Friday, July 15, 2011

Oh, Gee, What a Surprise

[9 April 2009 ] The US has stopped running its global network of secret prisons, CIA director Leon Panetta has announced.

"CIA no longer operates detention facilities or black sites," Mr Panetta said in a letter to staff. Remaining sites would be decommissioned, he said.


[July 12, 2011 ] Nestled in a back corner of Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport is a sprawling walled compound run by the Central Intelligence Agency. Set on the coast of the Indian Ocean, the facility looks like a small gated community, with more than a dozen buildings behind large protective walls and secured by guard towers at each of its four corners. [...] At the facility, the CIA runs a counterterrorism training program for Somali intelligence agents and operatives aimed at building an indigenous strike force capable of snatch operations and targeted “combat” operations against members of Al Shabab, an Islamic militant group with close ties to Al Qaeda.


[The CIA also uses a secret prison buried in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters, where prisoners suspected of being Shabab members or of having links to the group are held. Some of the prisoners have been snatched off the streets of Kenya and rendered by plane to Mogadishu. While the underground prison is officially run by the Somali NSA, US intelligence personnel pay the salaries of intelligence agents and also directly interrogate prisoners.

  Jeremy Scahill - The Nation

This arrangement, as Scahill told me yesterday, is consistent with standard Obama administration practice: "they continue even the most controversial Bush terrorism policies by having some other government technically operate it so they can keep their fingerprints off it." Indeed, the administration has even resorted to this playbook by using "torture by proxy" -- as we saw when the Kuwait government, with at least the complicity if not direction of the U.S., detained and beat American teenager Gulet Mohamed during interrogation sessions. Just yesterday, a federal judge "reacted skeptically" to the Obama DOJ's demands for dismissal of a lawsuit (on secrecy grounds) brought by an American citizen imprisoned for four months in Africa, where "U.S. officials threatened him with torture, forced disappearance and other serious harm unless he confessed to ties with al-Qaida in Somalia."


As Harper's Scott Horton put it, the Nation article underscores how the CIA is "maintaining a series of 'special relationships' under which cooperating governments maintain “proxy prisons for the CIA," and "raises important questions" about "whether the CIA is using a proxy regime there to skirt Obama's executive order" banning black sites and torture.

  Glenn Greenwald

As I’ve snarked before, if Obama thinks he can tell the CIA what to do, he can’t be very savvy. And if he does have a lick of sense (and I think he does), then he knows damned well he can say no to torture with full confidence that they’ll either ignore him or have a way around it.

U.S. establishment media has almost entirely ignored this story. Scahill thus far has given a grand total of two television interviews: on Democracy Now and Al Jazeera [and now on RT's The Alyona Show]. No major television news network -- including MSNBC -- has even mentioned his story.


Indeed, Scahill said that this site is such common knowledge in Mogadishu (where even ordinary residents call it "that CIA building") that he'd be "very surprised" if international reporters who cover Somalia were unaware of it; he has confirmed with certainty that at least one correspondent covering East Africa for one of the world's leading media outlets was aware of, but never reported, the CIA's role at this secret prison.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

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