Wednesday, June 07, 2006

CIA Rendition Flights and European Collusion

Here we go again with reports without evidence. I'm thinking that even with that information, this report may provide some informative data on what was occurring.
Dick Marty, the Swiss senator who led the investigation, offered no clear proof to substantiate the allegations of secret detention centres in Europe used to extract confessions or information from suspects. But he said that CIA planes carrying terror suspects stopped in Romania and Poland, where such centres might have existed.

Unveiling the report in Paris today, he said: "Even if proof, in the classical meaning of the term, is not as yet available, a number of coherent and converging elements indicate that such secret detention centres did indeed exist in Europe."

The investigation relied largely on flight logs provided by the European Union's air traffic agency, Eurocontrol, and evidence gathered from people who said they had been abducted by US intelligence agents during the War on Terror.

"Our analysis of the CIA 'rendition' programme has revealed a network that resembles a spider's web spun across the globe," Mr Marty wrote in the report.

"The analysis is based on official information provided by national and international air traffic control authorities, as was as on other information including from sources inside intelligence services, including the American."

But he added: "The impression which some governments tried to create at the beginning of this debate - that Europe was a victim of secret CIA plots - does not seem to correspond to reality.

You can see the report for yourself here.

From the report:
Even if proof, in the classical meaning of the term, is not as yet available, a number of coherent and converging elements indicate that such secret detention centres did indeed exist in Europe. Such an affirmation does not pretend to be a judgment of a criminal court, necessitating “proof beyond reasonable doubt in the Anglo-Saxon meaning of the term; it rather reflects a conviction based on a careful balance of probabilities, as well as logical deductions from clearly established facts. The intention is not to determine that the authorities of these countries are "guilty" for having tolerated secret detention sites, but rather to hold them "responsible" for failing to comply with the positive obligation to investigate serious allegations.
With that you can take the report in it's proper context. Circumstantial evidence, but enough to indicate that something that these European politicos didn't like occurred.

I found this interesting in putting some perspective of the timing of this activity:
The strategic target of the CIA rendition programme has always been, and remains, the global terrorist network known as Al-Qaeda. In the conception of the United States, Al-Qaeda exists as a nebulous collection of "cells" in countries around the world, comprising "operatives" who perform various roles in the preparation of terrorist attacks. When the US National Security Council became alarmed, in 1995, at what appeared to be a serious prospect of Osama bin Laden acquiring weapons of mass destruction, it developed rendition, according to Scheuer and others, as a way of "breaking down Al-Qaeda", "taking down cells" and "incarcerating senior Al-Qaeda people."
Now, who was President when this started?

The portions of the report that I've gotten through is fairly informative. They do discuss the pre-9/11 activities and what they were for.

Rendition was designed, at the outset of the programme at least, to fit within the United States' interpretation of its legal obligations. The prerequisites for launching a rendition operation in the pre-9/11 period included:
  • an "outstanding legal process" against the suspect, usually connected to terrorist offences in his country of origin;
  • a CIA "dossier", or profile of the suspect, based on prior intelligence and in principle reviewed by lawyers;
  • a "country willing to help" in the apprehension of the suspect on its territory; and
  • "somewhere to take him after he was arrested."
The receiving countries were, as a matter of policy, only asked to provide diplomatic assurances to the United States that they would "treat the suspects according to their own national laws." After the transfer, the United States made no effort to assess the manner in which the detainees were subsequently treated.
Even if it's not supported by real evidence, the circumstantial evidence should give us some perspective on what the history of the topic has been.