View Full Version : CIA Chief: Interrogation Methods 'Unique' But Legal

11-21-2005, 08:12 PM
CIA chief: Interrogation methods 'unique' but legal


(Gold9472: Isn't that interesting. Porter Goss, helping out Dick Cheney to get his torture exemption.)

By John Diamond, USA TODAY

LANGLEY, Va. — CIA interrogators use "a variety of unique and innovative ways" to collect "vital" information from prisoners but strictly obey laws against torture, CIA Director Porter Goss said.

In his first interview since the clash this month between the Bush administration and the Republican-controlled Senate on restricting interrogations, Goss said the CIA remains officially neutral on the proposal by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to ban "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of detainees by CIA or military officers. But Goss made clear that techniques that would be restricted under McCain's proposal have yielded valuable intelligence.

"There is a huge amount of misinformation swirling about on the subject of detainees. That would include alleged activities of this agency," Goss said in an interview Friday in his office at agency headquarters in Northern Virginia.

"This agency does not do torture. Torture does not work," Goss said. "We use lawful capabilities to collect vital information, and we do it in a variety of unique and innovative ways, all of which are legal and none of which are torture."

Goss declined to describe interrogation methods exclusive to the CIA. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said the problem with McCain's proposal is that the restriction on "degrading" treatment might bar psychological techniques, such as calling a prisoner a coward or isolating a detainee in a very small room. Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is a close ally of the administration in the interrogation debate. (Related story: Lawmakers: Interrogators feeling threatened)

The Senate included McCain's measure in two annual defense bills, the House in neither. The two branches must work out the issue. The White House has threatened to veto any bill that includes McCain's measure.

Goss echoed administration arguments about the need for flexibility in fighting terrorism.

"An enemy that's working in an amorphous network that doesn't have to worry about a bunch of regulations, chain of command, rule of law or anything else has got a huge advantage over a stultified, slow-moving, bureaucratic, by-the-book" organization, Goss said. "So we have to, within the law and within all the requirements of our professional ethics in this profession, develop agility. And that means putting a lot of judgment in the hands of individuals overseas."

Goss declined to discuss reports by The Washington Post and Human Rights Watch alleging that the CIA maintains secret detention centers at military bases in Central European countries. He said media leaks about allies helping the CIA in capturing and interrogating detainees may provoke reprisal terrorist attacks.

Cooperation from allies is essential to intelligence operations, Goss said. "I don't have any arrest authority overseas. If you want to disrupt a terrorist, you've got to have local law enforcement help you."

Exposure of allied cooperation with the CIA has already prompted several European governments to launch investigations into alleged CIA activities in their territories. Such diplomatic complications are among the reasons Goss is pressing for the CIA to improve its ability to operate on its own overseas.

"Sometimes other sovereign nations have somewhat divergent views or opinions, and so it's a good idea — even with your best friends ... to have a secret," Goss said.

11-23-2005, 03:32 PM
Tenn. Office Linked to CIA Renditions

Associated Press Writer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- The law office of Douglas R. Beaty sits in a small business park near the city's more prosperous suburbs. Nothing on the front door says anything about the CIA or airplanes.

But Beaty's law office figures in an investigation into whether the CIA is secretly flying terrorism suspects to third countries for questioning and perhaps torture.

Spanish investigators say at least two planes that may have been used for such flights and made stopovers on the island of Mallorca were operated by Stevens Express Leasing Inc.

Tennessee state records show that Stevens Express Leasing has the same business address as Beaty's law office. And Beaty is listed as a registered agent and assistant secretary for Stevens Express Leasing.

In a recent report on the CIA's use of "extraordinary rendition," as the practice of moving suspects to third countries is called, The New York Times identified Stevens Express Leasing as one of several companies believed to be fronts for the agency's air operations.

Last week, Beaty refused to talk about the company or his duties with it when questioned by The Associated Press.

It is not uncommon to see Beaty's name on records kept by the Tennessee secretary of state's office. He is listed as a registered agent for more than 90 companies and has carried similar titles for more than 100 others that the state no longer considers active. More than 100 companies have shared his office address.

"All I do is real estate," Beaty said when asked about his law practice.

He was also the incorporator and president of a small company, Tenn-Ford Inc., that figured in a Tennessee political scandal. Beaty and former Rep. Harold Ford Sr., a Memphis Democrat, were indicted on federal bank fraud charges in 1987 and acquitted in 1993 after two trials. The government argued unsuccessfully that Tenn-Ford was a shell company created to funnel payoffs to Ford from Tennessee bankers Jake and C.H. Butcher Jr.

There are no signs for Stevens Express Leasing in the business park, a cluster of unattached one-story buildings that also house a doctor's office, a dentist, several real estate agents and Miss Pat's School of Dance and Gymnastics.

The Federal Aviation Administration lists Stevens Express Leasing as the owner of four airplanes - three Beechcrafts and a DC-3.

A report prepared for Spain's Interior Ministry in April, parts of which were obtained by the AP, said two planes that made stops in Mallorca were operated by Stevens Express Leasing.

Italy and Germany also are looking into the CIA's handling of suspected terrorists within their borders.

11-26-2005, 11:48 AM
Its not really hard to get them to talk, they don't need physical torture. With all the chemicals and drugs available, you could get anything out of them. Just pump weed smoke through the prison. I really don't see why they're so hell bent on using pain when drugs are better.

11-26-2005, 11:48 AM
They get off on it.

11-26-2005, 11:51 AM
Oh, I'm sure there are plenty of sadististic interrigators.

11-26-2005, 12:03 PM
I was referring to Cheney.

11-26-2005, 12:09 PM
He doesn't do it himself, but I guess maybe he just likes the idea.

11-26-2005, 12:10 PM
He doesn't do it himself, but I guess maybe he just likes the idea.

I envision him coming home from a hard day's work... sitting on his barcolounger, opening a beer, and popping in the days torture videos to pleasure himself.

11-26-2005, 12:36 PM
You invision Dick Cheney pleasuring himself? Sick!

11-27-2005, 02:27 PM
Europe protests CIA activity on its soil
LA Times (http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051126/NATION/511260424)

Outrage in many countries triggers parliamentary inquiries and a handful of criminal prosecutions

From Scandinavia to the tropical Canary Islands, the CIA's clandestine use of European soil and airspace for counter-terrorism missions is triggering outrage, parliamentary inquiries and a handful of criminal prosecutions.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, Europe was either silent about or unaware of the ways in which American agents operated within its borders. But in recent weeks several European governments have become much more vocal about possible CIA activity in their jurisdictions.

Among the complaints: CIA operatives, without formal permission, have seized suspects in European cities and then transported them to third countries for interrogation; CIA flights that transported terror suspects around the world purportedly have used European airports for layovers; and the CIA may be operating clandestine prisons in Europe.

Officially, Europe, with its long history of respect for civil rights, has been lukewarm to U.S. counter-terrorism measures. To find itself the territory on which some of Washington's most controversial tactics are being played out has become a matter of much debate and soul-searching.

But prospects for holding the CIA to account appear to be fading in some countries.

Two countries where some of the strongest evidence has emerged are Italy, where prosecutors are attempting to arrest 22 CIA operatives, and Spain, where officials have confirmed a steady parade of purported CIA flights into Spanish airports.

In Germany, prosecutors are investigating both the alleged kidnapping by the CIA of one of its citizens and a number of suspicious flights into German air bases. Sweden and Norway also launched investigations following similar incidents. The Dutch accused Washington of "hiding" its use of secret prisons in Europe, and the 46-member Council of Europe told Romania to investigate reports that it was the site of such illegal detentions.

Investigations into alleged CIA landings or flyovers are under way in Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

And the European Union said any of its members housing secret prisons for suspected Islamic terrorists, as first reported in the Washington Post, would be in violation of the law and subject to fines.

Spain this week announced it would begin stricter monitoring of flights into its airports and closer screening of the occupants of those flights. This came after it was revealed that planes believed to be seconded to the CIA landed at least 10 times in Spanish airports in 2004 and 2005 on excursions that had all the earmarks of the so-called extraordinary rendition--the transport of terror suspects from one country to another for interrogation that in some cases has allegedly resulted in torture.

The first reports of this suspect air traffic came in a small local daily newspaper, the Diario de Majorca, in the Balearic Islands where several of the flights touched down. As an investigation by Spanish Guardia Civil widened, similar flights were discovered to have touched down in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands.

One flight that originated at Guantanamo, where the United States is holding hundreds of terror suspects, stopped over in Tenerife in April 2004 on its way to Bucharest, the Romanian capital.

The revelations have proved problematic for the leftist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. It was this government that, days after taking office last spring, pulled its troops from Iraq because of disagreement over the U.S. war there. Yet, Spanish officials are reluctant to take on another fight with Washington.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, called upon Thursday to report to parliament on the case, found himself on the defensive. He told legislators that it appeared no laws were broken by the flights and that the government had received assurances from Washington that the flights were not being used to transport prisoners.

"The government is convinced that all of the stopovers took place within the framework of the law," Moratinos said, reading from prepared remarks against repeated questioning.

Leftist congressmen were openly incredulous and even the right expressed perplexity over the foreign minister's justification of the U.S. action.

"You can say there is no evidence of a crime but you cannot say there is no crime," Gaspar Llamazares of the United Left party told the foreign minister.

The government's stance has not satisfied public opinion, either. A group of citizens is suing in Majorca. In the Canary Islands, Gov. Adan Martin demanded a fuller accounting. "We need to be more vigilant," he said.

In Italy, prosecutors, using a trove of phone records and other paper trails, painstakingly documented the capture by CIA operatives of a radical Egyptian cleric in Milan in 2003. The cleric, known as Abu Omar, was bundled off to Egypt, via the Ramstein U.S. air base in Germany, and has claimed he was tortured by Egyptian authorities with U.S. officials present.

Over the summer, the prosecutors issued arrest warrants for the agents, and, earlier this month, following protocol, they asked the Italian Justice Ministry to demand the extradition from the U.S. of the agents. But last week Justice Minister Roberto Castelli, who answers to the pro-U.S. prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, undermined the entire case by calling the lead prosecutor, Armando Spataro, a leftist militant.

Although the justice minister has not ruled definitively, it seems likely the case will advance.

In Germany, probes are proceeding on two fronts.

Eberhard Bayer, the public prosecutor in the region that covers the Ramstein Air Base in southwest Germany, opened an investigation into the use of the base as a stopover in the 2003 abduction from Milan of Abu Omar.

Suggestions that U.S. bases in Germany may have been used by the CIA to transport suspected terrorists have led to some politicians calling for a federal investigation.

"The German foreign minister should have a talk with the U.S. ambassador," Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a top official with the Free Democrats, recently told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. "If the so-far unproven accusations are correct, it would be outrageous."

Berliner Zeitung reported on Nov. 22 that six CIA planes stopped over at Rhein-Main Airbase near Frankfurt between December 2001 and August 2003. One of those flights was a Hercules C-130 that left Germany and headed for Baku, Azerbaijan, on Jan 21, 2003.

In addition, Munich prosecutors earlier this year opened an investigation into the alleged CIA kidnapping of Khaled Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, who was snatched in Macedonia on New Years Eve 2003. Masri claims he was then flown by the CIA to a prison in Afghanistan where he was held and interrogated for five months before he was released, with neither charges nor apologies.

His lawyer, Manfred Gnjidic, says he plans to sue the U.S. government.

But the political moment is delicate in Germany also. New chancellor Angela Merkel is keen to improve ties with Washington that were strained under her predecessor. So although German politicians are demanding answers about CIA activities, Merkel may be reluctant to pursue them.

Romania denied reports by Human Rights Watch that it was the site of secret CIA-operated prisons for terror suspects, whose detention abroad relieves U.S. officials of respecting the Geneva Conventions or other human rights concerns. Poland, also mentioned by the New York based organization, issued a similar denial.

"We do not keep terrorists here, nor do we interrogate them," said Jerzy Szmajdzinski, defense minister until a change of government a few days ago. "I exclude that such a situation took place in Poland." Romania and Poland, which are both emerging from communist pasts, are key allies in Washington's war on terrorism.

11-27-2005, 02:29 PM
European investigator: Large CIA detention bases unlikely
AP (http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2005/11/26/news/nation/19_55_4911_25_05.txt)

BUCHAREST, Romania -- The head of a European investigation into alleged secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe said Friday it was unlikely that there were large clandestine detention centers in the region.

Dick Marty, the Swiss senator heading the investigation on behalf of the Council of Europe, said he did not believe a prison like the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was possible in the region.

"But it is possible that there were detainees that stayed 10, 15 or 30 days," Marty told reporters, without referring to any country. "We do not have the full picture."

Marty was in Romania for a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

The council's secretary general, Terry Davis, said he has written to its member nations asking them if they have laws to prevent the transportation of prisoners and secret prisons. The countries have until Feb. 21 to respond.

The council, Europe's main human rights watchdog, began investigations after the Washington Post and Human Rights Watch published reports about CIA planes transporting suspected terrorist through European countries and raised the possibility that the CIA had set up secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe.

Human Rights Watch said flights stopped at the Romanian air base of Mihail Kogalniceanu and Poland's Szczytno-Szymany airport, basing its information on flight logs of suspected CIA aircraft from 2001 to 2004.

Romanian leaders and the Pentagon have denied that the Mihail Kogalniceanu base ever hosted a covert detention center, and the Romanians insist the United States never used it as a transit point for al-Qaida captives. Poland's prime minister said the reports were worth investigating.

The CIA has refused to comment on the European investigation.

Marty has asked the Brussels, Belgium-based Eurocontrol air safety organization to provide details of 31 suspected aircraft that landed in Europe and, according to Human Rights Watch, had direct or indirect links to the CIA.

The Dutch government confirmed Friday that a plane landed at Amsterdam's airport last week belonging to Path Corp., a company previously linked to the CIA.

Also Friday, the Portuguese government said it was consulting with the U.S. government after Diario de Noticias reported Friday that 34 planes that landed in Portugal over the past three years were suspected of involvement in secret CIA operations.

Spanish authorities have investigated at least 10 stopovers on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca by private planes described in Spanish media reports as being operated for the CIA, and a smaller number of similar stopovers in the Canary Islands.

11-27-2005, 04:15 PM
Spain clears US of blame in CIA flight probe
Reuters (http://go.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=10394893&src=rss/topNews)

MADRID (Reuters) - The Spanish government, responding to allegations that CIA planes used a Spanish airport as a base to transport Islamic terrorism suspects, said on Thursday it was convinced U.S. aircraft had broken no law. However, it said it would step up checks on civilian planes that flew over or stopped in Spanish territory to make sure they were "exclusively civilian" flights.

Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos testified to a parliamentary committee on the flights after news reports about them prompted opposition parties to demand information from the government.

The reports said that the U.S. intelligence agency had used Son Sant Joan airport on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca as a base for transporting Islamic terrorism suspects from early 2004 to early 2005.

"The government is convinced, based on the result of the investigation carried out, that all the stops made in the framework of the Defense Cooperation Agreement between Spain and the United States, as well as stops by civilian planes ... were made in accordance with the law," Moratinos said.

Spain had sought and obtained the guarantee of U.S. authorities that, as far as they knew, there had been no violation of Spanish laws, he said.

However, he said the government would immediately step up checks on civilian aircraft that flew over or stopped in Spanish territory to make sure they were civilian flights. If necessary, the government would implement more exhaustive checks inside aircraft, he said.

Local prosecutors investigated the Mallorca stops but shelved the investigation because they could find no evidence of a crime, Moratinos said.

Prosecutors had also launched an investigation of stops by U.S. planes in the Canary Islands, Moratinos said. He said these included flights by U.S. forces, civilian flights and U.S. flights to repatriate migrants to Liberia and Nigeria.

The U.S. Ambassador to Spain, Eduardo Aguirre, said last week that the flights had not broken Spanish law.

The Washington Post reported this month that the CIA had been holding and interrogating al Qaeda captives at a secret facility in eastern Europe as part of a covert prison system established after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

11-28-2005, 09:56 AM
Germany: CIA flights make leaders squirm
Reuters (http://www.gulf-news.com/world/Germany/10000932.html)

Berlin: A wave of investigations into whether the CIA broke laws and violated human rights while using Europe as a hub for secret transfers of terrorist suspects poses awkward questions for both European governments and Washington.

Pressure has grown on all sides in the past week to explain dozens of flights criss-crossing the continent by CIA planes, some suspected of delivering prisoners to jails in third countries where they may have been mistreated or tortured.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, preparing this week for his first trip to Washington since taking office, told Bild am Sonntag newspaper the reports gave "grounds for concern".

At least eight EU members said last week they were seeking answers from the US over the use of bases on the continent for such secret transfers, known as "renditions."

The Council of Europe, a leading human rights watchdog, set governments a three-month deadline to reveal what they know about the mystery flights and about a Washington Post report saying the CIA ran secret prisons in Eastern Europe.

A European diplomat specialising in security issues said there had been cases where European airports had been used as staging posts during renditions.

Governments are in a lose-lose situation. If they acknowledged they knew of such transfers at the time, they would face a political outcry, he said.

But if they said they knew nothing about what was happening on their own soil, they would appear ineffectual and come under strong pressure to tighten controls over use of their airports and bases by the United States, or even to deny access.

The US has acknowledged using renditions to help in its declared war on terrorism but denies charges by human rights groups that delivering suspects for interrogation in third countries amounts to "outsourcing torture."

11-28-2005, 05:21 PM
EU May Suspend Nations With Secret Prisons
AP (http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=1352347)

BERLIN Nov 28, 2005 — The United States has told the European Union it needs more time to respond to media reports that the CIA set up secret jails in some European nations and transported terror suspects by covert flights, the top EU justice official said Monday.

Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini also warned that that any of the 25 bloc nations found to have operated secret CIA prisons could have their EU voting rights suspended.

The Council of Europe the continent's main human rights watchdog is investigating the allegations, and EU justice official Jonathan Faul last week formally raised the issue with White House and U.S. State Department representatives, Frattini said.

"They told him: 'Give us the appropriate time to evaluate the situation.' Right now, there is no response," he said.

The CIA has refused to comment on the European investigation.

Frattini said suspending EU voting rights would be justified under the EU treaty, which stipulates that the bloc is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, and that a persistent breach of these principles can be punished.

Clandestine detention centers would violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

Allegations that the CIA hid and interrogated key al-Qaida suspects at Soviet-era compounds in Eastern Europe were first reported Nov. 2 in The Washington Post. A day after the report appeared, Human Rights Watch said it had evidence indicating the CIA transported suspected terrorists captured in Afghanistan to Poland and Romania.

Poland President Aleksander Kwasniewski reiterated Monday that his country has never allowed the CIA to hold prisoners on its territory.

However, Kwasniewski said he was not the right official to comment on related allegations that CIA flights carrying terror suspects had secretly landed in Poland.

"No president is informed if some plane lands," Kwasniewski said.

Frattini said Romania's interior minister, Vasile Blaga, had assured him the allegations were untrue and that a base at Mihail Kogalniceanu used by American forces from 2001-03 to transport troops and equipment to Afghanistan and Iraq was not used as a detention center.

12-04-2005, 01:44 PM
Rice rejects EU protests over secret terror prisons

America does not break international law, Secretary of State insists

Antony Barnett and Jamie Doward
Sunday December 4, 2005
The Observer (http://www.observer.co.uk/)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will inflame the transatlantic row over America's alleged torture of terror suspects in secret jails by telling Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and other European officials to 'back off'.Rice, who arrives in Brussels tomorrow for a meeting with Nato foreign ministers, has been under pressure to respond to claims the US has been using covert prisons in Eastern Europe to interrogate Islamic militants. Human rights groups have alleged the CIA is flying terror suspects to secret jails in planes that have used airports throughout Europe, including Britain.

Rice's refusal to answer detailed questions on what has become known as 'extraordinary rendition' will anger many in Europe. Last week Straw wrote to Rice asking for clarification about some 80 flights by CIA planes that have passed through the UK. European politicians and human rights groups claim the flights and use of a network of secret jails breach international law.

State Department officials have hinted that Rice's response to Straw and other European ministers will remind them of their 'co-operation' in the war on terror. She is expected to make a public statement today stressing that the US does not violate allies' sovereignty or break international law. She will also remind people their governments are co-operating in a fight against militants who have bombed commuters in London and Madrid. She will drive home her message in private meetings with officials in Germany and at the EU headquarters in Brussels.

Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern said Rice told him in Washington she expected allies to trust that America does not allow rights abuses.

An unnamed European diplomat who had contact with US officials over the handling of the scandals told Reuters yesterday: 'It's very clear they want European governments to stop pushing on this... They were stuck on the defensive for weeks, but suddenly the line has toughened up incredibly.'

Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP who will be chairing a Commons committee of MPs along with Menzies Campbell, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, has said Rice needs to make a clear statement. She 'does not seem to realise that for a large section of Washington and European opinion, the Bush administration is in a shrinking minority of people that has not grasped that lowering our standards [on human rights] makes us less, not more, secure'.

The row is set to escalate in Washington itself, as a US civil rights group says it is taking the CIA to court to stop the transportation of terror suspects to countries outside US legal authority.

The American Civil Liberties Union says the intelligence agency has broken both US and international law. It is acting for a man allegedly flown to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan.

In Britain, human rights group Liberty is to table an amendment to the Civil Aviation Bill that would oblige the Home Secretary to force any aircraft travelling through UK airspace suspected of extraordinary rendition to land and be searched by police and customs.

Straw is also facing calls to allow MPs and human rights groups access to Diego Garcia, the British island in the Indian Ocean being used as a US military base. It has long been suspected that the island has been used to hold or transfer terror suspects to secret US jails.

12-04-2005, 01:55 PM
Rice 'to talk tough on CIA claim'
BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4497006.stm)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to go on the offensive over EU concerns that the US has operated secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe.

According to media reports in both the US and UK, Ms Rice will tell European allies to "back off" over the issue.

Last month the EU wrote to Ms Rice expressing misgivings over the alleged jails and reports CIA planes carrying detainees had stopped in EU countries.

Ms Rice said she would respond to the EU before a visit to Europe on Monday.

Change of tack

The Washington Post newspaper first reported on 2 November that the CIA had been using Soviet-era camps in eastern Europe to detain and interrogate terror suspects.

In response to that and further media reports of possible violations of international law Britain formally wrote to the US, on behalf the EU, to ask for "clarification".

"It's very clear they want European governments to stop pushing on this,'' a European diplomat, who has been speaking to the US officials drafting Ms Rice's response, told the New York Times. "They were stuck on the defensive for weeks, but suddenly the line has toughened up incredibly."

Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern told the New York Times that Ms Rice told him in Washington that she expected allies to trust that America does not allow rights abuses.

The US has refused to confirm or deny the reports and according to the Washington Post, Ms Rice has no plans to acknowledge the prisons.

Solidarity call

According to the daily, Ms Rice will insist that intelligence co-operation between the US and Europe is necessary to prevent future terror attacks and call upon European governments to do more to emphasise this to their citizens.

"The key point will be 'We're all in this together and you need to look at yourselves as much as us,' " one official said to the Washington Post, on condition of anonymity. "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

A day after news of the alleged prisons emerged Human Rights Watch said it had evidence indicating that the CIA transported terror suspects captured in Afghanistan to Poland and Romania.

Poland and Romania have denied ever playing host to the alleged prisons.

A US rights group, the American Civil Liberties Union, announced on Friday that it was taking the CIA to court over what it said was the violation of both US and international law.

The highly secretive process is known as "extraordinary rendition" whereby intelligence agencies move and interrogate terrorism suspects outside the US, where they have no American legal protection.

Some individuals have claimed they were flown by the CIA to countries like Syria and Egypt, where they were tortured.

German claims

On Friday White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that the US does not violate human rights.

"When it comes to human rights, there is no greater leader than the United States of America, and we show that by holding people accountable when they break the law or violate human rights," he said.

On Saturday, Germany emerged as the latest country suspected of being used as a landing spot for secret CIA flights.

The German government has a list of at least 437 flights suspected of being operated by the CIA in German airspace, according to a German magazine.

Der Spiegel said the aircraft had made landings in Berlin, Frankfurt and the US airbase at Ramstein.

Two planes alone accounted for 137 and 146 uses of airspace or landings in 2002 and 2003, the magazine reported.

12-04-2005, 03:30 PM
US told Germany CIA imprisonment a mistake: report


2 hours, 13 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States admitted to German officials last year that the CIA had mistakenly imprisoned one of its citizens for five months but asked the German government to remain quiet, according to a U.S. media report on Sunday.

Daniel Coats, then the U.S. ambassador to Germany, told German Interior Minister Otto Schily in May 2004 that Khaled el-Masri had been wrongfully held but would soon be released, the Washington Post reported. He was later freed from a prison in Afghanistan.

The newspaper cited interviews with current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials. CIA officials told Reuters they had no comment.

The account comes as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prepared to visit Berlin and other European capitals amid allegations that the United States has committed abuses on the continent while fighting terrorism.

A German prosecutor is probing el-Masri's case but German officials who knew of his ordeal have remained silent, the Post said.

El-Masri, a German national who was arrested in Macedonia on December 31, 2003, has said he was handed to U.S. officials and flown to a secret prison in Afghanistan, where he was held in appalling conditions and interrogated as a terrorism suspect.

He has said he was returned to Europe five months later when the CIA realized they had the wrong man.

"Masri was held for five months largely because the head of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center's al Qaeda unit 'believed he was someone else,' one former CIA official said. 'She didn't really know. She just had a hunch,"' the Post report said.

On Tuesday, el-Masri plans to file suit against the CIA -- the same day Rice meets in Berlin with Germany's new chancellor, Angela Merkel.