[Image courtesy of NYPL DIGITAL LIBRARY]
WASHINGTON POST: The CIA no longer operates any secret overseas prisons, Director Leon Panetta said yesterday, and has not detained anyone since he became chief in February. Panetta’s statement, contained in a message to the CIA workforce, also said the agency will no longer use contractors to conduct interrogations or to provide security for remaining detention sites. Referring to “black sites,” as the secret prisons were known, Panetta said the agency has a plan “to decommission the remaining sites,” an apparent reference to facilities still in existence but no longer operational. He said that “Agency personnel” will take charge of that process and that any outside contracts still involved in site security will be “promptly terminated.”
The CIA has never revealed the locations where it secretly held and interrogated as many as 100 high-level al-Qaeda and other terrorism suspects captured overseas after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. News reports have said the sites were in Thailand, Romania and Poland, among other places.Panetta’s statement was the first public acknowledgement that some of the sites still exist.
The CIA has acknowledged that many of the prisoners were subjected to harsh interrogation techniques that were approved by the Bush administration’s Justice Department. Human rights organizations, legal groups, members of Congress and a number of Obama administration officials have described those techniques — including simulated drowning, or waterboarding — as illegal torture. Under executive orders issued Jan. 22, President Obama ordered the closure of the secret CIA sites, along with the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and banned interrogation techniques not authorized by the U.S. Army Field Manual. MORE
PREVIOUSLY: On his last day in CIA custody, Marwan Jabour, an accused al-Qaeda paymaster, was stripped naked, seated in a chair and videotaped by agency officers. Afterward, he was shackled and blindfolded, headphones were put over his ears, and he was given an injection that made him groggy. Jabour, 30, was laid down in the back of a van, driven to an airstrip and put on a plane with at least one other prisoner. His release from a secret facility in Afghanistan on June 30, 2006, was a surprise to Jabour — and came just after the Supreme Court rejected the Bush administration’s assertion that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to prisoners like him. Jabour had spent two years in “black sites” — a network of secret internment facilities the CIA operated around the world. His account of life in that system, which he described in three interviews with The Washington Post, offers an inside view of a clandestine world that held far more prisoners than the 14 men President Bush acknowledged and had transferred out of CIA custody in September. MORE