Investigator: ‘High-Value Targets’ Imprisoned by High-Level ‘Cover-up’

Jun 8, 2007 6:09pm

The CIA’s secret prisons for the U.S. "high-value detainee" program existed because of the "secrecy, cover-up and dishonesty" of high-level European officials, Swiss Sen. Dick Marty said today. "We have sufficient grounds to declare that the highest state authorities were aware of the CIA’s illegal activities on their territories," Marty, who led the Council of Europe’s investigation into the CIA’s rendition program, said in the 72-page report . Thirty current and former CIA and European intelligence officers provided overwhelming proof that the Szymany airport in Poland and the Air Force Base at Mihail Kogalniceanu Airfield in Romania served as the two locations for the CIA secret prisons, according to the report. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Exclusive Sources Tell ABC News Top Al Qaeda Figures Held in Secret CIA Prisons Nightline Video Legal Torture? Blotter CIA Blasts European Report on Secret Prisons Click Here to Check Out Brian Ross Slideshows The investigators found that the CIA planes out of Afghanistan would file phony flight plans as if they were heading to Glasgow, Scotland.  But over Poland, the planes would veer off, something the investigators discovered by matching the tail numbers of the CIA planes with local flight records. As first reported by ABC News in December 2005, "high-value detainees," including al Qaeda commander Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who investigators say was one of the most prominent inmates at the Szymany facility, were held in these secret facilities and subjected to the harshest interrogation techniques in the CIA’s arsenal, the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" authorized for use by about 14 CIA officers. "It is an amazing amount of human rights abuses that have been taken place with the knowledge of huge numbers of people for long years," said Veronica Szente Goldstone of Human Rights Watch, "and the truth has to come out." Today’s report came on the same day that President Bush met with Poland’s new president, Lech Kaczynzki.  Neither man mentioned the report, and Polish officials dismissed it as pure political fiction. The spokesman for Romania’s Defense Ministry flatly denied the report’s findings. "This is nonsense," Lt. Col. Liviu Flutur said.  "We have no knowledge of this." The report also concluded the U.S. put heavy pressure on both Poland and Romania, who "were economically vulnerable" and dependent on American support "for their strategic development," to house the secret CIA prisons. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited the Romanian air base where the prison had been set up in 2004.  The report also says there was a quid pro quo: the U.S. promised to help Romania get into NATO as part of a secret agreement. Like Poland and Romania, the CIA dismissed the report finding the spy agency committed "a whole series of illegal acts," but stopped short of specifically denying the report’s central allegations. "The CIA’s counterterror operations have been lawful, effective, closely reviewed and of benefit to many people — including Europeans — in disrupting plots and saving lives," the CIA spokesperson said in a statement to the Blotter on ABCNews.com. The prisons were closed one-and-a-half years ago when the existence of the operations became known. Most of their inmates are now imprisoned at Guantanamo Base, Cuba.

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