On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate hung its dirty laundry out in an expurgated report on CIA crimes following September 2001. The 525-page report, even when redacted, merely summarizes the terrible findings reached by the Senate committee after a four-year investigation from 2005 until 2009. There were delays before a considerably shortened version was published. This is understandable, because even truncated, this report is a real bombshell that describes the reprehensible and revolting methods that the CIA used to obtain information. Even if the report does not tell the full story, what has been published about the way useless information was frequently obtained remains terrifying.
The harmful world which the CIA inhabits includes torture, secret prisons, and barbarous practices that are unconscionable. Nevertheless, the American intelligence agency could not have achieved its ends without the help and complicity of a number of countries, particularly in Europe. That being the case, it is significant that the CIA put in place an extraordinary network of secret jails, notably in Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and Kosovo. It is noteworthy that these are countries that cannot refuse the United States anything.
Since 2005, a small New York weekly, The Village Voice, has suspected that these unusual prisons, these infamous secret jails, exist. For its part, Amnesty International brought the existence of such prisons, where extreme torture was practiced outside any legal framework, to the public’s attention. Men presumed to be members of al-Qaida or suspected of belonging to terrorist groups have been tortured, often in harsh conditions. That being the case, Amnesty International has not hesitated to cite the “Gulag Archipelago,” in reference to the famous novel by Solzhenitsyn. It was, however, an article in the Washington Post in the same year that would confirm these suspicions and upset the American political and international applecart.
These “black sites,” or secret jails, were used by the CIA as a place where they could experiment with ways of getting suspects to talk. Subsequently, in April 2014, the CIA published a 6,600-page report confirming the existence of detention and torture centers, notably in Morocco, where the Temara center was located close to Rabat. What the CIA did was so excessive that at first the world did not understand the enormity of the crime. If it is, in fact, a crime. The European Union therefore reacted swiftly when the finger was pointed at several European countries. The EU appointed Dick Marty, the Swiss member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, to lead an investigation into the facts. In June 2006, Marty published a report on “alleged secret detentions involving Council of Europe member states.” The inquiry thus shone a light on the implication of European states, particularly citing Sweden, Bosnia, the United Kingdom, Italy, Macedonia, Germany and Turkey, demonstrating the extent to which those countries that call for human rights are ready to abuse those rights and laws, including their own, to achieve their goals.*
As powerful as it is, the CIA could not in fact have committed the crime of torture without the complicity of third-party states. Therefore, it is those countries which scream about attacks on human rights in Africa or the Arab world who are the first to violate these same rights as soon as it suits their purposes or justifies their policies. And they can do this completely legally. They have the law on their side, which does not seek to know how its agents apply that law on the ground. This is how former American Vice President Dick Cheney sees it. Outraged that the CIA should be under attack, Cheney holds the view that torture is an “absolutely, totally justified” procedure. Confronted by the clamor of politicians and global public opinion, as well as criticism by defenders of human rights who were scandalized by the crimes of torture perpetrated by the CIA, this is how Dick Cheney expressed his opinion, saying that the use of torture was “absolutely justified” and was the right thing to do.
Those who ordered or allowed such barbarous practices evidently see this as normal. They do not understand that the world reacts violently to practices that reduce humankind to the level of an animal. That is what happened to the American marines at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. This is also what happened to the French soldiers in Algeria between 1954 and 1962, during the war of independence when France allowed torture in order to fight the Algerian Resistance. Torture has always been the weapon of “civilized” countries. We suppose that it will remain so. People are calling for lawsuits against the CIA. Who will bring the case, the International Criminal Court? Ha, ha, ha!
* Editor’s Note: The Council of Europe and the European Union are separate entities. The Council of Europe is a much older body that includes countries (such as Switzerland and Turkey) that are not EU member states. Its main focus is on human rights. The Council of Europe and the EU, however, have a long tradition of cooperation.