UNDER EMBARGO until
13h00 French time on Friday 8 June 2007
7 June 2007
Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
Secret detentions and illegal transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states: second report
Rapporteur: Mr Dick Marty, Switzerland, ALDE
Introductory remarks - an overview
I. The “dynamics of truth”
i. How President Bush’s disclosure of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) secret
ii. The responsibility to provide a truthful account and the importance of confidential sources
iii. The concept: the development of the “High-Value Detainee” (HVD) Programme operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
iv. The evolution of specific “black sites” in the HVD programme
II. Secret detentions in Council of Europe member States
i. The framework
a. Securing CIA clandestine operations overseas on the platform of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)
b. Invocation of Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty
c. NATO authorisations for US operations in the “war on terror”
d. The wider NATO system and the “war on terror”
ii. Bilateral arrangements
a. Securing agreements with certain countries to host “black sites” for HVDs
b. The United States’ choice of European partners
iii. Responsible political authorities and preservation of secrecy in Poland and Romania
a. Application of the NATO framework in Poland
b. Application of the NATO framework in Romania
c. Preserving secrecy through military intelligence partnerships
d. Preserving secrecy and NATO Security Policy
III. Secret detention operations in Poland
i. Partnering with military intelligence in Poland
ii. Responsible political authorities in Poland
iii. The anatomy of CIA secret transfers and detentions in Poland
a. Transfer of HVDs into CIA detention in Poland
b. Arrivals and “drop-offs” at Szymany Airport
c. Secret detention operations at Stare Kiejkuty
IV. Secret detention operations in Romania
i. Partnering with military intelligence in Romania
ii. Responsible political authorities in Romania
iii. The anatomy of CIA secret transfers and detentions in Romania
a. Creating a secure area for CIA transfers and detentions
b. Transfer of detainees into Romania: the cover-up persists
V. Human rights abuses involved in the CIA secret detention programme
i. Re-humanising the people held in secret detention
ii. Reconstructing the conditions in a CIA secret detention cell
iii. Confinement, isolation and insufficient provision
a. Careful physical conditioning of detainee and cell
b. Permanent surveillance
c. Mundane routines become unforgettable memories
d. Exertion of physical and psychological stress
VI. Secrecy and cover-up: how the United States and its European partners evade responsibility for CIA clandestine operations
i. A case study of Khaled El-Masri
a. Exposing El-Masri’s secret “homeward rendition” to Europe
b. The “legal vacuum”: denial of accountability to El-Masri in Germany and in the United States
c. The German parliamentary committee of inquiry and the work of the prosecutors in Munich
- The Munich Prosecutor’s office
ii. Complicity and accountability in other rendition cases
a. The role of the Italian authorities in the case of Abu Omar
b. The role of the Canadian authorities in the case of Maher Arar
c. Proposal by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition (APPG) to improve the UK’s mechanisms dealing with rendition requests
VII. Secret detentions and renditions: the diminishing effect on respect for human rights worldwide
i. A collateral damage of the war on terror: diminishing respect for human rights
ii. Continued secret detentions in the Chechen Republic and failure to cooperate with the CPT: unacceptable collateral damage to the values of the Council of Europe
a. CPT 3rd Public Statement and detentions in the village of Tsentoroy
b. Alleged secret detentions in Grozny
VIII. Need for consensus solutions to the HVD dilemma whilst ensuring respect for human rights
i. Towards consensus definitions of phrases used in the “war on terror”
ii. Towards consensus standards on interrogation techniques
iii. Perceptions of the HVD programme and its likely reactivation
iv. Concluding thoughts
Introductory remarks – an overview
1. What was previously just a set of allegations is now proven: large numbers of people have been abducted from various locations across the world and transferred to countries where they have been persecuted and where it is known that torture is common practice. Others have been held in arbitrary detention, without any precise charges levelled against them and without any judicial oversight – denied the possibility of defending themselves. Still others have simply disappeared for indefinite periods and have been held in secret prisons, including in member states of the Council of Europe, the existence and operations of which have been concealed ever since.
2. Some individuals were kept in secret detention centres for periods of several years, where they were subjected to degrading treatment and so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” (essentially a euphemism for a kind of torture), in the name of gathering information, however unsound, which the United States claims has protected our common security. Elsewhere, others have been transferred thousands of miles into prisons whose locations they may never know, interrogated ceaselessly, physically and psychologically abused, before being released because they were plainly not the people being sought. After the suffering they went through, they were released without a word of apology or any compensation – with one remarkable exception owing to the ethical and responsible approach of the Canadian authorities – and also have to put up with the opprobrium of doubts surrounding their innocence and, right here in Europe, racist harassment fuelled by certain media outlets. These are the terrible consequences of what in some quarters is called the “war on terror.”
3. While the strategy in question was devised and put in place by the current United States administration to deal with the threat of global terrorism, it has only been made possible by the collaboration at various institutional levels of America’s many partner countries. As was already shown in my report of 12 June 2006 (PACE Doc 10957), these partners have included several Council of Europe member states. Only exceptionally have any of them acknowledged their responsibility – as in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for instance – while the majority have done nothing to seek out the truth. Indeed many governments have done everything to disguise the true nature and extent of their activities and are persistent in their unco-operative attitude. Moreover, only very few countries have responded favourably to the proposals made by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe at the end of the procedure initiated under Article 52 of the European Convention of Human Rights ("ECHR") (see document SG(2006)01).
4. The rendition, abduction and detention of terrorist suspects have always taken place outside the territory of the United States, where such actions would no doubt have been ruled unlawful and unconstitutional. Obviously, these actions are also unacceptable under the laws of European countries, who nonetheless tolerated them or colluded actively in carrying them out. This export of illegal activities overseas is all the more shocking in that it shows fundamental contempt for the countries on whose territories it was decided to commit the relevant acts. The fact that the measures only apply to non-American citizens is just as disturbing: it reflects a kind of “legal apartheid” and an exaggerated sense of superiority. Once again, the blame does not lie solely with the Americans but also, above all, with European political leaders who have knowingly acquiesced in this state of affairs.
5. Some European governments have obstructed the search for the truth and are continuing to do so by invoking the concept of “state secrets”. Secrecy is invoked so as not to provide explanations to parliamentary bodies or to prevent judicial authorities from establishing the facts and prosecuting those guilty of offences. This criticism applies to Germany and Italy, in particular. It is striking to note that state secrets are invoked on grounds almost identical to those advanced by the authorities in the Russian Federation in its crackdown on scientists, journalists and lawyers, many of whom have been prosecuted and sentenced for alleged acts of espionage. The same approach led the authorities of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” to hide the truth and give an obviously false account of the actions of its own national agencies and the CIA in carrying out the secret detention and rendition of Khaled El-Masri.
6. Invoking state secrets in such a way that they apply even years after the event is unacceptable in a democratic state based on the rule of law. It is frankly all the more shocking when the very body invoking such secrets attempts to define their concept and scope, as a means of shirking responsibility. The invocation of state secrets should not be permitted when it is used to conceal human rights violations and it should, in any case, be subject to rigorous oversight. Here again, Canada seems to demonstrate the right approach, as will be seen later in this report.
7. There is now enough evidence to state that secret detention facilities run by the CIA did exist in Europe from 2003 to 2005, in particular in Poland and Romania. These two countries were already named in connection with secret detentions by Human Rights Watch in November 2005. At the explicit request of the American government, the Washington Post simply referred generically to "eastern European democracies", although it was aware of the countries actually concerned. It should be noted that ABC did also name Poland and Romania in an item on its website, but their names were removed very quickly in circumstances which were explained in our previous report. We have also had clear and detailed confirmation from our own sources, in both the American intelligence services and the countries concerned, that the two countries did host secret detention centres under a special CIA programme established by the American administration in the aftermath of 11 September 2001 to “kill, capture and detain” terrorist suspects deemed to be of “high value”. Our findings are further corroborated by flight data of which Poland, in particular, claims to be unaware and which we have been able to verify using various other documentary sources.
8. The secret detention facilities in Europe were run directly and exclusively by the CIA. To our knowledge, the local staff had no meaningful contact with the prisoners and performed purely logistical duties such as securing the outer perimeter. The local authorities were not supposed to be aware of the exact number or the identities of the prisoners who passed through the facilities – this was information they did not “need to know.” While it is likely that very few people in the countries concerned, including in the governments themselves, knew of the existence of the centres, we have sufficient grounds to declare that the highest state authorities were aware of the CIA’s illegal activities on their territories.
9. We are not an investigating authority: we have neither the powers nor the resources. It is not therefore our aim to pass judgments, still less to hand down sentences. However, our task is clear: to assess, as far as possible, allegations of serious violations of human rights committed on the territory of Council of Europe member states, which therefore involve violations of the European Convention on Human Rights. We believe we have shown that the CIA committed a whole series of illegal acts in Europe by abducting individuals, detaining them in secret locations and subjecting them to interrogation techniques tantamount to torture.
10. In most cases, the acts took place with the requisite permissions, protections or active assistance of government agencies. We believe that the framework for such assistance was developed around NATO authorisations agreed on 4 October 2001, some of which are public and some of which remain secret. According to several concurring sources, these authorisations served as a platform for bilateral agreements, which – of course – also remain secret.
11. In our view, the countries implicated in these programmes have failed in their duty to establish the truth: the evidence of the existence of violations of fundamental human rights is concrete, reliable and corroborative. At the very least, it is such as to require the authorities concerned at last to order proper independent and thorough inquiries and stop obstructing the efforts under way in judicial and parliamentary bodies to establish the truth. International organisations, in particular the Council of Europe, the European Union and NATO, must give serious consideration to ways of avoiding similar abuses in future and ensuring compliance with the formal and binding commitments which states have entered into in terms of the protection of human rights and human dignity.
12. Without investigative powers or the necessary resources, our investigations were based solely on astute use of existing materials – for instance, the analysis of thousands of international flight records – and a network of sources established in numerous countries. With very modest means, we had to do real “intelligence” work. We were able to establish contacts with people who had worked or still worked for the relevant authorities, in particular intelligence agencies. We have never based our conclusions on single statements and we have only used information that is confirmed by other, totally independent sources. Where possible we have cross-checked our information both in the European countries concerned and on the other side of the Atlantic or through objective documents or data. Clearly, our individual sources were only willing to talk to us on the condition of absolute anonymity. At the start of our investigations, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights authorised us to guarantee our contacts strict confidentiality where necessary. This willingness to grant confidentiality to potential “whistleblowers” was also communicated to Mr Franco Frattini, Vice-President of the European Commission with responsibility for the area of freedom, security and justice, so that he could also notify the relevant ministers in EU countries. Guarantees of confidentiality undoubtedly contributed to a climate of trust and made it possible for many sources to agree to talk to us. The individuals concerned are not prepared at present to testify in public, but some of them may be in the future if the circumstances were to change.
13. The Polish authorities recently criticised us for not travelling to their country to visit the facility suspected of having housed a detention centre. However, we see no point in visiting the site: we are not forensic science experts and we have no doubts about the capability of those who would have removed any traces of the prisoners’ presence. Moreover, a meeting at the site would only have been worthwhile if the Polish authorities had first replied to the questions we put to them on numerous occasions and to which we are still awaiting replies.
14. We are fully aware of the seriousness of the terrorist threat and the danger it poses to our societies. However, we believe that the end does not justify the means in this area either. The fight against terrorism must not serve as an excuse for systematic recourse to illegal acts, massive violation of fundamental human rights and contempt for the rule of law. I hold this view not only because methods of this nature conflict with the constitutional order of all civilised countries and are ethically unacceptable, but also because they are not effective from the perspective of a genuine long-term response to terrorism.
15. We have said it before and others have said it much more forcefully, but we must repeat it here: having recourse to abuse and illegal acts actually amounts to a resounding failure of our system and plays right into the hands of the criminals who seek to destroy our societies through terror. Moreover, in the process, we give these criminals a degree of legitimacy – that of fighting an unfair system – and also generate sympathy for their cause, which cannot but serve as an encouragement to them and their supporters.
16. The fact is that there is no real international strategy against terrorism, and Europe seems to have been tragically passive in this regard. The refusal to establish and recognise a functioning international judicial and prosecution system is also a major weakness in our efforts to combat international terrorism. We also agree with the view expressed by Amnesty International in its recent annual report: governments are taking advantage of the fear generated by the terrorist threat to impose arbitrary restrictions on fundamental freedoms. At the same time, they are paying no attention to developments in other areas that claim many more lives, or they display a disconcerting degree of passivity. We need only cast our minds to human trafficking or the arms trade: how is it possible, for example, that aeroplanes full of weapons continue to land regularly in Darfur, where a human tragedy with tens of thousands of victims is unfolding?
17. In our view, it is also necessary to draw attention to an aspect we believe to be very dangerous: the legitimate fight against terrorism must not serve as a pretext for provoking racist and Islamophobic reactions among the public. The Council of Europe has rightly recognised the fundamental importance of intercultural and interfaith dialogue. The member states and observers really should carry these efforts forward and maintain the utmost of vigilance on the issue. Any excesses in this respect could have disastrous consequences in terms of an expanded future terrorist threat.
18. In the course of our investigations and through various specific circumstances, we have become aware of certain special mechanisms, many of them covert, employed by intelligence services in their counter-terrorist activities. It is not for us to judge these methods, although in this area, too, great liberties appear to be taken with lawfulness. Many of these methods give rise to chain reactions of blackmail and lies between different agencies and institutions in individual states, as well as between states. Therein may lie at least a partial explanation for certain governments’ fierce opposition to revealing the truth. We cannot go into the details of this phenomenon without putting human lives at risk. Let me reiterate that we are fully convinced of the strategic importance of the work of intelligence services in combating terrorism. However, we believe equally strongly that the relevant agencies need to be subject to codes of conduct, accompanied by robust and thorough supervision.
19. With the mandate assigned to us, we believe that the Assembly has reached the limits of its possibilities. The resources at our disposal to address the issues presented to us are totally inadequate for the task. The Council of Europe should give serious consideration to equipping itself with more effective and more binding instruments for dealing with such grave instances of massive and systematic violations of human rights. This is more necessary now than ever before, since it is clear that we are facing a worrying process of the erosion of fundamental freedoms and rights.
20. We must condemn the attitude of the many countries that did not deem it necessary to reply to the questionnaire we sent them through their national delegations. Similarly, NATO has never replied to our correspondence.
21. In presenting this report, the Rapporteur expresses his gratitude to the staff of the Committee’s secretariat for their outstanding commitment and dedication. Very special thanks and acknowledgment go to the young staff member who was specifically assigned to this investigation: he has displayed absolutely amazing analytical skills and tenacity.
I. The “dynamics of truth”
i. How President Bush’s disclosure of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) secret
22. When President Bush decided on 6 September 2006 to reveal the existence of the covert programme implemented by the CIA to arrest, detain and interrogate overseas high-value terrorist suspects 2, he simply glossed over the most delicate aspects, such as the implementation means chosen and (not) obtaining the prior support from the United States Congress for his Administration’s “war against terrorism”.
23. President Bush’s disclosure was carefully worded so as to provide very little factual insight that was genuinely new or unknown. It was instead couched in imperative terms that portrayed the President as a strong Commander-in-Chief trying to prevent threats to the United States by methods - such as the CIA’s interrogation techniques - which were “tough… safe, and lawful, and necessary”.
24. The end was portrayed as paramount – “we’re getting vital information necessary to do our jobs, and that’s to protect the American people and our allies”; the means of getting there inconsequential – “I cannot describe the specific methods used – I think you understand why”.
25. Just under six weeks later, the US Congress responded to President Bush’s clarion call3 by passing the Military Commissions Act 2006 into law. As President Bush had expressly requested, the legislation draws distinctions between United States citizens and non-citizens, strips away the time-honoured right of detainees to challenge the basis for their detention (habeas corpus), and insulates US service personnel from prosecution for violations of Common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions. The process that lay ahead for captured terrorist suspects was thereby mapped out, whilst the Administration tried to cover the tracks that had led them there.
26. The “limited disclosures” of 6 September 2006, afforded a fresh focus to the mandate of my inquiry. One thing was now certain, personally acknowledged by the President of the United States: the existence of secret detention centres, which I had already confirmed in my June 2006 report. We are, however, faced with unresolved allegations that Council of Europe member States have colluded with the United States in serious human rights violations such as enforced disappearances, incommunicado (secret) detentions, and torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. President Bush’s assertion that Europeans too had benefited from the programme4 - which has not been substantiated by any evidence – must be put into its proper perspective if it were shown that we had forsaken our democratic values and the rule of law in order to share in those benefits.
27. In my view the protection of fundamental human rights is every bit as important as the preservation of national security cited by President Bush; indeed I hold these two objectives to be complementary, mutually reinforcing and in no way contradictory.
28. If we are to understand clearly the relationship between human rights and national security imperatives for the future, then we cannot content ourselves with partial truths about how the policies in question have been developed and implemented in the past. It is therefore our duty to get right to the bottom of the CIA’s secret detention programme in all its systemic components. The programme must not simply pass into history as a policy that seemed to breach our supposedly inviolable human rights, but about which we never learned the truth and for which we never exercised political and legal accountability. We have a right and the duty to know the truth and to analyse critically the means and methods being used in our name towards the stated goal of enhancing our common security. It is therefore indispensable to clarify the precise operational and legal basis of the CIA’s covert programme, and in particular to establish the extent to which Council of Europe member states were involved.
29. Building upon the June 2006 interim report5, I have now concentrated on placing the CIA programme properly within the “global spider’s web” – the image I used to describe the system of secret detentions and detainee transfers spun out around the world by the US Government and its allies. In this context, our interest has been concentrated on the role played by the member States of the Council of Europe that acted as “hosts” for CIA secret detentions.
30. As this report will make clear, the HVD programme has depended on extraordinary authorisations – unprecedented in nature and scope – at both national and international levels. The secret of its very existence was successfully guarded for several years, and until today, very little detail has been published about the terms used to refer to it, the way the system has operated, the underlying authorisations and arrangements that have sustained it, or even the reasons as to why it has so successfully been covered up.
31. Questions such as where the detention sites have been located and what conditions the detainees have been kept in were declared last year by President Bush to be too sensitive for him to answer officially, on the grounds that “doing so would provide our enemies with information they could use to take retribution”.6
32. Indeed, even when the revelations of secret detentions in “several democracies in Eastern Europe” first emerged in November 2005,7 the publication responsible for breaking the story, The Washington Post, made a decision not to publish the names of the states which had hosted CIA “black sites”, although it was aware of this information. The Post’s decision followed a meeting at the White House and an explicit appeal from the US Government to refrain from naming the countries involved.8 The Post’s Staff Writer Dana Priest, who wrote the article in question, explained the rationale behind the newspaper’s decision in the following terms:
“Political embarrassment was not a consideration; it really turned on the safety and co-operation questions. We did not publish the names of the countries involved because those countries were co-operating on other efforts that were not controversial, some of which the Post knew about from independent sources and which we considered to be valuable. Knowing those efforts to be vital to our international programmes, we thought that those efforts might stop if the countries’ names were published, and that this would not be good.”9
33. While one might understand this decision, I have chosen to adopt a different position from that of The Washington Post on this issue, whilst maintaining a strict policy of confidentiality with regard to my individual sources. It should also be borne in mind that the very earnest American NGO Human rights Watch had explicitly cited Poland and Romania among the countries in which there had been secret detention centres. Moreover, it is difficult to accept that the reasons given at the time by the Washington Post are still valid today.
ii. The responsibility to provide a truthful account and the importance of confidential sources
34. Especially in light of its unparalleled pedigree for protecting and promoting human rights on our continent, the Council of Europe holds a unique responsibility in providing a truthful account. It has been said that the paradigm of US detainee treatment in the course of the “war on terrorism” has been to carry out its most odious acts extra-territorially – including in Europe – because it knows that such acts would not be permissible at home under the laws and Constitution of the United States. This is a paradigm of political expediency. But how not to see in it a form of contempt towards other countries, notably Cuba (Guantanamo!) and Europe: what is not good enough for the United States is for others!
35. In direct response, the paradigm of this report is one based on principles and values. We assert that in order to retain the moral authority necessary to defeat the global terrorist threat, we must ensure that every detainee in our custody – notwithstanding the acts of which he is accused, or whether he is held in Europe or elsewhere – is accorded the same fundamental human rights we would expect to be accorded ourselves and which, moreover, we uphold for even the worst criminals. Not even war authorises conduct of any sort; for example, the Geneva Conventions, the cornerstone of international humanitarian law laying down the limits to the barbarity of war, also prohibit secret detention centres.
36. From the outset of my mandate as Rapporteur on this issue, I have argued that transparency and accountability would in fact prove to be healthy for all the member States of the Council of Europe, not least for the countries which have hosted CIA “black sites”.
37. The perpetual cycle of allegations and unsubstantiated rumours since November 2005 has merely served to fuel mutual suspicion and distrust between our Governments and peoples. The uncertainty has disrupted open political debate and provided an unwelcome distraction from the most urgent task of developing more viable democratic strategies to combat the growing terrorist threat in accordance with the rule of law.
38. Thus my decision to name the countries concerned should not be construed as an attempt to single out scapegoats or to drive a wedge between members of the European family. On the contrary, my investigations demonstrate clearly that responsibility is broadly shared on both sides of the Atlantic and on our continent.
39. From the very beginnings of the “war on terror” advocated by the United States, European governments could not ignore its true nature ; all the members and partners of NATO signed up to the same “permissive” – not to say illegal – terms that allowed CIA operations to permeate throughout the European continent and beyond; all knew that CIA practices for the detention, transfer and treatment of terrorist suspects left open considerable scope for abuses and unlawful measures; yet all remained silent and kept the operations, the practices, their agreements and their participation secret.
40. Now it is time for the member States of the Council of Europe to muster a similar collective spirit in acknowledging the truth about the past and regrouping to face the considerable challenges to be faced in the future. The methods used not only proved to be of questionable usefulness, but above all they also gave a semblance of legitimacy to terrorist movements and even gave rise to some feeling of sympathy for them.
41. As Council of Europe Rapporteur I have talked persistently about my belief in the “dynamics of truth” – that each drop of truth will lead forward to another drop of truth, and that a steady trickle will ultimately develop into an irreversible flow. Seen in this regard, my report of June 2006, which mapped out the “global spider’s web” and exposed CIA “rendition circuits” for the first time, was but a small contribution to a pool of outstanding investigative work by journalists10 and non-governmental organisations11 that continues to grow to the present day.
42. Yet while the momentum was gathering last year, we were perfectly aware that we would still have to overcome formidable obstacles in order to get to the truth about the CIA programme of secret detentions in Europe. State secrecy has been systematically invoked at national level in several instances both to deny us access to classified documents and to thwart action taken by the competent judicial and parliamentary authorities.12 Moreover, as I demonstrate later in this report,13 the secrecy and security of information policies adopted by states in the framework of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) are just as impenetrable when applied as barriers to transparency as they have proven since they were selected to act as coverage for CIA clandestine operations.
43. To encourage even a minor departure from strict adherence to these regimes of silence, secrecy and cover-up would require a rare convergence of factors. The first signs of cracks would have to appear in alliances that had hitherto been absolutely watertight. The motivation for insiders on one or both sides of the Atlantic to talk to us would surely derive only from their fear of betrayal – either by their colleagues, their political masters or their transatlantic partners.
44. The catalyst for those involved in the HVD programme to talk candidly to our team appears ultimately to have come from the American side – albeit that a degree of ambiguity about who was “allowed” to say what appears to have worked in our favour. My representative, who was on-the-spot in Washington, DC when President Bush disclosed the existence of the CIA’s covert overseas detention and interrogation programme, received an off-the-record briefing.
45. Thereafter, one of the most challenging aspects of our investigation has been our effort to access the structures where the information is held within the different European states. Towards this end our team has undertaken visits and developed sources in both the political and intelligence spheres in various countries, sometimes pursuing multiple contacts over a period of months.
46. Consequently, all of the conclusions drawn in this report rely upon multiple sources, which validate and corroborate one another. Indeed, in the course of my inquiry, our team has spoken – and in many cases conducted interviews – with over 30 one-time members (serving, retired or having carried out contract work) of intelligence services in the United States and Europe.
47. However, by necessity, the majority of these conversations have taken place under conditions of strict confidentiality, in order to enable the individuals concerned to be able to speak freely and without fear of consequence.
48. It is my firm conviction that what I publish here poses no threat to the individual or collective safety of any of my sources, some of whom have taken considerable personal risks to speak to us. Thus I do not identify by name the sources of many specific quotes and other items of information, nor do I attribute them too specifically to the office held by the speaker, such that no reader is able to identify the individuals who spoke in confidence to us and whose anonymity, at least for the moment, must be preserved.
49. These rules on confidentiality, imposed upon us because of the lack of collaboration from the states concerned, cannot and should not prevent me from naming individual office-holders who occupied key positions of power at the relevant times and who thus answer for the decisions they took on behalf of their states.
50. In the sections that follow, I have therefore drawn upon multiple sources in the US and European intelligence communities in an attempt to lay bare the anatomy of this controversial programme. In so doing, I believe that I have been able to provide the most in-depth account to date of the conceptual development of the HVD programme, the NATO framework so vital to the programme’s operations, details of the bilateral arrangements for its operations, and important strands of evidence that belie the repeated denials of high-ranking officials – including several Presidents and Prime Ministers – about what took place and what they knew. Certainly we are far from knowing the whole truth. The information we have gathered is, however, sufficiently concrete – and worrying – to encourage states at last to do all they can to get to the bottom of what took place in their countries and within certain of their institutions.
iii. The concept: the development of the “High-Value Detainee” (HVD) Programme operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
51. For the sake of clarity reference should be made to the CIA’s covert programme using the correct terminology: among well-informed quarters, the programme is known as the “High-Value Detainee” programme, or simply the “HVD Programme”.
52. The HVD programme has formed a very specific, narrow and unique strand of the United States’ counter-terrorist operations in the period since 11 September 2001. Indeed, one reason why it has been so successfully covered up is that one can easily lose sight of this programme among the sizeable and still growing tally of people detained in the course of the “war on terror”.
53. There have been scores of sites in which thousands of prisoners have been held for varying periods of time either by one or more agencies of the US Government, or on its behalf by foreign allies.
54. Among the most highly-populated and well-known of these detention sites – and indeed, hosts to CIA detainees at one time or another – have been the various internment “Camps” on the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, the Bagram Airfield in Kabul, Afghanistan and the Abu Ghraib facility in Baghdad, Iraq. The public has been able to get some sort of picture of these sites, not from transparent information provided by the competent authorities but rather from leaks, statements from former inmates and secretly filmed images of detainee abuse.
55. 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.”
56. 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”.
57. The conception of the HVD programme can be traced to the days immediately after 11 September 2001, when senior CIA officials (including CIA Director George Tenet) worked with the political principals of the Bush Administration (including President Bush himself) to conceive, debate and formulate strategies to “give some extra potency” to America’s “frontline officials” in combating and countering the global terrorist threat.
58. On 17 September 2001 President Bush signed a classified Presidential Finding14 as a means of granting the CIA important new competences relating to its covert actions: new choices it could make and new ways it could respond if confronted with Al-Qaeda targets in the field. On the day this document was signed – the Sunday after the 11 September attacks – senior members of the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Center (CTC) and selected foreign counterparts were made familiar with its contents in a meeting in Washington, DC.15
59. Our team has spoken with several American officials who have seen the text of the Presidential Finding and participated in the operations that put it into action. Two particularly striking observations have emerged from these discussions. First, by putting “a lot of stock in Special Activities”16 the Finding “redefined the role of the Agency”, even in the eyes of some of its own, more conservative senior officials. Second, the “really broad, not specific” scope of the covert actions authorised in the Finding meant that the CIA was instantly granted enough room for manoeuvre to design a secret detentions programme overseas17.
60. One senior former CTC official said the broad scope and enhanced paramilitary powers for the CIA were negotiated into the terms of the Finding with “revenge for the 9/11 attacks” in mind. Another former CTC official with direct responsibility for geographical areas in which Al Qaeda was operating told us: “This Administration needed some public successes, so they put a lot more pressure on us to find these people, and they decided to hold these people themselves. I think those are the two major changes post-9/11.”
61. Thus, there had emerged a category of terrorist suspects whom the CIA considered of high value and to whose capture, detention, transfer and interrogation it would ultimately dedicate an entire covert programme. The men in this category had mostly been picked out already as “High-Value Targets”, or HVTs,18 and once in the custody of the CIA they would become “High-Value Detainees”, or HVDs.19
62. The profile of the HVTs was that of orchestrators, planners, leading operatives and providers of logistics for some of the most devastating terrorist plots attributed to Al-Qaeda and to its associates. In our discussions, current and former CIA officials have been keen to emphasise, even in hindsight, that their targets span only a very limited range. One asserted: “if you look down the list of the people we’ve picked up since 9/11, the Agency has maintained a very high level of pertinence in terms of our targets.” Another confirmed: “we didn’t want the insurgents; we wanted the leadership.”
63. CIA dossiers compiled on these men were comprehensive and constantly being updated. As my representative was told by Michael Scheuer, former Chief of the Bin Laden Unit: “the one problem we never had was lack of information.”20 Intelligence on the HVTs was replete with references to their involvement in the 9/11 attacks and the evolution of its feeder cells, or in other major events in the global escalation of terrorism, such as the dual attack on US Embassies in East Africa, the assault on the US Navy ship USS Cole, or the Bali nightclub bombings.
64. Just as the CIA rendition programme - instigated in the 1990s and escalated in the post-9/11 years - maintained its “safety net” of having obtained legal approval for every operation it launched,21 the CIA’s post-9/11 HVD programme was designed and vetted in consultation with various lawyers in the Justice Department, the CIA and in the Presidential Administration. All three of these sets of lawyers, as our sources confirmed, have approved so-called “Kill, Capture or Detain” orders, or “K-C-D orders”, for high-value targets with whom the CIA came into contact.
65. The template for the High-Value Detainee programme was not drawn out of the KCD’s Detain (or “D”) category, since this was said to be a more general responsibility (shared with the military and local counterparts) for those persons picked up in the course of counter-terrorist activities about whose intelligence value the CIA unit on the ground was less certain:
“D was like our default option: Detain. Like if we pick up some guy in a raid where we also got one of the HVTs, like [Ramzi] bin Al-Shibh, and maybe we’ve got nothing on this guy, but obviously we’re still gonna hold him.”
66. According to our sources, the tailor-made HVD programme actually grew out of the KCD’s Capture (or “C”) category, which comprised targets whom the CIA set out expressly to capture, sometimes offering multi-million dollar US Government rewards for decisive tip-offs. The design of a special HVD programme helped to address a key “what next?” question, as one well-placed source explained:
“We knew that we would have some successes when we went out to get these guys, with the resources we were throwing at it and the support of our friends in the Pakistani Services22. So the real question was “what are we gonna do with them when we got them?”
67. The CIA ruled out the prospect of having its HVTs handed over to or shared with the US military or the FBI, let alone foreign services – “these high-value targets are not moved between agencies or nations” – believing that the security and integrity of the resultant interrogations, in particular, could not be guaranteed. On the same grounds Guantanamo Bay “offered nothing” akin to the secrecy and isolation that the CIA demanded: “Guantanamo was a real mess. The interrogators there were FBI and military… [who] thought they knew what they were looking for, but they didn’t know who they were talking to. The United States had a laboratory at Guantanamo, for the first time, to understand the insurgent arm of Al Qaeda… [but] we screwed it up!”
68. Hence the concept of “black sites”, a handful of facilities of limited size and capacity in different parts of the world, where the CIA exclusively would be the jailer.
iv. The evolution of specific “black sites” in the HVD programme
69. A significant breakthrough, which became the trigger for the operations of the HVD programme, was the CIA’s capture of Abu Zubaydah in March 2002. Mr Zubaydah’s peculiar importance from the US Government’s perspective has been well documented – not least in President Bush’s speech of 6 September 2006 – in which he was mentioned 12 times, including to acknowledge that an “alternative set of procedures”23 was introduced specifically for his interrogation. In the ensuing period of approximately two-and-a-half years, information garnered from HVD interrogations using these procedures is said to have proved crucial in combating Al-Qaeda’s worldwide terrorist operations.24
70. There are two more specific locations to be considered as “black sites” and about which we have received information sufficiently serious to demand further investigation; we are however not in a position to carry out adequate analysis in order to reach definitive conclusions in this report. First we have received concurring confirmations that United States agencies have used the island territory of Diego Garcia, which is the international legal responsibility of the United Kingdom, in the “processing” of high-value detainees. It is true that the UK Government has readily accepted “assurances”25 from US authorities to the contrary, without ever independently or transparently inquiring into the allegations itself, or accounting to the public in a sufficiently thorough manner. 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.26 In line with the approach of most US partner countries, the Thai Government has denied these allegations outright.27
71. The HVD programme has, to a certain extent, grown out of an assertion of independence on the part of the CIA in the exercise of “exclusive custody” over its high-value detainees for as long as it continues to question them. However, as my findings in the following sections demonstrate, the CIA’s clandestine operations in Europe – including its transfers and secret detentions of HVDs - were sustained and kept secret only through their operational dependence on alliances and partnerships in what is more traditionally the military sphere.
II. Secret detentions in Council of Europe member states
i. The framework
a. Securing CIA clandestine operations overseas on the platform of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)
72. By enacting an extraordinary authorisation for CIA covert action through a Presidential Finding within national law, the Bush Administration furnished the Agency with the first half of the operational framework it required to spearhead the United States’ “global war on terror.”28 To recap, the key elements of this authorisation were permissions that were as broad as possible, and protections (from interference and oversight) that were as robust as possible.
73. The second half of the equation was then to identify the means by which to integrate the key elements of US national policy into an international, intergovernmental approach.
74. According to our sources, the CIA simply could not embark upon sensitive covert action to dismantle terrorist networks and kill, capture or detain their members overseas without the express knowledge and approval of key US allies – particularly European allies: “we wouldn’t have even dreamed of it.”29 On the contrary, the CIA depended on the US Government to secure equally broad permissions and equally robust protections from its foreign allies and their respective intelligence agencies as the ones that had been granted at home.
75. The need for unprecedented permissions, according to our sources, arose directly from the CIA’s resolve to lay greater emphasis on the paramilitary activities of its Counterterrorism Center in the pursuit of high-value targets, or HVTs. The US Government therefore had to seek means of forging intergovernmental partnerships with well-developed military components, rather than simply relying upon the existing liaison networks through which CIA agents had been working for decades.
76. One former senior CIA official told us that administration officials approached multilateral negotiations “like they wanted to raise [the CIA]’s status up to a kind of super military-civilian Agency”. Specifically the US Government set out to achieve permissions “from as many allied countries as possible” that would allow CIA agents to collaborate directly with foreign military officials, operate “on a no-questions-asked basis” at military installations, and travel free from inspection in military or civilian vehicles and aircraft.
77. In relation to the last point, as I discussed in my report last year,30 the lines between civilian and military classifications in the aviation world were about to become incredibly blurred. Conventional legal understandings of civilian and state flights31 were about to be fundamentally challenged, or at least the latitude in those definitions exploited to its maximum potential.
78. The US Government’s post-9/11 detainee transfer operations would frequently make use of practices that were previously considered “anomalies,”32 such as: civilian aircraft landing on state duty at military airfields; military cargo planes registered under civilian operators; and civilian agents and contractors travelling on military travel orders. The CIA’s expanding and evolving “rendition” programme, which would ultimately also be used for the transportation of High-Value Detainees, required cover that would encompass all of these anomalies and more.
79. In terms of protections, the US Government insisted on the most stringent levels of physical security for its personnel, as well as secrecy and security of information during the operations the CIA would carry out in other countries.
80. Reflecting on what our sources have described in this regard, I consider that the stated US policy has, in fact, on the pretext of guaranteeing security, intentionally created a framework enabling it to evade all accountability. We have been told that the US Government sought a means of “insulating” the CIA’s activities (and those of its partner intelligence agencies) from conventional democratic controls in the foreign countries it operated in, not to mention from what it saw as any “unsavoury disputes over jurisdictional issues.”
81. Yet in my view, checks and balances through national parliamentary and judicial oversight, as well as accepted international laws governing territorial sovereignty, are the very foundations upon which our systems of democratic accountability are built. In times of crisis, such as the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, these foundations must be strengthened by demonstrations of collective resolve, not weakened by acts of unilateral brinkmanship.
82. It is now clear to me that as they went to their international allies with their proposals, the United States insisted – non-officially but explicitly – upon a clear set of unilateral prerogatives: only American officials would choose exactly who they wanted to work with; only US policies would define exactly the terms of the relationship; and only US interpretations of the applicable law (including whether or not it applied) would be held to bind its actions overseas.
83. Based upon my investigations, confirmed by multiple sources in the governmental and intelligence sectors of several countries, I consider that I can assert that the means to cater to the CIA’s key operational needs on a multilateral level were developed under the framework of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
84. It should be recalled that the United States turned to the international community at an unprecedented moment in history. As a prominent US Congressman remarked recently, “in the wake of the horrific attack on the United States on September 11th , we were moved by the extraordinary support and the outpouring of sympathy from across the globe.”33 These sentiments manifested themselves in a unique and almost universally shared conviction that the United States should be granted strong support for its international counter-terrorist efforts, including for the use of military force.
85. This conviction was most pronounced within the NATO Alliance. On 12 September 2001, NATO thereby invoked the principle of collective defence according to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty,34 and this for the first time in its 52-year existence. Initially, the invocation was considered provisional because it began with a conditional clause:
86. During the weeks that followed, several of the most senior officials in the Bush Administration delivered “a series of classified briefings for the NATO members presenting evidence that Al Qaeda had planned and executed the attacks”36 and outlining their intended response. There is evidence in the following excerpt from an account by a then NATO Assistant Secretary-General that some of the United States’ “unilateral prerogatives” described by our sources were articulated in quite explicit terms during these briefings:
“I was present in the [North Atlantic] Council two weeks after NATO invoked Article 5 when then US Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz set out his post-9/11 doctrine to the effect that the mission determines the coalition. This was, in my opinion, a fundamental misjudgement about the nature of the Alliance that devalued the importance of strategic solidarity.”37
87. The US Administration’s briefings had their desired effect of lifting the conditional clause in the North Atlantic Council’s original statement. On 2 October 2001, the NATO Allies declared their unanimous assessment that the 9/11 attacks had been directed against the United States from abroad and that Article 5 was therefore activated.38
88. Collective measures in the context of a military intervention in Afghanistan were widely anticipated – indeed, as one study noted, “many NATO members hoped that invoking Article 5 would lead the United States to conduct any military response against Al Qaeda under the NATO flag, or at least co-ordinate its actions with the integrated military structure and political institutions.”39
89. However, the expected mobilisation of NATO forces for a multilateral action in Afghanistan never materialised. In fact, NATO support in the conventional military sense was neither an automatic consequence in the invocation of Article 540 nor, as our sources have confirmed, what the US Government was looking for.41 It is precisely upon this unexpected dynamic that my finding regarding the development of CIA clandestine operations under the NATO framework hinges.
90. There was a critical, almost paradoxical policy choice in the US Government’s stance towards the NATO alliance in early October 2001. The invocation of Article 5 could have been developed42 as a basis upon which to conduct a military campaign of a conventional nature, deploying Army, Navy and Air Force troops in a joint NATO operation. Instead it became a platform from which the United States obtained the essential permissions and protections it required to launch CIA covert action in the “war on terror”.
91. The key date in terms of the NATO framework is 4 October 2001, when the NATO Allies met in a session of the North Atlantic Council to consider a set of concrete proposals from the United States. In a press statement after the session,43 NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson announced that the Allies had “agreed today – at the request of the United States – to take eight measures, individually and collectively, to expand the options available in the campaign against terrorism.”44 The eight specific measures agreed to45 were as follows:
• Enhance intelligence-sharing and co-operation, both bilaterally and in the appropriate NATO bodies, relating to the threats posed by terrorism and the actions to be taken against it
• Assist states subject to increased terrorist threats as a result of their support for the campaign against terrorism
• Provide increased security for US and other allied facilities on NATO territory
• Backfill selected Allied assets in NATO’s area of responsibility that are redeployed in support of counterterrorism operations
• Provide blanket overflight clearances for the United States’ and other Allies’ aircraft for military flights related to operations against terrorism
• Provide access to ports and airfields on NATO territory, including for refuelling, for United States and other Allies for operations against terrorism
• Deploy elements of the NATO Standing Naval Forces to the eastern Mediterranean, if called upon
• Deploy elements of NATO Airborne Early Warning Force to support operations against terrorism, if called upon.
92. The first criterion on which these measures were extraordinary was in the nature of their conception. According to a former senior NATO official, “in contrast to many other international organisations, responsibility for drafting documents and resolutions in NATO lies with the International Staff.”46 Yet as Lord Robertson reiterated in his statement, “these measures were requested by the United States following the determination that the 11 September attack was directed from abroad.”47 Indeed, as our American sources told us, even the exact language in which the actual measures were formulated and agreed upon was conceived, drafted, re-drafted and put forward unilaterally by the United States.
93. Second and most significant, these measures do not constitute an agreement to undertake collective self-defence.48 In my analysis these measures more closely comprise the very permissions and protections the United States had sought for itself as it embarked on its own military, paramilitary and intelligence-led counterterrorism operations.49 Just as President Bush had done on 17 September 2001, the NATO Allies, on 4 October 2001, afforded the CIA a mandate to pursue its “war on terror”, without a published text.
94. Council of Europe officials attempted to obtain a copy of the “agreement” of 4 October 2001 from NATO Legal Services on several occasions.50 In a response dated 6 April 2006,51 NATO’s Legal Advisor, Mr Baldwin De Vidts, submitted that the “agreement” in question was actually more properly characterised as a set of “decisions taken by the North Atlantic Council on that date”; he explained:
95. In the same letter, Mr De Vidts stated that “in principle, such documents are not made public, which is certainly the case if they are classified.”52 In a subsequent follow-up letter sent on my behalf, I indicated to NATO Legal Services, in accordance with my authorisation as AS/Jur Rapporteur, that I would be prepared to treat the document in a confidential manner.53 However, Mr De Vidts replied in the following terms:
96. Notwithstanding this general rule, which I understand to be a reflection of broader issues around transparency within NATO,55 there was a further noteworthy feature of the 4 October 2001 measures to emerge from our correspondence with NATO Legal Services. Qualifying his earlier point, Mr De Vidts stated:
97. The clear indication here is that the public record56 is not a complete reflection of the measures agreed by the NATO Allies and the considerations underpinning them. It is my conclusion, again confirmed by my American sources, that there were additional components to the NATO authorisation of 4 October 2001 that have remained secret.
98. In the course of my inquiry, I have made repeated requests for information regarding the full scope of the NATO authorisation, specific elements of its practical application, and whether its provisions remain in force to the present day. Regrettably, NATO itself has been largely unresponsive to my requests.57
99. Nevertheless, my further analysis of the NATO framework has shown that the authorisations of 4 October 2001 were vital in paving the way for the United States to develop its most important partnerships in the context of the “war on terror”. In particular, the CIA would exploit both the blanket overflight clearances and the access to airfields to carry out its clandestine operations through the airspace and on the territory of a broad range of foreign states.
100. The blanket overflight clearances granted in this regard were especially significant. In the NATO public statement, the clearances were said to apply to “military flights related to operations against terrorism” but, even without sight of the classified parts of the authorisation, this characterisation is misleadingly narrow.
101. “Military flights” is a term relating to the function of the flight, not the type of aircraft used. In international aviation law, the status of an aircraft is determined by the function it is performing at any given time58 - and flights performing “military” functions would necessarily fall into the category of “state aircraft.”59
102. “State aircraft” enjoy precisely the type of immunity from the jurisdiction of other states that the US Government sought to achieve for aircraft operating on behalf of the CIA: “they cannot be boarded, searched or inspected by foreign authorities, including host State’s authorities.”60 The conventional constraint on “state aircraft” is that they are usually “not permitted to fly over or land in foreign sovereign territory otherwise than with express authorisation of the State concerned.”61 However, with “blanket overflight clearances” under the NATO framework this constraint could be conveniently circumvented.62
103. Similarly, the provision of access to airfields for operations against terrorism secured landing rights at military bases and dual military-civilian airfields for aircraft operating on behalf of the CIA under a NATO “cover”.63
104. Accordingly there would be two prerequisites for CIA clandestine operations to fulfil in order to remain within the NATO framework. The first would be to ensure that the aircraft used in such operations were, in their function, designated as “military flights” or “state flights”. The second would depend on the state whose airspace or territory was at issue having agreed to the terms of the “blanket” NATO authorisations of 4 October 2001.
105. It is therefore all the more pertinent to note that the range of countries who agreed to these authorisations in the context of the US “war on terror” extended well beyond the NATO member states, into a total of as many as 40 countries.64 One year after the NATO authorisations, the United States Government declared: “Our Allies have delivered on that [Article 5] obligation with concrete actions, both individually and collectively: all 18 NATO Allies65 and the 9 NATO ‘aspirants’66 have provided blanket overflight rights, ports / bases access, refuelling assistance, and increased law-enforcement co-operation.”67
106. Aside from the specific authorisations detailed above, the wider NATO system comprises further important elements that have been developed as part of the post-9/11 framework for CIA clandestine operations – including the High-Value Detainee Programme. I intend to examine these elements in the following section as they have been applied to specific countries with which the United States has agreed bilateral arrangements in the course of the “war on terror”. For now it suffices to acknowledge the general NATO multilateral treaties or policies on which those arrangements are based.
107. First is the system of NATO “SOFAs” (Status of Forces Agreements), which define the legal status of one state’s armed forces on the territory of another state. The general rules of such relationships are set out in the multilateral SOFA for all NATO members,68 the provisions of which also apply to “aspirant” states through their participation in the “Partnership for Peace”69.
108. A state does not abandon its sovereignty when it signs a SOFA; on the contrary, SOFAs usually reflect different sets of legal rights and responsibilities that accrue for both the sending state and the host state.70 The majority of SOFAs are agreed on the bilateral level and are sometimes complemented by further, more finite defence agreements that cover foreign forces stationed at particular bases or facilities. Several CoE member states have acknowledged the applicability of SOFA-type agreements to their relationships with the United States in the context of the “war on terror.”71
109. An additional relevant element of the wider NATO system is its secrecy and security-of-information regime. The NATO Security Policy72 and its supporting Directive on the Security of Information73 are among the most formidable barriers to disclosure of information that one might ever come across. It is easy to understand why an institution or state agency wishing to carry out clandestine operations would opt to bring them under the protections of the NATO model.
110. In addition to its own rules, NATO insists that strict regimes protecting classified information exist on a national level. The Membership Action Plan of 1999 implored the NATO “aspirants” – specifically, nine countries in Central and Eastern Europe – to introduce “sufficient safeguards and procedures to ensure the security of the most sensitive information as laid down in the NATO security policy.”74 Indeed commentators have rightly raised concern around the stringent rules on state secrecy that several countries have introduced as part of their accession to NATO75 and, particularly, “whether NATO’s requirements are unduly biased against transparency… [and] tilted toward secrecy to an unwarranted degree.”76 It seems natural that such a security of information regime suited the purposes of the CIA.
111. Finally, with regard to the particular scope of my inquiry, it is apt to point out that NATO Allies and Partners have also developed various forms of co-operation in the realms of Air Defence and Air Traffic Management.77 Inevitably these initiatives have developed new dimensions and complexities in the worlds of civil and military aviation, some of which may not yet be properly regulated and may permit unlawful clandestine operations using aircraft to pass “under the radar.” In the course of analysing my database of aircraft movements, I have also noted that NATO has established a co-operation with Eurocontrol, which aims at “developing civil-military air traffic procedures in the light of the new security environment.”78
ii. Bilateral arrangements
a. Securing agreements with certain countries to host “black sites” for HVDs
112. Despite the importance of the multilateral NATO framework in creating the broad authorisation for US counter-terrorism operations, it is important to emphasise that the key arrangements for CIA clandestine operations in Europe were secured on a bilateral level.
113. According to US sources, such bilateral arrangements (referred to simply as “bilaterals”) exist under many different forms in Europe alone. For example, at the lower end of the range, bilaterals can institute ad hoc collaboration on a single operation to capture, detain or transfer a particular target. The well-documented cases of Abu Omar’s abduction in Milan79 and Khaled El-Masri’s 23-day ordeal in a hotel in Skopje before being handed over to a rendition team80 are instances in which the CIA worked with partner intelligence services in Italy81 and the “former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”,82 respectively, in this manner.
114. In the middle of this range, bilateral agreements signed pursuant to the multilateral NATO framework, and in conformity with NATO standards, have often encompassed elements of intelligence co-operation. Alternatively they have granted “civilian” components – a phrase often used loosely for those operating on behalf of the CIA – the same privileges and permissions that would normally be reserved for members of the military forces. Romania’s “SOFA supplemental” agreement with the United States on 31 October 2001, analysed later in this section, appears to be a good example of such a middle-range “bilateral”. It also demonstrates the potential for partnership and co-operation to intensify over a period of several years.
115. The bilaterals at the top of this range are classified, highly guarded mandates for “deep” forms of co-operation that afford – for example – “infrastructure”, “material support” and / or “operational security” to the CIA’s covert programmes. This high-end category has been described to us as the intelligence sector equivalent of “host nation” defence agreements – whereby one country is conducting operations it perceives as being vital to its own national security on another country’s territory.
116. The classified “host nation” arrangements made to accommodate CIA “black sites” in Council of Europe member states fall into the last of these categories.
117. The CIA brokered “operating agreements” with the Governments of Poland and Romania to hold its High-Value Detainees (HVDs) in secret detention facilities on their respective territories. Poland and Romania agreed to provide the premises in which these facilities were established, the highest degrees of physical security and secrecy, and steadfast guarantees of non-interference.
118. We have not seen the text of any specific agreement that refers to the holding of High-Value Detainees in Poland or Romania. Indeed it is practically impossible to lay eyes on the classified documents in question or read the precise agreed language because of the rigours of the security-of-information regime, itself kept secret, by which these materials are protected.
119. However, we have spoken about the High-Value Detainee programme with multiple well-placed sources in the governments and intelligence services of several countries, including the United States, Poland and Romania. Several of these persons occupied positions of direct involvement in and/ or influence over the negotiations that led to these bilateral arrangements being agreed upon. Several of them have knowledge at different levels of the operations of the HVD programme in Europe.
120. These persons spoke to us upon strict assurances of confidentiality, extended to them under the terms of the special authorisation I received from my Committee last year.83 For this reason, in the interests of protecting my sources and preserving the integrity of my investigations, I will not divulge individual names. Yet I can state unambiguously that their testimonies – insofar as they corroborate and validate one another – count as credible, plausible and authoritative.
121. I am convinced that these individuals who were or still are in highly-placed positions within the system spoke the truth to us. This was not always simply because they valued truth. In most cases they did so because, to paraphrase one high-ranking politician we interviewed, they did not want the truth to come out on somebody else’s terms.
122. In short, we used our considerable network of contacts in Poland, Romania, the United States and elsewhere, along with our own form of “intelligence work”, to ensure that in our discussions with our sources, the “dynamics of truth” were also at play.
123. It is interesting to note that the United States chose, in the case of Poland and Romania, to form special partnerships with countries that were economically vulnerable, emerging from difficult transitional periods in their history, and dependent on American support for their strategic development.
124. In terms of both political and intelligence considerations, several sources confirmed that much of the Eastern European “bloc” was considered “out of bounds” for the CIA in contemplating sites for its covert HVD programme. A long-serving CIA officer shared the following analysis with us:
“In a lot of those countries, there is still a mindset formed during the Cold War that we are not always on their side. There’s a certain tendency to be less than open to our advances. You have to remember most of the East European services are KGB services and that doesn’t change overnight.
I think Poland is the main exception; we have an extraordinary relationship with Poland. My experience is that if the Poles can help us they will. Whether it’s intelligence, or economics, or politics or diplomacy – they are our allies. I guess if there is a special relationship outside of the “four eyes”84 group, then it is the Americans and the Poles."
125. In Poland’s case, a specific strategic incentive tied in with the NATO framework was the United States’ staunch support for the establishment in Poland of the lucrative “NATINADS” programme – the NATO Integrated Air Defence System. Poland participated in the US-led military coalitions in both Afghanistan and Iraq, notably contributing significant Special Forces deployments to Operation Enduring Freedom,85 and later assuming control of one of the “zones” of allied control in Iraq. An ongoing process of realignment and reform of intelligence structures is dedicated primarily to purging the secret services of so-called “communist remnants”.
126. 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. 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.
127. We received confirmations – each name from more than one source – of eight names of HVDs who were held in Poland between 2003 and 200586. 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 case87, to high-level political and legislative manoeuvres and, in KSM’s case, to the admission of some troubling judicial precedents88.
128. For reasons of both security and capacity, the CIA determined that the Polish strand of the HVD programme should remain limited in size. Thus a “second European site” was sought to which the CIA could transfer its detainees with “no major logistical overhaul”. Romania, used extensively by United States forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom in early 2003, had distinct benefits in this regard: as a member of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Centre remarked about the location of the proposed detention facility, “our guys were familiar with the area”.
129. Our sources on both sides of the agreement – in Romania and the United States – emphasised the importance of both trust and national interest as factors underpinning their negotiations. Military assistance – reflected since in the Agreement of December 200589 – also significantly influenced the decision to provide facilities and resources, as one American source reflected:
“The bilateral arrangements were built on two things: personal relationships and material investment. If your men on the ground have a very good personal relationship with the men in the partner service; that means a lot. And it also means a lot if the Romanians are gonna get their runways improved, new barracks built and new military hardware; that means a lot.”
130. Romania was developed into a site to which more detainees were transferred only as the HVD programme expanded. I understand that the Romanian “black site” was incorporated into the programme in 2003, attained its greatest significance in 2004 and operated until the second half of 2005. The detainees who were held in Romania belonged to a category of HVDs whose intelligence value had been assessed as lower but in respect of whom the Agency still considered it worthwhile pursuing further investigations.
131. Asked to provide names of those held in Romania, a senior official in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Centre, who was directly involved in operating the programme, said: “Look we don’t talk about names, okay. We’ve got a target range that we know less about. We’re acting on their intell[igence] value when we’re less certain.”
132. Our sources told us that some of the targets in this “lower” HVD category had in fact been identified, and sometimes even apprehended, by a foreign intelligence service before they were made available to the CIA. Upon our strict assurance of anonymity, one CIA case officer was willing to describe limited details of a scenario in which a detainee had been “offered to us by our liaisons” and was later transferred to Romania. The detainee was of Afghan nationality.
133. Examples of the profile of those held in Romania were provided to us by two separate American sources. We understand that the profile fits categories such as:
§ associates and suspected operatives of key Taliban leaders like Mullah Omar;
§ foreign fighters suspected of having performed roles for the Taliban in Afghanistan, including provision of logistics;
§ leaders of branches of suspected “support networks” for the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan; or
§ suspected leaders of terrorist factions in the Middle East.
134. The majority of the detainees brought to Romania were, according to our sources, extracted “out of [the] theater of conflict”. This phrase is understood as a reference to detainee transfers originating from Afghanistan and, later, Iraq.
135. More specifically, the description of an “out-of-theater” detention facility presents the mirror image of the kinds of prisons operated “in-theater,” which are customarily referred to by United States Forces as “Theater Internment Facilities” – one notable example being the “Bagram Theater Internment Facility.”90 CIA detainees are known to have been held at facilities such as Bagram both before91 and after92 having been subjected to rendition, and to secret detention in other countries.
iii. Responsible political authorities and preservation of secrecy in Poland and Romania
136. To reveal the means by which bilateral arrangements were put in place for CIA detentions in Poland and Romania, we must trace a trajectory of deepening co-operation with the United States that spans over several years. During the immediate post-9/11 period, when America was identifying its key strategic partnerships for the “war on terror,” both Poland and Romania were in the midst of their own processes of “strategic realignment”, eager to secure their positions as indispensable members of the NATO Alliance and friends of the United States.
137. In the course of a lengthy discussion with us about the CIA’s choice of partner countries in Eastern Europe, one high-ranking Eastern European politician involved in the programme said to us:
138. When America began developing its strategy for the “war on terror” under the NATO framework, Poland was already a member of the NATO Alliance, while Romania was a NATO “aspirant”, or accession candidate. This difference in status proved to be of little consequence, however, as both countries followed remarkably similar paths in terms of harmonising their laws and structures with the NATO framework. The role of the United States was crucial to the reform processes in both countries, particularly in terms of the intelligence services and oversight structures that monitor them.
139. Poland became a member of NATO on 12 March 1999 and the multilateral NATO SOFA agreement entered into force in Poland in 2000.93 In the five years directly preceding its NATO accession, Poland had signed several noteworthy agreements with the United States94 in the realms of defence,95 aviation,96 extradition97 and judicial assistance,98 which paved the way for a very close co-operation both within and outside the NATO Alliance.
140. Poland told the Council of Europe that, in addition to its obligations under multilateral treaties, it has concluded an unspecified number of “agreements governing special forms of co-operation.”99 Whilst we do not know the precise scope of these agreements, the one example given by the Polish authorities – that of “trans-frontier surveillance” – confirms that in at least some of their thematic coverage they pertain directly to the work of the intelligence services. We have been unable to obtain copies of Poland’s “bilaterals” with the United States, which it is safe to assume fall under this bracket, because they are classified.
141. Poland’s Classified Information Act, which entered into force in March 1999,100 is part of a fairly typical apparatus among new NATO members101 for dealing with sensitive information in accordance with the NATO Security Policy. For example, the Act’s restrictive procedures for granting or denying “security clearance”102 to individuals wishing to access classified information were challenged as unconstitutional by the Polish ombudsman.103 However these provisions were compulsory for NATO membership and – of no small coincidence – would transpire to be vital to the preservation of secrecy around the operations of the CIA’s HVD programme in Poland.
142. In the case of Romania, the processes of acceding to NATO and developing a bilateral framework with the United States, under which the CIA could operate on Romanian territory, proceeded almost simultaneously.
143. According to our sources, the statement of President Ion Iliescu104 in response to the attacks of 11 September 2001 was Romania’s “critical turning point.” In that statement, President Iliescu signalled Romania’s intention “to act as a de facto member of the NATO alliance,” setting a clear tone at a time when fellow former Eastern-bloc countries were likewise scrambling to demonstrate their loyalty to the United States.
144. Indeed, Romania could be said to have outdone even many NATO members in the immediacy of its demonstrations of support for the “war on terror.” In its session of 19 September 2001, the Romanian Parliament gave its “formal approval” to President Iliescu’s stated position and “approved basing and overflight permission for all US and coalition partners”105 – thus pre-empting the North Atlantic Council’s multilateral authorisations of 4 October 2001 by more than two weeks. A source involved in drafting this permission confirmed to us that its scope was deliberately designed to cover aircraft operated by or on behalf of the CIA.
145. Furthermore the most important domestic implication of the Romanian Parliament’s approval for President Iliescu’s pro-American stance was that, in the process, it effectively mandated the President, working through his Office of National Security, to sign NATO-type agreements and bilateral operational orders with the United States.
146. In exercise of this mandate, President Iliescu negotiated and signed what the Romanian authorities describe as a “SOFA Supplemental”106 – the Agreement between Romania and the United States of America regarding the Status of US Forces in Romania107 - on 30 October 2001. Along with the multilateral NATO SOFA, this agreement is said by the Romanian authorities generally to “settle the jurisdiction, the legal responsibilities and other aspects regarding the status of one party’s armed forces personnel… and of contractors of those armed forces when acting on the other party’s territory”.108 In reality, however, they are specifically one-way arrangements, legislating for an increased size and scope of US activity on Romanian soil.
147. When examined with hindsight, the 2001 agreement reveals a permissive attitude on the part of the Romanian authorities, broadly towards US military and quasi-military operations on Romanian territory, and in particular towards the actions of American service personnel. The “SOFA Supplemental” created a “special regime of access on national territory”,109 which it extended not only to “members of the military forces”110 in a conventional sense, but also to “members of the civilian airline companies”111 and anyone else who is “declared by the American authorities to be part of the US armed forces, and can present a travel order issued by the US Military”. The breadth of the designation used here represented the perfect opening for the CIA to conduct its clandestine operations in the country.112
148. It is my conclusion that under the October 2001 bilateral agreement, along with any additional classified annexes agreed at that time or subsequently, personnel brought into the country under the banner of the United States military have in practice operated on Romanian territory with complete freedom from scrutiny or interference by their national counterparts ever since.
149. In this context it is important to consider a more recent “access agreement” between Romania and the United States, signed on 6 December 2005, which deals primarily with the activities of US forces based at a selected number of Romanian military facilities.113
150. Under this new agreement, US forces – including their “civilian component” – enjoy extraordinarily free use of certain Romanian airbases and other facilities for “training, transit… refuelling of aircraft, accommodation of personnel, communications, staging and deploying of forces and material … and for other such purposes as the Parties or their Designated Authorities may agree.”114
151. In terms of permissions, all US Government aircraft and vehicles are “free from inspection.” In addition, an apparently blanket authorisation to “over-fly, conduct aerial refuelling, land and takeoff in the territory of Romania” is granted to both US Government aircraft and “civil aircraft … operating exclusively under contract to the United States Department of Defense.”115 Indeed, an equally permissive approach is applied to almost every aspect of the agreement, from the “construction activities” undertaken by US forces116 to the apparently unquestioning acceptance as “valid” of “all professional licences.”117
152. In terms of protections, Romania’s key obligations seem to be to give “due regard to United States’ operational and security concerns,”118 and to “take all reasonable measures within its power to ensure the protection, safety and security of United States forces property.”119
153. I have viewed the Romanian Access Agreement in sharpest focus, however, when I consider it in the light of testimony received from Romanian and American officials about the bilateral “operating agreements” that prevailed previously. Sources on both sides confirmed to me that the provisions of the December 2005 Access Agreement are best understood as arrangements that have prevailed for several years but have only latterly been formalised.
154. This incremental method of formalising such “bilaterals” has in fact been used by the US in other countries in which its forces have been undertaking important detention operations in the context of the “war on terror.” The most conspicuous example is Afghanistan, where last year’s Accommodation and Consignment Agreement for Lands and Facilities at Bagram Airfield120 (signed on 28 September 2006) represents the furthest extension of the US model of permissions and protections that I have yet to encounter.121 It was described in testimony before a US court as being an agreement that “follows similar such arrangements dating back to at least 2003”.122 Indeed, I am aware of an earlier document referred to as “Note No. 202”,123 which indicates that the initial bilateral arrangements in Afghanistan – in strikingly similar terms to the situation in Romania – were agreed upon essentially by members of the executive124 without reference to parliamentary oversight mechanisms.
155. The Romanian authorities have indicated to us on two occasions that the NATO framework described here has been the basis for the operations of the CIA in Romania. The first reference came in response to my question about whether the Government is “systematically informed of the activities of foreign secret services (in particular the CIA) on national territory.”125 Romania replied126 by citing the NATO framework’s Agreement on Classified Information and a bilateral military instrument, the Agreement on the Protection of Military Classified Information,127 thus making clear that CIA activities now fall unambiguously under the secrecy regime instituted under the NATO Security Policy. As in several other Eastern European countries who adopted more stringent secrecy policies as part of their NATO accession, Romania’s legislation on classified information was expedited through Parliament128 and criticised by civil society for being unbalanced.129
156. The second reference was part of an apparent acceptance, in principle, that United States agencies and personnel have carried out detainee transfer operations in Romania in the context of the NATO framework. The following statement was delivered by the Chairperson of the Romanian Delegation to PACE, Mr Gyorgy Frunda, during the PACE Plenary Debate on my report in June 2006:
“Concerning the transfer of prisoners, from the first moment we said that Romania collaborated with the United States and with other members of NATO. Aircraft landed in Romania and transported persons. We did not and do not know who the persons are because, do not forget, the aircraft are under the authority of the countries where they are registered. The countries in which the airports are located do not have legal instruments to see what happens on board. That is why United States authorities have to answer not only political but juridical questions about whether persons were harassed or wrongly treated… on the airplanes.”130
157. Our continuing investigations since June 2006 have allowed us to put this statement into context. Romania is right to state that the NATO framework on the multilateral level did enable detainee transfers through many Council of Europe member states, including larger nations like Germany mentioned in my report last year. Romania, like Poland, went beyond the multilateral framework, however, when it expanded the scope and purpose of the authorisations it granted the United States. According to one of our sources involved in making the key bilateral arrangements, Romania “knew what the United States needed from its allies and in what areas we could assist them.” It was therefore perceived to be in the national interest to extend a further level of support: “[having] worked on the secret flights… we worked directly with associates of the CIA on establishing prisons here.”
158. In the course of our discussions with intelligence officials in the United States, a senior member of the CIA Counterterrorist Center made the following remarks to our team:
“Many European countries have multiple security services. And in most countries the Agency deals with all of them: with the police, with the anti-terrorism police, with foreign intelligence, with other units – and of course with military intelligence … But for the HVD programme we worked strictly in line with ‘need-to-know’.”
159. There are two essential items of information in this statement, both of which have ultimately proved indispensable to our understanding of how the HVD programme worked in Europe. One item – military intelligence partnerships – goes to the heart of how the CIA formed its relationships; the other – preservation of secrecy – reveals important structural considerations. I shall deal with the structural considerations first.
160. Our source’s use of the expression “need-to-know” encapsulates one of the means used to keep the HVD programme in Europe secret.131 Through discussion with several other sources we have established that classified information about the bilateral arrangements between the CIA and its partner services in Poland and Romania was treated according to a strict security of information regime drawn from the terms of NATO’s Security Policy.
161. Under the terms of the NATO Security Policy,132 “individuals in NATO nations … shall only have access to NATO classified information for which they have a need-to-know. No individual is entitled solely by virtue of rank or appointment or PSC [Personnel Security Clearance] to have access to NATO classified information.”133 In the context of the HVD programme, according to a senior CIA official, the CIA classified its operational information into “tiny little pieces,” each of which would be assessed separately under the “need-to-know” principle in order to prevent any single foreign official from seeing the “bigger picture” of what was actually happening:
“The Agency could be bringing UBL [Usama bin Laden] himself from an airplane into a prison in your country, but on every tiny little piece of the classified operational information, if we figure you don’t need to know that information then frankly, as an individual, you will never know it.”
162. The body that generates any piece of classified information retains what is known as “originator control,”134 an undisputed right to set parameters as to which individuals receive the information, how they are briefed, what they are allowed to do with the information, and whether the information will ever be declassified, or have its classification reduced.135 It is generally accepted that “the principle of originator control trumps the need-to-know principle;”136 otherwise put, based on this principle, the CIA was able to exclude from the information loop even those individuals (specifically, some politicians) whom it might have perceived to have a genuine need to know the “bigger picture.”
163. Finally, the CIA’s choice of its “point men” in Poland and Romania – key individuals in each country who vouched for absolute, unwavering adherence to the rules by their own national services – reflected the same considerations of “loyalty, trustworthiness and reliability”137 integral to NATO rules on personnel security. When discussing the kinds of people as their liaisons, our CIA sources referred to relationships of “trust developed over decades” and interpretations of national security issues that were “99% in harmony with one another”.
164. By preserving the secrecy of the covert HVD programme on a NATO-compliant basis, the CIA achieved several of its central objectives: it hand-picked the services and the “point men” it would work with in the countries in question; it limited to an absolute minimum the number of Polish and Romanian counterparts who knew about even “tiny little pieces” of these operations in their own countries; and it ruled out any distribution whatsoever of the classified information beyond these small circles, unless expressly approved by the US Government itself.
165. Yet none of these restrictive rules mitigates the fact that Poland and Romania, as host countries, were knowingly complicit in the CIA’s secret detention programme. When we sought confirmation from one of our sources in the CIA that these were bilateral (rather than unilateral) arrangements, and that every programme was carried out with the express authorisation of the relevant partner state, we received this emphatic response:
“One of the great enduring legacies of the Cold War, which has carried into these alliances, is that NATO countries don’t run unilateral operations in other NATO countries. It’s a tradition that is almost sacrosanct. We [the CIA] just don’t go trampling on other people’s turf, especially not in Europe.”
166. Hence the importance of our source’s affirmation that the CIA forms important intelligence partnerships not just with civilian counterparts but also in the military sphere. As our inquiry progressed, we realised that the CIA’s fellow civilian intelligence agencies (domestic and foreign) are not necessarily the most appropriate choices as partners or liaisons on highly secretive operations due to their encumbered civilian oversight mechanisms. Thus, an integral part of our investigative strategy, building on our knowledge of the NATO framework, was to apply equal scrutiny to the CIA’s partnerships with Military Intelligence services.
III. Secret detention operations in Poland
i. Partnering with military intelligence in Poland
167. Since the May 2002 “quasi-reform”138 of its secret services, Poland has had two civilian intelligence agencies: the Internal Security Agency (Agencja Bezpieczenstwa Wewnetrznego, or ABW); and the Foreign Intelligence Agency (Agencja Wywiadu, or AW). Neither of these services was considered a viable choice as a CIA partner for the sensitive operations of the HVD programme in Poland, precisely because they are “subject to civil supervision, both by Parliament and Government.”139 Since their creation, the Heads of both the ABW and the AW have been appointed and tasked by the Prime Minister, and are directly accountable to the Council of Ministers, initially through a Cabinet Committee chaired by the PM (Kolegium do Spraw Słuzb Specjalnych) and latterly through the position of Minister-Coordinator for the Special Services.140 The ABW and the AW are both also answerable to the Commission for Special Services in the Polish Parliament (Sejmowa Komisja do Spraw Słuzb Specjalnych).
168. According to our sources, the CIA determined that the bilateral arrangements for operation of its HVD programme had to remain absolutely outside of the mechanisms of civilian oversight. For this reason the CIA’s chosen partner intelligence agency in Poland was the Military Information Services (Wojskowe Słuzby Informacyjne, or WSI), whose officials are part of the Polish Armed Forces and enjoy “military status” in defence agreements under the NATO framework. The WSI was able to maintain far higher levels of secrecy than the two civilian agencies due to its recurring ability to emerge “virtually unscathed”141 from post-Communism reform processes designed at achieving democratic oversight.
169. The WSI was formally accountable to the Minister of Defence, but our sources describe it as having operated more as a kind of “cartel” serving the self-interests of particular elite groups. I find it especially interesting that Poles we spoke to regard the processes of military intelligence reform142 as smokescreens aimed at obstructing transparency and preserving corrupt access to state resources.143 There is no doubt that the WSI is an agency quite accustomed to covert action that challenges the boundaries of legality and morality.
170. From our interviews with current and former Polish military intelligence officials, we have established that the WSI’s role in the HVD programme comprised two levels of co-operation. On the first level, military intelligence officers provided extraordinary levels of physical security by setting up temporary or permanent military-style “buffer zones” around the CIA’s detainee transfer and interrogation activities. This approach was deployed most notably to protect the CIA’s movements to and from, as well as its activities within, the military training base at Stare Kiejkuty. Classified documents, the existence of which was made known to our team, describe how WSI agents performed these security roles under the guise of a Polish Army Unit (Jednostka Wojskowa) denoted by the code JW-2669, which was the formal occupant of the Stare Kiejkuty facility.144
171. On the second level, the WSI’s assistance depended to a large extent on its covert penetration of other state and parastatal institutions through its collaboration with undercover “functionaries” in their ranks. Our sources have indicated to us that WSI collaborators were present within institutions including: the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (Polska Agencja Zeglugi Powietrznej), where they assisted in disguising the existence and exact movements of incoming CIA flights;145 the Polish Border Guard (Strazy Granicznej), where they ensured that normal procedures for incoming foreign passengers were not strictly applied when those CIA flights landed; and the national Customs Office (Główny Urzad Celny), where they resolved irregularities in the non-payment of fees related to CIA operations. Thus the military intelligence partnership brought with it influence throughout a society-wide “undercover community,”146 none of which was checked by the conventional civilian oversight mechanisms.
172. When asked to give an example of a WSI collaborator who occupied an important position in the operation of the CIA’s covert programme, several Polish sources named Mr Jerzy Kos, former Chairman of the Board of Mazury-Szczytno Airport Company (Porty Lotnicze "Mazury Szczytno") and Director of Szymany Airport throughout 2003 and 2004.147 A source in Polish military intelligence said: “anyone who has contact with the Americans is our man. The Director [Kos] is our man”. Another senior Polish official familiar with the arrangements explained to us:
173. Mr Jerzy Kos went on to become a director of the Polish private construction company “Jedynka Wroclawska SA" and was taken hostage in Iraq in June 2004 whilst pursuing company projects there. When Mr Kos was brought to safety shortly afterwards in a rare raid by US Special Forces,148 media outlets reported that the rescue operation attested to Mr Kos’ links to the intelligence services.149 Indeed, my inquiry has been informed that Mr Kos’ “connections with [the] Polish secret service” in his business affairs have been “confirmed quite unambiguously”150 during judicial proceedings151 relating to the subsequent bankruptcy of Jedynka Wroclawska. As a military intelligence operative facilitating the uniquely sensitive covert actions of the CIA in Poland, Mr Kos was one link in a chain of operations that led right to the top of Polish Government.
ii. Responsible political authorities in Poland
174. During several months of investigations, our team has held discussions with various Polish sources, including civilian and military intelligence operatives, representatives of state or municipal authorities, and high-ranking officials who hold first-hand knowledge of the operations of the HVD programme in Poland. Based upon these discussions, which have come to the same conclusions, my inquiry allows me to state that some 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. 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.
175. In my analysis the hierarchy for control of the Polish Military Information Services, or WSI, was chronically lacking in formal oversight and independent monitoring. As a result the structure described here from 2002 to 2005 depended to a great extent on close relationships of trust and professional familiarity, both among the Polish principals and between the Poles and their American counterparts. Several of our sources characterised the bonds between these four individuals as being a combination of loyal personal allegiance (“we all serve one another”) and strong common notions of national duty (“… but first we serve the Republic of Poland”).
176. 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.”
177. Our investigations have revealed that the state office from which much of the strength of this Polish accountability structure derived was the National Security Bureau (Biuro Bezpieczenstwa Narodowego, or BBN), located in the Chancellery of President Kwasniewski. Our sources confirmed to us that the bilateral operational arrangements for the HVD programme in Poland were “negotiated on the part of the President’s office by the National Security Bureau [BBN].”
178. Marek Dukaczewski, an outstanding military intelligence officer ultimately promoted to the rank of General, served the BBN in the Chancellery of his close friend Aleksander Kwasniewski for the first five years of the latter’s Presidency, from 1996 to 2001. Mr Dukaczewski worked directly alongside Marek Siwiec during this period, whilst Mr Siwiec was a Secretary of State in the Presidential Chancellery and then became Chief of the BBN. Jerzy Szmajdzinski was appointed Minister of National Defence for Mr Kwasniewski’s second term, in October 2001. Shortly afterwards, Mr Dukaczewski was nominated Head of the Military Information Services, the WSI, starting in December 2001.
179. Besides this accountability structure, which remained in place from the immediate aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks throughout Poland’s involvement in the CIA’s covert HVD programme, probably no other Polish official had knowledge of it. Indeed, the “highest level of classification” at national and intergovernmental levels, understood to match NATO’s “Cosmic Top Secret” category,152 still attaches to the information pertaining to operations in Poland. Our unravelling of such secrecy to expose Polish participation in unlawful detention and transfer operations is perhaps the greatest testament to the “dynamics of truth” in motion. However an alternative interpretation, which provided my inquiry with motivation in the face of systematic cover-up, came in one of our most memorable moments of testimony from a top-level Polish source. He stated simply:
iii. The anatomy of CIA secret transfers and detentions in Poland
180. Notwithstanding the approach of the Polish authorities towards this inquiry,153 our team was able to uncover new documentary evidence from two separate Polish sources showing actual landings in Poland by aircraft associated with the CIA.
181. These sources corroborate one another and provide the first verifiable records of a number of landings of “rendition planes” significant enough to prove that CIA detainees were being transferred into Poland. I can now confirm that at least ten flights by at least four different aircraft serviced the CIA’s secret detention programme in Poland between 2002 and 2005. At least six of them arrived directly from Kabul, Afghanistan during precisely the period in which our sources have told us that High-Value Detainees (HVDs) were being transferred to Poland. Each of these flights landed at the same airport I named in my 2006 report as a detainee drop-off point: Szymany.
182. The most significant of these flights, including the aircraft identifier number, the airport of departure (ADEP), as well as the time and date of arrival into Szymany, are the following:
i. N63MU from DUBAI, arrived in SZYMANY at 14h56 on 5 December 2002
ii. N379P from RABAT, arrived in SZYMANY at 02h23 on 8 February 2003
iii. N379P from KABUL, arrived in SZYMANY at 16h00 on 7 March 2003
iv. N379P from KABUL, arrived in SZYMANY at 18h03 on 25 March 2003
v. N379P from KABUL, arrived in SZYMANY at 01h00 on 5 June 2003
vi. N379P from KABUL, arrived in SZYMANY at 02h58 on 30 July 2003
vii. N313P from KABUL, arrived in SZYMANY at 21h00 on 22 September 2003
viii. N63MU from KABUL, arrived in SZYMANY at an unrecorded time on 28 July 2005
183. My first observation regarding the dates of these flights is that several of them conform closely to the dates on which particular “High-Value Detainees” (HVDs) were transferred to CIA “black sites,” particularly in outward movements from Kabul, Afghanistan. The most conspicuous example pertains to the so-called “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohamed (KSM), who was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on 1 March 2003154. Our insider sources have told that KSM was transferred to a secret CIA facility “within days” of his arrest; and from analysis of materials supporting the 9/11 Commission Report155, we know that the process of interrogating him commenced shortly afterwards156, and continued throughout 2003. It is noteworthy that the well-known rendition plane N379P undertook a clandestine flight from Kabul to Szymany on 7 March 2003, less than one week after KSM’s arrest. Whilst it is not possible at this stage to state the fact definitively, it is likely that the transfer of KSM and several other HVDs into Poland throughout 2003 took place on the flights uncovered in this report.
184. The full extent of my proof, however, goes beyond merely the number of confirmed flights into Szymany and their concordance with suspected dates of HVD transfers. Through our careful analysis of hundreds of pages of raw aeronautical “data strings,”157 we can now demonstrate that in the majority of cases these CIA flights were deliberately disguised so that their actual movements would not be tracked or recorded – either “live” or after the fact – by the supranational air safety agency Eurocontrol. The system of cover-up entailed several different steps involving both American and Polish collaborators.
185. The aviation services provider customarily used by the CIA,158 Jeppesen International Trip Planning,159 filed multiple “dummy” flight plans for many of these flights. The “dummy” plans filed by Jeppesen – specifically, for the N379P aircraft – often featured an airport of departure (ADEP) and / or an airport of destination (ADES) that the aircraft never actually intended to visit. If Poland was mentioned at all in these plans, it was usually only by mention of Warsaw as an alternate, or back-up airport, on a route involving Prague or Budapest, for example. Thus the eventual flight paths for N379P registered in Eurocontrol’s records were inaccurate and often incoherent, bearing little relation to the actual routes flown and almost never mentioning the name of the Polish airport where the aircraft actually landed – Szymany.
186. The Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (Polska Agencja Zeglugi Powietrznej), commonly known as PANSA, also played a crucial role in this systematic cover-up. PANSA’s Air Traffic Control in Warsaw160 navigated all of these flights through Polish airspace, exercising control over the aircraft through each of its flight phases161 right up to the last phase, when control was handed over to the authority supervising the airfield at Szymany,162 immediately before the aircraft’s landing. PANSA navigated the aircraft in the majority of these cases without a legitimate and complete flight plan having been filed for the route flown.
187. Moreover, in certain instances PANSA took on the responsibility of filing the onward flight plan for the next leg of the circuit after Szymany. We know that PANSA filed such flight plans in instances where Szymany had been omitted completely from the original Jeppesen flight plans, and where the aircraft was required to fly onwards from Szymany to a destination outside Poland. Similarly in at least one instance where the aircraft flew onwards from Szymany to Warsaw – and thus did not require initially to leave Polish airspace – PANSA simply navigated the onward flight without a flight plan.
188. It is also noteworthy that Jeppesen appears to have followed PANSA’s contributions to these operations very closely, acting upon responses from the flight management system to PANSA’s communications within minutes of their being received. Furthermore, both Jeppesen and PANSA have co-ordinated their actions with the in-flight communications from the aircraft’s Pilot-in-Command.163
189. Accordingly, several circuits we have analysed show the following “sequencing” of flight navigation responsibilities for a typical circuit of N379P involving a landing at Szymany, which demonstrate a calculated cover-up of the aircraft’s movements:
§ Jeppesen files flight plans for every element of the circuit up to and including N379P’s return to Europe from Kabul; typically Jeppesen’s flight plan(s) from Kabul onwards reflect fictitious routes, featuring false airports of destination and departure that are registered in the Eurocontrol flight management system;
§ N379P’s Pilot-in-Command then flies from Kabul into Polish airspace, at which point the Polish authorities (PANSA) take over to navigate the aircraft to a landing at Szymany Airport without a corresponding flight plan, but in conjunction with Polish military authorities in Warsaw and on the ground;
§ PANSA also handles onward flight planning for N379P’s departure from Szymany, either by navigating the aircraft to a stopover in Warsaw or by filing a flight plan for its next international destination, such as Prague or Larnaca;
§ Jeppesen resumes its planning role once N379P has left Szymany, filing flight plans for the remaining elements of the circuit, starting from either Warsaw or the first international airport after Szymany, continuing until the aircraft’s return to its base in the United States.
190. The analysis of “data strings” has also enabled me to confirm further intricate details of the “anatomy” of these CIA clandestine operations. For example, each of these flights was operated under a “special status” or STS designation.164 The aircraft were thereby exempted from adhering to the normal rules of air traffic flow management (ATFM), and did not, for example, have to wait at airports for approved departure slots. Since such exemptions are only granted when “specifically authorised by the relevant national authority,”165 they provide further evidence of Polish complicity in the operations. The clearest proof of Poland’s knowledge and authorisation of such landings is demonstrated by the following two-line message, contained in several “data strings” for flights of N379P in 2003:
191. “Data strings” have also enabled us to trace the official overflight and landing permits obtained from various other countries for these flights; the times and “waypoints” at which the aircraft entered or departed the national airspace of each country; and the actual routes flown between Szymany and other points on the “global spider’s web”. I have used all of this information to create the graphic representations of “Disguised CIA flights into Szymany Airport, Poland,”166 which accompany this report as an appendix.
192. In concluding this section it is only fitting that I should note here, with considerable regret, that the cover-up of CIA flights into Szymany seems to have carried over into the approach adopted by the Polish authorities towards my inquiry on the specific question of national aviation records. In over eighteen months of correspondence, Poland has failed to furnish my inquiry with any data from its own records confirming CIA-connected flights into its airspace or airports. The excuses from the Polish authorities for having failed to do so unfortunately do not seem to be credible.
193. In my report of 2006, I commented that the absence of flight records from Poland was “unusual,”167 to say the least. Mr Karol Karski, Chairperson of the Polish Delegation to PACE, suggested that I “did not use the information received from Poland honestly”168 and stated, in his subsequent correspondence, that he hoped to “answer [my] request exhaustively” having “addressed one more time the relevant Polish authorities and asked for proper information”. He then repeated a familiar undertaking:
194. After several further months passed,170 Mr Karski ultimately responded with the following three items of information:171
• “the Polish Government has definitively closed the investigation into alleged secret CIA prisons and in this connection, once again explicitly denies all speculations appearing in the media”;
• “the European Parliament’s Temporary [TDIP] Committee… has all the information available to the Polish side, concerning the aircraft listed in [your] letter”; and
• “the registers of flight movements over the territory of Poland in 2001 to 2005 are in Eurocontrol databases.”
195. This response of the Polish authorities is patently unsatisfactory. The third item of information is belied by the findings I have presented above, along with the accompanying graphic and data in the annex. Meanwhile the second statement suggests that the Polish Government is attempting to deceive both the CoE and the European Parliament by playing the institutions off against one another.172
196. On the whole, Mr Karski’s response casts the Polish authorities in a negative light, whichever one of two possible conclusions I might choose to draw. Is the Polish Government unable to lay its hands on official data from Polish sources, which our team successfully uncovered and which at least one airport official is publicly known173 to possess? Or have the Polish authorities willfully withheld valuable information from my inquiry? I strongly hope that the Polish authorities now take the situation in hand and retrace fully the unfolding of this situation and establish respective responsibilities.
a. Transfer of HVDs into CIA detention in Poland
197. Our enquiry regarding Poland included talks with Polish airport employees, civil servants, security guards, Border Guards and military intelligence officials who hold first-hand knowledge of one or more of the undeclared flights into Szymany. Their testimonies are crucial in establishing what happened in the time after these CIA-associated aircraft landed at Szymany. The following account is a compilation of testimonies from our confidential sources about these events.
b. Arrivals and “drop-offs” at Szymany Airport
§ Each of these landings was preceded, usually less than 12 hours in advance, by a telephone call to Szymany Airport from the Warsaw HQ of the Border Guards (Strazy Granicznej), or a military intelligence official, informing the Director Mr Jerzy Kos of an arriving “American aircraft”
§ The airport manager, who assumed the flights were coming from the United States, was instructed to adhere to “strict protocols” to prepare for the flights, including: clearing the runways of all other aircraft and vehicles; and making sure that all Polish staff were brought in to the terminal building from the vicinity of the runway, including local security officials and airport employees
§ The perimeter and grounds of the airport were secured by military officers and Border Guards, the latter of whom were registered on a roll-call document that lists names of those present on more than five dates between 2002 and 2005
§ American officials from the nearby Stare Kiejkuty intelligence training base assumed “control” on the dates in question, arriving in several passenger vans in advance of the landing; “everything Americans,” said one Polish source present for several landings, “even the drivers [of the vans] were Americans.”
§ A “landing team” comprising American officials waited at the edge of the runway, in two or three vans with their engines often running; the aircraft touched down in Szymany and taxied to a halt at the far end of the runway, several hundred metres (and out of visible range) from the four-storey terminal control tower
§ The vans drove out to the far end of the runway and parked at close proximity to the aircraft; officials from within the vans were said to have boarded the aircraft “every time”, although it is not clear whether any then stayed on board
§ All the officers charged with “processing” the passengers on these aircraft were Americans; no Polish eye-witness has yet come forward to state whether or not any detainees disembarked the aircraft upon any of these landings – indeed, it may be that no Polish eye-witness to such an event exists
§ However, asked where the HVDs actually entered Poland, one of our sources in Polish military intelligence confirmed that “it was on the runway of Szczytno-Szymany”; another said “they come on planes and they entered at this airport”
§ Documentation, in Polish, attests to persons having been “picked up” [verbal translation] at Szczytno-Szymany in conjunction with at least two aircraft landings in 2003; the documentation also refers to the dispatch of vehicles to the airport from the military unit stationed at the Stare Kiejkuty facility
§ Having spent only a short time next to the aircraft after each landing, the vans then drove back past the side of the terminal building, without stopping, before leaving airport premises through the front security gate; the vans put their “headlights up to full level” and airport officials say they “turned our eyes away”
§ The vans then drove less than two kilometres along a simple tarmac road, lined by thick pine forest on both sides, through an area which was entirely out of bounds to private or commercial vehicles during these procedures, having been cordoned off for “military operations”; at the end of the tarmac road, the vans travelled north-east beyond Szczytno for approximately 15 to 20 minutes before joining an unpaved access road next to a lake;174
§ at the end of this access road they reached an entrance of the Stare Kiejkuty intelligence training base, where multiple sources have confirmed to me that the CIA held High-Value Detainees (HVDs) in Poland.
c. Secret detention operations at Stare Kiejkuty
198. The stringent limitations on information about what happened to detainees “dropped-off” at Szymany are perhaps the best example of the “need-to-know” principle of secrecy in practice. Polish officials were not involved in the interrogations or transfers of HVDs, nor did they have personal contact. In explaining his understanding of HVD treatment or conditions in detention, one Polish source said:
199. We were told that senior Polish military intelligence officials who visited Stare Kiejkuty were ordered to “limit rotation and operational demands on Polish officers to make the HVD programme work.” 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.
200. The legacy of the HVD programme in Poland is palpable in the self-perceptions of those Polish officials who participated in its operations. The members of military intelligence with whom we spoke seemed, on one level, to be in denial as to whether secret detentions in violation of Poland’s human rights obligations had taken place in their country; yet, on another level, they showed signs of resentment mainly that their American allies had betrayed their bond of trust by leaking details of the programme. These contradictory sentiments, often difficult to gauge accurately, are aptly captured by the following statement:
“The [Stare Kiejkuty] base was America’s choice; our job was their security. If any American is here, it is America’s responsibility, but he also becomes Poland’s responsibility too. So it is my responsibilty…”
IV. Secret detention operations in Romania
i. Partnering with military intelligence in Romania
201. In Romania, after the December 1989 Revolution and the dismantling of the repressive Securitate in 1990, the reforms of the intelligence services were focussed, understandably, on preventing the politicisation and abuse of internal state security structures. Similarly, much of the subsequent discussion around democratic oversight in the country has looked at ways of controlling “institutional actors and leading political figures with authority over the security and intelligence domain who disregard the legal stipulations regarding political neutrality.”175
202. As I have analysed Romania’s complex array of different agencies and sub-structures that collect intelligence for the state,176 I have realised that preserving political neutrality is merely one of a variety of competing considerations that affect the objectivity and effectiveness of their accountability structures.177 In the context of my inquiry, it seems to me that while Romania has made at least superficial efforts to rid its civilian intelligence services of the scourges of their Securitate past, its oversight mechanisms do not go far enough to prevent the exercise of what could be called “unitary executive authority” – on the part of the President – over military intelligence services and the wider defence community.
203. This analysis conforms to the testimony of our Romanian sources, who said that the Americans chose to work with the military intelligence services because the military “cover” afforded the CIA flexible deployment options and guarantees of secrecy under the NATO framework. As the following comparison shows, there are substantial disparities between the respective monitoring mechanisms in the civilian and military spheres.
204. First, in the civilian sphere, Romania’s two main agencies of the post-Communist era, the Romanian [Domestic] Intelligence Service (Serviciul roman de informatii, or SRI) and the Foreign Intelligence Service (Serviciul de informatii externe, or SIE) were created under specific laws178 and a multi-layered oversight structure, which purport to immunise them from manipulation along party-political lines. The SRI and the SIE operate independently of Government and are not subordinated to the incumbent executive. They are each subjected to parliamentary scrutiny through dedicated Special Parliamentary Committees.179 The Supreme Council of National Defence (Consiliul Suprem de Aparare a Tarii, or CSAT), an autonomous administrative body chaired by the non-partisan Office of the President,180 organises and continually monitors the activities of the SRI and the SIE, in line with its mandate to co-ordinate the overall national security and defence of the country. As such, the possibilities for a handful of people at the heart of Government to use the SRI or the SIE to pursue their own personal, political or strategic agenda are exceedingly narrow.
205. In contrast, intelligence gathering in the military sphere is a competence formally overseen by the Ministry of National Defence,181 through its General Directorate for Defence Intelligence (Directia Generala de Informatii a Apararei, or DGIA). What little parliamentary scrutiny of defence intelligence is supposed to exist182 certainly does not apply to its organisational, planning or operational aspects. On the contrary, strict compatibility with NATO structures, insisted upon as a criteria for NATO accession, means that the majority of Romanian military intelligence activities are kept secret from all but those who “need to know”.
206. According to our sources, the relevant sub-unit of the DGIA that worked with the CIA on its clandestine operations was the Directorate for Military Intelligence and Representation (Directia Informatii si Reprezentare Militara, or DIRM), also known as the “J2” Unit. This unit was not involved in transporting, holding or interrogating any detainees – since these were tasks performed solely by the Americans – but, according to one Romanian officer, the “J2” officers “co-operated and adjusted” to accommodate the CIA personnel’s needs.
207. As part of a wider restructuring of the DGIA in 2003,183 the “J2” unit increased in scope and importance at a very strategic moment in Romania’s co-operation with the United States, just as American forces were deploying into the country in large numbers to launch their aerial missions into Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom.184 The place at which these US forces were stationed, the 86th Air Force Base at Mihail Kogalniceanu Airfield,185 became the most significant point in the country for a whole range of collaborative activities in a “partnership” between Romanian and American personnel.
208. A noteworthy aspect of this partnership was that everything was carried out under the NATO framework. The deployment at MK Airfield in February 2003 was authorised in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by President Ion Iliescu in late 2002, in which the terms of NATO-SOFA and the bilateral SOFA-Supplemental were expressly referenced. “NATO concepts” were applied to the deployment, including MK’s designation as an APOD / APOE,186 and the phase being referred to as “regrouping.” Most important of all, a Joint Operations Centre was established in which American and Romanian personnel “from each and every branch” of their respective armed forces and services worked together side-by-side throughout the Operation, sharing operational knowledge in strict accordance with the NATO Security Policy.
209. Members of the Directorate for Military Intelligence, the “J2” Unit, participated in the Joint Operations Centre,187 which – as our American sources confirmed – also received “visits”188 from operatives of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Centre (CTC) between February and June 2003. While the whole four-month period of Operation Iraqi Freedom at MK Airfield was characterised as “a military activity in support of a military operation,” the relationships formed and strengthened between members of the respective intelligence services – both individually and collectively – were just as indispensable in the broader context of the “war on terror.”189 The Operation was construed as a welcome “dry-run” for Romania in NATO and for potential future bilateral actions between the partners.
210. Continuity in the evolving relationship between American and Romanian services can perhaps best be illustrated by highlighting the role of the then Head of the Directorate of Military Intelligence and Representation (Sef al Directiei de Informatii si Reprezentare Militara), Sergiu Tudor Medar. General-Lieutenant Medar served in the United States for seven years in the 1990s, heading the Office of the Romanian Defense Attache in Washington, DC until 1999. Between 2000 and 2003 he headed the original incarnation of the Directorate of Military Intelligence in the DGIA; then from 2003 until the end of 2005 he was Head of the restructured “J2” Unit. General-Lieutenant Medar was a prescient choice for the CIA as a liaison for secret detention operations in Romania: not only was he trusted beyond doubt in both US and NATO military circles; he was also, as the following quote attests, aware of the potential perils of partnering with military intelligence to achieve an essentially political goal:
ii. Responsible political authorities in Romania
211. During several months of investigations, our team has held discussions with numerous Romanian sources, including civilian and military intelligence operatives, representatives of state and municipal authorities, and high-ranking officials who hold first-hand knowledge of CIA operations on the territory of Romania. Based upon these discussions, my inquiry has concluded that the following individual office-holders knew about, authorised and stand accountable for Romania’s role in the CIA’s operation of “out-of-theatre” secret detention facilities on Romanian territory, from 2003 to 2005: the former President of Romania (up to 20 December 2004), Ion ILIESCU, the current President of Romania (20 December 2004 onwards), Traian BASESCU, the Presidential Advisor on National Security (until 20 December 2004), Ioan TALPES, the Minister of National Defence (Ministerial oversight up to 20 December 2004), Ioan Mircea PASCU, and the Head of Directorate for Military Intelligence, Sergiu Tudor MEDAR.
212. Collaborating with the CIA in this very small circle of trust, Romania’s leadership in the fields of national security and military intelligence effectively short-circuited the classic mechanisms of democratic accountability. Both of the political principals, President Iliescu and National Security Advisor Talpes, sat on (and most often chaired) the CSAT - the Supreme Council of National Defence – throughout this period, yet they withheld the CIA “partnership” from the other members of that body who did not have a “need to know.” This criterion excluded the majority of civilian office-holders in the Romanian Government from complicity at the time. Similarly, the Directors of the respective civilian intelligence agencies, the SRI and the SIE, were not briefed about the operational details and were thus granted “plausible deniability”.
213. We were told that the confidants on the military side, Defence Minister Pascu and General-Lieutenant Medar, had concealed important operational activities from senior figures in the Army and powerful structures to which they were subordinated. According to our sources, “co-operation with America in the context of the NATO framework” was used as a general smokescreen behind which to hide the operations of the CIA programme.
214. Sergiu Medar’s role here merits special attention. Of the four named offices of state in which individuals held knowledge of the CIA’s programme, Medar was the only office-holder who “crossed over” from the Presidency of Ion Iliescu to the Presidency of Traian Basescu. Medar remained Head of the “J2" Unit for another year after the handover of power to President Basescu on 20 December 2004; indeed, it appears that he stayed in position right through to the clear-out of the European “black sites”, which we believe to have occurred in November or early December 2005.
215. It is also worth commenting on General-Lieutenant Medar’s close relationship with the current President Traian Basescu. When Basescu assumed office, in December 2004, his very first Presidential Decree granted Sergiu Tudor Medar the decorated status of Three-Star General. In 2005 Basescu appointed Medar as his National Security Advisor and, in 2006, selected him as the first Head of the consolidated National Intelligence Directorate. Relationships of trust, loyalty and familiarity are vital to the preservation of secrecy, as the NATO Security Policy makes clear.
216. Ioan Talpes, the then Presidential Advisor on National Security (Consilierul prezidential pentru securitate nationala), was also an instrumental figure in the CIA programme from its inception. According to our sources, Talpes guided President Iliescu’s every decision on issues of NATO harmonisation and bilateral relations with the United States; it has even been suggested that Talpes was the one who initiated the idea of making facilities on Romanian soil available to US agencies for activities in pursuit of its “war on terror.” After December 2004, although Talpes no longer acted as the Presidential Advisor on National Security, he quickly become Chair of the Senate Committee on Defence, Public Order and National Security, which meant that he exercised at least a theoretical degree of “parliamentary oversight” over his own successor in the Advisor role.
217. Several of our Romanian sources commented that they felt proud to have been able to assist the United States in detaining “high-value” terrorists – not only as a gesture of pro-American sentiment, but also because they thought it was “in the best interests of Romania.”
218. Those involved in the programme further recounted fond tales of how the US has recognised their individual contributions over the years: some Romanian officials were invited to CIA Headquarters at Langley, Virginia where they received awards; most got to meet key figures in the Bush Administration, at home and abroad; and at least one high-level group of delegates from Bucharest accepted personal thanks from President Bush in the Oval Office.
iii. The anatomy of CIA secret transfers and detentions in Romania
a. Creating a secure area for CIA transfers and detentions
219. When the United States Government made its approach for the establishment of a “black site” in Romania – offering formidable US support for Romania’s full accession into the NATO Alliance as the “biggest prize” in exchange – it relied heavily upon its key liaisons in the country to make the case to then President Iliescu. As one high-level Romanian official who was actually involved in the negotiations told us, it was “proposed to the President that we should provide full protection for the United States from an intelligence angle. Nobody from the Romanian side should interfere in these [CIA] activities”.
220. In line with its staunch support under the NATO framework, Romania entered a bilateral “technical agreement” with the intention of giving the US the full extent of the permissions and protections it sought. According to one of our sources with knowledge of the arrangement, there was an
“… order [given] to our [military] intelligence services, on behalf of the President, to provide the CIA with all the facilities they required and to protect their operations in whichever way they requested …”.
221. From extensive discussions with our Romanian sources, I understand that the manner of protection requested by the CIA was for Romanian military intelligence officers on the ground to create an area or “zone” in which the CIA’s physical security and secrecy would be impenetrably protected, even from perceived intrusion by their counterparts in the Romanian services. A source in Romanian military intelligence described the notion of a “secure area” as follows:
“We were the ones responsible for proper security for the CIA operations. It is not possible for we Romanians to enter or to see inside the area. Americans can come and go, no interference, no restriction – anything is possible. It is normal, because they are our allies, the Americans, yes.”
222. The precise location and character of the “black site” were not, to the best of my knowledge, stipulated in the original classified bilateral arrangements between Romania and the United States. Our team discussed those questions with multiple sources and we believe that to name a location explicitly would go beyond what it is possible to confirm from the Romanian side. One senior source in military intelligence objected to the notion that anyone but the Americans would “need to know” this information:
“But I tell you that our Romanian officers do not know what happened inside those areas, because we sealed them off and we had control. There were Americans operating there free from interference – only they saw, only they heard – as regards the prisoners.”
223. Nonetheless we were able to confirm the approximate borderlines of the CIA’s “outer perimeter” for its secure area in Romania. We were assisted by a source in military intelligence, a detailed map and an annex to the Access Agreement of 2005, in which reference is made to “facilities”191 generally and to one relevant “manoeuvre area” in particular.192 Our source used his right index finger to draw an invisible elliptical perimeter on the map, which encompassed a vertical column between the towns of Tulcea (to the north) and Constanta (to the south), as well as an area extending approximately 50 kilometers inland (to the west) and in the opposite direction to the Black Sea coast (to the east).193 Referring to the role of the Romanian “J2” Unit in supporting bilateral arrangements with the CIA, our source said: “We have to seal [this] entire area and limit access there.”
224. The secure area in question includes several current and former military installations, including all of those facilities named in the Access Agreement of 2005, which have been used by the United States under a “special regime of access” since late 2001.194 Nonetheless, the main reason that led one of our CIA sources to say that his “guys were familiar with the area” was its inclusion of the landing point at which scores of civil and military flights carrying American service personnel have landed throughout the “war on terror”: Mihail Kogalniceanu Airfield.
225. In the light of all that I have said above about MK Airfield, I only wish to draw attention to one further factor that has made it a venue so conducive to “partnership” with the CIA: its “dual” military-civilian character.195 Military personnel worked routinely with civilian Air Traffic Controllers in processing both civil and military flights at the Airfield – each according to the applicable aviation rules. The system used at MK Airfield bears great similarities, albeit on a much smaller scale, to the system used at Kabul Airport (OAKB),196 which became such a hub in the context of coalition military activities in Afghanistan and simultaneously a destination or departure point for multiple known renditions of CIA detainees on board civilian aircraft since the start of the “war on terror”.
226. During the period of interest to my inquiry – from 2002 until 2005 – the civilian section of the MK Airfield had a Director General with a formidable “dual” civil-military character of his own. Rtd. Colonel Mircea Dionisie was a former controlling Commander of the military Air Force Base at MK Airfield in the communist pre-1989 era. He returned to the Airfield in 2002 and became the Director General of the civilian airport, now known as Aeroportul International Mihail Kogalniceanu Constanta (AIMKC).197 Rtd. Colonel Dionisie stayed in this position until 12 July 2005 and therefore oversaw the bulk of the flights into and out of the MK Airfield, the exact movements of which – as well as their connections to CIA detainee transfers – my inquiry has attempted to trace.
227. Our efforts to obtain accurate actual flight records pertaining to the movements of aircraft associated with the CIA in Romania were characterised by obfuscation, inconsistency and genuine confusion. I must begin this assessment, however, by commending my colleagues and their assistant in the Romanian Delegation to PACE and, in particular, its Chairperson Gyorgy Frunda, for demonstrating exceptional good faith and professionalism, and for extending the very best of co-operation and assistance to my inquiry. It is unfortunate that the Romanian authorities more generally did not match the levels of thoroughness and transparency shown by this Delegation.
228. Specifically I hold three principal concerns with the approach of the Romanian authorities towards the repeated allegations of secret detentions in Romania, and towards my inquiry in particular. In summary, my concerns are: far-reaching and unexplained inconsistencies in Romanian flight and airport data; the responsive and defensive posturing of the national parliamentary inquiry, which stopped short of genuine inquisitiveness; and the insistence of Romania on a position of sweeping, categorical denial of all the allegations, in the process overlooking extensive evidence to the contrary from valuable and credible sources.
229. First I was confounded by the clear inconsistencies in the flight data provided to my inquiry from multiple different Romanian sources. In my analysis I have considered data submitted directly from the Romanian Civil Aeronautical Authority (RCAA),198 data provided by the Romanian Senate Committee,199 and data gathered independently by our team in the course of its investigations. I have compared the data from these Romanian sources with the records maintained by Eurocontrol, comprehensive aeronautical “data strings” generated by the international flight planning system, and my complete Marty Database. The disagreement between these sources is too fundamental and widespread200 to be explained away by simple administrative glitches, or even by in-flight changes of destination by Pilots-in-Command, which were communicated to one authority but not to another. There presently exists no truthful account of detainee transfer flights into Romania, and the reason for this situation is that the Romanian authorities probably do not want the truth to come out.
230. I found it especially disappointing that the Senate Inquiry Committee chose to interpret its mandate in the rather restrictive terms of defending Romania against what it called “serious accusations against our country, based solely on ‘indications’, ‘opinions’, ‘probabilities’, ‘extrapolations’ [and] ‘logical deductions’.”201 In particular, the Committee’s conclusions are not framed as coherent findings based on objective fact-finding, but rather as “clear responses to the specific questions raised by Mr Dick Marty,”202 referring to both my 2006 report and subsequent correspondence. Accordingly the categorical nature of the Committee’s “General Conclusions,”203 “Conclusions based on field investigations and site visits”204 and “Final Conclusions”205 cannot be sustained. The Committee’s work can thus be seen as an exercise in denial and rebuttal, without impartial consideration of the evidence. Particularly in the light of the material and testimony I have received from sources in Romania, the Committee does not appear to have engaged in a credible and comprehensive inquiry.
231. The Romanian national delegation to PACE, in their carefully worded reply, ruled out the existence of unlawful CIA activity,206 and appeared to offer prospects of constructive and transparent co-operation in the search for the truth. However the Romanian Government and Parliament have preferred to keep control of information by directing everything through the Senate Committee,207 and ultimately reverted to their initial position of complete denial.208
V. Human rights abuses involved in the CIA secret detention programme
i. Re-humanising the people held in secret detention
232. The policy of secret detentions and renditions pursued by the current US administration has created a dangerous precedent of dehumanisation. Many of the people caught up in the CIA’s global spider’s web209 are rightly described as “ghost prisoners”210 because they have been made invisible for many years.211
233. Meanwhile the US Government’s descriptions of its captives in the “war on terror” can only serve to exacerbate this dehumanising effect. The Administration routinely speaks of “aliens”, “deadly enemies” and “faceless terrorists,” with the clear intention of dehumanising its detainees in the eyes of the American population. The NGO community, for its part, calls them “ghost prisoners”.
234. By characterising the people held in secret detention as “different” from us – not as humans, but as ghosts, aliens or terrorists – the US Government tries to lead us into the trap of thinking they are not like us, they are not subjects of the law, therefore their human rights do not deserve protection.
235. President Bush has laid this trap on multiple occasions as a means of diverting attention from the abusive conditions in which certain detainees in US custody are being held.212 Our team heard first-hand how distinctions are drawn in the mind of guards and interrogators: in an interview with one of our CIA sources who has extensive knowledge of detainee treatment, we asked whether a known form of detainee treatment should be considered as abusive. “Here’s my question,” replied our source. “Was the guy a terrorist? ‘Cause if he’s a terrorist then I figure he got what was coming to him. I’ve met a lot of them and one thing I know for sure is that they ain’t human – they ain’t like you and me.”
236. Yet what has struck me most often as I have examined the cases of scores of people held in secret detention – some of whom I have met – is precisely the opposite: these detainees’ ordeals have affected me profoundly as I have always thought of them as fellow human beings. The worst criminals, even those who deserve the harshest punishment, must be given humane treatment and a fair trial. This, moreover, is what makes us a civilised society.
237. It is for these reasons that we must combat their being seen as “ghost prisoners” by repeatedly pointing out that persons detained in the course of counter-terrorist operations are and remain human beings whose human rights must be protected and who are entitled to humane treatment as laid down in the ECHR. In this section of my report I have set out expressly to place the emphasis on the human aspects of these people held in secret detention.
ii. Reconstructing the conditions in a CIA secret detention cell
238. We must try to visualise the ordeal of secret detention in order to be able to appreciate fully the physical and psychological plight of its victims. For this purpose, I am attempting in this section to reconstruct as many aspects as possible of the conditions in a CIA secret detention cell.
239. A reconstruction of this nature is the first step towards regaining respect for fundamental human rights, because it forces us to ask ourselves the question: “what if the tables were turned?” This is the root of the Geneva Conventions and the military’s traditional reluctance to mistreat prisoners of war.
240. In this context, the policy debate in the United States around detainee treatment has given rise to interesting contributions, many of which rightly assert that “issues of detainee treatment raise profound questions of American values”.213 In the US political sphere, the McCain Amendment214 to the Detainee Treatment Act seems to offer us a threshold for the specific acts that we should and should not allow with regard to the detention, transfer and interrogation of foreign captives. This threshold can be summarised as follows:
If even one single American captive were to be held under these conditions or treated in this manner, and the American population would find it abhorrent or unacceptable, then America should not be practising the acts in question against detainees whom it holds from other countries.
241. The fact of being detained outside any judicial or ICRC control in an unknown location is already a form of torture, as Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said. All the member states of the Council of Europe have a duty not to tolerate such treatment either on their territory or elsewhere.
242. In the following paragraphs I seek to convey the most intimate, always undeniably human experiences of being held and interrogated in such conditions. I have grouped these conditions under the following five thematic headings: confinement, isolation and insufficient provision; careful physical conditioning of detainee and cell; permanent surveillance; mondane routine becomes unforgettable memories; and exertion of physical and psychological stress.
243. The descriptive testimonies on which the text is based have been kept strictly anonymous – largely upon the request of those who provided them – in order to protect the sources from which they emanate. These sources are mostly former or current detainees, human rights advocates, or people who have worked in the establishment or operations of CIA secret prisons.
244. The persons who endured these ordeals have also been granted anonymity. The following conditions and characteristics applied to several persons in every case, not specifically to any one individual.
iii. Confinement, isolation and insufficient provision
245. Detainees were taken to their cells by strong people who wore black outfits, masks that covered their whole faces, and dark visors over their eyes. Clothes were cut up and torn off; many detainees were then kept naked for several weeks.
246. Detainees were only a bucket to urinate into, a bowl from which to eat breakfast and dinner (delivered at intervals, in silence) and a blanket.
247. Detainees went through months of solitary confinement and extreme sensory deprivation in cramped cells, shackled and handcuffed at all times.
248. Detainees were given old, black blankets that were too small to lie upon at the same time as attempting to cover oneself.
249. Detainees received unfamiliar food, like canned beef and rice, many only ate in order to give some warmth against cruel cold weather.
250. Food was raw, tasteless and was often tipped out carelessly on a shallow dish so part of it would waste. Apart from a thin foam mattress to lie on or rest against, many cells had a bare floor and blank walls.
251. At one point in 2004, eight persons were being kept together in one CIA facility in Europe, but were administered according to a strict regime of isolation. Contact between them through sight or sound was forbidden… and prevented unless it was expressly decided to create limited conditions where they could see or come into contact with one another because it would serve [the CIA’s] intelligence-gathering objectives to allow it.
252. A common feature for many detainees was the four-month isolation regime. During this period of over 120 days, absolutely no human contact was granted with anyone but masked, silent guards. There’s not meant to be anything to hold onto. No familiarity, no comfort, nobody to talk to, no way out. It’s a long time to be all alone with your thoughts.
a. Careful physical conditioning of detainee and cell
253. In the process of being transferred into secret detention, all detainees are physically screened in order to assess their health and conditioning, identify any injuries or scars they may bear, and get a complete picture to compare them against once they are in detention. These screenings, for which the subject is stripped naked, used a body chart, similar to the inventory diagrams provided by rent-a-car companies upon leasing a vehicle, on which specific marks are noted. In every case, the subject is videotaped or at least photographed naked before transfer.
254. The air in many cells emanated from a ventilation hole in the ceiling, which was often controlled to produce extremes of temperature: sometimes so hot one would gasp for breath, sometimes freezing cold.
255. Many detainees described air conditioning for deliberate discomfort.
256. Detainees were exposed at times to over-heating in the cell; at other times drafts of freezing breeze.
257. Detainees never experienced natural light or natural darkness, although most were blindfolded many times so they could see nothing.
b. Permanent surveillance
258. Detainees speak hatefully about the surveillance cameras, positioned so that in every inch of the cell they would be observed.
259. Detainees were also listened to by interrogators, over hidden microphones in the walls.
260. Notwithstanding the presence of video cameras inside the cells, masked prison guards regularly looked in and knocked on the door of the cell, demanding detainees to raise their hands to show that they are alive.
261. Breakfast was delivered in the morning, followed by lunch in the early afternoon. The morning food was typically two or three triangles of cheese with no foil, two slices of tomato, some boiled potatoes, bread and olives. The afternoon food was typically boiled white rice with sliced luncheon meat.
262. On some special occasions, including certain religious holidays, special foods including cooked meat with sauce, nuts and dates, fresh fruit and vegetables, or pieces of chocolate were delivered to the cells. There was even provision for treats like unwrapped candy bars and dessert cakes.
263. Special routines developed around the delivery of food. The light bulb, which was always on, would be briefly turned off; the food would be delivered; and then the light bulb would be turned back on again. There was a hatch in the door of the cell for delivery of food but it was completely unpredictable whether the guards would use the hatch, or open the doors and bring the food in.
264. Detainees had a bucket for a toilet, which was about a foot deep and ten inches in diameter.
265. At time the electricity supply went dead. The music stopped and the light went out. For a brief period one could heard different voices shouting, some more distant than others but all incoherent.
d. Exertion of physical and psychological stress
266. There was a shackling ring in the wall of the cell, about half a metre up off the floor. Detainees’ hands and feet were clamped in handcuffs and leg irons. Bodies were regularly forced into contorted shapes and chained to this ring for long, painful periods.
267. Most persons in CIA custody attempted sooner or later to resist or protest their treatment and interrogation. Yet their efforts would largely be in vain. According to one source involved in CIA interrogation: “you know they are starting to crack when they come back at you; when they get really vocal or they try to challenge your authority. So you hold out… you push them over the edge”.
268. The sound most commonly heard in cells was a constant, low-level hum of white noise from loudspeakers. Other recollections speak of an external humming noise, like aircraft, engines or a generator. The constant noise was punctuated by blasts of loud Western music – rock music, rap music and thumping beats, or distorted verses from the Koran, or irritating noises – thunder, planes taking off, cackling laughter, the screams of women and children.
269. Detainees were subjected to relentless noise and disturbance were deprived of the chance to sleep.
270. The torture music was turned on, or at least made much louder, as punishment for perceived infractions like raising one’s voice, calling out, or not waving quickly enough when guards demanded a response from you.
271. The gradual escalation of applied physical and psychological exertion, combined in some cases with more concentrated pressure periods for the purposes of interrogation, is said to have caused many of those held by the CIA to develop enduring psychiatric and mental problems.
VI. Secrecy and cover-up: how the United States and its European partners evade responsibility for CIA clandestine operations
i. A case study of Khaled El-Masri
272. The circumstances of the abduction of German citizen Khaled El-Masri are exposed in some detail in my first report of June 2006215. At that time it had not been possible to determine the exact circumstances of Mr El-Masri's return to Europe.
273. We believe we have now managed to retrace in detail Mr El-Masri’s odyssey and to shed light on his return to Europe: if we, with neither the powers nor resources, were able to do so, why were the competent authorities unable to manage it? There is only one possible explanation: they are not interested in seeing the truth come out.
274. In addition to reporting on the system of secret detentions in CoE member States, my inquiry also set out to shed light on one of the unsolved mysteries of the “global spider’s web,” captured by the following question: In the course of its covert operations, how does the CIA return home a detainee whom it concedes to have been an innocent victim of erroneous rendition and secret detention?
275. Our case study is that of the German citizen Khaled El-Masri, whose ordeal at the hands of the UBK216 in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and the CIA in Afghanistan, from 1 January to 28 May 2004, I documented in comprehensive detail in my report last year.217 We were able to prove the involvement of the CIA in Mr El-Masri’s transfer to Afghanistan by linking the flight that carried him there – on the aircraft N313P, flying from Skopje (“the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”) to Baghdad (Iraq) to Kabul (Afghanistan) on 24 January 2004 – to another known CIA detainee transfer on the same plane two days earlier, thus establishing the first “rendition circuit.”218
276. Upon Mr El-Masri’s arrival in Afghanistan, he was taken to a CIA secret detention facility near Kabul and held in a “small, filthy, concrete cell”219 for a period of over four months. During this period the CIA discovered that no charges could be brought against him and that his passport was genuine,220 but inexplicably kept Mr El-Masri in his squalid, solitary confinement for several weeks thereafter.
277. Mr El-Masri told us about his eventual release on 28 May 2004 in as much detail as he was able to recollect,221 but there were naturally some important unanswered questions in his account, precisely because the CIA did not want him to know what was happening to him. Mr El-Masri was blindfolded throughout his return flight to Europe, immediately bundled into the back of a van upon arrival and driven for several hours “up and down mountains, on paved and unpaved roads.” The men who transported him in the van spoke a language he did not recognise. When his blindfold was eventually removed Mr El-Masri found himself in unfamiliar, mountainous terrain, in the dark, instructed to walk along an isolated path without looking over his shoulder. He said he feared that he was “about to be shot in the back and left to die,” with nobody having any idea of how he had got there.
278. In the ensuing three years, Mr El-Masri’s case has been investigated and reported extensively, including by the Untersuchungsausschuss of the German Bundestag and by German prosecutors, both of which I shall address below. Yet a key piece of the jigsaw, namely the means by which Mr El-Masri was returned from Afghanistan to an unknown point in Europe222, has eluded investigators until now.
279. Today I think I am in a position to reconstruct the circumstances of Mr El-Masri's return from Afghanistan: he was flown out of Kabul on 28 May 2004 on board a CIA-chartered Gulfstream aircraft with the tail number N982RK to a military airbase in Albania called Bezat-Kuçova Aerodrome.223 We have obtained primary data on this extraordinary homeward rendition from three separate sources and we are able to publish the relevant flight logs from the Marty Database as an appendix to this report.224
280. Our team was first alerted to an unusual “flight circuit” through European airspace on the date in question by a submission from the national aviation authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).225 The submission cited three “diplomatic permissions for state aircraft,” which it said had been issued in relation to “flight movements for the needs of CIA, USA.” The most relevant of these permissions, of which I subsequently obtained a copy,226 was described as follows:
“On the 26 May 2006 permission [was] issued to the company “RICHMON AVIATION” [sic] for traveller charter flight on the day of 28 May 2004. Line: Auki/Gwaunaru’u – Sarajevo – Prag. Aircraft type: Gulsstrim III, Registration N982RK, which is also its call sign.”
281. Three elements of this permission caught our attention: the role of the charter company Richmor Aviation;227 the outlandish notion that a Gulfstream III would fly to Sarajevo from the Solomon Islands airport of Auki/Gwaunaru’u;228 and the mention of 28 May 2004, which we knew as the date on which Khaled El-Masri was released. The first of these elements was the key to our locating the flight logs for the N982RK aircraft; the second was evidence of a smokescreen on the part of the CIA to cover up the aircraft’s actual arrival from Bezat-Kuçova Aerodrome; and the third was the match we had been looking for to solve the mystery of the circumstances of Mr El-Masri’s return to Europe.
282. We have since received confirmation from CIA insiders that Albania was indeed the country to which the Agency opted to send Mr El-Masri from Afghanistan. We were told by these American sources that originally the CIA had asked “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” whether it would accept a “reversal” of the January 2004 rendition, but that this approach was instantly rejected: “You can imagine that was the last thing the Macedonians wanted! They had no reason to take the problem back.”
283. The CIA’s second choice of Albania was favourable from a geographical point of view since it opened the option to drive Mr El-Masri to the Macedonian border immediately upon arrival and thus set him free in a state of disorientation that might diminish his credibility if he went public with his story. From a policy point of view, Albania has also proven to be a willing bilateral partner in providing the United States with a “dumping ground”229 for its unwanted detainees in the “war on terror.” At least eight former inmates of Guantanamo Bay remain stranded in Albania230 because their refugee status does not allow them to go home to their families.
284. At the end of his own ordeal, Mr El-Masri was not shot in the back but instead confronted by police guards at a checkpoint on what appeared to be the border between “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Albania. From there he was driven for about six hours to Tirana, Albania’s capital city, and sent home to Germany on a commercial flight from Mother Theresa Airport to Frankfurt. He received a boarding card for this final flight and an Albanian exit stamp in his passport for 29 May 2004.
285. There have been other new developments concerning in particular the activities of the prosecutor’s office in Munich, the proceedings in the German Bundestag’s parliamentary committee of inquiry (Untersuchungsausschuss/UA), Mr El-Masri’s civil lawsuit against the CIA before US courts, and, last but not least, his personal situation.
286. The case against Mr El-Masri’s kidnappers before the Munich prosecutor's office is still pending. Upon the initiative of the prosecutor, international arrest warrants were launched against 13 suspected CIA agents in January 2007.231 The Bavarian judicial authorities did not in any way interfere with the launch of these arrest warrants, but no progress has as yet been made in apprehending the persons concerned or even identifying them by their actual names.
287. In Germany – in contrast to Italy - it is not possible to try suspects in absentia. In reply to a formal request for judicial cooperation addressed to the Macedonian authorities in early 2006, the prosecutors were given only the “official version” of the events as already publicly stated by the authorities.232
288. Nor has any progress been made in identifying “Sam”, the German-speaking agent who, it is claimed, accompanied Mr El-Masri home from Afghanistan233. It was revealed recently234 that then Interior Minister Schily was personally present in Kabul at the time when “Sam” announced to Mr El-Masri that he would soon be repatriated. But the prosecutor sees no link between Mr Schily’s presence and the allegations made by Mr El-Masri himself that “Sam” was in fact a German federal agent.
289. It has been revealed that the telephones of Mr El-Masri’s lawyer, Mr Gnjidic, were tapped from January until May 2006 on the instructions of the prosecutor’s office. At the time, there were also long conversations between Mr Gnjidic and my collaborator as part of the mandate given to me by the Parliamentary Assembly. The prosecutor in charge235 informed me that the reason for the wire-tap, which was court-approved as provided for by law236, was to document any possible attempts made by the suspected kidnappers to contact Mr Gnjidic with a view to offering Mr El-Masri a settlement. As no such contacts were made, however, the wire-tap was terminated. Mr Gnjidic, who had not been informed of this wire-tap in advance, appealed against the decision authorising the surveillance. Its extension beyond March was found unlawful on appeal, but the legality of the initial wire-tap was upheld. Mr Gnjidic then lodged a constitutional complaint (Verfassungsbeschwerde) against the authorisation of the initial wire-tap before the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht). In submissions to this court,237 the Federal Ministry of the Interior commented that if it found the wire-tap justified. On 17 May 2007, the Federal Constitutional Court held that the wire-tap had violated Mr Gnjidic’s constitutionally protected right to privacy.
290. Whilst the Bundestag’s parliamentary committee of inquiry (UA) has not yet completed its work, it is now undisputed in this body that Mr El-Masri’s account of his ordeal is true238. This means that there is no longer any doubt that the Macedonian authorities’ official version is inaccurate239. This confirms our belief that the latter consciously concealed the truth.
291. Disagreement between the representatives of the German Government and opposition parties in the Bundestag committee of inquiry continues to exist as to the extent to which different German authorities were involved or at least informed of Mr El-Masri’s case, and when. The testimonies of a Telecom employee and a junior member of the German intelligence services – claiming that Macedonian officials informed the German embassy in Skopje of Mr El-Masri’s detention before he was transported to Afghanistan - were not considered by the majority of the committee to be sufficiently conclusive to be able to hold the political leadership accountable240.
292. More generally, opposition members on the committee have voiced their frustration that the executive is limiting the possibility for the committee to elucidate the truth by invoking official secrecy, refusing access to key files or testimony on this ground. Information relating to the “core field of executive privilege” and information which must be kept secret in the higher interests of the state (Staatswohl) is not available to the UA even when meeting in camera. It is the executive itself which decides what information falls into this category, apparently without any parliamentary control; the current trend is to extend this concept of knowledge restricted to the executive, a move which has come in for much criticism from the members of the UA. The latter have recently decided to refer this matter to the Federal Constitutional Court241. Even classified information which does not fall into this category has to be dealt with in camera by the committee, which means that it cannot be publicised by the members of the UA; this too has been criticised by some members of the Bundestag242.
293. Prosecutor Hofmann, who also testified before the UA, had transmitted the entire case file to the committee, including elements that were classified as secret. But during his public testimony, he was obliged to withhold his answers to certain questions relating to classified documents. His offer to discuss the classified material in a closed session was not taken up, although this procedure had been followed for other witnesses.
294. As a result of the UA’s work, the German government and government departments have been made more aware of human rights aspects and the rule of law243. The UA recently agreed to avail itself, for the first time, of the possibility provided for in the law governing committees of inquiry to appoint a “special investigator” with effect from the summer 2007 parliamentary recess, tasked on behalf of the UA with looking into the CIA rendition flights244.
295. Meanwhile Mr El-Masri’s civil lawsuit in the United States against the CIA is entering its final phase: an appeal to the US Supreme Court, after the rejection of his case on grounds of state secrecy in the first instance, upheld by the court of appeal245, was announced by Mr Gnijdic on 30 May 2007.
296. Against this background, Mr El-Masri himself is still suffering severely from the psychological consequences of the ordeal he has gone through. He has been repeatedly victimised by personal attacks in the local media and has been unable to find employment in the last three years. In January 2007, he lashed out physically at a vocational training officer, who he felt had treated him unfairly. On 17 May 2007, he was arrested in Neu-Ulm as a suspect in a case of arson and placed in a psychiatric hospital246. This dramatic development in Mr El-Masri’s personal situation merely confirms the repeated claims by his lawyer, Mr Gnjidic, that Mr El-Masri is in desperate need of immediate professional psycho-social post-traumatic care247. According to his current therapist248, the conflict between his post-traumatic care and the pressure arising from the various ongoing procedures to establish the truth simply adds to Mr El-Masri’s problems.
297. It is therefore all the more regrettable that Mr El-Masri has not yet been given an official apology for the abuses he has suffered, despite the fact that Mr Schily has stated before the Untersuchungsausschuss that Mr El-Masri is innocent and that the Americans have long since offered their own apology to the German Government.
298. I have the following comments regarding these developments in the El-Masri case.
299. In the present state of affairs, Mr El-Masri is unable to hold accountable those responsible for his ordeal both in Germany and in the United States. The core of the problem is the doctrine of state secrecy, which at present constitutes an absolute obstacle to the effective prosecution of Mr El-Masri’s kidnappers in Germany, the full clarification of responsibilities in the Untersuchungsausschuss and Mr El-Masri’s civil lawsuit against the CIA in the United States.
300. As Mr Gnjidic has said so aptly in his complaint against the wire-tap of his law office: whilst the domain of professional secrecy - the traditionally protected relationship between lawyers and doctors and their clients, journalists and their sources - is gradually shrinking, the realm of state secrecy is increasingly expanding. “Equality of arms” - part of the “fair trial” requirements under Article 6 ECHR - becomes a hollow phrase under these conditions249.
301. The US Supreme Court, if it chooses to hear Mr El-Masri’s case, and the German Federal Constitutional Court, following the appeal lodged by the minority representatives of the Bundestag’s committee of inquiry, will have to take a position on the extent to which the executive is allowed to act in complete secrecy, without the possibility for either judicial or parliamentary scrutiny of its actions. Here, we have on the one hand lawyers and judges – in favour of judicial and/or parliamentary control, and on the other the executive, and in particular the intelligence agencies and other special services, claiming the freedom to act in secrecy on the pretext of the supposed higher interests of the state. Mr Gnjidic’s constitutional complaint, in contrast, has led to a clearer definition of the realm of professional secrecy.
302. These are undeniably key issues for the defence of human rights and for the fight against terrorism. Short-circuiting the different mechanisms of judicial and parliamentary control does not make the fight against terrorism more effective. Rather, this vacuum can lead to arbitrary action and all sorts of dysfunctioning. While certain operational means must of course remain confidential, there is nothing to prevent making provision for transparent procedures for subsequent review. Continuing to invoke state secrecy years after the events is unacceptable in a democratic society.
303. Moreover, state secrecy cannot in any circumstances justify or conceal criminal acts and serious human rights violations. From the point of view of the rule of law, the ruling of the US Court of Appeal (4th circuit) in Mr El-Masri’s case250 is disappointing and regrettable: whilst the Court of Appeal acknowledges that it is for the courts to decide on the extent of state secrecy251, it takes a very restrictive stance as to the scope of judicial review, insisting on the court being obliged to accord the “utmost deference” to the responsibilities of the executive branch252. This “deference” goes so far that “in certain circumstances a court may conclude that an explanation by the Executive of why a question cannot be answered would itself create an unacceptable danger of injurious disclosure. […] In such a situation, a court is obliged to accept the executive branch’s claim of privilege without further demand”253.
304. One may legitimately ask how such reasoning can be reconciled with the fundamental principles of the rule of law. The case law of the US Supreme Court cited in support of this wide interpretation of the state secrecy doctrine254 dates back to the 19th century and the worst periods of the Cold War, when there was an almost blind trust in the infallibility and incorruptibility of its secret services. It is therefore to be hoped that the United States Supreme Court will use the opportunity of the El-Masri case to take a fresh approach to and modernise the “state secrets doctrine”, to bring it into line with the principle of the separation of powers and the requirement for transparency in a genuinely democratic society.
305. In Fitzgerald255, another United States Court of Appeal rightly points out that “[w]hen the state secrets privilege is validly asserted, the result is unfairness to individual litigants – through the loss of important evidence or dismissal of a case – in order to protect a greater public value.” How can it be seriously argued that information establishing the responsibility of State officials in serious violations of human rights is of "a greater public value" deserving protection in a democratic society?
306. The principle of judicial self-restraint is certainly a good thing, but this is truly corrupted when it results in a denial by the judicial system of its own role, leading to impunity for the perpetrators of serious human rights violations.
307. Judges, prosecutors and lawyers cannot a priori be considered national security risks, any more than other agents of States themselves. If necessary to safeguard legitimate state secrets that may well be intertwined with illegitimate ones, judicial personnel participating in proceedings involving state secrets can be subjected to a specific clearing or vetting procedure, as is done in a number of jurisdictions, and placed under an obligation to maintain the secrecy of the information they are given access to256.
308. In order to ensure accountability, information pertaining to serious human rights violations committed by agents of the executive should not, and need not be permitted to be shielded by the notion of state secrecy or national security.
309. What applies to courts must also apply to parliamentary committees of inquiry: the executive must not be allowed to thwart inquiries into its own possible wrongdoings by classifying relevant information.
310. The German parliamentary committee of inquiry responsible for establishing the facts in the El-Masri case is emblematic. Of course the Bundestag’s decision to conduct a serious inquiry into the case of Mr El-Masri and into possibly reprehensible activities by the German special services is welcome. It is, however, regrettable that most members of the committee have to date been content to receive documentation that has been rendered very incomplete by government censorship. The committee has also frequently been quick to accept the reasons given by witnesses for refusing to give evidence: on each occasion, "state secrecy" or the so-called doctrine of exekutive Eigenverantwortung (the domain of the executive’s own responsibility, exempt from parliamentary scrutiny) has been accepted. It should also be made clear that the standing committee responsible for supervising the activities of the secret services (Parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium (PKG)) has access to secret information257, and that the parliamentary committee of inquiry was granted access behind closed doors both to classified documents and to witness testimony on matters classified as secret. What is in dispute between majority and minority representatives is the extent to which parliamentarians can demand access to classified materials, and what use they can make of it in public if they consider that the matter in question requires their constituents to be informed. This matter needs clarification, generally and also for future reference. The parliamentary committee of inquiry is fulfilling its supervisory remit in the interest of parliament as a whole, and its work must not be primarily influenced by considerations of short-term political rivalry258. Any majority, in a democratic system, can become the minority at the next election, and should have an interest in protecting parliamentary scrutiny of executive action. I therefore welcome the decision of the opposition representatives on the parliamentary committee of inquiry to apply to the Federal Constitutional Court for a clearer definition of the scope of the doctrine of the executive's own responsibility (exekutive Eigenverantwortung)259.
311. My last remark about the parliamentary committee of inquiry concerns the reception of its work by public opinion. The committee’s work revealed some very questionable aspects of certain decisions taken by the former Minister in charge of the coordination of the special services (now Minister for Foreign Affairs), in particular as regards the case of Mr Kurnaz; the latter could apparently have been released from Guantanamo by the United States much earlier, if only the German authorities had agreed to repatriate him260. Whilst some media outlets raised the question of whether the Minister concerned should remain a member of the Government, his popularity as measured by opinion polls did not suffer at all; it even grew. The cases of Mr El-Masri and Mr Kurnaz, whose responsibility was never established, and who suffered extreme hardships, spending months and years in unlawful detention without any excuse having been offered or compensation paid, gave rise to unpleasant comments in the tabloid press about these two men of Arab origin and of Muslim faith261. The apparent success of this media strategy may also be a symptom of latent islamophobia262, a worrying phenomenon which should cause concern to political leaders and to all who play an active role in civil society.
- The Munich Prosecutor’s office
312. The prosecutors in Munich continue to encounter difficulties as a result of the refusal by the authorities in the United States and "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" to co-operate in the search for the truth. The assistance of these countries' authorities is vital in order to prove the facts and establish responsibilities. It has now been established that there is no truth whatsoever in the replies given by the Macedonian authorities. Another official request for assistance, containing very specific questions, would seem to be necessary.
313. A Macedonian parliamentary committee concluded on 18 May that the country’s secret services “did not overstep their powers” in the case of Mr El-Masri.263 Its Chairman, Mr Rahic, was quoted in the media as saying that “until El-Masri’s account is proved and we are presented with strong evidence, we will believe the Interior Ministry”. This seems a fairly rash thing to say, even allowing for the fact that this report had not been published when those words were spoken. However, the new facts now brought into the public domain should finally trigger action on the basis of the “readiness of this committee and the parliament of the Republic of Macedonia to fully investigate and solve this case”, to which Mr Rahic reportedly referred.
314. The “official version” of Mr El-Masri’s involuntary stay in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” has definitely become utterly untenable, in the light of not only the work of the Bundestag’s committee of inquiry, but also the information that we believe we can provide about the arrangements for Mr El-Masri’s secret return to Europe. It is now high time for those responsible for the deception - vis-à-vis the German Bundestag, the Munich prosecutors, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe - to offer their apologies to the unfortunate protagonist in this case and to divulge once and for all the whole truth. There is a feeling that responsibility for this refusal to tell the truth lies with the highest representatives of the State, who seem likely to have orchestrated the presentation of this official version264. For the sake of restoring the mutual trust indispensable for European co-operation in this sensitive field, I urge the Macedonian President and Parliament to show a willingness to co-operate in the search for the truth without further delay.
315. The positive example of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has fully acknowledged the facts relating to "its" case of rendition265, deserves to be re-emphasised here. Its authorities showed responsibility and sincerity, and should also be congratulated on their country's recent election by the UN General Assembly to membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council266.
ii. Complicity and accountability in other rendition cases
a. The role of the Italian authorities in the case of Abu Omar
316. New developments in this case, described in some detail in the June 2006 report267 include new arrest warrants delivered on 3 July 2006 against four more US citizens, including Jeffrey Castelli, the director of the Italian office of the CIA at the time of the abduction, which increased the number of arrest warrants against American agents to 26. In July 2006, two arrest warrants were also delivered against Italian agents working for SISMI, the military intelligence agency (Mr Pignero and Mr Mancini). By November 2006, the Milan Prosecutor’s office had fulfilled all technical requirements for the transmission by the Italian Minister of Justice of the relevant extradition requests to the American authorities. But to date, the Minister has still not transmitted these requests. It may be helpful to point out that the treaty on judicial assistance between the United States and Italy explicitly provides for extradition even of their nationals.
317. In November 2006, Mr Pollari was removed from his post as director of SISMI “in the course of a reorganisation of the secret services”268.
318. In a letter smuggled out of his prison in Egypt (published by the Chicago Tribune and the Corriere della Sera on 7 January 2007), Abu Omar described in detail how he was abducted from Italy and the abominable tortures to which he was subjected in Egypt, which go well beyond the dehumanising methods used in the CIA’s own secret prisons network269.
319. In February 2007, 26 US citizens and seven Italians, including Mr Pollari, were formally indicted, the trial being due to begin on 8 June 2007.270 Mr Pollari, the only defendant who appeared during the preliminary hearing, has insisted that Italian intelligence played no role in the alleged abduction, and told the judge he was unable to defend himself properly because documents clarifying his position were not permitted in the proceedings because they contain state secrets271. In fact, the evidence collected by the prosecution is overwhelming: SISMI had been informed of the operation relating to Mr Omar, and Italian agents certainly did take part in the operation.
320. In February and March, the Italian Government asked the Constitutional Court to annul the committal for trial of the 33 defendants in the Abu Omar case, as the prosecution had exceeded its powers, using documents which were classified and tapping phone conversations of Italian intelligence agents in their pursuit of the suspects. The Constitutional Court declared both government applications admissible, but has not to date ruled on their merits272. Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi declared273 that important information relating to the co-operation between the CIA and the Italian military intelligence constituted a state secret, and that, on the Abu Omar case, he "was following Mr Berlusconi's line"274. Worse still, the previous government had not explicitly raised the issue of state secrecy, whereas the current Minister of Justice had not hesitated to apply to the Constitutional Court, taking the view that the judges in Milan had encroached on an area reserved for the executive.
321. But how can it be forgotten that a senior Italian official, General Pollari, head of military intelligence, lied unashamedly to the European Parliament? How is it possible to explain the deafening silence of the Berlusconi and Prodi governments in relation to the kidnapping of Abu Omar - who held refugee status - by an American commando operation, and to the sabotaging by this operation of a major anti-terrorist investigation being carried out by the Milan prosecution service?
322. In my previous report, I had already applauded the competence and high-quality work of Milan's judges and police. It is distressing to see now the kind of treatment to which judges of such merit as Armando Spataro and Ferdinando Pomarici are being subjected, prosecutors who have for years, not without great personal risk, been committed to combating terrorism, always effectively and with strict respect for the rule of law. The point has now been reached at which these judges stand accused of violating state secrecy!
323. In Italy, as in Germany, irrespective of the alternation in political power between parties, the same line has apparently been chosen, namely the preservation at any price of relations (and especially of interests) with the powerful ally, with "state secrecy" being invoked whenever an unpleasant truth might become public. This also enables conduct which is against the law to be covered up, and government offices to evade their responsibilities, and it is a very serious obstacle to the independence of the judicial system.
324. Our colleague Christos Pourgourides has demonstrated in his report adopted by the Assembly in April 2007 on “Fair trial issues in cases involving espionage and state secrecy”275 how overly broad and unclear legislation on state secrecy has been abused to imprison and silence independent scientists, journalists and lawyers and “whistleblowers”. This inquiry shows that overly broad and unclear concepts of state secrecy also stand in the way of accountability of the executive for blatant human rights violations. In the same way as Mr Pourgourides has rightfully argued that information that is already in the public domain cannot be a “state secret”276, we must strive for recognition that information on serious human rights abuses committed by executive authorities must not be kept under wraps as “state secrets” either. I can only wish my friend Armando Spataro success in his struggle for these principles in Italy.
325. After the rather dark picture conveyed by the attitudes of several European governments, it is comforting to mention a positive example, that of Canada, which holds observer status with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
326. The case of Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen abducted in New York and subjected to torture in a Syrian prison, must serve as an example to European states, showing that this kind of case may be understood in a more dignified way, more appropriate to a state governed by the rule of law.
327. A special commission of inquiry277 conducted a separate inquiry into the facts and a detailed examination of the various political aspects, in order to establish the facts and to draw conclusions from the shortcomings evident in this case. The Report of the Events Relating to Maher Arar – Analysis and Recommendations (364 pages) was published in July 2006. The commission’s official website provides ample information about the terms of reference of the inquiry, the role of the commissioner and counsel, and the commission’s rules of procedure. The website also provides in great detail background documents of the factual inquiry (including transcripts of public hearings, and summaries of in camera hearings, reports from expert witnesses and the detailed “Fact Finder’s Report”). Similar information is published as regards the examination of political aspects.
328. In the framework of this report, I do not, unfortunately, have the resources to analyse and comment on this important work in any detail. This is very regrettable, but it is highly desirable to draw on the work done by the Canadian commission of inquiry in the process of the follow-up that must be given to the Assembly’s recommendations by the Committee of Ministers, to ensure that similar abuses and mistakes never happen again in our member states.
329. Not surprisingly, a central issue for the commission on the case of Maher Arar was once again that of official secrecy and national security. But contrary to the situation in Europe and in the United States, Canada appears to have found a workable solution that safeguards both accountability and true national security interests. In simplified terms, the commissioner, an experienced judge, was given access to all the information required. Certain documents, which the government considered secret in the interest of national security, national defence or international relations, were examined in a procedure in which both parties were heard, and were not reproduced in the public version of the report (although attention was drawn to their absence). Thus it is not the government which is the sole arbiter of what should be regarded as a state secret. Such a procedure deserves the greatest attention in the preparation of the terms of reference for the new Council of Europe investigation mechanism which we propose to set up.
330. The Commissioner of the Inquiry, Justice Dennis O’Connor, stated that he was “able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada”278 – thus unequivocally clearing Mr Arar’s name. He was able to make this statement being “satisfied that I have been able to examine all the Canadian information relevant to the mandate. [...] I received some of the evidence in closed, or in camera hearings and am unable to refer to some of the evidence heard in those hearings in the public version of this report. However, I am pleased to say that I am able to make public all of my conclusions and recommendations, including those based on in camera evidence.”279
331. I should like to conclude by citing Mr Arar himself280, who gave an excellent description of the role and function of the principle of accountability: “This is because accountability is not about seeking revenge; it is about making our institutions better and a model for the rest of the world. Accountability goes to the heart of our democracy. It is a fundamental pillar that distinguishes our society from police states.”
332. Explaining how he has been able to cope with the stress of surviving torture, the stress of not being able to find a job, the stress endured at the inquiry, he wrote: “I draw my strength from my faith; from my loving, caring, strong wife; and from the support and generosity I have received from Canadians. I have rediscovered Canada through its people, people who made me feel proud of being Canadian.”
333. These are impressive words coming from a man who was held for a year in the most abject conditions, including torture, in a prison run by the Syrian secret services, to which he had been handed over by the CIA, which had been able to rely on the co-operation of their Canadian counterparts, who had supplied completely baseless information about alleged links with El-Qaida. Mr Arar’s ordeal continued after his return to Canada, which had been delayed by all kinds of setbacks, with leaks of information being organised with the intention of discrediting him and trying to justify the behaviour of the services responsible for his abduction.
334. Canada's attitude deserves to be highlighted, for the way in which the country's institutions coped with this serious and awkward case. Canadian society managed to resist some press attempts to condition its reaction, and unhesitatingly displayed solidarity with a man who had suffered such injustice281. Mr Arar also benefited from psychosocial assistance and received substantial compensation from the government for the damage suffered282. The Canadian public also expects the recommendations set out in the report to be implemented and those responsible to be brought to account for their conduct283. There are striking differences in every respect between the way in which the Arar case was dealt with and the attitude taken to the El-Masri case. In particular, it should finally be pointed out that neither the United States nor Syria saw fit to co-operate with the Canadian commission of inquiry. Mr Arar’s civil action against US authorities has run into the same difficulties due to the doctrine of state secrecy as that of Mr El-Masri.
335. While the APPG did not achieve any progress regarding the specific cases of UK residents abducted in Gambia and finally taken to Guantanamo Bay284, its chair, Mr Andrew Tyrie, has recently submitted a proposal to the UK Government to improve the UK’s mechanisms in this area, aimed at improving the protection of detainees transported through the UK, increasing transparency and defining responsibilities more clearly285. The APPG also expressed its support for the proposals made by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe following the opening of a procedure under Article 52 of the ECHR, and for the work of the Parliamentary Assembly, including the resolution and recommendation proposed with the report of June 2006. There is no possible doubt in group members’ minds that "extraordinary renditions" have indeed taken place.
336. The House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee, however, has yet to publish its report on extraordinary renditions286.
VII. Secret detentions and renditions: the diminishing effect on respect for human rights worldwide
i. A collateral damage of the war on terror: diminishing respect for human rights
337. The policy pursued by the current US Administration has undeniably been a contributory factor in tarnishing the image of the United States, a country regarded as a model of democracy and respect for individual freedoms. The huge wave of sympathy for the American people following the tragic events of 11 September rapidly gave way to incomprehension, irritation, and even overt hostility. The commission of unlawful acts - abductions, the exporting of torture to other countries even though they are regarded as "rogue states", the setting up of detention centres beyond any judicial supervision - has severely affected the moral authority of the United States. Worse still, the world's greatest power is becoming a negative role model for other countries, which feel that they may legitimately follow the same path and flout human rights. The systematic exporting of such activities outside American territory also constitutes a form of contempt for the rest of the world, and the reservation of such methods exclusively for non-Americans is an expression of an "apartheid" mentality in the legal sphere. This feeling is further reinforced by the US Administration's systematic refusal to place itself under the jurisdiction of an international court, although it is always ready to impose such jurisdiction on others287. This attitude merely fuels deplorable and damaging anti-Americanism, for it creates a movement of sympathy for Islamic fundamentalism, thereby giving a feeling of legitimacy to the criminal groups which resort to terror. The collateral damage caused by the "war on terrorism" being waged by the current US Administration is very serious. More serious, and more intolerable, however, is the attitude taken by many European governments, which have allowed - when they have not directly co-operated in - a whole series of unlawful acts on their territory, acts which the US Administration itself refused to commit in its own country.
ii. Continued secret detentions in the Chechen Republic and failure to cooperate with the CPT: unacceptable collateral damage to the values of the Council of Europe
a. CPT 3rd Public Statement and detentions in the village of Tsentoroy
338. The June 2006 report referred to serious allegations about enforced disappearances, and about the existence of secret detention centres and the systematic use of torture in Chechnya. Subsequently the CPT (European Committee for the Prevention of Torture) has issued new concrete conclusions about this region, in the third public declaration published recently.
339. Under Article 10(2) of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Committee may make, by a two-thirds majority, a public declaration after a Party to the Convention “fails to cooperate or refuses to improve the situation in the light of the Committee’s recommendations.” According to the statement, “the CPT remains deeply concerned” by the fact that “[r]esort to torture and other forms of ill-treatment by members of law enforcement agencies and security forces continues, as does the related practice of unlawful detentions”288 and that investigations into these cases are largely ineffective.289 This statement follows two previous public statements also concerning the Chechen Republic in July 2001 and July 2003, which illustrates the extreme gravity of the situation. Member states’ duty to cooperate with the CPT and the follow-up to be given to the CPT’s public statements by the Council of Europe generally deserve to be the subject of a separate report by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.
340. In the framework of my mandate concerning allegations of secret detentions in Council of Europe member states, I invited the chair of the Russian delegation to PACE, Mr Konstantin Kosachev, to comment on the CPT’s 3rd public statement and the allegations of secret detentions in the village of Tsentoroy. In his answer dated 15 May 2007, Mr Kosachev wrote the following:
“According to the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation, the delegation of the CE Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) headed by Mr M. Palma visited the village of Tsentoroy (Kurchaloevskiy region of the Chechen Republic) and inspected all the premises they were interested in. They did not find either secret detention facilities there or any facts proving the rumours of their existence. No applications or complaints from residents were lodged to the law-enforcement bodies of the Chechen Republic about illegal detentions of people with their further stationing in the village of Tsentoroy (Kurchaloevskiy region of the Chechen Republic).
The CPT report of November 2006 on the results of the two visits of the Committee said that there were illegal detention facilities in the village of Tsentoroy (Kurchaloevskiy region of the Chechen Republic). In response, the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation carried out thorough additional inspections. The information brought to the notice of the European community and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was not confirmed.
The FSB of the Russian Federation does not have any information about the existence of any secret detention centre in the village of Tsentoroy (Kurchaloevskiy region of the Chechen Republic).”
341. Under the Anti-Torture Convention, the CPT is duty-bound to maintain the confidential character of its work, and can therefore not comment publicly on this reply. But the Russian authorities have failed to provide a specific response to the point that I highlighted in my own letter, namely that it transpires from an official reply given to the CPT by the Russian authorities, which the CPT made public in part (in the above-mentioned Public Statement290), that at least one secret detention facility – i.e. a place of detention that was not declared as such vis-à-vis the CPT – has existed within the premises of the Chechen President's Security Service in the village of Tsentoroy291. I do not consider the above reply – a general denial - as a sufficient response to the specific issue I raised in my letter. The declaration in Mr Kosachev’s letter that the CPT delegation visiting Tsentoroy did not find either secret detention facilities there or any facts proving the rumours of their existence and that no applications or complaints regarding unlawful detentions in this locality were received by local law enforcement authorities is clearly contradicted by the CPT’s own public findings:
“In the course of the 2006 visits, the CPT’s delegation again spoke with a number of persons who gave detailed and credible accounts of being unlawfully held – on occasion for prolonged periods – in places in the Chechen Republic. Frequent reference was made to facilities located in the village of Tsentoroy in the Kurchaloy district […] . In certain cases, formal complaints had been lodged with the prosecution services relating to unlawful detention and ill-treatment at Tsentoroy. […] The CPT’s delegation gained access to Tsentoroy on 2 May 2006 […]. The layout of the compound and, more specifically, the location and internal features of the secure rooms and adjacent ante-room, corresponded closely to descriptions which the delegation had received from persons who alleged that they had been held there (and subjected to various forms of ill-treatment).”
b. Alleged secret detentions in Grozny
342. Another allegedly illegal prison in the Chechen Republic – located in Grozny, the capital of the Chechen Republic – is under discussion before the Sub-Committee on Human Rights. Prompted by a publication of the Russian human rights group “Memorial”292 alleging the destruction of evidence concerning acts of torture and enforced disappearance by the destruction of a former school building, which had until recently housed a notorious detention centre of the Ministry of the Interior of the Chechen Republic, the Sub-Committee asked the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office for explanations. The building was razed to the ground within hours of “Memorial” going public with its findings of damning inscriptions on the walls of cells and other evidence collected on the premises, which “Memorial” documented on video to the extent possible. The explanations given to the Sub-Committee in the Prosecutor General’s reply of 11 September 2006 were not considered satisfactory by the Sub-Committee. Its additional questions of 12 October 2006 were answered on 21 May 2007. I prefer not to comment on these replies now, as they are yet be discussed by the Sub-Committee293.
343. Whilst I am not in a position to draw any final conclusions from the as yet incomplete information presented above, regarding the razed detention centre in Grozny, there no longer seems to be any doubt, in the light of the CPT’s public statement, that persons had been detained secretly in Tsentoroy294. I also cannot help noticing the general lack of transparency permeating detentions in the North Caucasus characterised by thousands of disappearances that are still not elucidated, especially in cases where there are indications that one or the other of the State institutions responsible for law enforcement was involved. In several recent decisions, the European Court of Human Rights has condemned the Russian Federation for failing seriously and effectively to investigate such cases295.
344. As a confidence-building measure, I propose that the Assembly invites the Russian Federation to fully publish the CPT’s reports and to work closely with this body to stamp out the practice of secret detentions from its territory, including the North Caucasus.
VIII. Need for consensus solutions to the HVD dilemma whilst ensuring respect for human rights
345. The typical response from members of the Bush Administration when confronted with reports on the impact of United States’ policies in the context of the “war on terror” is two-fold. First, they will state that the criticisms are overstated and counter-productive;296 second, they will complain that the authors of such reports make little effort to propose viable solutions to what they see as an intractable dilemma: how do we target, capture, detain and “bring to justice” the people we suspect of being “high-value” terrorists? John Bellinger tends to pose a simple question to his European counterparts:
346. In view of the importance and the complexity of terrorism, it seems indispensable to attempt to form an international consensus on its precise nature and scope, as well as on the means to fight against it. Since the US Government continually re-emphasises that its “war on terror” is for the good of citizens of the wider free world, and Europeans in particular, then it is imperative that we agree upon the principles and legal standards that govern it.298
347. We must further ensure that we do not allow our collective vision and judgment to be clouded on issues such as detainee treatment, which I have addressed here through the lens of interrogation techniques.
348. As I conclude this inquiry, my overwhelming conviction is that clearer and fairer terms of engagement can only result from our finding consensus on how to react. It is also indispensable to take into account political considerations which foster terrorism and the means of modifying them.
i. Towards consensus definitions of phrases used in the “war on terror”
349. I believe that three definitions in particular are in urgent need of clarification. The first of these is the notion of a “war” against international terrorists. The policy of the Bush Administration characterises “war” in unfeasibly broad terms. It is easy to see why the metaphor of “war” plays a formidable political role in rallying American support for US foreign policy, but it also serves to weaken and destabilise the essential framework upon which the “laws of war” are based.
350. In the context of my inquiry, I have analysed US “programmes” that President Bush has placed squarely under his “war on terror” metaphor: primarily the “High-Value Detainee” or HVD programme, and the “rendition” programme. Yet these activities rarely resemble war as we know it in the classic military sense. Accordingly I agree with the following assessment of two prominent American commentators:
“Insofar as counterterrorism policy requires all of the tools of government, most of these tools will not in fact be the tools of war in the actual meaning of armed conflict. Instead they will involve surveillance, interdiction of terrorist financing, intelligence gathering, diplomacy and other methods. Thus the language of global war is necessarily metaphorical.”299
351. The second ill-conceived expression is that of the “enemy,” the present definition of which is an affront to international human rights and, in particular, to our notions of equality before the law. From as early as President Bush’s Military Order of 13 November 2001,300 to as recently as the Military Commissions Act of 2006,301 notions of “otherness” – particularly foreign nationality – have been at the heart of United States policy on detaining terrorist suspects.
352. I firmly believe that the same basic human rights standards should be applied equally regardless of whether a detainee is American or non-American, whether ally or adversary, whether of the highest or lowest “value”, whether targeted by the CIA, the DoD or the FBI, and whether held on the territory of the United States or overseas. By acting otherwise in its practice and its legislation, the US Government has instituted a form of legal apartheid, where human rights and legal protections are applied to detainees in lesser or greater measure on an entirely discriminatory basis.
353. Nowhere has this legal apartheid been more apparent than in the subject matter of this report – the CIA’s covert programme to hold foreign “enemy” HVDs in secret detention overseas, including on the territory of Council of Europe member states. It is high time that we end this untenable discrimination – and with it we must banish forever the Bush Administration mindset that effectively says “if it is illegal for us to use such a practice at home or on our own citizens, let us export or outsource it so we will not be held to account for it.”
354. The third definition we must clarify is that of the “combatant”. The strategic choice of the Bush Administration to persist with the “war on terror” metaphor has ultimately had the effect of “conferring on suspected terrorists the elevated status of combatants”302 – when in reality they ought to be dealt with in the same manner as other members of international criminal networks, such as arms traders, drugs smugglers or human traffickers. I believe that giving such status to members of Al Qaeda has served to galvanise its leadership and reinforce its self-perception as a revolutionary “people’s army.” Khalid Sheikh Mohamed and other HVDs have capitalised on their status to send “political” messages during their CSRT hearings at Guantanamo Bay.303 I also agree with the US Army’s own assessment that “insurgents” given a sense of legitimacy will surely harden as adversaries, not least in their effective resistance to interrogation.304
ii. Towards consensus standards on interrogation techniques
355. It has now been widely agreed in America and internationally that the “enhanced interrogation techniques”305 used on the CIA’s “high-value” detainees in secret detention overstepped the mark in terms of what is legal, moral and effective. Two very recent commentaries in this area – one by a UN Special Rapporteur306 and one by an expert group of American “intelligence scientists”307 – provide arguments in favour of review and strict regulation of interrogation techniques.
356. The UN Rapporteur, Martin Scheinin, has re-emphasised that many of interrogation techniques in which “the CIA has indeed been involved, and continues to be involved”, in his assessment “involve conduct that amounts to a breach of the non-derogable right to be free from torture and any form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”308
357. The American study, by the Intelligence Science Board, focuses on practical considerations, essentially considering whether or not interrogation techniques like those used by the CIA are effective in gathering accurate intelligence. In its entirety, the report concludes that many post-9/11 techniques are “outmoded, amateurish and unreliable;”309 in its detail, the report offers plausible explanations as to how interrogations have so frequently spiralled into abuse:
“Too often, interrogators intensely and aggressively pursue their operational agenda without sufficiently acknowledging that the source, too, has an agenda … Disregarding the source’s interests can lead to unexpected and seemingly inexplicable areas of disagreement and even outright defiance … As this war [on global terrorism] has continued, evidence of the employment of coercive methods by US interrogators has appeared with alarming frequency.”310
358. In my opinion, the very option to make use of coercive techniques based on physical and psychological pain or duress is a poisoned chalice in the hands of a CIA interrogator. Such is the national security imperative to gather tangible, actionable intelligence – not to mention the sense of outrage at the 11 September attacks for which the HVDs are being blamed, which often mutates into an irrational desire for vengeance – CIA interrogators have resorted and will continue to resort to whatever extremes of coercive treatment they are told is permissible.
359. I support unambiguous, transparent and strictly enforced rules on CIA detainee interrogation. The Executive Order that President Bush “shall issue” imminently311 should be published in full and should expressly outlaw not only the abhorrent practice of “water boarding,” but also techniques like slapping, stress positions, sleep deprivation and extremes of temperature. I note that even the Army Field Manual of September 2006 leaves open the possibility that such techniques are not prohibited, so that manual does not strike me as an appropriately robust set of minimum standards. When the long-awaited rules for the CIA are finally issued, they must set higher, clearer thresholds that maintain the integrity of these important interrogations.
iii. Perceptions of the HVD programme and its likely reactivation
360. At the time of his 6 September 2006 speech, President Bush lauded the HVD programme as a policy that “has been, and remains, one of the most vital tools in our war against the terrorists”. In the experience of our team during this inquiry, the President’s view is largely shared among those officers who had knowledge of the programme. With only very few exceptions, the majority of our sources in the CIA and the wider intelligence community have described the HVD programme as a success, or in one case “about as good as it could have turned out”.
361. The following is an excerpt from our interview with a senior US intelligence source:
“I think you have to understand that the programme we ran through 2005, into 2006 to handle the HVDs was both needs-oriented and results-oriented. We needed to show that we could capture those responsible for 9/11, break down key Al-Qaeda cells at their source, and keep the threat of terror attacks as far away from the American people as possible. We needed to work with our most trusted allies to avoid leaks that would endanger national security – ours or theirs. The results speak for themselves.
And if you look at our situation now, the needs are different from the immediate post-9/11 period. Bringing those 14 HVDs to Guantanamo – the Zubaydahs and the KSMs – was like drawing a line under that programme in the way it had been operating, as a lot of guys weren’t happy going on with it. Sure, there’ll be something else to replace it, but we don’t know what that looks like yet.”
362. Our sources have stated categorically to us that from the perspective of the CIA officials who operated it, the specific aspects of the “High-Value Detainee” programme on which this report concentrates – including the European “black sites” – belong to a chapter of the post-9/11 story that is essentially closed.
363. At first sight, this analysis appears valid. The 14 HVDs whom our sources agreed to discuss with us (at least on a limited basis) have been transferred to and are all now held at Guantanamo Bay. They have received visits from representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which indicates that their fundamental rights as detainees have at last been regularised, at least as far as this particular aspect is concerned. They are no longer regarded as having high “live” intelligence value for the CIA or the US Government,312 and so they were subject to Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) proceedings in early 2006 to rubber-stamp their status as “unlawful enemy combatants”. Ultimately, these HVDs will be among the first detainees to be charged with specific offences in individual military commissions processes.
364. On the other hand, however, there can be little doubt that the Bush Administration is prepared to resort once again to some form of CIA detention and interrogation regime in the future. If President Bush’s claim on 6 September 2006 that “there are now no terrorists in the CIA program” represented the closing of one chapter, then his very next sentence heralded the opening of another: “But as more high-ranking terrorists are captured, the need to obtain intelligence from them will remain critical – and having a CIA program for questioning terrorists will continue to be crucial to getting life-saving information”.313
365. Indeed, there are clear indications that the HVD programme has been reactivated in recent months. The transfer of Abd Al-Iraqi to Guantanamo Bay in April 2007314 bore strikingly similar characteristics to the 14 transfers in September 2006: during his several months in CIA detention prior to his transfer to Cuba, he appears to have been kept incommunicado and subjected to interrogation at an unknown site.
366. Indeed Al-Iraqi’s handover to the Department of Defense only after his intelligence value to the CIA had been completely exploited would seem to confirm this statement from one of our intelligence sources: “The CIA has gone from having no interest in interrogation to being the agency of preference in this area. We’ll only give them up to the DoD once we’ve got everything we can out of them.”
iv. Concluding thoughts
367. It is my sincere hope that my report this year will catalyse a renewed appreciation of the legal and moral quagmire into which we have collectively sunk as a result of the US-led “war on terror.” Almost six years in, we seem no closer to pulling ourselves out of this quagmire, partly because of the absence of factual clarity – perpetuated by secrecy, cover-up and dishonesty – about the exact practices in which the US and its allies have engaged, and partly because a lack of urgency and political will on both sides of the Atlantic to unite around consensus solutions.
368. By clarifying some of the unspoken truths that have previously held us back in this exercise, I hope I have spurred right-minded Americans and Europeans alike into realising that our common values, in tandem with our common security, depend on our uniting to end the abusive practices inherent in US policies like the “High-Value Detainee” programme.
* The Rapporteur, the secretariat and the translators had to work in extremely difficult conditions because of the lack of time due to the delays in receiving certain information. This explains why there may be some linguistic mistakes and imprecision. The Rapporteur wishes to apologise for this.
2 The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “Remarks by the President on the Global War on Terror” (War against terrorism is a struggle for freedom and liberty, Bush says), speech delivered in the East Room of the White House, 06.09.2006; hereinafter “Remarks by President Bush, 06.09.2006”.
3 Ibidem. The transcript shows that President Bush struck a chord with his White House audience, which included relatives of victims of the 9/11 attacks: “Congress is in session just for a few more weeks, and passing this legislation ought to be the top priority. (Applause.)… For the sake of our security, Congress needs to act, and update our laws to meet the threats of this new era. And I know they will.”
4 Ibid. “Information from the terrorists questioned in this program helped unravel plots and terrorist cells in Europe and other places. It’s helped our allies to protect their people from deadly enemies.”
5 See Dick Marty, Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, “Alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers of detainees involving CoE member States”, Doc. 10957, 12.06.2006, available at http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/WorkingDocs/Doc06/EDOC10957.htm (hereinafter “Marty Report 2006, Council of Europe Doc. 10957”).
6 Remarks by President Bush, 06.09.2006, supra note 3.
7 See Dana Priest, “CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons – Debate is Growing within Agency about Legality and Morality of Overseas System set up after 9/11”, The Washington Post, 02.11.2005.
8 See Howard Kurtz, “Bush Presses Editors on Security”, The Washington Post, 26.12.2005, available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/25/AR2005122500665_pf.html. For further commentary, see also Marty Report 2006, section 1.3, at p. 9.
9 Dana Priest, speaking at the seminar entitled “Secrecy and Government: America Faces the Future”, hosted by the Center on Law and Security, NYU School of Law, New York, 12.04.2007.
10 In particular, I wish to recognise the following journalistic contributions, which depended on original investigative work to bring to light original facts and new dimensions to the global system of secret detentions and detainee transfers: Stephen Grey on extraordinary renditions (see “America’s Gulag,” in The New Statesman, 17.05.2004; “US Accused of Torture Flights,” in The Sunday Times, 14.11.2004; and “Les Etats-Unis inventent la delocalisation de la torture,: in Le Monde Diplomatique, April 2005); Dana Priest on CIA programmes, including secret detentions in Europe (“CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons – Debate is Growing within Agency about Legality and Morality of Overseas System set up after 9/11,” in The Washington Post, 2.11.2005; and “Foreign Network at Front of CIA’s Terror Fight – Joint Facilities in Two Dozen Countries account for bulk of Agency’s post-9/11 successes,” in The Washington Post, 18.11.2005); Jane Mayer on rendition policies, interrogation techniques and torture memos (“Outsourcing Torture: The secret history of America’s ‘extraordinary rendition’ programme,” in The New Yorker, 14 and 21.02.2005; “A Deadly Interrogation – Can the CIA legally kill a prisoner?” in The New Yorker, 14.11.2005; and “The Memo – How an internal effort to ban the abuse and torture of detainees was thwarted,” in The New Yorker, 27.02.2006) ; Brian Ross and Richard Esposito on enhanced interrogations and the clear-out of European sites (“CIA’s Harsh Interrogation Techniques Described – Sources Say Agency’s Tactics lead to Questionable Confessions, Sometimes to Death”, ABC News, 18.11.2005; and “Sources Tell ABC News Top Al-Qaeda Figures held in Secret CIA Prisons: 10 out of 11 Terror Leaders subjected to “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques,” ABC News, 5.12.2005); Don Van Natta Jr. and Souad Mekhennet on the El-Masri case (“German’s Claim of Kidnapping brings Investigation of US link,” in The New York Times, 9.01.2005); Nick Hawton on the cover-up regarding secret flights into Poland (“Chasing Shadows,” BBC Radio 4, 2.01.2007); and The Chicago Tribune on undeclared flights in both Poland and Romania (John Crewdson, “Elusive jet may hold clue to secret prisons – Mystery Gulfstream landed in Romania,” in The Chicago Tribune, 13.09.2006; and Tom Hundley, “Remote Polish airstrip holds clues to secret CIA flights,” 06.02.2007).
11 I am deeply grateful to all our allies in the non-governmental field, whose dedication to the cause and tireless support for my inquiry – much of it behind the scenes – has proven invaluable. For their professional approach throughout the last two years and for their reporting, research and representations too extensive to enumerate individually here, I wish to thank in particular: the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, the Brennan Centre for Justice at NYU School of Law, the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law, the Centre for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists, REPRIEVE, Statewatch and the Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights. I salute your work and that of the many other NGOs active in the field who have supported me anonymously or whose names I have inadvertently failed to mention.
12 Pertinent examples of the invocation of state secrecy in at least two different jurisdictions are provided in the section entitled “A case study of Khaled El-Masri,” at section VI.i later in this report.
13 See section entitled “Preserving Secrecy and the NATO Security Policy,” at section II.iii. later in this report.
14 The US Government finally conceded the existence of this classified Presidential Finding in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) litigation brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 2006. Nonetheless, the precise scope and contents of the Finding remain unknown and, according to Congressional staffers, even senior members of the relevant House and Senate Select Committees have not been allowed to access it. See ACLU Press Release, “CIA Finally Acknowledges Existence of Presidential Order on Detention Facilities Abroad”, 14.11.2006, available at http://www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/27382prs20061114.html; see also US Senator Patrick Leahy, “Comments of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Incoming Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, on Department of Justice’s Response to Request for Documents relating to Bush Administration’s Interrogation Policies”, 2.01.2007, available at http://leahy.senate.gov/press/200701/010207.html.
15 The former Chief of CIA Clandestine Operations in Europe, Tyler Drumheller, recounts the meeting of 17.09.2001 in his memoirs: “Cofer [Black, then Chief of the CTC] presented a new Presidential authorisation that broadened our options for dealing with terrorist targets – one of the few times such a thing had happened since the CIA was officially banned from carrying out assassinations in 1976. It was clear that the Administration saw this as a war that would largely be fought by intelligence assets. This required a new way of operating”. See Tyler Drumheller, On the Brink: An Insider’s Account of How the White House Compromised American Intelligence, Carroll & Graf, New York, 2006 (hereinafter “Tyler Drumheller, On the Brink”); at p. 35.
16 The Special Activities Division is akin to a paramilitary wing of the CIA; the kinds of “activities” referred to here include renditions and, in exceptional circumstances, assassinations of suspected Al-Qaeda members.
17 I am certain that the HVD programme has its general origins in the 17.09.2001 Finding, because our sources were unanimous on the question of the latitude this document afforded to the CIA. However we were also told separately of the existence of further classified documents (thought to have been signed in 2002) that actually use the term “black sites” in relation to specific facilities.
18 Public citations of the acronym “HVT” have become more common in the course of the “war on terror”. It is commonly used, for example, among members of the US Armed Forces, particularly those who have been deployed to track down prominent Baath’ists and insurgents in Iraq, such as Uday and Qu’say Hussein, or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. See Defense Technical Information Center, “Loss of High-Value Targets” available at http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/doddict/data/h/02467.html.
19 The acronym “HVD” has also now been adopted in public citations used by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Department of Defense (DoD). See, for example, Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), “Summary of the High-Value Terrorist Detainee Program”, 06.09.2006, available at:
20 Michael Scheuer, former Chief of the Bin Laden Unit in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, interview carried out by the Rapporteur’s representative in Washington, DC, May 2006. Scheuer told us: “We had built up dossiers on all the important people in Al Qaeda within six months after we started the rendition programme. So it was just a matter of keeping those files updated. The approval of the senior levels of the Government and the lawyers’ approval, if you pushed them, could be gotten very quickly because everything was ready.”
21 For my comprehensive account of “The evolution of the rendition programme”, including its legal and operational considerations, see The Marty Report 2006, supra note 6.
22 The phrase used here is understood to be a reference to the Inter Services Intelligence Agency, or ISI, which is Pakistan’s military intelligence branch and is renowned for its close co-operation with the CIA.
23 This phrase is understood to be a reference to the regime of CIA “enhanced interrogation techniques”, which were subsequently used to interrogate several other HVDs. For a description of these techniques and the (operational and legal) implications of resorting to them, please see section V. and VIII. later in this report.
24 As President Bush has presented it, when all the leads yielded from these interrogations are taken together (“corroborated by intelligence … that helped us to connect the dots”), then the cumulative product has “played a role in the capture or questioning of nearly every senior Al-Qaeda member or associate detained by the US and its allies since this programme began”. See also Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), “Summary of the High-Value Terrorist Detainee Program”, 06.09.2006, available at http://www.defenselink.mil/pdf/thehighvaluedetaineeprogram2.pdf.
25 See, for example, United Kingdom Parliament, Publications and Records; “Written Answers for 21.06.2004”, in House of Commons Hansard; point 13, column 1222W, Questions to the Rt. Hon. Jack Straw, UK Foreign Secretary, available at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmhansrd/vo040621/text/40621w13.htm#40621w13.html_wqn9. Mr. Straw said: “The United States authorities have repeatedly assured us that no detainees have at any time passed in transit through Diego Garcia or its territorial waters or have disembarked there and that the allegations to that effect are totally without foundation. The Government are satisfied that their assurances are correct.
26 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.
27 See, for example, The Bangkok Post, “Thaksin denies Thailand had ‘CIA secret prison’,” 5.11.2005, available at http://www.bangkokpost.com/breaking_news/breakingnews.php?id=59604.
28 At this point I shall leave aside my discomfort with the phrase “war on terror” as a characterisation of the broad spectrum of counterterrorist policies pursued by the United States in recent years – it was the phrase accepted in all quarters in the immediate post-9/11 period. In this regard I agree with Anderson and Massimino, the authors of an excellent policy study recently released in the US: “The very idea of a ‘global war on terror’ is today seen as the policy of a particular presidential administration in a way that it was not immediately following September 11”; see Kenneth Anderson and Elisa Massimino, “The Cost of Confusion: Resolving Ambiguities in Detainee Treatment”, part of the series entitled Bridging the Foreign Policy Divide, The Stanley Foundation, March 2007; hereinafter “Anderson and Massimino, “Resolving Ambiguities in Detainee Treatment”. My conclusion that President Bush put the CIA at the forefront of his “war machinery” is corroborated by numerous CIA insiders; see, for example, Tyler Drumheller, On the Brink, supra note 16, at p. 35: “It was clear that the administration saw this as a war that would largely be fought by intelligence assets”. See also, Michael Scheuer, interview with the Rapporteur’s representative, supra note 21: “The Agency felt the brunt of the executive branch’s desire to show the American people victories.”
29 Our sources have continually emphasised to us how keenly the United States has sought to observe the “sovereignty” of its allies, particularly those in Europe. From an intelligence perspective, the notion of “unilateral actions on European turf” has been characterised to us as “counter-productive” and “a surefire way of destroying the trust”. More importantly, from a political perspective, the art of “coalition-building” is just as important for covert action as for large-scale military operations. It affords the US Government the opportunity, as one official described it to us, “to cover our backs by saying ‘hey, we’re not the only ones’”. In this regard, it is relevant to consider the policy statements made by members of the Bush administration to defend its detention and rendition practices after the fact: see, in particular, Secretary Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State, “Remarks Upon Her Departure for Europe”, Andrews Air Force Base, 5 December 2005: “The intelligence so gathered has stopped terrorist attacks and saved innocent lives – in Europe as well as in the United States and other countries. The United States has fully respected the sovereignty of other countries that co-operate in these matters.”
30 For my discussion of means of transporting detainees between points on the “global spider’s web”, see The Marty Report 2006, supra note 6, at sections 2.2 to 2.4, pages 15 to 18.
31 For an authoritative analysis of the applicable general principles of aviation law, see the Opinion on the International Legal Obligations of CoE Member States in respect of Secret Detention Facilities and Inter-state Transport of Prisoners, adopted by the Venice Commission at its 66th Plenary Session, 17.03.2006; Opinion No. 363/2005, CDL-AD(2006)009, available at http://www.venice.coe.int/docs/2006/CDL-AD(2006)009-e.asp (hereinafter “Venice Commission Opinion, 17.03.2006”); at §§ 86-104.
32 An aviation expert whom we consulted confidentially used the phrase “anomalies” to describe the practices I refer to here. There are numerous examples of each of these “anomalies” in the comprehensive database of aircraft movements I have compiled since the outset of my inquiry (database held confidentially by the Rapporteur). In this regard I am especially grateful to Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, for having provided me with extensive records in various formats in response to my requests for information. I have been able to supplement and verify Eurocontrol records with information from multiple sources, including from the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and state institutions in different CoE member States, such as transport ministries, aviation authorities, airport operators and state airlines. Hereinafter my database of aircraft movements is referred to simply as “The Marty Database”.
33 Representative William Delahunt (D-Ma), Chairman of the International Organisations, Human Rights and Oversight Sub-Committee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, opening remarks on the subject “Extraordinary Rendition in US Counterterrorism Policy: The Impact on Transatlantic Relations”, 17.04.2007. Mr Delahunt also said: “I shall never forget the headline from the French newspaper Le Monde that proclaimed, ‘Today, we are all Americans.’ Sadly, that support has eroded dramatically… World opinion has turned against the United States in recent years [and]… this reality, this trend of opinion against the United States has profound negative consequences for our national interests.”
34 Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty provides as follows: “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area. Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.”
35 See NATO Press Release (2001) 124, “Statement by the North Atlantic Council”, 12.09.2001.
36 See Nora Bensahel, Counterterror Coalitions: Co-operation with Europe, NATO and the European Union, The Rand Corporation, USA, 2003 (hereinafter “Bensahel, Counterterror Coalitions”); at pp. 6-7. According to Bensahel, the US policy-makers who briefed NATO included Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of Defence, Paul Wolfowitz and State Department Co-ordinator for Counterterrorism, Frank Taylor.
37 See Edgar Buckley, former NATO Assistant Secretary-General for Defence Planning and Operations (from 1999 to 2003), “Invoking Article 5”, in NATO Review, Summer 2006, available at http://www.nato.int/docu/review/2006/issue2/english/art2.html (hereinafter “Buckley, “Invoking Article 5””).
38 See NATO Press Release of 02.10.2001, “Statement by NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson”.
39 See Bensahel, Counterterror Coalitions, supra note 37, at p. 7.
40 Article 5 refers to “such action as [each Party] deems necessary” and does not limit this action to the use of military force. It should be noted that France and Germany emphasised the fact that the obligation to assist under Article 5 did not automatically incur a duty to take part in US-led military action. In this regard, see Tom Lansford, All for One: Terrorism, NATO and the United States, Ashgate, UK, 2003, at p. 88; and Martin Reichard, The EU-NATO Relationship: A Legal and Political Perspective, 2006, at p. 190.
41 See also Philip Gordon, “NATO After 11 September”, in Survival, Vol. 43, No. 4, Winter 2001 – 2002, at p. 92. A senior US official stated: “I think it’s safe to say that we won’t be asking SACEUR [the NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe] to put together a battle plan for Afghanistan.” Further, see Nicholas Fiorenza, “Alliance Solidarity”, Armed Forces Journal International, December 2001, at p. 22. A military official asked rhetorically: “If you were the US, would you want 18 other nations watering down your military planning”. Both cited in Bensahel, Counterterror Coalitions, supra note 37, at pp. 7 and 16.
42 For a perspective on how the invocation of Article 5 did not unfold entirely as NATO had expected, see, for example, Buckley, “Invoking Article 5”, supra note 38: “In the intervening years, I have heard frequent criticism of the decision to invoke Article 5. I have, for example, heard people say that we were unwise to commit ourselves to a course of action which was not fully implemented and which turned out to be unwanted by the United States… I share the frustration of those who believe that the United States could have done more to engage the Alliance in its efforts against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.”
43 See NATO, “Statement to the Press by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson, on the North Atlantic Council Decision on Implementation of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty following the 11 September Attacks against the United States”, Brussels, 04.10.2001, available at http://www.nato.int/docu/speech/2001/s011004b.htm (hereinafter referred to as “Statement to the Press by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson, 4.10.2001”).
44 Ibidem. Note the similarity in the language of “options” used to describe the intergovernmental NATO authorisation and likewise (ref. Tyler Drumheller, supra note 16) the US domestic covert action authority in the Presidential Finding of 17.09.2001: “broadened our options for dealing with terrorist targets.”
45 Some of the descriptions of the measures have been shortened or paraphrased here in order to present them more simply. For the original language in which they were presented to the public, see the Statement to the Press by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson, 04.10.2001, supra note 44.
46 See Buckley, “Invoking Article 5”, supra note 38.
47 See Statement to the Press by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson, 04.10.2001, supra note 44.
48 I take the view that only the last two measures could be considered as responses in the category of “classic” collective self-defence. In recognising this point, one observer has argued that a broad approach to military and non-military measures was consistent with the US approach to counterterrorism: see Reichard, supra note 41, at p. 188. I would add, however, these measures are somewhat ceremonial in character; both of them begin with a phrase “that the Alliance is ready to deploy”, and the first of them states that the purpose of such a deployment would be “to provide a NATO presence and demonstrate resolve.” The “classic” self-defence provisions therefore stop short of any genuine commitment to military action. The real practical substance of these measures is to be found in the other clauses.
49 In its published material, NATO makes clear that the period after the invocation of Article 5 accommodates a range of individual and collective policy choices: “Any collective action by NATO will be decided by the North Atlantic Council. The United States can also carry out independent actions, consistent with its rights and obligations under the UN charter. Allies can provide any form of assistance they deem necessary to respond to the situation.” See NATO, What is Article 5?, available at http://www.nato.int/terrorism/five.htm.
50 I refer here to various individual items of correspondence sent to Mr Baldwin De Vidts, NATO Legal Advisor, by both Mr G. Buquicchio, Secretary of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), and Mr A. Drzemczewski, Head of Secretariat of the PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights (AS/Jur). Copies of all correspondence on file with the Rapporteur.
51 Letter to Mr G. Buquicchio, Secretary of the Venice Commission, from Mr Baldwin De Vidts, NATO Legal Advisor, Reference CJ(2006)0230, dated 06.04.2006. Regrettably this response came three weeks after the issue of the Venice Commission’s opinion on the matter, dated 17.03.2006. See the reference to this correspondence in the Opinion on the International Legal Obligations of CoE Member States in respect of Secret Detention Facilities and Inter-state Transport of Prisoners, adopted by the Venice Commission at its 66th Plenary Session, 17.03.2006; Opinion No. 363/2005, CDL-AD(2006)009 (hereinafter “Venice Commission Opinion, 17.03.2006”), at § 4.
52 Letter to Mr G. Buquicchio, Secretary of the Venice Commission, dated 06.04.2006, Ibidem.
53 Letter to Mr De Vidts from Mr Drzemczewski, Head of the Secretariat, PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights (AS/Jur), dated 24.03.2006.
54 Letter in reply to Mr Drzemczewski’s letter of 24.03.2006 from Mr De Vidts, NATO Legal Advisor, Reference CJ(2006)0330, dated 13.04.2006. It should be noted that NATO is accustomed to rejecting requests for “NATO information”. Even unclassified information remains for the most part inaccessible, based on the following principle: “NATO unclassified information… can only be used for official purposes. Only individuals, bodies or organisations that require it for official NATO purposes may have access to it… NATO information marked in this manner is subject to release via agreement from its originators and subject to recognised storage procedures for its protection” – see letter from Wayne Rychak, Director, NATO Office of Security, to Jacob Visscher, General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union 6.02.2002 (emphasis in original); cited in Alasdair Roberts, “Entangling Alliances: NATO’s Security of Information Policy and the Entrenchment of State Secrecy”, Cornell International Law Journal, 36.2 (November 2003): 329 – 360, at page 9 in the text.
55 For insight into the NATO secrecy and security of information regime and its negative impact on transparency in general, I have found the work of the Canadian specialist on transparency issues, Professor Alasdair Roberts, very informative. Specific articles can be found at www.aroberts.us/reseach.html.
56 The only public record of the 4.10.2001 meeting of the North Atlantic Council is the Statement to the Press by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson, 4.10.2001, supra note 4. Mr De Vidts attached a print-out of this statement from the NATO website to his letter of 13.04.2006.
57 Regrettably, NATO itself has been largely unresponsive to our repeated requests for information regarding the full scope of the authorisation, elements of its practical application, and whether its provisions remain in force to the present day. We have sent five separate items of correspondence to Mr De Vidts: letters from Mr Drzemczewski, Head of the Secretariat, PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights (AS/Jur) dated 24.03.2006 and 26.04.2006; e-mails of 27.09.2006 and 09.11.2006; and fax of 09.11.2006, receipt of which was confirmed in a telephone conversation with Mr De Vidts’ office on 05.12.2006. We have thus far received only a single, incomplete reply: letter from Mr De Vidts, dated 13.04.2006; the reply was incomplete because Mr De Vidts said that one of our questions “is under consideration and at our earliest convenience I will contact you about these issues”. On 27.03.2007 I wrote to Mr Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Secretary-General of NATO, requesting clarification on the outstanding questions. I have yet to receive any response to my letter.
58 See the Venice Commission Opinion, 17.03.2006, supra note 52, at § 91.
59 The Venice Commission notes that “as a general rule, ‘aircraft are recognised as state aircraft when they are under the control of the State and used exclusively by the State for state intended purposes’,” citing Diederiks-Verschoor, Introduction to air law, Kluwer, p. 30, § 12. “Military flights,” as defined by the NATO Allies in the context of this authorisation, cannot be interpreted to be anything other than “for state intended purposes.” See the Venice Commission Opinion, 17.03.2006, Ibidem, at § 91.
60 See the Venice Commission Opinion, 17.03.2006, Ibidem, at § 93.
61 Article 3(c) of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, 1944, as cited in the Venice Commission Opinion, 17.03.2006, Ibidem, at § 93.
62 For another in-depth analysis of the law applicable to civil and state aircraft, including the applicable permissions / immunities and selected references to NATO, see Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Enabling Torture: International Law Applicable to State Participation in the Unlawful Activites of Other States, NYU School of Law, 2006, available at http://www.chrgj.org.
63 See the reference in Lansford, supra note 41, at p. 112: this agreement “allowed for more streamlined planning and the formulation of missions, especially the transfer of assets from one theater to another.” Further references to the terminology of “theaters” in the “war on terror” – specifically relating to the transfer of detainees – were used frequently in our discussions with sources concerning secret detentions in Romania.
64 See Lansford, supra note 41, at p. 112: “when the American-led attacks began, some 40 nations gave the coalition permission to use their airspace for operations.”
65 At the time of this statement, the United States’ 18 NATO Allies were: Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom. All of them except Canada were then and are now also member States of the Council of Europe.
66 At the time of this statement, the 9 NATO “aspirants” (or candidates for accession) were: Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”. All of them were then and are now also member States of the Council of Europe.
67 See US Department of State, “NATO: Coalition Contributions to the War on Terrorism”, Fact Sheet of 31.10.2002, available at http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/fs/14627.htm. Indeed, within days of the authorisations, US Secretary of State Colin Powell made special mention of “all the NATO nations making commitments under the Article 5 invocation to give us overflight rights and other things that have proven so helpful to our efforts.” See US Department of State, “Colin Powell Holds Media Availability with NATO Secretary General George Robertson, 10.10.2001, available at http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0110/10/se.16.html.
68 See NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) of 19.06.1951, “Agreement between the Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty Regarding the Status of their Forces”, available at http://www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/b510619a.htm.
69 See NATO Partnership for Peace SOFA (PfP-SOFA) of 1995, ““Agreement among the State Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty and the other States participating in the Partnership for Peace Regarding the Status of their Forces”, available at http://www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/b950619a.htm. It is important to note that, since it came into force in 1995, this PfP-SOFA has entitled signatories to the Partnership for Peace (PfP) that are not yet members of NATO to nevertheless sign so-called “SOFA Supplementals” with NATO member States. Signatories to the PfP are available at http://www.nato.int/pfp/sig-date.htm.
70 See the Venice Commission Opinion, 17.03.2006, supra note 52, at §§ 106 and 107. For a general overview, see also the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights, “The Human Rights Responsibilities of the EU Member States in the context of the CIA activities in Europe,” 25.05.2006, available at:
71 In this regard, it should be noted that nine different CoE member States made reference to NATO, SOFAs or defence agreements with the United States in their replies to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe in the context of his enquiry under Article 52 ECHR. For copies of all member States’ replies and the SG’s report on his findings, SG/Inf(2006)5, see the Special File at http://www.coe.int/T/E/Com/Files/Events/2006-cia/. In particular, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania made reference to Article 7 of the NATO SOFA as a provision that determines their potential jurisdiction over foreign forces operating on their territories. Article 7 of the multilateral NATO SOFA provides: “The authorities of the receiving State shall have the right to exercise exclusive jurisdiction over members of a force or civilian component and their dependents with respect to offences, including offences related to the security of that State, punishable by its law but not by the law of the sending State.”
72 NATO’s comprehensive Security Policy was modified and updated through a Fundamental Review by the NATO Security Committee (NSC), which concluded in early 2002. The policy is now contained in two documents approved by the North Atlantic Council: C-M(2002)49, “Security within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)’; and C-M(2002)50, “Protection Measures for NATO Civil and Military Bodies, deployed NATO Forces and Installations (Assets) against Terrorist Threats”. The first of these documents, C-M(2002)49, which entered into force on 17.06.2002, contains the applicable rules on classification, handling and protection of sensitive information, as well as rules on establishment of and access to NATO Security Areas, and rules relating to NATO personnel. C-M(2002)49 was released on 01.08.2006 by the Hungarian National Security Superintendence in response to a freedom of information request by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU); copy on file with the Rapporteur. C-M(2002)49 is hereinafter referred to as “NATO, Security within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, 17.06.2002”.
73 NATO Security Committee, “Directive on the Security of Information”, Document AC/35-D/2002, Second Revision, issued 04.02.2005. AC/35-D/2002-REV2 was released in October 2006 by the Hungarian National Security Superintendence in response to a freedom of information request by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU); copy on file with the Rapporteur. AC/35-D/2002-REV2 is hereinafter referred to as “NATO Security Committee, Directive on the Security of Information, 04.02.2005”.
74 See NATO, “Membership Action Plan”, Press Release NAC-S(99) 66, Brussels, 24.04.1999.
75 For insight into the NATO secrecy and security of information regime and its negative impact on transparency in general, I have drawn from the work of the Canadian specialist on transparency issues, Professor Alasdair Roberts, who is based at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University in the United States. For specific articles, refer to Professor Roberts’ website at www.aroberts.us/reseach.html.
76 See Alasdair Roberts, “NATO, Secrecy and the Right to Information”, East European Constitutional Review, (Fall / Winter 2003) 86, at p. 87.
77 See NATO Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism, 22.11.2002, available at http://www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/b021122e.htm; at § 16.2.3.
78 See Report on the Partnership Action Plan against Terrorism, 23.06.2004, available at http://www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/b040623be.htm; at § 7.4.
79 For a detailed account of the abduction of the Egyptian citizen Hassan Osama Mustafa Nasr (known as Abu Omar) in Milan, see the Marty Report 2006, supra note 6, at p. 37, § 162. For an analysis of this case based on extensive contact with insider sources in the CIA, see the recent article by Matthew Cole, “Blowback”, GQ Magazine, March 2007, available at http://www.matthewacole.com/pdfs/Blowback-GQ.pdf.
80 For a detailed account of the ordeal experienced by the German citizen Khaled El-Masri in Macedonia and Afghanistan, see the Marty Report 2006, supra note 6, at pages 25 to 32, paragraphs 93 to 132. For new details of this case, refer to section VI.i in the present report entitled “A case study of Khaled El-Masri.”
81 Reference to the particular service involved – SISMI – based on material from the prosecution case documents compiled by Armando Spataro.
82 In “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” , as I described last year, the partner service with which the CIA collaborated to detain and transfer Khaled El-Masri was the UBK – Uprava za Bezbednosti i Kontrarazuznavanje, or the Security and Counter-Intelligence Service. See the Marty Report 2006, supra note 6, in particular at pp. 29 to 30, §§ 116 to 119.
83 Reference to the written record of the meeting of the PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights (AS/Jur) in Paris on 13.03.2006 (Synopsis No 2006/25), by which the Committee authorised my inquiry to treat information in confidence. Based upon this authorisation, I engaged in an exchange of letters with European Commissioner Franco Frattini. Copies of this correspondence as well as the above-mentioned synopsis are held on file with the Rapporteur. The assurance of absolute confidentiality with which I have provided my sources, scrupulously observed by the team members who attended the interviews, has proven to be an important, if not decisive, asset to progress in our inquiry.
84 The “four eyes” group is this CIA officer’s reference to the very strong four-way co-operation on intelligence matters between the secret services of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia: “it’s just a whole different degree of trust between those four.”
85 See Bensahel, Counterterror Coalitions, supra note 37, at p. 10; Table 2.1, “Summary of European and Canadian Contributions to Operation Enduring Freedom”.
86 In addition to these sources, a single CIA source told us that there were “up to a dozen” HVDs in Poland in 2005, but we were unable to confirm this number. Among the eight names repeated to us from several sources were Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Tawfiq bin Attash and Ahmed Khalfan [al-]Ghailani.
87 The individual circumstances of Abu Zubaydah’s interrogations remain largely unknown, but the introduction of “enhanced interrogation techniques” for the CIA’s use on him has sparked the debate to which I refer. For an insightful early account of CIA interrogation practices, see Jane Mayer, “A Deadly Interrogation – Can the CIA legally kill a prisoner?” in The New Yorker, 14.11.2005, available at http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/11/14/051114fa_fact.
88 Specifically I refer to the admission into evidence of the “Substitution for the Testimony of Khalid Sheikh Mohamed” in the context of the trial of Zacarius Moussaoui; as well as the well-founded reservations that the testimony in question had been procured under torture or other forms of ill-treatment, it is worth mentioning the troubling preamble transmitted to the jury introducing KSM’s testimony : “Although you do not have the ability to see the witness’ demeanour as he testifies, you must approach these statements with the understanding that they were made under circumstances designed to elicit truthful statements from the witness.” For the full testimony, and other materials related to the Moussaoui trial, see Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, “Moussaoui Trial exhibits and documents,” available at http://www.rcfp.org/moussaoui/.
89 For detailed discussion of the Agreement between Romania and the United States of December, dated 6 December 2005, refer to section II.iii.b entitled “Application of the NATO framework in Romania.”
90 For example, official documents refer extensively to the “Bagram Theater Internment Facility” (or “BTIF”) as the name given to the detention facility operated by the US Department of Defense at the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. See, inter alia, Declaration of Colonel Rose M. Miller, Commander of Detention Operations, CJTF-76, in Ruzatullah et al v. Rumsfeld, before the US District Court for the District of Columbia, 19.11.2006; at § 3.
91 I have information in my possession relating to at least three different detainees who were held at Bagram before being transferred out to secret detention in another country. I have undertaken to treat this information in confidence, so I shall not refer here to names or precise periods in which they were detained.
92 I reported last year on the case of Binyam Mohamed al-Habashi, an Ethiopian citizen and former UK resident, who was detained at Bagram between May and September 2004 after having been held in CIA custody in Pakistan, Morocco and the “Dark Prison” in Kabul, and subjected to two separate renditions. See the Marty Report 2006, supra note 6, at section 3.9, pp. 42 to 45.
93 See Stefan Meller, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, Response of the Republic of Poland to Questions addressed by the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe with regard to Article 52 ECHR, dated 17.02.2006 (hereinafter “Response of Poland to CoE Secretary General under Article 52 ECHR”), available at http://www.coe.int/T/E/Com/Files/Events/2006-cia/Poland.pdf, at p. 5. The Polish authorities pointed out that: “The [NATO SOFA] Agreement, however, does not confer jurisdictional immunity on members of foreign armed forces, but elaborates the rules of determining jurisdiction with regard to prohibited acts on the territory of the host State. In particular, the Agreement grants the sending State the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over a member of its forces or of their civilian component in relation to offences arising out of any act or omission done in the performance of official duty [SOFA, Article 7(2),(II)]. It should also be underlined that in the light of the NATO SOFA, all members of the armed forces of a foreign State staying on the territory of the Republic of Poland are obliged to respect Polish law.”
94 For a full record of (unclassified) bilateral treaties between the United States and Poland, see US Department of State, Treaties in Force – A list of Treaties and other International Agreements of the United States in Force on January 1, 2006, “Poland”, at pp. 263-266.
95 See, for example, Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement, with annexes, signed at Warsaw, 22.11.1996; entered into force 22.11.1996, TIAS.
96 See, for example, Memorandum of Agreement concerning Assistance in developing and modernising Poland’s Civil Aviation Structure, signed at Washington and Warsaw, 5 and 14.01.1998; entered into force 14.01.1998, TIAS.
97 See Extradition Treaty between the United States and the Republic of Poland, signed at Washington, 10.07.1996; entered into force 17.09.1999, TIAS.
98 See Treaty on Judicial Assistance with Criminal Matters, with forms. Done at Washington, 10.07.1996; entered into force 17.09.1999, TIAS.
99 See Response of Poland to CoE Secretary General under Article 52 ECHR, supra note 94, at p. 3.
100 See Classified Information Act, Polish Journal of Laws, No. 11, item 95; copy available from the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Poland.
101 On this point, see Alasdair Roberts, “NATO, Secrecy and the Right to Information”, supra note 56.
102 For commentary on the security clearance procedures by a local journalist, see Pawel Wronski, “Przeswietl sie i dowiedz sie. Z tajemnicami do NATO” (Submitting to clearance and getting to know. Our secrets and NATO), in Gazeta Wyborcza, No. 7, 9-10.01.1999.
103 See International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Human Rights in the OSCE Region: Report 2000 (Events of 1999), “Annual Report on Poland”, available at http://www.ihf-hr.org/documents/doc_summary.php?sec_id=3&d_id=1784, at p. 286.
104 See Xinhua News Agency, “Romanian President Firmly Condems Terrorism”, Bucharest, Romania, 11.09.2001; excerpt available as part of a compilation entitled “NATO Aspirant Countries condemn the terrorist attacks on the USA”, at http://stoianov.president.bol.bg/nato_summit/en/condemnation.html. Just over a year later, in a statement during President Bush’s visit to Bucharest on 23.11.2002, President Iliescu declared that the United States and Romania had “identical positions on the way to address the great challenges that the international community is facing, including the threat of terrorism.”
105 See US Department of Defence, Fact Sheet of 7.06.2002, “International Contributions to the War against Terrorism”, available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jun2002/d20020607contributions.pdf.
106 “Answers of the Romanian Delegation to the Questionnaire on the Alleged Secret Detention Centres”, appended to the letter to me from Gyorgy Frunda, Chairperson of the Romanian Delegation to PACE, 20.01.2006; at p. 1. This agreement is said to be supplementary to the NATO SOFA of 1951, of which Romania only became a party when it joined NATO on 29.03.2004. It should be noted that in 2001, when Romania was not a party to the 1951 Agreement, it at the time relied upon its signature of the PfP SOFA of 1995 as the basis for its supplemental. See the section II.i. earlier in this report on the the wider NATO system and the ‘war on terror’, and the accompanying references, supra notes 42.
107 See the Agreement between Romania and the United States of America regarding the Status of US Forces in Romania, signed at Washington, DC on 30.10.2001; entered into force on 10.06.2002, TIAS (hereinafter referred to as “Romanian SOFA Supplemental”). For a full record of (unclassified) bilateral treaties between the United States and Romania, see US Department of State, Treaties in Force – A list of Treaties and other International Agreements of the United States in Force on January 1, 2006, “Romania”, at pp. 270 to 272.
108 “Answers of the Romanian Delegation to the Questionnaire on the Alleged Secret Detention Centres”, appended to the letter to me from Gyorgy Frunda, Chairperson of the Romanian Delegation to PACE, 20.01.2006; at p. 1.
109 This phrase is understood to describe the permission given to “enter, exit and move freely within the territory”, with a US military travel order sufficing as identification.
110 See Romanian SOFA Supplemental, 30.10.2001, supra note 108, at Article II(2).
111 It is unclear whether this reference to “the civilian airline companies” indicates that there is a specific numbered or named list of US-registered companies whose members fall under the “special regime of access” referred to. However, in a comparable scenario, it has in the past been disclosed in documents released by the US Department of Defence under a Freedom of Information Act request that specific US aviation companies (including several of those known to be involved in detainee transfer operations) have been awarded “classified contracts” by certain units of the US armed forces. See Seth Hettena, The Associated Press, “Navy contracted planes used in CIA missions”, 24.09.2005, available at http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-09-24-navy-cia_x.htm
112 In addition, it is known that the meanings of important “cover” designations often used by the CIA are set forth in the 2001 SOFA Supplemental. These include the terms “civilian component”, “dependent” and “United States contractor” – all of which categories were also granted the same permissions and protections as conventional military officers. Unfortunately, I have not as yet been able to obtain the sections of the agreement in which the meanings of those terms are defined.
113 See Agreement between the United States of America and Romania regarding the activities of United States Forces located on the territory of Romania, done at Bucharest, 6.12.2005; (hereinafter “Romanian Access Agreement”); copy on file, submitted officially to the Rapporteur in May 2006 after its adoption by the Romanian Parliament. It is worth pointing out that the references to “Implementing Arrangements” in this text afford the Parties a considerable degree of latitude as to how they put the agreement into practice: “The technical details regarding the agreed facilities and areas shall be in accordance with Implementing Arrangements to be concluded for each facility and area” [at Article II(1)]; and “As appropriate, the Parties or their Designated Authorities may enter into Implementing Arrangements to carry out the provisions of this Agreement” [at Article XI].
114 See Romanian Access Agreement, 6.12.2005, Ibidem, at Article II(1). It is relevant to note that the “Designated Authorities” in question are the Ministry of National Defence of Romania and the Department of Defense of the United States of America, respectively.
115 See Romanian Access Agreement, 6.12.2005, Ibidem, at Article VII. In the final clause, the fact that the exempted civil aircraft have to be under exclusive contract to the Department of Defense (rather than the US Government more generally) is a clear indication of the military nature of the arrangements.
116 See Romanian Access Agreement, 6.12.2005, Ibidem, at Article II(4).
117 See Romanian Access Agreement, 6.12.2005, Ibidem, at Article IX.
118 See Romanian Access Agreement, 6.12.2005, Ibidem, at Article II(3).
119 See Romanian Access Agreement, 6.12.2005, Ibidem, at Article VI(1).
120 See the Accommodation Consignment Agreement for Lands and Facilities at Bagram Airfield between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (represented by HE General Abdul Rahim Wardak, Minister of Defense) and the United States of America, made and entered into by the Host Nation and the Lessee on 28.09.2006 (hereinafter referred to as the “Bagram Agreement”); copy on file with the Rapporteur.
121 See, for example, the Bagram Agreement, 28.09.2006, Ibidem, at § 9: “The Host Nation [Afghanistan] covenants and warrants that the United States shall have exclusive, peaceable, undisturbed and uninterrupted possession of the Premises during the existence of this agreement. The United States shall hold and enjoy the Premises during the period of the agreement without any interruption whatsoever by the Host Nation or its agents.” As is clearly stated in § 13, the Bagram Agreement of 2006 “supersedes all previous agreements between the United States and Host Nation for the use of Bagram Airfield” – implicitly meaning that any formal or informal arrangements that had prevailed prior to September 2006 had finally been brought into one coherent written text. A similar situation can surely be said to apply in Romania with the signature of the Access Agreement of December 2005.
122 See Declaration of Colonel Rose M. Miller, Commander of Detention Operations, CJTF-76, in Ruzatullah et al v. Rumsfeld, before the US District Court for the District of Columbia, 19.11.2006; at § 5. Also note Colonel Miller’s statements that “each nation separately controls access to its respective compound on the Airfield” and that “the US does not have complete, plenary jurisdiction”.
123 Note No. 202, dated 26.09.2002, is reproduced in a translated document obtained by Amnesty International, which transmits the concurrence of the Afghanistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs with this note to the US Embassy in Kabul; see Document No. 93 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (America and Canada Political Affairs Division), dated 28.05.2003.
124 Note No. 202 was signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan, Doctor Abdullah, on behalf of the transitional government. No reference is made to any pursuant procedure for approval of this document, nor am I aware of one having taken place. Furthermore, in the final paragraph, “the parties waive any and all claims against each other for damage to or loss or destruction of property owned by either party, or death or injury to any military or civilian personnel of the armed forces of either party, as a result of activities in Afghanistan under this agreement.”
125 See my letter of 19.12.2005 to Chairpersons of National Delegations to PACE, which contained “Questions which members of the Parliamentary Assembly might put to their respective governments in their national parliaments,” reproduced as Appendix II to Information Memorandum II, 22.01.2006.
126 “Answers of the Romanian Delegation to the Questionnaire on the Alleged Secret Detention Centres”, appended to the letter to me from Gyorgy Frunda, Chairperson of the Romanian Delegation to PACE, 20.01.2006; at p. 1.
127 See the Agreement between Romania and the United States of America on the Protection of Military Classified Information, done in Washington, 21.06.1995, entered into force 2003; cited Ibidem.
128 Alasdair Roberts cites a revealing news report about the passage of the Romanian legislation in April 2002: “[On 3 April] a certain Colonel Constantin Raicu [of the Romanian Intelligence Service], who is in charge of the protection of state secrets, came down like a storm on the members of the Senate Juridical Commission, telling them: ‘This morning we have received signals from [NATO in] Brussels indicating that if the bill on classified information is not passed before 16 April, they cannot exclude adopting a critical attitude regarding Romania. We agree with any form – the colonel added – but please, pass it as soon as possible, or we will be facing huge problems.’ The Senators… grasped the situation very quickly, and they approved the draft bill in the form passed by the Chamber of Deputies.” See Bucharest Ziua, “NATO used as a Scarecrow to pass Law on Secrets,” 08.04.2002, www.ziua.ro, cited in Alasdair Roberts, “NATO, Secrecy and the Right to Information”, supra note 56, at p. 87.
129 See International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Human Rights in the OSCE Region: Report 2002 (Events of 2001), “Annual Report on Romania”, available at http://www.ihf-hr.org/documents/doc_summary.php?sec_id=3&d_id=1782, at p. 257.
130 Contribution of Mr Gyorgy Frunda, Chairperson of the Delegation of Romania to PACE, at the 17th Sitting of the Plenary of the Parliamentary Assembly during its 2006 Session, Strasbourg, 27.06.2006.
131 We initially probed into the means used to keep the HVD programme secret because of a tip-off from an insider source. The source had indicated that the NATO framework “holds the key” to understanding the European dimension of the programme, in terms of both “physical security and security of information.”
132 See NATO, Security within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, 17.06.2002, supra note 73. The policy is designed to ensure that a “common degree of protection” is applied both to NATO’s own information and to information exchanged among NATO members on a bilateral level. Both categories of information are referred to as “NATO classified information” in the context of this policy.
133 Ibidem, in Enclosure “C” – Personnel Security, at the section entitled “Application of the ‘Need-to-Know’ Principle,” p. 2, § 6. In a handbook accompanying an earlier version of the policy, this “fundamental principle” was reiterated to mean that information should be limited in its distribution for work purposes only, and not “merely because a person occupies a particular position, however senior.” See NATO Security Committee, A Short Guide to the Handling of Classified Information, Document AC/35-WP/14:4, Brussels, 22.08.1958.
134 Ibidem, in Enclosure “B” – Basic Principles and Minimum Standards of Security, at the section entitled “Basic Principles,” p. 3, § 9(g).
135 Ibidem. See, inter alia, Enclosure “B” – Basic Principles and Minimum Standards of Security, at the section entitled “Basic Principles,” p. 2, § 9(b): “classified information shall be disseminated solely on the basis of the principle of need-to-know to individuals who have been briefed on the relevant security procedures… only security cleared individuals shall have access.”
136 See Alasdair Roberts, “NATO, Secrecy and the Right to Information”, supra note 56, at p. 89.
137 Ibidem, in Enclosure “B” – Basic Principles and Minimum Standards of Security, at the section entitled “Personnel Security,” p. 4, § 11; see also the supporting provisions in Enclosure “C” – Personnel Security, pp. 1-4. In the previous version of the NATO policy, C-M(55)15(Final) as reissued in 1964, anyone receiving a security clearance was assessed to have shown “unquestioned loyalty [and] such character, habits, associated and discretion as to cast no doubt upon their trustworthiness.”
138 See Andrzej Zybertowicz, “An Unresolved Game – The role of the Intelligence Services in the nascent Polish Democracy”, conference paper published jointly by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), the Norwegian Parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Committee, and the Human Rights Centre at the Department of Law, Durham University, Oslo, September 2003, copy on file with the Rapporteur (hereinafter “Zybertowicz, The Role of the Polish Intelligence Services”), at p. 2: “when the Polish Parliament passed the new law on secret services… instead of explanation of [the] many scandals and taking legal measures towards those responsible, instead of accountability, the public opinion has been offered a quasi-reform of the services. It deserves this label because, among other things, it did not meet [the] objects of its own designers.”
139 See Response of Poland to CoE Secretary General under Article 52 ECHR, supra note 94, at p. 2. The phrase is used in this context to describe the system of oversight for the AW: “Parliament [the Sejm] exercising its prerogatives through the Commission for Special Services, also controls the Polish Foreign Intelligence Agency in matters relating to its co-operation with partner secret services of other States.”
140 The position of Minister-Coordinator for the Special Services was created in November 2005 and is presently filled by Minister Zbigniew Wassermann.
141 See Zybertowicz, The Role of the Polish Intelligence Services, supra note 139, at pages 3 and 6-7.
142 Reform of the military intelligence services in Poland has been a contentious issue since the early 1990s, and a topical one throughout my mandate as Rapporteur. Prior attempts at regulating the WSI appear to have been half-hearted, at best. From its creation in August 1991 to December 1995 it operated exclusively under secret military orders; then until July 2003 it came under the nominal control of the Ministry of Defence, but without close legal oversight. Even the Law on the Military Secret Services passed by Parliament on 9.07.2003 contained no external verification procedures. Since late 2005, at the instruction of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the WSI has been gradually dissolved and replaced by a restructured military counter-intelligence unit. Deputy defence minister Antoni Macierewicz, who heads the new unit, published a report on the dissolution in February 2007, but the process appears to have done little to assuage public scepticism or criticism. For analysis of the report and reactions to it, see inter alia Joanna Najfeld, “Polish Military Intelligence involved in Illegal Activities,” Network Europe, 23.02.2007, available at http://networkeurope.radio.cz/feature/polish-military-intelligence-involved-in-illegal-activities.
143 See also Zybertowicz, The Role of the Polish Intelligence Services, supra note 139, at pages 6-7. The author lists what he sees as the objects of “self-reform” in the WSI, including “to prevent outsiders – including democratically established control and oversight bodies – from obtaining thorough access to the Services”, “to present the WSI as a useful ally to the NATO authorities”, and to retain an “upper hand in economic institutional rearrangements, including key financial flows and major privatisation schemes.”
144 One of the few means of verifying – through independent public sources – the fact that JW-2669 was stationed at Stare Kiejkuty during this period is through photogrammetric studies of activity on Internet servers by users with particular “net-names”. In outputs from such studies, inter alia of 23.10.2003, the “net-name” JW-2669 is registered as being assigned to “Jednostka Wojskowa 2669, Stare Kiejkuty”.
145 For more information on the means used to cover up CIA flights into Poland, see section III.iii below, entitled “The anatomy of CIA secret transfers and detentions in Poland.”
146 As in many former communist countries, the secret services in Poland are accustomed to using networks of operatives and informants that span many of the most important institutions of the state, as well as the private sector. These networks comprise what is known as the “undercover community.” For a description of this “crucial notion” in Poland, which the author refers to as “the security complex,” see Zybertowicz, The Role of the Polish Intelligence Services, supra note 139, at pages 4-5.
147 Between 2002 and 2004, the commercial company headed by Mr Kos shared responsibility for operating Szymany Airport with a military unit stationed on site. The airport had a mixed “civil-military” character, whereby aircraft registered as undertaking “military flights” were dealt with under special procedures.
148 See, for example, Fox News, “Polish Iraq Hostage Praises US Rescuers”, Warsaw, 10.06.2004; available at http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,122359,00.html.
149 The Italian press, for example, reported that Mr Kos was the “007 of Warsaw” and bore a “subcutaneous microchip” that allowed rescuers to trace the location at which he and his fellow hostages were being held; see La Repubblica, “Ostaggi liberati grazie a un microchip sottopelle”, 16.06.2004, available at http://www.repubblica.it/2004/f/sezioni/politica/ostliberi2/chipinchiesta/chipinchiesta.html. On 15.06.2004 AP quoted Mr Kos himself as having said: “They [the kidnappers] thought I am an American co-operating with the CIA and I tried to explain that I am a Pole, that I was there to build houses.”
150 Letter to my inquiry from Justice Jaroslaw Horobiowski, Judge in the District Court for Wroclaw-Fabryczna (Bankrupty and Pre-insolvency Proceedings), dated 7.11.2006, copy on file with the Rapporteur. Mr Kos’ business affairs given as examples by Justice Horobiowski in this regard are “his role [with] Jedynka Wroclawska in Iraq, his mysterious kidnapping, then [the] strange circumstances of his rescuing, and his being director of the (former military) airport in Szymany.” Justice Horobiowski also states that the revelations about secret service connections were made by some former directors of the company.
151 In addition to the statements in court, trade unionists wrote an open letter stating that Mr Kos’ posting to Iraq may also have entailed some intelligence functions. See letter on behalf of Jedynka Wroclawska SA to Wroclaw Prosecutor Leszek Karpina, dated 26.04.2006, copy on file with the Rapporteur.
152 See NATO, Security within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, 17.06.2002, supra note 73; in Enclosure “B” – Basic Principles and Minimum Standards of Security, at p. 5, § 18(a). In NATO terms, the category of security classification attached to the bilateral operations of the HVD Programme is known as “COSMIC TOP SECRET (CTS)”, a category for which “unauthorised disclosure would result in exceptionally grave damage” to NATO and / or to participating member States.
153 The approach of the Polish authorities towards my inquiry is dealt with in further detail below. The official position of the Polish Government remains unchanged since it was announced on 10 December 2005: “The Polish Government strongly denies the speculation occasionally appearing in the media as to the existence of secret prisons on the territory of the Republic of Poland, supposedly used for the detention of foreigners suspected of terrorism. There are no such prisons in Poland and there are no prisoners detained in contravention of the laws and international conventions to which Poland is a party.” Most recently it was reproduced in submissions before the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) in Geneva; see Written replies by the Government of Poland to the list of issues (CAT/C/POL/Q/4/Rev.1) to be taken up in connection with the consideration of the fourth periodic report of Poland (CAT/C/67/Add.5), UN Document CAT/C/POL/Q/4/Rev.1/Add.1, 30 March 2007, available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/cats38.htm; response to Question 12, at page 23, § 72.
154 On the capture of KSM, see inter alia B. Raman, “How significant is Khalid Sheikh’s arrest?” on Rediff.com, 3.03.2003, available at http://in.rediff.com/news/2003/mar/03raman.htm; and BBC News Online, “Bush hails ‘Al-Qaeda killer’ arrest,” 4.03.2003, available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2817441.stm.
155 The full report and records of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (the “9/11 Commission”) are available online at http://www.9-11commission.gov/. In particular, Chapters 5 and 7 of the Commission Report are said to “rely heavily on information obtained from captured Al-Qaeda members;” specifically ten detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, “whose custody has been confirmed officially by the US Government.” See the inset on “Detainee Interrogation Reports,” in Chapter 5, at page 146. For specific dates on which KSM and other “high-value detainees” were interrogated, see, in particular, “Notes to Chapter 5”, in Notes to the 9/11 Commission Report, at pages 488 to 499.
156 Interrogations of KSM are dated as early as 12.04.2003, just over a month after his capture; see “Notes to Chapter 5”, 9/11 Commission Report, ibidem. Further interrogations are dated at frequent intervals throughout 2003 and 2004.
157 “Data strings” are exchanges of messages or digital data (mostly in the form of coded text and numbers) between different entities around the world on a network known as the AFTN (Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunication Network). “Data strings” record all communications filed in relation to each particular aircraft as its flights are planned in advance, and as it flies between different international locations. The filings come from diverse entities, including aviation service providers, ANS (Air Navigation Services) authorities, airport authorities and government agencies. I have obtained complete sets of “data strings” for about twenty flight circuits, which I selectively requested from the AFTN system. The selected circuits include each of the circuits featuring undeclared flights of CIA aircraft into Szymany, as well as circuits featuring landings in Romania and a large number of rendition operations pertaining to individual detainees whose cases I dealt with in my report of 2006. Our team has conducted an in-depth analysis of all these “data strings,” together with information in the Marty database and in consultation with aviation experts.
158 Jeppesen International Trip Planning is the travel service of Jeppesen Dataplan, an aviation services provider based in San Jose, California and a subsidiary of Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company. On 30 May 2007, the ACLU announced a lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan for its involvement in the renditions of three individuals: Ahmed Agiza, Binyam Mohamed and El-Kassim Britel. See American Civil Liberties Union, “ACLU Sues Boeing Subsidiary for Participation in CIA Torture and Kidnapping,” 30 May 2007, available at http://www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/29920prs20070530.html. For the first revelations about Jeppesen’s involvement in CIA detainee transfers, including the rendition of Khaled El-Masri, see Jane Mayer, “Outsourcing: The CIA’s Travel Agent”, in The New Yorker, 30.10.2006, available at http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/10/30/061030ta_talk_mayer. The Managing Director of Jeppesen is quoted in the article as having said: “We do all the extraordinary rendition flights – you know, the torture flights. Let’s face it, some of these flights do end up that way.”
159 Communications, notably flight plans, filed by Jeppesen International Trip Planning are identified in the AFTN system by the use of the company’s “originator address,” which is KSFOXLDI.
160 The entire national airspace of Poland comprises one single Flight Information Region (FIR), denoted by the four-letter code EPWW. Poland therefore has only one Area Control Centre (ACC). All air traffic into Poland is controlled by the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency, PANSA, from its Air Traffic Management Centre at Warsaw Airport. For an excellent overview of Polish Air Traffic Control, see PANSA, “Air Traffic Control”, available at http://www.polatca.pansa.pl/kontrola_eng.htm.
161 We have identified the relevant “data strings” communications about these flights being sent from the AFTN address “EPWAZPZX”, which denotes the “Approach Control Centre – Air Traffic Service Reporting Office at Warsaw Airport”. In addition to the phase of general “Region Control” for all of Poland, the phase of “Approach control” for Szymany Airport, during which the movements of all civil or military aircraft are controlled within a specified range of the airport, is dealt with from Warsaw. Szymany Airport does not meet the criteria (i.e. passenger airports that maintain fixed flight connections) to have its own Approach Control unit so it relies on the unit at Warsaw Airport.
162 We have identified the relevant “data strings” communications about these flights being sent to the AFTN address “EPSYYDYX”, which denotes the “Authority Supervising the Aerodrome at Szymany Airport”. Several airport officials who were present at Szymany Airport when these flights arrived in 2003 have told us that their notification came from military sources in Warsaw and that all arrangements for the landings were handled using special military units on the ground. Polish Air Traffic Control explains these procedures in the following terms: “Military operations carried out in the military aerodrome zones are controlled by a military unit that directly co-operates with the Approach Control.” From our Polish insider sources, we know that the Director of Military Operations, working with PANSA Approach Control in Warsaw, as well as key officials in the Border Guards who notified Szymany of the landings, and military officers who took over from civilian officials at Szymany to deal with them on the ground, were working on behalf of Polish military intelligence in collaboration with the CIA.
163 We have been able to establish through our investigations that the men registered as Pilot-in-Command (PIC) for the undeclared flights into Szymany are established CIA pilots. We have records of their full names and have been able similarly to vouch for their engagement as pilots in multiple detainee transfer operations involving other countries. We have also confirmed their appearance on flight manifests with known CIA “rendition teams” by referring to documents provided to us confidentially from on an ongoing judicial inquiry in a Council of Europe member State.
164 The status of the flight goes to the all-important question as to whether the function it is performing is considered to be “state,” “civilian” or “military.” These undeclared flights into Szymany, which we understand to have been operated as “military flights”, eased their passage into Poland by securing exemptions as “special status”, or STS, flights. STS designators are very strictly limited, because once granted they allow deviations from planned routes and other important exemptions. See Eurocontrol, User Relations and Development Bureau, IFPS Users Manual, Edition No. 11.2, 30.03.2007 (hereinafter “Eurocontrol IFPS Users Manual”), available at http://www.cfmu.eurocontrol.int; at Section 50, “Special Status Flights (STS)”, p. 50-1.
165 The particular STS indicator used by flights into Szymany was “AFTMEXEMPTAPPROVED”. According to Eurocontrol: “This exemption designator shall only be used with the proper authority. Any wrongful use of this designator to avoid flow restriction shall be regarded by the relevant states as a serious breach of procedure and shall be dealt with accordingly.” See Eurocontrol IFPS Users Manual, Ibidem, at Section 54, “STS/AFTMEXEMPTAPPROVED Indicator”, p. 54-1.
166 See Appendix No. 1 to the present report, entitled “Disguised CIA flights into Szymany Airport, Poland.”
167 See Marty Report 2006, Council of Europe Doc. 10957, supra note 6, at section 2.6.2, “The case of Poland”, §§ 63 to 75, pages 20 to 21.
168 Contribution of Mr Karol Karski, Chairperson of the Delegation of Poland to PACE, at the 17th Sitting of the Plenary of the Parliamentary Assembly during its 2006 Session, Strasbourg, 27.06.2006.
169 Letter to me from Mr Karol Karski, Chairperson of the Polish Delegation to PACE, 28.12.2006.
170 On 14.03.2007, I sent a reminder letter to Mr Karski on this issue, concluding: “I respectfully urge you to re-emphasise to the Polish authorities the importance of sending me a swift and comprehensive reply to my letter, along with the requested data.”
171 Letter to me from Mr Karol Karski, Chairperson of the Polish Delegation to PACE, 28.03.2007.
172 When I read that “all the information on the Polish side” had been given to the EP’s TDIP Committee, I recalled the resolution adopted on 12.02.2007 by the very same Committee, in which it regrets that “contradictory statements were made about the flight plans for those CIA flights, which were first said not to have been retained, then said probably to have been archived at the airport, and finally claimed to have been sent by the Polish Government to the Council of Europe.” See European Parliament Resolution on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners (A6-0020/2007 – Rapporteur: Giovanni Claudio Fava), 12.02.2007, at § 172. It is scarcely credible for the Polish Government to practice such evasion towards me and my fellow Parliamentarians.
173 See Tom Hundley, “Remote Polish airstrip holds clues to secret CIA flights,” Chicago Tribune, 6.02.2007, available at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0702060187feb06,1,1986708.story The article says: “Jaroslaw Jurczenko, the airport’s director, denied that flight records had ever been lost for the mysterious landings and provided the Tribune with documentation for seven of the flights in question.”
174 A member of our team re-traced the route from Szymany Airport to the Stare Kiejkuty intelligence training base.
175 See Larry Watts, Office of the National Security Advisor of the Romanian President, “Control and Oversight of Security Intelligence in Romania”, Working Paper No. 111, published by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), Geneva, February 2003, copy on file with the Rapporteur (hereinafter “Watts, Oversight of Security Intelligence in Romania”), at p. 27. The author recommends that “real sanctions should be introduced and enforced” in such instances where rule of law is subverted by political considerations.
176 There are at least six different secret services in Romania, several of them housed under individual Government Ministries. The agencies that I have not discussed specifically in this section include the General Directorate of Intelligence and Internal Protection (Directia Generala de Informatii si de Protectie Interna, or DGIPI) in the Ministry of the Interior, and the Independent Protection and Anti-Corruption Agency (Serviciul Independent de Protectie si Anticoruptie, or SIPA) in the Ministry of Justice.
177 For a much more developed discussion of the relevant considerations, see: European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), “Report on the Democratic Oversight of the Security Services”, Study No. 388/2006, CDL-DEM(2007)001, 24.05.2007. In its concluding remarks, the Commission highlights “recurring issues in the design of oversight procedures”, as follows: “First is the need to establish mechanisms to prevent political abuse while providing for effective governance of the agencies. Overall, the objective is that security and intelligence agencies should be insulated from political abuse without being isolated from executive governance;” and “the challenge for oversight and accountability is to adapt or devise processes that simultaneously command democratic respect while protecting national security;” at pp. 49-50, § 215 to 226. (Soon to be issued as CDL-AD(2007)016 – to be made available on http://venice.coe.int.
178 For the SRI, see the Law on the Organisation and Functioning of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), Law No. 14/1992; for the SIE, see the Law on the Organisation and Functioning of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), Law No. 1/1998.
179 For the SRI, see the Decision of the Romanian Parliament on the Organisation and Functioning of the Joint Committee of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies for Parliamentary Oversight of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), Decision No. 30/1993; for the SIE, see the Decision of the Romanian Parliament on the Organisation and Functioning of the Special Committee for Parliamentary Oversight of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), Decision No. 44/1998. Indeed, some commentators say that the increased transparency and growing public trust in the SRI and the SIE owe largely to the strength of these parliamentary accountability mechanisms. See, for example, Watts, Oversight of Security Intelligence in Romania, Ibidem: “Romania’s semi-presidential system has proven itself capable of blocking the over-accumulation and over-centralisation of power by government executives.”
180 In addition to the President (Chair), the membership of the CSAT includes: the Prime Minister (Vice-Chair); the Ministers of Defence, Economy and Commerce, Finance, Justice, Interior and Administrative Reform, and Foreign Affairs; the Directors of the SRI and SIE; the Presidential Advisor on National Security; and the Chief of General Staff; see the CSAT website at: http://csat.presidency.ro/. The CSAT is regulated under a 2002 statute - Law No. 415/2002 – and its activities are themselves reported regularly to the Parliamentary Committee for Defence, Public Order and Security. For further discussion on related matters, see also Karoly Szabo, “Parliamentary Overview of Intelligence Services in Romania,” workshop paper published by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), delivered at the workshop on “Democratic and Parliamentary Oversight of Intelligence Services”, Geneva, 3-5.10.2002, copy on file with the Rapporteur.
181 The Ministry of National Defence (Ministerul Apararii Nationale) was renamed as the Ministry of Defence (Ministerul Apararii) in April 2007. I have used its old name, which applied in the period in question.
182 Formally speaking, military intelligence activities are supposed to be subject to the same parliamentary scrutiny as all the activities of the Ministry of National Defence, namely through the Committees on Defence, Public Order and National Security in both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies of the Romanian Parliament. In reality, these Committees are far removed from the actual work of the DGIA services.
183 See, for example, Doru Dragomir, “Hurricane in the Army’s Secret Services”, Bucharest Ziua, 9.04.2003, at p. 9; available online at http://www.ziua.net/.
184 Between February and June 2003, United States Armed Forces (both airforce and ground troops) deployed an expeditionary group for operations in Iraq at the 86th Air Force Base – Mihail Kogalniceanu Airfield (“MK Airfield”), near Constanta, Romania. According to Romanian military personnel at the airfield, the deployment reached up to “5,000 bodies” at its peak, albeit that most of the troops were only there temporarily, or in transit. MK Airfield was used for the purpose of “regrouping and resupplying air deployments before entering action in theatre in Iraq.”
185 At the time of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and up until 27.04.2004, MK stood on its own as the 57th Air Force Base of the Romanian Air Force. From 1.05.2004, the self-standing air force base at MK was “disbanded” and Romanian military air traffic reduced significantly, as part of wider restructuring in the Ministry of National Defence. The MK Airfield is therefore now administered from Fetesti as an extension of the 86th Air Force Base; the only active unit located at MK is the 863 Helicopter Squadron.
186 APOD stands for Aerial Port of Debarkation; APOE stands for Aerial Port of Embarkation. Under NATO concepts these references mean that MK Airfield was hosting primarily transport aircraft that were bringing in and shipping out personnel and equipment.
187 Confirmed in interviews by the Rapporteur’s representative with Romanian military personnel stationed at MK Airfield. Military intelligence was the second of nine categories of military staff that participated in the Joint Operations Centre. The other categories were: personnel, operations, logistics, planning, communications, training, finance and budget, and “cimic” – or civil-military co-operation.
188 Visits by US official’s to Romanian facilities in the context of their classified bilateral arrangements are regulated under the NATO framework and the Agreement on the protection of military classified information of 21 June 1995 (entered into force in 2003). See “Answers of the Romanian Delegation to the Questionnaire on the Alleged Secret Detention Centres”, appended to the letter to me from Gyorgy Frunda, Chairperson of the Romanian Delegation to PACE, 20 January 2006; at page 1. Article 5(1) of the 1995 Agreement states as follows: “The authorisation for “visits” by one party to units or installations of the other party where access to state classified military information is necessary, will be limited to official purposes… [and] to government officials both parties have agreed upon.”
189 One example of how Romanian military intelligence continued to collaborate with the United States in the “war on terror” was Parliament’s endorsement in March 2004 of President Iliescu’s proposals to send a special military intelligence detachment of 30 officers to serve in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. See Rompres News Agency, Bucharest, “Parliament approves Romanian military intelligence unit for Afghanistan,” reproduced on BBC Monitoring, 2.03.2004, available at
190 See Sergiu Medar, “The role of military intelligence in the process of military and political-military decision-making” (original in Romanian), internal document of the Directorate for Military Intelligence, Bucharest, 2000; cited in Florin Ureche, “Civilian Control over Military Intelligence Services”, in Romanian Military Thinking, April 2006, pp. 63-74, copy on file with the Rapporteur; at p. 68.
191 The four named facilities are as follows: Smardan Training Range; Babadag Training Area and Rail Head; Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, co-located with 34th Mechanised Brigade Base; and Cincu Training Range.
192 See “Annex A – Facilities”, the first of two annexes to the Access Agreement between Romania and the United States, 6.12.2005, at p. 9. Under the last of the four named facilities, Cincu Training Range, the “manouvre area” is described as follows: “comprised of areas in Tulcea and Constanta counties (“Judetul” in Romanian), bounded generally by the towns of Babadag in the north, Babadag Training Area in the east, Tariverde in the south and Horia in the west.”
193 In total, the perimeter line encompasses an area of about 1,500 square kilometers of territory in south-eastern Romania. See Appendix No. 2 to the present report, entitled “The ‘secure zone’ for CIA transfers and detentions in Romania.”
194 See the discussion on bilateral NATO SOFA arrangements between Romania and the United States earlier in this report, at section II.iii.b, entitled “Application of the NATO framework in Romania.”
195 The “dual use” character of MK Airfield dates back to 1961, when the Romanian Ministry of National Defence handed over the following elements of the airfield to the civilian authorities of Constanta International Airport: the runway / landing strip; the “parking aprons” for both light and heavy aircraft; the terminal buildings, including the Air Traffic Control Tower; and the main entrance / exit points from the adjacent highway. This restructuring created two “sections” on the MK Airfield: a civilian section and a military section. According to our discussions with Romanian military personnel stationed at the MK Airfield, the civilian and military sections keep one another informed only “for operational reasons [e.g. use of the runway] and on a need-to-know basis.” These personnel told us that “everybody plays by the rules, and that is one of the main reasons for the military side’s close co-operation with the civilian side.”
196 It is a little known fact that Romanian personnel managed and operated Kabul Airport as one of their tasks in the context of their NATO deployment, 2004 to 2006. Our team spoke with a senior military officer who was seconded directly from MK Airfield to serve for several months at OAKB.
197 Denoted by the ICAO code “LRCK”. Aeroportul International Mihail Kogalniceanu Constanta (AIMKC) is the new name of the airport. It was previously called simply Aeroportul International Constanta (AIC), but – according to its current Director General – took on the additional MK in its name in order to benefit from the “free publicity” generated by the media scandal over CIA flights allegedly having landed at MK Airfield. Mihail Kogalniceanu was the first President of Romania and – in addition to the MK Airfield – also gave his name to a town about 50 kilometres north of Constanta. Romanians tell me it was the first town in the country to have an entirely literate population.
198 See, for example, Information from the records of the Romanian Civil Aeronautic Authority (RCAA) and the Romanian Ministry of National Defence, contained as Appendices to the letters sent to me by Gyorgy Frunda, Chairperson of the Romanian Delegation to PACE, dated 24.02.2006 and 7.04.2006.
199 The committee to which I refer is the “Senate Committee of Inquiry to investigate the allegations regarding the use of Romanian territory for CIA detention facilities or flights by CIA-chartered aircraft”, established under Article 1 of Decision No. 29 of the Senate, Parliament of Romania, 21.12.2005 (hereinafter referred to as the “Senate Inquiry Committee”). The Chairperson of the Committee was Senator Norica Nicolai, supported by Vice-Chair George Cristian Maior and Secretary Ilie Petrescu. The Committee released its final report on 5.03.2007 (hereinafter “Senate Inquiry Committee Final Report, 5.03.2007” – page numbers refer to the original, Romanian version), a copy of which was submitted as an attachment to Senator Nicolai’s letter to me dated 20.03.2007. My inquiry was also provided with copies of most of the annexes to the final report, including substantial information from airport authorities, handling service providers and the national Air Traffic Services Administration (ROMATSA). I am grateful to Senator Nicolai for facilitating access for my inquiry to important information in Romania.
200 In my letters to the Romanian authorities, I highlighted crucial inconsistencies in flight data relating to the movements of a host of CIA-linked aircraft in Romania, including N313P, N379P and N85VM. The documentation I received back from the Senate Inquiry Committee helps to establish certain landings, but is not authoritative enough to state categorically the exact paths flown by these aircraft, nor the full list of locations in Romania at which they did or did not land. I cannot, for example, content myself with “evidence” that aircraft changed their routes or destinations based on hand-written annotations on flight plans. In several cases I have “data strings” attesting to communications relating to these aircraft that do not correspond with the Senate Inquiry Committee’s version of events.
201 See Senate Inquiry Committee Final Report, 5.03.2007, supra note 200, at Chapter 2, “References to Romania”, page 5.
202 See Senate Inquiry Committee Final Report, 5.03.2007, supra note 200; generally at Chapter 5, “Conclusions reached by the Committee based on its documentation and monitoring activities”; and specifically at pages 10, 11, 12 and 13.
203 By way of example, the first general conclusion states categorically: “Neither the Romanian Civil Aeronautic Authority nor any other institutions or structures of state with relevant competences in the field investigated by the Committee has any knowledge about civilian aircraft operated or chartered by the CIA or by any other company on behalf of the CIA, landing or flying over national territory;” Ibidem, at page 10.
204 The Committee rules out embarkation or disembarkation of any passengers on the key flights listed in the Marty Report of 2006, and states that aircraft associated with the CIA landed only in Bucharest. With regard to MK Airfield, the Committee “concludes that there is no facility that could have been used for the purpose of detention, not even on an ad-hoc basis. Moreover, none of the flights considered suspicious by the Marty Inquiry, by NGOs or by the media has ever landed at this airport;” Ibidem, at page 11. Among other evidence, our team obtained records of actual flights into MK Airfield by aircraft associated with the CIA, which directly contradicts the Committee’s claim.
205 Final Conclusion No. 5 states as follows: “On the question of whether certain Romanian institutions could have participated knowingly or participated through omission or negligence in unlawful detainee transfer operations in Romanian airspace or at Romanian airports, the Committee’s response is negative;” Ibidem, at page 14. It should be noted that other final conclusions are not so categorical, however, particularly with regard to whether secret detention facilities could have existed in locations other than the grounds or immediate vicinity of the named airports.
206 See inter alia “Answers of the Romanian Delegation to the Questionnaire on the Alleged Secret Detention Centres”, appended to the letter from Gyorgy Frunda, Chairperson of the Romanian Delegation to PACE, to Dick Marty, 20.01.2006; pp. 5 to 6. The language of such submissions was carefully worded so as not to exclude the types of CIA operations I have described in this report: “No Romanian authority has any knowledge or information about any aircraft illegally transporting prisoners. No Romanian authority has been, legally or illegally, involved in secret transportation of prisoners… The Romanian Government has never issued any authorisation for any transport of prisoners via Romania.”
207 In two written decisions, on 14 and 21.11.2006, the Romanian Senate rejected the requests of the Romanian Delegation to PACE to respond to my correspondence directly, and instead assigned to the Senate Committee the sole authority for preparing Romania’s official responses. These decisions were followed by a four-month period during which we received no communications, ended only by Senator Nicolai’s submission of the Final Report by letter dated 20.05.2007.
208 At the end of my inquiry, the official position of Romania has developed no further than the original denials it adopted at the beginning. See “Response of the Romanian Government on the investigation initiated by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, in accordance with Article 52 ECHR”, appended to the letter from Mihal-Razvan Ungureanu, Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Terry Davis, 15.02.2006; at page 4: “… no public official or other person acting in an official capacity has been involved in any manner in the unacknowledged deprivation of liberty of any individual, or transport of any individual while so deprived of their liberty… Official investigations have been conducted by several Government authorities [whose] results confirmed that no such activities took place on Romanian territory.”
209 For the most comprehensive and authoritative known list of persons detained at one point by the United States, and whose fate and whereabouts remain unacknowledged, see the following report produced jointly by six leading human rights organisations: Amnesty International, Cageprisoners, Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law, Human Rights Watch and REPRIEVE, “Off the Record – US Responsibility for Enforced Disappearances in the ‘War on Terror’,” 7 June 2007, available at http://www.chrgj.org/docs/OffRecord/OFF_THE_RECORD_FINAL.pdf.
210 See, for example, various reports by Human Rights Watch: most recently “Ghost Prisoner – Two Years in Secret CIA Detention”, HRW Volume 19, No. 1(G), February 2007, available at:
http://hrw.org/reports/2007/us0207/us0207webwcover.pdf; and earlier “List of ‘Ghost Prisoners’ possibly in CIA custody”, 30 November 2005, available at http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/11/30/usdom12109.htm.
211 In its report entitled “USA / Yemen: Secret Detention in CIA ‘Black Sites’”, Amnesty International described how one detainee had been transformed from a person his father described as a “very gentle man, who is always laughing”, to someone who sat through an encounter with “never even the ghost of a smile on his face”. See AI Index: AMR 51/177/2005, 8 November 2005, available at http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engamr511772005; at page 2.
212 The speech delivered by President Bush on 06.09.2006 is a prime example of the type of rhetoric used to convince the audience that the people in US custody are inhuman and undeserving of empathy. The speech is strewn with references to “dangerous men”, “terrorist enemies” and “those who kill Americans”. Talking about Guantanamo Bay, President Bush states: “It’s important for Americans and others across the world to understand the kind of people held”. In his conclusion, President Bush states: “The adversaries are different… We’re fighting for the cause of humanity, against those who seek to impose the darkness of tyranny and terror upon the entire world.”
213 See, most notably: Kenneth Anderson and Elisa Massimino, “The Cost of Confusion: Resolving Ambiguities in Detainee Treatment”, part of the series entitled Bridging the Foreign Policy Divide, The Stanley Foundation, March 2007, available at http://www.stanleyfoundation.org/resources.cfm?ID=212; hereinafter “Anderson and Massimino, “Resolving Ambiguities in Detainee Treatment”.
214 The McCain Amendment, as it is popularly known, was the initiative of Republican Senator John McCain, who himself had been held captive during the Vietnam War. The Amendment passed before the United States Senate on 5 October 2005 (90 votes in favour, 9 against), but its force was weakened due to the use of a Presidential Signing Statement in which President Bush said that his “constitutional authority” as Commander in Chief took precedence in “protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks.”
215 Supra note 6, pp. 25-29.
216 UBK stands for Uprava za Bezbednosti I Kontrarazuznavanje; it is the Security and Counter-Intelligence Service of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
217 See the Marty Report 2006, supra note 6, at pp. 25 to 32, §§ 92 to 132.
218 I used the phrase “rendition circuit” to describe consecutive detainee transfer operations by the same CIA-linked aircraft in quick succession. For more details, see the Marty Report 2006, supra note 6, at pages 18 to 19, §§ 52 to 55. Also see Appendix No. 1 to the same report, “Flight logs related to the Successive Rendition Operations of Binyam Mohamed and Khaled El-Masri in January 2004.”
219 For a full description of Khaled El-Masri’s ordeal in his own words, see Declaration of Khaled El-Masri in support of Plaintiff’s Opposition to the United States’ Motion to Dismiss, in El-Masri v. Tenet et al, Eastern District Court of Virginia in Alexandria, 6.04.2006 (hereinafter “El-Masri statement to US Court in Alexandria, 06.04.2006”), available at http://www.aclu.org/pdfs/safefree/elmasri_decl_exh.pdf.
220 Several news media outlets have published insider accounts of the process by which the CIA learned of their mistake but failed to act to rectify it. See, for example, NBC Investigative Unit, “CIA accused of detaining innocent man – If the Agency knew he was the wrong man, why was he held?” 21.04.2005. The article states: “In March … the CIA finally finished checking his passport and found it was not a fake… The CIA realised it had the wrong man, a genuine German citizen, in custody… Condoleezza Rice learned of the mistake and ordered El-Masri’s immediate release… But that didn’t end the case. About two weeks later, Rice learned El-Masri was still being held and ordered him released again. In late May , he was finally freed.”
221 Our team has spent many hours meeting with Khaled El-Masri, notably between March and May 2006, during which he has courageously recounted his experiences to us. We have also met extensively with his German lawyer, Manfred Gnjidic, and his American attorneys at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in New York. We are grateful to all of them for their commitment and assistance to our inquiry.
222 See El-Masri statement to US Court in Alexandria, 06.04.2006, at p. 21. “Sam”, a German-speaking official who accompanied Mr El-Masri on this flight, told him that he “would eventually land in a European country but that it would not be Germany itself.”
223 The military airbase in question appears to have two variations on its name: the first is Bezat-Kuçova; the other is Berat-Kuçovë. The airbase is denoted by the ICAO code LAKV. It is situated in the south of Albania, between the towns of Vlorë and Korcë, about 40 miles (64 km) south of the capital Tirana. The airbase underwent a comprehensive renovation and upgrade between 2002 and 2004 in order to bring it into line with NATO standards, as part of Albania’s NATO accession process.
224 See Appendix No. 3 to the present report, entitled “Flight logs related to the secret ‘homeward rendition’ of Khaled El-Masri in May 2004.”
225 Submission No. 02-292.7-525-6/06, “Report on flight movements”, prepared by Mr Dorde Ratkovic, Director General, Directorate for Civil Aviation in the BiH Ministry of Transport and Communications, Sarajevo, 17.05.2006; attached to the letter to me from Mr Elmir Jahic, Chairperson of the BiH Delegation to PACE, Sarajevo, 14.06.2006.
226 Permission No. 292.7-361/04 issued by Hasan Hedzepagic, Senior Advisor for Flight Authorisation, Directorate for Civil Aviation in the BiH Ministry of Transport and Communications, Sarajevo, 26.05.2004, sent as a fax to “Richmon [sic] Aviation”, USA; attached to the letter to me from Aljosa Campara, Secretary General of the BiH Delegation to PACE, “Report on flight movements – copies of permissions issued”, Sarajevo, 8.01.2007.
227 We were familiar with Richmor Aviation as the operator of the aircraft with the tail number N85VM, which was used in the CIA’s rendition of the Egyptian cleric Abu Omar on 17.02.2003. See Appendix No. 4 to the Marty Report 2006, “Flight logs related to the rendition of Abu Omar.”
228 Quite apart from the fantastical route, the N982RK aircraft’s maximum flight capacity of 6 hours 52 minutes, as listed in the “data strings” I have obtained, would make it impossible to complete this journey.
229 The phrase “dumping ground” is used by the US lawyer of five Uighur Muslims from western China who were sent to Albania in May 2006 upon their release from Guantanamo Bay; see BBC News Online, “Albania takes Guantanamo Uighurs”, available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4979466.stm.
230 See, for example, BBC News, “Guantanamo refugee rues asylum deal,” 18.05.2007, available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6668167.stm. The nationalities of the eight men in Albania are listed as: an Algerian, an Egyptian, an Uzbek and the five Uighurs.
231 In its press release of 31.01.2007, the Prosecutor's Office acknowledged having received additional information from the Milan Prosecutor's Office and from the Council of Europe's Rapporteur, Dick Marty.
232 See Marty report 2006, supra note 6, p. 27, §§ 106-111.
233 See Marty report 2006, supra note 6, p. 26, §§ 99-100, p. 27, § 103, p. 32, § 130.
234 See n-tv, 23.11.2006.
235 Mr Martin Hofmann, whom I met in December 2006 in Geneva. I should like to thank Mr Hofmann for his kind cooperation.
236 A prolongation of the wire-tap was subsequently refused by the competent judge.
237 On file with the inquiry.
238 According to Max Stadler, Liberal member of the Bundestag’s committee of inquiry and the Parlamentarisches Kontollgremium (PKG) who spoke with a member of our team on 25.05.2007, this is the opinion of all members, including those from the party currently in power.
239 Mr Stadler, supra note 239, indicates that this is also the view of the committee of inquiry, which does not however believe that its terms of reference allows it to record this officially.
240 The political leadership could only be held responsible for “organisational error” for failing to report back with the relevant information in good time.
241 Tagesthemen.de of 21.05.2007, citing Dr. Max Stadler (Liberal).
242 Mr Stadler has alluded to “organised leaks” by members of government parties designed or at least objectively likely to mislead the public on the substance of the in camera discussions – one case in point was the private hearing of officers who had interrogated Mr Kurnaz in Guantanamo Bay and the matter of the American “offer”, apparently refused by the German authorities, to allow Mr Kurnaz to be repatriated.
243 Mr Stadler gave as an example an apparently similar case of a long-term German resident arrested in Pakistan who was able to return to Germany without the government raising the objections it did in the case of Mr Kurnaz; a second example is the approach adopted by the Bundestag’s Legal Affairs Committee to a bill to facilitate information exchange between executive services in the fight against terrorism. The Committee insisted on including measures to prevent this being misused for rendition purposes.
244 Mr Stadler insisted that this “special investigator” would not be replacing the Committee but would be preparing the way by carrying out preliminary investigations which would facilitate the UA’s subsequent work.
245 No 06-1667 of 02.03.2007 (4th circuit).
246 He is suspected of having laid fire to a wholesale market in Neu-Ulm (cf. Spiegel online 17.05.2007).
247 Letter from Mr Gnjidic to Chancellor Merkel of 26.04.2007, passed on to the Bavarian Prime Minister’s Office by letter from the Chancellor’s office of 11.05.2007 with a request to take this issue up as a matter of urgency (copy of both letters on file); since February 2006, Mr El-Masri has received limited therapy (70 hours) from the treatment centre for torture victims in Neu-Ulm, but this therapy was considered as insufficient both by Mr Gnjidic and by the therapist herself (cf. SPIEGEL-online 18.05.2007). Although Mr El-Masri had asked for treatment at the centre shortly after his return to Germany in 2004, it took until 2006 for Mr Gnjidic to obtain the required health insurance funding agreement to start this limited treatment.
248 Cf. Spiegel-online, 18.05.2007 (interview with Ms Gerlinde Dötsch).
249 Mr Gnjidic’s graphic comparison : the lawyer gets to fight with a pocket knife, the executive with a sword.
250 No. 06-1667 of 02.03.2007
251 Quoting the US Supreme Court in Reynolds (345 US at 9-10) “[j]udicial control over the evidence in a case cannot be abdicated to the caprice of executive officers”
252 Again quoting the US Supreme Court (Nixon, 418 US at 710)
253 Court of Appeal (supra note 246) p. 12, with references to the US Supreme Court’s Reynolds judgment (345 US at 9).
254 The Reynolds case dates back to 1953; another leading case (Totten v. United States, 92 US 105) to 1875, and the United States v. Nixon (418 US 683) to 1974; Chi.& S. Air Lines, Inc., v. Waterman S.S.Corp., 333 US 103, 111 to 1972
255 776 F.2d at 1238 n.3 (cited by the Court of Appeal in the El-Masri case, supra note 246, p. 23)
256 In the same way as the procedure described by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (supra note 246, pp. 11-12 and 21-22) for the judicial review of the issue whether the information sought to be protected qualifies as privileged under the state secrets doctrine.
257 On the other hand, this body has no power to summon witnesses. The government is under an obligation to "report" to the PKG, but there is no statutory obligation (subject to criminal penalty) like that which exists for witnesses summoned by a committee of inquiry, for the executive's representatives on the PKG to tell the truth.
258 As seems to be the case, according to Mr Stadler, within the German parliamentary committee of inquiry: while the representatives of government parties, especially the Christian Democrats who were in the opposition at the material time, take a very active and open attitude during the examination of witnesses, government discipline comes fully into play when the facts are being assessed, with the representatives of government parties never having voted for a motion to take evidence (Beweisantrag) tabled by minority representatives or having tabled such a motion themselves.
259 cf. tagesthemen.de of 21.05.2007, announcing the appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court.
260 The Assembly’s Rapporteur on Guantanamo, Kevin McNamara (United Kingdom/SOC), received on 28.02.2005 an official reply from the German Government regarding the case of Mr Kurnaz to a questionnaire sent to all member states as to whether the authorities knew of a national or permanent resident now held in Guantanamo and if so, what they were doing to secure the person’s repatriation. The answer was laconic: The US authorities were not approached by the German authorities as Turkey is responsible for and able to grant diplomatic protection to Mr Kurnaz. In Resolution 1433 (2005) the Assembly appealed to all member states "to enhance their diplomatic and consular efforts to protect the rights and ensure the release of any of their citizens, nationals or former residents currently detained at Guantanamo Bay, whether legally obliged to do so or not".
261 See BILD.de, 22.05.2007 ("Warum lassen wir uns von so einem terrorisieren"); 05.02.2007 ("Ausgerechnet El-Masri"); 31.01.2007 ("Wie wurde aus diesem Libanesen eigentlich ein Deutscher?"). This campaign by BILD is criticised by Hans Leyendecker in the Süddeutsche Zeitung of 21.05.2005.
262 Mr Stadler also said that he was disappointed by this lack of solidarity with victims perceived as "alien". Even inside the parliamentary committee of inquiry, some members remained hesitant until such time as the MPs personally heard moving accounts of their appalling sufferings given by Mr El-Masri and Mr Kurnaz.
263 In a letter of 05.06.2007 the Head of the Macedonian Delegation, Mr Sambevski, transmitted this assessment to me officially.
264 See Marty report 2006, supra note 6, pp. 27-28 (§§ 106-111).
265 See Marty report 2006, supra note 6, pp. 32-23 (§§ 133-149).
266 In place of Belarus, the candidature of which was strongly opposed by the Parliamentary Assembly's Legal Affairs Committee in a public appeal adopted on 14.05.2007.
267 See Marty report 2006, supra note ***, p. 37 (§ 162).
268 www.wsws.org, 29.01.2007
269 See my description of these methods, supra at section V.iii.
270 BBC NEWS/World/Europe/Italy orders CIA kidnapping trial ; Chicago Tribune online edition, 17.03. 2007.
271 Times Online, 16.02.2007.
272 See Chicago Tribune online edition, 17.03.2007.
273 www.wsws.org, 29.01.2007
274 See Reuters, 10.02.2007
275 See Doc 11031. (available at http://www.coe.int)
276 While this seems self-explanatory, it was called into question by the US Court of Appeal, supra, note 246, at p. 20, footnote 5.
277 See www.ararcommission.ca
278 Report, available at http://www.ararcommission.ca , hereinafter: Arar Commission Report, p. 9.
279 Arar Commission Report, p. 10.
280 See http://www.maherarar.ca - A Message from Maher Arar
281 Canadian society does seem particularly sensitive, as the recent arguments about alleged ill-treatment meted out to two Afghan detainees seem to show (see LeDevoir.com, file:///Users/dick/Desktop/Afghanistan%20-%20Le%20Canada%20n'a%20pas%20vérifié%20les%20allégations%20de%20torture.webarchive)
282 In January 2007, Mr Arar received $ Can 11.5 (about € 7.5 million) in compensation, and a formal public apology from the Canadian Prime Minister.
283 cf. CBC news item of 29.01.2007
284 See Marty report 2006, supra note 6, page 46.
285 Letter of 18.05.2007 (on file).
286 The report must first be addressed to the Prime Minister, who shall decide about what can be made public.
287 It should not be forgotten that the United States is still refusing to ratify the treaty setting up the International Criminal Court; as at 01.01.2007, 104 States had acceded to the Rome Statute governing the ICC.
288 CPT, Public statement concerning the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, made on 13.03.2007 and relating to a visit in November 2006 (available at http://www.coe.int
290 In a letter of 20.03.2007 published on the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry’s Director of Humanitarian Cooperation and Human Rights complained to the CPT chair about the publication of certain elements of reply the Russian authorities consider as confidential.
291 I refer, in particular, to page 24 of document CPT/Inf (2007)17.
292 Human Rights Center Memorial, May 2006 (on file, English version provided by International Helsinki Federation, Vienna, on 14.06.2006, complete with transcription of wall inscriptions, and photographs taken by Memorial); see also “Unofficial Places of Detention in the Chechen Republic”, International Helsinki Federation, Vienna, 15.05.2006 (addressed to me shortly before the publication of the June 2006 Interim Report) http://www.ihf-hr.org/viewbinary/viewdocument.php?download=1&doc_id=6810
293 The topic was last on the Sub-Committee’s agenda on 18.04.2007; on the same day, the Russian delegation informed the Sub-Committee’s Chair that no reply had yet been received from the Prosecutor General’s Office. The Sub-Committee therefore postponed consideration of this matter “for one last time”. A reply was received by the Sub-Committee’s chair on 21.05.2007.
294 cf. Public Statement, paras. 28 and 29 (supra note 289 and p. 24 of document CPT/Inf (2007)17, quoting from an official reply by the Russian authorities: “In the course of the investigation it was established that on the night of 7 November 2004, “D”, a member of an armed group (gang), was detained in the Khasavyurt district of the Republic of Dagestan by officers from the ChR President’s Security Service and taken to the Security Service base in Tsentoroy. On 8 November 2004 he was transferred to Gudermes ROVD.” (emphasis added)
295 Akhmadova and Sadulayeva v. Russia (10.05.2005), Application No 40464/02; Bazorkina v. Russia (27.07.2006), Application No 69481/01; Baysayeva v. Russia (05.04.2007)
296 See John Bellinger, Chief Legal Advisor to the US Secretary of State, and Dan Fried, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs; Joint Brieifing to European Delegation during the visit of the TDIP Temporary Committee of the European Parliament to Washington, DC, 11.05.2006 (hereinafter “Bellinger, Briefing to European Delegation, or Fried, Briefing to European Delegation”). Assistant Secretary of State Fried told the delegation: “The undisciplined public discussion, unbalanced by unintelligent conclusions from responsible people such as yourselves can have an unintended consequence of making it more difficult to work effectively to the benefit of your Governments and your societies as well as ours.”
297 Bellinger, Briefing to European Delegation, Ibidem.
298 I do not intend, in this brief section, to repeat my comparative analysis of “Legal Perspectives” in the US and the Council of Europe contained in my report last year, as I feel that it remains just as pertinent today: see the Marty Report 2006, supra note 6, at section 10, pp. 54 -59, §§ 265-279.
299 See Anderson and Massimino, “Resolving Ambiguities in Detainee Treatment”, supra note 214, at p. 3. The authors also state, at p. 14: “The counterterrorism policies of any new [US] administration or new Congress … must start from the view that counterterrorism operates across a wide range of activities. At one end is law enforcement … at the other end is war … The real action against terrorists themselves takes place in a zone between those two extremes.”
300 See Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, “President Issues Military Order: Detention, Treatment and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War Against Terrorism”, 13.11.2001, full text available at:
301 See Military Commissions Act of 2006, http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/MC_Act-2006.html. The Act makes explicit distinctions between US citizens and non-citizens, or “aliens”, as grounds for affording lesser legal protections (including denial of habeus corpus rights) to the latter category.
302 See Human Rights First, “Testimony of Elisa Massimino before the US House of Representatives, Committee on Armed Services”, 29.03.2007, available at http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/. HRF made a compelling case to Congress to review several of the problematic definitions I have discussed here: “How we treat our terrorist suspects – including how we try them – speaks volumes about who we are as a nation, and our confidence in the institutions and values that set us apart. The distinction between the United States and its terrorist enemies has narrowed over the course of this conflict.”
303 I refer here to the Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) hearings in which KSM and other detainees among the fourteen HVDs at Guantanamo Bay appeared earlier this year, available at:
http://www.defenselink.mil/home/features/Detainee_Affairs/. See, for example, Department of Defense, “Unclassified Verbatim Transcript of CSRT Hearing for ISN 10024” [known to be Khalid Sheikh Mohamed], 10.03.2007. KSM declared himself a “combatant” with the phrase: “For sure, I am an American enemy.” He also attempted to position himself as a “revolutionary” by stating: “we [Al Qaeda] consider we and George Washington doing same thing.”
304 In this regard, see US Department of Defense, Army Field Manual on Interrogation, FM3-24/MCWP3-33.5, December 2006, at pages 1 to 23. Under the section entitled “Counterinsurgency”, the Manual states: “It is easier to separate an insurgency from its resources and let it die than to kill every insurgent [because] dynamic insurgencies can replace losses quickly. Skilful counterinsurgents must thus cut off the sources of that recuperative power.” One such source is said to be the status afforded to an insurgent by his enemy.
305 Six of these “enhanced interrogation techniques” were described in an ABC News report in November 2005, summarised as follows: “water boarding” (induced fear of drowning on a detainee strapped to a board); “cold cell” (naked at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, repeatedly doused with cold water); “long-time standing” (shackled in a stress position for up to 40 hours, causing extreme pain and sleep deprivation); “attention slap” (open-handed strike across the face); “belly slap” (hard, open-handed strike to the stomach); and “attention grab” (taking hold of the detainee’s shirt, shaking forcefully). See Brian Ross and Richard Esposito, “CIA’s Harsh Interrogation Techniques Described – Sources Say Agency’s Tactics lead to Questionable Confessions, Sometimes to Death”, ABC News, 18.11.2005, available at:
306 See Martin Scheinin, UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism, “Press Conference discussing Preliminary Findings on Visit to United States,” 16-25.05.2007 (hereinafter “Scheinin, ‘Preliminary Findings on Visit to US’”).
307 See US National Defence Intelligence College, Intelligence Science Board, Educing Information – Interrogation: Science and Art (Foundations for the Future), Phase I Report, Washington, DC, completed December 2006 – released 29.05.2007 (hereinafter “Intelligence Science Board, Educing Information”).
308 See Scheinin, “Preliminary Findings on Visit to US,” supra note 307.
309 For a review of the full report and several background interviews with its authors, see Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti, “Interrogation Methods are Criticised”, in The New York Times, 30.05.2007, available at:
310 See Steve Kleinman, “Barriers to Success: Critical Challenges in Developing a New Educing Information Paradigm,” excerpts taken from pp. 254, 255 and 265, in Intelligence Science Board, “Educing Information”, supra note 308, at pp. 235-266.
311 According to the Military Commissions Act 2006, at §§ 6(a)(3)(A) and (B), the President “shall issue” an Executive Order containing authoritative interpretations of the “meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions” that would then apply to interrogations carried out by the CIA. Recent news reports have stated that a lengthy deliberative process involving lawyers in the State Department, the White House, Directorate of National Intelligence and the Department of Defense would most likely lead to this Executive Order being published before the summer of 2007; see, for example, Mark Mazzetti, “CIA Awaits Rules on Terrorism Interrogations,” in The New York Times, 25.03.2007, available at:
312 See Remarks by President Bush, 06.09.2006, supra note 3: “We have largely completed our questioning of the men – and to start the process for bringing them to trial, we must bring them into the open”. One of our sources also conceded that having held these detainees for several years in incommunicado detention, it would be “disingenuous” to say that they are still 'live intelligence assets'".
313 See Remarks by President Bush, 06.09.2006, supra note 3. Also, for the President’s interpretation of the CIA programme’s status under the revised law, see The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “President Bush Signs Military Commissions Act of 2006”, 17.10.2006, available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/10/20061017-1.html. The Act, he said, “will allow the Central Intelligence Agency to continue its program for questioning key terrorist leaders and operatives.”
314 See US Department of Defense, “Defense Department takes custody of al-Qaeda leader,” 27 April 2007, available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=32969.