No Comment — August 20, 2009, 2:28 pm

Missing Black Site Located: Vilnius, Lithuania

In “Inside the World of Dusty Foggo,” I puzzled over the Times’s failure to identify one of the CIA black sites that Foggo built for the CIA. As noted, it might be the Polish site, but the available evidence suggested that there was another, then still unidentified black site in close proximity to the Polish site. In a discussion contained in the post, John Sifton speculated that this site pretty much had to be in Lithuania. Now ABC News has established the location:

A third European country has been identified to ABC News as providing the CIA with facilities for a secret prison for high-value al Qaeda suspects: Lithuania, the former Soviet state. Former CIA officials directly involved or briefed on the highly classified program tell ABC News that Lithuanian officials provided the CIA with a building on the outskirts of Vilnius, the country’s capital, where as many as eight suspects were held for more than a year, until late 2005 when they were moved because of public disclosures about the program. Flight logs viewed by ABC News confirm that CIA planes made repeated flights into Lithuania during that period.

According to a former intelligence official involved in the program, the former Soviet Bloc country agreed to host a prison because it wanted better relations with the U.S. Asked whether the Bush administration or the CIA offered incentives in return for allowing the prison, the official said, “We didn’t have to.” The official said, “They were happy to have our ear.” Through their embassy in Washington, the Lithuanian government denied hosting a secret CIA facility. “The Lithuanian Government denies all rumors and interpretations about alleged secret prison that supposedly functioned on Lithuanian soil and possibly was used by [CIA],” said Tomas Gulbinas, an embassy spokesman.

It’s noteworthy that during much of the period in question, the president of Lithuania was Valdas Adamkus, also an American citizen who had a 29-year-long career as an American civil servant, last working as a senior official in the Environmental Protection Agency. This may have contributed to a warm working relationship between the CIA and the Lithuanian government.

Lithuania is a member of the European Union and has ratified the Convention Against Torture and the European Human Rights Convention. Waterboarding and other practices associated with the operation of the black sites would be criminal acts under Lithuanian law. The question is now whether Lithuania will open a proper criminal inquiry into what happened at the black site operated on the outskirts of Vilnius.

The CIA Inspector General’s report is now set to be released on Monday in response to Freedom of Information Act litigation. The ABC News report states that “the unredacted portions will reveal how and when CIA interrogators used methods and tactics that were not permitted by the OLC.” This sets the stage perfectly for the appointment of a special prosecutor.

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