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Secret detentions and illegal transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states: second report

Report | Doc. 11302 | 11 June 2007

Committee
Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
Rapporteur :
Mr Dick MARTY, Switzerland, ALDE
Thesaurus

Summary

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights now considers it factually established that secret detention centres operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have existed for some years in Poland and Romania, though not ruling out the possibility that secret CIA detentions may also have occurred in other Council of Europe member states.

Analysis of the data on the movements of certain aircraft, obtained from different sources, including international air traffic control authorities, and supplemented by numerous credible and concordant testimonies, has enabled the places in question to be identified.

These secret places of detention formed part of the “HVD” (High-Value Detainees) programme publicly referred to by the President of the United States on 6 September 2006.

The “HVD” programme was set up by the CIA with the co-operation of official European partners belonging to government services and kept secret for many years thanks to strict observance of the rules of confidentiality laid down in the NATO framework. The implementation of this programme has given rise to repeated serious breaches of human rights.

The committee earnestly deplores the fact that the concepts of state secrecy or national security are invoked by many governments (United States, Poland, Romania, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Italy and Germany, as well as the Russian Federation in the Northern Caucasus) to obstruct judicial and/or parliamentary proceedings aimed at ascertaining the responsibilities of the executive in relation to grave allegations of human rights violations. The committee also stresses the need to rehabilitate and compensate victims of such violations. Information as well as evidence concerning the civil, criminal or political liability of the state’s representatives for serious violations of human rights must not be considered as worthy of protection as state secrets.

The scope of the executive’s reserved area, exempted by virtue of state secrecy and national security from parliamentary and/or judicial review, must conform with the principles of democracy and the rule of law.

The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights solemnly restates its position that terrorism can and must be combated by methods consistent with human rights and the rule of law. This position of principle, founded on the values upheld by the Council of Europe, is also the one that best guarantees the effectiveness of the fight against terrorism in the long term.

Contents

A Draft resolution

1. The Parliamentary Assembly recalls its Resolution 1507 (2006) and Recommendation 1754 (2006) on alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states, and refers to the report of 12 June 2006Noterevealing the existence of a “spider’s web” of illegal transfers of detainees woven by the CIA in which Council of Europe member states were involved, and expressing suspicions that secret places of detention might exist in Poland and Romania.
2. It now considers it factually established that such secret detention centres operated by the CIA have existed for some years in these two countries, though not ruling out the possibility that secret CIA detentions may also have occurred in other Council of Europe member states.
3. Analysis of the data on the movements of certain aircraft, obtained from different sources, including international air traffic control authorities, and supplemented by numerous credible and concordant testimonies, has enabled the places in question to be identified.
4. These secret places of detention formed part of the “HVD” (High-Value Detainees) programme publicly referred to by the President of the United States on 6 September 2006.
5. Analysis of this programme, on the basis of information obtained from many sources on both sides of the Atlantic, shows that detainees considered especially sensitive – some of whom were mentioned by the President of the United States – were held in Poland. For logistical and security reasons, detainees considered to be less important were held in Romania.
6. The “HVD” programme was set up by the CIA with the co-operation of official European partners belonging to government services and kept secret for many years thanks to strict observance of the rules of confidentiality laid down in the NATO framework. The implementation of this programme has given rise to repeated serious breaches of human rights.
7. The detainees were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, sometimes protracted. Certain “enhanced” interrogation methods used fulfil the definition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Convention against Torture. Furthermore, secret detention as such is contrary to many international undertakings both of the United States and of the Council of Europe member states concerned.
8. The Assembly earnestly deplores the fact that the concepts of state secrecy or national security are invoked by many governments (United States, Poland, Romania, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Italy and Germany, as well as the Russian Federation in the Northern Caucasus) to obstruct judicial and/or parliamentary proceedings aimed at ascertaining the responsibilities of the executive in relation to grave allegations of human rights violations and at rehabilitating and compensating the alleged victims of such violations.
9. Information as well as evidence concerning the civil, criminal or political liability of the state’s representatives for serious violations of human rights must not be considered as worthy of protection as state secrets. If it is not possible to separate such cases from true, legitimate state secrets, appropriate procedures must be put into place ensuring that the culprits are held accountable for their actions while preserving state secrecy.
10. The scope of the executive’s reserved area, exempted by virtue of state secrecy and national security from parliamentary and judicial review under legislation or in accordance with practice dating from the worst period of the Cold War, must be reconsidered to take into account the principles of democracy and rule of law.
11. The Assembly is also anxious about the threats to the European governments’ freedom of action resulting from their covert involvement in the CIA’s unlawful activities. The disclosure of the truth, necessary on grounds of principle, is also the best way of restoring the vital co-operation between secret services for the prevention and suppression of terrorism on a sound and sustainable basis.
12. Only Bosnia and Herzegovina and Canada, the latter an observer to the Council of Europe, have fully acknowledged their responsibilities with regard to the unlawful transfers of detainees.
13. The Romanian parliamentary delegation has shown a firm resolve to co-operate with the Assembly, but has itself encountered the government authorities’ reluctance to shed all possible light on the CIA’s questionable activities in Romanian territory.
14. In Italy, the trial of the kidnappers of Abu Omar runs into obstacles due to considerations of state secrecy. The Assembly is deeply perturbed by the proceedings brought recently against the Milan public prosecutors themselves for breach of state secrecy. It regards such proceedings as intolerable impediments to the independence of justice.
15. In Germany, the work of the Bundestag Commission of Inquiry is proceeding energetically. But the prosecutorial authorities, engaged in the hunt for the kidnappers of Khaled El-Masri, still meet with lack of co-operation on the part of the American and Macedonian authorities. Khaled El-Masri still awaits the rehabilitation and redress of damages owed to him, in the same way as Maher Arar, the victim in a comparable case in Canada.
16. The Assembly solemnly restates its position that terrorism can and must be combated by methods consistent with human rights and rule of law. This position of principle, founded on the values upheld by the Council of Europe, is also the one that best guarantees the effectiveness of the fight against terrorism in the long term.
17. The Assembly therefore calls upon:
17.1 the parliaments and judicial authorities of all Council of Europe member states to:
17.1.1 elucidate fully, by reducing to a reasonable minimum the restrictions of transparency founded on concepts of state secrecy and national security, the secret services’ wrongful acts committed on their territory with regard to secret detentions and unlawful transfers of detainees; and
17.1.2 ensure that the victims of such unlawful acts are fittingly rehabilitated and compensated;
17.2 the media to fully perform their role as champions of transparency, truth, tolerance and of human rights and dignity; and
17.3 the competent authorities of all member states to implement the other proposals embodied in its Resolution 1507 (2006).
18. Finally, the Assembly reaffirms the importance of setting up within it a genuine European parliamentary inquiry mechanism.

B Draft recommendation

1. The Parliamentary Assembly refers to its Resolution … (2007) on secret detentions and illegal transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states. It also recalls its Recommendation 1754 (2006) on alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states, noting with regret that the Committee of Ministers has not as yet acted positively either on its own proposals or on those of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe submitted in June 2006, which the Assembly fully endorses.Note
2. The Assembly condemns the deafening silence of the Committee of Ministers as regards the third public statement of the Council of Europe Anti-Torture Committee concerning the existence of secret detention facilities in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, made on 13 March 2007. It urges the Committee of Ministers to play its full role as the decision-making body of the Council of Europe, the organisation which is guardian of human rights in Europe.
3. Given that the concepts of state secrecy or national security are invoked by many governments to obstruct judicial or parliamentary proceedings aimed at ascertaining the responsibilities of the government authorities in relation to grave allegations of human rights violations and at rehabilitating and compensating the presumed victims of such violations, the Assembly invites the Committees of Ministers to prepare a recommendation on the matter, in order to:
3.1 ensure that information and evidence concerning the civil, criminal or political liability of the state’s representatives for grave human rights violations committed are excluded from protection as state secrets;
3.2 introduce appropriate procedures ensuring that the culprits are accountable for their actions while preserving lawful state secrecy and national security, when secrets unworthy of protection are inextricably linked with lawful state secrets.
4. The Committee of Ministers should be guided in particular by the Canadian procedures followed in the case of Maher Arar and by national parliamentary inquiry procedures such as the rules of the German Bundestag commissions of inquiry providing for the possibility of the commission’s appointing a special investigator.
5. The Committee of Ministers is invited to inform the Assembly, before the end of 2007, of the progress of its work on the implementation of the Secretary General’s proposals, and of the Assembly’s Recommendation 1754 (2006).

C Explanatory memorandum, by Mr Dick Marty

1 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 (Parliamentary Assembly 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 on 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. In Germany, the concept of “core executive privilege” seems to allow the government to withhold some relevant information from the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry. Some of its members have recently seized the Federal Constitutional Court in order to oblige the government to disclose more information. As far as Italy is concerned, it is striking to note that state secrets are invoked against the prosecutor in charge of investigating the Abu Omar case 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 whistle-blowers 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 can 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.

2 The “dynamics of truth”

2.1 How President Bush’s disclosure of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) secret detention programme has accelerated the “dynamics of truth”

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,Notehe 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 on terror”.
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 United States Congress responded to President Bush’s clarion callNoteby 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 the United States 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 programmeNote– 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 report,NoteI 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 United States 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”.Note
32. Indeed, even when the revelations of secret detentions in “several democracies in eastern Europe” first emerged in November 2005,Note 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 newspaper’s decision followed a meeting at the White House and an explicit appeal from the United States Government to refrain from naming the countries involved.NoteThe Washington 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.”Note
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 international 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.

2.2 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 American detainee treatment in the course of the “war on terror” 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 (Guantánamo!) 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 journalistsNoteand non-governmental organisationsNotethat 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.NoteMoreover, as I demonstrate later in this report,Notethe 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. To 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 United States 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.

2.3 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 United States 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 American Naval Base at Guantánamo 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 Counter-Terrorism Center (CTC) told us: “If a guy is captured on the battlefield and sent to [Guantánamo], 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 findingNoteas 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 2001 attacks – senior members of the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Center and selected foreign counterparts were made familiar with its contents in a meeting in Washington DC.NoteNote
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”Notethe 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 overseas.Note
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 11 September 2001 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-11 September 2001.”
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,Noteand once in the custody of the CIA they would become “high-value detainees”, or HVDs.Note
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 11 September 2001, 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.”NoteIntelligence on the HVTs was replete with references to their involvement in the 11 September 2001 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 American embassies in East Africa, the assault on the United States 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-11 September 2001 years – maintained its “safety net” of having obtained legal approval for every operation it launched,Notethe CIA’s post-11 September 2001 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 “KCD 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 United States 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 Services.NoteSo 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 United States 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, Guantánamo Bay “offered nothing” akin to the secrecy and isolation that the CIA demanded: “Guántanamo 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 Guantánamo, 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.

2.4 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 United States 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”Notewas 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.Note
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 United Kingdom Government has readily accepted “assurances”Notefrom United States 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.NoteIn line with the approach of most United States partner countries, the Thai Government has denied these allegations outright.Note
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.

3 Secret detentions in Council of Europe member states

3.1 The framework

3.1.1 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”.NoteTo 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 United States 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 American allies – particularly European allies: “We wouldn’t have even dreamed of it.”NoteOn the contrary, the CIA depended on the United States 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 Counter-Terrorism Center in the pursuit of high-value targets, or HVTs. The United States 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 United States 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,Notethe lines between civilian and military classifications in the aviation world were about to become incredibly blurred. Conventional legal understandings of civilian and state flightsNotewere about to be fundamentally challenged, or at least the latitude in those definitions exploited to its maximum potential.
78. The United States Government’s post-11 September 2001 detainee transfer operations would frequently make use of practices that were previously considered “anomalies”,Notesuch 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 protection, the United States 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 United States 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 United States 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 11 September 2001 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 American policies would define exactly the terms of the relationship; and only American 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).

3.1.2 Invocation of Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty

84. It should be recalled that the United States turned to the international community at an unprecedented moment in history. As a prominent United States Congressman remarked recently, “in the wake of the horrific attack on the United States on 11 September [2001], we were moved by the extraordinary support and the outpouring of sympathy from across the globe”.NoteThese 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,Noteand this for the first time in its fifty-two-year existence. Initially, the invocation was considered provisional because it began with a conditional clause:
“If it is determined that this attack was directed from abroad against the United States, it shall be regarded as an action covered by Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.”Note
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”Noteand 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 United States Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz set out his post-11 September 2001 doctrine to the effect that the mission determines the coalition. This was, in my opinion, a fundamental misjudgment about the nature of the alliance that devalued the importance of strategic solidarity.”Note
87. The United States 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 11 September 2001 attacks had been directed against the United States from abroad and that Article 5 was therefore activated.Note
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”.Note
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 5Notenor, as our sources have confirmed, what the United States Government was looking for.NoteIt 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 United States Government’s stance towards the NATO alliance in early October 2001. The invocation of Article 5 could have been developedNoteas 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”.

3.1.3 NATO authorisations for United States operations 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,NoteNATO 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.”NoteThe eight specific measures agreed toNotewere 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 the United States and other allied facilities on NATO territory;
  • backfill selected allied assets in NATO’s area of responsibility that are redeployed in support of counter-terrorism 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”.NoteYet as Lord Robertson reiterated in his statement, “these measures were requested by the United States following the determination that the 11 September 2001 attack was directed from abroad”.NoteIndeed, 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.NoteIn 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 counter-terrorism operations.NoteJust 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.NoteIn a response dated 6 April 2006,NoteNATO’s Legal Adviser, 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:
“It is to be noted that your request does not relate to a formal document signed by the member states but to an internal decision noted in a corresponding decision sheet drawn up by the international secretariat to reflect the decisions as taken by the Council on that date.”
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”.NoteIn 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.NoteHowever, Mr De Vidts replied in the following terms:
“I can only but confirm that the decision sheet of the North Atlantic Council dated 4 October 2001 is a classified document. I have to state that in order to have access to NATO classified information, such person should have an appropriate security clearance.”Note
96. Notwithstanding this general rule, which I understand to be a reflection of broader issues around transparency within NATO,Notethere 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:
“However, with regard to certain decisions separate communications to the public in general are made. This has also been the case for some of the decisions taken on 4 October 2001 by the North Atlantic Council” (emphasis added).
97. The clear indication here is that the public recordNoteis 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.Note
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 timeNoteNote– and flights performing “military” functions would necessarily fall into the category of “state aircraft”.Note
102. “State aircraft” enjoy precisely the type of immunity from the jurisdiction of other states that the United States 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.”NoteThe 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.”NoteHowever, with “blanket overflight clearances” under the NATO framework this constraint could be conveniently circumvented.Note
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”.Note
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 United States “war on terror” extended well beyond the NATO member states, into a total of as many as 40 countries.NoteOne 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 AlliesNoteand the nine NATO ‘aspirants’Notehave provided blanket overflight rights, ports/bases access, refuelling assistance, and increased law-enforcement co-operation.”Note

3.1.4 The wider NATO system and the “war on terror”

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-11 September 2001 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,Notethe provisions of which also apply to “aspirant” states through their participation in the “Partnership for Peace”.Note
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.NoteThe 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 Council of Europe 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”.Note
109. An additional relevant element of the wider NATO system is its secrecy and security-of-information regime. The NATO Security PolicyNoteand its supporting Directive on the Security of InformationNoteare 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 protection 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”.NoteIndeed commentators have rightly raised concern around the stringent rules on state secrecy that several countries have introduced as part of their accession to NATONoteand, particularly, “whether NATO’s requirements are unduly biased against transparency… [and] tilted toward secrecy to an unwarranted degree”.NoteNoteIt 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.NoteInevitably 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”.Note

3.2 Bilateral arrangements

3.2.1 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 United States 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 American 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 MilanNote and Khaled El-Masri’s 23-day ordeal in a hotel in Skopje before being handed over to a rendition teamNoteare instances in which the CIA worked with partner intelligence services in ItalyNoteand “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”,Noterespectively, 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.NoteFor 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 – in so far 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.

3.2.2 The United States’ choice of European partners

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”Notegroup, 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 American-led military coalitions in both Afghanistan and Iraq, notably contributing significant special forces deployments to Operation Enduring Freedom,Noteand 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 Counter-Terrorism Center considered its “most sensitive HVDs”, a category which included several of the men whose transfer to Guantánamo 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 2005.NoteSpecifically, 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 case,Noteto high-level political and legislative manoeuvres and, in KSM’s case, to the admission of some troubling judicial precedents.Note
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 Counter-Terrorism Center 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 2005NoteNote– 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 Counter-Terrorism Center, 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] theatre 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-theatre” detention facility presents the mirror image of the kinds of prisons operated “in-theatre”, which are customarily referred to by United States Forces as “Theater Internment Facilities” – one notable example being the “Bagram Theater Internment Facility”.NoteCIA detainees are known to have been held at facilities such as Bagram both beforeNoteand afterNotehaving been subjected to rendition, and to secret detention in other countries.

3.2.3 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 several years. During the immediate post-11 September 2001 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:
“Poland and Romania; you don’t know why? [It is] because we are the only two countries who are truly pro-Occident. But now we are in danger of being seen as an experiment … It is most unfortunate.”
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.

3.2.3.1 Application of the NATO framework in Poland

139. Poland became a member of NATO on 12 March 1999 and the multilateral NATO SOFA entered into force in Poland in 2000.NoteIn the five years directly preceding its NATO accession, Poland had signed several noteworthy agreements with the United StatesNotein the realms of defence,Noteaviation,NoteextraditionNoteand judicial assistance,Notewhich 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”.NoteWhilst we do not know the precise scope of these agreements, the one example given by the Polish authorities – that of “transfrontier 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,Noteis part of a fairly typical apparatus among new NATO membersNotefor dealing with sensitive information in accordance with the NATO Security Policy. For example, the Act’s restrictive procedures for granting or denying “security clearance”Noteto individuals wishing to access classified information were challenged as unconstitutional by the Polish ombudsman.NoteHowever, 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.

3.2.3.2 Application of the NATO framework in Romania

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 IliescuNotein 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 United States and coalition partners”Note– 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”NoteNote– the Agreement between Romania and the United States of America regarding the Status of United States Forces in RomaniaNote – 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”.NoteIn reality, however, they are specifically one-way arrangements, legislating for an increased size and scope of United States 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 United States 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”,Notewhich it extended not only to “members of the military forces”NoteNotein a conventional sense, but also to “members of the civilian airline companies”Noteand anyone else who is “declared by the American authorities to be part of the United States armed forces, and can present a travel order issued by the United States military”. The breadth of the designation used here represented the perfect opening for the CIA to conduct its clandestine operations in the country.Note
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 United States forces based at a selected number of Romanian military facilities.Note
150. Under this new agreement, United States 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.”Note
151. In terms of permissions, all United States 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 United States Government aircraft and “civil aircraft … operating exclusively under contract to the United States Department of Defense”.NoteNoteIndeed, an equally permissive approach is applied to almost every aspect of the agreement, from the “construction activities” undertaken by United States forcesNoteto the apparently unquestioning acceptance as “valid” of “all professional licences”.Note
152. In terms of protections, Romania’s key obligations seem to be to give “due regard to United States’ operational and security concerns”,Noteand to “take all reasonable measures within its power to ensure the protection, safety and security of United States forces’ property”.Note
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 United States 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 AirfieldNote(signed on 28 September 2006) represents the furthest extension of the United States model of permissions and protections that I have yet to encounter.NoteIt was described in testimony before a United States court as being an agreement that “follows similar such arrangements dating back to at least 2003”.NoteIndeed, I am aware of an earlier document referred to as “Note No. 202”,Notewhich 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 executiveNotewithout 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”.NoteRomania repliedNoteby citing the NATO framework’s Agreement on Classified Information and a bilateral military instrument, the Agreement on the Protection of Military Classified Information,Notethus 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 parliamentNoteand criticised by civil society for being unbalanced.Note
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 the Parliamentary Assembly, Mr Gyorgy Frunda, during the Parliamentary Assembly 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.”Note
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.”

3.2.3.3 Preserving secrecy through military intelligence partnerships

158. In the course of our discussions with intelligence officials in the United States, a senior member of the CIA Counter-Terrorism 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.

3.2.3.4 Preserving secrecy and NATO Security Policy

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.NoteThrough 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,Note“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”.NoteIn 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”,Notean 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.NoteIt is generally accepted that “the principle of originator control trumps the need-to-know principle”;Noteotherwise 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”Noteintegral 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 United States 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.

4 Secret detention operations in Poland

4.1 Partnering with military intelligence in Poland

167. Since the May 2002 “quasi-reform”Noteof 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”.NoteSince 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 S/luzb Specjalnych) and latterly through the position of Minister-Co-ordinator for the Special Services.NoteThe ABW and the AW are both also answerable to the Commission for Special Services in the Polish Parliament (Sejmowa Komisja do Spraw S/luzb 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 S/luzby 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”NoteNotefrom 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 reformNoteas smoke-screens aimed at obstructing transparency and preserving corrupt access to state resources.NoteThere 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.Note
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;Notethe Polish Border Guard (Straz Graniczna), where they ensured that normal procedures for incoming foreign passengers were not strictly applied when those CIA flights landed; and the national Customs Office (G/lówny 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”,Notenone 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.NoteA 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:
“Polish military intelligence operatives were appointed to these positions. We said to place them anywhere with importance to the way this programme is run. This is how you come to know Mr Kos as the Director at Szymany Airport.”
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 United States Special Forces,Notemedia outlets reported that the rescue operation attested to Mr Kos’ links to the intelligence services.NoteIndeed, my inquiry has been informed that Mr Kos’ “connections with [the] Polish secret service” in his business affairs have been “confirmed quite unambiguously”Noteduring judicial proceedingsNoterelating 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.

4.2 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,Notestill 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:
“Listen, there are no secrets in war. There is no intelligence in war. You cannot keep something secret in a time of conflict.”

4.3 The anatomy of CIA secret transfers and detentions in Poland

180. Notwithstanding the approach of the Polish authorities towards this inquiry,Noteour 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 10 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:
  • N63MU from Dubai, arrived in Szymany at 2.56 p.m. on 5 December 2002;
  • N379P from Rabat, arrived in Szymany at 2.23 a.m. on 8 February 2003;
  • N379P from Kabul, arrived in Szymany at 4 p.m. on 7 March 2003;
  • N379P from Kabul, arrived in Szymany at 6.03 p.m. on 25 March 2003;
  • N379P from Kabul, arrived in Szymany at 1 a.m. on 5 June 2003;
  • N379P from Kabul, arrived in Szymany at 2.58 a.m. on 30 July 2003;
  • N313P from Kabul, arrived in Szymany at 9 p.m. on 22 September 2003;
  • 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 11 September 2001 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohamed (KSM), who was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on 1 March 2003.NoteOur insider sources have told us that KSM was transferred to a secret CIA facility “within days” of his arrest; and from analysis of materials supporting the 11 September 2001 Commission Report,Notewe know that the process of interrogating him commenced shortly afterwards,Note 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”,NoteNotewe 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,NoteJeppesen International Trip Planning,Notefiled 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 WarsawNote navigated all of these flights through Polish airspace, exercising control over the aircraft through each of its flight phasesNoteright up to the last phase, when control was handed over to the authority supervising the airfield at Szymany,Noteimmediately 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.Note
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.NoteThe 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”,Notethey 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:
“STS/ATFM exempt approved”
“Poland landing approved”
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”Notewhich 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”,Noteto say the least. Mr Karol Karski, chairperson of the Polish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly, suggested that I “did not use the information received from Poland honestly”Noteand 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:
“I would like to assure you that I will transmit to you the complete data as soon as I have been provided with it.”Note
194. After several further months passed,NoteMr Karski ultimately responded with the following three items of information:Note
  • “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 Council of Europe and the European Parliament by playing the institutions off against one another.Note
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 knownNoteto possess? Or have the Polish authorities wilfully 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.

4.3.1 Transfer of HVDs into CIA detention in Poland

197. Our inquiry 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.

4.3.2 Arrivals and “drop-offs” at Szymany Airport

  • Each of these landings was preceded, usually less than twelve hours in advance, by a telephone call to Szymany Airport from the Warsaw HQ of the border guards (Straz Graniczna), 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 [was done by] 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’ “headlights were on high beam”, forcing the airport officials to “turn their 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 fifteen to twenty minutes before joining an unpaved access road next to a lake.Note
  • 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.

4.3.3 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:
“I have no understanding of detainee treatment. We were not ‘treating’ the detainees. Those were the responsibilities of the Americans.”
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 responsibility …”

5 Secret detention operations in Romania

5.1 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 focused, 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”.Note
202. As I have analysed Romania’s complex array of different agencies and sub-structures that collect intelligence for the state,NoteI 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.NoteIn 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 lawsNoteand 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.NoteThe 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,Noteorganises 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,Notethrough its General Directorate for Defence Intelligence (Directia Generala de Informatii a Apararei, or DGIA). What little parliamentary scrutiny of defence intelligence is supposed to existNotecertainly 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,Notethe “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.NoteThe place at which these United States forces were stationed, the 86th Air Force Base at Mihail Kogalniceanu Airfield,Notebecame 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,Noteand 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,Notewhich – as our American sources confirmed – also received “visits”Notefrom operatives of the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Center (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”.NoteThe 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 Attaché 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 the United States 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:
“The civilian leadership’s tendency in using its control over intelligence for political purposes is likely to be even bigger than its desire to keep the military component under its firm control. Some equilibrium must be established between the professional experience of the Military Intelligence Service and the authority of the civilian political leadership.”Note

5.2 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 officeholders 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 Adviser 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 Adviser 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 smoke-screen 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 Adviser 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 Adviser 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 United States agencies for activities in pursuit of its “war on terror”. After December 2004, although Talpes no longer acted as the Presidential Adviser on National Security, he quickly became 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 adviser 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 United States 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.

5.3 The anatomy of CIA secret transfers and detentions in Romania

5.3.1 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 United States 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 United States 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 us 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 it off and we had control. There were Americans operating there free from interference – only they saw, only they heard – about 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”Notegenerally and to one relevant “manœuvre area” in particular.NoteNoteOur 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 kilometres inland (to the west) and in the opposite direction to the Black Sea coast (to the east).NoteReferring 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.NoteNonetheless, 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.NoteMilitary 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),Notewhich 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).Note 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.

5.3.2 Transfer of detainees into Romania: the cover-up persists

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 the Parliamentary Assembly 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),Notedata provided by the Romanian Senate Committee,NoteNoteand 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 widespreadNoteto 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’”.NoteIn 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”,Notereferring to both my 2006 report and subsequent correspondence. Accordingly, the categorical nature of the committee’s “general conclusions”,Note“Conclusions based on field investigations and site visits”Noteand “final conclusions”Notecannot 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 the Parliamentary Assembly, in their carefully worded reply, ruled out the existence of unlawful CIA activity,Noteand 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,Noteand ultimately reverted to their initial position of complete denial.Note

6 Human rights abuses involved in the CIA secret detention programme

6.1 Re-humanising the people held in secret detention

232. The policy of secret detentions and renditions pursued by the current United States administration has created a dangerous precedent of dehumanisation. Many of the people caught up in the CIA’s global spider’s webNoteare rightly described as “ghost prisoners”Notebecause they have been made “invisible” for many years.Note
233. Meanwhile the United States 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 United States 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 United States custody are being held.NoteOur 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.

6.2 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.
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”.NoteIn the United States political sphere, the McCain AmendmentNoteto 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 provisions; careful physical conditioning of detainee and cell; permanent surveillance; mundane routines become 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.

6.2.1 Confinement, isolation and insufficient provisions

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 given 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 one hundred and twenty 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.

6.2.2 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 icy draughts.
257. Detainees never experienced natural light or natural darkness, although most were blindfolded many times so they could see nothing.

6.2.3 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.

6.2.4 Mundane routines become unforgettable memories

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 times the electricity supply went dead. The music stopped and the light went out. For a brief period one could hear different voices shouting, some more distant than others but all incoherent.

6.2.5 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 loud-speakers. 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 and 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.

7 Secrecy and cover-up: how the United States and its European partners evade responsibility for CIA clandestine operations

7.1 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 2006.Note216 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.

7.1.1 Exposing El-Masri’s secret “homeward rendition” to Europe

274. In addition to reporting on the system of secret detentions in Council of Europe 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 UBKNotein “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.NoteWe 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”.Note
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”Notefor 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,Notebut 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,Notebut 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, and was 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 Europe,Notehas 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.NoteWe 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.Note
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.NoteThe 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,Notewas described as follows:
“On the 26 May 2006 permission [was] issued to the company ‘RICHMOR AVIATION’ [sic] for traveller charter flight on the day of 28 May 2004. Line: Auki/Gwaunaru’u – Sarajevo – Prag. Aircraft type: Gulsstrim III [sic], 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;Notethe outlandish notion that a Gulfstream III would fly to Sarajevo from the Solomon Islands airport of Auki/Gwaunaru’u;Noteand 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”Notefor its unwanted detainees in the “war on terror”. At least eight former inmates of Guantánamo Bay remain stranded in AlbaniaNotebecause 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 United States 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.NoteThe 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 co-operation 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.Note
288. Nor has any progress been made in identifying “Sam”, the German-speaking agent who, it is claimed, accompanied Mr El-Masri home from Afghanistan.NoteNoteIt was revealed recentlyNotethat 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 chargeNoteinformed me that the reason for the wire-tap, which was court-approved as provided for by law,Notewas 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,Notethe Federal Ministry of the Interior commented that 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 true.NoteThis means that there is no longer any doubt that the Macedonian authorities’ official version is inaccurate.NoteThis 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 accountable.Note
292. More generally, opposition members on the committee have voiced their frustration that the executive is limiting the possibility for the committee 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 to 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 Court.NoteEven 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 Bundestag.Note
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 law.NoteThe 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 flights.Note
295. Meanwhile Mr El-Masri’s civil lawsuit in the United States against the CIA is entering its final phase: an appeal to the United States Supreme Court, after the rejection of his case on grounds of state secrecy in the first instance, upheld by the court of appeal,Notewas announced by Mr Gnjidic 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 hospital.NoteThis 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 care.NoteAccording to his current therapist,Notethe 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.

7.1.2 The “legal vacuum”: denial of accountability to El-Masri in Germany and in the United States

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 conditions.Note
301. The United States 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 dysfunction. 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 United States Court of Appeal (4th circuit) in Mr El-Masri’s caseNoteis disappointing and regrettable: whilst the Court of Appeal acknowledges that it is for the courts to decide on the extent of state secrecy,Noteit 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 branch.NoteThis “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”.Note
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 United States Supreme Court cited in support of this wide interpretation of the state secrecy doctrineNoteNote 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 Fitzgerald,Noteanother 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 to.Note
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.

7.1.3 The German Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry and the work of the prosecutors in Munich

7.1.3.1 The Bundestag Committee of Inquiry

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 information,Noteand 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 rivalry.Note 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).Note
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 Co-ordination 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 Guantánamo by the United States much earlier, if only the German authorities had agreed to repatriate him.NoteWhilst 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 faith.NoteThe apparent success of this media strategy may also be a symptom of latent Islamophobia,Notea worrying phenomenon which should cause concern to political leaders and to all who play an active role in civil society.

7.1.3.2 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.

7.1.4 Deception and failure to account on the part of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”

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.NoteIts 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 version.NoteFor 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 rendition,Notedeserves 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 Council.Note

7.2 Complicity and accountability in other rendition cases

7.2.1 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 report,Noteinclude new arrest warrants delivered on 3 July 2006 against four more American 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”.Note
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 network.Note
319. In February 2007, 26 American citizens and seven Italians, including Mr Pollari, were formally indicted, the trial being due to begin on 8 June 2007.NoteMr 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 secrets.NoteIn 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 merits.NoteItalian Prime Minister Romano Prodi declaredNotethat 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”.NoteWorse 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”Notehow 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”,Notewe 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.

7.2.2 The role of the Canadian authorities in the case of Maher Arar

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 inquiryNoteconducted 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”Note– 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.”Note
331. I should like to conclude by citing Mr Arar himself,Notewho 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 al-Qaeda. 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 injustice.NoteMr Arar also benefited from psychosocial assistance and received substantial compensation from the government for the damage suffered.NoteThe Canadian public also expects the recommendations set out in the report to be implemented and those responsible to be brought to account for their conduct.NoteThere 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 United States authorities has run into the same difficulties due to the doctrine of state secrecy as that of Mr El-Masri.

7.3 Proposal by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition (APPG) to improve the United Kingdom’s mechanisms dealing with rendition requests

335. While the APPG did not achieve any progress regarding the specific cases of United Kingdom residents abducted in Gambia and finally taken to Guantánamo Bay,Noteits chair, Mr Andrew Tyrie, has recently submitted a proposal to the United Kingdom Government to improve the United Kingdom’s mechanisms in this area, aimed at improving the protection of detainees transported through the United Kingdom, increasing transparency and defining responsibilities more clearly.NoteThe 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 renditions.Note

8 Secret detentions and renditions: the diminishing effect on respect for human rights worldwide

8.1 Collateral damage of the war on terror: diminishing respect for human rights

337. The policy pursued by the current United States 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 2001 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 United States administration’s systematic refusal to place itself under the jurisdiction of an international court, although it is always ready to impose such jurisdiction on others.NoteThis 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 terror” being waged by the current United States 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 United States administration itself refused to commit in its own country.

8.2 Continued secret detentions in the Chechen Republic and failure to co-operate with the CPT: unacceptable collateral damage to the values of the Council of Europe

8.2.1 CPT third 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 European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) 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 co-operate 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”Note and that investigations into these cases are largely ineffective.Note 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 co-operate 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 the Parliamentary Assembly, 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).” (Unofficial translation.)
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 abovementioned public statement),Notethat at least one secret detention facility – that is to say 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 Tsentoroy.NoteI 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).” (Unofficial translation.)

8.3 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, MemorialNoteNotealleging 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 general prosecutor’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 to be discussed by the sub-committee.Note
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 Tsentoroy.NoteNoteI 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 cases.Note
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.

9 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;Notesecond, 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:
“I guess I ask you, what is the solution to this problem?”Note
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 United States 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.Note
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.

9.1 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 United States 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 United States “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:
“In so far as counter-terrorism 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.”Note
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,Noteto as recently as the Military Commissions Act of 2006,Notenotions 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 United States 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”Note– when in reality they ought to be dealt with in the same manner as other members of international criminal networks, such as arms traders, drug 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 Guantánamo Bay.NoteI also agree with the United States Army’s own assessment that “insurgents” given a sense of legitimacy will surely harden as adversaries, not least in their effective resistance to interrogation.Note

9.2 Towards consensus standards on interrogation techniques

355. It has now been widely agreed in America and internationally that the “enhanced interrogation techniques”Noteused 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 rapporteurNoteand one by an expert group of American “intelligence scientists”Note– provide arguments in favour of review and strict regulation of interrogation techniques.
356. The UN rapporteur, Martin Scheinin, has re-emphasised that many 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.”NoteNote
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-11 September 2001 techniques are “outmoded, amateurish and unreliable”;Notein 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 American interrogators has appeared with alarming frequency.”Note
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 2001 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” imminentlyNoteshould 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.

9.3 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 United States 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 11 September 2001, 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-11 September 2001 period. Bringing those 14 HVDs to Guantánamo – 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-11 September 2001 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 Guantánamo 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 United States Government,Noteand 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 programme for questioning terrorists will continue to be crucial to getting life-saving information.”Note
365. Indeed, there are clear indications that the HVD programme has been reactivated in recent months. The transfer of Abd Al-Iraqi to Guantánamo Bay in April 2007Notebore 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.”

9.4 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 American-led “war on terror”. Almost six years on, 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 United States and its allies have engaged, and partly because of 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 United States policies like the “high-value detainee” programme.

Appendix 1  

Graphic

Appendix 2  

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Appendix 3 – Relevant flight logs from the Marty database

Registration identifier or call sign

(N_Number)

Airport of departure

(ADEP)

ADEP name

Airport of destination (ADES)

ADES name

Date

Take-off time (ATOT)

DD, HH:MI

Arrival time (ATA)

Aircraft type

Registered user or operator name

N982RK

KIAD

WASHINGTON

EINN

SHANNON

26/5/04

26. 16:29

no data available

GLF3

RICHMOR AVIATION

N982RK

EINN

SHANNON

LCLK

LARNACA

26/5/04

26. 17:37

no data available

GLF3

RICHMOR AVIATION

N982RK

LCLK

LARNACA

OAKB

KABUL

27/5/04

27. 21:44

no data available

GLF3

RICHMOR AVIATION

N982RK

OAKB

KABUL

LAKV

KUCOVA MILITARY AERODROME

28/5/04

28. 07:04

11:34 AFT

(local time)

GLF3

RICHMOR AVIATION

N982RK

LAKV

KUCOVA MILITARY AERODROME

LQSA

SARAJEVO

28/5/04

28. 10:45

12:45 AFT

(local time)

GLF3

RICHMOR AVIATION

N982RK

LQSA

SARAJEVO

LKPR

PRAHA/RUZNE

28/5/04

28. 11:52

no data available

GLF3

RICHMOR AVIATION

N982RK

LKPR

PRAHA/RUZNE

BIKF

KEFLAVIK 63 59N

22 36W H3000

29/5/04

29. 09:07

no data available

GLF3

RICHMOR AVIATION

N982RK

BIKF

KEFLAVIK 63 59N

22 36W H3000

KIAD

WASHINGTON

no data available

no data available

no data available

GLF3

RICHMOR AVIATION

Reporting committee: Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

Reference to committee: Bureau decision of 30 June 2006 and Reference No. 3253 of 30 June 2006.

Draft resolution and draft recommendation adopted by the committee on 8 June 2007 respectively with 2 votes against and unanimously with 2 abstentions.

Members of the committee: Mr Dick Marty (Chairperson), Mr Erik Jurgens, Mr György Frunda, Mrs Herta Däubler-Gmelin (Vice-Chairpersons), Mr Athanasios Alevras, Mr Miguel Arias, Mr Birgir Ármannsson, Mrs Aneliya Atanasova, Mr Abdülkadir Ates¸, Mr Jaume Bartumeu Cassany, Mrs Meritxell Batet, Mrs Soledad Becerril, Mrs Marie-Louise Bemelmans-Videc, Mr Erol Aslan Cebeci, Mrs Pia Christmas-Møller, Mrs Ingr-ıda Circene (alternate: Mr Boriss Cilevicˇs), Mrs Lydie Err, Mr Valeriy Fedorov, Mr Aniello Formisano, Mr Jean-Charles Gardetto, Mr Jószef Gedei, Mr Stef Goris, Mr Valery Grebennikov, Mr Holger Haibach, Mrs Gultakin Hajiyeva, Mrs Karin Hakl, Mr Nick Harvey, Mr Andres Herkel, Mr Serhiy Holovaty, Mr Michel Hunault, Mr Rafael Huseynov, Mrs Fatme Ilyaz, Mr Kastriot Islami, Mr Zˇ eliko Ivanji, Mrs Katerˇina Jacques, Mr Karol Karski, Mr Hans Kaufmann (alternate: Mr Andreas Gross), Mr András Kelemen, Mrs Katerˇina Konecˇná, Mr Nikolay Kovalev (alternate: Mr Yuri Sharandin), Mr Jean-Pierre Kucheida, Mr Eduard Kukan, Mrs Darja Lavtizˇar-Bebler, Mr Andrzej Lepper, Mrs Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, Mr Tony Lloyd, Mr Humfrey Malins, Mr Pietro Marcenaro, Mr Alberto Martins, Mr Andrew McIntosh, Mr Murat Mercan, Mrs Ilinka Mitreva, Mr Philippe Monfils, Mr João Bosco Mota Amaral, Mr Philippe Nachbar, Mrs Nino Nakashidzé, Mr Tomislav Nikoli´c, Mrs Carina Ohlsson, Ms Ann Ormonde (alternate: Mr Patrick Breen), Mr Claudio Podeschi, Mr Ivan Popescu, Mrs Maria Postoico, Mrs Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin, Mr Christos Pourgourides, Mr Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, Mr Valeriy Pysarenko, Mr François Rochebloine, Mr Francesco Saverio Romano, Mr Armen Rustamyan, Mr Kimmo Sasi, Mr Christoph Strässer, Mr Mihai Tudose, Mr Vasile Ioan Da˘nut, Ungureanu, Mr Øyvind Vaksdal, Mr Egidijus Vareikis, Mr Miltiadis Varvitsiotis (alternate: Mrs Elsa Papadimitriou), Mrs Renate Wohlwend, Mr Marco Zacchera, Mr Krysztof Zaremba, Mr Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Mr Miomir Zˇ uzˇul.

NB: The names of the members who took part in the meeting are printed in bold.

See 23rd Sitting, 27 June 2007 (adoption of the draft resolution and draft recommendation, as amended); and Resolution 1562 and Recommendation 1801.

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