last time they looked into this issue, they gave the agencies a clean bill of health. We now know that conclusion was spectacularly misguided – so why should we expect anything more than a whitewash this time around? The government must now abandon this farce.”

However, the chair of the ISC, former Conservative defence and foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, dismissed criticism of the committee and said the inquiry would continue regardless of the boycott by the human rights sector.

However, he warned that the inquiry into rendition and torture would not be concluded before the general election next May.

“It’s not going to be remotely possible to complete it before the election. Apart from that, we can’t even start on the Libyan stuff because of the police inquiries,” he added.

Ten days ago police investigating MI6’s involvement in the secret abduction of Libyan suspects in 2004 and their forced return to Tripoli revealed they had passed a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The rights groups’ letter also raises concern that the membership makeup of the ISC meant that it could not deliver an “impartial and thorough” investigation. It states: “The ISC is not and cannot be, by its very design, adequate to the task of carrying out an independent investigation of these violations. It remains the case that the prime minister holds an absolute veto over its membership, the evidence which it is allowed to examine, and the information which it is allowed to publish.

“We are therefore of the view that the committee has neither the powers nor the independence necessary to get to the truth of Britain’s involvement in the rendition and torture of detainees abroad. Any investigation conducted by the ISC will be inherently flawed.”

Rifkind dismissed criticism of the committee’s makeup as “pathetic”.

See also here.

British government’s Libyan torture scandal


This video is called Tony Blair meets Colonel Gaddafi in Libya.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Libya rendition victims demand disclosure of UK surveillance policy

The government’s refusal to reveal when lawyers’ and journalists’ communications can be intercepted is central to claim brought on behalf of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi

Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent

Friday 17 October 2014 10.05 BST

Secret government policies which set out when lawyers’ or journalists’ phones and emails can be intercepted should be published, a court has been told.

In an open hearing of the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT), which examines complaints against the intelligence services and government use of surveillance, lawyers for two Libyan victims of rendition have called for the documents to be released.

The government’s refusal to reveal the policy papers has emerged as a key issue in the claim brought on behalf of Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi who, along with members of their families, were kidnapped and sent to face punishment in Libya in 2004.

The case before the IPT alleges that the intelligence agencies or government spied on their communications with their lawyers, damaging their right to a fair trial in their claim for compensation for kidnap and torture.

Communication between lawyers and their clients are deemed to be “privileged” under longstanding rules. Similar protection applies to the communications between journalists and their sources and other protected groups.

In a hearing at the IPT, Dinah Rose QC, representing the Libyans, said: “We don’t understand why it’s being said that disclosure of policy will cause harm to national security. None of this information ought to be secret. Procedures for ensuring that privileged material is properly protected ought to be open to public scrutiny.”

The government has declined to disclose policies regulating the circumstances in which these communications are intercepted and any safeguards in place to avoid abuse. It says they are secret.

At Thursday evening’s hearing, lawyers for the government did not explain why the policies could not be released. Further preliminary hearings will be held before the case is tried in November. One issue is whether the tribunal has the power to order the government to disclose documents, a principle that could turn into a major confrontation between civil rights groups and the government.

The IPT complaint is one of a series of cases after revelations by the CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden about monitoring of the internet and telephone calls by Britain’s eavesdropping agency, GCHQ, through its Tempora programme.

Eight Libyans, members of the two families, say they were victims of rendition. They claim they were kidnapped by MI6 and US intelligence agencies, forcibly returned to Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and tortured. At that time, in 2004, when Gaddafi relinquished his nuclear weapons programme, intelligence relations between Tripoli, London and Washington were close.

A separate legal action between Belhaj and the UK government is due to be heard at the high court to resolve compensation for the kidnap and torture allegations. The human rights group Reprieve, which is supporting the claim, fears its ability to fight the case will be undermined because staff’s legal correspondence may be surreptitiously monitored.

Saadi, another Libyan dissident, and his family have settled their claim against the government for a payment of £2.2m. The Foreign Office did not, however, admit liability.

The “notice of complaint” by solicitors at Leigh Day on behalf of Reprieve and the Libyans lists the Security Service (MI5), the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, the home secretary and the foreign secretary as respondents. It calls for the case to be heard in open court. Most of the IPT’s hearings are in secret.

The claims states: “There is a strong likelihood that the respondents have intercepted and are intercepting the applicants’ legally privileged communications in respect of the [cases].”

Belhaj and Saadi were prominent military leaders of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group during the revolution, the document points out, and are, therefore, “likely to be of interest” to UK intelligence agencies.

Intelligence agencies ‘may have abused access to lawyer-client documents’. Lawyers for Abdel Hakim Belhaj claim MI5, MI6 and GCHQ may have intercepted legally privileged communications: here.

British-US torture scandal in Iraq, Afghanistan


This video about Iraq war torture is the trailer of the film Ghosts of Abu Ghraib.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Diplomat tells court US links not a bar to hearing torture case

Friday 26th September 2014

CLAIMS by the British government that a case brought by a Pakistani national alleging Britain’s involvement in his rendition and torture would damage US relations have been called into question.

Lawyers for the government had argued that a case brought by Yunus Rahmatullah, who was detained and mistreated by British personnel in Iraq before being handed over to the US for “rendition” to Afghanistan, should not be heard for fear of damaging British-US relations.

But in a statement yesterday presented to the High Court in London a former senior US ambassador and State Department official described the claims as “highly unlikely.”

The statement provided to the court by Thomas R Pickering, a former US under-secretary of state who served for four decades as a diplomat, said that the British government’s claims “misunderstand the value the United States places on the rule of law.”

Mr Pickering stressed that “I firmly believe that adjudicating Mr Rahmatullah’s case in UK courts is highly unlikely to cause damage to the relations or national security cooperation between the US and UK.”

After his 2004 capture Mr Rahmatullah maintains he was subjected to simulated drowning and beatings which rendered him unconscious.

He was later transferred to US custody in Bagdhad’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison, after which he was extra judicially transferred to Bagram in Afghanistan where he was held for more than years before being released without charge last June.

Mr Rahmatullah is now challenging the British government’s refusal to investigate his allegations of torture and rendition, and is also asking the court to determine that the government’s actions were unlawful.

Reprieve legal director Kat Craig, who is representing Mr Rahmatullah in conjunction with Leigh Day solicitors, said: “The British government knows that it is in the wrong, yet instead of coming clean on its part in Mr Rahmatullah’s rendition and torture, it is doing everything it can to make sure this case never sees the light of day.

“Now a former senior US ambassador with decades of experience at the highest levels of American diplomacy has blown the British government’s case out of the water. It is time they dropped this shameful attempt to deny justice to a victim of brutal torture and years of mistreatment.”

The case is expected to continue today.

British torture in Iraq: here.

Man allegedly tortured by US and UK troops wins right to sue for damages. High court dismisses UK government claim that relations with US will be damaged if Yunus Rahmatullah is allowed to sue: here.

New Afghan puppet regime accepts deal to keep 10,000 US troops: here.

CIA-Backed Warlord Behind 2001 Taliban POW Massacre Sworn-In Vice President of Afghanistan: here.

Britain and CIA torture flights update


This video is called UK Complicit in 11,000 flights of ILLEGAL TORTURE.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Government changing the story on rendition flight records

Saturday 13th September 2014

LEGAL action charity Reprieve accused the government of changing its story yet again yesterday over the fate of potentially compromising flight records relating to Britain’s role in the United States’ rendition programme.

Reprieve is seeking access to documents relating to US rendition flights passing through the British territory of Diego Garcia.

In 2008, after years of denials, the British government admitted that Diego Garcia had been used as a stop-off for two rendition flights.

However, in July the government informed Parliament that flight records for Diego Garcia were “incomplete due to water damage.”

A week later, on July 15, Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds told the Commons that “previously wet paper records have been dried out … no flight records have been lost as a result of the water damage.”

But yesterday the government’s position appeared to shift again with the confirmation in a statement given to the Commons foreign affairs committee that immigration records relating to civilians landing on the island have been destroyed.

Reprieve argues that, although there is no indication of the identities of the civilians concerned, such records are potentially significant as they could relate to the civilian CIA agents who operated the “rendition” flights.

Legal director at Reprieve Cori Crider said: “This is the second time the government has changed its story on the destruction of what is potentially evidence of CIA renditions via Diego Garcia.

“People will rightly draw the conclusion that the government still has something to hide when it comes to the UK’s role in supporting CIA torture flights.”

British government censorship about torture


This 2011 video from the USA is called Files Reveal U.S. & Britain Had Extensive Ties With Libya on Rendition, Torture. 1 of 2.

This 2011 video from the USA is called Files Reveal U.S. & Britain Had Extensive Ties With Libya on Rendition, Torture. 2 of 2.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

Government ‘censored torture and rendition documents’

Monday 4th August 2014

THE government was yesterday accused of censoring critical documents to hide its involvement with CIA torture and rendition.

According to a letter from former foreign secretary William Hague to human-rights charity Reprieve, the government has “made representations” to the US Senate ahead of its publication of an intelligence select committee report.

“In plain English, it is a request to the US to keep Britain’s role in rendition out of the public domain,” said Reprieve director Cori Crider.

The dossier, expected to be published any day, will provide declassified information on US-British cooperation in Gaddafi’s Libya.

Among the details might be the case of Libyan opposition Islamist leader Abdel-hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima, who were arrested with the alleged assistance of the MI6 in 2004.

The couple were later returned to Libya on a rendition aircraft.

Mr Hague said intervention into the report’s publication had been made “to seek assurance that ordinary procedures for clearance of UK material will be followed.”

Reprieve believes this to be a revealing change of tactic as the Foreign Office stance had so far been that “the release of the committee’s report is a matter for the United States.”

Ms Crider said: “The government protested that the United States would be angered if this kidnap case ever went to trial — and now we learn the British government is leaning on the US not to air Britain’s dirty laundry.

“It exposes their litigation stance as mere posturing.”

Late in 2011 Mr Belhaj started legal proceedings against the role of the British government in his rendition and torture at the hands of the Libyan regime.

CIA torture flights to Diego Garcia update


This video from the USA is called CIA Lied About Torture To Justify Using It (Senate Report).

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

Emails shed new light on UK link to CIA ‘torture flights’

Police given crucial logs about Diego Garcia‘s role in rendition programme when it was allegedly used as a secret prison

Jamie Doward and Ian Cobain

Saturday 12 July 2014 21.36 BST

Crucial logs revealing flights to a British overseas territory when it was allegedly used as a secret US prison are in the possession of the police, the Observer has learned.

The revelation has raised concerns about why, despite repeated demands, details of the flights have not been shared with lawyers and MPs, who for years have been investigating the role played by Diego Garcia, an atoll in the Indian ocean, in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition programme.

A Whitehall official was photographed last week carrying documents marked “sensitive” confirming that the logs recording details of planes landing and taking off at the atoll have been handed to detectives. The documents, a series of printed emails and handwritten notes made by the official, reveal internal Foreign Office discussions about the line to take in response to questions about the British territory raised by lawyers and MPs.

The Foreign Office has repeatedly stressed there is no evidence Diego Garcia was used in the rendition programme, with the exception of two occasions in 2002 when two planes, each carrying a detainee, landed to refuel. But in April leaked classified CIA documents from a forthcoming US Senate intelligence committee report revealed that the US had held “high value” detainees on Diego Garcia, which has been leased by Britain to the US since 1966, with the “full co-operation” of the British government. The Metropolitan police are currently investigating allegations that an opponent of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was rendered via Diego Garcia.

Attempts to obtain the logs, which would allow lawyers to check them against planes known to have been used for rendition, have met with stonewalling from ministers. When Andrew Tyrie, the Tory MP who is chair of the all-party parliamentary group on extraordinary rendition, demanded to see the logs in 2008, he was told “a thorough review had been conducted which had found no such information”.

The Commons intelligence and security committee has also complained in its annual reports that a lack of access to such documents compromised its ability to carry out an effective investigation into rendition, resulting in the publication of an inaccurate and misleading report. Last week, in an astonishing new twist, the Foreign Office revealed in a parliamentary answer to Tyrie that the flight logs existed, but maintained some had been lost “due to water damage”. Foreign Office minister Mark Simmonds said: “Daily occurrence logs, which record the flights landing and taking off, cover the period since 2003. Though there are some limited records from 2002, I understand they are incomplete due to water damage.”

However, blowups of the photographed emails reveal that both “monthly log showing flight details” and “daily records [obscured] month of alleged rendition” exist and are in the possession of the police.

“All relevant treaties, UN mandates and an ever-increasing body of authoritative court rulings demand that investigations into suspected state involvement in the mechanisms of torture, including rendition, be speedy, transparent and far-reaching,” said Gareth Peirce, a lawyer for several Guantánamo detainees.

“If answers to Andrew Tyrie’s direct questions have contained no mention of highly relevant logs seemingly at all times in the possession of police, then the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] has marched this country into clear violation of its most fundamental legal obligations.”

“The FCO should immediately release all documents, including the water-damaged ones, so a proper assessment can be made of this material and what it means,” said Cori Crider of human rights group Reprieve. “Only this can begin to address the decade-long whitewash of Diego Garcia‘s position in the CIA secret prison system.”

An FCO spokeswoman said: “We do not comment on internal documents.”

CIA planned torture flight for Edward Snowden


This 2013 video is called [Irish] MP Clare Daly: World kowtowing to US over Snowden asylum.

By Robert Stevens:

CIA planned rendition of Edward Snowden

18 June 2014

According to an article published by the Register, an aircraft belonging to the United States Central Intelligence Agency was sent to Europe last June as the US government was preparing to seize whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

On June 23, 2013, Snowden arrived in Moscow on a flight from Hong Kong. From there, he had planned to fly on to Cuba and then to Latin America. He was unable to do so, as the Obama administration cancelled his passport. Earlier that month, Snowden had made public, via the Guardian and other newspapers, revelations that the US, British and other governments were carrying out programmes of mass surveillance of the world’s population.

The Register article, “CIA rendition jet was waiting in Europe to snatch Snowden,” states that on June 24, 2013, the day after Snowden arrived in Moscow, “an unmarked Gulfstream V business jet—tail number N977GA—took off from a quiet commercial airport 30 miles from Washington DC.”

The article notes that N977GA flew from the small Manassas Regional Airport. It continues, “Early next morning, N977GA was detected heading east over Scotland at the unusually high altitude of 45,000 feet. It had not filed a flight plan, and was flying above the level at which air traffic control reporting is mandatory.”

The article explains, “But, even if pilots have turned off automated location data feeds, ordinary enthusiasts equipped with nothing more than suitable radio receivers connected to the Internet can measure differences in the time at which an aircraft’s radar transponder signal reaches locations on the ground…. ‘The plane showed up on our system at 5:20 on 25 June,’ according to our source, a member of an Internet aircraft-tracking network run by enthusiasts in the UK. ‘We knew the reputation of this aircraft and what it had done in the past.’ ”

The Register gives some details of the history of the plane known as N977GA, which played a vital role in the illegal extraordinary rendition system run by the US government. It notes that N977GA “was originally ordered by the US Air Force for use as a general’s flying gin-palace. But then, shortly after 9/11, it lost its military livery and acquired civilian registration as N596GA. Under that designation it was employed in CIA ‘renditions’—or kidnappings. In 2011, the ‘black’ jet’s role was switched again, having been transferred from the CIA’s contractor to use by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

“With its new tail number N977GA the plane became part of the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation Systems (JPATS), operated by US Marshals. On perhaps its best-known mission, the jet flew a team of marshals into the UK on 5 October 2012 to collect radical cleric Abu Hamza after the USA won an extradition order against him.”

The information provided to the Register includes a graphic showing that that N977GA “did not make it all the way to Moscow, but set down and waited at Copenhagen Airport.”

The fact that the plane is understood to have landed in Copenhagen backs up the claim that N977GA was there in order to carry out a rendition.

It has been public knowledge since 2007 that the Danish government gave permission for a CIA rendition flight to cross Danish airspace on October 25, 2003. Last year, the Open Society Foundation released a report, “Globalising Torture—CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition,” documenting that Denmark was one of 53 nations whose government assisted the US in its “rendition” operations. The 216-page report documents what happened to the 136 known victims of these terrible human rights abuses.

The important information made public by the Register has been stonewalled by the mass media, with the sole exception of the Russian TV news broadcaster RT.

In the UK, where the source of the Register’s information comes from, none of the media, including the Guardian, have even reported this development, let alone subjected it to further investigation. The British media have refused to challenge the censorship over reporting Snowden’s revelations, put into place last year by the British government under its “D-Notice” system.

There is no reason to doubt the accuracy of the information provided in the Register article, and no attempt has been made to rebut it by the US or Danish governments. The Register states, “US Department of Justice did not respond to our requests for information regarding N977GA and its purpose in heading to Europe on 24 June last year.”

Immediately following the first of Snowden’s revelations, breaking on June 5 of last year, the Obama administration rapidly moved to detain him at all costs, launching a massive international manhunt. This included the forcing down on July 2, 2013, of the jet carrying Bolivian president Evo Morales on suspicion that it was carrying Snowden to asylum in Bolivia.

Mobilising a plane previously involved in acts of rendition in order to seize Snowden would be of a piece with this act of state terrorism and air piracy. It renders null and void the official position of the US government that Snowden should return to the US and where he would face a “fair trial”.

The Register’s article was published just one day prior to a Washington Post piece providing a few more glimpses into the extraordinary operation that was put into place to “Get Snowden”. The Post explains, “For weeks, senior officials from the FBI, the CIA, the State Department and other agencies assembled nearly every day in a desperate search for a way to apprehend the former intelligence contractor who had exposed the inner workings of American espionage then fled to Hong Kong before ending up in Moscow.”

It cites an official speaking anonymously who said the meetings were “Convened by White House homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco.”

She told government and intelligence officials, “The best play for us is him landing in a third country.” The official told the newspaper, “We were hoping he was going to be stupid enough to get on some kind of airplane, and then have an ally say: ‘You’re in our airspace. Land.’ ”

The article notes that the “burst of activity” during an eight-week period, “including the White House meetings, a broad diplomatic scramble and the decision to force a foreign leader’s plane to land—was far more extensive than U.S. officials acknowledged at the time.”

The White House meetings were attended by the CIA’s head of counterintelligence, FBI deputy director Sean Joyce and Michael McFaul, then the US ambassador to Russia. According to Joyce, the discussions “were not just about Edward Snowden the fugitive,” but also dealt with the impact of Snowden’s revelations. The Post states, “[T]here was a constant search for ideas to recover him”. It said Joyce did not give any detail but that “There were several things that were sort of ongoing. None of them actually panned out.”

The piece refers to Obama’s comment during this period that “I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.” As the World Socialist Web Site noted at the time, Obama sought to downplay the issues in Snowden’s revelations, as he was acutely aware of the worldwide support for his courageous stand and the alarm the NSA disclosures caused in foreign capitals.

It is now evident that nothing was off the table in the manhunt for Snowden, including his possible illegal seizure using methods that have resulted in the torture and imprisonment, without any trial, of many other innocent people.

Secret torture prisons exposed by photos


This video from the USA says about itself:

Authors@Google: Trevor Paglen

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Secret state: Trevor Paglen documents the hidden world of governmental surveillance, from drone bases to “black sites

Secret prisons, drone bases, surveillance stations, offices where extraordinary rendition is planned: Trevor Paglen takes pictures of the places that the American and British governments don’t want you to know even exist

Peter Popham

Sunday 15 June 2014

As anyone who has worked there knows, Kabul is a tough place, redeemed by the charm of the people and the abundance of cheap taxis. But Trevor Paglen had trouble finding a taxi driver willing and able to take him where he wanted to go: north-east out of the city along an old back road reputed to be so dangerous – even by Afghan standards – that it had seen no regular traffic for more than 30 years.

Finally he succeeded in digging out an old man who had been driving a cab since before the Soviet invasion. “We started driving and we left the city behind and we’re out in the sticks,” he recalls, “and we end up in a traffic jam – not cars but goats. And we wait for the goats to go by and we see the shepherd, this very old man, traditional Afghan clothes, big beard, exactly what you’d picture in your head. But he’s wearing a baseball hat.

“The shepherd finally turns to look at us in the car – and on that baseball cap are the letters KBR. It stands for Kellogg Brown and Root – a company that was a subsidiary of Halliburton, which Dick Cheney was on the board of. The local goatherd is wearing a Dick Cheney baseball cap!” It was the final clue he needed that this particular bad road was the right road. There in the distance, behind a high cream wall and coiled razor wire, was what Paglen was looking for: the nondescript structures of what he says he is “99.999 per cent sure” is the place they call the Salt Pit: a never-before-identified-or-photographed secret CIA prison.

Trevor Paglen is an artist of a very particular kind. His principal tool is the camera, and most of his works are photographs, but the reason they are considered to be art – the reason, for example, that this bland photo, three feet wide by two feet high, showing the outer wall and the interior roof outline of the Salt Pit, with a dun-coloured Afghan hill behind it, sells for $20,000 – is because of the arduous, painstaking, sometimes dangerous path that culminated in pressing the shutter; and because it reveals something that the most powerful state in history has done everything in its power to keep secret.

Since he was a postgraduate geography student at UCLA 10 years ago, Paglen has dedicated himself to a very 21st-century challenge: seeing and recording what our political masters do everything in their power to render secret and invisible.

Above our heads more than 200 secret American surveillance satellites constantly orbit the Earth: with the help of fanatical amateur astronomers who track their courses, Paglen has photographed them. A secret air force base deep in the desert outside Las Vegas is the control centre for the US’s huge fleet of drones: Paglen has photographed these tiny dots hurtling through the Nevada skies. To carry out the extraordinary rendition programme which was one of President George W Bush’s answers to the 9/11 attacks, seizing suspects from the streets and spiriting them off to countries relaxed about torture, the CIA created numerous front companies: grinding through flight records and using the methods of a private detective, Paglen identified them, visiting and covertly photographing their offices and managers. The men and women who carried out the rendition programme were equipped with fake identities: Paglen has made a collection of these people’s unconvincing and fluctuating signatures, “people,” as he puts it, “who don’t exist because they’re in the business of disappearing other people”.

It sounds like the work-in-progress of an extraordinarily determined investigative journalist. But while the dogged tracking of a Seymour Hersh will culminate in a 5,000-word piece for The New Yorker, blowing the lid off, say, alleged American plans to seize control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons or the origin of the sarin used in the Syrian civil war, Paglen is not interested in such narratives. Not that he is uninterested: he describes the extraordinary rendition programme, for example, as “incredibly evil”, and has worked closely with human-rights activists. But rather than a charge sheet of the guilty men or calls for government action or popular insurrection, he presents us with a succession of enigmatic images: boring suburban offices, middle-aged men getting into American cars, shimmering lines in the sky, aircraft waiting to take off.

The new project that brings him to Britain is in line with this, though it is also prettier than most of his work. A photograph more than 60 metres wide which will stretch the entire length of the platform of Gloucester Road Underground station – home of the Art on the Underground programme – shows an idyllic expanse of rolling north York moors. And there, nestling among the folds of the hills are the massed giant golfballs of the vast RAF Fylingdales surveillance station, jointly operated with the US.

Given the existence of bitter and determined enemies, what’s wrong with having secret facilities to keep a close eye on them?

“I think mass surveillance is a bad idea because a surveillance society is one in which people understand that they are constantly monitored,” Paglen says, “and when people understand that they are constantly monitored they are more conformist, they are less willing to take up controversial positions, and that kind of mass conformity is incompatible with democracy.

“The second reason is that mass surveillance creates a dramatic power imbalance between citizens and government. In a democracy the citizens are supposed to have all the power and the government is supposed to be the means by which the citizens exercise that power. But when you have a surveillance state, the state has all the power and citizens have very little. In a democratic society you should have a state with maximum transparency and maximum civil liberties for citizens. But in a surveillance state the exact opposite is true.”

Paglen’s project is political but it is also philosophical: he is trying to show us the world, not as the media present it but as it is. And that is a world in which official secrecy has never been so well entrenched, ubiquitous, or extravagantly well funded.

“I’m trying to push perception as far as I can,” he says, “so we can create a vantage point to look back at ourselves with very different kinds of eyes – fresh eyes, if you will.” He is trying to show us, he says, “the historical moment that we are living in.”

The secret world, the shadow of the world as we know it, has of course been with us for as long as human beings have organised themselves in societies. But the attacks on America, cruelly exposing the failings and limitations of the intelligence agencies, produced a bonanza of funding never before seen: the “black budget” of the US defence department, for example, has more than tripled since George W Bush became president and, according to information released by Edward Snowden, was $52bn in 2012. The secret world’s shadow is today far bigger and blacker than ever before – and by definition, we the public, whether in the US or the rest of the world, know next to nothing about it.

“Secrecy,” Paglen says, “is a way of doing things, of trying to organise human activities, and it has political, economic, legal, cultural aspects. It is a way of trying to do things whose goal is invisibility, silence, obscurity.”

So how do we go about trying to see this secret world which, as he says, “operates according to a very different logic from a democratic state”? One analogy Paglen uses is with the attempts of scientists to see the dark matter of which most of the universe is composed. By definition it cannot be seen, but its existence can be inferred by the influence it exerts on the visible universe: the way, for example, that in 2012 the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way bent the progress of a huge passing gas cloud out of shape before finally swallowing it.

But Paglen’s task is actually easier than that. “[The secret state] is never completely efficient,” he points out, “because stuff in the world tends to reflect light: it’s visible. You can’t build a secret aircraft in an invisible factory with ghost workers. What I’m trying to do is to get a glimpse into the secret state that surrounds us all the time but that we have not trained ourselves to see very well.” He says he has never been arrested doing his work and he is extremely careful not to break any laws, “though of course I am stopped fairly regularly by police and military personnel. I’m calm, tell them what I’m doing, and we work it out.”

Paglen’s fascination with this world goes back to his childhood: his father was an air-force ophthalmologist and he travelled the world with his family, visiting bases that were often involved in secret missions. As a teenager, he says, “I’d go out drinking with special forces guys… they could never say where they were coming from or what they were doing.”

Then while he was working on his geography PhD at Berkeley – back in the days before Google Earth – he was studying US prisons. “I wanted to see where these prisons were, what was around them, why they were in the places they were… When I was going through these archives, I would notice places where the images had been taken out. I started to realise they were not there because some of these military installations are not supposed to be out there. I decided it was incredible to have a blank spot on the map in this information age… I wanted to fill them in and it took off from there. Initially I went into UFO and conspiracy theories, but I quickly realised that there was something much more at stake here.

“The war on terror was getting started and I very early on got the sense that these blank spots on the map were somehow paradigmatic of something that was happening politically.” As the World Trade Center smouldered, Vice-President Dick Cheney announced that the nation would have to engage its “dark side” to find the culprits. “We’ve got to spend time in the shadows,” he said. “It’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.” Paglen had his cue.

In his quest to unveil a world committed to staying hidden, his most bizarre discovery was that America’s secret soldiers and airmen wear distinctive uniform patches like regular servicemen, and many of them give broad hints about their work. In his tireless fashion, he tracked them down. Later he was amused to discover that I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon’s Black World, the book in which he collected the images, had become a bestseller among the special forces themselves. “Apparently all of them have that book in their office now,” he laughs.

In contrast to the dreary world of the secret bases and prisons, here the secret forces let rip. The images on the patches include a wizard shooting lightning bolts from his staff, dragons dropping bombs, and skunks firing laser beams. One of the more sinister has the Latin tag Oderint Dum Metuant: “Let them hate as long as they fear”.

There is a frightening jauntiness about the patches, which express the esprit de corps of a world sure of its hold on our politicians, confident that those who pick up the huge tab will never know anything about it; equally sure, one might say, that they are doing their patriotic duty.

Something of the same smugness pervades the huge photograph about to be exhibited at Gloucester Road Tube station. “It’s a very traditional British landscape image,” Paglen says. “I looked at a lot of Constable while I was thinking of how to put the image together. What you have is a classical British landscape, rolling hills and little stone houses… The surveillance base is just another element in the landscape.”

‘An English Landscape (American Surveillance Base near Harrogate, Yorkshire)’ by Trevor Paglen, commissioned by TfL’s Art on the Underground, will be unveiled at Gloucester Road station, London, on Thursday