Since 9/11 and the start of the “Global War on Terror” (GWOT), the US government has denied that the CIA was involved in torture and extraordinary rendition despite the evidence to the contrary. Now the organization Open Society Foundations has released an extensive 216 page report, Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition (pdf), that details the clandestine program that extended to 54 countries.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency embarked on a highly classified program of secret detention and extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects. The program was designed to place detainee interrogations beyond the reach of law. Suspected terrorists were seized and secretly flown across national borders to be interrogated by foreign governments that used torture, or by the CIA itself in clandestine “black sites” using torture techniques.
Globalizing Torture is the most comprehensive account yet assembled of the human rights abuses associated with CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations. It details for the first time what was done to the 136 known victims, and lists the 54 foreign governments that participated in these operations. It shows that responsibility for the abuses lies not only with the United States but with dozens of foreign governments that were complicit.
More than 10 years after the 2001 attacks, Globalizing Torture makes it unequivocally clear that the time has come for the United States and its partners to definitively repudiate these illegal practices and secure accountability for the associated human rights abuses.
It makes clear the Obama administration has not chosen to end rendition, the process of essentially kidnapping a person and transferring them to another country for detention where they are likely to be abused or tortured. The administration has not disclosed policies or practices related to “intelligence transfers” (for example, when the CIA ships individuals to other countries). An executive order Obama signed was “crafted to preserve the CIA’s authority to detain terrorist suspects for short periods prior to ‘rendering’ them to another country for interrogation or trial.” This was a loophole that was designed to make it possible for the CIA to keep certain secret prison sites open. [..]
The report also mentions how the United States has declined to conduct criminal investigations into the CIA’s RDI program. The courts have failed to hold any person from the Executive Branch accountable for abuses associated with the RDI program. “To date, not a single case brought by an extraordinary rendition victim has reached the merits stage in a US court,” the report declares.
Meanwhile, there continues to be reports of secret detentions: in April 2011, the “Associated Press reported that suspected terrorists in Afghanistan were being secretly detained and interrogated for weeks at 20 temporary sites including one run by the military’s elite counterterrorism unit, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), at Bagram Air Base”; in July 2011, “it was reported that the Obama administration had secretly detained and interrogated Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, a Somali national, for two months aboard a US Navy ship, after seizing him on international waters between Yemen and Somalia”; Jeremy Scahill of The Nation reported in July 2011 the CIA was using a secret prison “in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters; and the Washington Post reported in August 2012 that “three European men with Somali roots were arrested by local authorities in Djibouti, where they were detained and interrogated for months-including by U.S. interrogators-even though no charges were pending against them.”
The senior legal officer at the National Security and Counterterrorism program at the Open Society Justice Initiative and the reports author, Amrit Singh joined Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on Democracy! Now to discuss the report and CIA Director nominee, John Brennan’s role in the expansive program she’s documented.
Transcript can be read here