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The Warsaw-based newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza and TVP Polish Public Television are reporting that criminal charges have been brought in the long-pending investigation into torture and kidnapping associated with a CIA black site on Polish soil during 2002 and 2003. The English-language Warsaw Business Journal summarizes the story as follows:
Zbigniew Siemi?tkowski, head of Poland’s intelligence services from 2002–2004, has been charged with breaking international law in connection with an investigation into CIA “black sites” which were reportedly based in Poland and in which terrorist suspects were allegedly subjected to torture. Specifically, Mr Siemi?tkowski is being charged with allowing the “illegal deprivation of liberty,” and the use of “physical punishment” on prisoners.
In an interview with television station TVP on Monday, Mr Siemi?tkowski confirmed that the charges had been brought against him. “While in the prosecutor’s office I refused to answer questions and I shall continue to do so at every stage of the proceedings, including in court,” he said, pointing to issues of national security as his reason.
Polish criminal investigators believe that the CIA operated a covert prison at Stare Kiejkuty, just over 100 miles north of Warsaw, between December 2002 and September 2003. Abu Zubaydah, an American prisoner, has suggested that he was held at the facility and tortured with techniques that may have included waterboarding. Polish authorities have granted Zubaydah victim status for the purposes of their ongoing investigation, which seeks to identify and charge those who operated the facility, incarcerated people there beyond the boundaries of Polish law, and subjected them to torture and abuse. The probe has concentrated on the role played by Polish authorities who collaborated with the CIA. These officials have consistently told investigators that they had no access to the facility and did not know what the CIA was doing there. The U.S. Justice Department has refused to cooperate with the investigation.
Lawyers who have been monitoring the case note that after the criminal charges were filed, on January 10, 2012, the case was mysteriously transferred to a prosecutor in Krakow, who has not yet signaled whether he intends to proceed with the charges. Questions were raised concerning the propriety of this transfer at a hearing on the CIA’s renditions program before the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday.
CIA officials have consistently opposed the release of documents detailing their black-site operations, including a comprehensive but heavily redacted report produced by the CIA’s inspector general. They argue that such disclosures would be harmful to U.S. national-security interests. The investigation in Poland makes clear exactly the sort of harm that the CIA has in mind. Polish prosecutors are building a detailed chronology of the black sites, and are systematically identifying the people who worked there or otherwise supported its operation. American personnel aren’t likely to be charged, but Poles and non-American internationals will be fair game.
The Polish prosecutors are also likely sharing the fruits of their inquiries with other criminal investigators probing into CIA extraordinary renditions, including ones in Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. These investigations are menacing to the CIA, and they make the deployment to Europe of CIA personnel who were involved in the renditions program risky and problematic. And as the Associated Press has reported, those personnel appear generally to have advanced ahead of their peers, and now occupy some of the most senior positions at the Agency.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”